BY: PINKIE PARANYA
What if a relentless predator—a parent’s worst nightmare come true—dropped out of nowhere? He has, and now cynical Detective Richard Slater and reluctant psychic Kate Macklin are all that stand between death and life for the children targeted by this psycho. But can Richard and Kate piece together the puzzle before the killer comes for them, too?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: One…Two…Buckle My Shoe by P. K. Paranya is a paranormal thriller of with a very surprising ending. It simply blew me away! Of course, I liked the story from the beginning. The heroine, Katharine Macklin, gets psychic messages through her computer. Gotta love it! These messages give her information about the serial killer of five-year-old blonde girls. So naturally, she tries to help the police. Our hero, Detective Sergeant Richard Slater doesn’t believe in psychics, but he hasn’t been able to solve the crimes and the number of slain children keeps going up. So the Chief decides Slater will go see Katharine and hear her out. Much to Richard’s dismay, Katharine has information that has not been made public. Even worse, she knows there is going to be another murder soon.
Paranya tells a chilling story. The psychology and characterization is amazing. I absolutely loved the book, chilling as it was, and found that once I picked it up. I couldn’t put it down. If you want a book that will touch you, make you laugh and cry, and keep you riveted until the very last word, you can’t go wrong with One…Two…Buckle My Shoe.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: One…Two…Buckle My Shoe by P. K. Paranya was quite a surprise. Paranya really did her homework on this one. The psychology behind the motives of the serial killer was extremely well done. The characters are very complex and completely three dimensional. I was fascinated with all of them, from the heroine who is an agoraphobic and afraid to leave the house to the bitter and cynical detective, to the psychologically disturbed serial killer. The story revolves around a psychic, Katharine, who starts out getting messages from the dead children on her computer. (I knew computers were evil. I just never could prove it!) Katharine takes her information to the police, who remember her from when her daughter disappear and Katharine’s psychic messages led them to her body. The police aren’t sure if Katharine is a suspect or if she really is a psychic, but she had too much information for them to just ignore her. When Detective Slater gets involved, he is most unhappy about having to work with a psychic. Then he meets Katharine and becomes convinced she is for real. But then Katharine starts getting messages from the killer, also on her computer, and things start to get very interesting.
Paranya waves in a nice little romance between Katharine and Richard, some very nice twists and turns to the plot, and an ending that was totally unexpected. Like Taylor, once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down until I was done.
Katharine Macklin stared at the computer screen in disbelief. Little dolls stood in a parade in front of her, wrapped in see-through plastic. She rubbed her knuckles in her eye sockets, trying to clear her vision and bring back the bookkeeping program.
‘One…two…buckle my shoe.’ The snippet of nursery rhyme came clear, over and over, in high pitched, whispery little voices.
Kate’s throat tightened and the muscles around her heart constricted when she realized they weren’t dolls—but little girls. Why were they singing to her? An ominous dread settled around her shoulders. It was the psychic thing coming back to haunt her. It had helped to find her daughter when she needed it two years ago, but why was it here now?
The familiar chills ran from the back of her neck down her spine and something told her she would have to call the police again.
“We’re facing a brick wall, Slater.” Captain Murphy glared at the man in front of him as if he’d grown two heads. “What do you mean you won’t come back to Homicide?”
The big man shrugged, towering over Murphy, causing him to move back a step. “I told you. I’m never doing homicide again.”
“The chief wants it.” Murphy struggled to keep the “God only knows why” sound out of his voice. “Don’t you ever wear anything besides street clothes?” Technically the sergeant wasn’t on duty, but Murphy’s own men always wore neatly-pressed New York City blues and he liked that. “If the chief wants you back on this, it’s not negotiable.”
The two men glared at each other, neither backing down.
“No can do. That’s why I left. Too much.”
Murphy didn’t want Slater on this case at all. He wasn’t a team player and was difficult to work with at the best of times. But the chief was…well, he was the chief, and neither Murphy nor Slater had any choice.
