To the FBI it’s a cold case. To Kariss Walker it’s a hot idea that could either reshape or ruin her writing career. And it’s a burning mission to revisit an event she can never forget. Five years ago, an unidentified little girl was found starved to death in the woods behind a Houston apartment complex. A TV news anchor at the time, Kariss reported on the terrifying case. Today, as a New York Times bestselling author, Kariss intends to turn the unsolved mystery into a suspense novel. Enlisting the help of FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris, Kariss succeeds in getting the case reopened. But the search for the dead girl’s missing mother yields a discovery that plunges the partners into a witch’s brew of danger. The old crime lives on in more ways than either of them could ever imagine. Will Kariss’s pursuit of her dream as a writer carry a deadly price tag? Drawing from a real-life cold case, bestselling novelist DiAnn Mills presents a taut collage of suspense, faith, and romance in The Chase.
About the Author
Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed suspense-filled novels. DiAnn’s first book was published in 1998. She currently has more than fifty books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction riter’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won Christy Awards in 2010 and 2011.
Read an Excerpt
The Chasea novel
By DiAnn Mills
ZondervanCopyright © 2012 DiAnn Mills
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePresent day June
Kariss had fulfilled all her dreams but one by age thirty-five. Most women would bask in such a claim, but not Kariss. The one mountain yet to climb beckoned her to strap on hiking boots and make her approach. The peak held her in fascination, and failing meant losing everything she'd ever gained.
Her heels clicked along the marble flooring of the Marriott hotel's lobby adjoining Houston's Intercontinental Airport. Ten minutes early for her appointment with her literary agent and she could use the time to make sure her responses to Meredith were gracious and resolute. A mouthful for sure.
Sinking into a plush chair, she took a deep breath and waited. With all of her prolific abilities, why couldn't she respond with words that relayed her passion for this story? But now she had the opportunity to convince Meredith of her sincerity. A little encouragement went a long way when calling up the powers of inspiration and creativity.
Right on time, Meredith Rockford slipped into a chair across from Kariss, sipping on a cup of tea, no doubt Earl Grey. Dressed in a black traveler's knit jacket and pants, the only color emitting from Meredith was her crimson lipstick.
"You could have texted me that you were early," Meredith said.
Kariss smiled. "Just got here. Did you have a good night's rest?"
Meredith lifted a brow while taking a sip of her tea. "My head is killing me. I had to fly from New York to Houston. Arrived late and had to cancel our dinner appointment, and you ask me if I slept well?" She set the cup on a table in front of them. "The only thing that will give me a good night's sleep is for you to abandon this ludicrous idea of changing genres."
Kariss valued integrity above all things, and she refused to lose control. "Please understand I have given this writing project considerable thought. I need a break from writing women's fiction. I'm not discounting what you've done for my career, my friends who continue to write women's fiction, or my faithful readers. But I have a deep need to write a suspense novel."
"You rehearsed your spiel very nicely, but let me give you the facts: you, Kariss Walker, are about to commit publishing suicide. Changing genres in the middle of New York Times best-selling status means starting all over."
"I was hoping you'd champion my goals."
"My goal is to make sure my writers and my agency make money while ensuring the publishing community has quality writing projects." She crossed her arms. "After Sunrise has held the number two slot for three months. Always a Lady sold over six hundred thousand copies along with a sweet spot on the bestsellers list. You write women's fiction. Period. Not suspense.
Your ratings are going to plummet like an avalanche." Kariss uncrossed her legs and allowed her arms to lay limp at her side. How much more open could she be? "Ten novels in five years is a bit much, don't you think? Suspense intrigues me. Remember the eight years I spent reporting evening news on Houston's Channel 5? I have more ideas than I will ever have time to write."
"It won't work. Your readers want sweet stories about women. They'll drop you tomorrow if you switch to suspense. Now send me the proposal for the next story. The one we chatted about in New York will do nicely. You're the only writer who can convince the reader that the main character isn't just a story, but a human life." Meredith started to stand, but Kariss gestured for her to stay. "Please hear me out. Deep inside me is a well of passion for stories that burst onto the suspense scene. These are real and happening in my city. One in particular touched my heart several years ago and has never let me go. I cannot not write this. It doesn't matter that I don't have a contract. If one of the big six doesn't want to publish it, I'll self-publish."
