“Literarily speaking, the murder mystery genre has been excavated so thoroughly that one wonders how any author, emerging or seasoned, might find a way to put new spin on the unrepentant dastards who commit crimes, and the noir characters, some pensive and some quick with the snappy one-liners, who solve them. How do writers distinguish themselves in a seemingly saturated market?
Ask Marta Stephens … (she) knows how to put a fresh face on old caricatures.” H. Hughes, author
Shroud of Lies
Honorable Mention, 2017 Southern Californian Book Festival
Down on her luck, private investigator, Rhonie Lude, agrees to find the estranged daughter of retired FBI agent, Oliver Kurtz. Despite his eccentricities, the job seems simple enough—tail and report. Protect, if necessary, but Kurtz’s continuous refusal to provide Lude critical information gives rise to suspicion.
When a mob-related cold case surfaces in Lude’s investigation, the truth rears its ugly head in the direction of the person she is hired to protect. Lude’s missing person’s case soon becomes a homicide and every lead pulls her deeper into a web of deception. Each exposed lie edges her closer to becoming the killer’s next victim and cuts a straight path to the only man she trusts—a man Lude now suspects has ties to the mob and police corruption.
Risks aside, Lude is determined to expose the sinister killer who will stop at nothing to keep a deadly secret buried.
The Devil Can Wait
Winner of the bronze 2009 IPPY award
A Sam Harper Crime Mystery - Book 2
The city of Chandler, Massachusetts is plunged into terror when the bodies of three local teenagers wash ashore. While homicide detective Sam Harper hunts down the guilty, a sinister plot emerges overseas. From the Vatican to the jungles of South America, a cursed black pearl ring, the demonic prophecy it represents, and the men who pursue its powers find their unfortunate way onto Harper's turf.
Enthralled by the ring's story and front-page spread, newspaper reporter, Jennifer Blake agrees to pick up the ring at a local pawnshop for her former college professor. When she does, unforeseen events shoot Blake to the top of Harper's prime suspect list. Soon, the seemingly unrelated cases converge and the heat is on for Harper to expose the truth behind a Vatican secret and stop the self-righteous man who does the unthinkable in the name of God.
Honorable Mention, 2007 New York Book Fair
A Sam Harper Crime Mystery - Book 1
Human bones discovered during the demolition of an abandoned building leads city detective Sam Harper and his partner, Dave Mann, to investigate a 16-year old crime that preceded their careers at the Chandler Police Department.
When it’s established that the bones belong to an infant, Harper pushes to recreate the circumstances that led to the baby’s murder. The suspects called in for questioning panic and their actions spark a chain of events that throws the investigation in a wild and unexpected direction.
While in pursuit of the killer, Harper unearths a cover-up involving top ranking city officials. He agonizes with the thought of ruining his late partner’s reputation by adding him to the list of suspects.
When Harper realizes the police chief and his own police-hero father may also have been involved, the tables turn and the predictable consequences hit close to home.
Harper finds himself in a place where dangerous truths loom and boundaries between pursuer and prey blur. Determined, he knows he must hunt down the killer. Or die trying.