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BURTRUM LEE

Title: Burtrum Lee

Series: N/A

Author: Mary Maurice

ISBN: 978-1-60975-197-5

Product Code: BK0137

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 290

Release Date: November 2017

Cover Price: $19.95

Our Price: $19.95

 

 

 

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Book Jacket

 

Burtrum Lee Conner scrambles to her feet, sweat drizzling from her brow. She needs to escape, her captor is becoming frazzled, disoriented, scary. Is it true what Calvin Kramer said? Has her whole life been a farce? A deviant lie that her mom and dad, even her grandmother, have been telling her for the past forty years? If she's not the woman she believed she was, then who is she?

 


 

Book Excerpt

 

1

 

  

Santa Fe, NM, 1960

“Burtrum, I’m not going to tell you again, slow down! You’re going to lose control in this weather,” Katie Lee pleads, as the wheels of the black sedan catch a patch of ice. Katie feels the Buick fishtail, clipping a nearby snow bank.

“Shut up, Katie! You know how important this child is to us. We might never have the chance again, and I’m not going to let anything happen to him.”

“You’re going to kill us all, and then where will we be? Please, Burtrum, I beg you, just ease up a little.”

Katie Lee cannot believe this tragic turn of events. She knew it was a bad idea when Burtrum insisted she come to New Mexico with him, she in her ninth month. Now her instincts are proving true. The contractions began an hour ago, and here they are, out in the middle of nowhere, lost in a snowstorm, miles away from any hospital.

Doubts began to surface early on in the pregnancy; messing with nature and all. Even though Burtrum, a world-renowned fertility scientist, guaranteed his new experiment, artificial insemination, was fail-safe, she still had her misgivings. But what else could she do? Refusing was out of the question.

As the months progressed, and her terms eased along, Katie began to relax and trust her husband’s genius, joyfully planning the future of their baby son.

Now, though, as she sits in water soaked panties, those happy feelings are replaced with fear, as she prays her husband will pull over for a minute and let the gale force winds pass them by. Katie sees a smile in the black window as she wonders what her son will be like.

The wheels skid on the icy road a second time, and Katie clings tightly to the armrest, her knuckles turning whiter than the snow outside.

“Damn-it, Burtrum! Now, please, let’s stop for a minute!” Her cursed words echo in the silent cab. Her pleas are futile. She can see the crazed intensity in his blackened eyes, as he speeds down unfamiliar snow packed roads, oblivious to the ghostly dangers lurking.

“I’m fine, I know what I’m doing, there’s no need to get belligerent. Just relax and hold the baby in until we get to the hospital. Is that too much to ask?” His words are firm and direct.

Leaning her head against the frosted window, Katie sees an ashen reflection mocking her terror. Large blue eyes sparkle as she recalls first meeting Burtrum Lee. How gruff he acted with her at the beginning, kind of like now, but then after a while softened up to her. For Katie, it was love at first sight.

Even though Burtrum is twice her age, they married almost immediately. Their union, up until now, has been a good one, and Katie speculates things will change between them with the child.

Vicious winds whip the heavy car back and forth, making it impossible for Katie to see out. She glances over at Burtrum, hunched and leaning closer to the icing windshield.

“Honey, please!” Katie softens. “We can wait until the winds ease up and you can see better. I’m fine. The contractions are still pretty far apart, so we have plenty of time.”

Katie hates to lie. The pains are closer than ever and she knows the baby is coming. Clenching her fist to her mouth, she holds back her moans as a jolt rips through her gut. Burtrum’s determination overrides any trace of common sense as he continues to plow through the unforgiving swirling gales. Katie leans her head against the window again and closes her eyes. The coolness on her forehead helps to soothe the increasingly intense labor pains.

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

Santa Fe, NM, 2004

Lee Conner flicks her hand toward the sound of Lucy’s meowing.

“Shut up, will you? I’m trying to sleep,” she snaps, pushing the feline off the mattress and rolling over.

The cat’s begging continues to grate on her nerves.

