Everything — in nature and in murder – is connected...
As an ecopsychologist, Dr. Esmeralda Green is skilled at solving the mysteries of the mind, especially if they collide with the laws of nature. But when a body is found below the crumbling cliffs near her Los Angeles home, she is pulled back in time to a tragedy that defies all understanding. When a young girl is murdered at the same cliff that took the life of her best childhood friend, Ez suspects the two are connected - and, having always lived up to her ecological name, she has learned to trust her intuition and the cues that the natural world can offer. In fact, from her hybrid car to her organic diet, Ez is living a sustainable life in every way - except for the man she's falling in love with, an attractive TV news reporter who drives, of all things, a Hummer.
After Ez discovers a key piece of evidence, she is swept into a maze of corporate corruption and family secrets whose depths seem to have no bounds. As she finds herself venturing into ever more treacherous territory, her intuition and psychological skills can take her only so far. With the memory of her childhood friend haunting her at every turn, Ez finds herself falling further and further into danger. Both an eco-mystery and a love story, Cher Fischer's captivating debut novel offers an intimate look at the myriad ways in which nature defines us.
"Fischer's debut mystery introduces a fascinating topic-ecopsychology...readers intrigued by a New Age topic, psychological work with troubled clients, and Los Angeles's cultural diversity may enjoy." -- Library Journal
|Publisher:||Byte Level Research|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.78(d)|
Read an Excerpt
falling into green
By Cher Fischer
Ashland Creek PressCopyright © 2012Cher Fischer
All rights reserved.
I watch as the corpse is hoisted up over the side of the steep precipice in a black wire cage attached to a hook on a crane.
I haven't felt my consciousness this fragmented by dread since my best friend leapt to her death from this very same cliff. Charlene Pryce was her name, but I called her Charlie. She nicknamed me Emerald.
Now, almost twenty years later, I remember her last words to me: "I've got to take my chances."
Did this dead girl take her chances, too?
Ay, Dios mío, suicide.
It keeps happening here, again and again.
My horse, Sam, snorts and hoofs the dirt beneath us. He wants to gallop. It's a perfect night for a ride, with the hint of pungent California sagebrush between the molecules of warm, balmy air. This ride was to be a sensate voyage on my trusty steed, but it's become a sojourn to hell: bright white forensic lights, rigor already setting in.
How old is she?
My eyes sting.
My friend's death still hurts, even after all these years.
I blink, try to re-focus, adapt myself to the present, but the morbid crush and curl of this girl is nearly overwhelming. It's obvious that the one-hundred-foot drop to the boulders and frothy surf below broke her limbs, and even though she's been meticulously placed by the Los Angeles CSI into a fetal position to fit the cage, one long, slender leg still bends at a disturbing angle. I squint through the glare of lights and see that beneath the mass of wet, gold-streaked hair covering her face, the vertebrae in her neck must be pulverized: A tiny portion of her chin peeks out from the tangled locks, revealing a jaw that's hanging all the way down to her breasts. But what's most garish—yet what I guiltily find mesmerizing—is the girl's skin. Exposed by a torn, black, stretchy top, it's as smooth as satin. Not even a tiny scratch mars its pale surface. There's also something dark and twisty wrapped around her thin, bare waist.
I can't make out what it is.
I look away.
I want to cry, release the tension. The kind of stress that comes with being immersed, at times, in this ancient ritual of manifested psychic pain. I've treated a few patients with suicidal ideation. These days, however, self-destruction seems a growing consequence of attempting to survive the onslaught of twenty-first century confusion—and, sure, I'm talking about people. But also animals, birds, even insects.
Sound bizarre? Yep, it does.
Case in point: the wild bees. In the past month, I must have seen hundreds pitching down onto the street, the sidewalk, any kind of pavement.
Or what about the dolphins, four days ago, in the Santa Monica Bay? It was a large pod—eleven of them, to be exact—young and old, like diligent soldiers following one another up onto shore, lying there, gregarious smiles withering in the sun.
