Please welcome Mary Keliikoa. Her debut mystery–the first in the PI Kelly Pruett series–launches today!

Author Name: Mary Keliikoa

Book Title: DERAILED

Book Genre: Mystery

Release Date: May 12 (TODAY!)

Publisher: Camel Press

How would you describe Derailed?

After burying her father and marriage in the same year, single mom PI Kelly Pruett takes on her first case to investigate the death of a young accountant hit by a commuter train; but after discovering the victim was doing more than crunching numbers, she’s on a crash course with her complicated family and the killer who wants to keep the truth hidden.

What sparked the idea for the book?

I’d worked downtown Portland, where the fictional crime is committed, for years as a legal secretary and rode public transportation. It always intrigued me how perilous the space between safety and death was on the commuter train tracks. Once that idea was sparked about the crime, I just went backwards and asked a bunch of what ifs. Of course the victim had to work at a law firm because it’s what I knew. As far as my PI Kelly Pruett, I always knew I’d write about a PI because it was the genre I loved. Kelly Pruett came in fully formed in my mind and once I knew the crime, I married the two ideas together.

For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest part of me is really coming up with the concept or crime. Once I have the crime and motivation, I can hash out a first chapter and a last chapter, and a synopsis to be used as a guideline. But sometimes just getting that crime down solid is the hardest part.

What do you love most about it?

When the characters surprise me. Once I’m in writing mode, I may have an entire idea of where I’m going. But just when I think I have it all figured out, my characters do something or say something that leads me in a new direction. Usually in a much better one! I always ask myself how to make it harder for my characters and they surprisingly show me the way.

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Derailed?

I think Derailed has a lot to offer the lover of the PI genre because it has more than a few twists and turns along the way. But more than that, Kelly Pruett is a complex character who is not only trying to solve her first real case, but find her place in the world. I believe that most women can relate to her because she’s trying to be a good mom and at the same time honor a request from beyond the grave of her father, all the while finding her place as a PI.

Did your day job inform your novel writing at all?

I spent nearly 18 years in the legal field as a secretary, paralegal and office manager. Not necessarily all at the same time. Being around the workings of law, interacting with police officers, private investigators, judges, and running to the courthouse, has given me the background and the desire to write mysteries.

Are you working on a new project?

I’m currently in deep editing mode for Book 3 for the Kelly Pruett series which will be due to my publisher at the end of the year. Book 2 has already landed in the publisher’s mailbox.

Where can readers find you?


Amazon Author Page:






Thank you, Mary! Derailed is available as of today!

A dying wish. A secret world.
Can this grieving investigator stay on the right track?

PI Kelly Pruett is determined to make it on her own. And juggling clients at her late father’s detective agency, a controlling ex, and caring for a deaf daughter was never going to be easy. She takes it as a good sign when a letter left by her dad ties into an unsolved case of a young woman struck by a train.

Hunting down the one person who can prove the mysterious death was not just a drunken accident, Kelly discovers this witness is in no condition to talk. And the closer she gets to the truth the longer her list of sleazy suspects with murderous motives grows. Each clue exposes another layer of the victim’s steamy double life.

On a crash course with a killer, she must piece together the puzzle of what really happened to the victim that rainy night, before her own fate is sealed and she loses everything near and dear, including her life.  If you like intricate family dynamics, secrets, including plot twists and turns, then this story is for you. DERAILED is the first book in the Kelly Pruett Mystery series.


Mary Keliikoa spent the first 18 years of her adult life working around lawyers. Combining her love of all things legal and books, she creates a twisting mystery where justice prevails. She has had a short story published in Woman’s World and is the author of the PI Kelly Pruett series which debuts with DERAILED in May 2020.

At home in Washington, she enjoys spending time with her family and her writing companions/fur-kids, Bella, a bossy golden retriever and August, her mischievous kitty. When she’s not at home, you can find Mary on a beach on the Big Island where she and her husband recharge. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.