In 2019, I was honored to feature M.M. Chouinard’s Detective Jo Fouriner series. The first book, THE DANCING GIRLS, ended up becoming a USA Today Bestseller, and the fourth book, THE OTHER MOTHERS, came out on January 19:
When Jeanine Hammond is found dead in a hotel in the picture-perfect town of Oakhust, newly-promoted Detective Jo Fournier is thrown into a disturbing case. Who would murder this shy, loving wife and leave her body posed like a ballerina?
Jo wants to know why Jeanine’s husband is so controlling about money, and where Jeanine’s wedding ring is, but before she and her team can get close to the truth, another woman is found strangled in a hotel, arms placed gracefully above her head like a dancer.
While digging through old case files, Jo makes a terrifying link to a series of cold cases: each victim bears the same strangulation marks. But the FBI won’t take Jo seriously, and if she disobeys direct orders by investigating the killings outside of her jurisdiction, it will mean the end of the career she’s already sacrificed so much for, even her relationship.
Just as Jo is beginning to lose hope, she finds messages on the victims’ computers that make her question whether these small-town women were hiding big lies. Jo thinks this is the missing link, but she knows the murderer is moments away from selecting his next victim. Will it lead her to the most twisted killer of her career in time, or will another innocent life be lost?
When a girl’s body is discovered in a park in the sleepy Massachusetts town of Oakhurst, local detective Jo is shocked to the core. Because the girl is the second innocent victim to turn up dead in three days. And just like the first, a tarot card has been left by the body. The meaning of the card: betrayal.
After uncovering a series of threatening messages targeting the girl, a student at the university, and the first victim, her teacher, Jo thinks she’s locked the killer in her crosshairs. The primary suspect is a volatile ex-military student with an axe to grind for failing grades, and the frightened town is out for his blood. But the next day, a much-loved member of the community is found dead in her home, a tarot card in her mail. There’s no clear motive to link her death to the others, and the message on the card this time is even stranger: domestic bliss.
With a fourth body and card appearing the following day, Jo knows she’s running out of time to crack the code and bring the killer to justice. And the pressure only gets worse with heart-breaking news about Jo’s father forcing her to choose between helping her family heal or the victims’ families get justice. Can Jo find the twisted murderer sending the town into a panic before another life is lost? Or this time, will the dangerous killer find her first?
Someone wants her dead, and she can’t remember why.
Zoe is a wife and a mother. Or so she’s been told. Ask her for more than that and she couldn’t tell you. The blow to her head wiped her memory clean.
Zoe knows the blood on her shirt isn’t just her own. After she was found stumbling out of the woods, the police ran tests. They say it belongs to her missing daughter.
Zoe is trying to piece together what her daughter’s face looks like, but all she can conjure up is a white-hot panic. A fear that her child is in desperate need of her help.
When a man claiming to be her husband turns up looking for her, she knows she can’t trust him. Until she gets her memories back, she can’t trust anyone. Not the stranger, not the police investigating, not even herself…
It’s a crisp spring morning when the small-town community around Briar Ridge Elementary School is shattered by devastating news. Bright and shy five-year-old Nicole has disappeared at recess.
Nicole’s mother, Gia, is lost in her grief. On the same day her baby girl vanished, Gia found out she was pregnant with the sister Nicole had begged for. Gia is also devastated that her best friend Karen was supervising the playground when Nicole was taken. And when Nicole’s body is discovered, Gia can’t help but ask: why didn’t Karen protect her little girl?
Someone knows what happened in school that day and Detective Jo Fournier is determined to find the truth. Jo’s little nieces also attend Briar Ridge and she would cross mountains to keep them safe. As she starts to dig into the mothers’ secrets, she begins to wonder if anyone is telling the truth. Gia’s been hiding a part of herself for years and Jo can tell it’s eating her apart. And Karen is definitely lying—but what is more important than finding the killer of her best friend’s daughter?
As Gia and Karen struggle with their guilt, a teacher at Briar Ridge dies in what looks like a tragic accident. But with two deaths in such a short time, Jo knows better than that. In this school, where soccer moms flock to the gates with cookies for teachers, someone is willing to kill to keep a secret. The only question is who.
What motivates you most when writing a new project?
That depends on the project. For example, I recently finished writing a book tentatively titled DEADLY GAME, my inspiration came from a treasure hunt book originally published in 1982, called The Secret, by Byron Preiss. Preiss buried casques with gemstones in a variety of locations across the country, and the book held clues to the locations of the casques. Most of the casques still haven’t been found, and I had a blast with my husband looking for the one hidden in San Francisco–so much so that I became consumed with the idea of writing a book where my protagonists had to hunt down clues in San Francisco. With The Other Mothers, it would be a huge spoiler if I told you what inspired that book, because my inspiration is what ended up being the big twist. So sometimes it’s a character that comes to me, sometimes it’s a twist, sometimes it’s something I’ve seen or done in real life.
Okay, now I’m very curious about the twist in THE OTHER MOTHERS! In our last interview, you said, “Jo teaches me something new in each book about what strength really means, and how much more powerful it is when paired with compassion.” What did Jo teach you in this latest book?
In this book, she taught me the importance of trust, particularly of trusting yourself, in your ability to stand strong and do the right thing. And that you can’t trust others until you trust yourself.
So true. What kinds of stories do you wish you saw more of?
Stories that involve women supporting each other rather than undermining each other. That has recently become a very important theme for me.
Me too. If you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?
Yikes, just one thing?! I guess if we’re talking about my very young writer self, I’d tell her that everything she’d go through in life would be vital for her ability to write about people’s, and the world’s, complexities. I couldn’t write the books I write today without the experiences I’ve had.