Always Time to Die

Always Time to Die

3.6 20
by Elizabeth Lowell

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Former U.S. Senator Quintrell is dead.
His son, New Mexico's governor, is preparing his
run for the highest political office in the land.

And dark family secrets are about to explode with the
devastating force of a Southwestern earthquake.

An eccentric Quintrell aunt has invited genealogist Carolina


Former U.S. Senator Quintrell is dead.
His son, New Mexico's governor, is preparing his
run for the highest political office in the land.

And dark family secrets are about to explode with the
devastating force of a Southwestern earthquake.

An eccentric Quintrell aunt has invited genealogist Carolina "Carly" May to their Taos compound to compile a record of the illustrious family. But digging into the past is raising troubling questions about a would-be president's private life . . . and the grisly street crime that left his drug-addicted sister dead. As a dark world of twisted passions and depravity slowly opens up before Carly, there is no one whom she dares trust -- perhaps least of all Dan Duran, a dangerous, haunted enigma who's tied to the Quintrells' history. But she will need an ally to survive the terrible mysteries a father carried to the grave -- because following the bloodlines of the powerful can be a bloody business. And some dead secrets can kill.

Editorial Reviews

Charlotte News & Observer
Elizabeth Lowell’s keen ear for dialogue and intuitive characterization consistently place her a cut above most writers in this genre.
Publishers Weekly
Ann Maxwell has written over 60 books in multiple genres; as Elizabeth Lowell (Die in Plain Sight), she creates dialogue with immediacy and emotional coloration that sets her apart from the romantic suspense pack. Her 10th outing as Lowell begins with the tidy murder of "The Senator," the ill and infirm patriarch of a prominent Taos, N.Mex., clan. Carly May, a genealogist/historical researcher, is commissioned to write a family history by a disgruntled family member who hopes she'll dig up dirt. As Carly's research starts in earnest, she meets, among the Senator's many legitimate and illegitimate children, Dan Duran, a former CIA-like operative who, she finds out (but the reader knows all along), is the Senator's illegitimate grandson. Carly gets dire threats, she and Dan get close, and more people die. By combining new techniques of DNA testing with old-fashioned research and detective work (lots of appealing New Mexican history comes into play), Carly and Dan finally discover the truth about the family. But readers will care less about that than about their many charming exchanges, which Lowell crafts with sophistication and a sense of play. Quality and quantity may not be mutually exclusive after all. (July 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
As the sun begins to rise over Taos, NM, the already failing Andrew Jackson Quintrell III is murdered in his bed. Quintrell, also known as the Senator, is at the center of a controversy that pits his relatives against genealogist and family history specialist Carolina (Carly) May. The Senator's sister-in-law, Winifred Simmons y Castillo, has hired Carly to trace the Castillo lineage. It seems the Senator was quite the ladies' man (read: lecher), and numerous illegitimate offspring are ferreted out in the process. Mysterious local Dan Duran helps Carly research town newspaper archives, igniting a romantic spark among the rolls of microfilm. Lowell (Moving Target) seems to have lost her flare for drama and emotional depth, instead relying on drug smuggling, blackmail, political power-brokering, murder (several), and multigenerational incest to make up for a barely-there plot and wholly irredeemable characters. The genealogy angle becomes so tangled that readers will need to construct their own charts to follow who did what to whom-if they even care. Yet, Lowell fans are loyal; they'll probably request this. Otherwise, not recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/05.]-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A mayhem-on-the-mesa mystery by mega-selling genre author Lowell (The Color of Death, 2004, etc.). Carly May is a genealogist who can read a mitochondrial DNA sequencing chart as readily as she can sort out a family tree. Dan Duran is a lone ranger type, a New Mexico native skilled at following money as it flows in and out of the pockets of crooks and bad guys. (He's also, it turns out, skilled at giving lonely genealogists what no man has ever done before.) The two find themselves together in the wake, literally, of a senator and local grandee who has, it seems, fathered half of northern New Mexico's population, and not always with the legal consent of the mother. The senator's widow knows a story or two, as does her sister, who didn't much approve of the old man-among whose offspring are some surprises, as well as an apple-of-the-eye grandson ("The Senator kept seeing himself in you, smiling at the thought of you drinking and screwing your way through life") and a presumptive heir now ready to trade governorship of the state up to the presidency. This dysfunctional extended family is only dimly aware that it's family, but it's keenly aware of the Chinatown-like secrets that are not for outsiders to know, and Carly is an outsider extraordinaire in clannish Taos. At first it's a little vandalism of her SUV office-on-wheels, "shreds and chunks of tread . . . scattered around like pieces of black flesh." Then it's a recorded greeting-card warning her to split. Then it's a bullet whistling in her direction. Who would go to such lengths, and to protect what information? Therein hangs Lowell's tale, full of mostly accurate local color and never quite predictable. Suffice it to say that readersconvinced that the only way to look at a politician is down aren't going to have their minds changed here. Skillfully handled entertainment, with a bonus in reader-friendly lessons in how to launder money, spike a drink and read a genomics report.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Romantic suspense is her true forte.”
Romantic Times BOOKclub
“There is no finer guarantee of outstanding romance than the name of Elizabeth Lowell.”
Romantic TimesBOOKclub
"There is no finer guarantee of outstanding romance than the name of Elizabeth Lowell."

