I won’t lie: Sometimes I’m intrigued just as much by how a story is presented as I am by the story itself. There are just so many unique ways to craft a narrative, especially in today’s world. I love seeing what people come up with.
M.C. Hall’s Smothered quite clearly combines the best of both worlds: It has an intriguing plot and is told through a different, entirely modern method. Below you’ll find an excerpt from the novel, but first you should take a moment to enter Hall’s giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card.
About the book
Fifteen years ago, Kitty Holbrooke was set to be the greatest child star since Shirley Temple. Days after completing her debut film, the young girl was kidnapped from her home in the middle of the night. The next day, a rambling ransom note appeared in the family’s mailbox, but as the family scrambled to gather the money, police discovered Kitty’s body. Due to the media circus surrounding the case, changing testimony from key witnesses, and police missteps, lead detective Andrea Bennett was never able to bring Kitty’s killer to justice, and the case that rocked a nation went cold.
Today, an online tabloid has uncovered Kitty Holbrooke’s shocking case files including never-before-seen police interviews, confidential emails, secret text messages, and sealed grand jury transcripts. The Internet explodes as fans devour and comment on each piece of new evidence, desperately hoping that they, too, can help solve the mystery.
Loosely inspired by the Jon Benet Ramsey case, this unique, thrilling mystery is told through police transcripts and documents, and will keep readers guessing until the very end.
Interview: Katherine Holbrooke, January 26, 2002
Katherine Holbrooke: Did you need a picture? The other detective said you needed a recent photo. I hope these are acceptable. I also have two headshots, but in those, she has stage makeup on, and since she still has her baby fat, the headshots have been Photoshopped to make her look a bit thinner. This one is from a week ago. I printed it out for you. She looks so precious, doesn’t she? I hope we find her soon. [Cries]
Lieutenant Andrea Bennett: For the record, this is Lieutenant Andrea Bennett. I’m here talking to Katherine Holbrook. It is 11:28 in the morning on January 26th. Katherine’s nine-year-old daughter Katherine Holbrooke Jr., also known as Kitty, was discovered missing just over an hour ago.
Thank you, Mrs. Holbrooke. I’m sure these pictures will help. We’re doing a search of the neighborhood now, but we’ve put out an Amber Alert and the media will be on top of the story soon enough. They’ll want the description and the photos.
Katherine Holbrooke: The media. [Blows her nose] Do you think that’s really necessary? Ryan thinks she just wandered away somewhere. He said the other officer told him that’s probably what happened.
Lieutenant Bennett: The other officer said that? Son of a [Inaudible] I don’t know. She might have gone somewhere without letting you know. Lord knows, my own kids have done that enough times to drive me crazy. But we don’t want to jump to any conclusions. Her disappearance could be something else. Does she have a history of running away, or “wandering off,” as you put it?
Katherine Holbrooke: No. She’s never done this before. She’s such an intelligent little girl. I don’t know that she would… [Pauses]
What should I wear? Should I change now or wait?
Lieutenant Bennett: Excuse me?
Katherine Holbrooke: You said the media would be called in. I know how these things go, especially in California. They care more about appearances than they do about people. They wouldn’t give a damn about Kitty if we looked like you…
Lieutenant Bennett: If you looked like me? You mean if you were black? What exactly are you trying to say, Mrs. Holbrooke?
Katherine Holbrooke: No! Goodness no. That’s not what I meant at all. It’s just that you’re in uniform and you are sort of… Well, you have quite a natural look don’t you, and those shoes…
Lieutenant Bennett: These shoes are police issued, ma’am, and trust me, if I have to run after a suspect in this case, you’ll be glad I’m wearing them.
Katherine Holbrooke: [Sighs] Now I’m afraid I’ve offended you. All I’m trying to say is we don’t want to look like ragamuffins on TV. If Kitty’s really missing and the press are called in, I should try to look my best, shouldn’t I? Appearances matter. Thank goodness, she is… [Trails off]
Lieutenant Bennett: Thank goodness, she’s what?
Katherine Holbrooke: Nothing. Well, I only mean to say that she’s a very attractive girl. She’s famous, or she will be soon, anyhow. That should help, shouldn’t it?
Lieutenant Bennett: I see.
Katherine Holbrooke: I didn’t mean anything by it, Lieutenant. Only if she is missing, well, you know what people in Hollywood are like. God, listen to me. I don’t know what I’m saying or what I’m talking about. I must be in complete shock. God. My God! Who took my baby? Where is she? Why isn’t she in her bed? [Cries]
Lieutenant Bennett: You didn’t offend me, Mrs. Holbrooke. It’s understandable. You want to do whatever you can to find your child. You’re not wrong about the media, either. I might not care as much, but I would probably want to look my best too, if it were me.
Please stop crying, ma’am. I know this is upsetting, but it would help if you could try to calm down. Can you give me a description of the events leading up to the moment you realized your daughter Katherine had disappeared? Where were you yesterday?
Katherine Holbrooke: Yesterday? Yesterday, I woke the girls at around 7:00, their usual wake-up time. Then, we dropped off Ally at the middle school. Kitty and I went to her school. We got there around 8:00. I waited there while she completed her lessons for the day, and then at 12:30, I took her to the salon. She had an audition later that afternoon, and they wanted her to have a tan. Skin cancer causes wrinkles, especially if you start tanning when you’re young. So, we went to Sally’s over on fifth for the works—spray tan, leg waxing, eye lash extensions, and eyebrow plucking.
Lieutenant Bennett: Let me break in, just to get this straight. She was only in school from 8 in the morning to just after noon?
Katherine Holbrooke: Yes. [Sniffles] That’s correct. Don’t judge me, Lieutenant. I care hear the doubt in your voice.
I’m a good mother. Kitty was a child star. She has classes half days only. She misses a lot of school because of filming, not to mention auditions, and classes for acting, singing, and dance. Oh, and she has gymnastics. She goes to a highly recognized private school and she has a tutor on set when she’s filming. Her education is a top priority.
About the author
Megan Cassidy Hall writes books for adults under the name MC Hall, and writes books for children and young adults under the name Megan E. Cassidy. In addition to writing, Megan works as an English professor teaching a variety of courses including Creative Writing and Children and Young Adult Literature. Megan’s novels include Always, Jessie, The Misadventures of Marvin Miller, and Smothered. Her poetry and short stories have been featured in numerous publications including Bete Noire, Pilcrow & Dagger, and Centum Press’s 100 Voices. All of her short work can be found on her website.