Guest Chick: Judy Penz Sheluk

Lisa here, thrilled to welcome Judy Penz Sheluk back to Chicks on the Case today to tell us the intriguing story behind A FOOL’S JOURNEY, the latest in her wonderful Marketville Mysteries series. Take it away, Judy!

There’s No Such Thing as Closure

It was a little over a year ago when I visited the Chicks to talk about Psychometry: Fact or Fiction. In that post, I wrote about how a personal event [going to a psychometrist (object reader) as a teenager] influenced the story in my second book in my Marketville Mystery series.

Fast forward to Book Three, although this time it wasn’t an event that happened “to me,” but rather something that I read about in my local community newspaper: a young man who’d been missing since 2003. No one, not friends or family, had seen or heard from him since the day he left home at the age of twenty-three to “find himself.”

For weeks, that story haunted my days and nights, until I knew I had to write, not about “him” exactly, but about a case of a missing man and the family he left behind. What had become of them suddenly seemed as important as what had become of him, perhaps even more so.

My research took me into the world of Lusia Dion, the owner/founder of the website Ontario’s Missing Adults. Lusia was quick to point out that despite the myths propelled by television and movies, there really is no such thing as closure. “Regardless of the outcome, there are always unanswered questions,” Dion said. “Closure is a TV term.”

Ever mindful of Dion’s caution, the journey for searching for twenty-year-old Brandon Colbeck began with my protagonist, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable, on the case thanks to a unique bequeath in her great-grandmother’s will. As Callie would tell you, were she writing this post, “nothing in my life is ever as simple as it seems on the surface.”

Callie was right. The search for Brandon—or what became of him—was anything but simple. As Lucy Daneluk (a character in the book, loosely based on Lusia Dion) tells Callie at one point: “There is no law that prevents an adult from voluntarily picking up and starting a new life somewhere else. The situation is further complicated in cases where there is no clear indication of foul play. It’s a delicate balance between respecting the adult’s privacy, while trying to determine exactly what has happened to them. At the same time, family and friends of the missing person are left to grapple with feelings and situations for which there is no guidebook.”

Of course, A Fool’s Journey wouldn’t be a Marketville Mystery if there wasn’t plenty of humor, a dash of romance, and more than a few red herrings (or in this case, tattoos) along the way as Callie and team set about interviewing family and digging into a past that mostly wants to stay there.

Here’s a bit more about the book:

In March 2000, twenty-year-old Brandon Colbeck left home to find himself on a self-proclaimed “fool’s journey.” No one—not friends or family—have seen or heard from him since, until a phone call from a man claiming to be Brandon brings everything back to the forefront. Calamity (Callie) Barnstable and her team at Past & Present Investigations have been hired to find out what happened to Brandon, and, if still alive, where he might be. As Callie follows a trail of buried secrets and decades-old deceptions only one thing is certain: whatever the outcome, there is no such thing as closure.



A Fool’s Journey, the third book in Judy’s Marketville series is now available on Kindle and in trade paperback at your favorite bookseller.


Barnes & Noble


Bio: Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of the Glass Dolphin Mystery (The Hanged Man’s Noose; A Hole in One) and Marketville Mystery series (Skeletons in the Attic; Past & Present), and the editor of The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense. Her short stories can be found in several collections. Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors. Find her at


Readers, please join us in welcoming Judy in the comments below–and let us know if there is a missing (or non-missing) person’s case that has particularly intrigued you!


18 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Judy Penz Sheluk

  1. Very true, Judy. Lots of TV shows talk about “closure,” but I can’t imagine the families of missing – or deceased – loved ones wake up one morning and say, “That’s it. I’m over it. Case closed and time to move on.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. So right, Liz. It was especially important to me to be cognizant of that when writing this. Thankfully, Lusia acted as my beta reader and was never too busy to talk to me about various plot points.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Welcome, Judy. I don’t have any personal experience with someone close going missing, but what you say about there always being unanswered questions makes a lot of sense. It must be a terrible feeling not knowing what happened to your loved one.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Marla. Thankfully I also don’t have any personal experience, which is why it was important to me to have the story read by Lusia before publishing.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Judy, congrats on the book and thanks for hanging out with the Chicks today! I remember growing up how I’d be sad when a classmate or neighbor I liked moved away, and I wondered where they were and what became them. I can’t begin to imagine what someone goes through when a family member or loved one just disappears. What a fascinating premise — looking forward to reading!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Vicky, I love to google people I knew way back, and see what happened to them. Not in a creepy stalker way, of course. Just checking up. It’s fascinating!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Two cases have always especially bothered me—Natalee Holloway in Aruba and that little girl Madeleine McCann who disappeared from a hotel room in Portugal.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Intriguing. Very curious to find out what happened to make someone vanish for so long.

    I don’t think getting answers would provide instant closure, but it seems like they would help with the healing. Not that life would ever be the same.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Hi, Judy! Looks like a fantastic story. A missing persons case that has always fascinated me is D.B. Cooper. How could someone jump from a plane and get away with it with virtually no trace left behind?

    Liked by 4 people

  7. So happy you’re visiting Chicks today, Judy! Congratulations on your newest book! The cover is beautiful and haunting, all at once. It sounds fascinating–as well as tragic, mysterious, and emotional. Can’t wait to read it! How wonderful that you were able to connect with Luisa…

    Liked by 1 person

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