Jane Ammeson Times correspondent
Nine-year-old Shea Collins managed to outsmart and escape a child predator, hiding as he searched for her before moving on to his next victim. Still traumatized two decades later, Shea remains alone, working as a medical receptionist during the day and night, holed up in her apartment, reheating single-serving frozen lasagna in her microwave while researching unsolved true crimes for her blog. , “The Book of Cold Cases.”
This self-imposed isolation is about to change when Shea one day recognizes Beth Greer in the doctor’s office. Decades ago, the beautiful, attractive, and wealthy Greer stood trial, accused of killing two men. She was declared innocent, but like Shea, she locked herself away from the world, albeit in a mansion in the wealthier part of Lake Clare where she lived with her parents before they died.
Surprisingly, Greer agrees to let Shea interview him and invites him to the house. Set on a cliff overlooking the water, it should be a nice place, but instead, almost from the start, Shea can sense the odd vibrations and happenings that are part of the atmosphere of the house. Looking out the window, she sees a young girl staring at the house. Who is she? And what about Greer? Is she a murderer? Or is she somehow a woman trapped in a supernatural nightmare?
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Author Simone St. James has gone from planning and spreadsheets — mostly for live sports, making sure film crews show up on time and everyone gets paid — to writing supernatural thrillers, including his latest, “The Book of Cold Cases.”
“I loved what I was doing, but over time I loved writing even more,” said St. James, who has written five novels, including the best-selling “The Sun Down Motel.”
St. James says the cases in his book are entirely imaginary.
“But the germ of the idea came from the Zodiac case, in which a man randomly killed people in the San Francisco area in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” St. James, noting that Stephen King was the first writer to influence him. and that she read and re-read her copy of “Firestarter” so much that she collapsed.
“The killer in the Zodiac case was never caught,” St. James said. “And I wondered, what if you had a Zodiac type case, but the suspect was a woman? It changes everything about the story – who the suspect is, why he does what he does, how he is investigated, how he is written about in the media. Literally, everything is different there. So I made up a fictitious case and went down this rabbit hole because I thought it was interesting.
Although her books have a weird vibe, St. James said she’s never encountered the supernatural herself.
“But I believe it is possible. I think most things are possible,” she said. “In my books, I’m more interested in the human side of the supernatural, if that makes sense. Why a person would refuse to leave and how other people would react. The haunting stories are about grief, fear, trauma, and letting go or rejection. These themes fascinate me and I always come back to them.