Death at the Asylum

My latest book in the Rhe Brewster Series, Death at the Asylum, came out last month, and I have to admit I have been very remiss in marketing it. I fell (on a pickleball court – don’t ask) and twisted my back and dealing with the pain and bruising has taken all my energy. So I must rely on you, my dear followers, to get the news out. And give the book a read and hopefully a few words of review on Amazon! I would be most grateful.

Death at the Asylum
Death at the Asylum

Some background on the book:

This is the fifth book in the series and probably the one with the most subplots. So many that I actually missed resolving one, which my editor, Alison Williams, spotted. (It’s fixed!) My next book is already in my head and I think you will find it quite different.

As I mention in the Acknowledgements, Death at the Asylum was written during the Covid pandemic, which, while eliminating many of the normal distractions, also was the time when we moved from our home of 35 years to something smaller and more manageable. Thus I wrote through an emotional upheaval and an even greater distraction. On one of my husband’s and my trips to Maine, we discovered the Kennebec Arsenal. The site of the arsenal is beautiful and we’ve returned several times. It also triggered the idea for this book and is the site for the prologue and opening chapter.

The Arsenal has a long history. Developed between 1828 and 1838 because of border disputes with neighboring Canada, it was garrisoned until 1901, after which it was turned over to the State of Maine. Its buildings were then used by the adjacent Maine State Hospital for housing mental health patients. I took the liberty of naming this book Death at the Asylum, given the arsenal’s former existence as part of a mental hospital. When the hospital closed its doors in 2004, the arsenal property was sold to a developer, with historic preservation restrictions. It sat, untouched, with broken windows, sprayed graffiti and leaking roofs (which is when we first saw it), until 2013 when new roofs installed and windows were boarded up. The developer has confirmed that the Arsenal’s eight granite block riverfront buildings will be transformed into a vibrant retail and residential complex with a boutique hotel at the center. Restaurants and cafés will be a part of the complex. No date is set for the work.

Here is a brief synopsis of the books twists and turns:

Attending the opening of a new commercial center created from the old buildings of the Maine State Asylum, Rhe Brewster, an ER nurse and police investigator, and her husband Sam, chief of the Pequod police department, are enjoying the fall day on the banks of the Kennebec River. The crack of a bullet alerts them to the fact that the governor of Maine, standing to make a speech, has been hit and they both rush to the podium, Rhe to provide emergency aid and Sam to protect the governor. They come under more fire as they attempt to get the governor to safety but they make it to a protected site. In the following days, the lieutenant governor assigns them to a task force to identify the perpetrator and gives the names of four retired military snipers to investigate.

At the same time, someone has stolen Rhe’s personal data and is using it to buy expensive cars and appliances, take out large loans. Her information shows up on the dark web.

A thief is stealing drugs from the ER where Rhe works, and she agrees to try to discover who it is by using a hidden camera borrowed from the Pequod Police. The CEO of the hospital, who has been trying for years to drive Rhe from her job, is ruthless in his determination to find the thief.

Pequod is experiencing a series of rapes committed by a man who visits a local biker’s bar, The Dirty Gull, and Rhe meets two of the victims in the Emergency Room. When one of them dies, Sam suspects her father of beating her to death in retaliation for her transgression. Then an unsuspected link is discovered with regard to the rapist’s identity.

And lastly, a short excerpt:

     “Sam, what’s wrong with the car?” Rhe’s voice rose an octave.

     “Something with one of the wheels.” I downshifted and tried to pull off the road. At that moment the right rear of the Jeep collapsed. In the rearview mirror, I saw the wheel rolling off into a ditch. I knew if I applied the brakes, only the left side would be affected, pulling us

into oncoming traffic. I had to accept we were in an uncontrollable skid. “Grab hold, Rhe!”

     I clung to the steering wheel, time passing in agonizing motion as we veered across the oncoming lane anyway, barely missing a car that raced past. The Jeep flew over a ditch, the trunk of a large pine tree dead ahead. All I could think was oh shit, shit, shit…

     We came to an abrupt stop when the front end of the car hit the tree. My head slammed into the steering wheel as I heard Rhe’s air bag explode. Everything went dark.     

I do hope you’ll give my new book a read and let me know what you think! I will be posting information on the first four books in the series soon, but you can start anywhere in the series because they are stand-alone!



7 thoughts on “Death at the Asylum”

  1. First of all, good grief I hope you’re okay.
    Second, I am getting the book today and will most certainly post a review. Have enjoyed reading your work in the past.
    Congrats, Noelle!

    1. The MD said it will be a long recovery – I am going to PT (pain and torture) and I am marginally better than 3 weeks ago.
      Thaks for stopping by and I hope you like the new book!

  2. Congratulations indeed, Noelle, and also hope you’re better. The story behind the Kennebec arsenal is fascinating, and I hope it will be put to some good use soon. It is a shame to have such a beautiful building unused and unloved. It deserves better. Your novel sounds like a must read. Good luck and stay safe!

  3. Thanks, Diana. My back is better – and I have PT (pain and torture) to work on it. Came back from the beach, where I could barely walk down to the shore, let alone get in the water, with a chest cold. I haven’t had a cold in years and the coughing is driving me NUTS! Some month. But overall, I’m getting healthier. I am on book 3 of the series about Catling. Devoured the first two at the beach. You are a genius.

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