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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Rachel

When I wrote The Heat of the Moon, I never dreamed I would write five more books about Rachel Goddard, a young veterinarian who discovers that everything she believed about her family was a lie.

I thought it was a stand-alone psychological suspense novel. When my agent failed to sell it in New York despite strong interest from editors at two major publishers, I gave up hope that it would ever see print. But Poisoned Pen Press bought it, it won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2006, and I found I had more to say about Rachel. 

Her story continued in Disturbing the Dead, Broken Places, Under the Dog Star, Bleeding Through, and Poisoned Ground. I was able to dramatize Rachel’s evolution from the frightened young woman in The Heat of the Moon to the strong, fulfilled person she is at the end of Poisoned Ground.

Now I feel I’ve told her story and have no more to say. Yes, I could go on finding mysteries for her to get involved in, but the most important part of her story, the arc of her personal development, has been told. Some writers produce one fresh, entertaining book after another in a long series, but I don’t think I could do that. Rachel’s psychological development was always what I cared about most, and mysteries without that element would feel hollow to me. I won’t say I’ll never write about Rachel (and Tom Bridger) again, but for
now I need to move on. 
Japanese edition
My great love is psychological suspense, and I want to get back to it and write more books in the vein of The Heat of the Moon. I love stories about individuals caught up in events beyond their control and understanding, struggling to make sense of what’s happening to them and ultimately finding their way to an answer. I’ve learned a lot about suspense from writing the Rachel books — my ability to maintain tension and suspense from beginning to end has always been praised by reviewers and readers alike — and I think I can put what I’ve learned to good use in something new.

I appreciate all my readers, and your praise and encouragement have meant  
the world to me. I hope you’ll be willing to read what I write in the future. Striking out in a new direction is scary, I’ll admit. Even a series with a modest following is a sure thing, and leaving it behind makes me feel as if I’m back at square one, starting over. But I trust that if you liked the Rachel books you’ll also like the next novel I produce.

Mass market paperback
If you haven’t read my Rachel Goddard books, they aren’t going anywhere. They’re all available in print, e-book, and audio formats, and they’re in many libraries. Please visit my website at for more information and reviews of all the books. Start with the first (available for only 99 cents as an e-book download) and read them in order to better understand Rachel and her personal journey. If you enjoy them, please let me know! Nothing bolsters a writer’s spirits while she’s sitting alone at the computer more than a complimentary note from a reader.

The Rachel Goddard Mysteries in order

The Heat of the Moon
“Mesmerizing.” —Publishers Weekly
“A captivating tale of suspense.” —Booklist
“Stylish, original, compulsively readable... Sandra Parshall explores the darkest side of family love and longing with pitch-perfect, highly engaging characters and a stunning end-game surprise. ” -- Judith Kelman, bestselling author of psychological suspense

Disturbing the Dead
“Fast-paced, chilling, and compulsively readable.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Edge-of-the-seat suspense.” —Library Journal starred review
“A terrific, tangled skein of unraveling family secrets and hidden murders, beautifully plotted and excitingly told.” —Diana Gabaldon, author of the international bestselling Outlander series

Broken Places
“Grips readers with a suspenseful plot that will leave them breathless.” —Library Journal starred review
“A suspenseful tale distinguished by its sharp prose.” —Publishers Weekly starred review
Broken Places is a tense exploration of how past acts can come back to haunt the present. It kept me guessing till the very end.” Margaret Maron, bestselling author of the Judge Deborah Knott mysteries

Under the Dog Star
“Spine-chilling tension from cover to cover.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Tense and compelling…one of the un-put-downable reads of the year.” —Deborah Crombie, author of the bestselling Gemma James/Duncan Kincaid mysteries

Bleeding Through
“Combines nerve-wracking suspense with a twisty mystery.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Marvelous storytelling.” —Julia Spencer-Fleming, author of the bestselling Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries

Poisoned Ground
“Parshall expertly maintains tension until the surprising conclusion.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A fast-paced plot with plenty of false leads keeps the reader turning the pages.” —Publishers Weekly
“Parshall perfectly plumbs the well of humanity in a small town, where longstanding feuds and deep-seated jealousies drive dark deeds—from backstabbing and betrayal all the way to bloody murder.” —Erin Hart, author of the Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire mysteries


  1. I'm not surprised. The series has come to a good stopping point, if that's what you want to do. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do next.

