MAP OF MY ESCAPE

Map of My Escape by Cheryl L Reed Banner 

 

MAP OF MY ESCAPE

by Cheryl L. Reed

June 10 - July 5, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


The shooting of a homicide detective is captured on film by a mysterious figure from a second-floor window, implicating Riley Keane, an anti-gun activist and a school shooting survivor. Riley flees Chicago for a frozen island in Lake Superior. A race to find her ensues between her secret lover—Chicago politician Finn O’Farrell—a corrupt police lieutenant, and the mysterious cameraman who extorts Riley’s family and Finn. Finn’s entanglement with Riley and the extortionist threatens his ambitious political career.

On the island, Riley ingratiates herself into the close-knit community, but when she witnesses both an islander’s murder and another death in a suspicious boating accident, the local sheriff starts asking questions that begin to unravel her true identity. As the sheriff and the FBI are closing in on Riley, Finn faces media pressure to reveal his mysterious role in that long ago school shooting. If the facts come out, Finn may go to prison, but his biggest fear is that the truth will forever sever his relationship with Riley.

Praise for Map of My Escape:

"Atmospheric and gritty, Reed's tale of a woman on the run from her own shocking past will keep you rooting for her until the end. A dark thriller with a redemptive ending from a master of suspense."
~ Jamie Freveletti, International Bestselling author of Blood Run

"Taut, atmospheric and unputdownable. Reed knows how to keep you turning pages!"
~ Candice Fox, International Bestselling author of Crimson Lake, now an ABC series Troppo

"Bending genres of police drama and adventure thriller, The Map of My Escape is both original and breathlessly page-turning!"
~ Wendy Walker, International Bestselling author of Don't Look For Me

"Cheryl Reed's Map of My Escape is a character-driven thriller, a poignant opposites-attract love story, and a journey of self-discovery. As secrets unfold and twists abound, Reed keeps us on a razor's edge. An absolutely gripping read!"
~ John Copenhaver, award-wining author of The Savage Kind and Dodging and Burning

"Map of My Escape combines tragic events, engaging characters, and unique locations to give readers one hell of a ride."
~ Elena Taylor, author of All We Buried and the Eddie Shoes mysteries.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery and Detective
Published by: Running Wild Press
Publication Date: June 18, 2024
Number of Pages: 402
ISBN: 9781960018175 (ISBN10: 19600018175)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads

Enjoy an excerpt from Map of My Escape:

I had often wondered what it would be like to disappear. As a teenager, I read books like Famous Female Fugitives and pored over stories in my mother’s magazines about women who had committed crimes with their boyfriends and ran. They changed their names, plucked birthdates off gravestones of dead babies to obtain new Social Security cards, and created new lives. I was never curious about the men who disappeared. The FBI’s Most Wanted lists were full of men who’d eluded cops for years, only later to be discovered as the quiet loner next door. The women fugitives, though sparse in number, were seldom quiet. They married, raised kids, built careers. Sara Jane even joined the PTA, acted on stage, and made speeches before her state senate. They lived their new lives in public as if they were flaunting the authorities in plain sight. I admired their tenacity.

There had been times in my life when I desperately wanted to disappear, when I dreamed of slipping away from the present and starting over somewhere else under a new identity. The pull became stronger after forty-four of my classmates, including my brother, and five of our teachers were killed by a guy in combat boots re-enacting his favorite video game.

I remember that day vividly. We were all at an assembly in the gym. I was sitting somewhere in the middle of the bleachers—they were the old-fashioned, accordion kind that pull out from the wall. I was reading index cards, trying to memorize trigonometry theorems for a test. Principal Brown was at the podium talking, but it was all background noise until a loud crack resounded through the gym. The metal doors at the front of the gym—the only way in or out—opened and slammed shut. Everyone turned to look. Even Principal Brown stopped talking mid-sentence. Darren Wallack, a guy no one paid much attention to, was standing at the gym entrance dressed like a Ninja warrior, a gun and ammo strapped across his chest, a rifle in his hands. He looked almost comical, except it wasn’t Halloween.

