Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr.


Title: Justice Gone
Author: N. Lombardi Jr.
Genre: Thriller (legal)


When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran's counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa's patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield's dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

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Excerpt:

“Mr. Bodine, I’m Hamilton Fiske, deputy district attorney. I’ll be prosecuting this case.”

“Didn’t we meet last year at the meeting of the New Jersey Bar Association?” Bodine asked, as his daughter collected their papers and put them in their briefcase.

“Yes, I believe we did.”

“Thought so. I never forget a voice.”

That comment threw Fiske off-center for a moment. “I just wanted to, well, shake hands so to speak, before we come out fighting.”

“Is your hand out there in the air, waiting for mine? Cause if it is, you can put it back wherever you had it. I don’t shake hands these days. And while you’re at it, you can remove that smug smile off your face. I don’t have to see it, I can tell by your tone. You’ve already pissed me off, and this is just the arraignment. So I’m not exactly in a gentlemanly mood. And if you try to set up my client by having him mingle with the others, there’ll be hell to pay. Getting my drift, son?”

Fighting words for sure, but the word that provoked Fiske the most was the condescending “son,” just as Bodine had figured it would. “Is that a threat, Mr. Bodine?”

Emily tugged at her father’s arm with the covert message that he quit this repartee. He turned to leave, but not before saying, “No, Mr. Fiske, just a consequence.”



Author Bio:

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People's Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.
Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.
Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia



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Sunday, 28 April 2019

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Saturday, 27 April 2019

Lies Behind The Ruins by Helen Matthews



Title: Lies Behind The Ruins
Author: Helen Matthews
Publication Date: 25th April 2019


Emma Willshire has overcome plenty of obstacles in her life. From student bride to single mum of a son, Owen, but she has found happiness with her second husband, Paul and another child, Mollie. Emma's dark days seem far behind her until a fatal accident happens at Paul's work and he is held responsible.

On holiday in France, Paul's behaviour turns erratic. On impulse, he buys a cheap, dilapidated property and, to Emma's dismay, persuades her they can renovate it into a holiday home.

Back in England, their problems spiral out of control. Escape to a new life in France seems the only solution but with heart-breaking loss for Emma. As the couple strive to renovate their ruin and open a small business, shadows from the past threaten their happiness and safety. Because, how can you build a new life on toxic foundations?



Author Bio:



Helen Matthews is the author of Lies Behind the Ruin, a contemporary suspense novel set in France, to be published in April 2019 by Hashtag Press. Her debut novel After Leaving the Village, published in 2017, won first prize for the opening pages of a novel at Winchester Writers’ Festival. Born in Cardiff, she read English at the University of Liverpool and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. Helen’s short stories and flash fiction have won prizes and been published in Reflex Fiction, Ad Hoc, Artificium, Scribble and Love Sunday. Her freelance journalism has been published in the Guardian and broadcast on BBC radio. She is an ambassador for Unseen, a charity that campaigns to end human trafficking and modern slavery.


Guest Post by Helen Matthews:

Write what you know – but do your research too

Authors are often told ‘write what you know’ and when I started writing novels, I did exactly that. The first couple of novels I wrote weren’t anything to do with my life or background but were loosely based on characters, who were a bit like me, or had lives I could inhabit without much research. But they were stale and dull (perhaps also a bit like me?) and the characters didn’t come alive on the page. I stuck those novel manuscripts in a drawer and they are probably still there.

I took a deep breath and started another novel which was published in October 2017 as After Leaving the Village and this time I wrote about the harrowing subject of human trafficking. Researching a world that was totally alien to my experience stimulated my imagination. I set the opening chapters in Albania, a country I had never visited, though I travelled there later to check my facts. The inspirational anti-slavery charity, Unseen helped me with my research and, later, appointed me an ambassador for the charity. Through Unseen, I’ve been fortunate to meet survivors of human trafficking and was invited to mentor a male survivor, who wanted to write about his experience of modern slavery and forced labour. Listening to survivors’ stories has been a humbling experience.

Writing a novel based on research and imagination liberated me so, when I embarked on Lies Behind the Ruin, I felt able to return to writing about some of what I know…

In the first year of the new millennium, while on a family holiday in France, my husband and I bought a cheap, dilapidated farm building, thinking it would be easy to renovate it into a holiday home. (It wasn’t!) I decided to make France the location for my novel and use our impulse buy of a ‘ruin’ as the starting point for the characters, Paul and Emma, in my novel Lies Behind the Ruin.

Because I’ve lived through the property renovating experience, I initially included too much detail and my editor pointed out that readers wouldn’t be half as fascinated as I was with the technicalities. I took her advice and culled some of the information.

Our French property is a holiday home and, although we spend as much time there as we can, we’ve never lived in France or set up a business there. Luckily, I know several people who have, and they were eager to help.

Step forward my lovely friend, Natalie, who moved to France with her husband three years ago when their younger daughter was primary school age. She helped me with the most up-to-date details of moving to France and settling a child into school. When I needed to check my facts about running a small business in France, I turned to Mark, who runs a local bar.

I didn’t want to set Lies Behind the Ruin in the area of France where we have our house. All my characters are fictional but I could just imagine my neighbours thinking they recognised themselves! So I chose another region – the Limousin.

We first visited Limoges for a mini-break with friends and spent several fascinating days exploring. Since then, I’ve dragged my protesting husband back a few times to photograph places I’ve used as scenes in my novel. We’ve walked the streets and checked locations on the map. Some scenes in Lies Behind the Ruin take place in an apartment, rented by one of the characters, in a street called Rue Jean Jaures. Although I haven’t been inside the apartment block, the external street scenes are authentic, right down to the pistachio-coloured frontage of a chocolatier, reflected in the mirrored glass of the front door. Another scene is set in the cathedral of Saint Etienne and the group of blind visitors I describe were an actual group I spotted during my visit. But the village of Sainte Juliette, where the Willshire family settle, is fictional and, as far as I’ve been able to check, there isn’t a saint of that name.

Last summer we set off to the Limousin yet again so I could check that dilapidated property was still cheap enough for an impulse purchase. (When we bought our ‘ruin’ many years ago, it cost so little we were able to cover the deposit on a couple of credit cards!) I’d already checked prices on the internet but we also drove through the area checking prices of properties in estate agents’ windows. In rural areas, people have moved away to the towns and cities for work so there is an oversupply of older property and I discovered that it wasn’t only ruins that were cheap – village houses with three bedrooms and fully habitable, were available for as little as 33,000 euros (about £28,000).

Lies Behind the Ruin includes some police procedural detail. The French criminal justice system is very different from what we’re used to in the UK. It’s an inquisitorial system under an examining magistrate. There are even different police forces – police national, police local and the gendarmerie, depending on the type of crime and whether it takes place in a city or rural area. My French is not too shabby, but research on google.fr can only take you so far. Once again, I turned to my friend, Natalie, who knew two police officers, one serving and one recently retired. We spent a couple of weeks trying to track them down, leaving messages for them in the village bar and making phone calls. Natalie’s powers of persuasion were so great that, at one point, the retired police officer suggested cutting short his summer holiday to come home for an interview with me! I had to, tactfully, intervene to stop him.

Finally, we tracked down Monsieur C, a serving gendarme, who was happy to help. With Natalie as our interpreter, we checked all the police procedural details. I took his suggestions on board and breathed a sigh of relief.

What did I learn? Research is essential even when you know your subject inside out. There’s a risk you can imagine you know something so well, you don’t check your facts are still up to date. If you are writing contemporary fiction, the world can change around you and you need to be prepared to tweak your plot. This happened to me when the EU Referendum took place while I was writing the novel and, potentially, changed all the ground rules for UK nationals moving to France to start a new life. Although this didn’t affect my characters during the timescale of the novel (August 2015 to January 2017), it will become a minefield in the future.

Just as writers need a professional proof reader to check for grammatical errors and typos –because our brain sees what we think we wrote – so we must check our research, even when writing about familiar places and things. After all, contemporary fiction aims to create a realistic world and encourage readers to travel with the characters on their journey.




Giveaway to Win 2 x Signed copies of Lies Behind The Ruins (Europe Only)
*Terms and Conditions –European entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  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.


Friday, 26 April 2019

Karma by S C Cunningham



Title: Karma
Series: The Fallen Angel Series Book 2 (Standalone)
Author: S C Cunningham
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Crime, Thriller
Publication Date: February 2019
Publisher: ***


At the age of four, Amy was taken… She survived.
A week later, another little girl was taken…She didn't.


Angry that a bad man has gotten away with murder, feisty young Amy Fox makes a deal with the heavens. When she dies, if she’s been a good girl, would they let her sit on a cloud for a while, invisible, and get the bad people who slip through God’s fingers?

Her deal and God long forgotten, career girl Amy mysteriously dies. Her lifeless body is found beneath a London underground commuter train.

She awakens in the afterlife to discover an international network of like-minded souls who’ve all made the same deal. A sophisticated MI5-esque justice machine sits in the skies. The only evidence they leave behind during their earthly visits is a small white feather sashaying to the ground.

Amy hates rules, she may be a new Angel but for how long?  Abusing her powers, lusting after her partner, avenging personal scores, protecting the underdog, dishing out unauthorized karma on terrorists, traffickers, abusers, hunters, bullies, bitches and competing Warlords will have her thrown below ground.

In a chaotic world of vendettas, jealous ex's on her heels and powerful adversaries trying to close her Unit down, Amy has never worked so hard in her entire earthly life. She has to wonder if making the deal was a mistake.



The Deal
The Fallen Angel Series Book 1
FREE

Feisty Amy Fox hates rules, she's a new Angel, but for how long? 
Abusing her powers, lusting after her partner, avenging personal scores, protecting the underdog, dishing out unauthorized karma on terrorists, traffickers, abusers, hunters, bullies, bitches and competing Heaven v Hell Warlords... will have her thrown below ground.

“The Deal is blissfully raw and absolutely perfect. 5★ for days.”
“Completely different from anything I have ever read; it is an outstanding book.”
“It got me! It's been a very long time since I have read a book that I, A. Couldn't put down and B. I didn't want it to end!"
"Plots intertwine twist and turn, it's addictive.”
"Hard to put down - a must read that keeps you guessing."



