Black Flowers

Indie Excellence Finalist, 2007 Book Awards

Black Flowers by E. F. Watkins

ISBN: 1-59279-322-3 (Electronic)
ISBN: 1-59279-810-1 (Paperback)
Cover by Trace Edward Zaber
Copyright © 2004

Background on Black Flowers

Eppie 2006 Finalist



When a former employee of her husband’s genetic engineering firm dies of a drug overdose on her front lawn, Allison Constantine is horrified. She can’t forget the young man’s final threats that "people like her" will soon "get what’s coming to them."

In the days to come, Allie suspects she’s being followed, and fears someone might try to kidnap her or her two small children. But who? A rival firm, hoping to extort technical secrets from her husband, David? A protest group that has accused Genesis of reckless experiments? Or a former Genesis president who supposedly killed himself two years earlier?

Probing the company’s activities, Allie discovers a pattern of mysterious deaths by electrocution. She begins to fear that the greatest threat to her family may be Genesis, itself, if she dares to interfere with its terrifying secret plans for its executives, for society… and even for Allie's own children.

What Reviewers Are Saying

"Black Flowers is a must-read, an outstanding example of all that is good about a tense suspense tale."
—Coffee Time Reviews

"An edge-of-the-seat thriller by a very talented author that will keep you awake late, even after you close the book."
—Murder and Mayhem Bookclub

"E.F. Watkins is a writer to watch!"
—F. Paul Wilson, Best-Selling Author of The Keep, The Select and Sims

Novel Excerpt

…Carmela darted toward her son until a guard caught her firmly. "Ma'am, better keep back."

"Why?" Allie demanded. "What's wrong?"

The uniformed men seemed ready to stop her, too. "Mrs. Constantine, you shouldn't…"

But Allie had already seen past them to the figure on the ground. If she hadn't recognized the clothes, and seen Manny fall at the spot, she'd never have believed it was the same person.

His solid build had wasted away to a near skeleton. The suddenness of the process had left the clothes hanging loosely around his body, and even the flesh had gone slack around the bones of his face and hands.

Behind her, she heard Carmela beg the guard, "Let me go to him!"

Allie choked back her own revulsion before she returned to the front stoop. She told Carmela, "The man's right. You don't want to see this. I'm so sorry."

"What did they do to him? What did they do to my Manny? They killed him? Oh, my God!"

Allie put her arms around the little Cuban woman. "No, I don't think so. I don't think it was anything they did. Please…just come back inside with me, until the ambulance gets here."

It would be better if Carmela heard the truth from a doctor, Allie decided. But from the look of him, she already had a pretty good idea what had killed Manny Rodriguez …


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Background on... Black Flowers

BLACK FLOWERS grew out of two influences--my many years driving around New Jersey covering visual art for The Star-Ledger, and my love for Ira Levin's novels, especially THE STEPFORD WIVES.

I spent long hours cruising down highways and passing vast, shiny, corporate headquarters with mysterious names that gave not hint of what the companies actually did. Sometimes I'd review art shows in the public galleries of corporate buildings, and the level of security made it clear that these firms took their internal secrets very seriously.

Once in a while I interviewed a woman artist in her home, and was struck by the idea that because she'd married a very successful man she could devote all her time to her artwork. This made me more than a little jealous, because I had to find time and energy for my writing after I'd already put in a full day of work. I'd fantasize about what my life might have been like if I'd married right after college, and my husband had pursued some highly lucrative career.

I think the seed finally took root one afternoon as I was winding up an interview with one such woman--who lived in a lavish, modern house in an expensive, wooded neighborhood--and her husband came home while I was there. I knew he was a corporate bigwig, and I knew he'd used his influence with my editor to get me to do a story on his wife. Perhaps because I was aware of this and resented it a little, he gave me the creeps. I started thinking, "What if a woman who was creative, intelligent and had a well-developed social conscience found out something about her husband's business she couldn't accept? What if she'd been living happily on his high income, and suddenly couldn't bear to do that anymore? What if she felt driven to investigate further, to know the worst, and eventually to try to stop him, no matter what the cost?"

I began to put that together with the idea of those mysterious corporate headquarters I saw along the Jersey highways…and BLACK FLOWERS bloomed!

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