Nancy Greene, a whisper of a girl with thick glasses and braces, let out a high-pitched squeal. She was his first victim. Then pandemonium struck. Everyone moved at once. People climbed over others, trying to get away. Some hunkered down, attempting to hide. The air smelled of desperation and fear. Everyone was screaming, panicking. The gun blasted, again and again, loud, sharp cracks, like a whip cutting the air.

I noticed a guy slide his feet in between the thin slats of the bleachers. Our eyes met. He hesitated, then offered me his hand. We climbed down the support scaffolding. A few others chose to hide beneath the bleachers, too. We spread out in clumps of two and three as if we were safer with space between us. The stranger and I crouched in the corner, peaking through the gaps of the bleachers watching as Darren fired continuously, swinging his rifle from left to right like some character he’d seen in a bad movie.

“He’s going to kill us,” I whispered. I couldn’t breathe.

I’d never met this guy next to me, but his eyes were kind, reassuring. He was black. At our charter school, Blacks, Asians, Mexicans, and Whites didn’t mix.

“It’s going to be okay.” He patted my back. He seemed so calm.

Through the crack in the bleachers, we could see our classmates scrambling back and forth across the basketball court, shrieking terrified screams. Darren stalked them, firing a barrage of bullets until they slumped to the floor. I looked away. I couldn’t take it anymore.

Several rounds flew over our heads. “He’s coming toward us,” the guy said. “Get down.”

I lay on my stomach on the cold floor, the stranger next to me, convinced we were about to die. I thought about my family, my mother and father, and my older brother, who had just started college. And for a quick moment, I mourned for them. Then I thought about my younger brother, Ross. He was out there somewhere. I tried to remember where he was sitting. When was the last time I saw him?

“What is your name?” I whispered.

“What does it matter?”

“Because I don’t want my last minutes on earth to be spent with a complete stranger.”

“I’m Reece,” he said. “You’re Riley.”

“How do you know my name?”

“Everyone knows who you are.” He reached over and draped his arm across my back, his upper body forming a protective shield.

Darren’s boots stomped above our heads. Kids screamed, scuttled to get away. The gunfire sounded like firecrackers. I plugged my ears with my fingers. I couldn’t bear to hear it anymore. If Darren came down under the bleachers, we were dead. There was nowhere to run. It was the most horrifying fifteen minutes of my life.

Then the footsteps stopped.

We didn’t know if we could come out. We heard hard footfalls, police hollering as they hunted down Darren. It seemed like we were huddled down there for hours. When the police announced it was over, we walked out from under the bleachers like horror movie zombies.

That’s when we saw them.

Bodies were sprawled on the bleachers. They covered the gym floor, piled in some places. I recognized many of their faces, kids I saw in literature class or passed in the hallway. I stepped around them, my sneakers sticky with blood, looking for friends, anyone I knew. Then I recognized his mousey brown hair. His face looked serene as if he were taking a nap. He was wearing his new White Sox jacket with black sleeves and white on the torso. Our parents had given it to him for his birthday two weeks earlier. He only took it off to go to bed. Now the white part was ruby red. And my brother was never going to wake up.

For years afterwards, I dreamed about disappearing. Just up and walking out of my life—what was left of it. I hadn’t thought about my fugitive fascination in a long time. Of course, now it’s much harder to evade police in a digital age when a person’s every movement can be tracked. But I didn’t consider any of that the day I ran after shooting Reece.

Running is the natural reaction—even if you do not know where you are running to. The adrenaline and animalistic self-preservation kick in, leaving your brain a scrambled mess while your body takes over.

I drove in a daze, focused on the yellow line that I hoped would lead to a better future. Running from the cops is challenging for a normal person. But when you’re an activist and your mug shot is floating on police and FBI computers, vanishing is a lot harder. We are all electronic files, avatars moving from screen to screen, followed by one entity after another.

