Falling into Green: An Eco-Mystery

Falling into Green: An Eco-Mystery

by Cher Fischer

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Overview

Everything — in nature and in murder – is connected...

As an ecopsychologist, Dr. Esmeralda Green is skilled at solving the mysteries of the mind, especially if they collide with the laws of nature. But when a body is found below the crumbling cliffs near her Los Angeles home, she is pulled back in time to a tragedy that defies all understanding. When a young girl is murdered at the same cliff that took the life of her best childhood friend, Ez suspects the two are connected - and, having always lived up to her ecological name, she has learned to trust her intuition and the cues that the natural world can offer. In fact, from her hybrid car to her organic diet, Ez is living a sustainable life in every way - except for the man she's falling in love with, an attractive TV news reporter who drives, of all things, a Hummer.

After Ez discovers a key piece of evidence, she is swept into a maze of corporate corruption and family secrets whose depths seem to have no bounds. As she finds herself venturing into ever more treacherous territory, her intuition and psychological skills can take her only so far. With the memory of her childhood friend haunting her at every turn, Ez finds herself falling further and further into danger. Both an eco-mystery and a love story, Cher Fischer's captivating debut novel offers an intimate look at the myriad ways in which nature defines us.

"Fischer's debut mystery introduces a fascinating topic-ecopsychology...readers intrigued by a New Age topic, psychological work with troubled clients, and Los Angeles's cultural diversity may enjoy." -- Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781618220073
Publisher: Byte Level Research
Publication date: 12/16/2011
Pages: 348
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.78(d)

Read an Excerpt

falling into green

a novel


By Cher Fischer

Ashland Creek Press

Copyright © 2012Cher Fischer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61822-007-3


Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I watch as the corpse is hoisted up over the side of the steep precipice in a black wire cage attached to a hook on a crane.

I haven't felt my consciousness this fragmented by dread since my best friend leapt to her death from this very same cliff. Charlene Pryce was her name, but I called her Charlie. She nicknamed me Emerald.

Now, almost twenty years later, I remember her last words to me: "I've got to take my chances."

Did this dead girl take her chances, too?

Ay, Dios mío, suicide.

It keeps happening here, again and again.

My horse, Sam, snorts and hoofs the dirt beneath us. He wants to gallop. It's a perfect night for a ride, with the hint of pungent California sagebrush between the molecules of warm, balmy air. This ride was to be a sensate voyage on my trusty steed, but it's become a sojourn to hell: bright white forensic lights, rigor already setting in.

How old is she?

Sixteen? Seventeen?

Like Charlie.

My eyes sting.

My friend's death still hurts, even after all these years.

I blink, try to re-focus, adapt myself to the present, but the morbid crush and curl of this girl is nearly overwhelming. It's obvious that the one-hundred-foot drop to the boulders and frothy surf below broke her limbs, and even though she's been meticulously placed by the Los Angeles CSI into a fetal position to fit the cage, one long, slender leg still bends at a disturbing angle. I squint through the glare of lights and see that beneath the mass of wet, gold-streaked hair covering her face, the vertebrae in her neck must be pulverized: A tiny portion of her chin peeks out from the tangled locks, revealing a jaw that's hanging all the way down to her breasts. But what's most garish—yet what I guiltily find mesmerizing—is the girl's skin. Exposed by a torn, black, stretchy top, it's as smooth as satin. Not even a tiny scratch mars its pale surface. There's also something dark and twisty wrapped around her thin, bare waist.

I can't make out what it is.

I look away.

I want to cry, release the tension. The kind of stress that comes with being immersed, at times, in this ancient ritual of manifested psychic pain. I've treated a few patients with suicidal ideation. These days, however, self-destruction seems a growing consequence of attempting to survive the onslaught of twenty-first century confusion—and, sure, I'm talking about people. But also animals, birds, even insects.

Sound bizarre? Yep, it does.

But true.

Case in point: the wild bees. In the past month, I must have seen hundreds pitching down onto the street, the sidewalk, any kind of pavement.

Why?

Or what about the dolphins, four days ago, in the Santa Monica Bay? It was a large pod—eleven of them, to be exact—young and old, like diligent soldiers following one another up onto shore, lying there, gregarious smiles withering in the sun.

Why?