Whipping her legs over the side of the bed while she wrestles with the comforter, Lee tosses a pillow at Lucy as she dashes away, disappearing down the hall. “All right all ready, I’m up. Are you happy now?”

Unfolding the Venetian blinds, Lee gazes out her window at a sky full of gray clouds, and wonders if the much needed rain will arrive today. Turning, she catches her image in the full length mirror on the opposite wall. Her knobby knees redden in embarrassment as she studies herself.

Spotting the clock on the bookshelf, Lee realizes she needs to hurry or she’ll be late for work. Slipping on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, she contemplates her employment at the Casa de Magdalena B&B. It certainly isn’t her dream job, and she knows it’s just a short term gig until she finds her niche, whatever a niche is. Chuckling, Lee jumps when the phone rings, and reaches for the receiver.

“Hello!” Sleep clinging to her voice.

“Birdy, I’m sorry, did I wake you? I thought you’d be out of bed by now and ready for work.” Clair Conner knows her granddaughter isn’t the most motivated person on earth, and has a tendency to oversleep.

“Grandma, I’m just leaving, and I wish you’d call me Lee.”

“You know I prefer to call you Birdy. Just thank your stars I don’t use your birth name.”

“You know I hate it, and will always question their decision to name me after Great, Great, Grandpa Conner. But listen, I don’t have time to get into this,” said Lee, becoming slightly agitated. “Why are you up so early?”

“I wanted to catch you before you left for the B&B.”

“What can’t wait until later?”

“Nothing important, I just wanted to call you at home.”

“But Grandma, you know you can reach me at work anytime.”

“Yes, but I don’t like to bother you there.”

“It’s no problem. Now, what’s up?”

“I’m wondering if you’d like to come over for dinner tonight. There’s this nice man who works down at the nursery, you know, where I get all of my plants and trees.” Her granddaughter’s multiple job history and Lee’s association with men hold a similar track record. She either gets bored with them, or finds something wrong, ending the romance. No man is ever good enough!

Rolling her eyes, Lee snips. “Yes, Grandma, I know the place.”

All of her life, both her parents or grandmother have tried to set her up with men, but with no success. She feels guilty for not falling in love with at least one of her suitors, but none of them are ever what she wants. Lee has never felt that rush of excitement her friends describe when they meet the loves of their lives.

“What a load of crap,” Lee said, accidentally whispering out loud.

“What did you say, sweetie?”

“Oh, nothing, Grandma. Listen, I’d love to come over for dinner, but I don’t want to meet anyone, okay. I’m not in the mood.”

“All right, honey, that’s fine, I just wanted to bounce it off you before I invited him,” disappointment echoed in Clair’s words.

“Thanks, Grandma.” Silence wiggles across the line. “Hey, I really appreciate everything you do for me, trying to help me find the right guy and all, but don’t you think maybe we should just let it rest, and if it happens, then it happens?”

“Whatever you say dear, I just don’t want to see you lonely.”

“I’m not, don’t worry. Now, what time is dinner, and what are you making?”

“How about around six, and I’m not sure what’s on the menu yet. I’m thinking maybe green-chile-chicken enchiladas.”

“Yummy, you know how I love those.”

“Great then, I’ll see you this evening.”

“Can I bring anything?”

“Just your beautiful self.”

“I’ll do that. I’ve gotta run though, I’ll see you later. Hope you have a nice day.”

“You too, sweetheart. I love you, bye.”

“Love you, too. See ya.”

Lee listens to the phone click and then hangs up.

Rubbing her hand through her auburn hair, she reaches for a jacket dangling on a hook behind the door. Strolling to the kitchen she sees Lucy waiting patiently to be fed. Squatting down, she pets her feline friend.

“I’m sorry, honey. I forgot all about you.” Darting over to the cupboard and opening it, she grabs a handful of dry food and tosses the morsels into Lucy’s bowl. “There, how’s that?” The calico sprints to the food, making Lee grin.

Buttoning up her coat, she opens the door and is blasted with a brisk whirlwind. Dirt and leaves spin in the air, whipping around the dry dustbowl Lee calls a front yard, reminding her more of October than March.

