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Map of My Escape: New Mystery

Map of My Escape by Cheryl L Reed

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Map of My Escape

Map of My Escape

The shooting of a homicide detective is captured on film by a mysterious figure from a second-floor window, implicating Riley Keane, an anti-gun activist and a school shooting survivor. Riley flees Chicago for a frozen island in Lake Superior. A race to find her ensues between her secret lover—Chicago politician Finn O’Farrell—a corrupt police lieutenant, and the mysterious cameraman who extorts Riley’s family and Finn. Finn’s entanglement with Riley and the extortionist threatens his ambitious political career.

On the island, Riley ingratiates herself into the close-knit community, but when she witnesses both an islander’s murder and another death in a suspicious boating accident, the local sheriff starts asking questions that begin to unravel her true identity. As the sheriff and the FBI are closing in on Riley, Finn faces media pressure to reveal his mysterious role in that long ago school shooting. If the facts come out, Finn may go to prison, but his biggest fear is that the truth will forever sever his relationship with Riley.

Praise for Map of My Escape:

“Atmospheric and gritty, Reed’s tale of a woman on the run from her own shocking past will keep you rooting for her until the end. A dark thriller with a redemptive ending from a master of suspense.”
~ Jamie Freveletti, International Bestselling author of Blood Run

“Taut, atmospheric and unputdownable. Reed knows how to keep you turning pages!”
~ Candice Fox, International Bestselling author of Crimson Lake, now an ABC series Troppo

“Bending genres of police drama and adventure thriller, The Map of My Escape is both original and breathlessly page-turning!”
~ Wendy Walker, International Bestselling author of Don’t Look For Me

“Cheryl Reed’s Map of My Escape is a character-driven thriller, a poignant opposites-attract love story, and a journey of self-discovery. As secrets unfold and twists abound, Reed keeps us on a razor’s edge. An absolutely gripping read!”
~ John Copenhaver, award-wining author of The Savage Kind and Dodging and Burning

Map of My Escape combines tragic events, engaging characters, and unique locations to give readers one hell of a ride.”
~ Elena Taylor, author of All We Buried and the Eddie Shoes mysteries.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery and Detective
Published by: Running Wild Press
Publication Date: June 18, 2024
Number of Pages: 402
ISBN: 9781960018175 (ISBN10: 19600018175)

To purchase your copy of Map of My Escape, click any of the following links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads

Interview with Cheryl L Reed — Author of Map of My Escape

Map of My Escape centers on Riley Keane. What would you like readers to know about her?

Riley Keane at her best is the fierce and determined woman we’d all like to be in challenging moments. But Riley isn’t a caricature, she’s very human and doesn’t always have the best judgment.

Riley is fearless because she’s already lived through the most horrific day of her life when she survived a mass shooter who killed dozens of her classmates, and her brother. That tragic event made her become a fierce anti-gun advocate and laser focused on getting military grade weapons off the streets.

Her best friend, a Chicago cop, who also survived the shooting with Riley at their high school, takes her to stakeouts and dangerous places most women would be afraid to go. She does this so she can learn more about how drugs and guns are being illegally trafficked.

Riley’s a lone wolf, and a woman of many conflicts, chief among them is her secret love affair with a Republican Chicago councilman, an advocate of the Second Amendment—something Riley is diametrically opposed to.

She’s a woman of surprises and likes to shock her lovers with strategically placed tattooed messages.


Map of My Escape takes place primarily in Chicago and a small island in Lake Superior, tell us about those environments and how they impact events.

Chicago is important in this book because it is the capital of violence in this country. More than 3,000 people were shot in the city last year. As a former reporter in Chicago, I wanted to write a story about gun violence from multiple perspectives. This isn’t an anti-gun book, but rather a book that explores multiple opinions on guns from those intimately involved with guns or victims of guns.

Chicago is also an important setting because it has a large (and often) corrupt police force, heavily armed gangs, and a long-standing war between these two entities. It also is six miles from a state that has almost no restrictions on guns. So it is emblematic of  how much we need federal laws to address gun violence and not a band-aid state-by-state approach.

Lake Superior is an important locale in the book. I have been visiting the shores of Lake Superior for years and I find it a fascinating and magical place. I love the Apostle Islands, which in the book I have renamed the Disciple Islands and moved them slightly so that they aren’t off Wisconsin’s shores, but Northern Michigan’s.

Madeleine Island, the main habitable island in the Apostle chain, has a history as a violent place for young Native American girls who were sacrificed to appease the rain gods. I always wanted to see if I could survive a winter on the island. I came close one year when I rented a remote summer cottage on the shores of Lake Superior and lived through a winter. It wasn’t the island, but it was very close to the island.


Map of My Escape also includes police corruption, extortion, and the ambitions of politicians. What drew you to incorporating those issues, along with school shootings and anti-gun activism, into your latest release?