There are also the countless stories of sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, even seagulls, falling from the sky, a hailstorm of winged life, landing dead on the ground.
I'm a psychologist with a specialty in ecopsychology—in other words, a green shrink—I should have some insight about these horrible things.
But I don't. Not really. Not now.
I turn back to the Los Angeles CSI, working with our small-town PD, and the LA news media as they run to the dead girl in the black cage that the man behind the yellow crane sets with a jangled bump onto the parched grass, and they swarm her—like bees.
There they are, in my mind again.
Bees. Dolphins. Birds. Suicide.
Bloody, bloody Charlie.
Why was poor Charlie's sad, broken body so bloody? And this girl's is not?
I shake my head.
I don't want to know.
I don't want to be immersed in this one. I need to think about something else. What I really need is a frivolous thought before I start obsessing on the past.
How about I narrow my mind down to a fraction of its value and think about my current situation with ... men.
Or, to be specific, a muy guapo, very good-looking man. But I refuse to give him more credit than that, even if he's Latin, like me. Or like a part of me. I'm Latin and Irish. A fabulous mix, I say. My dad, on the Irish side, would have said the same thing. So would my second-generation Latina mom. As for my Salvadoran abuelo, or grandfather—I'm not sure what he'd call me. But there've been plenty of others to describe me with cutesy cliches, such as: passionate talker, volatile communicator, hot-blooded MacMama.
I realize I'm mentally fleeing the suicide—but for my own sanity. sometimes I must.
I glance at the dead girl, wince, and once more turn away.
What about the man?
He's played me, again.
Probably just moments after this girl with the pale, smooth skin plunged to her death.
My twelve-year-old palomino and I were taking our usual twilight ride on the upper bluffs of Majorca Point, an enormous, sweeping girth of peninsula that extends into the Pacific Ocean between Long Beach Harbor and Hermosa Beach. I was breathing in the warm glow of sunset, scarlet tendrils of the day's last light fanning above a shimmering turquoise sea, and I allowed myself to go into a trance because, very simply, I can. Ever since I was a child, I've been able to understand what I need and want, and what I don't need (but sometimes desire), by "fusing" with the earth's life force.
Maybe I receive messages from the Goddess Gaia?
I like to think so. Anything's possible.
But tonight, the reality of it is I had nary an ecological thought in mind but to clear my psyche of its own toxicity: the man. Mr. Gabriel Hugo García, local TV news superstar for the Latino global news organization KLAT. I only rode Sam down the hill because I was practically assaulted by a KLAT news chopper that turned out to be headed to this tragic cliff-side location. Its whirling blades caused such a frenetic commotion over me that I almost went flying off my horse and had to grab the horn of the saddle as if I were on a bucking bronco—which Sam is definitely not—to withstand the churning onslaught of wind, dirt, and dry chaparral.
I coughed, spit out the dust.
Angry, I wondered, "Is García on that chopper? I'm gonna give him some attitude. His transport could have killed me."
Now, amazing, or not so amazing: There he is.
I know it seems coincidental.
But out here in the natural-born ether of Majorca Point, even though we're only thirty minutes from downtown LA, we've strived to retain our wilderness so that, among other things, a preternatural symbiosis can occur. That's my ecopsychological take on it: When nature's integrated into the human experience, things get intense. They get meaningful.
Hmmm. Right on cue.
García. Scrumptious as ever.
Even at a suicide.
He flicks a wave at me with casual panache—that's his signature. probably contrived.
I nod and give Sam a pat on his neck, feeling better.
The worries about our species, other species, killing themselves, throwing it all away, have gone, and I can focus on something doable.
Like moving on.
Then I feel disgusted with myself.
And that's when I see it.
A large, glossy picture of
Excerpted from falling into green by Cher Fischer. Copyright © 2012 by Cher Fischer. Excerpted by permission of Ashland Creek Press.
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