Covering her mouth, she lumbers down the driveway, and out into the street. Luckily for Lee, the B&B is a ten-minute jaunt from her home. Reaching the plaza, she crosses the square and heads down Palace Avenue, smiling to herself as she studies the brown adobe structures lining the streets. Everything here in the City Different is soft and earthy; one of the things she loves about Santa Fe.

Lee has lived here all of her life, and considers herself blessed to have been raised in such a beautiful place. The surrounding mountains are always breathtaking, inspiring people from all over the world to come and find their true artistic selves.

And that is exactly what happened back in the eighties when the city boomed. Everyone came, driving the economy into a chaotic state. But then, as with all booms, it ended, leaving the natives with a high cost of living and low hourly wages. Lee’s parents and grandmother made their money back then, selling off the land they owned on the mountain to developers, who later lined the hills with houses, half of which stand empty now.

Passing a dark window, Lee glimpses her misplaced features. She certainly doesn’t resemble any of her family members, who all possess the classic Hispanic traits of dark hair and eyes, with a soft brown skin tone. But she, with her auburn hair, green eyes, and a pale complexion, resembles none of them. As a young girl she would ask why she looks so different, and all they’d say is that she’d inherited her Great, Great, Grandfather Conner’s characteristics. So, not only did she acquire his awful name, but also his British traits.

From the story told, he’d been an English officer sent to explore the Southwest territories, and falling in love with the land, stayed after his commission ended.

As Lee turns down Faithway Street, the white gingerbread house with blue trim comes into view. Strolling up the walk, she bends over and picks up the New Mexican, knowing the thin paper offers little news.

Unlocking the front door, she quietly enters and eases the portal closed. Everything is silent. A stillness hangs in the air, as Lee suddenly remembers the house is empty. The only guests are those staying out back in the casitas.

Hoping for an easy day of mindless cleaning and housekeeping, she switches on the coffee machines, listening as they gurgle to life. Deciding to whip up some pancakes and sausages for breakfast, Lee pulls the instant mix out of the cupboard and searches for the maple syrup hidden behind the honey.

While preparing breakfast, her thoughts wander to Clair and how persistent she’s been over the past few months, always trying to set her up. Lee knows her grandmother only has her best interest at heart, but still, it’s starting to annoy her.

It’s not as though she spends every night on her couch. She goes out and meets men, but none of them hold her attention. There’s never a spark, never any desire to devote her time to someone. Maybe she’s just a loner. Nothing wrong with that.

Pulling the white tab off the concentrated juice can, Lee pours the orange sludge into the pitcher and then holding it under the faucet, dilutes the semi-frozen mixture. PMS sings ballads in the back of her mind, and she wonders if that’s the reason she’s been feeling so spacey today, not hearing the back door open.

“Morning, Lee.”

Yelping, Lee whips around and sees Kim, the reservation secretary, standing there giggling.

“That’s not funny,” Lee scolds, unable to control the slight smirk creasing her lips. “You should make more noise. You almost gave me a coronary.”

“A little edgy today?” Kim jokes, unlocking the office.

“No, I was just deep in thought.”

“Don’t drown.”

“If I do, I’m taking everyone down with me.” Both women laugh, as Lee asks, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

“Yes, please, that’d be nice,” Kim said as she tossed her backpack on the desk. Grabbing two mugs off the hooks, she turns to the still dripping pot.

“I tell you,” Kim yells from the small closet they call control central. “Today already feels weird. Don’t you think?”

“Yeah, but I figure it’s because I’m about to start my period.”

“I think it’s the chem-trails. They’re already lining the sky and it’s not even eight yet.”

Gesturing with her hand in the air, Lee spits, “No, no, let’s not get into that right now.

It’s way too early and my brain can’t take it.”

She is well versed in Kim’s conspiracy theories, and knows the young rebel always searches for an opportunity to try and discuss what she believes to be just and real. Strangely enough, none of her predictions have ever come true.

“You’re right, get me started and neither one of us will get any work done.”

She hands Kim her coffee, who takes a sip, eyeing Lee over the rim.

“How is it?” Lee asks.

“It’s fine, just how I like it, nice and strong.”

Sliding the griddle off the shelf, she glances back at Kim. “You hungry?”

“Extremely,” Kim exclaims. “What are you making?”

“Pancakes and sausages.”

“What kind of cakes?”

“I’m thinking of ginger-banana,” Lee replies, meticulously placing the sausage patties into the frying pan.

“Sounds good. Let me know when they’re ready.”

 

b   b   b

 

As the clock strikes three, Lee whispers a silent thank-you, and grabs her things.

Saying good-bye to Kim, she glides out the door and skips down the sidewalk, glad the weekend has finally arrived.

 

b   b   b

 

Kim is getting restless. Her replacement, Chris, who promised to come in early, has yet to arrive, and is on the verge of being late for his own scheduled time.

“To hell with this,” Kim hisses.

Standing to leave, she hears the back door open, then close. Sighing in relief, she mouths, ‘finally,’ and reaches for her backpack on the floor. Quickly turning, she almost runs into a man standing in the office doorway. Taken a little off guard, Kim backs up, snapping at the stranger. “May I help you, sir?” She notices his breathing is heavy and tiny pebbles of sweat cling to his forehead, even though it’s a cool spring day.

“I’m looking for Burtrum Lee Conner,” his voice is raspy as he coughs.

“Who?” Kim thinks for a minute. “Oh, Lee, she just left, can I help you?” She asks feeling a little sorry for the guy. She can tell he’s not from Santa Fe.

“When do you expect her back?” His body tightens.

“Not until Monday. So, if you want to leave her a message, I’ll make sure she gets it.” Feeling trapped, she tries to edge around the pudgy, balding, middle-aged man. Aren’t they all starting to look the same, she thinks to herself.

“I really need to talk to her.” His brow furrows.

“I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do.”

Digging in his pocket, the odd man pulls out a crinkled twenty. “Here, I’ll give you this if you tell me where she is.” He takes a step closer.

Stuffing her hands in her pockets, Kim backs away. “I’m not going to take your money, and I think you better leave now, or I’ll call the police,” her voice squeals.

His face begins to shade crimson as footsteps approach from the living room.

Bobbing his head like a prairie dog from its hole, the goon wipes his brow with a plump hand, and stumbles out the door.

Seeing Dionna, the night manager, Kim spits frantically. “Did you see that guy who just left? What a weirdo. He demanded I tell him where Lee was, and when I wouldn’t, he cornered me in the office. Heaven only knows what he might have done if you hadn’t shown up!”

“I didn’t see anyone. Is he a guest?” Dionna voice twangs in disbelief. She knows how Kim likes to dramatize.

“I don’t think so. I haven’t seen him around. Maybe I should call Lee, she might know something about it.”

Retreating back to the office, Kim dials Lee’s number but only gets the answering machine. After leaving a brief message, she hangs up, stretching for her pack.

“Listen Dionna, I’m going to cruise, even though Chris isn’t here yet. If Lee calls, tell her I went home, okay?”

“I’m sure it’s nothing, Kim.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right. He just acted so desperate and out of place.”

“There are a lot of those here in Santa Fe. What if he comes back?”

“Explain to him that we don’t give out employee information. And if he wants to talk to Lee, she’ll be in on Monday. And then call me.”

“Yeah, okay.”

Striding out into the pre-spring air and taking a deep breath, Kim day dreams about the big fat joint she has waiting, and smiles.

 

b   b   b

 

Strolling home, Lee whistles in anticipation of a relaxing couple of days. And there’s no better way to start it, than to have dinner with her grandmother. She loves Clair Conner, and at times feels like she is more of a parent to her than her own.

Over the past few years, Lee has begun to notice that Jed and Jane Conner pay less and less attention to her. This is hard in itself, but it’s compounded by the fact that Lee feels like she needs more support than ever, but doesn’t know why.

Clair stepped in though, and picked up the slack. Lee figures her parents are too involved with their hoity-toity social scenes to concern themselves with their only daughter.

