Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Book Tour + #Giveaway: The Desk from Hoboken by ML Condike @RABTBookTours @harborlanebooks


A Genealogy Mystery Series


Date Published: March 5, 2024

Publisher: Harbor Lane Books, LLC.



In a bid to heal from the grief of a personal loss, forensic genealogist, RaeJean Hunter, takes on a straightforward case —identify human remains found on a nearby college campus, believed to be the 180-year-old remains of Mary Rogers, a woman who died mysteriously in 1841 and was believed to have been buried in the nearby cemetery that had washed away. It should be simple enough, a project to get her back in the game.

Unfortunately, it quickly becomes anything but. In fact, it becomes downright dangerous.

Someone doesn't want RaeJean to investigate the puzzling death of the woman whose death inspired Edgar Allan Poe's "The Mystery of Marie Roget." As she follows clues through four states and discovers living family members who both help and hinder her search, she quickly realizes that the secrets of Mary Rogers' demise were never meant to be exposed.

What lengths will someone go to keep the truth buried in the past? As threats escalate and RaeJean and her family's lives become endangered, she's forced to follow every lead and use every skill she has to find the answers she needs before it's too late. Using DNA from two famous New England families, historical data, modern genealogical techniques, and a little guidance from a seemingly mystical antique desk, RaeJean takes on the cold case despite being given every reason to abandon it.

After all, what truths have been hidden for 180 years that would be worth bribery, kidnapping, and even murder?

RaeJean Hunter is about to find out.

Interview with ML Condike

    Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

    Fictional stories taught me new things about myself and other people’s beliefs. I’ve become more open-minded, empathetic, and caring. I recently read The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent. Kent’s research and fictional presentation of a young girl’s story during the Salem Witch Trials gave me a greater appreciation of the power of emotions. Character reactions added important sensual aspects to the events. My knowledge of the events in Salem came from a few paragraphs in a school history book. Facts without feelings hide the trauma experienced by those who lived through that horrible time in history.

    How do you select the names of your characters?

    First, I develop a character profile that includes ethnicity, childhood experiences, location of home, relationships with parents/siblings, and finally, physical description.

    I start with a name I that I feel fits the protagonist. Then I select names for the other characters that sound different, so the reader won’t get confused.

    In the Desk From Hoboken, I named the corgi Lucy after my corgi at the time. Then I discovered an actual historical character’s name was Lucy. So, I changed the dog’s name to Sophie. It took so long to finish the book that my “Lucy” died before the book was finished. Now I have a one-year-old corgi named Sophie. She’s the star of the book!

    Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

    Not intentionally. But that’s a fun idea.

    What was your hardest scene to write?

    My protagonist’s confession to her husband about her past.

    Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

    Even though it is a series, my intention is to have each book stand alone. I’d hope that the reader enjoys any of the books enough to try the others.

    What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

    I wanted to tell Mary Rogers’ story, show how a forensic genealogist might work, and show that the struggle over reproductive rights is not a new issue. It becomes obvious that history is repeating itself.

    What inspired you to write The Desk From Hoboken?

    I’ve been fascinated by the success of DNA used to solve cold cases. The oldest one I could find was from 1956. This made me wonder if it was possible to solve a centuries-old cold case. So, I searched for historical cold cases and found Mary Rogers. Her story led me to write this book.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the next books in The Doll From Dunedin and The Milagro Heart from Chihuahua or what you have planned for the future?

    Series Name: Genealogy mysteries featuring RaeJean Hunter

    Book 2 Title: The Doll from Dunedin

    RaeJean accepts a project to locate the heir to a rich spinster’s estate. She follows leads to New Zealand where she begins to suspect the woman was somehow related to Dorothy Arnold, a perfume heiress who disappeared on December 12, 1910.

    Book 3 Title: The Milagro Heart from Chihuahua (working title)

    RaeJean investigates the 1902 disappearance of Yda Hillis Addis, a successful female writer and journalist. People suspect that Addis fled to Mexico after a hostile divorce from Charles A. Storke, a Santa Barbara lawyer and owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Desk From Hoboken?

    RaeJean Hunter and her husband Sam are in their mid-thirties and want to start a family. Rae is a forensic genealogist and Sam is an antique appraiser. She recently suffered a miscarriage and has a past secret she is keeping from Sam. She’s trying to ease back into work with a routine case that turns out to be anything but.

    A Mather family member, Lillian Baxter (fictional), has become involved in the case to identify remains found in New London, Connecticut. Lillian, a DAR member and self-proclaimed family expert, is both hostile and helpful during Rae’s investigation.

    Ezekiel Rogers (fictional), an old salt who lives in New London, becomes a mentor to RaeJean.

    What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

    I loved the research. As practice for my story, I used my own family to create a family tree. I discovered I am a direct descendant of several American Revolutionary Patriots. I applied and was accepted into the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2023.

    I also loved the editing. Each revision improved the quality of the story and created a personal satisfaction—a buzz! I wanted a product for readers to enjoy that could stand on its own merit.


About the Author

ML Condike has published short stories in anthologies that include Strange & Sweet, (2019), Tall Tales and Timeless Stories, (2022), Malice in Dallas, Metroplex Mysteries, Volume 1 (2022), and won first place in the fifteenth annual Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards, Mystery/Crime category (2019), and 2nd Place in the Tennessee Williams Short Story Contest, Key West Art & Historical Society (2022).

She’s an associate member of Mystery Writers of America Florida Chapter, Sisters in Crime National, Sisters in Crime North Dallas (Treasurer), Granbury Writers’ Bloc, and Key West Writers Guild.

As the result of her study of genealogy for her debut novel The Desk from Hoboken, she researched her own family and she discovered she had a direct bloodline to a Patriot. So, most recently she has been inducted into the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

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Marcy Meyer said...

Sounds like a good book. I love genealogy.

Nancy P said...

Cover is striking.