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Always Time to Die

Chapter One

Near Taos
Sunday Morning

Two men squinted against the wind and stared down at the Quintrell family graveyard. It lay a few hundred yards below and six hundred feet away from the base of the long, ragged ridge where they stood. A white wrought-iron fence enclosed the graveyard, as though death could be kept away from the living by such a simple thing.

At the edge of the valley, piñons grew black against a thin veneer of snow. Cottonwood branches along the valley creek had been stripped by winter to their thin, pale skin. In the black-and-white landscape, a ragged rectangle and a nearby tarp-covered mound of loose red dirt looked out of place. Three ravens squatted on the tarp like guests waiting to be served. A polished casket hovered astride the newly dug grave, ready to be lowered at a signal from the minister.

The first of the funeral procession drove up and stopped outside the ornate white fence. There wouldn't be many cars, because the graveside service was limited to clergy and immediate members of the Senator's family. The public service had been yesterday, in Santa Fe, complete with a media circus where the famous and the merely notorious exchanged Cheshire cat grins and firm handshakes and careful lies while the smell of dying flowers overwhelmed the stately cathedral.

Automatically Daniel Duran looked over his shoulder, checking that his silhouette was still invisible from below, lost against a tall pine. It was. So was his father's.

He and John weren't famous or notorious. They hadn't been invited to either the memorial or funeral service for the dead maneveryone called the Senator. The lack of invitations didn't matter to Dan. He wouldn't have gone anyway.

So why am I here?

It was a good question. He didn't have an answer. He wasn't even sure he wanted one.

The wind rushing down from the harsh peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains tasted of snow and distance and the kind of time that made most people uncomfortable. Deep time. Unimaginable time. Time so great it reduced humanity to an amusing footnote in Earth's four-billion-year history.

Dan liked that kind of time. Humans were amusing. Laughable. It was the only way to stay sane.

And that was something he'd promised himself he wouldn't think about for a few months. Staying sane.

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, chances are you don't understand the situation. Why else would ignorance be called bliss?

With a grim smile he turned so that his injured leg didn't take the force of the brutal wind.

"You should have stayed hom e," John Duran said.

Dan gave his father a sidelong look. "The exercise is good formy leg."

"That old man never acknowledged you or your mother as kin. Hell, he barely acknowledged his own legitimate daughter."

Dan shrugged and let the wind comb dark hair he hadn't bothered to have cut in months. "I don't take it personally. He never acknowledged any of his bastards."

"So why bother hiking here for the Senator's funeral? And don't waste your breath on the exercise excuse. You could do laps around the Taos town square with a lot less trouble."

For a time there was only the sound of the ice-tipped wind scouring the ridge. Finally Dan said, "I don't know."

John grunted. He doubted that his fiercely bright son didn't know why they were freezing their nuts off on Castillo Ridge watching one of New Mexico's most famous womanizers get buried. Then again, maybe Dan truly didn't know.