Smiling as she approaches her hovel, Lee reaches out to slip the key in the lock, but instead pushes the door open. Shaken and scared, she steps back, unsure of what to do. Lee knows she bolted it this morning, and can’t think of any reason why it should be open. Carefully easing in, she’s taken off guard by the state of her living room. At first the mess doesn’t compute, but then Lee realizes her home has been burglarized.

“Oh, my gosh,” she exhales, suddenly remembering her cat. “Lucy, Lucy. Come here kitty, where are you?”

Lee’s heart skips a beat when she doesn’t hear a response, but then, out of nowhere, the calico curls around a corner, meowing and seeming a little skittish.

Quickly stepping forward, Lee bends over and lifts the twelve-pound cat to her chest. “Oh, Lucy, I’m so glad you’re all right.” She kisses her friend on the head. “What happened? Did you see anything? Or were you a smart girl, and hid?”

Setting the feline on the floor, Lee is amazed at the damage lying before her. “Man, oh man, can you believe this?” Surveying the room, she senses something unusual about the intrusion, but can’t pinpoint it. Sweeping to the back of the house, Lee notices the kitchen has barely been touched. A few drawers and cabinets are open, but it’s nowhere near the destruction in the living room.

Entering her bedroom, she’s greeted by the same scene she found in the front of the house. Lee’s first instinct is to call the police, but a nagging sensation prevents her. Glancing at the phone she sees a red light flashing on the answering machine. Pushing the play button, she listens as the tiny tape reels backwards.

“Lee, hey Lee. You there? This is Kim, pick up. Listen, some weirdo guy came looking for you. He wanted to know where you were. I didn’t tell him anything, and then he split when Dionna showed up. Thought maybe you might know something about it. I don’t think he’s a guest. Call me.”

Lee stands still, baffled. What is going on? What is Kim talking about?

Deciding the safest thing to do is grab Lucy and head to Clair’s house, she calls out, but again receives no response. Dropping food in her bowl to ease the cat out of hiding, Lee knows the poor creature is genuinely spooked, and hates to take her away from familiar territory.

Just then it dawns on Lee what’s so strange about the break-in: nothing’s missing. The TV, VCR, stereo and all of her CDs are untouched. Even her golf clubs, sitting in the corner neglected, have been overlooked.

Is this person after something specific?

What does she, Lee Conner, have that would inspire someone to ransack her home?

Questions reel in her mind as she hoists Lucy in her arms and heads out the door. Tucking the cat into the back seat of her VW Jetta, Lee jumps behind the wheel and tries to start the car. It sputters at first, not having been driven in a few days, but then the sparks catch, and the engine revs.

Racing down Bishops Lodge Road to her grandma’s adobe home snuggled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Lee feels tense. When Clair Conner first built her home, it stood alone. Now hundreds of brown structures dot the countryside, with more and more construction sounds ringing throughout the valley each year.

Parking behind the house, Lee snags the angry cat and holds her tight. Trudging up the long stone path to the back porch, she stops to catch her breath, catching a glimpse of the Manzano Mountains off in the distance.

Sighing, she lets the beauty of her native home relax her. Juniper burns in her nostrils, spicy and sweet, as deep blue skies, and burnt orange horizons sooth her eyes.

Turning the doorknob, Lee is surprised to find it locked. Trying hard to embrace the struggling kitty as she rings the bell, Lucy finally wriggles out of her grip just as Clair opens the door. Immediately, the cat plunges out of Lee’s arms, racing into the house and disappearing.

“We won’t be seeing her for a while,” Lee says, hugging Clair and slipping past her. “Birdy, are you all right? You’re rather early.” Closing the door behind her, Clair follows her granddaughter into the kitchen.

“Oh!” Lee sits down at the table. The warmth of the fireplace fills her with comfort.

“Why did you bring Lucy?” Clair pours her granddaughter a glass of cabernet.

“Oh, my word, Grandma, you won’t believe it,” Lee said, her hands shaking as she tries to steady the glass.

