Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Consuming Fire by Catherine Fearns


Title: Consuming Fire
Author: Catherine Fearns
Genre: Crime thriller/mystery/supernatural
Publication Date: 6th February 2019
Publisher: Crooked Cat


What Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen…

Liverpool is in the grip of an intense heatwave, and strange things are happening.

A woman dies in an apparent case of Spontaneous Human Combustion; a truck explodes on the dock road; the charred corpses of pets litter the city; forest fires ravage the pinewoods…and there are birds everywhere, silent flocks drawing in ominously.

Detective Inspector Darren Swift thinks there are connections, and his investigation delves into the worlds of football, nightclubs and organised crime. But is he imagining things?

Dr. Helen Hope doesn’t think so. And she believes the key lies in a mysterious seventeenth-century occult book which has gone missing from Liverpool Library.

In the blistering sequel to Reprobation, DI Swift is forced to confront some inconvenient ghosts from his past, as a terrifying shadow lies over his city’s reality….


Excerpt:

In this extract, Detective Inspector Darren Swift and Detective Sergeant Colette Quinn pay a visit to Darren’s old nemesis, Liverpool crime boss Max Killy. Darren has circumstantial evidence connecting Killy to two deadly fires, and he is determined that Max will no longer evade justice.

      Darren and Colette climbed the stairs of Litherland Muscle Gym, taking in the now-familiar musty smell of dust, PVC and sweat, the sound of pummeling and heavy breathing. They entered to find Max Killy bench pressing in an otherwise empty gym, watched over as usual by his silent and beautiful personal trainer. Both were wearing the tiniest lycra gym gear, although there was nothing unusual about seeing expanses of flesh on display in this weather. Darren and Colette stood awkwardly awaiting his attention. They knew the routine.
      ‘Hullo, Darren.’ said Max without stopping his exercises or looking in their direction. ‘I expected the bizzies sooner to be honest. I thought they’d be sending the big guns though. How’s Canter?’ He finally placed down the barbell and sat up.
      ‘Me old mate Dazza. Nice trainees,’ he nodded at Darren’s footwear. He then turned to Colette, making a point of looking her up and down. ‘Hullo, queen.’ He was handed a towel and a bottle of water by the gym girl, and took a theatrically long time to compose himself, wiping the towel over the orange folds of his neck, the tattooed bulges of his body. His short stature accentuated the broad shoulders under which his massive biceps would not fit next to his sides and caused his arms to stick out in a top-heavy cartoon stance. Finally he said, ‘So what can I do you for?’
      ‘Come on, Max,’ said Darren. ‘I wanted to bring you in to the station, but apparently you’ve still got friends in high places.’
      ‘You’ve got it the wrong way round, lad. I’m the friend in high places.’
      Darren stepped forward. He had no patience for Max’s games today.
      ‘Eliza Bektashi, burned to death, illegal immigrant, and we both know she came through your,’ he put up his fingers to indicate inverted commas, ‘employment agency. Eight unknown illegal immigrants, who possibly will never be identified. In a truck driven by your nephew. Who conveniently got out of the truck just at the right moment. How d’you feel about that, Max?’
      ‘It’s Mr. Killy to you, lad.’
      ‘How d’you feel about that, Mr. Killy?’
      Darren could sense movement behind him, and glanced back to see Mike Fagan standing up from behind his desk in the glass-fronted gym office, and moving towards them. Max signalled for Fagan to remain where he was, and then stepped up to Darren. He was several inches shorter than Darren, but made up for the height difference by invading his personal space to within millimetres of his body.
      ‘Listen, yous. These days I’ve got massage parlours, nail salons, sunbeds, and this gym. Those were eight men who died in that truck. Men. What would I want with eight men? And Stuart doesn’t work for me anymore, I’ve told you that.’
      ‘Come on.’
      ‘Never mind come on. You come on. Who needs cheap male workers? Think about it! The construction business! And I’m not in it, I’ve been blackballed all over the place. You wanna be looking at Forrest Group.’
      ‘Shawn Forrest? Everyone knows he’s gone straight. He’s a city councillor now. And the word is that you and others like you are jostling for position to take his place in the underworld.’
      ‘My arse he’s gone straight. Anyway, how many straight city councillors do you know? They’re all as bent as you. No offence, like. Big supporter of the gay community, me.’ Max suddenly laughed manically. ‘Hey, Mike, listen to this. Darren thinks Forrest has gone straight.’ On cue Fagan and the gym girl joined in with his laughter.