“It makes no sense to anyone but that killing machine out there. It’s a parent’s worse nightmare. We ID’d the kids. So far each family thinks their child is the only prey of this psycho. When the news gets out there are others, the public will go crazy buying weapons—I don’t blame them. Jesus!” Murphy sat behind his desk and slammed a drawer in frustration. “If you could talk to the parents.”
“I’m not coming back. I like it where I am.” Slater turned to go.
Murphy felt himself sputtering. “Hold on a minute, the chief didn’t say pretty please. He said you’d do it, although I don’t see how—”
“You don’t see how I can do anything Homicide hasn’t already done,” Slater finished Murphy’s sentence. “I don’t either.”
Slater’s interruption showed an arrogant lack of respect. It wasn’t Murphy’s fault the sergeant hadn’t progressed through the ranks.
Slater’s mouth compressed into a grimace, a look that scared the hell out of rookies, and Murphy wasn’t too comfortable with it either. “The chief knows, when I left Homicide I said no more. Nearly killed me.”
The entire precinct knew how Slater’s dedication to work broke up his marriage. Many times, when Murphy heard his men talking about their home life or lack of it, he was glad he never took the time to develop any relationships. Slater’s next words jerked his attention back.
“I put my time in, got the flat feet to show for it. I’m good at what I do now, and you know it. The college boys, the button-down cops, are taught that any kind of mayhem to the suspect is to ‘punish with extreme prejudice.’ The older officers call it ‘getting the perp’s attention.’ That’s where I stand.”
“Plain and simple, you can’t accept progress.”
On the phone, the chief had called the sergeant by his first name, Richard. It grated on Murphy’s nerves to know the chief and the department troublemaker were on a first name basis. Only a few of the old-timers ever called Slater by his first name.
“I damn well don’t want to talk to any parents. That’s why I transferred to Robbery. I try reasoning with the suspect. If he won’t cooperate, that’s his problem. Pure and simple.”
Murphy tried to hold back a comment. Slater had crossed the line several times in his career. Not far enough to get suspended, but he wasn’t a stranger to Internal Affairs. In fact he came so close to the line he was never promoted beyond sergeant which didn’t seem to bother him.
“Look, Slater. I told the chief I had plenty of men who could do the job on this one. Hell, I see your point. I’d jump at early retirement too. I heard you’ve been seeing the doc about those headaches. A nice cozy desk job should work it all out for you.” Murphy swung his chair around, turning his back on Slater, dismissing him. Not easy, since the big man towered over his shoulder like a pile of rocks threatening to avalanche down a hill.
“You know that’s a crock of shit. I never pulled down a desk job in my life and don’t intend to. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to work in Homicide again.”
Murphy felt a glow of elation mixed with regret. He had Slater by the short hairs now. When a man began to justify his decisions, it was a sign he was caving in. You didn’t get to be captain in one of the toughest precincts in New York and not know your men. Time for a swift kick to the cojones while Slater hesitated, even so briefly.
“Don’t make me pull rank. I know you’ve been here longer than most of us, but I’m still boss. Robbery can wait, but the little girls out there can’t.” Murphy remembered that Slater had a daughter about the same age as these kids.
Slater opened his big fist and closed it again, cracking his knuckles. “Shit. Where’s the paper work?”
“Problem is, I can’t keep the news quiet much longer. We’ll have to hold back some information—as much as we can.”
“Yeah, I know. The copycats. They follow media coverage like groupies after a rock concert.”
Murphy slid the file toward the edge of his desk. “We have one citizen who’s anxious to talk to us about the murders.”
Slater reached long arms for the papers and read for a moment. “Macklin. Is that the name of the woman I’m supposed to talk to first?”
“You should remember her. I looked up her file. A couple of years ago her daughter was killed in a hit and run. She led us to the body after having some sort of psychic vision. You were one of the investigating officers.”
“Oh yeah. I remember. She was strung out all right, scared of her shadow.”
Slater wouldn’t have tolerated any lack of control. That’s what made him so damn good at solving psycho cases. They didn’t like to give up control either.
Murphy scratched his head, careful not to muss the few wispy strands. His pale reddish-blond hair was thick everywhere on his head but the very top. He figured he’d probably be bald at forty. “The point is, when she called, she told me about the plastic wrapped around the bodies—something few people know. She claims she sees things on her computer. That’s how she knew where her daughter was—or so she said.”