“I get home to find my front door open, and the whole place in shambles. There’s nothing stolen, so I think they’re searching for something special.”

“What are you talking about? You’re not making sense.” Clair eases down into a chair.

“Then there’s a message on my machine from Kim at work. She says some man shows up after I left, asking about me.”

“Who?”

“I don’t know. But I think he has something to do with the condition of my house.”

“Did you call the police?” Genuine concern laces Clair’s voice.

“No, I thought I’d wait to see what you had to say.”

Clair is silent for a long time. She finally speaks, although, hesitantly. “I think the best thing to do is to keep this between us. Maybe this man just saw your picture on the B&B’s website and wants to talk to you personally because he knows you’re the manager. You know how Kim sometimes likes to blow things out of proportion,” Clair sighed, then continues. “As for your house, it could be some random break-in, and since nothing was stolen, maybe we should wait until tomorrow and decide if it’s necessary to involve the authorities.”

“I guess you’re right,” she said, rubbing her forehead. “I feel a headache coming on.”

“Why don’t we go to your house in the morning. I’m sure things won’t seem as bad then.” Clair hopes Lee doesn’t detect the tension in her voice. She has a strong sense of who’s behind this.

“You’re right. I’ll be able to think more clearly once I get some rest.” Standing, Lee continues, “I need some fresh air. I’m going out back for a little while.”

“You go right ahead dear. Just take it easy and I’ll call you when dinner’s ready.”

Lee kisses Clair on the cheek. “Thank you Grandma. I knew you could calm me down. Let me know if you need me for anything.”

“I will, I promise.” Clair studies her granddaughter, her eyes etched in worry.

 

b   b   b

 

Jane Conner glances in both directions as she pushes the number three button on her cell phone and raises it to her ear. Spotting a police car approaching from the other side of the street, she lowers the device, cursing as she does. It’d be just her luck for a cop to bust her for talking on a cell while driving. Jane thinks it’s a ridiculous law, and one that infringes on her liberties. Still, she doesn’t want to get caught and have to pay the standard sixty-five-dollar fine.

“Hello?” She hears a muffled voice against her thigh. “Hello! Is anyone there?”

“No, no, Clair don’t hang up,” Jane shouts down into the phone.

“Jane? What are you doing?”

“I’m in my car, and a cop just drove by.” Lifting the receiver back to her ear, Jane’s voice becomes clearer.

“Oh, I see,” Clair said, agreeing with the cell phone law. There are too many people out there driving around gabbing and not paying attention to the road. “Do you need something?” Clair’s tone is cool. She too has noticed how, over the past few months, Jane and Jed have been treating their daughter.

“Yes, I’m looking for Lee. She isn’t at home, so I figure the only other place she can be is at your house. I don’t know why in the world that girl won’t get a cellular so I can contact her when I need to.”

“Maybe that’s one of the reasons, Jane,” Clair snips, once again becoming annoyed with her daughter-in-law.

“Well, anyway,” Jane said, sounding slightly put off. “Is she or isn’t she there?”

“No, she’s not.”

“Clair Conner, I know you’re lying.”

“Come check for yourself.”

“Maybe I’ll do just that.”

Having overheard the conversation, Lee saunters inside. Shaking her head, she taps her grandmother’s shoulder, and indicates to Clair to give her the phone. Handing the receiver over without a fuss, Lee laces her palm across the mouthpiece, and says, “I don’t know why you two can’t just get along.”

Holding the phone to her ear. “Hello, Mother.”

“Lee, is that you?”

“Who else would it be, Jane?”

“You know how I feel when you call me by my name, plus, why is your grandmother being so difficult?”

“Don’t start, Mom. What’s up?”

“I just want to know how you are. We haven’t talked in the past couple of days, and I’m wondering if you’re all right.”

“Yes, everything’s fine. What’s the real reason for your call?”

“Well, your father and I are throwing a little dinner party tonight and we thought you might like to join us.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little late for an invitation?”

“No, not really. We figured you might not have anything to do this evening, and we don’t want you sitting home alone on a Friday night.”

