Karen Sandler

Just like the twisting path that my fictional private investigator, Janelle Watkins, takes in solving a crime, I took a convoluted journey in conceiving and writing the mystery series featuring her. The first book, CLEAN BURN, didn't start out as a mystery novel at all. Its first incarnation was as a romantic suspense with the very romancy title, LOVE'S REDEMPTION. That version starred the very romancy-named heroine, Kassi Stewart.

This was back when I was writing screenplays as well as novels, so when LOVE'S REDEMPTION couldn't get any traction with editors, I reimagined it as a screenplay titled CLEAN BURN. Thus was the twitchy, troubled Janelle Watkins born.

Because Janelle was just too juicy a heroine to leave about gathering virtual dust on my hard drive as an unsold script, I decided that CLEAN BURN should have yet another re-birth, the story returning to its roots as a novel. The fabulous UK publisher, Exhibit A, picked it up, and that first book was released in the summer of 2013. The second book in the series, HANGTOWN, is due out in June 2014. You can buy CLEAN BURN or pre-order HANGTOWN in print or eBook using the links below.

Karen Sandler

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Janelle Watkins Mysteries

Mystery / Suspense

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Clean Burn

Wry, smart, tough private eye Janelle Watkins swore off investigating child abductions four years ago, when she left the San Francisco PD.

But when two clients beg for her help, one to find her 11-year-old son and the other to find a toddler who's also vanished, Janelle can't say no. Even though it means returning to the scene of her nightmares—her hometown of Greenville.

Janelle enlists the aid of her ex-partner and ex-lover, Greenville County Sheriff Ken Heinz. But in the midst of their investigation, two other children go missing, and Janelle and Ken find themselves in a race against the clock. Will they find the children in time? Or will Greenville's terrible troubled past destroy them all?


Marooned in her despised hometown of Greenville, California, private investigator Janelle Watkins wants nothing more than to keep her head down and make enough money to move back to the City. But even in the sleepy town of Greenville, the edgy, smart-mouthed private investigator seems to attract mayhem.

It starts with the apparent suicide of a nineteen year-old off a highway bridge. Then another young man goes missing and Janelle begins to suspect that there might be a connection between the incidents. With the help of her former SFPD partner and occasional lover, Sheriff Ken Heinz, Janelle begins to follow the convoluted trail, not realizing that the darkness of her past might finally be catching up.