Tag Archives: Ransom River

Die Zeugin: Ransom River German edition

Die Zeugin

The German edition of Ransom River has just been published. Die Zeugin translates as “The Witness.”

Like all of Heyne’s covers, this one is moody and evocative. Vielen dank!

Ransom River: now out in paperback

Ransom River

I’ve been so crazy flying back and forth between Austin and London and preparing for the publication of The Shadow Tracer and writing another new novel that I managed to slide straight past another bit of news: Ransom River has just been published in paperback in the USA.

Quick recap, in case you haven’t been obsessively focused on the plots of my novels over the past year (I know it’s hard to believe, but a few people aren’t): Rory Mackenzie is a juror on a high-profile murder case in her hometown of Ransom River, California. The town is a place she vowed never to visit again, and her return dredges up troubling memories from the childhood she spent as an outsider. But in the wake of a desperate attack on the courthouse, Rory realizes that exposing these dark skeletons has connected her to an old case that was never solved, and bringing the truth to light just might destroy her.

C’mon, you know you want to. The book has kicks. Good guys. Bad guys. A pretty blue cover. The Associated Press says it has “everything you want in a blockbuster thriller: multiple plot twists, thoroughly creepy psychotic villains, danger at every turn.”

It’s available from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Powell’s Books, and your local independent bookstore.

BookPage puts Ransom River on its 2012 must-read list

What a way to make my week. BookPage:

“Though 2012 isn’t over yet, we want to tell you about 10 must-read thrillers you won’t want to miss. These thrillers stand alone; best of all, they are unpredictable and superbly written.”

I’m delighted that Ransom River is on the list, along with books by terrific writers like Attica Locke, Tom Piccirilli, and Michael Koryta.

Time out for my happy dance.

10 must-read thrillers.

Ransom River: AudioFile magazine review

Kudos to Brilliance Audio and Angela Dawe, who has done a wonderful job narrating the audiobook edition of Ransom River. Here’s AudioFile’s review:

“Angela Dawe’s polished performance captures the tension, along with vivid descriptions and believable characterizations. She portrays Rory’s anxiety as she reconnects with childhood friend Seth Colder, an undercover officer who warns her about dirty cops. Her depictions of manipulative cousin Nerissa and bullying stepbrother Boone are especially strong. Listeners will be unable to guess the story’s outcome.”

Thanks, and well done.

Ransom River: Find the Mystery Character

Here’s something I’ve never mentioned online. Every new book I write includes at least one character who’s appeared before in one of my novels. That’s right: all the books are linked.

Even when I’ve started a new series. Even when I’ve written a stand alone novel. There’s always one character who returns from an earlier book.

Ransom River is set in a world I’d never written about before. Its cast is new — Rory Mackenzie, Seth Colder, the whole gang — except for one character. I’m not saying who that is. I’m not telling you which series this character appeared in, Evan Delaney or Jo Beckett. Let me know if you figure it out.

In the meantime, some more reviews have been published that have made me very happy:

Mystery Scene Magazine says:

“While the plotting is fine-tuned and tight, and the mystery at the heart of this tale captivatingly suspenseful throughout, it’s the well-realized characters of Rory and Seth that help make this book so successful…. Rory is a survivor and a tough one at that. She’s also intelligent, and her drive to confront the demons of her past, which are possibly connected to the events at the courthouse, always comes off as plausible and identifiable. She’s a great main character and the pulse at the heart of this gripping read.”

Jenn’s Bookshelves calls it “an intricate yet exhilarating mystery”: “Gardiner ties all of the weaving and winding story lines together to form a completely surprising conclusion. Looking for a taut, chilling mystery to fill your weekend? Ransom River is the book for you. Highly recommended.”

And Mayhem and Magic says, “I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this story.” “This mind-blowing thriller had me consuming pages at a furious pace…. With an explosive and heart-pounding finale, this was an awesome read and I can’t wait for the next thrilling story from Meg.”

Thanks for every word of that.

Ransom River reviews: USA Today

It’s very cool that USA Today has picked my novel as one of “four new mystery/thrillers perfect for a hot summer day.” And it’s an honor to be included with Karin Slaughter, Lisa Unger, and Rebecca Cantrell.

USA Today reviews Ransom River:

If you can’t resist crime novels in which the innocent are perceived as guilty, look no further than this tightly wound tale that starts with gunmen raiding a courtroom in an attempted hostage taking.

Rory Mackenzie is one of the jurors and is soon looked upon as a conspirator with the gunmen. But why do the police think that? Rory, determined to ferret out the identities of the gunmen, falls into a pit of familial dysfunction that makes most other families pale in comparison.

A deadly crime committed in Rory’s childhood plays a prominent role, as do family greed and secrets and the cold-blooded depths to which people will sink for money. A chilly tale for a hot day at the beach.

And Bookloons calls the book a “fast-paced, suspenseful thriller that will keep readers glued to its pages.

Rory is a fearless, feisty heroine, determined to do what is right, while juggling her feelings for Seth and her worries about her family. If you’re looking for a summer read to lose yourself in as the pages fly by, Ransom River is the one.

Which is mighty nice, and a perfect way to make my weekend.