Rolling her eyes. “Trust me, Mother, I enjoy sitting home alone. It’s awfully nice of you to think of me though, and I appreciate the invite, but I’ll have to pass,” Lee’s tone rings sarcasm.

“You can’t tell me you have other plans.”

“Well, as a matter of fact, I do. Grandma is making dinner. She invited me over this morning.”

“I swear, you’re always at that woman’s house, and you never spend time with your parents anymore.”

“Mother, I’m not going to get into this now. Dinner’s almost ready and Clair needs my help. I’ll call you in the morning, okay? Give Dad my love. Bye.”

“Fine, good-bye then,” Jane’s voice is razor sharp.

Lee lingers in silence for a moment after hanging up. For the past few months she and her mother have been at each other’s throats constantly. They have always gotten along in the past, but now it seems like nothing Lee does can satisfy Jane Conner.

“Birdy, you okay?”

Hearing her grandmother’s voice stream in from the living room, Lee clears her throat. “Yeah, you know Jane,” Sadness shimmy’s her words.

Appearing in the doorway, Clair shuffles over to her granddaughter and pats her on the shoulder. “Oh, boy, let me tell you, I’m not sure what’s going on with her. I mean, it could be menopause, but Jane should be pretty much over that by now. Who knows? To be honest, I’m getting a little tired of trying to figure her out.”

“Hey, let’s talk about something else, okay? I’m already upset as it is.”

“Your mom and I go way back, you know,” Clair said, clearly not ready to let the subject rest. “I knew her as a child. She and Jed used to play together all the time. I saw from the start that they’d marry each other. So did everyone else. She was a sweet thing then. I think life has made her a little bitter. But enough is enough. Are you hungry?”

“Yes!”

“How about I fix us those enchiladas?”

“Are you sure it’s not too much trouble, Grandma?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You just sit there and keep me company.” Clair smiles at her granddaughter, and touches her chin.

Feeling weary Lee says, “I’m going to go find Lucy, and make sure she’s all right.”

“Yes, that’s a good idea.”

Lee exits the kitchen, and Clair slyly slips into the pantry. Reaching to the top shelf, she pulls down an old coffee can and removes the plastic lid. Making sure Lee is out of sight before removing the contents, Clair examines the yellowed newspaper articles in the dimming light.

 


 

Book Reviews

 

Review by: Beverly A. Baird, blogger and educator

Burtrum Lee by Mary Maurice is an interesting blend of history, medical breakthroughs and mystery. The novel alternates between 1960 and 2004 Santa Fe, as we gradually learn about the mystery of Burtrum Lee Connor’s birth. We meet a variety of characters – from Lee, who wonders what is missing in her life, to her grandmother Claire, one of the few who knows the whole truth to Katie, Dr. Stone and Calvin Kramer, all who want Lee for their own reasons. Mary Maurice keeps us guessing right to the end. Who is Lee? Who is Megan? How will they learn the truth? What is the truth? Why has it been hidden? Read and try and solve the mysteries.

 


 

Review by: Crystal Otto, blogger

I love a book that keeps you guessing and Burtrum Lee certainly does that! Just when I thought I had everything figured out, there was a plot twist. Maurice kept me on my toes from cover to cover. The characters were well written and the storytelling was divine. I'm hoping to read more books by this author in the future.

Each character was well written and Mary Maurice has a distinctive and enjoyable writing style. Burtrum Lee is a rock solid mystery I am compelled to read again as well as recommending to others. It's such an unusual tale and yet at points quite believable. Maurice did her research and didn't leave any questions left unanswered. Such a captivating tale of life and how it isn't always as it seems.

 


 

Review by: Nicole Pyles, blogger

I've been reading a lot of mysteries lately and I was so excited to review Burtrum Lee by Mary Maurice. I love a good mystery. That's one of my favorite go to genres. Add onto that a mysterious past and confusing family history? I'm very much into it!