“Brother, that’s all we need. Let’s bring her in. Maybe she’s the killer looking for her fifteen minutes of fame.”
Murphy ignored the sarcasm in Slater’s voice. “Kicker is, she refuses to come to the station. Insists on someone going to her house. One officer at a time. I told her that wasn’t procedure. You’ll have to question her. Sure, she sounds like a nut case, but we can’t take a chance. I know of police departments that keep psychic detectives on retainer—like attorneys. But you wouldn’t know about that, not having kept up with the times.”
“Yeah, Murphy, right. They probably do that in California on a regular basis.”
Leaning back in his chair, Murphy laced his fingers behind his head. “I’ve got an FBI buddy who says they don’t officially acknowledge it, but they use psychics, too. All I’m asking is that you check this out. If you don’t want to bother…” Murphy knew his tone of voice irritated the man, like a stone in the toe of Slater’s shoe. He folded his arms across his chest and waited.
Slater glared at him and when that didn’t seem to work, gave up, and stared at the message in his hand with distaste. “Oh hell. I’ll do it on my way home this afternoon.”
“What time you get here this morning?” Murphy asked. “You look like you’ve been dragged behind a truck on an unpaved road.”
“Thanks. Came in about four. Couldn’t sleep.”
“I don’t know about going over there alone. You should take another officer with you, even if she doesn’t want it that way. We can’t make her come in, although we could put on some pressure. If we do that, she might decide not to talk at all.”
“Think she’ll try to take advantage of me?”
The captain laughed. “You should be so lucky. But hey, all kidding aside, this one sounds strange. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to stick your neck out.”
“That’s what I do best.”
Murphy’s shrug delayed the sarcastic comeback that had edged to the tip of his tongue. Slater wasn’t known for his sense of humor. “I’ll call Mrs. Macklin—let her know you’re coming and fill her in about you talking to her before.” He rustled some paperwork on his desk and felt rather than heard Slater’s departure. For a big man, the guy was light on his feet.
Murphy got up to go to the john, still thinking about how the lab had analyzed the scrapings from the shoes of the victims with the results showing loamy soil and grass mixtures. The kids hadn’t picked that up from a city sidewalk or street. Just one more fact to file away in his brain.
A car pulled up in front of her house. She sneaked a peek from behind the drapes and watched the man inside the car. Her mind instantly connected with his. He was sizing up her place. It had been two years since he’d been there and bits and pieces were coming back from the past. She felt his reluctance to come inside—he thought she was neurotic. She watched him continue to stall, judging the surroundings. She knew his thoughts as clearly as if he’d spoken out loud.
Middle class, older people in the neighborhood. He could tell by the respectable vintage cars occupying most driveways in the afternoon that the owners were probably retired. The silence of the street said no children around. No toys or bikes cluttering the yards. Several streets down, the area was changing into a quiet warehouse district.
Her driveway was empty with no sign of an oil or radiator leak. Had she grown bored sitting around home listening to her soaps? She could be lonely and needing attention.
He intended to set her straight in a helluva hurry. He didn’t have time to waste.
Kate pushed away the detective’s sour thoughts, wishing that nice Captain Murphy might have come. He sounded so gentle on the phone. This man was the opposite. He was everything in the outside world that terrified her and kept her a recluse since her husband and daughter had died and left her behind. In a few moments, she would have to open the door and let him into her home.
Bowling Green Daily News:
Reprinted from Bowling Green Daily News Review of One… Two… Buckle My Shoe by Kathy Thomason
Richard Slater is a cynical, former homicide detective just putting in time with robbery until he can retire when he is called back to the homicide division to help investigate a series of bizarre killings of young girls. Each victim is about 5 years old, neatly wrapped in plastic, killed by carbon monoxide poisoning and left where the body will be found quickly. Slater had investigated a hit and run accident a few years ago with the help of the victim’s mother, who saw her daughter’s body in a vision and now Katherine is having visions of the murders but refuses to talk to anyone but Slater. Both are reluctant to get involved but feel an obligation to the victims’ families to help them stop the killer. The police are stumped, he gets in and out, leaves no evidence behind and with the victims not being molested, seemingly has no motive for the purely random killings. But when Slater’s daughter, Michelle, becomes a target, it becomes a race against time to stop the killer before he gets to Michelle. Complicating matters is Katherine’s visions include a young boy named Bernie, who is obviously scared and being coerced into helping the killer and Katherine is trying to help Slater as much as she can and protect Bernie at the same time.