Author Bio:

Catherine Fearns is from Liverpool, UK. In previous incarnations she was a financial analyst, a cocktail pianist and a breastfeeding counsellor, but nowadays she likes to write. Her first novel, Reprobation, was published by Crooked Cat Books in October 2018 and quickly became an Amazon bestseller in several categories. The follow-up, Consuming Fire, is now available.

Catherine writes for music website Pure Grain Audio, and her music journalism has also appeared in Broken Amp and Noisey. Her short fiction and non-fiction pieces have been published in Here Comes Everyone, Toasted Cheese, Offshoots & Metal Music Studies. She holds a degree in History from Oxford University, a Masters from the London School of Economics, and is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.

When Catherine is not writing, she plays guitar in a heavy metal band, mainly to annoy her four children.




a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.





Monday, 18 February 2019

The Amazing, Unfolding World of Machine Civilization Series

by Clayton Barnett



Series: The Amazing, Unfolding World of Machine Civilization Series
Author: Clayton Barnett
Genre: Science Fiction


A history beginning in our near future, these stories are set in a world where the US dollar has been displaced as the world’s reserve currency, prompting its economic and political collapse, with a few areas able to hold onto civilization.

At the same time, across the Pacific, under a resurgent economy brought about by the implementation of new technology and deregulation, three Japanese companies produce breakthroughs in both artificial intelligence and robotics. These newly made people exhibit an odd interest in the goings-on of the former United States.

To-date, my chronicling of this interest of theirs has led to stories that populate five novels, which I would like to share with everyone now!


The Fourth Law - In the near future, 23-year-old apprentice nurse Lily Barrett lives in a shattered time. Following its economic collapse, the US has devolved into a group of a few barely functional smaller states and vast swathes of barbarian badlands. His sister has been missing for years, and her father, after earning the opprobrium of most of the world for running a state terror organization, presumed dead.

Two things keep her going: her live-in job at a small, Catholic orphanage in the city of Waxahachie, Republic of Texas, and Ai, her odd but dear friend, whom she met online; a young woman who only shows herself to Lily as a rendered CG image.

Troubled by her past, haunted by her name, and facing an uncertain future, Lily seems only a quiet, simple life. But, that past and her present conspire against her.



Echoes of Family Lost - Alive! After four years believing her older sister lost and presumed dead in the horrible Breakup of the United States, Lily Barrett gets word from her dear friend, Ai – and Ai’s family of Machine Civilization – that Callie Barrett is very likely alive… but over 900 miles away in Knoxville.

Using the resources of her and Ai’s family, Lily puts together a search party to go find Callie: old, broken, and burnt Orloff – an expert in surviving in the Badlands, Ai’s little sister, Fausta – her machine mind controlling a Combat Android to protect her friend, all together in a cart pulled by their sturdy pony, Clyde.

It’s almost a thousand miles to go, with something very odd trying to limit their ability to communicate over distance and even to cross bridges. A chance meeting along the way in Huntsville, former Alabama, wrecks their plans, and puts all of their lives in danger.


Cursed Hearts - Even with San Diego occupied by the Mexican Army, Katarina Sosabowski pursues her MBA at UCSD, and is happy to welcome and put up her visiting step-cousin from Japan, Christopher Dennou, for a night so he can complete his enrollment the following day.

But a minor earthquake brings a major surprise: Chris’s younger sister, Maya, murders their mother and escapes Neuroi Institute, the research facility that created them.

While Chris and ‘Cat’ grow closer to one another, Maya inexorably crosses an ocean and half a continent to take back her brother, killing anyone who gets in her way.



Excerpt from Cursed Hearts:

Izumi blinked his eyes against the small light above him. Had power been restored already? He tried to sit up . . . .

And couldn’t.

Not only were his limbs restrained, he could not even move his head to look about. His eyes now adjusted to the light, he was able to tell he was in the surgery itself. That’s right, he thought, each unit has a small emergency generator. He heard movement in the room.

“Hello! Who’s there?!”

There was no reply, he was about to shout again when Maya came into his field of view.
“Miss Maya! Thank goodness! Would you please – ” He broke off sharply as she raised the rotary bone saw in her right hand. “Miss Maya! What is the meaning – !”

“You have knowledge that we need. Now.” He’d just noted the red in her eyes before she pressed the saw against his forehead. Blood sprayed everywhere, across the room, across her face, as he screamed on and on.

With a heave of breath, he opened his eyes again. They stung from all the blood in them. Did he pass out? What was Maya doin-

She stood over him, his blood running down her face and dripping back onto his.

