Dear Reader,

Looking for a sizzling-hot book to take to the beach or the pool this summer? Try my new romantic thriller, Unspeakable, which takes place along the sultry Texas coastland where I grew up. Here is what RT Book Reviews had to say about the story:

“Readers who’ve been waiting for a book featuring sexy true crime writer Troy Stockton, your time has come, and you won’t be disappointed. This is a tight suspense with the sexiest of heroes and a protagonist seriously worth rooting for.” 4 ½ STARS!

At the heart of this story is FBI agent Elaina McCord, who goes to a popular beach resort to investigate a string of brutal murders. When the case turns frighteningly personal, true crime writer Troy Stockton may be the only person Elaina can trust.

I’ll hope enjoy Unspeakable as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Happy reading!

Laura Griffin



Excerpt from Unspeakable

© Laura Griffin

Gina Calvert spent the final four days of her life in Room 132, known to hotel staffers as the Sand Dollar Suite. Elaina turned the key in the lock, pushed open the door, and stepped into the darkened room. She smelled mildew and lemon furniture polish as she ran her hand over the wall and located the light switch.

The room flooded with a yellowish glow. Elaina took in the simple décor: wrought iron bed, blue-and-white quilt, bleached oak nightstands. She pulled the door shut behind her and secured the bolt, then the latch. She dropped her bags on the blue chintz armchair and glanced around. On the closest nightstand sat a white princess phone.

Elaina stared at it and felt a wave of dread. She owed her boss an update. Maybe she’d shoot him an e-mail and hope he didn’t get it until Monday. That would give her two days to recover from this afternoon.

This afternoon had been a disaster. And why? Because she’d underestimated the politics. It wasn’t just about jurisdiction or expertise down here. It was about stroking the right egos, playing the game. She should have come across as a helpful federal agent, here to observe and lend a hand. Instead, she’d come across as a know-it-all, and Breck had been more than happy to put her in her place. Elaina shuddered at the memory.

Then she pulled out her cell and called her best friend.

“Weaver.”

She sighed. Just the familiar sound of his voice made her feel better.

“I’m at the Sandhill Inn,” she told him.

Pause. “Didn’t they release that crime scene, like, three months ago?”

“I’m spending the night here.” She sat down on the bed and started unbuttoning her shirt. Even the room felt humid. “I got a flat tire.”

“So call a tow truck,” he said in a low voice. “You’re only what, fifty miles from here?”

“Forty.”

“Why are you staying, then?”

“Why are you whispering?”

“I’m in the surveillance van with Scarborough and Garcia,” he said. “Southwest Bank branch office.”

“I shouldn’t keep you.”

“Forget it. They’re both on the phone.”

But she felt guilty anyway. Elaina’s partner was possibly the only agent Scarborough liked less than he liked her. It was probably the magenta ties. Her boss was of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell-don’t-advertise persuasion.

“So what happened? Why’d you decide to stay?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I guess because they wanted me to leave.”

“‘Atta girl. Hey, you need a ride tomorrow?”

“I’ll be fine. I think I’ll spend the weekend here, see if I can get anything.”

“Good luck. See you in the office Monday.”

“Not if I can help it.”

They got off the phone, and she felt bolstered, like she always did after talking to Weaver.

She scanned the room again with a fresh eye. It was quaint. Charming, actually. With the right man, the place might even pass for romantic.

Had Gina brought any men back to this room during her brief vacation? Did she pick up strangers at bars? Was she a loner? Yet another bit of information Elaina intended to uncover. Most profilers focused their attention on the perpetrator. Elaina—possibly because she was female--believed it was just as important to understand the victim. If she could understand the victim, she stood a much better chance of figuring out how she’d crossed paths with her attacker.

Elaina walked into the bathroom and turned on the light. The tiny room had a black and white checkered floor and a claw-footed tub. Elaina caught her reflection in the mirror above the sink. Strands of hair had come loose from her bun, and mascara smudges darkened the skin beneath her eyes. How did women wear makeup in this climate? It practically melted off as soon as she left her apartment every morning.

She unwrapped the giveaway soap and scrubbed her face clean. Then she returned to the bedroom and snatched up the carryout menu from the nightstand. She gave it a brief perusal, then called in an order for pepperoni pizza and a two-liter bottle of Coke.

After hanging up the clunky phone, she crossed the suite to the sliding glass door. This room had a view of the beach, according to the hotel clerk. Elaina pulled back the curtains, gazed down at the lock, and sighed. Whatever she’d been, Gina Calvert hadn’t been very security conscious.

