This is the second mystery in the series that spans New York with worldwide destinations. Big city life disappears as Spent Identity journeys to Walker Family Farm in upstate New York. The quiet home of Annalisse’s beloved Aunt Kate.
Be warned though; writing stories where the reader must figure out villains and their motives through intricate puzzles is what I do! Spent Identity is a novel that will have you turning pages, gasping at the audacity of the characters, and at times, shaking your head at Annalisse’s decisions— sometimes unwise— but she manages to unravel even the most twisted clues.
A continuation from the first installment, Stolen Obsession, Annalisse not only addresses her failed relationship with Alec Zavos, she uncovers a betrayal that crushes her in Spent Identity. Grab a paperback or eBook and see if you can uncover the family secrets before she does. I dare you!
Author: Marlene M. Bell
Narrator: Katina Kalin
Length: 9 hours 43 minutes
Released: May 13, 2020
Series: Annalisse Series, Book 2
To find her missing aunt, she has to unearth the secrets of the past. But lies and deceit run though the very heart of their town…
What started out as a promising relationship with adventurer and tycoon Alec Zavos has fizzled into an uncertain future for antiquities expert Annalisse Drury. Returning to Walker Farm in Upstate New York to see her Aunt Kate should have been a welcome homecoming and distraction. Instead, she finds the childhood home she expected to inherit is for sale, without her permission. What’s worse, Kate’s ranch manager makes a gruesome discovery in the barn: the body of an unidentified man, dead by foul play.
Annalisse turns in Alec’s direction for help. She and her aunt shelter on his estate in the Catskills while the authorities canvass the scene. But when Kate herself disappears without a trace, Annalisse fears the worst: That one of the many secrets of her hometown has ensnared her family – a secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden.
Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living, and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.
Her catalog venture, Ewephoric, began in 1985 out of her desire to locate personalized sheep stationery. She rarely found sheep products through catalogs and set out to design them herself. Order Ewephoric gifts online or request a catalog at TexasSheep.com.
Marlene and her husband, Gregg, reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.
Having listened to the first book (Stolen Obsession) in the series only recently, I was well and truly caught up in Annalisse’s world. Book number two (Spent Identity) moved on effortlessly and paid homage to past events from the first book without regurgitating everything.
As before, this is jam-packed with details, subplots blend in well, and the story moves along at a great pace. It’s one of those stories in which you have no chance of solving the puzzle yourself, as the culprit comes literally from nowhere. That said, the surprise arrival of the killer makes perfect sense once the initial gasp-inducing shock dissipates. With relevant backstory and connections to multiple characters, the killer is believable.
Annalisse seems to be one of the characters who attract bad news. she’s already had her fair share of drama, but this time round the impact is life-changing. Explosive stuff, indeed.
In Spent Identity, less relevance is given to her job in the art world, yet there are sprinklings of detail that keep that thread going: the tribal masks and the suggestion of European trips all validate Annalisse’s world outside of this personal, family drama.
The narrator is extraordinary. Clear, easy to follow, enthusiastic and comes over as relevant with each and every character. What more could you ask for?
I quite fancy a trip to Rome for book three. Am I going to be lucky? I hope so 😉
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Marlene M. Bell. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- After my books are written and have been featured on a few book blog tours, I look for a narrator who has the right style for my characters. I have to include a narrator with tons of experience since many of my characters are foreign and have accents. Several scenes have multiple characters speaking, so it’s a challenge for any narrator who isn’t trained in voice with several audio books under their belts. My books require a lot of training.
- I use ACX to put the word out for interviews. I listen to all narrators who wish to audition for my books. Since I’m a self-published author, the entire chore falls on my shoulders to find and compensate each narrator. I’ve found that narrators who live in New York City make the best narrators for the Annalisse Series with most of my main characters as native New Yorkers.
- Katina Kalin narrated Stolen Obsession and Patricia Santomasso is the narrator for Spent Identity.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- Unfortunately, I write where the story takes me. That sometimes can lead to more than two characters per chapter or scene. I noticed in the second book that I had asked a lot of my narrator to change accents and genders within paragraphs of each other. I really listened to the Spent Identity auditions and realized this once the book was already written. This is why Patricia floated to the top with her audition. She was able to navigate the various people in the chapters seamlessly because she’s a voice instructor, and expert at it. With this knowledge, I will heavily consider my narrator while writing the third book in the series and take greater care with how many characters enter the scene.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- If the narrator is experienced, most will ask for pronunciations of characters’ names, towns and anything of relevance throughout the novel. Both narrators asked me for this. Through the ACX system, narrators will continually make contact with questions and notifications while they are recording. Once the first 15 minute is complete, this is the opportunity for the author to check their work and verify that the book will have the right feel.
- Were there any real-life inspirations behind your writing?