"You sure?" John asked.


"Well, that's the most hopeful thing that's happened since you turned up three months ago."

Once, Dan would have smiled, but that was before pain had etched his face and cynicism had eroded his soul. "How so?"

"You cared about something enough to walk three miles in the snow."

Dan's dark brown eyebrows lifted. "Have I been that bad?"

"No," his father said slowly. "But you're different. Much less smile. Toomuch steel. Less laughter.More silence. Too old to be thirty-four."

Dan didn't argue. It was the truth.

"It's more than the injury," John said, waving at his son's right leg, where metal and pain had exploded through flesh. "Muscle and bone heals. Emotions . . ." He sighed. "Well, they take longer. And sometimes they just don't heal at all."

"You're thinking of Mom and whatever happened with her mother."

John nodded. "She still doesn't talk about it."

"Good for her." I hope.

"You didn't feel that way a few years ago."

"A few years ago I didn't understand about sleeping dogs and land mines. Now I do."

And that's what was bothering Dan. The Senator's sister-in-law Winifred was running around kicking sleeping dogs right and left. Sooner or later she would step on a land mine and wake up something so brutal that his own mother had never once spoken of it, even to the man she loved.

Silently the two men watched the shiny white hearse wait next to the graveyard's wide gate. The couple in the rear seat, Josh Quintrell and his wife Anne, waited for the driver to open their doors. Their son, A.J. V, called Andy, got out and turned his back to the windblown snow. When his parents stepped into the gray daylight, their clothes were as black as the ravens perched on the graveside tarp.

A second car pulled up close to the hearse. As soon as it stopped, a tall, lanky woman emerged into the bitter wind with just enough hesitation to show her age. The iron gray of her hair beneath a black lace mantilla marked her as Winifred Simmons y Castillo, sister-in-law to the dead Senator, and a woman who in more than seven decades hadn't found a man -- or anything else -- she couldn't live without.

Always Time to Die. Copyright © by Elizabeth Lowell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell has more than eighty titles published to date with over twenty-four million copies of her books in print. She lives in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with her husband, with whom she writes novels under a pseudonym. Her favorite activity is exploring the Western United States to find the landscapes that speak to her soul and inspire her writing.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 5, 1944
Place of Birth:
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
B. A., University of California, 1966

