Until Proven Guilty



The little girl was found with her pink nightgown twisted around her throat. She was only five. The woman who came to the funeral and threw a single rose on the little girl’s coffin was alive and beautiful. . .the kind of beautiful that Homicide Detective J. P. Beaumont couldn’t resist.
Beau saw the little girl’s battered body. And he saw the insane eyes of the “Reverend” who ran Faith Tabernacle where little children were beaten and punished for the sake of salvation.
J. P. Beaumont was certain he had his man . . . as certain as he was of the beautiful woman he wanted to spend his life with. But lurking in the dark corners of this bizarre case was not just a demented mind obsessed with murder . . . not just a series of murders about to happen . . . but secrets so deadly, so close to Beaumont’s life, that even a street-tough cop could die guessing.

In the early 1980s I had a chance encounter with what eventually turned into a full-blown cult. When I set out to write the first Beaumont book, I took a Bible and a Concordance and then used scripture passages to justify all kinds of strange behavior. When I realized the book was going to be published, I worried about whether or not the cult members would see themselves reflected in the story. I needn’t have worried. It turned out, those folks really liked the book. That’s one of the happy miracles of writing fiction.
I was in the life insurance business. Even after my divorce, there was a life insurance policy on which I was both owner and beneficiary. When my former husband died, I invested $5000 of the proceeds in a computer–a dual floppy Eagle–and a Daisy Wheel printer. That computer had 128 K of memory, so when my word processor, a program called Spellbinder, was loaded into the computer, there was only 15 K left in the work space.
The reason the first books have such short, punchy chapters was due to the fact that if they were any longer than 15 K, the cursor would freeze up. It was while I was writing the third book, Trial by Fury, that I met and married my second husband, an electronics engineer. He took my computer apart and added more memory with the result that the chapters were able to be a little longer and a lot more graceful.

AVON (1985) ISBN 0-380-89638-9