Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Sandstorm by Joyce Yarrow



A pitch-perfect, heartfelt, and enthralling story of survival, coming-of-age and redemption. 


by Joyce Yarrow

Genre: Urban Fiction 

GOLD MEDAL WINNER - Cipa Evvy Award for Women's Fiction

When you trade the straight and narrow for the crooked pathways of crime, it's likely to become a permanent arrangement. Unless, like Sandie Donovan, you're a born grifter, determined to use your knack for deception and crime to restart your life and achieve success as an actor.

A pitch-perfect, heartfelt, and enthralling story of survival, coming-of-age and redemption. Sandstorm is a suspenseful, pacy read about a compelling character whose adventures and misadventures are dramatic and exciting.

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Never go into a job cold. You’ve got to have a plan and be ready to handle whatever comes up

Russell and I had prepared meticulously and as a result, I’d been able to hold my anxiety in check when walking into a bank in Kansas City or Columbus, whether I was cashing a single forged check or cleaning out an entire account. Today was different. My chest felt tight and my thoughts were uneasy. Because what I wanted most could not be stolen. It had to be earned.  

On the way from the subway to the producer’s address on West 28th, I stopped briefly to inhale the fragrance of a bucketful of white lilies displayed in front of a storefront sandwiched between two newly constructed glass towers. It was depressing to see Manhattan’s Flower District, an oasis of green and growing plants, being sacrificed to the gods of development. 

My mood was not improved by the sight of my destination, a grey metal door smeared with graffiti. Maybe I should drop the whole deal. Why pin my hopes on an impoverished indie filmmaker who can’t afford to rent a decent rehearsal space? I was struggling to make up my mind when the door opened and Sloan came out. He’d substituted Nikes, sweatpants, and a tight-fitting blue t-shirt for the fatigues he’d worn in Brooklyn.  

“Go on up to the second floor. I’ve got to run an errand. Be right back.” I watched him hurry down the street, One-Take Wonder printed in block letters on the back of his shirt. 

Like the front door, the building’s grimy lobby and hallway were sub-par and left me completely unprepared, when the elevator door opened, to find myself on the threshold of a luxury loft with twenty-foot ceilings, complete with a décor copied straight from some house beautiful magazine.  

A tall, gawky woman in jeans and a Rousseau-blue velvet jacket darted across the room to greet me. Her short black hair was combed behind her ears to set off shoulder-length silver earrings.  

“Welcome, Sandie. I’m Leslie Ann, Executive Producer of Careless Love.” 

I was embarrassed to have assumed the producer was a man. I was also fascinated by a large painting of four primitively drawn flowers, centered on the wall behind an antique couch upholstered in gold brocade and itself a work of art.  

“That Andy Warhol silkscreen is the only real art we have left,” Leslie Ann said. “And as much as I love Sloan’s latest project, I’ve told him this is one piece that will never go near the auction block.” 

I envisioned her coming home to find a dark rectangle where the frame had been, my fence suitably impressed, money changing hands—all in the second it took me to draw breath and say, “It’s beautiful.”  

How incorrigible I was, for someone who had a steady day job and whose lawless days were supposedly behind her.  

Leslie Ann escorted me into the rehearsal space, where floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lined the walls and four actors looked up at her from their seats around a glass-covered library table. Their faces were partially illuminated by rays of sun streaming from the skylight. It could have been a professionally lit set.  

“I see you’re dressed for the part,” commented a rectangular-faced person with intensely cerulean eyes. “I’m Chris and I go by the pronoun ‘they.’ I’m playing Theo. 

“Pleasure to meet you, Chris,” I said, ignoring the comment on my appearance. I’d made myself up as Janine, my hair hidden under a dark green silk hijab and now, seeing the casual attire of my fellow actors, realized my mistake. I took off the headscarf and draped it over the back of my chair, taking a seat at the table. 

Joyce Yarrow is an award-winning author of literary novels of suspense that, according to Library Journal, “appeal to readers who enjoy unusual mysteries with an international setting.”

Her coming-of-age novel SANDSTORM, won a the 2022 gold medal in Women's Fiction at the CIPA/Evvy Awards and her historical thriller, ZAHARA AND THE LOST BOOKS OF LIGHT, has been awarded 5 Stars by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and translated into Spanish and Portuguese. Joyce's other published novels of suspense include ASK THE DEAD, RUSSIAN RECKONING, and RIVERS RUN BACK (co-authored with Arindam Roy).

A New York City transplant now living in Seattle, Yarrow began her writing life scribbling poems on the subway and observing human behavior from every walk of life. She is a Pushcart Prize Nominee with short stories and essays that have appeared in Inkwell Journal, Whistling Shade, Descant, Arabesques, and Weber: The Contemporary West and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Yarrow is a member of the Sisters in Crime organization and has presented workshops on “The Place of Place in Mystery Writing” at conferences in the US and India.

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