There are also the countless stories of sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, even seagulls, falling from the sky, a hailstorm of winged life, landing dead on the ground.

Why?

I'm a psychologist with a specialty in ecopsychology—in other words, a green shrink—I should have some insight about these horrible things.

But I don't. Not really. Not now.

I turn back to the Los Angeles CSI, working with our small-town PD, and the LA news media as they run to the dead girl in the black cage that the man behind the yellow crane sets with a jangled bump onto the parched grass, and they swarm her—like bees.

There they are, in my mind again.

Bees. Dolphins. Birds. Suicide.

Charlie.

Bloody, bloody Charlie.

Why was poor Charlie's sad, broken body so bloody? And this girl's is not?

I shake my head.

I don't want to know.

I don't want to be immersed in this one. I need to think about something else. What I really need is a frivolous thought before I start obsessing on the past.

Sure ...

How about I narrow my mind down to a fraction of its value and think about my current situation with ... men.

Or, to be specific, a muy guapo, very good-looking man. But I refuse to give him more credit than that, even if he's Latin, like me. Or like a part of me. I'm Latin and Irish. A fabulous mix, I say. My dad, on the Irish side, would have said the same thing. So would my second-generation Latina mom. As for my Salvadoran abuelo, or grandfather—I'm not sure what he'd call me. But there've been plenty of others to describe me with cutesy cliches, such as: passionate talker, volatile communicator, hot-blooded MacMama.

Stop.

I realize I'm mentally fleeing the suicide—but for my own sanity. sometimes I must.

I glance at the dead girl, wince, and once more turn away.

Okay.

What about the man?

He's played me, again.

Probably just moments after this girl with the pale, smooth skin plunged to her death.

My twelve-year-old palomino and I were taking our usual twilight ride on the upper bluffs of Majorca Point, an enormous, sweeping girth of peninsula that extends into the Pacific Ocean between Long Beach Harbor and Hermosa Beach. I was breathing in the warm glow of sunset, scarlet tendrils of the day's last light fanning above a shimmering turquoise sea, and I allowed myself to go into a trance because, very simply, I can. Ever since I was a child, I've been able to understand what I need and want, and what I don't need (but sometimes desire), by "fusing" with the earth's life force.

Maybe I receive messages from the Goddess Gaia?

I like to think so. Anything's possible.

But tonight, the reality of it is I had nary an ecological thought in mind but to clear my psyche of its own toxicity: the man. Mr. Gabriel Hugo García, local TV news superstar for the Latino global news organization KLAT. I only rode Sam down the hill because I was practically assaulted by a KLAT news chopper that turned out to be headed to this tragic cliff-side location. Its whirling blades caused such a frenetic commotion over me that I almost went flying off my horse and had to grab the horn of the saddle as if I were on a bucking bronco—which Sam is definitely not—to withstand the churning onslaught of wind, dirt, and dry chaparral.

I coughed, spit out the dust.

Angry, I wondered, "Is García on that chopper? I'm gonna give him some attitude. His transport could have killed me."

Now, amazing, or not so amazing: There he is.

I know it seems coincidental.

But out here in the natural-born ether of Majorca Point, even though we're only thirty minutes from downtown LA, we've strived to retain our wilderness so that, among other things, a preternatural symbiosis can occur. That's my ecopsychological take on it: When nature's integrated into the human experience, things get intense. They get meaningful.

Hmmm. Right on cue.

García. Scrumptious as ever.

Even at a suicide.

He flicks a wave at me with casual panache—that's his signature. probably contrived.

I nod and give Sam a pat on his neck, feeling better.

The worries about our species, other species, killing themselves, throwing it all away, have gone, and I can focus on something doable.

Like moving on.

Then I feel disgusted with myself.

Selfish.

And that's when I see it.

A large, glossy picture of
(Continues...)