Author Bio:


Author of The Fallen Angel Series Cunningham creates adrenaline-charged paranormal crime rom thrillers, with a skilled mix of fuelled tension, dark humour and pulsating sex scenes. Having worked in the industries she writes about, her novels offer a fresh level of sincerity and authority, rare in fiction.

Abducted as a child she survived. Every night for months afterward she prayed to the heavens asking for a deal. This personal journey sparked the fuse behind the intriguing and riveting fictional world she portrays in The Fallen Angel Series. First in series The Deal is free. Standalone Book II, Karma is her latest release. She is currently working on Book III, Calling.

An ex-model, British born of Irish roots, she married a rock musician and has worked in the exciting worlds of music, film, sports, celebrity management and as a Crime Investigator for the British Police (Wanted & Absconder Unit, Major Crime Team, Intelligence Analyst, Investigations Hub).

She supports Veterans, MH and Animal causes, is the proud mother to Contemporary Artist Scarlett Raven, loves coffee, chocolate, Prosecco, shabby chic'ing and beach walks, and is owned by three soul-soothing dogs.





Giveaway to Win a Signed Copy of Karma by S. C. Cunningham (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  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.



Thursday, 25 April 2019

The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan



Title: The Naming Game
Series: The Company Files: 2
Author: Gabriel Valjan
Genre: Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction
Publication Date: Winter Goose Publishing
Publisher: May 4, 2019
Number of Pages: 210
ISBN: 978-1-941058-86-2


Whether it’s Hollywood or DC, life and death, success or failure hinge on saying a name.

The right name.

When Charlie Loew is found murdered in a seedy flophouse with a cryptic list inside the dead script-fixer’s handkerchief, Jack Marshall sends Walker undercover as a screenwriter at a major studio and Leslie as a secretary to Dr. Phillip Ernest, shrink to the stars. J. Edgar Hoover has his own list. Blacklisted writers and studio politics. Ruthless gangsters and Chief Parker’s LAPD. Paranoia, suspicions, and divided loyalties begin to blur when the House Un-American Activities Committee insists that everyone play the naming game.


Excerpt:

He suggested drinks Friday night at the Cocoanut Grove, with dinner afterwards. The weekend wasn’t quite on the horizon but the doctor’s voice insinuated he had intentions.

The Cocoanut Grove club was part of the Ambassador; and like most places in Los Angeles it took forever to get from the curb to the front door of the hotel. Then there was the nightclub. The hotel, like a Henry James preamble, sat at the far end of a very long cultivated sentence of twenty-four acres off Wilshire Boulevard. The logic was deceptive but calculated, its geometric lawns and trained trees were way out in front like a mirage of color schemes, the designs descended from gardeners who created the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It was here Bacchantes of another day and age descended from the Hollywood Hills or from elsewhere in the desert to have their Award ceremonies, sexed-up affairs on hearths of Italian stone, their celebrity tantrums, complete with champagne glasses dashed against tiled floors while the fountain’s water out front pulsed the rhythm of time’s cruel cadence.

The Cocoanut Grove was dedicated to nocturnal decadence. Palm trees were imported inside, stuffed monkeys sat on top of them, their choreographed arms groping the leafy foliage and their glass eyes forever gazing at a ceiling painted midnight blue with unmoving stars. Here the desert people came to dance and forget their troubles and mingle with matinée royalty. Here they dined and here they listened to music beneath Moorish arches and tried to forget the Crusades and the inconvenience of Christ on the cross. On a grand night they might see ghosts or the gauzy image of Pola Negri walking her pet cheetah on a long leash through the garden.

7pm and early, Leslie saw Ernest at the bar in tailored silk pants and a patterned jacket, white shirt, and no tie. She might’ve walked fast across the floor to surprise him, but she enjoyed every set of male eyes (and some female ones, too) on her in a strapless cocktail dress made of plush black velvet and layers of cream tulle. Leslie didn’t believe in makeup. Simple pink lipstick sufficed. In her small purse she carried cash and a .22 caliber pistol, a gift with a red Croix de Lorraine on the white grip enamel. Neither the gun nor the caliber punched like a .45 automatic, but at close range the .22 was feminine and lethal.

“You’re early, Dr. Ernest.”

“Please call me Phillip, or Phil. A drink?”

“What are you having?”

“Stinger.”

Brandy and crème de menthe. Upper-crust choice of either flyboys or college men. She motioned the bartender over with her gloved hand. He ambled over, a big man in a tuxedo. He offered his clientele cool stoicism while he
made their drinks or dried glassware. He listened, or pretended to. His hand on the counter and the forward tilt at the shoulders signaled he was eager to take her order.

“An Old Fashioned, please.”

The barkeep smiled when he set down her short tumbler not far from her date’s Stinger. He put in the sugar cube and doused it with Angostura bitters, added water halfway up the sugar cube before he dropped ice cubes and added a shot and half of rye whiskey. He hitched a maraschino cherry on the back of an orange wedge.

The jazz musicians in the background burned through a slow number of horns and muted drums. He moved near her and she smiled. She could smell his cologne. Not bad. Not overpowering. She wore no perfume. Leslie learned
perfume always lingered in the air, or on fabric. It left a trace, a damning signature. Phillip pushed the cocktail to her on a napkin

“Quite the drink you have there.”