The book alludes to a very famous incident in Chicago in 2014 when 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was walking on the South Side with a knife in his hand for protection. A police officer shot him 16 times. The officer, Jason Van Dyke, said Laquan tried to lunge at him. The incident sparked massive protests.

Video footage of the shooting showed Laquan was actually walking away from Officer Jason Van Dyke when Van Dyke fired 16 shots into him. But that video was kept hidden by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office while the family and media sued to get its release. After that, the U.S. Justice Department decided to investigate the police department and found that CPD has an excessive violent culture toward minorities.

As a result of hiding the video, Rahm Emanuel lost a lot of political clout.  A movie was made about the incident called 16 Shots. It’s well worth viewing.


In addition to your work as a novelist, you are also a journalist. How does your other career impact your fiction?

My work as a journalist directly impacts my fiction because I’m often pulling from memories of people I’ve met or covered as a reporter or setting up backstories based on incidents or issues I’ve covered. Sometimes novels are a way of dealing with an issue in its fullness that I never got to do as a journalist covering one aspect of a story. 

For example, Map of My Escape was in part sparked by my interest in female fugitives. I’d covered the police capture of several long-time fugitives, and I followed some famous female cases, like Kathleen Soliah’s arrest in Minnesota (where I lived at the time) and then the Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn cases (they lived a few blocks from me in Chicago). These former fugitives were part of leftist groups in the 1970s and were involved in bank heists and car bombings which resulted in several deaths and forced them to hide for decades. I was fascinated with how a person could stay on the run so long without detection and wondered how that would be possible in today’s modern age with all our electronic tracking devices.

The impetus for my previous novel, Poison Girls, came from my experience reporting on and interviewing girls—some of whom I became close to— who were involved in deadly use of drugs, including crack and fentanyl-laced heroin. One of my subjects was killed trying to score more drugs and it had a huge impact on me.


You love to travel! Tell us about some of your favorite places to visit and why:

I have traveled a lot, but I’ve also lived for long or short periods of time in many places overseas. There is a difference. Traveling is similar to the kind of experience you would have on vacation, or traveling for work where you mostly see a few touristy sites and then move on. 

Living abroad is about connecting with the local community and culture, being a part of the city and country, paying attention to the politics, meeting new friends, establishing relationships with local businesses and neighbors. It’s an entirely different experience. 


My favorite places to live abroad are places most people have never heard of or don’t know anything about. I lived in Kyiv, Ukraine off and on for several years. Before 2022, not many people knew about Kyiv and what a vibrant city it is, and we kind of wanted to keep it that way. The war, of course, has destroyed many buildings in Kyiv, but certainly not the spirit of the city.

Another city that is surprisingly cosmopolitan is Almaty, Kazakhstan. It’s a huge city with all the conveniences and attractions of other world cities, except it’s much, much cheaper to live there. There are parks and tree-lined walkways and beautiful gardens, and you can be in the mountains in twenty minutes.

Tbilisi, Georgia is a vibrant place with unique architecture, lovely people, fantastic food and wine. As an American, you can live there for an entire year without a visa. Again it is much cheaper to live there than most places in Western Europe. (If I were a female fugitive nowadays, I think I might pick Georgia as my hiding spot.)


What are you working on now?

With the war in Ukraine, I’ve put my fiction writing on hold while I’ve gone to work fulltime for a humanitarian group helping Ukraine. I found it hard to hole myself up in an office and create characters for entertainment when there’s so much misery and death in the world right now. I felt I had to do something.

I’ve heard other writers had the same feeling during the pandemic. I’ve always been someone who alternates her time of living in the world as a journalist and then retreats to write stories that make sense of that world. Eventually, I will get back to my desk and invent characters to help make sense of all the turmoil. 


Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:

Being a writer is who you are. This is a journey, not a race. It’s not about every success or lackluster reception of a book.  Remember that everything, eventually, works out. It may not be how you imagined it to be, but sometimes it’s even better. Write for your own pleasure and not for some imagined monetary success. Enjoy the ride because it can get bumpy.

Successful books are not about happy stories. Remember that we tell stories of heartache and conflicts and sometimes we get resolutions. 

Excellent advice!

Cheryl L. Reed — Author of Map of My Escape

Map of My EscapeCheryl L. Reed is the author of the nonfiction book Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns and the novel Poison Girls, which won the Chicago Writers’ Association Book of the Year.

A former staff editor and reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times and other publications, Reed’s stories have won multiple awards, including Harvard’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

She has twice been awarded a U.S. Fulbright Scholar fellowship by the State Department, first in Ukraine and then in Central Asia.

She splits her time between Washington, DC and her home near the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.

To learn more about Cheryl, click on any of the following links: Goodreads, BookBub – @cheryllynnreed, Instagram – @cheryllynnreed, Twitter/X – @AuthrCherylReed & @JournoReedFacebook – @CherylLynnReed

Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell

Kyiv photo from Pixabay
Header image from Pixabay

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Cheryl Reed

    Terrific interview. Thanks Elena for your interest!

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