The tagline for this story might be: "Unspeakable
evil does not require evil intnet."
Secret Song (RC #4) was the third story written (just before Cold
Tears, RC #2). After writing two novels about psychopaths, I was ready for a "smaller" story,
but wasn't sure how to do that and maintain the tension. After all, how does one top Mic Boyd or
Bobby Lee Paget for evil? As I contemplated a third book, I knew that another serial killer story ran the
risk of going stale both for my readers and myself. Who wants to write (or read) the same novel with only the names and particulars
As for the series, I
knew what I wanted to do. I would develop the character of the Carter's daughter, Mirabelle, as
well as incorporate Raven, Shane, and Doc Hoag into the Carter's extended family.
The relationship with Sheriff Shug Shively, and Richard's continuing rise in importance as a deputy
was well in hand, that is to say, I had conceptualized it. I also intended to introduce a new character, who would play an
increasing role in the stories (Ron Guidry). So I saw the way forward.
to the problem: how was I to write a "smaller" story, without disappointing the reader who would buy the
book expecting to find the same level of peril and tension as BONNE FEMME and CANAAN CAMP?
I decided to write more of a mystery this time. It also occurred to me that many mystery/detective/police procedurals
were too linear in plot development, whereas in real life, investigators spend a great deal of time judging what
is part of the crime(s) and what is not. Also, deputies seldom are able to concentrate on one crime to the exclusion
of others. I decided to try to depict that reality.
SECRET SONG involves an old (solved) case. The recent return of an ex-con occurs almost
simultaneously with the recovery of the body of his victim. One can only imagine the passions ignited by such a
coincidence in a small community.
Writing out a bare outline of
the plot, I began to imagine how my regular characters and others in the community would react. I had to continue
the overriding theme of the series: obsession. This story began small, but didn't stay that way. At
the risk of sounding like a latter-day William Blake, my characters began telling me how they would react and what
they would say. They took me to a, by now, famiar place: the edge of utter loss.