Hey there all you nail benders and tool belt aficionados, you wood butchers of every stripe. You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that brings you characters from the books you love, or soon will. My special guest today is Brian Nichols, owner of Nichols Construction, in Driscoll Lake, Texas. “Welcome to the show, Brian.”
“Hi Lisa. Thanks for having me. I admit I’ve never been interviewed by a robot girl before.”
“Don’t worry, it’s no different than any other interview. Now, Driscoll Lake is a small town. I think that’s important for our readers to understand. Tell us a little about Driscoll Lake.”
“Driscoll Lake is small, but growing. We’re located about ninety miles east of Dallas—close enough if you like the big city nightlife, but far enough to still have a laid-back feeling. We have a lot of newcomers to the town, but several of the families here go back generations. Rachel’s ancestors were among the founders.
“Oh, you wouldn’t know Rachel. We went to high school together, but she moved away to live with her father in Austin. She moved back to this area a few years ago. We’re friends. Good, um, friends. Well, let’s just say she’s really special to me.
“She’s a doctor and has her own practice here in Driscoll Lake. I don’t think that idiot investigator Greg Sikes believed either of us about what happened at her clinic.”
“Driscoll Lake sounds like a nice place. What would bring Greg Sikes into the picture at all?”
“In a word, arson.”
“Oh, come on Brian. You can’t just leave us hanging like that.”
“Alright… someone has set fire to two houses that I’ve built, as well as the house where I grew up, and a couple of business that I did some work on. There was another fire at Judge Lawrence’s house. It wasn’t one of my houses, but someone saw me near the scene before the fire. I swear I didn’t go near his place. Even Rachel’s clinic was targeted. And now, Sikes is saying the first fire at the old factory was arson. Sometimes I wished I’d never bought the place from Rachel. Why would someone believe I would I want to set fire to my own property?”
“Hmm… I get it, but there are so many other possibilities. How many builders could there be in Driscoll Lake? Maybe it’s a coincidence that the properties are connected to you. Maybe you’re actually the target. Did you ever look at it that way?”
“Rachel seems to think that’s the case. Matt, he’s the police chief and my best friend, believes it too. But Sikes doesn’t agree. I think the fire marshal has swayed his opinion. Abbott doesn’t like me.”
“How about an alibi?”
“Never thought I would need one. Trouble is on at least two occasions, I was supposed to meet Rachel somewhere and was late both times. Funny thing, the arsonist never strikes when I’m playing with the band. Oh, did I tell you? I play drums with a local band called Radical. We play a lot of Classic Rock. Music is my outlet. When I’m sitting behind those drums, I can tune out (no pun intended) everything else.
“Seems like whoever is setting these fires keeps a close watch on my whereabouts. Or maybe they use timers or something. Or maybe it is coincidence.”
“I understand. I had to do a bunch of arson research years ago. So what are you going to do?”
“Lisa, you should come to Driscoll Lake and take over the investigation. I’m sure you’d be fair minded. Seriously, this is hurting my business. I invested heavily when I bought the old factory. Took months for them to rule that fire as an accident, so we were unable to complete the project on schedule. At least that fire didn’t destroy the place.
“A real estate agent contacted me to say someone is interesting in buying the property. The offer was extremely generous. I admit I was tempted to sell. But Rachel wants me to keep the place. The property was in her family a long time. She proposed a business partnership where she’ll help with the financing. She doesn’t want me to give up on my dream of turning the old buildings into shops and restaurants.”
“Whatever you decide, I’m sure we’re all with you. Any final comments for our listeners today?”
“In spite of the recent crimes, Driscoll Lake is a great place to live and visit. And hey, if anyone likes Classic Rock, Radical is playing at a new club on Friday night. Come out and hear us play.”
“You can learn all about Brian and his struggles in the book Unknown Reasons, by Joan Hall. I’ll post all the details on the blog site.
“Before you leave, I’d appreciate it if you’d click a couple of those sharing buttons. It helps me keep the lights on around here. I’m also sure Joan and Brian would do it for you when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”
If you can’t stand the heat…
Rachel Jackson hails from one of Driscoll Lake’s wealthiest families. Like her father, she became a doctor and is now a respected physician. But despite her successful career, Rachel feels something is missing from her life—until she crosses paths with Brian Nichols.
The son of a hard-working mother and alcoholic father, Brian acted out when he was young, earning a reputation as a troublemaker. As an adult, he’s worked hard to clean up his act and now owns a burgeoning construction company.
Rachel and Brian form an unlikely friendship which begins to blossom into something more. But a series of structure fires—determined to be arson—puts Brian in the hot seat. The properties are all associated with his work, making him the prime suspect. Toss in his juvenile history, and he finds himself the focus of a tenacious investigator. Even Rachel starts to have doubts.
Brian struggles to save his relationship, his company, and his reputation. But unless the real arsonist is caught before striking again, everything Brian holds dear may go up in smoke.
Joan Hall likes to create character-driven fiction with strong, determined female leads and male characters that are sometimes a bit mysterious. Her favorite genre is mystery and suspense—often with a touch of romance.
When she’s not writing, Joan likes to take nature walks, explore old cemeteries, and visit America’s National Parks and historical sites. She and her husband live in Texas.