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An elderly woman with an arrow in her chest. A murdered journalist. A decades-old cover-up. In Deadly Choices (Rim Country Mysteries Volume 3), Rita and Cliff Avery team up again to solve a spate of murders in their picturesque Arizona mountain town of Rim Vista. Rita’s mother Willow delivers gun-wrenching news while falling for the man who could be responsible for four deaths. And Rita must escape a string of life-threatening predicaments thrown at her by an assailant willing to do anything to scare Cliff off the case.

If you enjoy suspense, but don’t care for explicit language or adult scenes, this clean (but not cozy) thriller might be exactly what you’re looking for. Deadly Choices is the third book in the Rim Country Mysteries, but can be read as a standalone.

Karen, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little about your protagonist, Rita?

Rita Avery is a middle-aged woman raised by vegetarian hippies who legally named her Lovely Rita after their favorite Beetles song, “Lovely Rita Meter Maid.” She married Jared Warren immediately out of high school, who fought in the first Gulf War as a Marine. They had two children. When Rita and Jared were celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary at a movie theater, a disturbed young man shot and killed fourteen people, including Jared. During the next few months, Rita discovered that her entire marriage had been a lie. She found love again, married Detective Cliff Avery, and honeymooned in Scotland, where she decided to try to reunite with her mother Willow after twenty-five years. Now, she is learning that even Willow lied to Rita.

How much do you and Rita have in common?

There is a lot of me in Rita. In many ways, she thinks like me and acts like me. In other ways, she is who I wish I could be. I like her; she feels comfortable to me. While she can be friendly and engaging, she may be difficult to get to know. She is adventurous and can be fun to be around. Most of all, I feel drawn to her because she is an overcomer who believes she can accomplish anything if she is willing to work hard enough.

Do your characters change throughout consecutive books in the series, or do they stay the same?

Rita has had a dramatic character arc in the three books of the Rim Country Mysteries. She started out naïve and shallow, more concerned about fashion than the people around her. In book 1 (Deadly Deceit), she grew into an independent woman who could trust her own instincts. Because of the extreme trauma she encountered in book 1, she now has PTSD and suffers panic attacks. She barely considers fashion anymore, but she can still spot a good deal. By the end of book 3, she has accepted who she is and is overcoming her panic attacks.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

No. All of my characters has elements of people I’ve known throughout my life, but I didn’t specifically create any of them to kill them. Sometimes, I’m sorry I had to do them in.

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

My fictional setting is a picturesque small town in the mountains above Phoenix, Arizona. It is strikingly similar to the town where I live, but I’ve used aspects of other places I also like. I do a lot of research to try to be realistic in the situations, culture, and setting.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

Ashley Judd is Rita Avery and David Boreanaz is Detective Cliff Avery.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

The best advice is to write what you know about. That makes it a lot easier to be realistic. I didn’t realize how much I knew about until I started putting it into novels, though. The worst advice I’ve heard is that you don’t need an outline. I outline by books, and then rework the outline as the characters take me in different directions than I planned.

About The Author  

Karen Randau is the author of the Rim Country Mystery series. Her fast-paced novels include Deadly Deceit, Deadly Inheritance, and Deadly Choices, each with intricate plots and lots of action and told from the point of view of protagonist Rita Avery.


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