"If you do not adhere to the demands of the publishing world, your actions may dissolve our representation of your work."
Kariss moistened her lips. "I am fully aware of the consequences."
"Are you? You may never publish again." Meredith retrieved her cup of Earl Grey and left the lobby.
Kariss gathered her purse and laptop before leaving the hotel. She had two hours until her appointment with Lincoln Abrams, special agent in charge of Houston's FBI. Five years had passed since she'd linked arms with law enforcement agencies and enlisted public support to help find criminals. Excitement with a twinge of apprehension grabbed hold of her senses. If only her agent held the same enthusiasm about her writing a suspense novel. Maybe if she knew the real reason why Kariss wanted to protect children ...
This story meant more than all the six-figure checks combined. In five years, no one had solved the crime stalking her, and she didn't possess the skills to smoke out a killer. But in her novel version, the perpetrator would be brought to justice.
* * *
Drinking a double espresso, his breakfast of choice, Tigo drove through the seedy neighborhood off South Main in Houston, looking for the dark green van last seen at the shipyards speeding away with two hundred and fifty grand of stolen AK-47 rifles.
The area looked deserted except for the battered vehicles matching the twisted and dented people who hid behind their weapons and bravado.
Some residents were simply poor and trying to eke out a living. Why they stayed made no sense. But those weren't the ones Tigo wanted to question. He needed Cheeky and his gang of Arroyos behind bars for gun smuggling. Add to that the identity of the dealers who were selling them weapons, and he was a happy man. Houston ranked as Mexico's largest gun supplier, and Tigo intended to drop that stat like a live grenade.
He drove slowly, studying each peeled-painted house for signs of rodents. He didn't really expect a tattooed gang member this time of the morning, but he also knew they could tear through a door at any moment ready to blow him to pieces. He risked the encounter and hoped they were sleeping off the previous night. His appointment was critical to draw out those who continued to break the law, one important enough for him to break the rules and work alone. He'd long ago given up trying to figure out if he wanted credit for the arrests or if he didn't want to endanger another agent. Probably both.
The gangs living here counted coup on law enforcement types.
Tigo eased to the curb next to a bungalow with boarded-up windows. Turning off the engine of the twenty-year-old Toyota minus the fender and hubcaps, he waited for his guest and drank the espresso.
A toddler pushed open the door of a house across the street. Wearing nothing but a diaper, he carried what looked like a rag —probably a substitution for his mother. The reality of the kid's future yanked at Tigo's thoughts, along with the likelihood of him already being an addict. How long before he was dealing and carrying a piece?
No one else ventured from the neighborhood. But Tigo couldn't wait forever. Linc wanted to see him about something. Glancing at his watch and rolling down the window, he gave himself fifteen minutes.
Candy was ten minutes late. Maybe she'd overslept, since her career kept her occupied at night. But the olive-skinned beauty had always been prompt, especially when the extra money didn't touch her pimp's pockets. She seemed to sense Tigo's drive to nail the gang, but he refused to psychoanalyze that. She claimed to have the information he needed to close down the Houston operation, including names of arms dealers and details about those dealers raising prices on their weapons.
Five more minutes passed, and the espresso cup lay crumpled on the passenger's seat. Candy wouldn't have left him waiting without a call. Lately she'd grown bolder ... maybe too bold. After all, meeting here at seven-thirty had been her idea. Late nights ate up her earning power. She claimed his presence looked like a john leaving, and the neighborhood slept until noon.
Tigo punched in her number. Four rings. "This is Candy. I'm busy right now." A giggle followed the sexy voice with a Hispanic accent. "Leave a message, and I'll get back to you."
He wasn't stupid enough to leave a message.
They'd met five times, and he believed each one raised the bar on their trust. She wanted to leave her sordid life, but she needed money until she landed a respectable job. Even asked for the name of a shelter. Said her two kids would have a better future. That had suckered Tigo in. Now suspicions about her motives called him a fool.
Tigo fired up the Toyota, muttering the language of the area. At the end of the block, two Hispanics wearing black T-shirts stepped into the street carrying assault rifles, their muscled forearms tattooed with gang symbols, their shaven heads etched deep with crossbones. Tigo spun the car, tires squealing. The smell of burned rubber invaded his nostrils.
