Annie Hansen, a young (twenty-four) female schizophrenic private eye, must solve a grisly murder in the small island town of Serendipity, Canada. She is a suspect herself, and her boyfriend Samir and his cousin Pepsi may have been on the scene. A not-so-popular doctor, Dr. William Hubert, and the mayor of Serendipity, Rick Spacey, were both murdered, presumably by the same person, and both in a macabre manner. Mark, a handsome detective, teams up with Annie to help solve the murders. Was it drugs or money that prompted the crimes? Who is MASER, a cryptic message left on the doctor’s charts, and what message remains on Doc Hubert’s laptop memory stick and hard drive that would help Annie and Mark to solve the crimes?
A nurse with a brown belt in karate further complicates the crime scene. There is a morning with a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous, and a missing poker, perhaps the weapon of choice in the grisly killing of the doctor.
Can Annie find the murderer or will the villain strike again? If the villain escapes the small island to the mainland, it will leave Annie with an unresolved crime and a criminal record herself.
Annie works for Lorne O’Halloran, a private investigator hired by the government of British Columbia in Victoria to help the local cops and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to solve the crimes. A former criminal, Annie is hampered in her attempts by her own ‘voices’ and hallucinations, and the cleverness of the criminal.
A potential romance entanglement with the blue-eyed Mark entices Annie to make a positive difference in her appearance, and she grows both in attractiveness and mentality throughout the story. Her mother has left her a float house, where she eventually lives on her own, aided by Mark, her First Nations acquaintances Firewall Eddie and Crazy Leroy, and her own innate curiosity and resiliency.
From the group home where Annie and Samir share a room, to the last romantic scene on her float house, when the mystery has been untangled, Red Herrings lives up to its name, replete with red herrings and information about Samir’s medical condition, mental illness as experienced by Annie and her method of coping with delusions and hallucinations, and the cleverness of a network of friends who help solve a nationally-exposed crime in a small island town.
Targeted Age Group:: MG – Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have attempted in Red Herrings to present a very human yet vulnerable young protagonist, Annie Hansen, who finds love after all, and a success perhaps not applauded by the world at large, an understanding of her illness, and a likely ending to her search for meaning and success in a field that is well suited to the vagaries of imagination that schizophrenia presents. We have many opportunities. I have met so many (Phil who travels on trains, and Don, hello!) who make the most of their handicap, but it is not a disability.
I wish you friendship, love and success, no matter how you measure it, in life and any romance that may, with the rest of humanity, make you happy or not. It’s up to you, my friends, enjoy what God has given you, and don’t let anyone tell you that you are less than the best of humanity. Though a cliché, ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
As schizophrenic myself, any others I might have met along the way helped to provide me with an appreciation of the illness and the potential we have for success. A special hello to Austin Mardon, my friend and fellow traveler, from whom I derived the special delight of hallucinations and voices which Annie experiences. Imagination plays a large part in an author’s characters, and as such, none of my characters is based on an actual person except, perhaps, myself!
My cell phone woke me early. It was the cops.
“Somebody bashed Doctor William Hubert over the head with a blunt instrument last night. They drilled his brains out of his skull with a surgical tool and piled them in a heap by his bloody skull. We need you, Annie. Hit the street.”
The call scared the pajamas off me, and I wanted to wake up Samir, shake him, make him see me, and help with the fear. Even the voices in my head didn’t know what to say at first.
My size ten feet hit the floor in a hulk stomp.
My roommate, Samir, was in the next bed, huddled under his grey blankets with no sense of what was happening. His long black body looked lumpy like a dun toad. Samir was my first real boyfriend. Ain’t that something? And me twenty-four years old and all, plus this mental problem.
I twirled the circle of cheap yellow metal on my left ring finger. Samir and I’d met in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class I volunteered to help teach a couple years ago on this island. We drifted together, two outcasts just able to afford this half-way house, and sharing for financial reasons. Only way Social Services would let us stay here together, in the same boarding room, was if they thought we were married. No questions asked.
The Powolskis were like a foster family to us.
Then the voices in my head started screaming. I covered my ears with my hands. Be careful. You didn’t listen to the phone call close enough. Stupid. It’s way over your head. It’ll take you more than hard work to solve this case, Iron Head. It’ll take brains and guts and you don’t have that.
“Son of a brownie,” I said in response. “Go away.”
You’re a homely girl, with kinky bleached-white hair and buck teeth. Good thing my personality more than made up for it. Yeah, at five foot nine I was a force to be reckoned with.
I yawned, trying to get air into my lungs. It’s your heart, stupid, you’re gonna die! No, it wasn’t my heart, I was only twenty-four years old and solid as Twenty Mule Team. My psych in Campbell River told me that anxiety made me short of breath and I’d yawn.
I thought of the phone call a few minutes before. They need you, Annie. The Doc’s dead as a salt cod. Grisly murder. Get on it. So I pulled on my jeans and shirt, and shook Samir.
Kenna McKinnon is a Canadian freelance writer, author of SpaceHive (2012), and Bigfoot Boy: Lost on Earth (Mockingbird Lane Press 2013), as well as Benjamin and Rumblechum (Mockingbird Lane Press 2015), The Insanity Machine, Red Herrings: Solving Streetwise Crime Authors for a Cause 2015), Short Circuit and Other Geek Stories (Authors for a Cause 2014); and DISCOVERY: A Collection of Poetry( Authors for a Cause 2012). Her most memorable years were spent at the University of Alberta, where she graduated with a degree in Anthropology. Kenna is a member of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and a professional member of the Canadian Authors Association.
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