“M… Maya…” His voice choked with agony. “…what are… what…?”

“We have already answered that question.” She reached toward him, just above his eyes, into his forebrain.


Friend and Ally - Model 5 is a prototype designed to fit seemlessly into human society. A meeting in Tokyo derails Nichole’s planned training as she is dispatched to Portland, former Oregon; the last working deep water port on the West Coast of the imploding US.

There, under her cover as a Graduate Engineering Student, she is to do her utmost to nurture the people and politics of the City-State into a Friend and Ally of the Japanese Empire. But from the first day in her new home, all of Nichole’s plans go awry.

Beset by those who want this small lamp of Western Civilization snuffed out, Nichole must find within herself the courage and ability to protect her new friends, at whatever consequence to herself.




Foes and Rivals - After residing nearly a year in Portland, Nichole’s life seems to finally settle down: with her classes, friends, and lover. But troubling rumors about secret deals between the City’s master and the savage horsemen to the east reach her ears.

With her own skills augmented by her friends and allies, she sets plans into motion she hopes will thwart those in opposition to her dream of a peaceful future.

Once again denied a quiet, normal life, Nichole is faced to make hard, dangerous choices that will jeopardize her, her friends, and the survival of the City itself.








Author Bio:

One time engineer, some time pharmacy technician, full time husband and father, Clayton Barnett stumbled into writing a traditional novel November 2014 during National Novel Writing Month. Liking the results, he edited what would become “The Fourth Law” and set about teaching himself self-publishing. In the following four years he has produced four more novels as well as a children’s early reader, all in what is now called Machine Civilization.

Clayton Barnett lives in central Ohio with his wife, two daughters, and two dogs.



Guest Post by Clayton Barnett

Do you think it would be more fun being a hero or a villain? Why?


As the Jesuits were wont to say, before they lost their minds in the mid to late 20th Century, let us define our terms: hero or villain. Context matters here.

Let’s look at RealLife ™ for just a moment: I am a middle-aged White male, so am automatically a villain to a quarter of the US population merely by existing (although those that hate me seems awfully fond of the taxes I pay). How about historical literature, a figure such as Robin Hood, for instance. If you were a contemporary baron or if you are a modern Objectivist, the man is a brigand. Yet, we’ve all been told since childhood to view him a hero, a champion of the oppressed. Who you are defines who he is.

In “The Fourth Law,” Lily is assaulted by someone whose life had been destroyed by her father; her father who was also responsible for tens of thousands of executions. Hero or villain?

As Lily and her friend, combat android Fausta, cross into the badlands east of Texas in “Echoes of Family Lost,” Lily sees Fausta shoot a human, seemingly in perfect contradiction of the First Law of Robotics. Fausta commits the equivalent of a Mortal Sin to protect her friend. Hero? Villain?

“Cursed Hearts” introduces us to a young woman named Maya. She loves her brother Chris and wants only to be with him. Maya is also an experiment: a cyborg whose soul is being consumed by demons; not metaphorical ones… demons. To get her brother back she crosses from Japan to San Diego, killing anyone who gets in her way. Loyal and loving, but also possessed and lethal… hero or villain?

Finally in the two books of the saga of Nichole 5, “Friend and Ally” and “Foes and Rivals,” Nichole, a self-aware & stand-alone android, in attempting to preserve not only her new friends, but civilization itself in the form of the City of Portland (former Oregon), commands a guided missile destroyer and leads soldiers in tactical combat, issuing orders resulting in human deaths. Who is she, a foreigner, to judge the post-Breakup, emergent populations that formed in the remains of Seattle and far in eastern Oregon and Idaho? Even to the factions within the City, some who seek accommodation and those who want to cut themselves off, is she a hero or a villain?

Having said all that to answer your question: do I think it would be more fun… Who would not like to be a hero? I would defend my wife and daughters to my death. Cheerfully. I am doing what I can as a writer to push back against our degenerate culture and enjoying myself while I do it. I think that makes me a kind of hero. However, to the punk hitting on one of my daughters or the international foundation owner passing money to SJWs to deplatform me, I am an utter villain.

It’s rather a lot like a Turing Test – and you’d expect someone writing about intelligent machines to invoke that sooner or later! – you ask questions and I answer. In the end, you must decide. Am I a hero or am I a villain?


a Rafflecopter giveawayClayton Barnett will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


Visit each tour stop and discover more features, excerpts, interviews, and more!
Tour Schedule




Sunday, 17 February 2019

One Last Prayer for the Rays by Wes Markin


Title: One Last Prayer for the Rays
Author: Wes Markin
Genre: Crime Thriller/Police Procedural
Publication Date: 11th February 2019


DCI Michael Yorke faces his most harrowing case yet.

When 12-year-old Paul disappears from school, Yorke’s only clue is a pool of animal blood. Fearing the worst, he turns toward the most obvious suspect, recently released local murderer, Thomas Ray.
But as the snow in Salisbury worsens, Ray’s mutilated body is discovered, and Yorke is left with no choice but to journey into the sinister heart of a demented family that has plagued the community for generations. Can he save the boy? Or will the evil he discovers changes him forever?

One Last Prayer for the Rays introducing DCI Michael Yorke.


Excerpt:

Context: This is from the opening chapter of the debut DCI Michael Yorke thriller One Last Prayer for the Rays.

      SIMON RUSHTON WIPED the sweat from his brow as he ran. You idiot, he thought. His face would now be streaked with blood.
      He stopped at the library reception desk. The librarian, Paula Moorhouse, looked up.
      ‘Get the police,’ he said. ‘Now!’
      She started to edge the wheeled chair away from the desk, the colour draining from her face. Several fourteen-year olds stared at him from a table in the library. They disliked him at the best of times. Never usually gave him a second look, but now their stares were unflinching.
      ‘Why?’ Paula said, continuing the roll away. After stopping dead by the door of the storage room, her eyes darted left to right.
      ‘In the boys’ toilets … it’s disgusting. Phone the police,’ he said, turning to continue his sprint back to the classroom, thinking, Paul might have returned to my room, he could be safe, the blood just some peculiar hoax.
      He flew down the corridor, past framed maths formulae; his fifty-five year old legs had not been pushed this hard since his days as an army officer. He ran through the burn, avoiding the whitewashed concrete walls, not wanting to spread the blood. Students of all ages watched him through the large classroom windows; many of their mouths falling open.
      He burst through his classroom door. The heads of thirty eleven-year olds turned simultaneously. There was a collective gasp, whilst outside the clouds moved and the room suddenly dimmed.
      ‘Has Paul come back?’ he said, stepping into the room.
      The children rose to their feet, their eyes widening.
      His eyes darted from face to face. No sign of Paul.
      ‘Shit.’
      He looked down and noticed he had smeared blood onto his shirt.
      Raising his eyes, he saw Jessica Hart, his teaching assistant, take a step forward as the children scurried back.
      ‘You’ve got blood all over you,’ she said.
      He stared down at his stained palms and clenched them into fists.
      ‘Year Seven, stay where you are,’ Jessica said.
      But it was too late. The children were moving fast. A table was knocked over, exposing dried chewing gum which resembled grey matter.
      ‘Paul’s gone,’ Rushton said. ‘In the toilets . . . there’s blood everywhere.’
      ‘What do you mean, everywhere?’ Jessica said.
      He could see her lips trembling.
      ‘What do you think I mean? It’s everywhere . . . fucking everywhere!’
      Most of the students were pinned against the windows shadowed by Salisbury Cathedral; its jagged, black finger stroking the ever-darkening sky. Other children were jammed underneath a range of posters explaining prime numbers, Pi and other mathematical enigmas.
      He unclenched his hands; they looked like two poppies blooming. Jessica gasped and his students started to cry.

****

      Michael Yorke stepped in from the cold and pounded crusts of snow from each of his brogues. Then, he reached into his pocket for a tissue, spat out his gum and fed it to a large silver bin beside the door.
      The missing boy is a Ray, he thought, surveying the Salisbury Cathedral School reception area, expect the phone calls from Harry to begin at any moment.
      Tiny speakers hummed Christmas carols from the corners of the room. In front of him, a real six foot Christmas tree, ruined with shoddy decorations, shed needles onto a pile of presents. He thought of the mountain of gifts he had to wrap back home. He had a feeling that was about to move even further down his list of priorities.
      Paul Ray, he thought, missing the gum already. Danielle’s killer Thomas Ray is a distant relative; is this more than just a coincidence?
      An old woman was sitting behind the reception desk. She still hadn’t looked up at him.
      ‘DCI Michael Yorke, I’m here to meet with PC Tyler,’ he said, strolling forward, noticing a strong smell of lavender in the air. The old woman lifted her head, revealing a flash of silver hair pinned back with a yellow flower. She nodded, dabbed at her bloodshot eyes with a handkerchief, picked up the phone and mumbled something into it from the side of her mouth.
      Less than a minute later, a burly woman with a dagger-like nose burst through the door to the left of him. Her black suit was tailored. It reminded Yorke of how baggy his own suit was; two sizes too big after the weight had fallen off him during his last bout of marathon training. She thrust out her hand. ‘Laura Baines, Head Teacher.’
      He shook her hand; her grip was tight. ‘DCI Yorke. I’d appreciate it if you can take me directly to my officer at the crime scene Ms Baines. Then, I will need you to take me to the man who found the blood.’ He flicked through his notebook. ‘Simon Rushton?’

