Character Name: ARLENE REYNOLDS, Kelly’s ex-mother-in-law
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself--both something we learn from DENIED and something that readers might not guess?
Well, first and foremost, I mean well! I think I’m misunderstood quite often in the books. Yes, I say things that might come across as judgmental, or teensy harsh. But I’ve known Kelly since she was five years old when my son came running home one afternoon and couldn’t stop talking about that little brown haired girl who just moved in next door!
I think of Kelly as my daughter though. So my judgment truly stems from my desire to keep her safe. What might not always be obvious is how proud I am of her. I came from an era that women didn’t do the types of things Kelly does. She’s courageous, smart, and tenacious. I might stumble upon my beliefs about women often, but I can’t take away what Kelly is trying to do which is balance motherhood and career. And Kelly is a good mom.
2) How did you first meet your writer?
I snuck in. I’ll be honest. Mary was very focused on writing about Kelly Pruett this, Kelly Pruett that, and I thought, reality check—Kelly’s life is not perfect. And yes, Jeff was her husband and he messed that up, and she did take over her dad’s agency, but I’ve been here on the sidelines, watching her grow up. Mothering her when she’d let me. And I had a few things to say about how she’s running her life, especially because she’s raising my granddaughter with my son. When I tapped Mary on the shoulder, thankfully, she agreed that my story should also be told.
3) Want to dish about him/her?
Well, like Kelly and her obsession with peanut butter, Mary could lay off the coffee a little more than she does. I mean, really, must you have three cups in a row? And are those microwave rays going to have long-term effects? They say not, but I’m not convinced.
4) Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
Because I have a vital role in my son’s life, Kelly’s ex-husband, and of course I’m Mitz’ grandmother. But also, I care about Kelly. And yes I might have a few old-fashioned ideas about raising kids and women and careers, I also have the ability to change. I think Mary saw that in me and thought my story was worth incorporating.
5) Who's your favorite character? Why?
I love my son, 100% and absolutely. Probably to a fault sometimes. And Kelly, of course. And that Floyd, he is a handful and I do love him. But Mitz. Ah, being a grandmother is truly what makes my heart sing and she is my favorite.
6) Who's your least favorite character? Why?
Officer Kyle Jaeger is not among my favorites. He’s just not. I’m sure he’s a fine officer, and yes, he is handsome if you go for the tall, blonde, beachboy look. But I rather like our small little group with all of it’s faults. Although I have a feeling I won’t have much to say about Kyle. Kelly does seem quite smitten with him. And at the end of the day, if he is good to her and to Mitz, and Floyd of course, I will tolerate him.
7) What's next for you?
Kelly’s next adventure will be coming out in May of 2022. The title is DECEIVED. Kelly will be back to pushing the edges when she goes undercover in a women’s homeless shelter and I will be hosting an unexpected guest, much to Kelly’s chagrin. But Kelly will rely on me more than ever in her next case. I am her mother-figure after all and let’s say mom issues might be front and center this go around. Of course, I will be there as there’s nothing I like more than to be needed.
A high-risk pregnancy. A dangerous secret. When her case turns deadly, can this investigator avoid racking up a fatal debt?
Despite her injuries, PI Kelly Pruett is eager to get back to work. So when a mommy-to-be hires her to locate her estranged dad, Kelly is thankful for the straightforward missing-persons case. But as she rummages through his trash in search of clues, she uncovers gambling debts to gangsters… and a blood-soaked severed finger.
With her investigation no longer cut-and-dried, Kelly’s hunt takes a deadly turn when her quarry is found driven off a cliff to his doom. And she’ll need more than her cop boyfriend’s help to expose the truth when the mob sends her a cease-and-desist notice with an explosive ending.
Can the determined detective take on the mafia and make it out alive?
About Mary Keliikoa
Mary Keliikoa is the author of the Shamus finalist and Lefty, Agatha and Anthony award nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series and the upcoming Misty Pines mystery series featuring Portland homicide detective turned small town sheriff slated for release in September 2022. Her short stories have appeared in Woman's World and in the anthology Peace, Love and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by Music of the ‘60s. A Pacific NW native, she spent a part of her life working around lawyers. Combining her love of legal and books, she creates a twisting mystery where justice prevails.
When not in Washington, you can find Mary on the beach in Hawaii where she and her husband recharge. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun, she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.