“I can handle it.” Let him think I’m easy prey. “So, Phillip, what do you suggest for dinner?”

“Place up in the Hills, exotic and with a spectacular view of the city if you don’t mind Asian food.”

“I’ll give it a go. That’s what the weekend is for.”

“You’re full of surprises, Maggie. Didn’t figure you for the living type.”

He realized his awkward turn of phrase. She saved him from embarrassment. “As opposed to the alternative?” she asked. “Don’t worry, I know what you meant. You don’t do so bad yourself.” Awe and flattery always chipped a man down. “It can’t be easy listening to people’s problems all week. Shows character.”

“Nothing too challenging or anything I can’t handle.”

“You’re saying you don’t feel challenged?” she asked.

“Not at all. My patients are motivated, which is crucial to the therapeutic process, and I enjoy guiding them to recovery so they can live meaningful, productive lives.”

“Say, ever had a client you couldn’t help? Someone you couldn’t fix.”

“I’ve had my share of difficult cases, but I try to persuade them to see the destructive consequences to their choices,” he said, between sips of his minty drink.

Leslie drank a small sip of hers. “I never hear frustration in your notes. You’re always clinical, very professional. I daresay you sound confident. Self-assured.”

“You haven’t seen all my cases, Maggie.”

“Really?” she asked, letting him see her take a hefty gulp drink from her glass, turned so he saw more flesh. He responded with another sip of his toothpaste drink.

“I’ve had two, maybe three intractable cases. All men. One with inordinate guilt, the other one, a thief, and the last one was a deviant. The thief and deviant I thought I could cure, but not the guilty one. All three men kept company with people who exacerbated their conditions.”

The doctor explained all of this as he paced his drinking until he emptied his glass. Leslie left a wee bit of drink in her glass. There was an uptick to the drums and the soft shudder of cymbals. A piano added light sprays of laughter from the high keys. Smoke floated over the crowd.

“I’m no clinician, Phillip, but I’m clueless as to what constitutes deviant behavior. As for criminal urges, I’d suggest an avoidance strategy. Not much I can say about regret. I’ve always thought guilt was a useless emotion.”

“I wish it were so simple, Maggie.”

“It is. The human mind confuses childhood with the responsibilities of adulthood.”

The perplexed expression on his face arrived on time. “That sounds familiar,” he said.

“It should, Phillip. I quoted you.”

Quoting him had worked. He smiled, his shoulders rounded and he leaned forward and intent, relaxed. She savored that small victory more than the cherry clinging to the orange wedge on her glass.

“Shall we go eat?” she asked and deliberately misplaced her foot as she stepped off the metal chair. He caught her arm in time. She released that little laugh all women practiced for embarrassing moments. He left a generous bill to cover the drinks, as the drum kicked the air with a one-two beat and a crash of cymbals.

Ernest drove the roads above Hollywood Boulevard to the restaurant. High up in the hills and under a half moon, The Mountain Palace rested on a hilltop like a shogun’s castle carved out of teak and cedar. There was a pagoda, too. An architect plotted, a landscaper tilled the California hill into an enigmatic kōan with trees, shrubs, numerous gardens, and waterfalls. Koi fish meandered through ponds. The only thing missing was the plucking sound of the koto asking for rain.

Excerpt used with permission by author and publisher, 
Gabriel Valjan and Winter Goose Publishing 


Praise for The Naming Game:


"With crackling dialogue and a page turning plot shot-through with authentic period detail, Gabriel Valjan pulls the reader into the hidden world of the 1950's Hollywood studio scene, involving murder, McCarthyism and mayhem."

~ James L'Etoile, author of At What Cost and Bury the Past


"Terrific historical noir as Gabriel Valjan takes us on a trip through post-war Hollywood involving scandal, McCarthyism, blacklisting, J. Edgar Hoover and, of course, murder. Compelling story, compelling characters - and all the famous name dropping is great fun. Highly recommended!"

~ R.G. Belsky, author of the Clare Carlson Mystery Series




Author Bio:

Gabriel Valjan is the author of two series, The Roma Series and The Company Files, available from Winter Goose Publishing. His short stories have appeared in Level Best anthologies and other publications. Twice shortlisted for the Fish Prize in Ireland, once for the Bridport Prize in England, and an Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest, he is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime National, a local member of Sisters in Crime New England, and an attendee of Bouchercon, Crime Bake, and Malice Domestic conferences.





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Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Bobby Ether and the Jade Academy by R. Scott Boyer


Title: Bobby Ether and the Jade Academy
Author: R. Scott Boyer
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: April 24, 2019
Publisher: Koehler Books


When sixteen-year-old Bobby Ether is abducted and brought to the secluded Jade Academy in Tibet, monks teach him and other special students how to tap into their Anima—the universal energy that connects all living things. But the headmistress of the academy is secretly exploiting the students, looking for genetic triggers to create a new breed of humans with metaphysical abilities. As his powers increase, Bobby is thrust into a cesspool of conspiracy, lies, and betrayal. A jade amulet left by his clairvoyant grandfather may provide answers, but what exactly is his family's connection to this mysterious place?

