Friday, September 18, 2020

All We Buried (+ Giveaway)

It's a pleasure to be a part of author Elena Taylor's Partners in Crime Book Tour for her latest release, ALL WE BURIED, the first installment in her Sheriff Bet Rivers series.

Come along for an interview with the author and your chance to enter her awesome giveaway.

By Elena Taylor
Genre: Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 1643852914 (ISBN13: 9781643852911)
Series: Sheriff Bet Rivers #1
Purchase Links:Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads
For fans of Julia Keller and Sheena Kamal, All We Buried disturbs the long-sleeping secrets of a small Washington State mountain town.

Interim sheriff Elizabeth "Bet" Rivers has always had one repeat nightmare: a shadowy figure throwing a suspicious object into her hometown lake in Collier, Washington. For the longest time, she chalked it up to an overactive imagination as a kid. Then the report arrives. In the woods of the Cascade mountain range, right in her jurisdiction, a body floats to the surface of Lake Collier. When the body is extricated and revealed, no one can identify Jane Doe. But someone must know the woman, so why aren't they coming forward? 

Bet has been sitting as the interim sheriff of this tiny town in the ill-fitting shoes of her late father and predecessor. With the nightmare on her heels, Bet decided to build a life for herself in Los Angeles, but now it's time to confront the tragic history of Collier. The more she learns, the more Bet realizes she doesn't know the townspeople of Collier as well as she thought, and nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.

Join me in giving a warm welcome to Elena as she answers some questions. Welcome, Elena.

How did the plot for this book come about?
The book started with the image of a dark lake and the evolution of the protagonist Bet Rivers. I started thinking about what could be hidden on the bottom of a deep, dark lake and a young woman returning to her tiny hometown to take on the role of interim sheriff while her father recovers from an illness.

I knew early on that her father had died and now she was faced with whether or not to stay and fight to keep his seat or go back to Los Angeles and live the life she thought she wanted. That knowledge told me a lot about character and atmosphere.

For the mystery, I had a lot of disparate parts that I knew as I started writing as well. So, I had to sort out who the killer was (I knew who the victim was) and why that person committed the crime. I had a sense of the path, with a few markers along the way, but it took several drafts to discover the actual details.

This book went through a lot of major rewrites, even after I signed with Crooked Lane Books. A lot of credit goes to my wonderful editor Jenny Chen for the final product. I’m really pleased with the way the book evolved and I’m especially happy it found a home with CL.

How did you go about doing research, if any, for this book?

Research is one of my favorite parts of being a writer. My favorite research is face-to-face interviews with experts. For All We Buried I talked or emailed with a variety of experts, including police officers, a coroner, and a scientist at the University of Washington.

Radar and his cone
Then, I have a police officer who I have worked with for every book I have published. I run all my scenarios and police procedure stuff past him for accuracy. We have a shorthand—always, maybe, never. If there’s something a detective would always do, I want to make sure my sheriff does it (or the homicide detective does it in my earlier series). If a cop might do something, then I can include it for dramatic effect. If it’s something a police officer would never do, then I make sure I rewrite to make the events more accurate.

While not everything is 100% accurate to the real world—I’m sure I have errors of fact—I do my best to represent everyone in my books as they would be in the real world. It is fiction, so I do make things happen to increase the speed of events occurring or to make things more exciting, but I try to do so within the realm of possibility.

I also love to do location research. While Collier, Washington, isn’t a real town, the area in which I placed it is real. I love to visit the area to glean details to include in my descriptions. Further, the town itself is based, in part, on a real place, Roslyn, Washington. I like to travel to Roslyn for additional details as well. I live in the town of North Bend, on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountain Range. Roslyn is on the eastern slopes, so not too far away. Collier also shares some similarities with the Snoqualmie Valley, where I live. I don’t have to travel for some of my real-world details. Like the elk that wander around on the valley floor, I can see those in my own backyard.

