Liz Milliron is a Level Best Books author who writes the Laurel Highlands Mysteries set in southwest Pennsylvania. Featuring a Pennsylvania State Trooper and a Fayette County public defender, the series is up to the sixth book, which comes out on September 19. Welcome, Liz.

Thanks, Susan, for having me.

It is unusual for me to start a book knowing my theme. It is generally something I have to discover as I
write. But when I started Thicker Than Water, I knew what I wanted my theme to be.


At the end of the last book, Jim and Sally take a significant step forward in their relationship. He asks her, and her newly adopted dog, to move in with him. But Sally is a little hesitant. She’s in the middle of a lot of personal change and put him off.

What she doesn’t talk about, at least not to him, is what moving in would mean. It’s one step closer to something permanent. Having always been an independent woman, she’s not sure she’s ready to take on family life. Or if she even wants to.

She’s surrounded by examples. Her sister, Noreen, has what is still called a “traditional” family. Three kids, husband. Noreen doesn’t work. Her day is consumed by her children’s needs. Is that what Sally wants?

Her partner, Tanelsa, is in a same-sex marriage. Both of them decided not to have kids years ago, before they got married. But now Lisa, Tanelsa’s wife, is having second thoughts. Tanelsa, not so much. Sally
sees the stress the decision is putting on her partner. Is she ready to do that to herself?

Sally’s client, well his mother, is a single parent. She’s overprotective, obsessive, even a little scary at
times. Noah is autistic, so of course his mother is cautious. Or is that just it? But it awakens feelings in
Sally that are a little maternal. She is worried for her client and his well-being. That’s stressful enough.
Sally can’t imagine doing that full time.

And then there’s Sally’s mother, Louise. Louise has been dropping hints about ticking clocks and wanting
to see her youngest child married with a family. But that’s not the vision Sally had for herself as a child.
How can she get her mother to understand?

Of course, the person Sally really needs to talk to is Jim. She knows he likes kids. He wanted a family and
didn’t get it with his first marriage. Will she disappoint him? Will he leave her? Could she stand it if he
did? All she knows is that she better have this conversation soon, before his parents arrive for

This book gave me the opportunity to explore the many forms of family – both biological and chosen.
How they provide us with great support and comfort, while at the same time being a source of great
stress. It’s great fodder for fiction – especially for mysteries.

Does Sally resolve her problem? If so, how? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. But Sally is a
strong-minded woman. Most of the time, she knows exactly what she wants. She’ll work it out –

How has your family brought you comfort – or stress?

Pennsylvania State Trooper Jim Duncan responds to a call regarding a missing autistic young man. When the boy is quickly found, Jim thinks the case is closed…until the young man insists the police need to help a “sleeping blue lady” and leads them to a dead woman in an abandoned shack, clad in only her underwear. Meanwhile, defense attorney Sally Castle is searching for a troubled young woman who wandered into her office wanting protection from an unnamed man…and disappeared before Sally could obtain any details. Sally is bothered by the incident and unnerved when she discovers that Jim’s dead body and her missing potential client are the same person. Jim and Sally soon discover the young woman led a secret double life, with ties to the autistic boy who started it all. As Jim and Sally investigate, the case takes increasingly ominous turns, uncovering hidden money and a seamy underbelly of sex work, before turning into a desperate race to stop a killer. Can Jim and Sally solve the case in time to stop the murder of an innocent boy?

Buy Link on Amazon is here.

A recovering technical writer, Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries, set in the scenic Laurel Highlands and The Homefront Mysteries, set in Buffalo NY during the early years of World War II. She is a member of Pennwriters, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers and The Historical Novel Society. She is the current vice-president of the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime and is on the National Board as the Education Liaison.  Liz splits her time between Pittsburgh and the Laurel Highlands, where she lives with her husband and a very spoiled retired-racer greyhound.


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