I had to jump off those screens. That meant no electronics of any kind—no phones, no GPS, no computers. If I wanted to escape, I had to do it old school, like the women in the Famous Female Fugitives.

***

Excerpt from Map of My Escape by Cheryl Reed. Copyright 2024 by Cheryl Reed. Reproduced with permission from Cheryl Reed. All rights reserved.

   

About the Author:

Cheryl Reed

Cheryl L. Reed is the author of the nonfiction book Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns and the novel Poison Girls, which won the Chicago Writers' Association Book of the Year. A former staff editor and reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times and other publications, Reed's stories have won multiple awards, including Harvard's Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. She has twice been awarded a U.S. Fulbright Scholar fellowship by the State Department, first in Ukraine and then in Central Asia. She splits her time between Washington, DC and her home near the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.

Q&A With the Author:


Who is your favorite author and why?

I don’t have a favorite author, rather I have several favorite authors whose bodies of work I have practically inhaled and studied. These include Tana French, an Irish thriller writer; Jane Hamilton, a literary writer from Wisconsin; Donna Tartt, an American literary writer; Wayne Johnston, a Canadian historical fiction writer; Karin Slaughter, a thriller writer who sets her stories mostly in Georgia.


I don’t think anyone would put these writers together. But for me, each one offers a unique approach to language and character and voice. What they all have in common is that on the sentence level their language is rich and descriptive. Tana French has an ear for dialogue. Jane Hamilton’s language is lyrical. I have often studied her paragraphs or the way she starts a book. Donna Tartt’s expansive stories and intriguing characters inspire me to create characters who I hope are as three-dimensional as the ones that populate her books. Wayne Johnston portrays place so convincingly that you want to go to Newfoundland even though others portray that piece of rock as uninhabitable. Karin Slaughter always surprises me in the way she connects disparate threads for a shocking ending.


What is something unique/quirky about you?

I spent many years as a journalist and crime reporter. So I have covered crime up close and personal. I think that lends an air of authenticity to my novels as well as allows me to present realistic characters and storylines. As a journalist, I’ve met many different people from various social strata — from celebrities and politicians to homeless and prostitutes, serial killers to nuns. As a journalist I specialized in embedding myself in subcultures that were not accessible to most people. It allowed me to study people, such as serial killers and nuns, and learn how these people think and what demons they wrestle with–if they have a conscience at all.


What was your inspiration for writing this book?

As a crime reporter, I spent way more time than I ever wanted covering senseless shootings. So much attention is given in the immediate aftermath of such a trauma as a school shooting. But rarely do we learn how children – or even adults – process this pivotal catastrophe in their lives. I wanted to explore how such a horrific event could affect people's lives a decade or more later. At the same time I wanted to explore the secrets people keep and how one’s private life is often in conflict with a person’s public persona.


What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoyed getting to know the characters. It was terrific fun to write someone as daring as Riley Keene, as well as someone as scary as the cameraman who films the shooting at the beginning of the book and then blackmails Riley’s family.


Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?

I’m always pondering. It will most likely be something ripped from the headlines.


Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?

All of my work is inspired by a bit of truth. In the case of Map of My Escape, the novel was also influenced by the fugitives I covered as a journalist. Most of these fugitives ran after they committed a crime protesting the Vietnam War. But back then it was much easier to evade the police and to change their identities. Now we live in a digital age, and disappearing is much, much harder. Map of My Escape realistically explores how someone could blip off those digital screens.


Catch Up With Cheryl L. Reed:
CherylReed.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @cheryllynnreed
Instagram - @cheryllynnreed
Twitter/X - @AuthrCherylReed & @JournoReed
Facebook - @CherylLynnReed

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Comments

  1. Great interview, especially after reading this book myself it means so much more.

    ReplyDelete

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