At the other end of the street, two more armed men straddled his path, matching the MO behind him. Both had sidearms tucked into the front of their jeans. Great. He headed straight for them. In his quest to singlehandedly stop this gang, thinking a prostitute would take an exchange of money for info, he'd allowed pride to overrule logic. He deserved to have that engraved on his tombstone.
The man to the left in front of him lifted his rifle and fired, shattering Tigo's windshield and narrowly missing his left shoulder. In return, Tigo grabbed his Glock from the passenger seat, tossed it into his left hand, then fired into the man's chest, sending him sprawling backward onto the street.
Another bullet whizzed past the top of Tigo's head. The men behind him were chasing after him. Tigo stomped the accelerator and headed straight for the remaining man on the right. Tigo might have fallen for a classic fog job with Candy, but he still had a few tricks to save his neck.
With the next outburst of fire, he sliced the morning with a pain-filled cry. The man on the right hesitated, giving Tigo the break to send a bullet flying into his chest.
Candy had either set him up or she was dead.
Chapter TwoKariss zipped along outbound Highway 290 to the FBI office on a sun-bathed morning, clearly a good omen for her new writing project. She admired the fluid precision of her silver Jaguar XKR convertible, barely six weeks old. Its dynamic sound system rivaled a concert hall, and she imagined a tuxedo-dressed conductor ushering Bach into action. She detested the statements that people deserved this or that, but this car was definitely worth the sticker price. Of course, if Meredith made good her threats, Kariss would be selling the Jag in a heartbeat.
Traffic on the inbound lane merged bumper to bumper. Another reason for living inside the loop and working from her condo. She'd go nuts if she faced this every day. However, today her destination was worth any price.
Mentally checking what she needed once she reached the FBI office, she pushed aside Meredith's insensitive attitude toward her goals. Her agent would change her mind once she read the first chapter of her suspense novel—and the book's dedication.
She'd like to add some romance and the grit of a heroine who was not afraid to help solve a crime. The storyline was a little vague, but after today the detailed plotline should fit right into her spreadsheet—a writing technique she hadn't used before. In the past her books were straightforward and pretty easy to write. All she needed to do each morning was take her place at her computer and work through the plot in her head.
Taking a deep breath, Kariss envisioned the exclusive book signings and TV interviews. Admittedly so, she was hungry to make this work.
A late-model green Toyota sped alongside her on the left. At the car's speed, it must be shaking. How did a vehicle that beaten up stay on the road? Her attention swept to the driver, a Hispanic man, and for a brief moment their gazes met before he cut directly into her path. Slamming on her brakes, she stiffened. What a jerk. He'd nearly caused an accident.
She reached to palm her horn, but the driver looked like the type who might whip out a gun. Great for her novel, but not for real life. He sped down the highway, weaving in and out like her granny's knitting needles. "You'll get yours." She turned up the radio, still shaken but certain HPD patrolled both sides of the road. Some people didn't deserve a driver's license.
Taking a drink of her Starbucks mocha latte, she eased into the right lane, maintaining her speed at the posted limit of sixty miles per hour. The make of her car kept her on the radar of overenthusiastic police officers. No time for a speeding ticket today.
A police car whizzed by, red light flashing, and she laughed. Sure enough, he had Mr. Toyota in his sights. By the time she passed the police car, both vehicles were chummy at the side of the road.
Kariss turned right onto West 43rd toward Houston's FBI office, her fury over the driver who'd cut her off dispersing. She parked in the designated visitor area and snatched up her laptop and purse with a goal to whiz through security. Her fingers tingled at what lay ahead. Oh, the glory of story.
A sign inside security stated no laptops. Why hadn't she remembered that stipulation? Back when she frequented the FBI office, she hadn't needed her tool of the trade.
She pasted on a warm smile. "I have an appointment with Special Agent in Charge Lincoln Abrams. He won't have a problem with my laptop."
"Yes, ma'am. I still need to scan it and you."
"Then I can take it with me?"
"When I'm finished."
She'd planned an early arrival, knowing the paperwork required before her appointment. Her foot tapped against the concrete of the security's floor. Patience. You're not a one-legged tap dancer. Twenty minutes later she sat in the reception area, her paperwork completed, her laptop resting in its pink sleeve beside her.
Kariss hurried to the receptionist. "Yes, ma'am. Is Mr. Abrams ready to see me?"
The woman smiled. Her black jacket and pants radiated power as her dark eyes narrowed with authority. "I'm sorry. Mr. Abrams has been detained for about forty-five minutes. Would you like to wait?"
