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Released: May 2017
ISBN: 9781370712939
Kindle US, Kindle UK
Apple, Kobo, Nook
Series: A Winston Radhauser Mystery, #1
Author: Susan Clayton-Goldner
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Suspense
Price: free
Print: $11.99

Amazon US - Amazon UK - Goodreads

InD'Tale RONE Finalist

2nd place winner
Thriller Novels
East Texas Writers Guild Blue Ribbon Book Cover Awards

Tucson, Arizona – Eighteen-year-old Matt Garrison is harboring two terrible secrets: his involvement in the drowning death of his 12-year-old cousin, and a night of drunken sex with his best friend’s mother, Crystal, whom he finds dead in a bathtub of blood. Guilt forces Matt to act on impulse and hide his involvement with Crystal.

Detective Winston Radhauser knows Matt is hiding something. But as the investigation progresses, Radhauser’s attention is focused on Matt’s father. Matt’s world closes in when his father is arrested for Crystal’s murder, and Travis breaks off their friendship.

Despite his father’s guilty plea, Matt knows his dad is innocent and only trying to protect his son. Devastated and bent on self-destruction, Matt heads for the lake where his cousin died—the only place he believes can truly free him. Are some secrets better left buried?

Listen to the author read chapter one

For the next hour and a half, he drifted in and out of sleep. Cradled by the night sounds of the desert outside the open window, each time a memory emerged, his thoughts thickened and folded back into sleep. At one point, he heard water running for a bath. A little later, he heard a car outside. Oh God, please don’t let it be Travis. He stumbled to the window and opened the curtains. In the street, two long rectangular taillights moved away, turning south onto Oracle Road.

Matt leaned against the wall, staring at the sunflower sheets on Crystal’s bed. The same bed he and Travis had jumped up and down on when they were eight. The digital clock read 10:38pm. His head throbbed. He needed to close his eyes. Crystal would wake him in time to leave before Travis got home. He fell back onto the bed.

When he woke up again, the room was very dark. He wore only his boxers and a white T-shirt his mother had insisted upon—claiming his usual dark one would show through his tuxedo shirt. As if the color of his T-shirt could ruin her perfect wedding. But he’d been ingenious and found another way to ruin things for his mother. He turned toward the empty space beside him. It took a few moments for him to realize where he was. He closed his eyes, shook his aching head to clear it. Crystal was his best friend’s mother. What the hell was he doing in her bed?

He thought he heard the sound of the front door open, then close again. Oh God, please don’t let it be Travis. His eyes adjusted to the darkness. One event at a time, he remembered everything.

Fully awake now, he shot from the bed, rocking for a few seconds before he achieved balance, then hurried to the window. The moon hung over the mountaintop, its light silver and unforgiving. Crystal’s driveway was empty. Whoever he’d heard, it wasn’t Travis. On the other side of the street, an engine started. This time the taillights were round. Definitely not Crystal’s Escort. The car turned north on Oracle Road.

Matt let out the breath he’d been holding and glanced at the digital clock—its red letters told him it was 11:20pm. He needed to get dressed and leave. The dance ended in forty minutes and Travis would head home. He grabbed his tuxedo pants and shirt from the chair. His hands shook so hard he could barely work the fly and the button on his trousers. He slipped into his shirt, then sat on the edge of the bed. As if he had the flu, his head throbbed and his stomach felt queasy.

He rushed down the hallway toward the bathroom. And when he did, he saw the puddle of blood on the floor beside the bathtub.

He hurried across the room, jerked open the pale green shower curtain.

Crystal lay naked in a bathtub filled with blood-colored water. Her hair, her beautiful blonde curls, had been chopped off, shorter in some places than others, as if a small child had done it. Some of the curls were floating on top of the water.

For a strange moment, everything remained calm and slow.

Her head was propped against one of those blow-up pillows attached to the back of the tub with suction cups. The tint of her skin was pale and slightly blue. Crystal’s eyes were open and staring straight ahead—looking at something he couldn’t see. Blood splattered the white tiles that surrounded the tub. It dripped down them like wet paint. One of her hands flopped over the side of the tub. A single thick drop fell from her index finger into the crimson pond congealing on the linoleum floor. It covered her neck and shoulders. Tiny bubbles of frothy blood still oozed from the gash in her neck.

An empty Smirnoff bottle sat in a puddle of blood on the tub’s rim, beside a straight-edged razor blade.

The bathroom was so quiet. Nothing but the sound of his own breathing. He clenched and unclenched his hands. His body grew numb. “Oh no. Oh God, no,” he said, the words thickening in the air in front of him. His head filled with strange sounds—the drone of insects humming, violinists tuning their strings. “What have I done?”

Top Reviews
I finished Redemption Lake with tears flowing with the depiction of the desert southwest leaving me homesick. Heart-wrenching suspense grabs at your throat and propels you through this book at a breakneck pace. Vivid prose and characters paint a picture of the life of a teenager in stress. Wow, what an ending, totally unexpected. I give this book 5 stars and wish it could be more. ~ Linda Rainey, Goodreads

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Redemption Lake is a fast paced story full of conflict and emotion. The characters are so real, so dramatic, they pull the reader into the story from page one. This is one of the best, most suspenseful books I have read in a long time. It definitely has a place on my personal bookshelf and I heartily recommend it. ~ Barbara Warren, Goodreads

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I'm not a big fan of mystery/thrillers, but this book held my attention from the first page to the last. This novel had several twists and turns throughout. The reader could really feel the anguish and torment the main character was experiencing. Also, the author used such descriptive language for the setting of Tuscon and the Arizona desert that one could really visualize the colors and plants. I recommend this book for an easy and fast read. I also liked Clayton-Goldner's last book, A Bend in the Willow. ~ Jane, Goodreads

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Thoroughly enjoyed this book by Susan Clayton-Goldner. She is an excellent writer of mysteries, keeps you reading past time. Enjoyed this one as much as A Bend in the Willow. Not too technical but does enough research to make it interesting until the last word. Susan sent me this book free for my honest opinion and review. ~ Ruth Horner, Goodreads

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I absolutely LOVED THIS BOOK!!! I thought A Bend in the Willow was really good, but Susan Clayton- Goldner hit this one out of the ballpark!!! Susan's writing does not waste a single paragraph with filler sentences. She keeps her stories moving and interesting! This book never slowed down for one minute. Unfortunately, I have lost several hours of sleep this week. I found myself getting back up after going to bed because I wanted to know what was happening next! I finished the book this afternoon and cannot wait until Susan publishes Book 2 in the series....I will certainly be reading it . . . You will never figure out all the twists and turns until the end!!! Enjoy!! I sure did!!! ~ Joan R. Craven, Goodreads

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First, let me start off by saying how excellent the writing was . . . I was very impressed! Then there was the great plot: I started reading last night, intending just to get a good feel for it, but couldn't put it down until I was finished! It isn't often enough that I read a book that envelops me like this one did. Besides the sometimes emotional story that will draw you in, there are a few lessons to be learned along the way about redemption, too. Second book I've read by this author but, certainly, not the last! ~ Louise Pledge, Goodreads

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