Who was the character you enjoyed writing about the most and who is the one you enjoyed the least?

What a great question. Obviously. I love my protagonist, Bet Rivers, but I have to say the character I most like writing about would be Schweitzer. He’s the dog Bet inherits from her father. He’s a working police dog, trained in tracking and working with his “person.” Bet has to learn to relate and communicate with him, so that was a very fun character arc.

I don’t have any characters I enjoyed the least. I will say the killer was the hardest to get right, I kept changing the motivations around throughout rewrites, so I wouldn’t say I liked that character the least, but the killer was the most challenging.

What do you hope readers take away from reading this book?

That the plot was twisty and exciting and that the character development felt genuine. I am most interested in the human condition, so even though I write crime fiction, I love to delve into why we do what we do. I hope that Bet Rivers feels very real and authentic. She’s flawed and unsure of herself at times, which I think we can all relate too. But she’s also ethical and hardworking and committed to protecting her community, which I think is an excellent role model.

Any thoughts to turning this book into a series?

This is book one in what I hope will be a multi-book series. I’m just finishing up book two now. Stay tuned for more information! 

Elena, thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight into your book and writing. Gotta say, love your horse.

Read an excerpt:


Sheriff Bet Rivers leaned back in her chair and gazed out the office window at the shifting light on Lake Collier. Bright sun- light cast up sparkling diamonds as a late-summer breeze chopped the surface—turquoise-blue and silver. The fragment of a song from her childhood teased her mind—silver, blue, and gold. She hummed the tune under her breath.
Red and yellow leaves turned the maple trees in the park across the street into Jackson Pollock paintings. Hard to believe Labor Day weekend ended tonight. Somehow summer had slipped by and fall had snuck up on her as she tended to her new position.
If she had still been in Los Angeles, she’d have been a detective by now. Instead, she was back in her tiny hometown with a job her father had tricked her into taking.
“I need you to cover for me while I get chemo,” he said. “It’s just for a few months. I’m going to be fine.”
With the detective exam available only once every two years, it meant putting her career on hold. But her father had never asked her for anything; how could she say no?
He never said he would die, turning her “interim sheriff” position into something more permanent.
Her father always knew what cards to play. Competition. Family. Responsibility. Loyalty. Collier. A perfect straight. He’d used them all this time, as if he’d known it would be his last hand. No easy way to extricate herself now, short of gnawing off her own foot.
The sound of instruments tuning up pulled her attention to a trio set up at a bench outside the market across the street. The raised sidewalk and false front of the old building made the perfect backdrop for their performance. Collier relied on tourism for much of its income, and the local musicians encouraged visitors to stay longer and spend more.
A beat of silence followed by a quick intake of breath, the unspoken communication of musicians well attuned to one another, and the trio launched into song.
Church of a different sort. Bet could hear her father’s words. I don’t know if there’s a God, Bet, but I do believe in bluegrass.
The music produced a soundtrack to her grief. The banjo player favored the fingerpicking style of the great Earl Scruggs. Loss etched in the sound of three-part harmony, Earle Rivers’s death still a wound that wouldn’t close.
She recognized the fiddle player. She’d babysat him years ago. It made her feel old. Not yet thirty, she wasn’t, but as the last generation of Lake Collier Riverses, the weight of history fell heavy on her shoulders. In a line of sheriffs stretching back to the town’s founding, she was the bitter end.
Looking down at her desk, Bet eyed the new fly she’d tied. The small, barbless hook would work well for the catch-and-release fishing she did, and the bright yellow and green feathers pleased her. The only thing she’d missed while living in California. Surf fishing wasn’t the same.
I should name it in your memory, Dad. The Earle fly. Her grand- father had named him after Scruggs, but her grandmother added the e because she liked how it looked.
Bet imagined her father’s critical response to her work, the size of the hook too dainty for his memorial.