Find out if DCI Michael Yorke can discover what happened to Paul Ray in One Last Prayer for the Rays NOW available from Amazon for the discount price of 99p/99c.

For the FREE and EXCLUSIVE DCI Michael Yorke quick read Defined visit facebook.com/wesmarkinauthor and sign up!



Author Bio:

Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

Having released One Last Prayer for the Rays he is now working on the second instalment of DCI Michael Yorke’s wild ride, The Repenting Serpent. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.

Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.







Saturday, 16 February 2019

The Elkridge Series by Lyz Kelley 





Blinded Quotes:

"I don't just want you. I need you. You are my oxygen.” 

"You never treated me like I was broken or handicapped or helpless. And for that reason, I fell in love with you.”

“What about your brother’s case? The community is spooked that there’s a murderer on the loose.”

Reviews for Blinded:

“I enjoyed this book and read it in two sittings. The author writes well, but each chapter left me wanting more so it was almost impossible to put down, I love that in a book.” A book lover’s Emporium book Blog

“Blinded is a second chance book – not just the romance but also life, family and friendship.” 2 Girls who love books blog

“Once I picked up this book, I couldn’t put it down.” Word Land Reviews



















































Author Bio

Award-winning author Lyz Kelley mixes a little bit of heart, healing, humanity, happiness, honor, hope and honor in all her books that are written especially for you. She’s is a total disaster in the kitchen, a compulsive neat freak, a tea snob, and adores writing about and falling in love with everyday heroes.






Friday, 15 February 2019

Parabellum by Jack Nanuq



How does a POW become a spy? And why? And what the hell is a GALCO? These are only a few of the questions Carson Nowak needs answers to.

Carson Nowak is a CIA contractor like none you’ve ever met before.  Shortly after George W Bush is elected president Carson is tasked with retrieving a trunk load of documents.  The order comes not from the Agency or even the President; but a higher authority, his Nana.  In addition to the documents the trunk contains a war relic that is tied to a mysterious death just before D-Day.  Tracing the provenance behind this relic triggers a chain of events that not only unlocks Carson’s family history but garners the interest of a South American hit squad. Carson must navigate the challenges of protecting his family, maintaining his business, ensuring the safety of a refugee developing a revolutionary weapons system, and deal with an infuriating curmudgeon.  Along the way he falls in love.  To navigate these challenges he must enlist the help of a pencil-thin code breaker, a claustrophobic corpsman and a Haitian nurse.



About the Author:

JACK NANUQ currently makes his living as a Private Investigator; hence the nom de guere (and no profile photo). Prior this occupation he lived the nine lives of a cat. He has been a teacher, police officer, park ranger, equipment operator, freight handler and even a ranch hand.

He has lived and worked in Egypt, Alaska, Oregon and New York (the State, not the City). He has snorkeled in the Red Sea. Slept on the Nile River and under the Northern Lights (but not at the same time). Walked among grizzlies, ridden his bike under the midnight sun, climbed Mt St Helens, and even  jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

He and his wife currently live on a small farm near Albany, NY. They share this property with three dogs, three cats, a handful of chickens and two peacocks. He enjoys, outdoor activities, writing, Tae Kwon Do and teaching self-defense.



Top Ten List:



  1.    Like spending time in the woods, with a chainsaw
  2.    Like spending time in the woods, without a chainsaw
  3.    Love picking up random bits of trivia
  4.    Like teaching self-defense, especially to women
  5.    Have learned a lot about myself, through Tae Kwon Do.  I hold the rank of First Dan (First degree black belt)
  6.    Enjoy sampling whiskeys.  I keep coming back to Jameson
  7.    Cheesecake is my favorite vegetable 
  8.    Love trying new foods, especially when made with Wild Game
  9.    Will never forget the first time I put my feet OUTSIDE an airplane 
  10.    I will NEVER FORGET the rush I felt when my wife walked down the aisle.