Oklahoma City: books and cowboy boots

When I left New York City Sunday morning, I could barely see the sky. 60 story skyscrapers were blocking my view. 1,500 miles later I stepped off my flight to feel like the blue was about to swallow me. Oklahoma City spills across the southwestern prairie beneath a sky that seems too large to be contained.

Luckily it was cloudless. The airport has tornado shelters every hundred yards.

Then I saw the monster trucks, and the Red Dirt Saloon, and the windows filled with signs saying THUNDER UP. I turned on the TV and immediately saw commercials for the symphony and the rodeo. What a place to call my home town.

I was born in Oklahoma City. My family here goes back generations — they got here via the land rush and the Trail of Tears. My grandparents had a farm on Route 66. You want to know why so many characters in the Evan Delaney series talk with a twang, or grew up near a bluebonnet-covered meadow in Shawnee? That’s why.

So around these parts I have cousins by the busload. And when I scheduled an event at an OKC Barnes & Noble to talk about Ransom River, I was hoping some of them would turn up. And that none of them would heckle me.

They did turn up, along with a great crowd of people who weren’t even related to me. And everybody behaved. However, the relatives wanted to know who the characters in my thrillers “really” are. I told them: nobody. And that’s the truth — I make it all up.

Besides, do you think I’m going to reveal that anyone in my family is the basis for:

  • Rory Mackenzie’s cousins, who hate her as much as they love money
  • Evan’s cousin who holds lingerie parties and ends up leaving an FBI agent hogtied to a bed, stark naked
  • The pint-sized assassin in a Catholic schoolgirl’s uniform
  • The crazed preacher who ends up head-down in a trash can, cowboy boots protruding?

If so, you’ve forgotten that I was a lawyer, and know the definition of libel. My books are fiction. F-I-C-T-I-O-N. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. But the crowd might not have believed me. They bought every copy of my books in the store.

And that makes Oklahoma City one of my favorite book events of all time.

And by the way, the ads that show up when you Google “hogtie” to doublecheck the spelling are… eye-popping.

Now excuse me, but a severe thunderstorm warning just interrupted the news, so I’ve got to figure out how to become a stormchaser.

Tonight: Barnes & Noble Oklahoma City

This evening I’ll be speaking and signing at Barnes & Noble on May Avenue in Oklahoma City. Book events always get me pumped up, but tonight’s event is special because OKC is where I was born. And all my family is here. And they might show up en masse, which means (1) the feud, and (2) if you show up as well, you’ll have an excellent chance to worm embarrassing stories out of them about me.

I’ll be talking about Ransom River, which has now been loose in the wild for ten days. And it has spread everywhere. Last night I checked, and the Barnes & Noble here has corraled a bunch of copies, which are all waiting for happy homes.

And to reward folks who take the time to come out and hear me, I’m going to have a surprise or two during my talk. So if you want to find out stuff about my writing you won’t hear anyplace else… for another year or so… tonight’s your chance.

July 16: Book talk and signing
7 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
6100 N May Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK
Phone: 405.843.9300

Ransom River: AP review

Sometimes you wake up in the morning to a real surprise, such as the discovery of the Higgs particle, or finding that the cat has hunted down a rabbit and left it under your desk as a gift. Or you read a review of your new novel that makes you say yowza.

Here’s the Associated Press on Ransom River:

“Rory is a fantastic protagonist. She’s smart, quick-thinking, fiercely loyal and resilient. She’s the sort of action hero you want to see in movies: She can take multiple hits, and they just make her stronger.

“Furthermore, ‘Ransom River’ is everything you want in a blockbuster thriller: multiple plot twists, thoroughly creepy psychotic villains, danger at every turn. Gardiner has an enviable talent for pushing characters and plot elements to the point of straining credibility, but she never breaks the limits of plausibility. And the manner in which Rory pieces things together is satisfyingly unexpected.

“Gardiner’s conclusion to ‘Ransom River’ leaves open the possibility for a sequel, and to that may I just say: yes, please.”

And to that may I just say: thank you.

Ransom River: Out Today

Guess what? My novel Ransom River is published today by Dutton. Surprise. I know — you had no clue. In fact, I was pouring coffee when the Husband said, “So… are you going to change the blog header?”

Hell, I’ll stick pictures of the cover all over the place. Happy birthday, new book.

And here’s the deal, from the author’s point of view: I love it when you read any of my books. But right now, I’d love even more if you’d consider buying Ransom River in the next couple of weeks. Getting a book when it first comes out helps it get noticed. Helps get it on things like bestseller lists. And books love to be on lists, don’t you know.

So if you’re in the mood for a summer read about a juror trapped in a courtroom hostage crisis, I’ve got something for you.

And you can run right down to your local library and check it out. Or you can buy it right now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Powell’s, Amazon.co.uk, or of course your local independent bookstore.

Ransom River reviews: Suspense Magazine, Mystery Gazette, Florida Times-Union

Ransom River will be published tomorrow, July 5th. The book has gotten a few more reviews, and they’re all making me glad.

Suspense magazine:

“Incredible…. A great thriller that begins with the word ‘go.’ Readers will be enthralled until the very last surprise is sprung. A definite keeper!”

