Writers are often asked if they have any say in the design of a book's cover. The first inkling I had of what this cover might be like was when I downloaded this very image from Amazon.com. They knew before I did, and if it weren't for the Internet, I still wouldn't.

Having heard the horror stories told by other authors about their cover designs and their relevance to the content of the book--Harlan Coben is delightfully funny on the subject of the "bloody balls" that graced his early covers--I decided I could have done a lot worse.

In an effort to discover what the object in the lower left corner might be, I conducted a survey of the 3,000-member DorothyL mailing list. The consensus was that it was a police badge and I suppose that's probably what it is, but it looks more like some kind of pre-Columbian talisman to me. If I could get my hands on it, I could take it to the Antiques Roadshow and find out for certain.

As for the muddy pawprints, Molly does not track mud on top of Lexy's dresser and neither of them can offer any idea whose blood that might be.