Keeper of the Rings, one of my earlier science fiction romances, is the book that taught me how to write a murder mystery. It was the fourth book I wrote for Dorchester in my early days as a romance writer. I’m happy to announce the reissue of a newly revised and yes, better written, edition. It’s the last romance I wrote before switching to mysteries and starting my Bad Hair Day series. So how did this book inspire me to write a straight mystery novel? First let’s see what the story is about.
A PRISM Awards Finalist
Taurin is shrouded in black when Leena first meets him, his face shaded like the night. At first she believes him to be a simple farmer, but the man exhibits skills worthy of a warrior. With his commanding presence, he’s an obvious choice to be the lovely archaeologist’s protector on her quest for a stolen sacred artifact. Curious about his mysterious background, and increasingly tempted by his tantalizing touch, Leena prays their perilous journey will be a success. She must find the missing relic, or dangerous secrets will be revealed that may forever change her world.
Who stole the holy artifact? Only the members of the ruling priesthood, the twelve-member Synod, had access to the sacred closet where it was kept. Was it Zeroun, the stern Minister of Religion? Perhaps Karayan, Leena’s family friend and Minister of Justice, is involved. Or maybe Sirvat is guilty. The Minister of Finance has something to hide. So does everyone on this elite council, including the Arch Nome, Dikran.
Leena is assigned the perilous mission is to retrieve the artifact. She engages Taurin Rey Niris as her protector. Together, they journey on a desperate quest around the globe and deep beneath the ruins of a hidden temple. Meanwhile, Leena’s brother investigates the backgrounds of the ministers. He finds that each one of them has a secret to hide.
Sound familiar? An amateur sleuth investigating a murder follows a similar process.
Here’s an excerpt wherein Leena and Taurin discuss the suspects with her brother, Bendyk, and his lovely assistant, Swill. Oh, and be prepared for two love stories! This is a romance novel, after all. The spice level is hot.
“We’ll pretend to be new settlers when we go to Woden,” Leena explained. “Dikran is arranging for the proper documentation. Now tell me, have you and Swill made any progress?”
Swill answered, tugging at the long sleeves of her burgundy blouse. She’d tucked it into a black skirt that hugged her hips. “Magar makes regular entries in his receipt book. These deposits have no mention of the source. Sirvat transfers the money into the Treasury account. Her financial records are impeccable, but she takes trips every so often, returning with a new piece of jewelry each time. It’s odd, because normally she’s not one to adorn herself.”
“I’ll bet I know where she gets those pieces.” Leena related what they’d learned about Sirvat’s relationship to Grotus.
Bendyk shook his head. “She seems so strait-laced. It’s hard to believe she’d fall for a rogue like him.”
“Perhaps Sirvat hides a passionate nature. Now that I think about it, some of the items I saw in Grotus’s mansion are similar to pieces in Karayan’s house. The minister has quite an extensive art collection.”
“Are you implying he buys goods from Grotus?” Bendyk asked with a horrified expression.
“Not necessarily. They may simply share the same tastes, although Karayan is a much better dresser.”
Taurin snorted. “We’re not here to discuss anyone’s preference in art or clothes. Did you investigate Zeroun? As Minister of Religion, his department is responsible for administering the Black Lands. Someone there has granted illegal rights to the Chocola Company.”
“We’ll check into it,” Swill assured him. “We’ve cleared most of the other Synod members but weren’t sure about Sirvat’s trips or Magar’s secretive dealings in his trade commissions. I still feel he’s withholding information from us.”
“I’m more willing to trust Magar,” Taurin said. “It’s Zeroun who needs further investigation.”
They could easily be discussing suspects in a murder. We have a limited number of suspects, most of who know each other and have a secret to hide; an amateur sleuth; and a confined setting. It’s the prescription for a cozy mystery, albeit combined with a “quest” theme in the search for the missing horn. Mystery, adventure, romance and danger—what could be better?
What was my favorite part to write? I loved planning the booby traps in the secret temple and figuring out what was hidden there.
Praise for Keeper of the Rings
“A dark, dangerous hero and imaginative adventures make Keeper of the Rings an entertaining read.” Phoebe Conn, NY Times Bestselling Author
“Keeper is a lot like Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone. A good mystery, action/adventure, sci‑fi, and romance all rolled into one.” Mary Saums, Author of the Thistle & Twigg Mysteries and the Willi Taft Series.
“Prepare yourself for exotic locales, evildoers galore, and two splendid romances! Ms. Cane’s done it again!” The Paperback Forum
“Fascinating! Nancy Cane combines the elements of science fiction and fantasy into a marvelous love story. Her books capture the imagination with their originality.” The Literary Times
“The spellbinding action gets more terrifying and enthralling as the uniquely different plot thickens. The conclusion is stunning!” Rendezvous
“Intense and fast, Keeper of the Rings has an absorbing and complex plot that expands over and over again. And like ripples in a pond the reverberations are felt throughout the book to the very explosive climax. 4-1/2 stars.” Affaire de Coeur
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/KeeperoftheRings
Do you read archaeological thrillers? Or books like The Da Vinci Code? Perhaps you prefer movies like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft? Leave a comment below and you might win a signed first edition print copy of Silver Serenade published by The Wild Rose Press. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday.