About the book, Paper Targets
- Suspense / Literary Fiction / Women’s Fiction
- Publisher: Atmosphere Press
- Pages: 324 pages
- Publication Date: May 3, 2022
- Scroll down for a giveaway!
Everyone knew that Roanne never got angry—until the night she killed her ex-husband and herself.
Roanne, a nice, suburban lady in her sixties who works at a Hallmark shop and volunteers at the Food Bank in Round Rock, Texas, calls her lifelong friend, Connie, confesses to murder, then puts the gun to her own head. Connie, spurred by Roanne’s last words about a lifetime of unspoken rage, sets aside her work as a cozy mystery writer and cupcake shop owner to confront the men who have stolen her dignity while she remained silent, including a bully brother, a rapist, and an ex-spouse. On a journey to reclaim her inner power and to make peace with the loss of her treasured friend, Connie’s mission is to avoid the same tragic path as Roanne, but she takes along a gun, just in case.
With pathos and humor, Paper Targets, by Patricia Watts, calls us to speak our own narratives, even when it is uncomfortable or risky, and shows us the magnificence of a friendship that transcends time.
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About the author, Patricia Watts
Patricia Watts worked as a journalist for more than 20 years for newspapers in Texas, Hawaii, and Alaska. Following her news career, she tried her skill as a paralegal and then spent ten years investigating discrimination cases for the Alaska Human Rights Commission. Her novels include: Ghost Light and The Big Empty, crime mysteries co-written with Alaska author Stan Jones; The Frayer, suspense noir; and Watchdogs, a steamy thriller. Her home base is San Diego. She earned her B.A. in journalism at Humboldt State in California. She is the mother of a son and daughter and has eight grandchildren.
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Read an excerpt from Paper Targets
A slurp and a gulp. The knock of something solid against the surface next to the phone. Common noises on the other end of the line—she’s taking a drink, setting down a glass.
Then—the ear-splitting boom of a gunshot, the shallow thud of a weight hitting the floor.
I scream her name.
No noises now.
My best friend is dead.
At Roanne’s funeral reception, the eagerness for answers was thicker than the abundant short ribs set out next to the potato salad and baked beans. The guests had no appetite. They wanted to sink their teeth into why Roanne chose to die the way she did. And they were all looking to me, her closest friend for fifty years.
People had driven to Round Rock from other parts of Texas or from farther away to spend the morning at the church, midday at the cemetery, and the afternoon gathered at the home of Roanne’s sister, Darla.
They leaned out and asked, “Why, Connie?” as I walked through Darla’s living room, taking small, deliberate sips from a glass of iced tea, avoiding eye contact, unable to respond.
Roanne had called me that night, at three minutes after eleven. I’d hit the TV “off” button, was headed to bed; I had stayed up too late again, hooked on my latest Netflix binge. The words we had exchanged played back to me with every shiver and stab to my heart that I had felt then:
“I got the bastard,” she said. From the hollow sound of her voice, I knew her phone was on speaker. “Straight through the balls.” Her words shook.
“Ro? You’re scaring me, girl,” I said. “Got who?”
She was breathing hard, with a sharp, staccato, “Uh, uh …”
“Is someone with you?”
“Not anymore. Just me, myself, and I,” she said between a snicker and a sob.
“Are you at home? I’ll come get you.” My adrenalin was pumping. Something terrible had happened or was about to happen, but what? I could make the ninety-five-mile drive from San Antonio to Round Rock in an hour and ten. I switched my phone to speaker and pulled a pair of leggings on under my nightshirt.
“Don’t bother, I’ll be done soon.” She breathed in, a deep reverse sigh, like she was struggling to find the strength to get the words out. “The anger. You take it and take it, and one day you see there’s no way out. You’re trapped.”
“You’re angry? With whom?”
“With Johnny, with the whole goddamn male establishment, my daddy, the school bullies, the boss, the superintendent, the judge, the lovers, husband, ex-husband, the smartass at Home Depot, the whole lot of ’em, every Tom, Dick, and Harry.”
Her words seemed silly and frightening. “That’s a bunch to take on by yourself. Why don’t we talk about it, regroup?” I needed to get between her and whatever it was that was galloping, like my heartbeat, toward her. Couldn’t you find someone’s location on a cell phone? But you had to set that up, and I had had no reason to before.
“Now what would Judd do?” she said.
I pulled the name from the past through my memory to the present. It didn’t fit in the moment. “Judd? Mr. Asher from senior social studies?”
“You know what I really liked about Mr. Asher?”
“He looked like David Cassidy?” Giggle, Roanne. Be okay, Roanne.
“Exactly, that too.” I pictured her smiling through the pain in her voice. “He seemed to have all the answers, didn’t he? Only he wanted us to figure things out on our own.”
I stepped into my running shoes, left the laces untied. “What does Mr. Asher have to do with—”
“Figure it out for yourself. Speak up, Con. Don’t let them have the final say.” Roanne’s words slurred and trailed off. “It’s too late for me, but—”
“Hang on, it’s never too late.” I could feel the bad ending like the anticipation of an icy finger about to touch the back of my neck, raising goose flesh. I picked up my keys and purse. I headed for the garage. Keep talking, Roanne, please keep talking. “Tell me where you are, sweetie.”
Another intake of air. A gap of silence. A gulp. The boom. “Roanne!”
Enter a giveaway for Paper Targets
First Prize: Autographed copies of Paper Targets,
The Frayer, and The Big Empty;
Second Prize: Copy of Paper Targets.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 8/5/22)
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