- When I met my husband in 1979, he was in the middle of a nasty divorce. They were in the process of selling the ranch they’d built together when oil prices were high and banks were loaning at a whopping 17% interest rate. No one could afford expensive homes in the Tracy, California area at that time. His soon-to-be-ex made outrageous personal charges, and her attorney letters were an everyday occurrence. I could write an entire novel over her accusations. It was a miserable three years for the man I dated.
- When she left and filed for divorce, she also stripped their ranch of furniture and all that wasn’t tied down. Brought a moving truck home one day and took everything inside their home. A hateful thing to do. The neighbor had watched the van fill up with belongings and told my husband this happened while he remained at work.
- After we married, the old ranch finally sold—with a first mortgage, a second mortgage and my husband’s ex-wife and new husband carrying back the third note. Thankfully, we were out of that arrangement living on a small ranch of our own. (They later sold that third note for cash and lost half of the value!)
- After the sale, I packed the kitchen drawers at the old ranch and found something interesting. One of the bottom drawers had condolence letters inside. While my husband packed from another room, I nosed around the envelopes. It’s a terrible thing to read another person’s mail, but in this case, I made an exception. They were all addressed to my husband’s hellish ex-wife. I was surprised to find them, especially when I skimmed a few of the notes.
- I asked my husband about his ex-wife’s father since the notes told of his untimely death. I was shocked to learn that he had been a successful dentist in the bay area and had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, but no one knew why. I didn’t press further, and we gathered all of the cards and letters for the burn bin. The story left me with so many questions.
- About ten years later, my husband mentioned that he’d heard his ex-father-in-law had reappeared in his home town. How intriguing! Had he faked his death because of debt? Did he run away to be with another woman, or man? I have to wonder why he came back when he’d hatched the perfect escape plan. It mystifies me to this day. Read Spent Identity. My imagination comes to a conclusion on this very topic!
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
- I would use the power of time travel as long as I could return to my own time. My favorite time travel series is Outlander. Anyone who has read Ms. Gabaldon’s books falls in love with the main character, Claire and her Scottish hunk, Jamie. I have an idea for a time travel series to New Zealand in and around the latter part of the 19th century. One of my editors cut a section from an early draft of my series stating simply, “No, no, no!” She was right to keep the fantasy out of my current WIP writing, but I can still dream of using this idea going forward.
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
- I would like to pair two unlikely directors together for Spent Identity. Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood. Both are seasoned directors who excel in portraying broody mysteries and real-life drama. My lead actress to play Annalisse would be Anne Hathaway, and her love interest Alec would be played by Bradley Cooper. Alec’s mother, Generosa, would have to be Meryl Streep.
- The locations in the series are international— winging to places like, Crete, Turkey, Grand Cayman, New Zealand, Sicily and Southern Italy. Home base for the movie will always be Manhattan or upstate New York where Alec’s estate is located. I’d also have James Cameron write the screenplay based on the novel. There would be big bucks involved to produce this movie!!
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- My advice to those who listen to books versus read would be simple. Do whatever works! Not everyone has the time to pick up a book or use an ereader to read. Listening is the next best thing, and authors will adore you either way!
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
- To celebrate the completion of Spent Identity I did what I usually do; went online and shopped until I dropped. My husband knows my habits and doesn’t bat an eyelash, which helps!
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- If you are serious about putting in the hours that it takes to become an accomplished author, I would suggest picking up as many books as possible on crafting good fiction or non-fiction. I must have gone through a hundred books before I realized how many bad habits I’d picked up by just reading the bestselling authors. Best Selling authors can break every writing rule there is. There are rules for most of us. Only when you’ve sold thousands of books can you willy-nilly break these rules. Speak to as many agents and editors as possible as well. Never edit your own work before publishing. We all have to self-edit during the process, but make sure that you’ve paid a professional editor or two to help you polish your work prior to publishing. Be diligent at getting the book proofread many times. If you miss a typo or two, trust me, your readers will mention it in their reviews!
- What’s next for you?
- Book three, CALICO RAVEN! The novel has a stunning cover I’ll reveal to my followers and readers in a few months. I’m one-third of the way through the first draft. I hope to have Calico out in early 2021 if all clips along at a good pace. Annalisse and Alec are drawn into a murder that takes place on Grand Cayman Island. At first, they believe the victim is random, but soon find out that Alec is tied to her by other means and Annalisse’s past is drawn into events as well.
- This book will also be available in audio.
- Coming in fall 2020! MIA and NATTIE: One Great Team is my first picture book for children ages 3-6. This book has special meaning to me because it’s based on the true story of Natalie, the bottle lamb we raised in the laundry room. She lived with us for 13 years. It’s a heartwarming, read-aloud book for the entire family. Mia and Nattie will be available in hardbound and eBook well ahead of the 2020 holidays. The picture book will also offer the option of a plush Nattie character. It’s a welcome break from the sea of children’s books without a plot or theme.
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