Lynn Hesse won the 2015 First Place Winner, Oak Tree Press, Cop Tales, for her mystery, Well of Rage, a crime novel about a female rookie cop accused of mishandling evidence by her white-supremacist training officer, then tasked with solving the cold case murder of an African American teenager. Her second novel, Another Kind of Hero, was a finalist for the 2018 Silver Falchion Award and won the International Readers’ Chill Award in 2021. The mystery unfolds when a casket full of drugs and money found in the Pick’n Pay in Forsyth, Georgia, put two contentious sisters and an undercover DEA agent in jeopardy.
Her 2022 suspense release, The Forty Knots Burn, is based on the turmoil created by a maintenance man coming into the women’s dressing room at the author’s local wellness center and is fueled by Hesse’s intense desire to help the underdog or the outcast as exemplified by her dandelion performance persona. Her recurring interest in flamenco dance sparked her intense research in Roma culture.
A retired police lieutenant, Hesse draws from her experiences on the force to create gripping plot twists and multi-dimensional characters. She enjoys a daily yoga practice, and as an accomplished dancer she performs with several dance and theatrical troupes in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Forty Knots Burn: A con artist trio are stuck in Atlanta without funds when the oldest member has a heart attack and suddenly dies. Clara Shannesy Blythe and her adopted Uncle Roman are crushed at their mentor's death, but she must take over the reins of a cutthroat crew and pull off the risky art heist of an Edward Hopper painting. She falls in love for the first time at twenty-seven and realizes too late Hernando is the Hopper painting's forger and his brother is the man trying to kill her.
Following the judgmental locker queen for a while after work sounded like a fun idea. Because of information afforded by Sadye Mitchell’s nametag and the whiteboard in the office — the preoccupied director had left the door open the last time I worked out — I knew Sadye’s workday ended in about an hour, barely enough time to drive our rental car across town and wait. Roman wouldn’t want to leave Victor, but I would tell him a half-truth, that I was smitten and was vetting a man as a possible suitor. Relaying the details to Roman in a way that suggested the spry Sadye might be Hernando’s mother and not insult my adopted uncle’s common sense would be a challenge, but he would say nothing. He loved me, and we, the tribe of only three, rarely made friends or paramours on our layovers.
I hadn’t had a real lover in several years because the background checks were a headache, but I indulged in anonymous one-night stands with Roman as my bodyguard waiting in the wings in case anything went sour. According to Roman, as is the Roma custom, everyone, especially women, should be married. The fact that none of us pretended to be celibate or have any interest in marriage didn’t seem to sway his opinion.
Roman sat with his back to the entrance in the cafeteria, eating a double portion of chili and beans heaped over spaghetti. After I sat down he studied my body language. He saw that I caught on to what he was doing, stood, and grabbed an extra napkin from a nearby counter.
When he returned, I said, “I’m fine, Roman. Really, I am. Victor will be better soon, and we can move on.”
“Okay, but you seem antsy pants.” He shrugged his wide Russian shoulders. “Nervous. Five months is long time. The longest we ever stay in one place since—”
“London, when Victor’s mother died. You are perceptive. This time it’s another delicate matter making me restless. There’s a guy from the center where I swim. I need … I mean I want to check him out.” I intentionally looked down at the table and hesitated before I continued. “He works at the gym.”
“What does he do, this Romeo?”
“That’s it. He doesn’t know I like him. He and his mom work in housekeeping or maybe maintenance at the gym.” I realized how easily I’d lied and tied Hernando to Sadye to eliminate the necessity of explaining why I yearned to pay back this horrible woman for insulting me and hitting Hernando. I babbled on. “I’ve even got her phone number from the community board where she posted a housekeeper-available ad with her photo.”
“Victor won’t like this man for you. Not a good idea.”
“I am a big girl. Besides, we won’t be here much longer.” I locked gazes with Roman. “He seems like a nice guy. Very polite and kind of shy. Do you realize how long it has been since I went on a date? Uncle Rom, I could do it myself, but—”
“Jobs require two of us. We agreed is safer.” He placed both hands on the edge of the table and squinted before he picked up his fork and waved it around. “You are twenty-seven?”
He knew my age, but I went along with the game and nodded.
“For many years I watch you. No romance. Not healthy. You need to settle down, but not with this gadje. Rom with Rom andgadje with gadje.”
I tried to object about using a slang term for non-Roma people, but my uncle held up a palm, stopping me. He took another bite of food, chewed, and swallowed before he answered. “Okay, I agree. But only while Victor’s sick. Won’t hurt anyone to watch this nice guy and his family to gain their favor. Outsiders have their uses for Romas.” He rubbed his fingertips together, indicating outsiders had cash, and then added, “So you talk to boss and tell him about your … janitor.”
“You got it.” I leaned across the table and touched his hairy forearm. “You’re the best. Better than best.”
“You still my Tinkerbelle?”
Grinning at him and feeling like the flighty, shrieking adolescent I was when Roman first met me, and later took me to see the Disney movie Peter Pan, I said, “You bet.” He’d coined my pet name after commenting on how short I was and my inability to sit still, and then compared me to Disney’s flying fairy, Tinkerbelle or Tink.
He patted my hand and pushed his plate away. “When do we start this checking out guy?”
“We should’ve left already. Remind me to undo a curse just in case it took.”
Roman shook a finger at me. “Bad girl.”
“Come on,” I said. “His mother’s shift ends at five o’clock.”
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