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Archive for May 5th, 2008

The Author:
Karen Harrington is a Texas native who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. Her writing has received honors from the Hemingway Short Story Festival, the Texas Film Institute Screenplay Contest and the Writers’ Digest National Script Contest. A graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, she has worked as a speechwriter and editor for major corporations and non-profit organizations.

She authored and published There’s a Dog in the Doorway, a children’s book created expressly for the Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation’s “My Stuff Bags.” My Stuff bags go to children in need who must leave their home due to abuse, neglect or abandonment.

She lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband and two children.

You can visit her website.

The Book:

Tom Nelson is struggling after the death of his son at the hands of his wife Jane. While Jane sits in a Texas mental hospital for her part in the crime, prosecutors turn their focus to Tom. They believe Tom should have known Jane was on the cusp of a breakdown and protected his children from her illness. As a result, he is charged with “failure to protect.” Enter attorney, Dave Frontella, who employs a radical defense strategy – one that lays the blame at the feet of Jane’s nature and nurture. To gather evidence about Jane’s forbears, Frontella hires a woman with the power of retrocognition – the ability to use a person’s belongings to re-create their past. An unforgettable journey through the troubled minds and souls of Jane’s ancestors, spanning decades and continents, this debut novel deftly illustrates the ways nature and nurture weave the fabric of one woman’s life, and renders a portrait of one man left in its tragic wake.

Read the excerpt:

PROLOGUE

I stared at my attorney as he began his defense that I did not share the blame in the murder of my son. That I was not neglectful in leaving my two children in the care of my wife Jane, who drowned my two-and-a-half-year old boy.

Dave strode his six-foot-three frame across the room as he launched into his opening argument.

I had read that you are supposed to make yourself appear larger when threatened by an animal in the wild. Apparently, Dave believed this posture was helpful in the courtroom too because he stretched the expanse of his arms as he began speaking in a low voice, the kind of voice that beckons its listeners to lean forward, lest they miss something. His tone ramped up as he declared my innocence and stared at the prosecution’s table, allowing time for the pregnant pause. He walked a few steps toward me. The jurors’ faces were pinned to him and even the courtroom sketch artist looked up from her pad.

When the silence had passed, I knew he was about to make the suggestion that gave me unease, and with any luck, would give the jurors reasonable doubt. That Jane’s genetic hard wiring might have been the chief culprit in her murderous actions.

“But, fellow taxpayers,” he said. “the prosecution wants you to believe that my client bears partial responsibility for the commission of a crime at which he was not even present. That he should have been paranoid because his wife was depressed after a miscarriage. That he should have assumed her depression would lead to violence. Well, if that is a crime, then this whole courtroom is at risk of being tried. Millions of American parents take antidepressants. Millions seek counseling for any number of reasons. Should we call child protective services right now and rip the children away from those parents?”

Here Dave paused long for effect, and I found myself waiting to breathe. I noticed a young female juror glance at Dave and smile. It probably didn’t hurt my defense that he was so good-looking. It’s not that I am unattractive. I’m tall, fit, green-eyed and still have all my hair. But cast us together in a movie and Dave Frontella is James Bond and I’m Man in elevator #2.

Dave stopped in front of the jury box and rested his hand on the polished wood. “Don’t you think Tom Nelson wishes he had perfect understanding of his wife? That he has spent countless hours reviewing all he knew about the wife he loved in search of some tell-tale sign? Don’t you think he would trade his own life to have his son’s restored? For himself and the sake of his son’s twin sister, now left without a brother and for all intents and purposes, a mother?”

So he was going to use the rhetorical question as a persuasive technique. It would only work, I knew, if the majority of the jurors possessed a sense of irony. And from their stony faces, I could not be sure whether they sized me up as a whiny victim or a simple cad.

“The real tragedy here,” Dave said, “is that Jane grew up in an abusive situation, raised by a parent who grew up in an abusive situation. Her children were in greater jeopardy because of her genetic inheritance than from her husband’s lack of psychic powers. Yet, would you blame her ancestors for the death of Simon Nelson? If it sounds bizarre, that’s because it is.”

His emotional staging complete, I took a drink of water and looked thoughtfully at the jury box, focused on no one in particular. It was enough though. It rendered me able to endure the remainder of the prosecutor’s nonchalant disclosure of what I had come to call the “other” Jane.

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Buy from Amazon.
JANEOLOGY VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 began on May 1, 2008 and will continue all month. If you would like to follow Karen’s tour, visit Virtual Book Tours in May. Leave a comment on her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of her tour!

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Karen Harrington’s virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours and choreographed by Dorothy Thompson.

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