Kariss hid her disappointment. Linc held a prestigious position, filled with responsibility and unexpected interruptions. "I'll wait. Thank you." She did have downloaded emails to answer, and she hadn't touched the marketing plan for the new novel.
Nothing could snip her excitement for this writing project.
* * *
Tigo's neck stung along with his pride for getting pulled over by one of Houston's finest.
"You're late." Linc Abrams settled back into his chair and steepled his fingers, just like he used to do in college during study groups—when he was right. A file sat on his otherwise cleared desk, empty except for his computer and pictures of his wife and teenage son.
"Got a ticket." Tigo flashed a smile and took a chair across from Linc's desk. His watch registered forty-nine minutes past the scheduled meeting time.
"Flying like a speed demon again?"
"Something like that."
Linc leaned in, his dark-brown gaze calculating yet not unfriendly. "Were you solo this morning?"
"Why would you ask that?"
"I know your habits. Your methods give a whole new definition to furtive."
"Is that a compliment?"
"Not today. I got a report from HPD. Firefight involving the Arroyos and an unidentified driver of a green Toyota." He pointed at Tigo's face. "The giveaway is your bleeding neck."
"I should have driven the speed limit." They danced this kind of interrogation on a regular basis. Next time Tigo would stop to treat the cut. "I was there chasing a lead."
Excerpted from The Chase by DiAnn Mills Copyright © 2012 by DiAnn Mills . Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One of the Best Suspense Books I've Read! The Chase is one of the best suspense books I've read in a long time. DiAnn Mills brings readers a fast moving, intriguing novel. Her characters grabbed my interest throughout the book. Kariss Walker changed and grew through all the perplexities and traumas she encountered. Tigo was a fascinating character as well. Readers got to see his tenderness, especially when he visited his dying mother. I heartly recommend this well-crafted, exciting, and meaningful novel.
I you like a little pulse-pounding suspense mixed in with your Christina fiction, then this is for you! DiAnn Mills combines romance, suspense, and Christian fiction into this premier of her new series, Crime Scene: Houston. Kariss and Tigo, the main characters, will have you wanting to come back for more - and there will be more!
This is one of the best books that I have ever read! I thought that Dee Henderson was the best author ever but Diann Mills gives her a real run for that title. Chase is an is an extremely good read!
A great book by a great writer. My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion. My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: First off, I love DiAnn Mills. I've read a lot of her works and have enjoyed them all. So I was really excited to read this one. It is always difficult to write about writing. However, DiAnn pulled this off really well. I can say that this wasn't my favorite novel by Mills. But I still really enjoyed it. DiAnn's writing was compelling and intriguing. I enjoyed delving into the world that she created. Overall, the novel was a really enjoyable read that I adored reading. I love the genre of romantic suspense and DiAnn never disappoints. She always creates characters that I love and plot lines that I absolutely adore. This novel was no exception. Kariss and Tigo were slightly unorthodox characters but I enjoyed learning about them and loved watching their interactions with one another. DiAnn's writing always left me engaged with the text and anxious to see what would happen next. I'll definitely be reading the next one in the series because I want to see what happens next with Kariss and Tigo. Like I mentioned, I enjoyed this novel, but it is hard to write about writing. DiAnn did a great job at writing about writing and I actually felt intrigued by the story. It wasn't my favorite DiAnn's novel, but I really enjoyed this one. Like all DiAnn's novels, the Christian element was never forced and I enjoyed watching how DiAnn tied everything together. In Summary: An intriguing novel that I adored. Definitely one I recommend for fans of Christian romantic suspense. Warnings/Side-notes: Nothing comes to mind. Slight violence, but it is really not graphic. The Wrap-up: I love DiAnn Mills' novels and this one was no exception. An intriguing plot line and interesting characters. Beautifully written and a series that I'm going to keep tabs on. Love, Danica Page
Diann Mills has another hit on her hands! The Chase is a fast moving, mind bending race from start to finish. Kariss Walker is a NYT Bestselling author of woman's fiction (I think of a female Nicholas Sparks) who has a raging desire to write a mystery/suspense novel based on a cold case that she reported on when she worked at a tv station. She ends up burning bridges with all of her women's fiction connections and she dives into following an FBI agent as they get the case "Cherished Doe" reopened. Things spiral quickly and Kariss finds herself in danger and the FBI agent she is following becomes very protective of her. It may not be enough to save her though as past and present collide in "The Chase".
