My short story collection, to be published September 1 by Bedazzled Ink, is available for preorder. The characters in the eighteen stories that comprise Restless Dreams, a collection of short stories, share a certain resemblance: tired eyes, a slow trudging step, and the distracted air of someone with lots on her mind, some of it unspeakable. But despite sore feet and an aching heart, each yearns for better days, aims for what is right, and makes it all work somehow. She’s a cop, a mom, a saleswoman, nanny, teacher, hairdresser, teen. None have it easy, but they don’t give up their restless dreams of a more perfect life.
Cold Heart, the second book in my Stella Lavender series, was released by Five Star Cengage on January 18 in hardback and e-book format.
CLICK HERE to read Chapter One of Cold Heart.
Everyone’s favorite North Carolina mystery writer, Margaret Maron, has read Cold Heart, and says: “Fans of the regional mystery, rejoice! SBI Special Agent Stella Lavender is back, and the murder that sets off the action is even more engrossing than her first. I loved getting to see more of Stella’s sexy grandmother and the people who populate Essex County.”
COLD HEART, a traditional mystery. Motivated by her mother’s long-ago unsolved abduction, Stella Lavender has joined the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation only to be severely challenged by her first assignment: undercover drug agent. Stella works nights, buying drugs from paranoid drug dealers, gathering evidence to send them to prison or turn them into informants. She’s great at the job because, as her boss says, “you don’t look like a cop.” But the physical danger and the necessary betrayals are getting to her. When she sees a chance to work homicide, she’ll always take it.
One afternoon Stella gives a hitchhiking teenager a ride to her babysitting job in a wealthy neighborhood. Horror awaits them—the father lies dead in a pool of blood, and his toddler is missing. Stella joins the murder investigation as the puzzle quickly grows. Most importantly, where is the toddler? A dizzying array of plausible suspects provides more questions than answers.
At the same time, Stella’s personal life offers plenty of distractions. Her grandmother Fern, a free-spirited artist with male admirers wrapped around every one of her paint-stained fingers, needs Stella’s help with expensive house repairs. And Stella’s attraction to three very different men means her romantic life is, well, complicated.
Cold Heart draws the reader into a darkly delightful page-turner as Stella rummages through every strata of society in her relentless and sometimes unconventional pursuit of a cold-hearted murderer who won’t stop at just one victim.
from reviews of COLD HEART
Kirkus Review “A complex case with a surfeit of red herrings…”
BOLO BOOKS “Karen Pullen’s traditional mystery series features a heroine everyone can relate to. Pullen’s characterization of an array of differing folks makes for a delightful and tense reading experience. This one is perfect for a relaxing afternoon read.”
Creatures ‘N Crooks “… a plethora of leads and suspects kept me guessing for quite a while and the characters, particularly Stella, are interesting. I liked her very much and appreciated her determination and even her occasional rule-bending. Stella Lavender is a cop I could be friends with.”
Auntie M Writes “Pullen creates her North Carolina setting and her characters well. A strong entry in a compelling series.”