Slater and Katherine are the perfect examples of two lost souls slowly finding their way out of their own personal hells and finding each other at the same time while dealing with one of the most bizarre murder cases anyone can remember. Bernie is one of the most complex characters you will ever read about and Paranya’s knowledge of psychology is obvious in this deeply disturbing psychological thriller with an ending so surprising it will take your breath away. You will not want to put this one down until you have read every word and then you will go back and read it again because you won’t be able to sleep anyway. Definitely one of the best thrillers of the year.
Midwest Book Reviews:
Reprinted from Midwest Book Review Review of One…Two…Buckle My Shoe by Christy Tillery French
Since the death of her daughter, Katharine Macklin has suffered from agoraphobia. Although Sergeant Richard Slater doesn’t believe in ESP, Katharine’s psychic abilities helped to find her daughter’s body and now Slater needs her help. A serial killer is on the loose, murdering young girls and leaving their untouched bodies wrapped in plastic, missing one shoe. Although Katharine is initially reluctant to help, she is pulled into the investigation when a small child named Bernie appears on her computer and shows her the shrine the killer erected with the missing shoes of the dead children. Slater is frantic to find the killer yet Katharine holds close to her heart a promise Bernie extracted from her which reveals the motive behind the killer’s actions.
As the investigation continues, she connects with the killer’s mind and tries desperately to figure out who the next victim is. Once the killer senses Katharine, he threatens her life and that of Slater’s small daughter Michelle. Despite warnings, Slater’s ex-wife doesn’t believe their daughter is in danger and Slater is torn between protecting his child and another the killer has targeted as the next victim. Although Katharine fears for her life, she cannot allow the killer to act again and begins a frenzied race to find and stop him before he can add another shoe to his collection.
Paranya provides an electrifying thriller here, allowing readers a peek into the mind of a serial killer and his twisted yet surprisingly comprehensible reasoning for murder. Nicely developed characters, plenty of psychological suspense, and a shocking twist at the end will leave readers thinking about this book for a good while.
Review of One…Two…Buckle My Shoe reprinted from Armchair Interviews by Brenda A. Snodgrass
A maniacal predator drops out of nowhere, a killing machine—a parent’s worst nightmare that comes true. Detective Sergeant Richard Slater is assigned to head up the investigation into the murders of several five-year-old little girls, all blond with light-colored complexions. The killer does not molest the girls or torture them and he always places their little bodies (wrapped in plastic) in an obvious place to ensure they are found quickly. He kills them with carbon monoxide. And, the killer always keeps one of their shoes. Police have been known to use psychics when they keep coming up empty-handed. Katherine Macklin, a reluctant physic, is called in to help. After losing her husband to an industrial accident and her daughter to murder, Kate has become agoraphobic (the fear of going outside). She never wanted this supposed “gift,” and it makes her unable to sleep for nights at a time. Her gift manifests itself on her computer screen, when she is tired or bored. She does not have the ability to touch personal belongings and get a reading that way.
A working relationship between Det. Slater and Katherine develops into a kind of occasional dating-type thing. Emotionally involved, both are driven to exhaustive lengths to find their murderer. They don’t seem to be making any headway, and the bodies continue to pile up. Quoted on page 170, “Slater looked at the map on the wall. He’d memorized the whereabouts of each of the tack heads. He’d memorized where the children were picked up and where each had been dropped. Where was that creepy bastard? What was the killer doing this very minute? He felt his hands twitch every time he thought of the monster. He wanted to wrap his hands around a neck so bad. Maybe it was wrong to have confided to Kate. Hell, it was her word against his if it ever came down to that.” P.K. Paranya tells a really good story.