The protagonist, Kariss Walker, is a best selling author who wants to change genres; she now wants to write a suspense novel. The reader learns a bit about the publishing business when Kariss's agent refuses to allow Kariss to veer from her successful path of writing fiction for women, and they part ways. Kariss shadows a FBI agent, Santiago (Tigo) Harris, for research and ends up attracted to him. Tigo, working on tracking down criminals involved in a gun smuggling operation, does not like the extra task of babysitting this nosy lady. A bit of romance ensues leaving the reader looking forward to the next installment of Kariss and Tigo. One negative: I stumbled each time I came across an error that editing should have corrected. Perhaps some sharper editing eyes could be employed for future works. This is a good read; it even solves a real FBI cold case. I appreciate the delicate touch used to weave in the Christian faith. Discussion questions are included making this a good choice for a book club read. Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Zondervan for my copy.
I enjoyed reading about Kariss and Tigo as they struggled to work together without killing each other. He was the tough FBI special agent who often had a problem working with a partner and now his SAC has told him to work with an author as part of her research for a book. One or the other seemed to constantly be in the gun sights of a gang member. Both of them were brought up in the church and knew the right way but they had allowed other things to pull them away from the faith in which they were raised. Will either of them find their way back? And does romance have any room in either of their lives? Add this to the suspense and action for quite an exciting read. With about 40 pages left to read when bedtime came, I had a real struggle to put the book down. I wanted to know how it ended.
Dianne Mills does a great job of dragging you write in.
The Chase will Leave you Guessing THE CHASE Crime Scene Houston By DiAnn Mills Kariss Walker has hit it big with her writing, but she wants more. She wants to write suspense instead of women's fiction. But Meredith Rockford is against Kariss changing genres and threatens that if she goes through with this she will never be published again! Kariss is determined to write about an unsolved case and maybe solve it in the process. The Cherished Doe case has haunted Kariss and she wants to bring justice for this innocent victim. Lincoln Abrams is the special agent in charge of Houston's FBI and Kariss's contact with the Bureau dating back to her days as a reporter. Tigo (Special Agent Santiago Harris) is determined to stop the gang that is supplying guns to Mexico, but when his contact doesn't show up he doesn't know if she set him up or she's dead. To Tigo's annoyance he has been assigned to show Kariss the ropes of the FBI and she'll be shadowing him for the next couple of months. Through perseverance Kariss and Tigo manage to get press coverage of their quest for information. When a clue leads to Cherished Doe's family and a possible murderer Kariss and Tigo are soon deeper than they realized. But when family problems come up Kariss has even bigger problems to deal with. With threats coming at her from every side Kariss is determined to handle things her way. Tigo is equally stubborn in his determination to keep Kariss safe. When danger comes knocking at her door will Kariss be able to stay alive long enough to write the book of her heart? Or will she become the latest victim? The Chase was an exciting, keep you on the edge of your seat book. If you like excitement and drama this is the book for you! I was provided a digital loan of this title by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
This book has a fast paced story line, intriguing characters, and intense and often chilling settings. Considering that the story was based on a true situation made the book harder to put down. I enjoyed how DiAnn Mills showed the sensitve and caring side of a tough detective and how she developed Kariss's inner strength. Does this book have a happy ending? You'll just have to buy it and find out. You won't be disappointed, that's certain.
In The Chase we meet FBI agent Tigo Harris and women's fiction author Kariss Walker. Kariss wants to write something different than women's fiction. She has set her mind on writing a suspense novel about a cold case about a girl who was starved to dead 5 years ago. An old friend with the FBI arranges for Kariss to work with FBI agent Tigo. At first the two don't like each other very well, but through the story they start to respect each other. We get to read a lot about the character's family lifes, which was--in my opinion--not very interesting. I liked reading about Tigo's mom, but Kariss' family wasn't interesting to me. I also had a hard time trying to like Kariss--probably because she's SO much different than I am that I had a hard time to figure out why she was doing certain things. Tigo on the other hand was a great guy and he saved a star on my review rating. There were many more characters in this story. Honestly I think there were too many characters and switching reading about them often slowed the pace. I couldn't finish this book soon enough. This book wasn't for me, but it could be for you. *Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review.*