To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our



Thursday, 14 February 2019

Dangerous Flaws by Susan Hunter



Title: Dangerous Flaws
Series: Leah Nash Mysteries, Book 5
Author: Susan Hunter
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: December 11th 2018
Published by: Himmel River Press
Number of Pages: 392
ISBN: B07KK2HM6M


A chilling murder shocks a small Wisconsin town

True crime writer Leah Nash is stunned when police investigating the murder of a beautiful young college professor focus on her ex-husband Nick. Leah has no illusions about her ex, but despite his flaws, she just can’t see him as a killer. Reluctantly, she agrees to help Nick’s attorney prove that he isn’t.

But Nick’s lies make it hard to find the truth, and when a damning piece of evidence surfaces, Leah plunges into doubt. Is she defending an innocent man or helping a murderer escape? She pushes on to find out, uncovering hidden motives and getting hit by twists she never saw coming. Leah’s own flaws impede her search for the truth. When she finds it, will it be too late to prevent a devastating confrontation?


Excerpt:

How did everything go so wrong? But then again, why did she ever think that this could come to anything but disaster? She knows now there are only a few ways this can end and none of them are good.

She sighs, then bends down to put the leash on Tenny, her crazy little mixed-breed dog, looking up at her with big brown eyes. He’s so happy and so oblivious. Despite her sense of coming catastrophe, she can’t help smiling at him. He begins wagging his tail, then dancing around eagerly in anticipation of his nightly run. She can barely get the leash hooked.

“Come on, then, you heartless beast. I’m in the worst situation of my life, and all you can think about is getting out and having fun. Tell me again why I bother with you?”

They leave and walk down the road—no sidewalks here—toward the county fairgrounds, an expanse of 80 acres just a short distance away. She loves the odd mix of town on one side of her home and country on the other.

She shivers a little. Her exhaled breath leaves a small trace of vapor in the air. Under the silvery light of the full moon, everything stands out in crystalline splendor: the piles of snow left by the plow, untouched yet by the dirt and grime of passing cars; bare branches of trees shimmering with frost; the stars themselves, flashing and glittering like sparkling beads sewn on the black night sky. It is incredibly beautiful. But she barely notices. She is too lost in thought.

Should she do as she threatened, confess and bring everything to a head? If she does, there’s no going back. And she isn’t the only one who will suffer—or be saved. Because isn’t it possible that freedom, not tragedy, will be the outcome? Things do, sometimes, turn out better than we expect. She feels a momentary spark of optimism, but it fades. This is too important for wishful thinking. She must be realistic. Once the truth is out, the consequences will be devastating. But this—the way she’s living now, lying, denying, pretending that everything is fine—is crushing her. So intent is she on her thoughts that she doesn’t hear the crunch of footsteps behind her.

Doesn’t notice the increasing agitation of her little dog. Doesn’t recognize the impending danger.

“I finally caught up with you.”

Startled, but not alarmed—she recognizes the voice—she turns.

“What are you doing here?”

“We didn’t finish. I need to know you understand.”

She doesn’t want to have this conversation. Not tonight. Not when her mind is so filled with jumbled and conflicting thoughts. Her reluctance shows on her face.

“You said you want to do the right thing. I do too, but you’re wrong about what it is. Please, let’s talk.”

“Tomorrow would be better. I—”

“No! It wouldn’t be!”

The words are said with such force that she takes an involuntary step backward. Tenny growls softly at her side.

“I’m sorry. But we’re talking about my life! Don’t I deserve a few minutes at least? I’ll walk with you. Please?”

She sighs. But now Tenny is pulling at his leash, eager to run free on the frozen surface of the pond.

“All right.” She slips off her gloves and bends down to release the dog. Her cold fingers fumble and his eager jumping makes it hard work. He spies something on the ice and springs forward with excitement. Both the collar and the leash come loose in her hands, and he dashes away.

She tucks them into her pocket as she stands. It’s then that she notices the barricades around a large hole in the frozen pond.

“I forgot about the Polar Plunge tomorrow. Let’s go that way, in case Tenny gets too close. The barriers should keep him out, but he’s a wily little devil.”

They walk around the edge of the pond. She is silent; she doesn’t interrupt. But she isn’t persuaded. Her focus turns inward, as she searches for the right words to explain. All the while she knows they will be unwelcome. As she struggles for a way to be both truthful and kind, she misses the rising tension in her companion’s voice. She doesn’t register the transition from desperation to danger.

A loud series of barks causes her to look up. Tenny is chasing a muskrat across the ice. Both of them are heading toward the barrier-shielded hole in the frozen pond. For the muskrat, it will mean escape. For Tenny, it will mean calamity.