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Always Time to Die 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LinMarie More than 1 year ago
Another great read if you love it all: mystery, suspense, a compelling story and great characters!
Avid_ReaderLL More than 1 year ago
My first clue I wouldn't like this book should have been the genealogy chart in the beginning explaining the characters of the Quintrell/Castillo families. Sadly, I referred back often trying to keep all the characters straight in my head. There are too many characters in this book, some of which just fade away and you never figure out why they needed to be there in the first place. It was hard to keep track of who was related to who and why that was important. All the info about DNA analysis and what it all means should be in a college textbook. When the big "ta-da" moment came, you needed to understand all the DNA info to get it. I admit I needed the epilogue of the book to explain it all to me. The romance aspect wasn't even exciting. Overall, I finished this book, but it was a disappointment. I would not recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DoB77 More than 1 year ago
I have read several of Lowell's books and was very disappointed in this. The main characters weren't developed, the detailing of DNA, geneology, etc. was just too much, and there wasn't enough plot to get interested in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone who loves Elizabeth Lowell books will love this one
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up on a whim. It sounded pretty good and I was rewarded. The pace and story were great. I am glad I discovered this author. I can't wait to read more of her books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was difficult and confusing from the start. The main characters I felt were not fully developed. I had to force myself to read it through. I dont follow ELs series but if this book is just like the others, Im hesitant to buy them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I`ve read all of Lowell`s books and thoroughly enjoyed them, but `Always Time to Die' was more a manual on DNA than a well plotted novel. If you must follow the series-wait for the paperback edition.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not one of Elizabeth Lowell's best...I was so confused with all the characters. It drives me crazy to have to look at a chart to see who is who. Once I got past the multitude of characters it was easier to read and it did go faster.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Elizabeth Lowell's books. Unfortunately, Always Time To Die did not keep my interest. Actually, it never caught my interest. All of her previous books have been great. There didn't seem to be any action in this book and the characters just did not grab me. Hopefully the next book will make up for what this one lacked.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Italian born Maria Tucci made her Broadway debut in 1963, appearing in a Tennessee Williams play, 'The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Any More.' Since that time she has added numerous stage roles to her resume' plus a Tony nomination and the singular experience of playing Juliet twice at Stratford. Hers is a stage trained voice, rich in timbre, precise enunciation and dramatic inflection. She brings all of these qualities to her outstanding reading of 'Always Time To Die.' Fans of Elizabeth Lowell well know that romance/suspense is her long suit (Die In Plain Sight, The Color Of Death). This time out listeners also enjoy a unique setting - Taos, New Mexico. Carly May is a successful genealogical researcher who is a bit surprised when she's asked to come to Taos by Winifred Simmons y Castillo. Her task? Research the Quintrell family history. The family is well known in New Mexico, especially Governor Josh Quintrell who has his eye on the White House. Quite often, politicians don't enjoy having their pasts excavated, especially when there's an election in the offing. However, little did Carly dream that anyone would stoop to murder. She, too, is in danger. Her only ally is Dan Duran, but can she really trust him? - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
A century's worth of secrets and lies comes to a head as a family's history is recorded before the oldest generation can pass into infinity. Carly May has no idea of the viper's nest she's about to rouse when the govenor of New Mexico's eccentric aunt hires her to write about the Quintrell family history. As she traces the bloodlines, Carly's quest for the truth endangers careers and futures. There are secrets that some consider worth killing over; this is something Dan Duran knows all too well. Since he's falling for Carly, he must protect her. When past and present collide, the explosion is deafening and bloody. ....................................... Fascinating details about geneology enhance the suspenseful, intricate plot. Rich characterization and intrigue hook readers right from the outset. Add in the fast pace, and you have a winning book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carolina (Carly) May is a historian hired to compile the family genealogy of a very well-known New Mexico family, which includes the current Governor and his deceased father, who was not only a Senator, but a womanizer. However, not all of the family is happy to have her researching the family tree...including the Governor himself, who feels the sins of his father could hurt his Presidential campaign.. Carly meets up with Dan Duran, the illegitimate great-grandson to the late Senator. Dan also wants Carly to stop researching the Castillo/Quintrall family because it is upsetting his mother, but decides to stick close to Carly when she refuses to leave town. When someone threatens Carly and Dan, they figure out that the only way to keep innocent people from getting hurt is to figure out the Castillo/Quintrell family secret. However, someone doesn't want the family Genealogy and bloodlines to be traced...and some secrets are worth killing for to be kept secret. Elizabeth Lowell has done it once again. This book is sure to hit the best seller lists. It not only will entertain you, but will have you scrambling to figure out the family secret. Elizabeth is a brilliant writer who's' characters are so well defined that they will stick with you long after the last page has been turned.