Please welcome mystery, thriller and romance author Debra Webb
I've written several stand-alone stories. I love stand-alone stories, but series are my heart. The characters become like family. In fact, a certain character had been lounging around in my head for a long while, just biding her time and waiting for her turn. Her name is Jessie Lee Harris and she has spent seventeen years working with the FBI. Her parents passed away when she was very young and she and her sister spent their formative years in foster homes. Upon graduating high school, Jess couldn’t wait to put her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, in her rearview mirror. She and her high school sweetheart, Dan Burnett, left for college full of passion and with big dreams. But sometimes passion fizzles and dreams don’t always come true. Four years later Dan returned to Birmingham and Jess went on to become a celebrated profiler for the Bureau.
Fast-forward twenty years and things have changed again. Jess’s personal and professional life are crashing down around her. On administrative leave after a bumbled investigation that resulted in a suspected serial killer going free, Jess welcomes an unexpected invitation to escape from her current reality. Her expertise is needed on a case involving four missing young women. The problem is, the case is in Birmingham and the top cop is Chief of Police Dan Burnett.
Jess finds herself spiraling into the past that she’d thought she left behind. And if having sparks fly between her and Dan isn’t frustrating and distracting enough, the serial killer who got away has followed her to Birmingham!
As I brainstormed the series, I revisited a concept I had developed a few years ago called the Scales of Justice. The idea was to have a series where each book focused on a different level of that scale, beginning with the least heinous of intents. The Scales of Justice seemed to scream courtroom and that side of justice and that wasn’t where I wanted to go. After much consideration, I came up with the Faces of Evil. The stories are more about the motive for the crime than the crime itself. Of course, the goal is to solve the mystery and the case but in Jess’s opinion the crime is all about motive. The motive, she swears, will reveal the identity of the one committing the crime. This is Jess’s summation of evil:
Any act of evil committed by one or more persons against another is driven by motive. Every motive tells a unique personal story, painting a vivid picture that reveals the dark inner nature hidden beneath the image presented for the world to see. All of us possess a basic goodness, but we each also harbor the potential for evil. The choice not to cross that moral line ultimately separates the good from the bad. For those who cross that line life’s journey is forever altered. Where that journey begins and how far one drifts into the depths of depravity is fueled by desire and desperation. Some plummet directly into the deepest, blackest recesses of that hungry abyss. Others linger near that thin line, clinging to a rapidly unraveling thread of goodness while the darkness seduces them closer and closer until the thread snaps and evil is born.
As a writer, I found the concept immensely interesting. The Faces of Evil series will span twelve books and Jess and Dan will be the main protagonists for the entire series. Their personal relationship as well as their professional one will evolve over those twelve installments. There are several compelling secondary characters, like Sergeants Harper and Wells, who I adore! The ensemble cast gives the stories a sense of family and place. And though there is murder in every story, it’s discovering the motive which leads to the killer that I, and the characters, find the most exhilarating. But don’t be fooled by the puzzling mystery or the layers of suspense, each of the Faces of Evil stories are about the characters. The primary focus is Jess and Dan and how their work and everyday life impacts their determination to be strong and independent while coming to terms with the idea that neither is complete without the other.
Another cool and challenging aspect of the stories is that the next book takes up right where the last left off. I wanted to show the day-to-day life of these characters during and after the cases they investigate. I’m also working extra hard to create unique villains and plot twists. I’ll let the readers be the judge of whether I’m successful!
I hope you’ll enjoy Jess and Dan’s journey!
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