“Tenny, no! Come here!” She runs out on the ice, calling him, moving as fast as she can on the slippery surface, trying to distract the dog. But intent on his prey, he ignores her. He dashes under the barricade just as the muskrat slips into the water to safety. Tenny slides to a stop, gives a few frustrated yips, then turns toward her. His expression clearly says, “Thanks a lot. I almost had him.”

She reaches the edge of the barricade and pushes it aside, holding out the leash and collar.

“Tennyson, come here right now.”

He makes as if to obey, but when she leans to get him, he scampers away. She calls him again.

He comes tantalizingly close, then eludes her grasp and retreats with a cocky grin on his face.

He likes this game.

She sets the collar and leash down on the ice. She gets on one knee and reaches in her pocket.

When her hand emerges, it’s holding a dog treat. In a honeyed, coaxing voice, she says, “Hey, Tenny. Look, sweetie! Your favorite, cheesy bacon.”

She stays very still as he approaches. When he gets within range, she intends to scoop him up, scold him, and never let him off the leash again. He moves slowly, maintaining eye contact with the treat, not her. She stretches her hand out ever so slightly. He streaks forward, snatches it from her open palm, and runs away across the pond. Then his attention is caught by a deer just reaching the middle of the ice. He gives chase.

She sighs with relief. At least he’s away from the open water. She starts to rise. Without warning, a strong shove from behind sends her sprawling. Her head hits the ice. She’s dazed for a second. Then terrified as another shove pushes her forward and into the hole cut in the pond.

The shock of hitting the water takes her breath away. The weight of her clothes pulls her down.

She struggles back to the surface, disoriented and confused. Her breathing is shallow and quick—too quick.

She swallows a mouthful of water and starts to choke. Panic rises. Her arms flail.

One hits something hard. The edge of the ice. Her fright lessens as she can see a way out.

She works her body around so she can grab the icy lip of the opening in the pond. She begins to move her legs, stretching out as though she were floating on her stomach. As she transitions from vertical to horizontal, she’s able to get one forearm on the ice. She tries to lift her knee. If she can get it on the ice—she’s too weak. The weight of her water-logged clothes pulls her back into the water. She feels the panic rising again. She pushes back against it with her desperate determination to survive.

She tries again, kicks her legs again, stretches out again, gets her forearms on the ice again.

But this time, she doesn’t try to lift herself. Instead, she begins to inch forward with a writhing motion, like a very slow snake crawling on the ground. She fights for every awkward, painful inch of progress. How long has it been? Five minutes? Ten? Twenty? It feels like forever.

Her arms are numb. Tiny icicles in her hair slap gently against her face as she twists and turns her body out of the water. Tenny is nearby. He’s barking, and then he’s by her left arm, tugging at her sleeve.

“No, no, Tenny, get back.” She thinks she is shouting, but the words are a whisper. She has to rest, just for a minute. She stops. She closes her eyes. But as her cheek touches the ice, Tenny’s bark calls her back to life. She will not give up. She will not die this way, this night.

Again, she begins her hesitating progress forward. She can do this. She will do this. Almost her entire upper body is on the ice now. Just a little longer, just a few more inches, just another—hands grab her shoulders. Someone has come. Someone is pulling her to safety. As she turns her head to look up, she realizes the hands aren’t pulling, they’re pushing, pushing, pushing her back.

No, no, no, no! She tries to fight, but she has nothing left. She’s in the water.

The hands lock onto her shoulders like talons. They push her down, down, down. Water enters her mouth; her throat closes over. She can’t breathe. The last sound she hears from far, far away is Tenny’s mournful bark. Then darkness closes in.

***

Excerpt from Dangerous Flaws by Susan Hunter. Copyright © 2018 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Susan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting.

Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers, and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words.

During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, looking for clues, stopping for a meal at the Elite Cafe, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain’s Bar and Grill.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Hunter. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2019 and runs through April 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.


On Tour February 1 – March 31, 2019











Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Karma Never Loses An Address by K. J. McGillick


Title: Karma Never Loses An Address
Series: Lies and Misdirection Book 3
Author: K. J. McGillick
Genre: Mystery Thriller Suspense
Publication Date: January 2019


Betrayal on Every Level

Marley Bennington had brutally murdered her older sister Samantha in a drug fueled rage. Only two people know that fact as true. One of those two people, was sitting in a state prison, serving a sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. Who was that unfortunate person? Alex Clarke, Samantha Bennington’s husband, the man so buried in circumstantial evidence that he confessed to a crime he didn’t commit, rather than face a trial. He was now trapped with no way out.

