A note from the author:

My introduction to Baltimore was like that of many other avid viewers of the groundbreaking and brilliant NBC series Homicide: Life on the Streets based on the stellar book written by David Simon in 1991 – a virtual bible of the inner workings of a homicide unit in a city plagued by drugs and violence.

However, my personal introduction to the city came in a rather unassuming email over ten years ago from an active-duty sergeant with the Homicide Unit. Detective Sergeant Steve Lehmann – a.k.a. Sparky – had answered a query I’d posted to a newsgroup requesting feedback for research on "Baltimore: the city, the streets and its people."

  I accepted Sparky’s invitation to visit, and that first venture to Baltimore during Thanksgiving 1995 was truly unforgettable. Expecting the 15-minute tour, I was met instead with a generosity and graciousness I couldn’t have dreamed. Of course, I’m not completely naive: it could have been those bar tabs I picked up as well. Either way, hours led into nights, and subsequent visits would have me spending entire midnight shifts with Sparky and the squad, going out on calls, witnessing the workings on a crime scene, bringing in informants with DEA, sitting in on interviews, and sifting through case folders back at the offices when the dark morning hours drew to a close.

It was while living in Baltimore for a period of time and developing close relationships with some members on the Homicide Unit, that Kay Delaney’s character took firm root. There are many individuals, as well as ‘Charm City’ itself, to whom I am indebted. It’s the men and women of the city’s police department, Sparky and his squad and the rest of the men and women on the Homicide Unit who were the true inspirations behind the characters that inhabit the world of my novels.

"The Major Players"

(from left to right: Vickie Wash, Asst. State's Attorney, Illona, Dr. Mary Ripple,
M.E., Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, Sgt. (retired) Steve 'Sparky' Lehmann,
BPD Homicide
, Det. Mike Hammel, Homicide)

  Deep gratitude also goes to Vickie Wash of the States Attorney’s Office, Dr. Mary Ripple, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland, and Detective Bobby Cherry Jr. – constant sources of information, fonts of knowledge, and great sports for humoring my many often gruesome and somewhat deviant questions.

I also owe huge thanks to Bob Cox and Anna Stella for their constant hospitality, and especially to Bob for not only chauffeuring me throughout Baltimore and the beautiful state of Maryland, but for always knowing where best to hide a body (fictional, of course!).

But it’s Sparky to whom I owe the most: for introducing me to it all, for trusting me, for sticking with me, for having faith, and for being the model of a true hero.

Illona Haus
(Haus currently resides in Ontario, Canada, taking frequent trips to the city that continues to inspire her, and is researching and writing the next exciting Kay Delaney novel.)


"[Haus] shows a veteran's skill."  

Baltimore Sun

“ ... fast-paced gritty thriller ... A heart-thumping and satisfying read!”

--Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine

"Illona Haus shows no mercy in this taut tale of one cop's quest for justice."

--Lisa Gardner,
New York Times bestselling author

"..a voice to listen for in this genre."

--Tom Mayes,
I Love a Mystery Website

"…a chilling first novel, a psychological thriller…The author’s impressive ability to get inside the heads of multiple characters (particularly the killer’s) without betraying plot twists, and her refusal to shy away from morbid detail, will keep readers enthralled."

--Publishers Weekly

Copyright © Illona Haus 2008. All rights reserved.

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