Can Bobby master his talents in time to uncover the truth? If not, his fate—and the fate of the entire Jade Academy—may be sealed.

AmazonB&NKoboiBooks • IndieBound


Praise for Bobby Ether and the Jade Academy:
"Tragedy, mystery, and suspense make this scientific coming-of-age story a fascinating read." --Clarion 5-star review
"Bobby Ether and the Jade Academy is a thrilling action-packed adventure you never want to end." --IndieReader 4.5 stars


About the Author:

R. Scott Boyer graduated from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley in 1996. In 2008, he became fascinated with the idea of blending young adult fantasy with new-age fiction and thus began his journey as a writer. While maintaining a full-time job, he couldn't help but envision the kind of book he wanted to read. This exploration led to the creation of the Bobby Ether YA fantasy series, which combines spiritual elements with ancient myths and legends to create fun, fast-paced stories tailored for young adults but suited for adventure lovers of all ages.

Through his writing, Scott likes to explore various spiritual and metaphysical themes, including karma, serendipity, communion with nature, and the interconnectedness of all living things. In his free time, Scott likes to play basketball and tennis, as well as bike with his rescue dog, Patch. Over the years, Scott has been involved with a number of volunteer youth organizations, including United In Harmony, YMCA summer and winter camps, various basketball programs, and C5LA.

Raised in Santa Monica, California, Scott still resides in the Los Angeles area close to his family.





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Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Past Presence by Nicole Bross


Title: Past Presence
Author: Nicole Bross
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: April 1, 2019
Publisher: Literary Wanderlust


Only by looking into the past can Audrey save her future.

Audrey Eames is happy living the wanderer’s life. After a near-death experience in her teens, Audrey can see people’s past lives whenever her skin touches theirs, and afraid of being labeled delusional, she’s never stayed in one place too long or made any deep connections.

So when Audrey’s estranged aunt dies and leaves her the historic Soberly Inn and Public House on the scenic Oregon coast, Audrey wants nothing to do with it. She’s determined to sell the inn and leave town before someone discovers the power she’s been hiding from the world, but clauses in her aunt’s will seem to block her at every turn.

Yet once ensconced in Soberly’s small town life, the people—particularly the inn's bartender, Kellen Greene—start to grow on her, and she begins to feel that maybe she’s finally found a place of her own. As accepting as the townspeople seem, Audrey fears their reactions—and Kellen’s rejection—and decides to keep her visions a secret. But all is not well in Soberly. Soon after Audrey arrives, people in town start dying in the same manner as in their past lives—but in this lifetime it’s murder. When suspicion starts to fall on Audrey and Kellen, Audrey vows to use her gift to find the murderer and protect the people she loves—before it’s too late.



Excerpt:

“It’s been nice chatting with you, Miss Eames.” The night coach driver offers me his hand, palm up, as I prepare to step down and off the bus. With a smile, I accept—careful not to put any weight onto his fingers, which look swollen and red with age and the decades he’s been gripping the wheel.


He handed a woman, all swirling skirts, and ruffles, off the carriage-and-four. She was laughing at something her mother had said, but before she stepped up the gravel path leading to the doors of the grand estate, flung open to welcome guests to the ball within, she turned to give him a nod and a half-smile.


“Enjoy your evening, Miss.” He returned her nod as the heat crept up under his stiff white collar, but she had already caught up with her mother, and he didn’t think she had heard him.


The way his hand clasps mine is the same. Some habits carry over from one lifetime to the next, as I’ve learned. The vision lingers in my mind even after I pull away and shoulder my duffel. The manor home looked English, and the woman’s dress was definitely late Victorian.


The sun is cracking the horizon, bathing the village of Soberly, Oregon, all twelve streets of it, in a glow that changes from sepia to marigold. The bus pulls away behind me in a cloud of exhaust and fine yellow sand, off to the next tiny hamlet along the coastal highway, leaving me standing in the empty street.


My destination is clearly visible—there is only one hotel here, the sensible, if unoriginally named, Soberly Inn and Public House. Standing one block away, it faces the sea and even from here I can see how the salt spray has faded the once-cobalt blue paint to a dull cornflower over the years. For reasons I don’t yet understand, the Soberly Inn now belongs to me, and I am here to claim it.


I had no idea my Aunt Roz had even owned the inn. The last time I saw her I was an awkward pre- teen, and she was less than twice my age. I sometimes remembered to email her on her birthday, but not, I’m ashamed to say, every year, although she never forgot mine. Yet despite our distant, superficial relationship, she had left this place to me, rather than the wife she left behind when she died of a rapidly progressing cancer ten days ago. Maybe she was an ex-wife now. I had no idea. We weren’t even Facebook friends. The notification of her death had come via her lawyer, not my father, along with the news that, for the first time in my life, I was a property owner. The news had affected me deeply, more so than I expected. Now, looking at Roz’s prize for the first time, the quiet ache in my chest ramps up to a throbbing spasm before fading again.


This was what my carefree aunt gave up her vagabond life for, and now she wanted me to do the same? I stare up at the building, taking note of the aged wooden siding where the paint has curled away in places, the cracked cedar shingles, and the plain-lettered sign swinging from two chains beside the entrance. ‘Shabby’ was the word that came to mind, and not ‘shabby chic,’ either. I could only imagine the interior was just as dusty and unremarkable as the exterior.