First here's a bit about the book:

Coated with a life of lies and deceit, Burtrum Lee Conner is sick to her stomach. Dozens of times throughout her life the feeling of not being who she is has tormented her. But she kept it to herself, believing that maybe it’s just a chemical imbalance of some kind considering she is one of the first artificially-inseminated babies of the nineteen sixties. Now, there’s more though, something much deeper, much more maniacal than she could have ever imagined. She’s not the first test tube baby at all, but the first….
Burtrum Lee Conner, born into a world of scientific mystery, discovers that the life she’s been leading for the past forty years, is the wrong one. Her parent’s Jed and Jane Conner, stealing her as an infant, brought Lee up as their own. Even her devoted grandmother, Clair Conner, kept this secret close to her chest until they were found out. And now, Lee Conner’s biological mother, Katie Lee, wants her back, but not before the diabolical Dr. Stone has his say.

And as for what I thought? I thought this was an excellent thriller. It switches back between the past and the present at times and I thought this aspect was well done. I love how the mystery unfolds and the people that get involved along the way. The characterization is well done too. I think if you are looking for a great read this holiday season, pick up this book. I know you won't be disappointed.


 

Review by: Cathy Hansen, blogger and teacher

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read Burtrum Lee, by Mary Maurice.  The book is a tale of identity crisis and mystery, with a bit of greed and conspiracy thrown in for good measure.  The twists and turns of this book, as well as shifts between 1960 and 2004 kept me at the edge of my seat and unable to put the book down.  It is a fast read and held my interest throughout, as I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened next, or what the rest of the family secrets were.  

Having lived her whole life questioning who she was and feeling that something just wasn’t quite right, Burtrum Lee suddenly finds herself the focus of attention of a peculiar and potentially dangerous stranger, raising many questions about her birth that her parents and grandmother seem unwilling to answer.  Frustrated by her family’s secretive behavior, Burtrum enlists her new friend Megan to assist her in finding out all she can about her past.  The truth winds up being far more complex than Burtrum Lee ever could have imagined.

 


 

Review by: Nair Yadukrishnan

A cup of coffee and Burtrum Lee is all you need for a nice weekend. A story of a girl, who is about to discover something so uncommon and shocking. From the beginning, the book kept me on the edge of the seat.The plot twists, turns and the lucid writing kept me attached to the book till the end. If you are into thrillers, this one's for you. At times I thought that the chapters should have been a bit more longer and I didn't want it to end as the writing style, for me, was a delight in itself. I congratulate Mary Maurice and I am thankful to her for the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Keep them coming Mary.

 


 

Review by: MLM

This mystery novel will transport you back to the small alleyways, side streets, sights and sounds as it keeps you guessing. Just be sure to have a green chile burger on hand as you read. And, oh yes---there is some Los Alamos science mixed into the DNA of this book as well you might surmise from the cover. Pick up a copy of Burtrum Lee and you are sure to enjoy its twists and turns!

 


 

Review by: Robert F. Burk

Imagine a taut thriller with the twists and turns of a Stieg Larsson mystery, a keen sense of place and crisp dialogue, bouncing back and forth between scenes from 1960 and 2004 in a style that can best be described as cinematic. Imagine that the intricate but well-woven plot includes such matters as artificial insemination, long-hidden identity, infidelity, and corruption, with their violent consequences. Now imagine that such a tale is centered in the seemingly sleepy town of Santa Fe. The sum total of these parts is a page-turner that the reader cannot put down, but is compelled to finish this wild literary ride to its dramatic conclusion--or is it? To find out, you'll have to read Burtrum Lee yourself--and you won't be disappointed.

 


 

Review by: Persee

Mary Maurice has once again set her latest novel. In Santa Fe, New Mexico. From her first sentence to the last, Burtrum Lee shows us that life is not always what we believe to be true. The mystery of lies, those who would lie to keep the secret, and the realization that her life is about change forever, takes us on a page turner, can’t put down novel.

 


 

Review by: David M. Newcomb

I was going to read a little a day at lunch. Stayed up half the night to finish it.

 


 

Review by: Susan Riley

Loved it!!

 


 

Review by: Valery

Thriller, mystery, secrets, science...
Really, what more could you ask?

 

 

 
 

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