The Mystery Gazette: “This is a taut thriller in which the tough protagonist deals with being the prime surviving suspect in a hostage situation that soon spirals even further out of control for her…. readers will relish this superb tale.”

The Florida Times-Union: Gardiner’s new novel explodes off the page.

There are two things I love about summer: the Fourth of July and a new Meg Gardiner thriller. And for the same reason: Both contain loads of fireworks.

“Thrill ride” is just too tame a description for Ransom River…. The characters are emotionally complex, both the good and the bad. Gardiner has also created two of the creepiest siblings to be found outside of a Stephen King novel.

This novel is in great company with Gardiner’s previous nine thrillers.

And thrilled is the word for how these reviews make me feel.

Ransom River: read the first chapter

My new novel, Ransom River, will be published on July 5th. It’s about a juror on a murder trial who finds herself fighting for her life when gunmen storm the courthouse and take the courtroom hostage.

Then she discovers the attack is connected to an old case that was never solved. It’s connected to her, and dark skeletons in her family’s history.

But the story doesn’t open in the courtroom. It opens when Rory Mackenzie is nine years old:

The night was meant for shooting stars. Before the shadow rose, or the sirens moaned, the sky was cut by a meteor shower: ice on fire, streaks of light that tore the air. Maybe meteors would crash into the mountains, Rory thought. Or into Ransom River Elementary School. Or into the Chevron gas station downtown. That, she thought, would cause a supermassive fireball. That made sneaking out at one in the morning worth the risk.

Or it should have.

In her bedroom, in the dark, she tied her Converse All Stars. Outside the window, the sky boomed at her, looming and endless and pounded white with stars.

The house was school-night quiet. She turned her ear to the closed door but heard nothing—no TV, no talk or laughter from her mom and dad’s room. Pepper was in his dog bed in the kitchen. Everybody was asleep.

Beyond the window a voice whispered. “Rory.”

Seth pressed his hands to the screen. His eyes swam with starlight.

“Getting my stuff,” she whispered back.

She shoved binoculars into her backpack and slung it across her shoulders. The Power Rangers felt like a shield, even though the bright plastic might shine under the streaking light of a meteor. As if a falling star could read R. Mackenzie written in black marker across the pack and aim for her. But maybe. Like her dad said sometimes, Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.

In Rory’s case, it is. Is it ever.

I’ve posted all of Chapter One on my website. Go on and read the excerpt.

And to remind you that this blog is called Lying for a Living: after you read the first chapter, you can pre-order the book. There are plenty of links at my site, or you can skip that step and buy it right now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Powell’s, Amazon.co.uk, or of course your local independent bookstore.

The Big Thrill: Interview & Roundtable

The Big Thrill, the online magazine of the International Thriller Writers, is where I’ll be hanging out this week.

First, they’ve posted an interview with me about Ransom River — which is published on July 5th.

What was the lightning bolt that made you begin the first tingling brainstorming moments of RANSOM RIVER? Did you ever serve on a jury?

I’m a former lawyer. So I know how people feel about being called for jury duty: trapped. And I know that nowadays criminal courts are extremely concerned about security. They’d better be – in the 1970s, the Marin County courthouse was attacked by a gunman and four people died in a shootout, including a judge. Maybe it was a lawyer’s unconscious fear bubbling to the surface, but I wanted to write about a juror who’s literally trapped in a courtroom, held hostage by gunmen making crazed demands.

Second, from July 2-8 I’m taking part in the Thriller Roundtable — an online discussion of the question, “Which comes first, plot or character?” The other authors taking part are Joseph Amiel, Charles Martin, Michael D. Urban, Allison Leotta, Jon Land, and John Hartness. I’ll let you know when I’ve added my two cents, or poked the hornet’s nest.

And in general: Because my novel is published on Thursday, this week I’ll be talking about it at every opportunity. So be prepared.

I’m interviewed at Terribleminds

Chuck Wendig puts me through the wringer at his blog, Terribleminds.

He explains: “I had the chance to lock Meg in a room for a few weeks while I subjected her to a battery of psychological tests in the form of ‘interview questions,’ and below are the results of that experiment.”

Why do you tell stories?
Because holding people’s suspended disbelief in my hands is a beautiful, powerful kick. And when those people gasp, or laugh, or throw my book across the room, I think, Yeah. Thank you. Now tell me a story that makes me feel the same way.

So: how do you suspend someone’s disbelief? Any tricks?
I stand before a mirror in a darkened room and chant, “Chuck Wendig, Chuck Wendig, Chuck Wendig.”


– Create characters who talk and laugh and ache like people we know in real life.

– Keep the pace up. Readers who are flipping pages to see what happens next do not pause to mull the metaphysical unreality of fiction.

– Don’t commit any howlers. “Queen Elizabeth leaned out the window of the taxi, hoisted the Uzi, and cleared London traffic in her usual way.” Oh, come on. The Queen would never take a taxi.

Read the rest, then stay and wander around Chuck’s amazing blog, and think about picking up one of his books, such as Revenge of the Penmonkey or his new novel, Blackbirds.