“What were you thinking, Roz?” I say under my breath. My feet are still planted in the same place because I don’t know where to go. There isn’t a soul in sight at this time of day, nor are any of the assortment of shops and businesses that line the main street open. I know there will almost certainly be someone at the front desk of the inn, but although I’ve come all this way, I’m not ready to make an appearance there yet, not without knowing what I want to say, something I’d neglected to plan on the long bus ride. I scuff one toe of my battered Chucks in the sand that’s accumulated along the curb, stalling. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the beach, I decide, as I step into the street with the rising sun at my back. The inn is a problem I delegate to Future Audrey. Right-now Audrey is going for a walk along the coast. 


***
As it turns out, the only thing four hours of roaming the beach does is add hunger and the intense need to find a bathroom to my problems. Possibly a sunburn as well, judging from the pinkish hue my skin is taking on. I’ve always felt the injustice of not inheriting the platinum blonde or fiery red hair color that usually accompanies my level of fair skin. There’s nothing even remotely exotic or attention-getting about the flat, medium- brown I ended up with. At least I can be thankful it doesn’t frizz in the humidity, otherwise, I’d look like a positive nightmare right now. 

The sun is almost directly overhead when I make my way over the last dune to the boardwalk. Although the village’s one cafe is now open and will serve my requirements, I trudge past it to the inn, standing a bit apart from the businesses surrounding it by virtue of its height, the only three-story building in a two-story town. 


Faced with two doors, one into the inn itself and one into the pub, I choose the latter. It takes my eyes a moment to adjust to the dimness, but my stomach reacts to the environment immediately, growling audibly as the scent of fresh-fried fish greets me.
The pub is classic seaside kitsch, decorated with fishing nets and glass buoys, old traps, and a well-worn rowboat suspended upside-down from the ceiling. Maps of the coastline and faded photographs decorate the walls, as well as other assorted nautical ephemera, and together it paints a portrait of the rich coastal history of the town.


I’m still blinking away the daylight, taking this all in, when someone steps into my field of vision.


“Grab a seat wherever you want,” a guy holding a large plastic tub says. He’s clearing empty glasses and plates as he says it. I nod my acknowledgment because the pair of red Beats headphones he’s wearing will certainly drown out any verbal reply. His head is bobbing in time to music only he can hear as he disappears through a door leading to what I assume is the kitchen.


I duck into the washroom first, eliminating one of my problems. The maritime theme continues, with signs for pirates and wenches on the doors, and mirrors framed to look like portholes. Girls can be pirates too, and I don’t see why boys can’t be wenches. Geez, Roz. Sexist much? She’d been an ardent feminist in her early twenties. Had she stopped caring, or was I reading too much into a couple of bathroom signs?
The only table free seats six, so I choose a high stool at the near-vacant bar instead. I’ve arrived right in the middle of the lunch rush, from the looks of it. I still don’t know what to say to anyone here. “Hi, I’m the new owner,” seems arrogant, especially since I have no intention of keeping the place. 


A menu appears in front of me, startling me out of my ruminations. Across the polished walnut bar stands a man whose skin is a shade lighter than the wood he’s resting his hands on. His smile widens as he stares at me expectantly.


“Sorry—what?” I shake my head, flustered. Who has teeth that straight, that white? Self-conscious, I half-cover my mouth with the back of my hand. Mine show clear evidence of my two-pot-a-day coffee habit. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe someone of the same vintage as the decor, but it definitely wasn’t someone younger than me, although maybe only by a couple years.

“Drink?” he repeats, jerking his head at the long row of taps, each with a branded handle. Most of them I’ve never heard of, and I’m not a daytime drinker anyway. “This is a pub,” he adds and winks. The bartender who’s well aware of his good looks. I’m familiar with the type. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it my type, but I’d gone home with enough of them over the years.

“Sweet tea,” I say. “Extra ice.”


“Sure you don’t want a pint? Maybe a cold glass of white?”


I shake my head. “Tea’s fine.”


“G&T? I’ll put lots of ice in it.” He’s polishing up a tumbler, reaching for the bottle of Bombay on the shelf behind him. I roll my eyes, but I can’t keep the side of my mouth from twitching.


“Put that back. I just want the sweet tea. Are you on commission or something?”


“Nah, I just want to card you so I know your name,” he says. Unrepentant, he points to the sign nailed to a pillar that states We ID Anyone Under 25.


“You’re off the mark by a few years, my friend,” I tell him. He’s finally pouring my sweet tea from the soda tap into a massive glass full of ice.


“Bullshit.” As soon as he sets it down in front of me, I’m chugging it back, not breathing until the glass is half-empty. He snags it back and refills it while I wipe my mouth with a cocktail napkin. What I want to do is scoop the ice out and rub it all over my arms and face, which are starting to feel alarmingly hot. From all the sun, I tell myself. Not from the attention of this cocky bartender.


“We ID for all food orders too, you know.”


I lean in close and pause before speaking, making it clear I’m appraising him. “Maybe I’m not hungry.”