Elaina slipped off her heels and stepped outside. The grit under her feet surprised her at first, and the sound of breaking waves lured her toward the edge of the patio. A half moon had risen in the east, and she gazed at it for a moment, then turned back to face the suite.

The slider’s lock was flimsy, but had shown no sign of damage, according to police reports. Ditto the lock on the bathroom window.

Had he come in through the hallway? If so, no one on staff had seen him. Or if they had, they hadn’t reported it. So how had the killer entered her room?

“He came in off the beach.”

Elaina gasped and reached for her gun. A man stepped into the light, and suddenly she remembered.

“Troy Stockton,” she said accusingly.

“In the flesh.” His gaze dropped to her Glock. “Long as you don’t blow me away with that thing.”

She jammed the weapon back into her holster. “I know who you are. You wrote about the Woodlawn murders up in San Antonio.”

He lifted an eyebrow and slouched against the wall beside the doorway. He was half in shadow now, while she was standing in a pool of light.

With her shirt unbuttoned.

“You followed me here,” she said, re-buttoning the blouse.

“Nope.” He hooked his thumb through his belt loop and watched her.

“How did you know I was here?”

He shrugged.

Either he was following her, or someone was feeding him information. Given his line of work, she guessed it was a contact on the police force, probably Maynard.

She stared at him and hoped he’d shift under the scrutiny, but he didn’t. He just stood there, looking nothing like a writer, all tall and broad-shouldered, with muscles that bulged beneath his black T-shirt. Where was the pasty skin? Where were the horn-rimmed glasses from his book jacket photo? Must have been a prop, selected to create the illusion of scholarship.

“You decided to stay,” he said.

“I’m here for the autopsy.”

“You weren’t invited.”

She crossed her arms, and he shifted his attention out toward the water.

“This beach gets pretty quiet ‘long about midnight,” he said. “Just couples, mainly. No bonfires anymore, not since the burn ban.”

She followed his gaze to the shoreline, where waves churned against the sand. In the moonlight, she could see a cluster of people standing beside a beached kayak. They were sharing a cigarette, and the ember glowed as they passed it around. A few other groups strolled down the beach, probably heading out to the bars.

“He could have walked up to her door without anyone noticing. Maybe she recognized him from someplace, let him right in.” Troy turned to look at her. “Or maybe he let himself in.”

“The lock wasn’t damaged.”

His gaze dropped down to her top button, then drifted back to her face. “That lock’s a joke.”

“How would you know?”

“I’ve looked at it.”

Gina’s girlfriends told police she’d gone back to her room alone on the night of her disappearance. And yet the couple in the suite above Gina’s had heard muffled voices--a man’s and a woman’s--in the room beneath them. Who was the man? It was one of the central questions of the investigation.

An investigation Troy Stockton seemed to know a whole lot about.

Elaina pursed her lips. “Are you writing about Gina Calvert now? Another runaway bestseller about slashed up women?”

The muscle in his jaw twitched.

“You seem to have all the right contacts around here,” she said. “Plenty of sources. Probably won’t take you too long to crank something out.”

His gaze on her was steady. “You figure out why you’re here yet, Elaina?”

“I’m still trying to figure out why you’re here.”

Another shrug. “Just thought I’d drop by. Tell you to watch your back.”

“Thanks for the tip. But listen, anything I say--whether you hear it from me or one of your friends--is off the record. I’m not here to talk to reporters, and if you quote me in your book I’ll slap you with a lawsuit so fast, your head will spin.”

His lip curled up at the corner. “I don’t doubt it.”

Inside the suite, her cell phone chimed.

“You’d better get that.” He straightened away from the wall. “Real nice meeting you, Agent McCord. Good luck with your mission tomorrow.”

Copyright 2010 by Laura Griffin
Available June 29 from Pocket Books


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Contest!


Laura has a special contest for ASR NewsWire readers! For a chance to win, please visit Laura's website and find the answer to the following question -

Who comes to see Elaina during her first night at the hotel on Lito Island?

Send your answer to staff@authorsoundrelations.com and be sure to mark the heading as 'Unspeakable'. Please also include your full name and mailing address.

Three winners will each receive a signed copy of Untraceable, and one lucky winner will also receive a $20 gift card to B & N!

Contest deadline is July 4th, 2010.

Good luck!

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