  2. I'm also looking forward to seeing what I do next!

  3. As I've effectively done the same thing, probably for similar reasons, I think I know some of what you may be feeling. It's scary but ultimately liberating. Best of luck with the next book, Sandy!

  4. Looking forward to seeing what hits you next, .sandy! It will be fun for readers and good for you, too. Best to you on this new journey~

  5. Well, gosh, Sandra! Of course this makes me sad, as I have grown very fond of Rachel and Tom. But understand that you want to create something new (I'm doing the same, myself, although also continuing my other series), and I will read whatever you write. Good luck in the new venture.

  6. I've read all your books, and even the most recent one showed no signs of "writer's fatigue." But it's good to end on a high note, and you're right that after a point the plots begin to feel contrived. How many bodies can any one person find? Standalones should be a new challenge for you.

  7. I am so excited for you, Sandy. You are incredibly good at psychological suspense, and I'll be first in line to buy your next novel.

  8. Hooray for you. Taking the safe, known, predictable, possibly boring-for-you path - that's not what writers do. I will look forward to joining you on your next adventure, whatever it is.

  9. I am certainly going to miss Rachel and Tom since I have followed them from the beginning but I, too, look forward to your new adventure.

  10. I'm a little sad about Rachel, but SO excited to see what's coming up next, Sandy. Whatever it is, I know you'll knock my socks off, as usual.

  11. I think it's one thing to write character-driven novels and another entirely to write a novel that's plot-driven. Once you've said all you want to say about the character, it's time to move on. Sometimes you just need a new challenge. Best of luck, Sandy.

  12. Rachel and Tom will always live -- on the page. I know new characters with intriguing problems will come your way -- looking forward to the next (ad)ventures!

  13. Leaving on a high is always good. The memory of the series will be stronger. But be happy that people will continue discovering them.

  14. Great series, Sandra. I'm behind in reading it, so I still have two books to go. But I completely understand your decision. Too many series seem to drag on way past their prime. I think it's better to give your characters an ending and move on to new territory. Good luck with your new books!

  15. Sandra, I've done exactly the same thing. After two Sylvia and Willie mysteries, I realized I wanted more flexibility with ideas and style. Standalones seemed the best way to go forward. It is like starting over, and it is scary. But I'm loving it, and I think you will too.

  16. As a reader, I am both sad and curious. Rachel and Tom provided a comfortable and strong pair to anchor your stories. Which I've enjoyed so much. I'm interested in what comes for you; I look forward to finding out.

  17. Thanks for all the kind words and encouragement! I'll try not to disappoint you.

  18. I started my series with an arc in mind, and I can see an end in sight for my character, as well. So I understand completely, Sandy, but I'll miss Rachel. I admire your writing immensely and can't wait to see what you'll come up with next.

  19. Like so many other readers, I'll miss Rachel, but I admire your decision to strike out on a new path and look forward to seeing what's next.

  20. This makes me sad, I remember Rachel's birth, and you have handled the series with such style and grace that I always looked for to the next one. I will miss Rachel, but I'm looking forward to what comes next. I'm excited for you Sandy!

  21. I, too, will miss Rachel and Tom, but I also understand that you have to take the path where inspiration leads. I look forward to reading your next book, Sandra, whatever it will be. Please let us know how the process goes. Taking a chance on a new venture is exciting and scary.

  22. I look forward to reading whatever you write next. I haven't read Poisoned Ground yet--another pleasure to look forward to--but I've thoroughly enjoyed Rachel's books. Kudos for having the courage to venture in a new direction.

  23. I've so enjoyed your books, Sandra! Sorry this series is ending, but all the best to you with your next project.