“You are. I saw you drinking in the smell of the fryer when you walked in. You got this dreamy smile that said you knew exactly what you wanted. So, let’s see it.” He holds out his hand with a crooked, teasing smile, but I push it away with the menu I haven’t even glanced at. He’s right. I don’t need to look at it at all, but I don’t want to admit that he can read me so well.


“You don’t have to show ID to order food here. You made that up.”


“So what? I can make up the rules if I want.”


“Oh, you must own the place?” I mirror his teasing tone, but I’m watching him closely, seeing how he’ll respond. I expect a smart ass reply in the same vein as our banter, but a shadow crosses his face and the smile slips. Shit. The owner just died, you idiot. As usual, the words spilled out of my mouth before I had a chance to think them through.


“I’m not, actually,” he says.


“I know. I’m sorry, that was stupid of me to say.” I bite my lip and plunge forward. “I’m Audrey. Audrey Eames. Roz’s niece. Umm, I’m the owner, I guess. So, they tell me. For now.” The silence stretches out between us as he takes all this in, frozen in place while I sit there, feeling like an utter moron with my hand outstretched, waiting for him to shake it. I’m just about to withdraw it into my lap when a wide grin cracks his face. He grips my hand so our forearms touch and our elbows rest on the bar, like we’re about to arm-wrestle. I’m drawn forward in the process so we’re almost nose-to-nose.


A gaggle of children ran through the field ahead of her and scrambled over the stile. They were jostling each other and shouting raucously, overjoyed to be free of the classroom for the afternoon. All but one, a small boy whose hand was clasped snugly into hers.


“Look, Miss Dean, a nest. The others missed it.” The boy spoke with a thick country accent as he pointed up at the treetops.


“Good eye, Wil. What sort of bird do you think made it?”


“Something big. A kite, maybe.” She nodded in agreement, and they continued on in companionable silence, following the sounds of laughter ahead.


“You totally played me, Audrey. I thought you were just another tumbleweed. I’m glad you’re not. Kellen Greene. It’s very nice to meet you.” The vision of his past- self fades from my mind, and I wonder what qualities he and the teacher have in common.


“A tumbleweed?” He squeezes my hand before releasing it, the pad of his thumb tracing a line up the side of my index finger like he’s trying to maintain contact up to the last possible second.


“Tourists that roll on through town with the wind, here and gone before you know it. They don’t bring anything with them, and they don’t take anything away either.”


“My bag should have clued you in that I wasn’t just passing through,” I point out, kicking it where it rests at my feet.


“Ahh, but there’s only one place to stay in Soberly,” he nods toward the ceiling and the rooms above, “and it’s full up, at least until Sunday.” Kellen walks over to the door leading into the back and swings it open. “Hey, Ma,” he shouts, drawing the attention of everyone in the pub. “Come meet your new boss.”



About the Author:

Nicole Bross is an author from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she lives with her husband, two children and one very large orange cat. When she’s not writing or working as the editor of a magazine, she can be found curled up with a book, messing around with her ever-expanding collection of manual typewriters or in the departures lounge of the airport at the beginning of another adventure. Past Presence is her debut novel.





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Monday, 22 April 2019

Trust Me by K. J. McGillick


Title: Trust Me
Series: Lies and Misdirection Book 4
Author: K. J. McGillick
Genre: Thriller
Publication Date: February 2019


Sex. Power. Murder.

Dr. Gabriel Blackwell and his wife Sandra Blake have it all. He’s a brilliant thoracic surgeon. She’s a high-powered attorney with family money. Their lives are as loving as they are glamorous.

Or are they?

When a nurse Dr. Blackwell works with is brutally murdered, the questions fly. Who would want to kill this woman and why? When an autopsy reveals the woman was pregnant, all signs point to Dr. Blackwell. Just what was her relationship with him?

Whispers about a scandalous sex club surface. How many other lovers are there? Are any of them safe? How far would he go to protect his reputation?

Tragedy strikes again as Sandra Blake is found dead floating in their pool. Dr. Blackwell now finds himself on trial for two murders. Facing life in prison, Dr. Blackwell will grasp at any straw to preserve his freedom.

Any straw.

Is anyone innocent? Is anyone safe?


Excerpt:

      Detective Murphy looked around the room, gauging the temperature of emotions and tried to determine if we were ready to hear the rest. Mary sat forward prepared to engage him, but he stood, rather than wait for her to say something. He lifted his hand indicating she should wait.

      “Here is what we know. Ms. Blake departed work yesterday at six p.m. and told a colleague she was meeting her husband at the house so he could remove more of his belongings. It seems he had vacated the house earlier in the week, and she insisted on a cooldown period before he could return. No one heard from her after she left. We have tracked her phone calls, and she didn’t make any that evening.

      “By the pool, we found a variety of tablets scattered about on a small glass table. There were no bottles associated with those pills; we are inventorying the house now. Until we get her medical records, we can’t identify what medication she was on. Until the autopsy is complete, and the toxicology reports released, we won’t know what was in her system. We are having a pharmacologist identify the pills. However, until we can determine what tablets were on the table and then learn what drugs she ingested, we won’t treat them as anything but collected evidence. In other words, we are not making the leap that the pills were any part of her death,” he said.