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story begins with the murder of an old man, former Senator Andrew Jackson Quintrell III. No one really cared that he died. Everyone in the area knew the dirty old man had been a philanderer his entire life. If it was a human female, between the ages of puberty and menopause, the would bed her, even against her will. Back in his glory years people kept silent about such things. After all, he was a powerful man in New Mexico. The voting public would never believe a bad word against such a powerful and upstanding citizen. ............................................. Governor Josh Quintrell was the old man's son. Josh could care less that the old man was dead. Josh had his eyes on the White House. All he had to do was keep his family's dirty laundry hidden from the voting public for eleven more months. Then he could sell the ranch that had been in his family for centuries and stick his ailing mother, Sylvia, in a nursing home somewhere. Sylvia had not spoken to anyone or acknowledged her surroundings since the 1960s. She would never even realize that she was no longer on the ranch. ............................................. Winifred Simmons y Castillo was Josh's aunt, Sylvia's sister. Winifred was glad the dirty old man was dead. He never really cared for his ailing wife anyway. Winifred stayed by her sister's side, willing her to live each day. Winifred hired Carolina 'Carly' May to write the Castillo family history. She was the last of the Castillo line. It was time to put their history into print for all the world to know. It was time to get vengeance for Sylvia's sake. ............................................. Carly loved genealogy. Perhaps it was because she was adopted, her file sealed, and she had no way to know her own biological family history. This time the family she wrote about was famous. Carly felt honored to be doing the Castillo-Quintrell family history. But no one in town wanted Carly to dig into the past. All of them had dark secrets. Many warned her to quit and leave. Help came in the form of mysterious Daniel 'Dan' Duran, who was tight lipped about his occupation. All he would tell her is that he was on vacation for a few months. Dan had grown up in the area. He knew a lot about the families Carly was working on. He also knew that most of the locals were, in some way, related to the former Senator. Someone wanted the Senator's secrets to die quietly, just like the dirty old man had. Dan was determined to keep Carly alive. .................................................................... ...................... **** This is a intriguing story filled with danger, suspense, and just a touch of romance. People interested in learning a bit about genealogy, how to find relatives via DNA samples, or how to figure out the dates of old photos will enjoy the details that the author goes into. If you are in no way interested in such things, you may find yourself skimming areas of the book because the author included a lot of her research on the subjects. This makes the story even more realistic to the readers. So does all the information the author added about the history of New Mexico. At some parts of the story I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out who did what, when, and why, as if it was a CSI television episode. Author Elizabeth Lowell has a new fan in me! ****
Guest More than 1 year ago
The powerful Quantrell family of New Mexico has spent decades in the public eye. Now the recent death of the clan's patriarch, a former U.S. senator, has placed his son, Governor Josh Quantrell, squarely in the spotlight as he prepares his run for the highest political office in the land. It is not a good time to be rattling skeletons in the family's closets. Researching personal histories isn't just Carolina 'Carly' May's profession, it's her passion. When the governor's eccentric Aunt Winifred invites her into the Quantrells' private Taos compound to compile a genealogical record of the illustrious residents, Carly can hardly believe her good luck. But digging into the past is raising troubling questions about the would-be president's private life, his late father and catatonic mother, and the grisly street crime that left his notorious drug-addicted sister dead. And it soon becomes frighteningly apparent that the motivation of the dotty old woman who hired Carly might be something more akin to revenge¿and that someone is determined to remove the nosy genealogist from the picture by any means necessary. As a dark world of twisted passions and depraved crimes slowly opens up before Carly, she realizes there is no one whom she dares to trust¿perhaps least of all Dan Duran, a dangerous and haunted mystery man who's somehow tied to the Quantrells' past. But she will need an ally to survive the terrible secrets a father carried to the grave and an even more devastating evil that lurks among the living¿because following the bloodlines of the wealthy and power-hungry can be a bloody business¿and some dead secrets can kill.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Near Taos, someone murders former New Mexico Senator Andrew Jackson Quintrell III, but everyone who knew him feels the womanizing low life got his just desserts. Meanwhile his sister-in-law Winifred Simmons y Castillo, who rejoices in Andrew¿s death, hires historian Carolina ¿Carly¿ May to develop the family tree. Her nephew New Mexico Governor Josh Quintrell, Andrew¿s legitimate son, worries that his father¿s philandering could cost him his bid for the White House. He is pleased the old man cannot cause any new scandals, but worries about might shake out of the tree when the genealogy chart is completed. Dan Duran, the unrecognized great-grandson of the late Senator from an illegitimate tryst, also has big concerns over Carly¿s study because it upsets his mother; he wants the endeavor stopped. When Carly refuses, Dan decides to keep an eye on her to see what dirt she digs up. However, someone else warns Carly to cease and deist or else she will be stopped in a violent manner. Dan joins her to uncover the family secret that someone wants buried and is willing to kill to keep it interred. He wonders if a highly visible politician would stoop so low. --- This is a detailed suspense thriller filled with realistic and complex characters that will intrigue those readers who want more background information on topics critical to the story line. The use of DNA and the dating of old photographs that provide historical state tidbits augment the investigation and adds depth to the cast especially the heroine but also slows down the action. Still ALWAYS TIME TO DIE is a strong, realistic and exciting thriller in which the romance plays a key but secondary subplot.--- Harriet Klausner