Bet “spoke” with her father more now, four months after his death, than she’d ever done when he lived. Another burden she carried. The conversations they’d never had. Things she should have asked but didn’t.
She took a deep breath of the dry, pine scent that drifted in through the open windows, filling the room with a heady summer perfume. She should get up and walk around, let the com- munity see she was on the job, but her body felt leaden. And it wasn’t like anyone would notice. She could vanish for hours and it wouldn’t matter to Collier; no one required her attention. Not like they had depended on her father. His death still hung over town like a malaise, her presence an insufficient cure no matter what Earle might have believed when he called her home.
Before her father’s illness, she’d had a plan. First the police academy, then patrol officer, proving she could make it in Los Angeles as a cop. She’d envisioned at least twenty years in LA, moving up the ranks—something with Chief in the title— returning home with a long, impressive career before stepping into Earle’s shoes.
Too late, she’d realized he wouldn’t get better. He’d brought her home for good.
Stretching her arms above her head, she walked her fingers up the wall behind her, tapping to the beat of the music. Anything to shake off the drowsiness brought on by the hot, quiet day and long nights of uneasy sleep.
The coffee stand beckoned from across the street, but the sound of the front door opening and the low, throaty voice of the department’s secretary, Alma, stopped her from voyaging out. A two-pack-a-day smoker for almost forty years, Alma sounded a lot like Lauren Bacall after a night of heavy drinking. She’d given up smoking more than twenty years ago, but even now, as she edged into her seventies, Alma’s voice clung to the roughness like a dying man to a life preserver. Bet hoped the visitor only wanted information about the community and Alma could answer.
No such luck. The efficient clop of Alma’s square-heeled shoes clumped down the scarred floors of the hallway, a counterpoint to another set of feet. Bet brought her hands down off the wall and automatically tucked a wayward curl of her auburn hair back up under her hat before Alma arrived, poking her birdlike head around the wooden frame of the door. Gray hair teased tall, as if that would give her five-foot frame a couple extra inches.
“Bet?” Alma always said her name as though it might not be Bet Rivers sitting behind the enormous sheriff’s desk. Bet assumed Alma wished to find Earle Rivers there. She wondered how long that would last. If Bet threw the upcoming election and fled back to Southern California, leaving her deputy to pick up the reins, maybe everyone would be better off, no matter what her father wanted.
“Yes, Alma?” “I think you’d better listen to what this young man has to say.” The “young man” in question could be anywhere under the age of sixty in Alma’s book, and as he stood out of sight down the hallway, Bet had little to go on.
“Okay,” Bet said.
“I think it’s important.” Alma waited for Bet to show appropriate attention. “Okay.”
“Seems he found a dead body floating in the lake.”
Excerpt from All We Buried by Elena Taylor. Copyright 2020 by Elena Taylor. Reproduced with permission from Elena Taylor. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Author Elena Taylor, Photo credit Mark Perlstein
Elena Taylor lives on the banks of the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in a town made famous by Twin Peaks. 

When she's not writing or working one-on-one with writers as a developmental editor, she can be found hanging out with her husband, dog, and two cats. 

Her favorite place to be (besides home) is the stables down the road, with her two horses Radar and Jasper.

For more information on Elena and her writing, you can connect with her on the following sites:, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Doesn't this sound like an intriguing mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end?

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  1. Congratulations Elena.
    I am drawn to character always, so the work you put in (and I am sure it was gruelling) is meat for this greedy reader. Thank you.

  2. If she lives in the real town for Twin Peaks, she was destined to write eerie mysteries.

    1. Ha ha ha ha . . . I even live on the banks of the Middle Fork, so the water that flows past my house ends up at the bottom of the falls where they found Laura Palmer.

  3. I better read this and soon if it's going to be a series.

  4. This really sounds intriguing, Mason. I like that plot theme of long-buried secrets, and the setting is fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  5. So much fun to visit your blog! Thank you for having me.


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