The Bonds of Marriage
I’ve become fascinated by how far the bonds of marriage can be stretched before they break, like English toffee pulled apart by scrapping children. The inspiration to write a novel in which the main characters struggled to maintain their relationship under extraordinary pressures—Parker’s Choice—came from the senselessly shattered marriage of my best friends. Served with a side order of genealogy and a dash of corporate fraud, the fate of Parker’s marriage to Paula is baked into in a delicious murder mystery. A murder mystery, I found, is the perfect MacGuffin for a story about fragile relationships.
Parker is a prison-smart, professional data scientist who grew up immersed in his mother’s secret surrounding his birth father. Work and marriage are handholds for him as he seeks a stable life, but travail is the crucible in which his true identity is forged.
Three years ago, Parker took the blame for Paula’s assault with a deadly weapon and went to prison in her stead. Upon his parole, he finds Paula unwelcoming, ungrateful, unrepentant, and ensnared in an alcoholic spiral. He takes a high-paying job and moves Paula to suburban Atlanta, away from her support structure, only to find that his boss has hired Parker precisely because an ex-con can be coerced into committing corporate fraud. Parker’s comely Nigerian-American colleague, Sabrina, coaxes Parker to expose the fraud, but that would lead to his dismissal, entanglements with the authorities, and more discord at home. When the body of his worst enemy is pulled from the Chattahoochee River, Parker is certain that Paula committed the murder, but the cops make Parker their prime suspect. Parker shuttles Paula to an alcohol rehab facility in Florida to protect her from the cops, then becomes irresistibly infatuated with Sabina as they contrive to derail the fraud. On the run from cops and crooks, Parker and Sabrina travel to Columbia, SC, St. Petersburg, FL, and the New Orleans French Quarter in search of clues. In a creepy, decrepit cemetery, they find the link to Parker’s long, lost birth father and that breaks both cases wide open. Then Parker has a choice to make—protect his family or unmask the criminals.
From a writing perspective, I followed a simple, time-tested rule—I continuously asked myself: How can I make things worse for Parker? That was fun, but as a result, I exerted increasing pressure upon their marriage. No spoilers here, but Parker and Sabrina become terrific amateur sleuths.
Parker’s Choice has received two Firebird Awards, one for romantic mystery/suspense, and another for diverse and multicultural mystery/suspense. It can be found wherever books are sold.
Parker’s Choice is a tasty murder mystery served with a dollop of romance and a dash of corporate fraud.
Parker has been to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and he’s not about to let that happen again. He’s thrilled to land a good job after being paroled, until his boss threatens to fire him if he doesn’t facilitate a fraudulent scheme that will cost thousands of Americans their jobs. To complicate matters, a woman’s body is pulled from the Chattahoochee River and Parker fears his estranged wife, Paula, has committed the murder, but the cops make Parker their prime suspect. His clever and alluring Nigerian-American colleague, Sabrina, shames Parker into helping her expose the fraud and they find themselves romantically attracted to one another as they search for the “smoking gun” that will thwart the fraud and expose the murderer—the identity of Parker’s elusive birth father. On the run from cops and crooks, the last piece of the puzzle falls into place when Parker is ambushed in a frightening New Orleans cemetery. Then Parker has choices to make.
“A razor-sharp mystery with twists aplenty.” Kirkus Indie Reviews
Mike Nemeth, a Vietnam veteran and former high-tech executive, writes mystery novels in which his characters face moral dilemmas. He is the author of three previous novels including The Undiscovered Country, which won the Augusta Literary Festival’s Yerby Award and the Beverly Hills Book Award for Southern Fiction. The book inspired songwriter Mark Currey to compose the song Who I Am. His latest work, Parker’s Choice, won a Firebird Award for thrillers and American Fiction Awards for Romantic Mystery and Diverse and Multicultural Mystery. His pieces have been published by The New York Times, Georgia Magazine, Augusta Magazine, Southern Writers’ Magazine, Deep South Magazine, and the Writers’ Voices anthology. Creative Loafing named him Atlanta’s Best Local Author for 2018. Mike lives in suburban Atlanta with his wife, Angie, and their rescue dog, Scout.