Excerpted from falling into green by Cher Fischer. Copyright © 2012 by Cher Fischer. Excerpted by permission of Ashland Creek Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Falling into Green: An Eco-Mystery 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
wulf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ecopsychology? I had not heard of that field before but then it turns out this is the vocation of the author as well as her fictional protagonist, the aptly named Dr Esmerelda Green. That puts it in the genre of crime fiction where the character does the same job as the author and gets involved in investigating the crime, using their unique skills to crack the case. Here sympathy with nature, musings on how phenomena such as earthquakes affect the human psyche and empathy with animals assist Dr Green in unravelling a mystery that turns out to be very closely linked with people from her own past.Fischer has made the unusual choice of writing in the first person and the present tense. I suppose this could be said to fit Dr Green¿s ¿stay in the moment¿ approach to life. Along with a multitude of short chapters and a few cliff-hangers (some of them approaching the literal), I appreciate that this could well prove to be a popular novel. In truth though, I wasn¿t left feeling eager to read more, even though the title clearly hints at plans for sequels. I don¿t regret having taken the time to read it but it isn¿t a good sign when the style grabs you more than the story so I will only give this book 3/5.
DanaBurgess on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a reader, I enjoy books that backdrop the story against a different, or new to me, setting. These settings can add to the tone of a story in quiet and barely perceptible ways. This is what I was looking forward to as I opened this novel. The idea of an eco-mystery intrigued me. I was hoping for a great mystery/suspense tale rising up from the background of an ecologically friendly setting. What I got instead was a 336 page lecture on being ecologically responsible and friendly with a great suspense story trying to be heard through the rhetoric. I got tired of the continual explanations of how Ez lived and built and survived and cooked and ate in a sustainable way. I just didn't care that much - I wanted to delve into the mystery not learn how tofu could be scrambled to make a great tasting egg-like breakfast. What started out with great promise soon lost my interest entirely. I guess I'm just not the environmental activist type; maybe if I were, I would have enjoyed the book more.
nscanlon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I¿m always excited to receive a book via LibraryThing. This was my first e-version of a novel as I¿m quite partial to touching the actual paper of a book. That being said, however, I¿m extremely glad that this was an e-book. I really took advantage of the ¿look-up¿ feature on my Nook for some of the larger words I was unfamiliar with or the ones for which I just couldn¿t quite remember the definition. I¿m not an idiot, but I have definitely lost some of my advanced vocabulary skills since becoming an elementary school teacher. Falling Into Green used real, grown-up words and made me want to dust-off my brain.However, you¿re probably reading this to find out about the actual story¿it was uniquely written, seemingly straight from the brain of the main character, Esmeralda. The actual lines were very short, almost choppy as Esmeralda¿s thought process unfolded. As I have done already, she frequently wanders in her musings and digresses into other parts of her life or memories not exactly pertaining to the immediate context of the story. This bothered me a bit at first, but I came to enjoy it. I enjoyed its relaxing way of wandering and not always adhering to the proverbial script. As I got deeper into the story, I realized it was very definitely planned by the author for the reader to learn so much more than the top-level of the story line.I had never heard of an eco-mystery before. I like to recycle, save a tree, buy organic, and be semi-healthy, like many Americans. Esmeralda, the main character, takes eco to a whole new level. I admired and learned much, but some of her beliefs regarding deity, etc. definitely conflicted with my Christian world view. I had to work a bit to put that difference away and just enjoy the fictional story. Once I did this, the book allowed me to do some deep thinking regarding eco vs. pop culture. I had never heard of an eco-psychologist before and again, learned much. I was definitely thankful for my handful of psychology classes from college and the fact that my mom is a psychologist didn¿t hurt either when Esmeralda was in therapist mode. Finally, to the plot. Without spoiling all the good parts, here¿s some information to whet your appetite. The story is set in Southern California, in present day. Esmeralda, is an eco-psychologist with a lovely best friend, Sam, her horse. As with any good mystery, there are lots of secrets, some which have been brewing for decades. All of which, will become public by the end of the novel. Esmeralda is a kick-butt woman who likes to take care of herself, sometimes a little too much, in my opinion. However, it makes for good spice in the romance department! She is involved with a reporter, the actual relationship much too complicated to even try and explain here without ruining it. She is also attracted to someone else, off-limits, at one point in the story. Can you scream jealousy and triangle? There is kidnapping, murder, suicide, blackmail, intrigue, romance, environmental catastrophes and coups, beautiful scenery, history, sadness, happiness, twists, turns, and of course, a superb ending.I would definitely recommend this book ¿ an excellent summer read. And, I would read more by this author.