      “So, was the cause of death drowning?” Mary asked.

      “We won’t know that until the autopsy. The ME will have to evaluate her lungs to see if there’s water in them and if so, was it chlorinated water from the pool? Alternatively, someone killed her elsewhere and then dumped her there trying to make the scene appear like a suicide or an accidental overdose,” Detective Stow said.

      We all let that sink in. I watched each person process the information.

      “Killed. Killed as in homicide?” Lulu gasped lightly touching her chest.

      “We can’t rule it out.” He shrugged.

      “So why are you here having a meeting with us?” Eloise asked.

      Yes, good question. We aren’t immediate family and have no legal involvement with her.

      “Because her husband was supposedly the last one to see her that evening. You are representing him on the Anderson murder, so unless it’s my lucky day he’ll speak to us without a lawyer, we figured we should talk to you first,” Detective Stow responded.

      Dalia let out the breath she was holding, and she and Mary traded glances. An unspoken language passed between the two.

      “Okay, I realize I’ll have to wait for your preliminary report, but can I get some basic information from you?” Dalia inquired.

      “Shoot,” Detective Murphy replied.

      “Do you have a cause of death?” she questioned.

      “No. Ms. Blake had a gash on her head, but we don’t know if that came before she went into the pool, during a fall, or when she got it. All we know is it looked fresh. Until the autopsy is complete that just remains a relevant piece of information. At this point, I have no idea if there was water in the lungs or not. There were no indications of strangulation, no gunshot wounds or signs of a stabbing,” he replied.

      “Has the ME narrowed the time of death down?”

      “Nope. Just somewhere between eight p.m. and six a.m. You know how it is when water is involved. He’ll have more—”

      “I know, after the autopsy,” Mary said with a tone of irritation.

      “Did the house have a security system?” Dalia asked.

      “Yes, and we are searching for the hard drive,” he replied after referring to his notepad.

      “So, correct me if I’m wrong. The only reason you are looking at my client is that some person at her place of work claimed she said that he was coming over to remove his belongings. You really have no idea if someone came after he left. Or for that matter, if he even went over that evening,” Dalia said, tapping her hand on the table.

      “We noticed your client, or someone, removed a bunch of suits from his closet along with ties and shirts from his dresser drawers,” Detective Stow added.

      “Yes, but you don’t know if he took them last night or several days ago. Correct?” Dalia asked.

      “Correct,” Detective Murphy confirmed.

      “And I suppose you want to ask Dr. Blackwell about where he was last evening and interview him about any conversation he had with his wife. Would that be accurate?” Dalia asked.

      “That was the plan in coming here. We could meet you later today with your client instead of at the station,” Detective Murphy offered.

      Mary looked at Dalia with a raised eyebrow I took to mean, “Is he crazy?”

      “Declan, let me speak to my client, and I’ll let you know. At this point, I am hearing you say he is a person of interest because he may have been the last one to see her. Is that right?” she asked.



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






Sunday, 21 April 2019

Anabel Horton: Lost Witch of Salem by Olivia Hardy Ray



Title: Anabel Horton: Lost Witch of Salem
Author: Olivia Hardy Ray
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal
Publication Date: March 11, 2015
Publisher: Chattercreek


From the Salem Witch trials through the Nineteenth Century and beyond, the devil’s disciple pursues young and innocent Annabel Horton. During the Incident at Loudun in 1633 Urban Grandier’s soul was taken by the devil in a furious confrontation between good and evil. The once pious priest becomes the demonic priest. His curse is on Annabel for forsaking him to Lucifer and he pursues her through time as she taunts his beliefs and he reviles hers. As Annabel flees the devil’s fire she must take the bodies of those that the devil favors to protect her family. She must uncover the motive behind the illusive Ursula/Louis Boussidan, the scandalous cross-dresser who is pursuing her beautiful granddaughter, and she must learn, being one of God’s most powerful witches, how to use her power. But will it be enough to save her husband from Urbain’s fiery inferno? Will it be enough to save her children from demons greater than themselves?

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About the Author:

The first novel I ever wrote, Dancing Backward In Paradise, won an Eric Hoffer Award for publishing excellence and an Indie Excellence Award for notable new fiction, 2007. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater and Dancing Backward in Paradise received a 5 Star ForeWord Clarion Review and The Story of Sassy Sweetwater has been named a finalist for the ForeWord Book of the Year Awards. I have published in ESL Magazine, Christopher Street Magazine and I have also written early childhood curriculum for Weekly Reader and McGraw Hill.

The pen name for my fantasy and paranormal novels is Olivia Hardy Ray. There are two other books in the Annabel series, Annabel Horton and the Black Witch of Pau and Annabel Horton and the Demon of Loudun. Black Witch is book 2 in the series and should be published this year. Also penned by Olivia is my novel Pharaoh’s Star and my soon to be released, Pindar Corners.

Aside from Southern fiction and fantasy/paranormal fiction I write women’s fiction with two titles to be published in 2019 and my presently published Lies a River Deep.

As for pleasure I love wine, chocolate, dogs, cats and other creatures of the jungle. I also love to travel, read, write, watch films and go to theater. I value friendship, history, my enormously loving family and quiet times under a summer sun.





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