Down The Broken Road (A Rachel Carver Mystery Book 2)

J. R. Backlund

Crooked Lane Books

Oct. 9th, 2018

Down The Broken Road by J. R. Backlund brings back Rachel Carver. Readers are treated to puzzling murders to solve, with quite a few suspects to investigate, showing how Rachel is absolutely relentless in her quest for the truth.

The book opens when a police officer finds news reporter Bryce Parker, barely alive, and asking for Rachel Carver. After waking up and able to speak, he talks about Rachel’s previous case, the one where she was right and everyone else was wrong. She is now a private investigator after leaving the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation and thanks to Parker has a new set of clues to find out the truth about the previous case. Rachel puts herself in harm’s way as she begins to close in on the suspects of the murders, while trying to avoid being framed.

Rachel is sharp, smart, tough, methodical, courageous, and dedicated to a fault. She is obsessed with her job and solving the murders at the exclusion of her family, friends, health, and possible boyfriend, Danny Braddock.

There are enough details in the story to make it suspenseful.  The characters are well developed with an interesting backstory.

Elise Cooper: It seems this book is a sequel to your first?

J. R. Backlund: Among The Dead is the first in the series, with this the second. She shot a suspect who she believed to be innocent.  The woman was framed, but becomes desperate, defiant, and points a gun at a deputy.  So Rachel had no alternative, but to shoot her. 

EC:  Where did you get the idea for this story?

JRB:  As I thought about ideas for the second book, I watched a Netflix documentary, “The Kill Team.” It is about a bunch of soldiers in Afghanistan who killed other soldiers.  One of the real-life guys feared for his life after telling the story of how a bunch of guys killed innocent civilians for fun.

EC:  In this book, there are a lot of vets that are bad guys?

JRB:  I am very supportive of vets.  I came from a military family and worked as a military contractor.  I have donated to the charity, “Homes For Vets.” Any large organization will have some bad people. One of the things I put in the book is how a vet had to decide if he wanted to do what was right or follow the fraternal order of his brothers in arms.

EC:  How would you describe Rachel?

JRB:  She is based on my mom.  I started to think of my mom’s demeanor and thought her personality was perfect for Rachel.  They are both single-minded on solving problems and follow their own instincts. Rachel is driven and obsessed about her job.  I wrote a scene where she is afraid of what will happen as she goes down the investigative hole. She is traumatized from what happened to her, but became stronger and resilient.

EC: Danny cares about Rachel, but refuses to start a relationship?

JRB:  He is in love with her, but wishes she is someone less prone to get herself into mortal danger.  There are always people in our lives who we wish would change.  They are drawn together on many levels.

EC:  There are a lot of scenes involving Rachel using Brazilian jiu-jtsu?

JRB:  I do practice it.  It is a way I got to know so many law enforcement officers.  I have actually trained in martial arts since I was a child. I wrote this scene, which is actually illegal because it is very dangerous, yet an effective technique. Because Rachel’s hands are bound behind her back she needed to do something and this method injures the knee and ankle.  In the book I wrote, “Her left leg snaked around his right. Her other leg hooked behind his left knee. She kicked and he came crashing down. With a grunt she twisted, using the power of her whole body against his ankle. She heard it pop, and he screamed in pain. But she wasn’t finished. She straightened her legs on his contorted knee. She repositioned her hands and pushed on his shin to make it worse. Both of her hands and both of her legs worked against his cruciate ligaments. She felt them give, and he screamed even louder.”

EC:  The Tacoma truck is prevalent; do you drive one?

JRB:  I used to drive a Tundra, but I do like the Tacoma. One of the guys who worked with me had one and I thought this is a great pick-up truck for driving in the Carolina Mountains to get up the hills.

EC:  Do you believe as one of your characters says, “anyone is capable of killing”?

JRB:  A majority of people if pushed would kill.  If your child was endangered and the only way to save them is to kill someone would you do it?  I think that is her way of rationalizing to save someone else’s life.  I do not believe in purely evil characters and feel they killed for a justification, even in their own minds.

EC:  Please explain the powerful quote about the fighting in Afghanistan.

JRB:  You are referring to this quote, “He had seen the worst of what people could do to one another.  Men beheaded, women raped and stoned to death…reprisals and honor killings. His unit had discovered the body of a twelve-year-old girl with no face.” I wanted to write about the barbarism and brutality of life in this country. I know that those who fought there always used the word “savages.” The locals are stuck in the Middle Ages. American soldiers wonder if they are conspiring with the Taliban.  I imagine that is what Vietnam was like.

EC:  Next book?

JRB:  Rachel wants to have peace and relies on her friends.  She gets a lot of support from Danny.  She will be a little broken and tries to suppress her emotions.