CJ_Barbre More than 1 year ago
She’s sassy and sexy and green right down to her organic cotton underwear. A vegan who savors scrambled tofu for breakfast. Dr. Esmeralda Green is biracial, Latina (her mom’s light-brown skin) and Irish (her dad’s red hair; her own being strawberry-blond). She tells her story in first-person English but swears and exclaims in Spanish. “Aye, Dios, mio! Why don’t we have more high-speed rail?” she questions when stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the 405 freeway—the state of traffic on the 405 pretty much 24/7. Dr. Green is an ecopsychologist (as is author Cher Fischer in real life). “Ecopsychology acknowledges the environment as an important part of the human psyche,” Esmeralda explains. “When nature’s integrated into the human experience, things get intense. They get meaningful.” Already you have a dynamite combo for a mystery series California-style. She lives in the yellow clapboard ranch house built in the 1960s by her abuelo and abuela, in Majorca Point (presumably on the Palos Verdes peninsula). Her house is slip sliding toward the ocean with the shifting earth, and saving it is costly, such as new plumbing lines the power company has mandated she must have installed. But our girl only trades green stocks, usually solar or wind, and they are coming through for her. The man in and out of her life is Gabriel Hugo García, local TV news superstar for the Latino global news organization KLAT. She meets up with him while riding her twelve-year-old palomino, Sam. Esmeralda uses the animal in equine-assisted therapy for patients. Garcia is covering a breaking story on location. He reports, “The young woman, Abigail Pryce, who was found dead tonight at the bottom of the highest cliff at Majorca Point, is the nineteen-year-old niece, or would have been the niece, of the long-ago suicide victim Charlene Pryce, who was only sixteen when she leapt to her death at this very same location …” Charlene Pryce was Esmeralda’s best childhood friend and now her niece may have jumped, or maybe she was pushed off that cliff, but why? Why did Abigail call Esmeralda just the day before, wanting to talk? Why, before she committed suicide, did Charlene warn her to stay out of the water? Why suicide? Is Hummer-driving TV newsman Garcia sleeping with her nemesis, Detective Suzy Whitney, who drives a gas guzzling mega SUV? Dr. Green is a quirky California gal who cares deeply about things that matter, the kind of protagonist you wish could be a real life friend. Falling into Green, published by Ashland Creek Press, is the first book in what promises to be a fabulous eco-mystery series by Cher Fischer. This reviewer already is a #1 fan.
LetsBookIt More than 1 year ago
As a reader, I enjoy books that backdrop the story against a different, or new to me, setting. These settings can add to the tone of a story in quiet and barely perceptible ways. This is what I was looking forward to as I opened this novel. The idea of an eco-mystery intrigued me. I was hoping for a great mystery/suspense tale rising up from the background of an ecologically friendly setting. What I got instead was a 336 page lecture on being ecologically responsible and friendly with a great suspense story trying to be heard through the rhetoric. I got tired of the continual explanations of how Ez lived and built and survived and cooked and ate in a sustainable way. I just didn't care that much - I wanted to delve into the mystery not learn how tofu could be scrambled to make a great tasting egg-like breakfast. What started out with great promise soon lost my interest entirely. I guess I'm just not the environmental activist type; maybe if I were, I would have enjoyed the book more.
EricaSettino More than 1 year ago
Every time Ashland Creek Press announces the upcoming release of one of their new titles I get giddy with excitement. Staying true to their mission of publishing exceptionally well-written, engaging works of both fact and fiction, surrounding the themes of travel, the environment, ecology, wildlife and animals, their newest release, Falling Into Green managed to surpass even my high expectations. Cher Fischer, an eco-psychologist who writes fiction and mystery as well as any veteran novelist I can name, has produced an exciting, educational and thought provoking story that is a must read for anyone interested in learning more about the interrelation of environmentalism and our mental health, as well as getting lost in the life of a feisty new protagonist, who is sure to be this generation’s next Kinsey Millhone. As a writer, I would be remise if I didn’t mention just how well structured this story proved to be, with brilliant character development and dialogue, and enough of a peripheral focus that blended and balanced the wealth of information Fischer litters throughout, with the perfect amount of fiction and entertainment. It works just beautifully. And congrats to Ms. Fischer and the good folks over at Ashland Creek Press, Midge Raymond and John Yunker, because a pilot for a TV series is being developed based on the characters in the book. Now that will be good TV. But don’t wait for the show, you must read this book!