Shambles

D.M. O'Neal

Book Cover

GENRE

GOTHIC MYSTERY CRIME DRAMA

    Core Theme

    REVENGE, MURDER

    TIME PERIOD

    1980s & '90s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    SHARP OBJECTS; BIG LITTLE LIES; DEXTER

    CHARACTER LIST

    • MEGAN: LATE 30s. LEAD. A SINGLE MOTHER WORKING AS A FORENSIC CRIME INVESTIGATOR.
    • HAP: 60. MEGAN’S MENTOR. BLUNT, COMPLEX, MASCULINE, UNAPOLOGETIC.
    • KURT: 35. MEGAN’S EX-HUSBAND. ANTAGONIST. CRIMINAL, SEDUCTIVE, VILLAINOUS, AGGRESSIVE.

    Logline

    Women are dying, and the evidence points to Megan Brooks being next on the list. A forensic chemist living a quiet life as a single mom, she untangles a web of lies in a desperate bid to save herself from the evil created by her fugitive ex-husband.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Fort Worth, Texas; early 1990s

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Fawkes Press

    Year Published: 2018

    Starting Description

    A forensic scientist is called to work a death - her ex-husband's *other* ex-wife. Well, one of them. Her ex? He disappeared in the wind after stealing a fortune from his clients. Has he returned, or is one of his clients exacting revenge? Is Megan in danger, or is Megan the danger?

    Ending Description

    Megan is revealed as the murderer. Her ex-husband is sentenced to jail, and she escapes with his money.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Language/Profanity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist

    Plot - Premise

    ,revenge

    Main Character Details

    Name: Megan Brooks

    Age: 35

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Criminal, Educated, Beautiful, Complex, Crazy, Secretive, Unapologetic, Adventurous, Badass

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Hap

    Age: 60

    Gender: Male

    Role: Mentor

    Key Traits: Blunt, Complex, Masculine, Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Kurt

    Age: 35

    Gender: Male

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Greedy, Masculine, Seductive, Villainous, Aggressive, Charming, Criminal, Desperate

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Brief

    A few women show up dead with only one apparent link -- all three were married to the same man, an
    escaped convict, at one point. The other woman he married, Megan, is a forensic scientist working on
    the case. Will she be next?

    What We Liked

    - Female Lead, Southern Gothic revenge fantasy, set in 1994;
    - Lots of steamy sex scenes;
    - Suspense that can get hearts racing as more and more women show up dead;
    - Could work as a limited studies with a focus on character study, watching each character
    learn the events around them and try to uncover -- or cover up -- the crimes.

    Synopsis

    In 1994, Megan is a forensic scientist who gets called in to investigate an apparent suicide. Once at
    the scene of the crime, Megan quickly recognizes the victim; she's suddenly pulled back into a
    memory, hearing only ""they'd be better off dead."" The victim is an ex-wife of Kurt, a man who Megan
    was married to before he randomly disappeared one day and left her with mountains of debt from
    charges he racked up in her name. Megan conceals her knowledge of the victim and tries to regain
    her composure - she looks up to her boss, Sam, who has been her mentor and inspiration for working
    in the field, and she has strong romantic feelings for Hap, a detective, despite the fact that he's in his
    60s and married. She keeps her fears to herself and goes about her life - random secret trysts with a
    black DA named Tyler, and raising her son, Connor, a 16 year old boy, while her older son, Ian, is
    starting his first year of college.
    However, soon, another one of Kurt's ex wives shows up dead. Megan arrives at the crime scene to
    investigate, but is unable to hide her discomfort from Sam and Hap. The two are angry to learn that
    she knew both of these women and had kept it secret. Hap becomes worried for Megan's life and
    assigns her a bodyguard, Jackie. Jackie watches Megan day and night to try and keep her safe,
    although Megan resents the supervision. One day, while at a fair, Megan thinks she sees Kurt, but
    she's unable to confirm it was really him and not simply fear or hope. Worse, she thinks she sees him
    with April, his only other surviving ex-wife.
    A few months later, April's dead body is found in the river. Kurt is caught and goes to jail while he
    awaits his trial. Megan visits him and Kurt tells her the location of a large amount of money he'd
    stowed away. Kurt tells Megan he's loved her the whole time, but she's furious and confesses to him
    that she actually was the one who committed all the murders so that he'd rot in jail. However, she
    can't remember killing April, and wonders if she's lost her grip on reality. Megan and Kurt had been
    secretly meeting up this whole time, having sex while Megan plotted her revenge. Kurt threatens her in
    letters to tell his lawyers what happened. Soon, Tyler warns Megan that she's become a prime
    suspect, and she goes to Hal. Hal has a heart attack. He's rushed to the hospital, where he privately
    confesses to Megan that he knew she was the real murderer immediately and wanted to protect her.
    He tells her that he's the one who killed April so that Megan would be happy and live a life without
    Kurt and his trouble. Hap confesses his love for Megan, and tells her that he's going to die in his
    surgery the next day. He calls in another detective, and confesses to the murders of all three women
    on tape. He dies in the surgery as predicted, and charges against Kurt are dropped.

    About The Author

    DM O'Neal spent eleven years attending college while working as a lab technician at Forensic Consultant Services. She obtained a BS and has amassed a twenty-nine year career in forensics. Currently, she is a Senior Forensic Chemist at the Medical Examiner's Office in Fort Worth, TX.