It all began as sibling rivalry and jealousy, as so many tales of treachery do. Now, that intense jealousy had ended in her sister’s murder. Once Alex was tucked safely away in prison, Marley was set to inherit millions of dollars tainted with her sister’s blood. But suddenly, two obstacles stood in her way preventing her from quickly obtaining the reward for her well executed plan. One obstacle was her brother, and the other a nosy little old lady. But for Marley, this wasn’t a problem. She had killed twice already and cheated the justice system. What were a few more bodies?

Justice delayed is justice denied. Can Marley be trapped by the very people she tried to deceive? Will karma finally visit her door? Another gripping, tangled tale from the author of Facing A Twisted Judgment.




Excerpt:

         That voice. I froze. My heart thudded in my chest, banging against the cage wall. I couldn’t breathe. The absolute terror made my skin tingle, and my back felt as if someone had placed a string through the center of my head and now controlled my body. I felt paralyzed with fear, and my body refused to move. What happened to the fight-or-flight mechanism that was supposed to automatically kick in and save the day? What did happen was, my whole world stopped spinning and slowly tilted on its axis. Shock took over my mind and body, and I sat, glued to my seat, unable to formulate a plan.
         Mary spoke to me, but I could not focus on what she was saying. I heard her voice escalate in volume from my right side to get my attention, but I remained unable to compute what she was trying to convey.
         Suddenly, she touched my shoulder and said, “Lulu, dear, you need to look at me. Follow me.” Her voice was calm, controlled, and sensible.
         “What the fuck is wrong with you?” the man in the back seat yelled at me. “You single-handedly ruined my whole life, you bitch. I’ve got nothing left to live for, so if you don’t move this car, I’ll blow a hole in Grandma and then turn this gun on you. But you, your brains will splatter all over the front. They’ll be picking your brain matter off the windshield for days.”
         “I assume you are Margaret’s husband,” Mary said and turned slightly left in her seat to engage him.
         “Shut up. You don’t need to know who I am,” he snapped.
         “Fine. Tell us what you want and what your end game is here,” she said in a tone reflecting irritation. “No one wants to get hurt, least of all me. You must have a plan, so what is it?”
         I wasn’t sure if this was good or bad. Taking control might agitate him further and make him snap. Or it might force him to surrender some of his power. My mind was too far gone in panic mode to determine what might work best.
         Surprisingly, he responded, “We’re driving to St. Bart’s, and Ms. West here will walk with me through the doors into the hospital. We’ll act like family members, all cozy, so as not to attract any attention. Then, we’ll take the elevator up to Margaret’s floor. Your granddaughter is going to make sure I get past the guard at Margaret’s door where I will point my gun at that worthless bitch and blow her head off, finishing the job I started.”
         I tried to study him in my rearview mirror, but all I saw was a part of the top of his head. This left me no room to evaluate the look on his face. All I could determine was a flat yet resolute tone.
         “That’s the plan?” Mary asked with a sarcastic hint to it. “Your face is all over the hospital security department. And there’s a guard outside her door who won’t let you three feet from her room. So, maybe rethink this adventure.”
         No, I was sure this wasn’t good to engage an already-agitated man.
         “Don’t you think I’m aware of that? Don’t you give me credit for scoping out the room situation?” he challenged.
         “So, shit for brains, how are you going to get up there?” She continued to keep him engaged.
         Then, it happened. My head was back in the game. Mary looked at me and wouldn’t let go of my stare. I could tell she didn’t trust me not to overreact and give something away. But she subtly looked down at her bag and up again. Mary slowly positioned the bag on her lap, the very bag where she kept her myriad of weapons, and moved it closer to her. She carefully parted the flaps so as not to garner attention. Mary slid her right hand inside the bag and left it there, motionless. Then, I saw it. The gun. God, I hope she didn’t plan on pulling that massive weapon out. Mary carried a gun called The Judge, and just looking at it made my stomach clench. This ominous weapon gained its nickname, The Judge, because of the number of judges who carried it into the courtroom for their protection. It offered a choice of shotshell and .45 Colt ammunition. A combo gun ideal for short or longer distances, the .45 Colt ammo was able to get the job done with one shot. What was she thinking? That gun was heavy, and she’d never get it out of her bag and lined up properly before he shot her and then me.



Author Bio:

K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that's what New Yorker's do. Right? A Registered Nurse, a lawyer now author.

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing