Goldhammer by Haris Orkin | #GuestPost

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Goldhammer

by Haris Orkin

June 6 – July 1, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

A James Flynn Escapade

Goldhammer by Haris Orkin

A young actress, involuntarily committed to City of Roses Psychiatric Hospital, plunges James Flynn into a dangerous new adventure when she claims one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood is trying to kill her.

Still convinced he’s a secret agent for Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Flynn springs into action, helps her escape and finds himself embroiled in a battle with a dangerous sociopath worth billions. In the process, he uncovers a high-tech conspiracy to control the mind of every human being on Earth.

With the help of his reluctant sidekick, Sancho, and a forgotten Hollywood sex symbol from the 1960s, Flynn faces off with Goldhammer and his private army in a desperate attempt to save the young actress…and save the world…once again.

Praise for Goldhammer:

“One of those books that has you laughing and turning pages well into the night.” —Len Boswell, Bestselling author of The Simon Grave Mysteries

“A riotous comic novel that’s also a legit page turner. A deftly plotted, swiftly paced thriller.” —R. Lee Procter, Author of The Million Dollar Sticky Note and Sugarball

“A fast-paced quixotic thriller that would make Miguel de Cervantes and Ian Fleming proud. The third James Flynn novel is a powerful cocktail of suspense, adrenaline and a whole lot of laughs. Orkin has the remarkable ability to keep the reader straddled between a genuine spy thriller and an off-the-wall comedy” —Joe Barret, Award-winning author of Managed Care

Book Details:

Genre: Comedy Thriller
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: June 23rd 2022
Number of Pages: 240
ISBN: 1684339677 (ISBN-13: 978-1684339679)
Series: The James Flynn Escapades, Book 3 | Each is a stand-alone thriller
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter ONE

The Corsican wanted him dead.

Of that James Flynn was certain.

Somehow, the assassin had infiltrated Her Majesty’s Secret Service as a security officer. Flynn didn’t recognize him at first. The killer had put on a few pounds and likely had plastic surgery, but what he couldn’t disguise were his eyes. His cold, dark, pitiless eyes. The eyes of a sociopath. The eyes of an executioner.

The only question was when.

When would the Corsican come for him?

He told his colleagues what he suspected, but they refused to believe him. They claimed his name was Thomas Hernandez and that someone else on the security team had recommended him. They also said they fully vetted him. But Flynn wasn’t fooled. He tangled with the Corsican before. The man was relentless. A cold-blooded enforcer who started with the Corsican mafia but went on to do contract hits for the Sicilians, the Albanians, the Serbians, and the Russians.

Instead of waiting for the Corsican to come to him, Flynn decided to flush him out. Force his hand. Expose him for who he was and why he was there.

Flynn dressed in black denim and a black turtleneck and waited until 2 a.m. to make his move. He kept to the shadows as he trod the deserted corridors. He had no weapon since lethal weapons of any kind were now forbidden at headquarters. A foolish rule put in place by sheltered bureaucrats who had no clue. Luckily, not even security could carry a firearm at headquarters. All the Corsican had was an expandable baton and a Taser. Even so, the man was lethal enough with just his hands and feet.

But then, so was Flynn.

Flynn heard footsteps ahead and ducked into a conference room. He waited and listened as the footsteps drew closer. As they passed the doorway, Flynn peered into the corridor to see the Corsican lumbering forward, quietly peering in room after room. Suddenly, he stopped. Flynn felt a jolt of adrenaline. The air was electric. The silence palpable. Could the Corsican feel Flynn’s eyes on him? Flynn knew that scientists have identified a specialized group of neurons in the primate brain that fire specifically when a monkey is under the direct gaze of another. Humans also appear to be wired for that kind of gaze perception. Predators like Flynn and the Corsican can also be prey and have developed a sixth sense to alert them to danger.

The Corsican turned and he and Flynn locked eyes for a moment. Before the hit man could take a step, Flynn took off down the hall in the opposite direction. He heard the footfalls of the Corsican as he chased after him. Flynn had his route all mapped out. Darting down one corridor. Then another. Running until he arrived at a door that led down to the basement and the guts of the building. Flynn had picked the lock after dinner, knowing that this was the night he would lure the Corsican to his end. He had a license to kill and could have used it anytime, but Flynn didn’t exercise that power willy-nilly. Only as a last resort. He didn’t want the Corsican dead. He needed to know who put the price on his head. Otherwise who ever hired the killer would continue to send hitters until finally one succeeded.

The building that housed HMSS was huge and had a substantial infrastructure. The basement utility plant had mechanical, electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems that fed water, air, and electricity all through the facility. Flynn moved from massive room to massive room, staying just ahead of the Corsican. He needed to lose him and lay in wait. Flynn was confident in his abilities, but to come at a killer like that head-on didn’t make much sense. Why give your opponents any edge at all?

Flynn ducked into a room that housed all the electrical panels, distribution boards, and circuit breakers. Conduit snaked everywhere and Flynn found a metal door secured with a heavy padlock. Using two straightened paper clips, he quickly picked the lock. The door led to an outside area protected by a chain-link fence topped with razor wire. The security fence surrounded three giant transformers and two massive backup generators the size of semi-trailers.

Flynn stood next to the door and strained his ears to hear approaching footsteps over the electrical buzz of the transformers. Faint at first, they moved closer. Careful. Slow. Stealthy. He saw a shoe as someone came through and Flynn took them from behind, using jiu-jitsu to slam them into the ground.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” said the man Flynn had face down in the gravel.

“Sancho?”

“Get off me, man.”

Flynn released his comrade-in-arms and helped him to his feet. Bits of gravel still clung to his face. “I thought you were the Corsican.” Flynn’s British accent had a touch of Scottish burr.

“His name is Hernandez,” Sancho said.

“That’s not his real name.”

“And I’m telling you, he’s not the Corsican.”

“Don’t let him fool you, my friend. He’s not who he says he is.”

“Then why’d he call me? He knows I know you. He knows we’re friends. He asked me to find you. Talk to you. Calm you down.”

“Perhaps he wants to take care of you too.”

“Take care of me?”

Flynn heard the Corsican call to them, his voice deep and resonant. “You okay in there, brother?”

“We’re good,” Sancho said.

The Corsican walked in with two other men. All three wore the blue security uniform issued to those who guard HMSS. The Corsican looked at Flynn with his dark, merciless eyes. “You okay, Mr. Flynn?”

“Tell them who you are,” Flynn demanded.

“Thomas Hernandez.”

“Who you really are.”

The Corsican rolled his eyes and sighed. “That’s who I really am.”

Flynn aimed an accusatory finger. “I know who you are. Born Stefanu Perrina in Porto, Corsica. Contract killer for the Unione Corse, the Cosa Nostra, and the Russian mafia. Wanted by Interpol for fifty-two confirmed kills.”

“I was born in Hacienda Heights.”

Flynn glanced at Sancho. “The man is a master of deception. It’s kill or be killed with men like him.”

The Corsican drew his Taser and the other two guards followed suit.

Sancho raised his hands. “Whoa, come on now. Easy.” He stepped in front of Flynn as the Corsican fired. The Taser darts caught Sancho in the shoulder and socked him with fifty thousand volts. He screamed in agony as his whole body seized up and shook. His legs gave out and he fell on his side, helpless and twitching.

Flynn dove behind a generator before the other two guards could fire. Each guard stalked him from a different side. Flynn clambered up over the top and launched himself from above, tackling the Corsican. He wrenched away his reloaded Taser and shot one of the guards in the crotch. The man went down with a shriek as the other guard fired on him. Flynn fell to his knees and the darts parted his hair before hitting the Corsican in the chest. The killer crumpled as Flynn sprang to his feet and pulled the Corsican’s expandable baton out of its holster. Flicking his wrist, Flynn fully extended the menacing club and turned to confront the last standing guard.

Someone grabbed Flynn by the arm and Flynn elbowed him in the face. Sancho staggered back, holding his bloody nose. “What the hell, man?”

“Sorry, mate.”

Flynn heard a Taser fire and an instant later, two darts hit him in the side. Fifty thousand volts took him to his knees as another guard fired another Taser. Those two darts hit him in the stomach. Flynn lost control of every muscle in his body. And then he saw the Corsican looming over him with his own weapon. He shot the darts directly into Flynn’s chest. Right over his heart. Now all three lit him up with electricity. One hundred and fifty thousand volts rocked Flynn as they shocked him with charge after charge until the world faded into a tiny aperture that slowly began to close.

***

Excerpt from Goldhammer by Haris Orkin. Copyright 2022 by Haris Orkin. Reproduced with permission from Haris Orkin. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Haris Orkin

Haris Orkin is a novelist, a playwright, a screenwriter, and a game writer. His play, Dada was produced at The American Stage and the La Jolla Playhouse. Sex, Impotence, and International Terrorism was chosen as a critic’s choice by the L.A. Weekly and sold as a film script to MGM/UA. Save the Dog was produced as a Disney Sunday Night movie. His original screenplay, A Saintly Switch, was directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starred David Alan Grier and Vivica A. Fox. He is a WGA Award and BAFTA Award nominated game writer and narrative designer known for Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Mafia 3, and Dying Light.

 

Guest Post by Haris Orkin

James Bond in the age of #MeToo

When I first found out I was going to be a father, I was happy, excited, and terrified. My wife and I knew we were going to have a son and the prospect of impending fatherhood raised all kinds of questions and fears. What kind of man am I? What kind of example would I be? What would I teach my son? What kind of man would I like him to become? With all those concerns and thoughts swirling around in my head, I started writing things down. It was a way to process my thoughts and feelings. Those thoughts and feelings eventually became a play that was performed at the American Stage Company, the Coronet Theater in Los Angeles, and at the La Jolla Playhouse.

The play was called “Dada” and the main character is David, an insecure father to be. At one point in the show he has an imaginary conversation with James Bond. 007 confronts him on the choices he has made.

“You settled. You gave up. You wanted to be me. How do you know you couldn’t have?”

“You’re not even real.”

“When you were fifteen I was more real to you than your own father. I embodied all your dreams. All your desires. You wanted to be suave and masterful and seductive and dangerous. You wanted men to fear you and women to fall all over you. Is that no longer true? Or do you no longer know what you want anymore?”

“You kill people. You force people to have sex with you.”

“I have a license to kill and because I do I will brook no insolence from anyone. I take what I want and I do what I want and no one tells me how to live or what I can or cannot do.”

“But no one cares about you. And you don’t care about anyone else. What kind of life is that?”

“A life free of sticky and unnecessary encumbrances. To love is to allow someone inside so deeply the can cause you…unmentionable pain.” Bond’s eyes fill with tears. “Why give someone that power?”

Goldfinger - GoldenGirl

I was an impressionable 13 year old when I first saw James Bond in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Bond was engaged to be married to Teresa Draco, played by Diana Rigg. I was a huge Avenger’s fan back then. (The English Avengers…not the one with Captain America and the Hulk.) Diana Rigg was beautiful and smart and incredibly cool. Who wouldn’t want to be engaged to Diana Rigg? But Bond wasn’t content with just one woman. He had to sleep with every woman he bumped into. Even those who seemed reluctant. At the time I didn’t realize that was a problem. I thought that’s what men did when they were engaged to be married. And then (spoiler alert) Diana Rigg died and Bond was heartbroken. It was clear even to my 13 year old self that the producers didn’t want a married Bond; a Bond who had to change nappies and help with the dishes. They killed off his fiancé so Bond could continue to be a lady killer.

The Bond ethos along with the Playboy philosophy warped the world view of my entire generation. Dan Draper on Mad Men reflected that ethos perfectly. Bond was of that age and also part of what shaped that age. By 1974 the feminist movement was burgeoning and my college years were shaped by James Bond on one hand and feminist girlfriends on the other. It was a schizophrenic time and when my son was about to be born sixteen years later, I reflected on all of that.

Connery’s my favorite Bond, but he was also the most “old school” in terms of how he treated women. Daniel Craig’s version of Bond feels a lot more nuanced in that regard. He’s just generally tortured and angry about everything. At least he’s not as glum as Timothy Dalton.

Does James Bond have a place in the age of #MeToo? I would hope he would change with the times. Or at least reflect them. It was never believable when every woman Bond met threw herself at him. That didn’t happen in the more recent Bond films starring Daniel Craig…so maybe things are changing. Judy Dench’s M always seemed wonderfully irritated with him. The first time we see her with Bond she calls him a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the cold war” (Though to be honest, every M since the first one has been irritated with Bond.)

When Bond is rebooted again, I’d like to see some changes. I’d like to see James Bond get rejected and ignored once in a while. I’d like to see Miss Moneypenny call HR on him. Maybe Bond should miss occasionally when he leaps off a building to grab onto a passing helicopter.

I love the daring-do, but anyone would have to be a little crazy to do what James Bond does. He’s always risking life and limb and scrotum (in Goldfinger) to save the world and rescue damsels and take down evil masterminds bent on world domination.

Do you know what other character that brings to mind? Don Quixote. A clearly delusional hero. But at least Don Quixote wasn’t such a jerk with the ladies. He treated Dulcinea with respect and followed the rules of chivalry. (Yeah, I know, turning women into untouchable objects of perfection can be just as problematic.)

I get that we like our heroes to be infallible and indestructible and always quick with a quip, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt if 007 took a few tips from crazy old Don Quixote. After Bond himself, that’s the character that most inspired James Flynn. Flynn even has his own Sancho. Together they blunder out into the world, seeking adventure, and slaying all kinds of metaphorical dragons. Flynn still loves the ladies, but he treats them with respect and isn’t a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur.” At least not all the time.

Catch Up With Haris Orkin:
www.harisorkin.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @HarisOrkin
Instagram – @HarisOrkin
Twitter – @HarisOrkin
Facebook – @AuthorHarisOrkin

 

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What They Don’t Know by Susan Furlong || #Interview

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What They Don’t Know

by Susan Furlong

May 9 – June 3, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

A picture-perfect suburban life fractures. . . and a darker reality bubbles beneath the surface.

What They Don't Know by Susan Furlong

Mona Ellison’s life is as perfect as the porcelain dolls lined up on her shelves. She has a successful husband, a loving son, a beautiful home, and a supportive group of girlfriends ever ready for their weekly wine night.

But when Mona’s son gets entangled with the wrong crowd and runs away from home, her blissful suburban world begins to unravel. She tells her friends that boys will be boys, that he’ll be back as soon as his money runs dry . . . but deep down she knows there’s something else going on.

Then the police show up at Mona’s door. A young girl has turned up dead in their quiet town, and her missing son is the prime suspect.

Determined to reunite with her son and prove his innocence, Mona follows an increasingly cryptic trail of clues on social media, uncovering a sinister side of suburbia and unveiling lies and betrayal from those she trusted most. And as Mona spirals further from her once cozy reality, a devastating revelation shatters everything she thought she knew. Now the only thing she’s sure of is that she can’t trust anyone . . . not even herself.

With unrelenting psychological suspense and a wicked twist, What They Don’t Know marries small-town thriller and domestic mystery—suburban paranoia at its best.

What They Don’t Know Book Love:

“Part domestic thriller, part small-town mystery, What They Don’t Know is everything suspense fans want: characters who’ll make you think twice, a subversive plot, and pages that seemingly turn themselves the deeper you get into the story. In this portrait of suburban life tinged with malice and intrigue, paranoia lurks just around the corner. Read it at night. Don’t plan on sleep.” (Tosca Lee, NYT bestselling author of The Line Between)

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Seventh Street Books
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Number of Pages: 286
ISBN: 1645060403 (ISBN13: 9781645060406)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

It was the last Tuesday of the month, our normal book club night, and we were gathered at my house—Selma, Alice, Tara, and me—settled in the living room, Moroccan rug plush beneath us, immersed in the decor’s eclectic mix of whimsy and Old-World aesthetic. This would be our last book club meeting, but it was more than that, really. It was a pulled thread in the carefully woven tapestry of our friendships that had begun in college and endured careers, weddings, our first-borns, and remained constant through affairs, divorces, and much worse …

***

Excerpt from What They Don’t Know by Susan Furlong. Copyright 2022 by Susan Furlong. Reproduced with permission from Susan Furlong. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Susan Furlong

Susan Furlong is the author of eleven novels including SHATTERED JUSTICE, a New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year. She also contributes, under a pen name, to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea series. Her most recent novel, WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW, has been praised by reviewers as an engrossing and delightfully creepy read. She resides in Illinois with her husband and children.

Catch Up With Susan Furlong:
www.SusanFurlong.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @SusanFurlongAuthor
Instagram – @susanfurlong
Twitter – @Furlong_Sue
Facebook – @SusanFurlongAuthor

 

Q&A with Susan Furlong

What was the inspiration for this book?

One of our daughters loves horror movies. Me, not so much. But in the interests of spending time with her, I watched a creepy flick about a haunted doll. It scared the bejeebies out of me! I couldn’t get to sleep that night, and sometime in the early morning hours, a story sparked in my mind. It started with a plot twist and went from there. By the next day, I had a basic outline for What They Don’t Know.

What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career? 

Finding balance between writing time and life’s other commitments. Anyone who has a job knows it’s difficult to juggle family and work but writing presents unique challenges. Creativity takes time, and I’ve never been one to be able to write in small spurts. Family always takes priority, but to make my deadlines, I need several hours each day of uninterrupted writing time. It’s difficult to fit it all in sometimes.

What do you absolutely need while writing?

Quiet time, my laptop and snacks. I try to snack healthy, but when a deadline looms, I resort to SweeTARTS and lots of iced tea to get me through.

Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?

A routine. If I waited for ideas to flow, I’d never write anything.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Definitely Mona, my protagonist. She’s relatable and compelling, but unpredictable. She’ll keep readers on the edge, wondering what’s next.

Tell us why we should read your book.

Read What They Don’t Know if you want to be entertained by a complex story with a final twist that will leave you gobsmacked.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?

One aspect of the story involves social media stalking. During research, I spent a lot of
time on Instagram and picked up my own social media stalker. Not to worry, though, that issue was easily resolved with just a couple clicks. Unfortunately, for Mona, her stalker was a little harder to shake.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

To those who have supported my work throughout the years, thank you. I hope you enjoy this book, too. I’ve worked hard to make it a good story.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, except when I was seven and my big dream was to become Wonder Woman and fly an invisible plane. But writing is just as fun and not quite as dangerous. Getting published is another story. It took me almost twenty years to sell my first piece of fiction. In the interim, I worked as a freelance writer, created website content, compiled medical reference books, even wrote instruction pamphlets like the ones that come with assemble-it-yourself furniture. Not glamorous stuff. Now, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to write and share my stories.

What’s next that we can look forward to?

My next book, The Killer’s Wife, will be out sometime in 2023. I’m writing it from two points of view: a serial killer’s wife, and her parole officer. It’s a fun story—really fun! —and just a wee bit creepy.

 

Tour Participants:

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GIVEAWAY:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for What They Don’t Know by Susan Furlong. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

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The Wayward Assassin by Susan Ouellette | #Showcase #Interview #Giveaway

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The Wayward Assassin

by Susan Ouellette

March 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Wayward Assassin by Susan Ouellette

Revenge knows no deadline.

Although told to stand down now that the Chechen rebel who killed her fiancé is dead, CIA analyst Maggie Jenkins believes otherwise and goes rogue to track down the assassin. Soon it becomes clear that failure to find Zara will have repercussions far beyond the personal, as Maggie uncovers plans for a horrific attack on innocent Americans. Zara is the new face of terrorism–someone who doesn’t fit the profile, who can slip undetected from attack to attack, and who’s intent on pursuing a personal vendetta at any cost.

Chasing Zara from Russia to the war-torn streets of Chechnya, to London, and finally, to the suburbs of Washington, D. C., Maggie risks her life to stop a deadly plot.

Praise for The Wayward Assassin:

“Ouellette, herself a former intelligence analyst for the CIA, imbues the exciting action with authenticity. Readers will want to see more of the wily Maggie . . .”
Publishers Weekly

“Every once in a decade you read a book like The Wayward Spy, which is thrilling, addictive, and sends you reading more thrillers, but you’ll go back to this stunning book by Susan Ouellette and reread this tour de force.”
The Strand Magazine, a Top 12 Book of the Year

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN: 0744304784 (ISBN13: 9780744304787)
Series: The Wayward Series, Book 2 || Each is a Stand Alone Book
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound.Org | CamCat Books

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

CIA Headquarters, August 16, 2004

Maggie Jenkins strode across the parking lot to the sidewalk that led her past the “Bubble,” the CIA’s white, dome-shaped auditorium. Just ahead, she paused at the bronze statue of Nathan Hale, the first American to be executed for spying for his country. A half dozen quarters lay scattered at his feet, left there by superstitious CIA employees hoping to garner good luck before deploying overseas. She fished around in her purse for a quarter, which she placed carefully atop Hale’s left shoe.

In just a few minutes, Maggie would learn whether her six-month deployment to the US embassy in Moscow had been approved. Even though Warner Thompson, the CIA’s deputy director for operations, had advocated on her behalf, there were several others, including an Agency psychiatrist and a team of polygraphers who were not convinced that she should be stationed overseas. She’s not ready yet, the shrink had opined, as if she were a piece of fruit not quite ripe enough for picking.

“Wish me luck,” she said to the statue as she turned for the entrance ahead. The CIA’s headquarters comprised two main buildings, both seven stories high, which were linked together by bright hallways with large windows overlooking a grassy courtyard. Maggie worked in the original headquarters building (OHB), which had been built some forty years earlier during the height of the Cold War. From the outside, OHB was a concrete monstrosity with no aesthetically redeeming value, at least in Maggie’s opinion. It reminded her of Soviet architecture—heavy on the concrete, light on the beauty.

And other than the expansive marbled foyer and the posh seventh-floor executive offices, OHB’s interior also was nothing to write home about. Every floor between the first and the seventh looked exactly the same—drab, hushed, windowless hallways lined with vault doors. Behind those heavily fortified doors sat rows of cubicles, a few conference rooms, and cramped offices here and there for mid-level managers.

Maggie pulled open the heavy glass entry door and ducked into a pristine lobby gleaming with white marble-clad walls. Ahead, the Agency’s bright blue logo covered a massive swath of the gray-and-white checked granite floor. To the right stood the Memorial Wall, which was emblazoned with black stars honoring dozens of Agency officers who’d perished in the line of duty. Maggie stopped and bit down on her lip.

The wall was an awesome, solemn reminder of lives given in the defense of freedom. Every time she walked past it, the sharp points of the eighty-fourth star—Steve’s star—ripped another gash in her heart. He’d been working under cover, so no outside friends or relatives had been invited to the ceremony. Warner had sat with her, stoic, as she clutched his hand and stared at the parade of speakers, not hearing a word they said.

She turned her gaze from the wall, slid her badge through the security turnstile, and offered a polite hello to the officer manning the front desk. She bypassed the elevator that she took every day to the fourth floor and made a beeline for the spacious employee cafeteria. In the far corner sat Warner Thompson, nose buried in the Washington Post.

“Morning,” she offered.

Warner rattled the paper and folded it lengthwise. “Coffee?” He pushed a Styrofoam cup across the quartz tabletop and smiled at her. His full head of hair had grayed considerably since last year, but it worked on him, enhancing his gray-flecked eyes and tanned complexion.

“Thanks.” Maggie sat.

“You ready?”

“I guess.” She sipped the coffee, still piping hot and perfectly sweetened. Warner knew her well. “What do you think they’ll say?”

“There’s no reason they should deny you the posting.”

“The psychiatrist thinks I’m obsessed with Zara.”

“He has a point.” Warner leaned forward, elbows on the table. “I told you not to bring her up in your evaluation sessions. If she’s still alive, we’ll find her, Maggie. I promise.”

“There’s no ‘if’ about it.” She waited until a man with a breakfast tray settled at a nearby table, then lowered her voice. “I saw her fleeing the farmhouse in Georgia. Who do they think set fire to the place after I escaped with Peter?”

Warner winced, obviously uncomfortable with the reminder of Peter, his former case officer, the one who’d been intimately involved in the murder of Steve, another case officer, and his protégé, nine short months ago. That Steve also had been Maggie’s fiancé made saying what he had to say all the more difficult. “The point is, the Agency needs to think that you’ve moved on from what happened in Georgia before they send you to such a sensitive overseas posting.”

“Moved on? Warner—”

He raised a hand to stop her. They’d had this discussion dozens of times since the previous November. Maggie had made it perfectly clear that there was no moving on, no closure, as people said these days, until she found Zara. “You know what I mean. You have to toe the party line and say you believe that everyone involved in Steve’s murder is dead. Period.”

“I still don’t understand why they won’t at least consider the possibility that Zara got away.”

Warner rubbed his forehead. “Because the Agency wants this to go away. A star operations officer was murdered by a terrorist and the terrorist is dead. It’s a simple, straightforward narrative. They don’t want the press finding out that another Agency employee and a senior US congressman were involved in Steve’s death. Everything is about the war on terror, Maggie. If the media found out that CIA and elected officials were mixed up with terrorists, there would be hell to pay.”

Maggie quoted the Biblical phrase inscribed on a wall in the CIA’s lobby. “The truth shall make you free.” She snorted. “The truth, unless it’s too embarrassing?”

Warner exhaled and shifted in his seat. “Both of us are lucky that the FBI investigation didn’t uncover . . . everything.”

He was right, of course. Last year, Maggie had destroyed classified documents and withheld other evidence from the FBI to protect them both. And Warner had been entangled, albeit unwittingly, with a Russian who had ties to both Zara and the congressman. Had the FBI known any of this, neither of them would be CIA employees today.

Maggie waved to a coworker who stared from the nearby coffee station. Warner didn’t frequent the employee cafeteria, so his appearance was sure to raise eyebrows. She’d grown accustomed to sidelong glances inside the Agency’s walls. Everyone recognized her. The media had splashed her face all over television and the internet after Congressman Carvelli’s death. There were some who whispered about her using her fiancé’s death to advance her career. Fortunately, they were in the minority. Most who knew about her role in uncovering the terrorist plot considered her a hero, a designation she refused to embrace. Her actions may have saved thousands of lives, but her motivation had been personal—to clear Steve’s name.

He was no traitor, and she’d proven it.

Maggie glanced at her watch. “We’d better go.”

Warner nodded. They grabbed their coffees and headed for the elevator bank. “Remember, you believe Zara died in the fire at the farmhouse,” Warner reminded her on the way up to the fourth floor.

“That’s what I told the shrink last session, but then he talked to the polygraph people.” Since leaving the House Intelligence Committee to return to the CIA earlier this year, she’d endured three marathon polygraph sessions. Every time, the stupid machine registered deception in her response to questions about whether she intended to violate government policies for her own benefit. “Now he thinks I’m up to something.”

Warner shrugged. “Aren’t you?”

Maggie laughed despite herself. “Always.”

***

Excerpt from The Wayward Assassin by Susan Ouellette. Copyright 2022 by Susan Ouellette. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Susan Ouellette

Susan Ouellette is the author of The Wayward Spy, a thriller that Publishers Weekly calls a “gripping debut and series launch.” She was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, where she studied international relations and Russian as both an undergraduate and graduate student. As the Soviet Union teetered on the edge of collapse, she worked as a CIA intelligence analyst. Subsequently, Susan worked on Capitol Hill as a professional staff member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). Since her stint on Capitol Hill, she has worked for several federal consulting firms. Susan lives on a farm outside of Washington, D.C. with her family.

Q&A with Susan Ouellette

What was the inspiration for this book?

There were two inspirations for THE WAYWARD ASSASSIN. First, is my career in the intelligence world. After working as a CIA analyst in college and graduate school, I took a job on Capitol Hill working for the House Intelligence Committee. It was there, tucked away in a secure room in the attic of the U.S. Capitol Building, where I came up with my series’ protagonist, Maggie Jenkins, an intelligence analyst who uncovered threats to the United States and corruption at the highest levels of power. The second inspiration came from real world events. I hesitate to use the word “inspiration” for the real world event that anchored this story, so let’s just call it a “marker” in my life. In 2004, Chechen separatists in Russia killed hundreds of people in an attack on a school in Beslan, Russia. As a mother of school-aged children, this event captured my attention like no event since the September 11th attacks. I started writing fictionalized scenes about this school siege in an attempt to try to make sense of such a senseless loss of life.These scenes ended up in critical scenes in THE WAYWARD ASSASSIN.

What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?

The biggest challenge in my writing career has been persevering through rejection. I wrote the first book in this series (THE WAYWARD SPY) in 2001 and wrote THE WAYWARD ASSASSIN in 2007. I secured agents for both books but didn’t land a book deal for either. For years, I put the manuscripts in a drawer. But even though I “gave up” on becoming an author, I never truly gave up. I’d revise the manuscripts, query new agents, and submit the manuscripts to contests. Eventually, I found an outstanding freelance editor who helped to untangle my overly complicated plots. Soon after, I signed with an agent and a publisher.

What do you absolutely need while writing?

I need my laptop (of course) and uninterrupted silence. Oh, and water or coffee and access to a bathroom.

Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?

I jot down ideas when they come to me, but I get the real work done when adhering to a strict routine. Otherwise, I find every reason in the world not to write–laundry, talking to the cat, organizing the pantry….

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Maggie, my protagonist, is my favorite character. She’s an every-woman, the girl next door who has to use her wits to get out of situations she never wanted in the first place.

Tell us why we should read your book.

If you like page-turning, realistic thrillers, you should read THE WAYWARD ASSASSIN. I’d like to apologize in advance for keeping you awake past your bedtime!

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?

I changed the ending of THE WAYWARD ASSASSIN more times than I can count. Most of the changes involved who lives and who dies.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

At the risk of sounding like a motivational speaker, I’ll say this: If you have a dream, don’t give up. Keep plugging away. It took me twenty years from Chapter One to publication. You’ll never know what’s possible if you give up.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

As a teenager, I was fascinated by the CIA but had no idea how to go about getting a job there. When I was in college, I went to a job fair where I met a CIA recruiter. It took almost a year from applying to walking into CIA headquarters. I loved my time at the Agency. But I also love writing. I’m so grateful that I was able to combine those two passions and entertain people in the process.

What’s next that we can look forward to?

The third book in the Maggie Jenkins series, THE WAYWARD TARGET, will be out in the spring of 2023.

Catch Up With Susan Ouellette:
www.SusanOuellette.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @susanobooks1
Instagram – @susanobooks
Twitter – @smobooks
Facebook – @SusanOuelletteAuthor

 

 

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Trust Me by Kelly Irvin | #Showcase #GuestPost

Trust Me

by Kelly Irvin

February 7 – March 4, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Trust Me by Kelly Irvin

When her best friend is murdered the same way her brother was, who can she possibly trust?

A decade ago, Delaney Broward discovered her brother’s murdered body at the San Antonio art co-op he founded with friends. Her artist boyfriend, Hunter Nash, went to prison for the murder, despite his not-guilty plea.

This morning, Hunter walks out of prison a free man, having served his sentence.

This afternoon, Delaney finds her best friend dead, murdered in the same fashion as her brother.

Stay out of it or you’re next, the killer warns.

Hunter never stopped loving Delaney, though he can’t blame her for not forgiving her. He knows he’ll get his life back one day at a time, one step at a time. But he’s blindsided to realize he’s a murder suspect. Again.

When Hunter shows up on her doorstep asking her to help him find the real killer, Delaney’s head says to run away, yet her heart tells her there’s more to his story than what came out in the trial. An uneasy truce leads to their probe into a dark past that shatters Delaney’s image of her brother. She can’t stop and neither can Hunter—which lands them both in the crosshairs of a murderer growing more desperate by the hour.

In this gripping romantic suspense, Kelly Irvin plumbs the complexity of broken trust in the people we love—and in God—and whether either can be mended.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: February 8th 2022
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0785231935 (ISBN13: 9780785231936)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook.com | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

APRIL 22, 2010
SAN ANTONIO ART CO-OP
SOUTHTOWN, SAN ANTONIO

The cloying stench of pot told the same old story.

With an irritated sigh Delaney Broward quickened her pace through the warehouse-turned-art-co-op toward her brother’s studio at the far end of the cavernous hall. On his best days Corey had little sense of time. Add a joint to the mix and he lost his sense not only of time but of responsibility. It also explained why he didn’t answer his phone. When he got high and started painting, he wanted no interruptions. His lime-green VW van was parked cattywampus across two spaces in the lot that faced Alamo Street just south of downtown San Antonio. He might be physically present, but his THC-soaked mind had escaped its cell.

Marijuana served as his muse and taskmaster. Or so he’d said.

The soles of her huarache sandals clacking on the concrete floor sounded loud in Delaney’s ears. “Corey? Corey! You were supposed to pick us up at Ellie’s. Come on, dude. She’s waiting.”

No answer.

At this rate Delaney would never get to Night in Old San Antonio, affectionately known to most local folks as NIOSA. Everyone who was anyone knew it was pronounced NI-O-SA, long I and long O, the best party-slash-fundraiser during the mother of all parties where her boyfriend would be waiting for her. “Hey, bro, I’m starving. Let’s go.”

Delaney’s phone rang. She slowed and dug it from the pocket of her stonewashed jeans. Speaking of Ellie. “I’m at the co-op now. He’s here.”

Share as little info as possible.

“He’s stoned again, isn’t he? I’m sick of this.” Ellie’s shrill voice rose even higher. “I swear if he stands me up again— ”

Us. Stands us up.”

“Stood us up again. That will be it. I’m done. I’m done waiting around for him. I’m done playing second fiddle to his self-destructive habits. I’m done with his starving-artist, free-spirit, pothead schtick. The man is a walking stereotype. I’m done with him, period.”

Delaney mouthed the words along with her friend. She knew the lyrics of this lovesick song by heart. The childish rejoinder “It takes one to know one” stuck in her throat. “We’ll be there in twenty. You can tell him yourself.”

Ellie would and then Corey would kiss her until she took it all back. With a final huff Ellie hung up.

The door to his studio— the largest and with the best light because the co-op was Corey’s dream child— stood open. “Seriously, Corey. Think of someone besides yourself once in a while, please.” Delaney strode through the door, ready to ream her brother up one side and down the other. “You are so selfish.”

Delaney halted. At first blush it didn’t make sense. Twisted and smashed canvases littered the floor. Along with paints, brushes, beer bottles, and Thai food take-out cartons.

Wooden easels were broken like toothpicks and scattered on top of the canvases. Someone had splattered red paint over another finished piece— a woman eating a raspa in front of a vendor’s mobile cart, the Alamo in the background.

Delaney’s hands went to her throat. The metallic scent of blood mingled with the odor of human waste gagged her. A fiery shiver started at her toes and raced like a lit fuse to her brain. Her mind took in detail after detail. That way she didn’t have to face the bigger picture staring her in the face. “Please, God, no.”

Even He couldn’t fix this.

She shot forward, stumbled, and fell to her knees. Her legs refused to work. She crawled the remainder of the distance to Corey across a floor marred by still-wet oil paint, beer, and other liquids she couldn’t bear to identify.

He sat with his back against the wall. His long legs clad in paint-splattered jeans sprawled in front of him. His feet were bare. His hands with those thin, expressive fingers lay in his lap. Deep lacerations scored his palms and fingers.

Her throat aching with the effort not to vomit, Delaney forced her gaze to move upward. His T-shirt, once white, now shone scarlet with blood. His blood. Rips in the shirt left his chest exposed, revealing stab wounds— too many to count.

Delaney opened her mouth. Scream. Just scream. Let it out.

No sound emerged.

She crawled alongside her big brother until she could lean her shoulder and head against the wall. “Corey?” she whispered.

His green eyes, fringed by thick, dark lashes that were the envy of every woman he’d ever dated, were open and startled. His skin, always pale and ethereal, had a blue tinge to it.

Delaney drowned in a tsunami of nausea. “Come on, Corey, this isn’t funny. I need you.”

Her teeth chattered. Hands shaking, she touched his throat. His skin was cold. So cold.

Too late, too late, too late. The words screamed in her head. Stop it. Just stop it. “You can’t be dead. You’re not allowed to die.”

Mom and Dad had died in a car wreck a week past her eighth birthday. Nana and Pops had taken their turns the year Delaney turned eighteen. Everybody she cared about died.

Not Corey. Delaney punched in 9–1–1.

The operator’s assurance that help was on the way did nothing to soothe Delaney. She sat cross-legged and dragged Corey’s shoulders and head into her lap. She had to warm him up. “Tell them to hurry. Tell them my brother needs help.”

“Yes, ma’am. They’re en route.”

“Tell them he’s all I’ve got.”

CHAPTER 2

TEN YEARS LATER
NASH RESIDENCE, SAN ANTONIO

Real men didn’t cry. Not even during a reunion with a beloved truck.

Swallowing hard, Hunter Nash wrapped his fingers around the keys, concentrating on the feel of the metal pressing into his skin. He cleared his throat. “Thanks, Mom. For keeping it all these years.”

His mom didn’t bother to try to hide her tears. She wiped her plump cheeks on a faded dish towel, offered him a tremulous smile, and bustled down the sidewalk that led from the house on San Antonio’s near west side where Hunter had grown up to the detached two-car garage in the back. It had housed his truck for the past eight years. Almost ten if he counted the two years it took for his case to go to trial. He had no place to go in those years when he’d allegedly been innocent until proven guilty. His friends no longer friends and his job gone, he had no need for transportation.

The door to the garage was padlocked. Mom handed him the key. “My hands are shaking. You’d better do the honors.” She stepped back. “I still can’t believe you’re here.”

“I did my time, Ma.” As a model prisoner he’d earned time off for good behavior. It was easy for a guy to behave when he spent his days and nights scared spitless.

“I know. All those nights I’ve lain in bed worrying about you in that place, whether you were safe, if you were hurt, if you were sick.” Her voice broke. “I can’t believe it’s over.”

“Me neither.”

It wasn’t over. In fact, it was just beginning, but she didn’t need to know that. His determination to prove his innocence would only worry her more. A divorced mother of four, she’d raised her kids on a teacher’s salary and an occasional child support check from the crud-for-brains ex-husband who showed up once every couple of years in an attempt to make nice with his kids. She deserved a break.

The aging manual garage door squeaked and protested when Hunter yanked on the handle. He needed to do some work around here, starting with applying some WD-40. The smell of mold and old motor oil wafted from the dark interior. Hunter slipped inside and waited for his eyes to adjust. A layer of dust covered the 2002 midnight-blue Dodge RAM 1500, but otherwise it remained in the pristine condition in which he’d left it the night he said goodbye and promised he’d be back. “My baby.”

More tears trickling down her face, Mom chuckled softly. “After you finish reintroducing yourself, come back inside. I’m making your favorite chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, pineapple coleslaw, and creamed corn. Your brother and sisters are coming over after work. Shawna’s bringing a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Melissa’s contribution is three kinds of ice cream, including rocky road. She said it seemed appropriate. I hope you haven’t lost your sense of humor. And you know Curtis. He’s all about the beer.”

The last thing Hunter wanted to do was celebrate with his sibs. Mel and Shawna had visited faithfully at first, but less as the years rolled by. Curtis never showed, even though Fabian Dominguez State Jail was only a few miles down the road from San Antonio.

Nor did Hunter want to explain why he’d sworn off alcohol. The conditions of his parole included monthly pee tests— no alcohol or drugs, but that part of his life was over anyway. It had been easy to comply in prison, obviously. Whether he could maintain his sobriety in the beer drinking capital of the country remained to be seen. He’d do AA if necessary. “Mom— ”

“No buts. They’re family. They love you. You need to live life, enjoy life, make up for all you’ve missed. You haven’t even met most of your nieces and nephews. Did you know Mel is expecting another baby in August?”

“Yes, I— ”

“Today we celebrate your new job and your new life.”

His bachelor of fine arts with an emphasis in drawing and painting from Southwest School of Art might once have allowed him to teach art in one of the school districts, but not anymore.

It didn’t matter. The prison chaplain had hooked him up with Pastor James. The preacher ran a faith-based community center that served at-risk youth. He’d hired Hunter to teach art to those who’d already had their first brush with the law. He figured Hunter could teach life lessons at the same time he introduced them to art as a way to channel their anger at the hand life had dealt them. Learning what happened when a guy got off track would be the lesson.

Even though Hunter hadn’t gotten off the track. He’d been shoved off it. By an eager-beaver, newbie detective; a green-as-a-Granny-Smith-apple public defender; and an assembly-line justice system.

He would get by in this world that had hung him out to dry. Especially knowing Mom had his back. She had that don’t-mess-with-me teacher look in her burnt-amber eyes. Like her sixth graders, Hunter knew better than to argue. It felt good to know she remained in his corner. When everyone else had hit the ground, scattering in opposite directions, she never budged in her belief that son number two could not be a murderer. She’d brought him up better than that.

“You’re right. Give me a few minutes.”

She patted his chest and stretched on her tiptoes to plant a kiss on his cheek. Her lips were chapped, and the wrinkles had deepened around her mouth and eyes. Her long hair had gone pure white during his years away. “Take your time, sweetheart.”

Hunter gritted his teeth. After years of looking over his shoulder, bobbing and weaving around hard-core convicts who’d as soon shank a guy in the shower as look at him, he didn’t know how to cope with nice. With sweet. With love tempered with wisdom and a hard life.

“One day at a time.” That’s what the prison chaplain had told him. “Get through the next minute, the next hour, the next day.” That’s how he did eight years at Dominguez. This couldn’t be any harder. He opened the truck’s door and slid into the driver’s seat. The faint odor of pine air freshener greeted him. And citrus.

More likely that was his imagination. Delaney’s perfume simply could not linger that long. Move on. She has. She did. To her credit Delaney held on as long as she could— until the guilty verdict. Then she was forced to move on. She couldn’t be blamed for that.

Hunter picked up the sketch pad on the passenger seat. In those days he kept one everywhere. Just in case. The first page. The second. The third. All drawings of Delaney. Sweet Laney eating a slice of watermelon at a Fourth of July celebration. Laney rocking Hunter’s newborn nephew in a hickory rocker on the front porch. Laney in a bathing suit sitting on the dock at Medina Lake. Laney with her soulful eyes, long sandy-brown hair, and air of sad vulnerability worn like a pair of old jeans that fit perfectly. That too-big nose, wide mouth, and pointed chin. Corey might have been the angelic beauty— totally unfair— but Delaney’s face had character. She had a face Hunter never ceased to want to draw and paint.

And kiss.

He turned the pages slowly, allowing the memories to have their way with him. Meeting at a party Corey had thrown when Delaney was a senior in high school. Their first date, ribs and smoked chicken with heart-stopping creamed corn, potato salad, coleslaw, and jalapeños at Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q followed by dancing at Leon Springs Dance Hall.

She had danced with the abandon of a small child. As if she didn’t care who watched. Her face glowed with perspiration. Her green eyes sparkled with happiness. His two left feet couldn’t keep up, but she didn’t mind. She twirled her peasant skirt as she flew around him, her hands in the air, her curves beckoning.

Hunter closed his eyes. Her softness enveloped him. Her sweetness surrounded him.

He needed to see her again. He needed to talk to her. Somehow he had to prove to her that she was wrong about him. Whatever it took. He laid the sketchbook aside. “Come on, dude, let’s take a ride.”

He stuck the key in the ignition and turned it.

Nothing. Not even a tick-tick-tick. He tried a second time. Nada. “I’m an idiot.” He patted the steering wheel. “Not your fault, man.”

The truck hadn’t been driven in years. The battery was dead. He might be able to jump it, but more likely he’d need a new one. Batteries cost money.

One thing at a time. He’d waited this long.

Hunter slid from the truck and eased the door closed. “I’ll be back when I get my act together.”

In the kitchen Hunter found his mom peeling potatoes. She pointed the peeler at him. “You can’t imagine how good it feels to have you home.”

“You can’t imagine how good it feels to be here.” He landed a kiss on her soft hair. She smelled of Pond’s cold cream. The same old comforting scent. Life had changed but not her. “I’m gonna take a walk. I need to blow the prison stink off.”

“Enjoy. They redid the walking trail at the lake and installed new outdoor fitness equipment.” She waved the paring knife in the air. “But don’t stay too long. You have company coming.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He pantomimed a mock salute and headed for the front door.

One thing at a time. One step at a time. That’s how he’d get his life back.

***

Excerpt from Trust Me by Kelly Irvin. Copyright 2022 by Kelly Irvin. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin is a bestselling, award-winning author of over twenty novels and stories. A retired public relations professional, Kelly lives with her husband, Tim, in San Antonio. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats.

Guest Post

To Trust Or Not To Trust by Kelly Irvin

Think about a time when you’ve trusted someone close to you. A boyfriend, girlfriend, sister, brother, parent. Then that person let you down—big time. How hard is it to trust him or her again? Remember that old saying: fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me? That’s the situation Delaney Broward finds herself facing in Trust Me. Ten years earlier she found her brother murdered in his art studio. Her boyfriend Hunter Nash—the love of her life—was convicted of his best friend’s murder. Delaney lost her only remaining family member and the man she loves.

Delaney spends the next ten years fundamentally changing who she is so she never has to feel that pain of betrayal again. She leaves her chosen profession and opens a frame shop in San Antonio’s historic art district La Villita. She lives alone. She doesn’t even have a pet—after all they die and leave you, just like the people you love. She’s learned to box and the art of self-defense. Her only real relationships are with a few good friends from that era when her life orbited around the sun that was her brother, an extraordinarily talented artist who lived life like every day was his last—until it was. She doesn’t even trust God anymore. How could He allow this to happen to her? She’d already lost both parents in a car accident as a child. And then her grandparents, who raised her, died of old age when she was in high school. She has no one.

Then another murder occurs, exactly like the one that turned her life upside down ten years earlier. She turns to her closest friends for comfort and help in discovering why this has happened again. How can she know who to trust? So, when Hunter shows up and insists he’s innocent of both murders, he’s asking her to trust him again. Would you? Do we give those we love second chances? Or do we protect ourselves from greater hurt.

Exploring these themes while delivering a suspenseful whodunit is a challenge, but that’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing romantic suspense. Readers get the murder mystery, the romance, and a thought-provoking dilemma that I hope will remain with them after they finish the last page. After all, who can you really trust?

Visit her online at:
www.KellyIrvin.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @KellyIrvin
Instagram – @kelly_irvin
Twitter – @Kelly_TrustMe
Facebook – @Kelly.Irvin.Author

 

 

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The Pine Barrens Stratagem by Ken Harris || #Showcase #Interview

The Pine Barrens Stratagem

by Ken Harris

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Private Investigator Steve Rockfish needs cash, like yesterday. The bad news is that yesterday, a global pandemic raged, and Maryland was headed toward a lockdown that would ultimately lead to cheating spouses no longer “working late,” and hence a lack of new clients.

The Pine Barrens Stratagem by Ken Harris

Rockfish’s luck changes when a Hollywood producer reaches out, but the job is two states away and involves digging up information on a child trafficking ring from the 1940s. What he uncovers will be used to support the launch of a true crime docuseries. He grabs a mask, hand sanitizer and heads for South Jersey.

On-site, Rockfish meets Jawnie McGee, the great granddaughter of a local policeman gone missing while investigating the original crimes. As the duo uncover more clues, they learn the same criminal alliance has reformed to use the pandemic as a conduit to defraud the Federal Government of that sweet, sweet, stimulus money.

It’s not long before the investigation turns up some key intel on a myriad of illicit activity over the last eighty years and Rockfish rockets toward a showdown with the mafia, local archdiocese and dirty cops. COVID-19 isn’t the only threat to his health.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: January 27th 2022
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 1684338719 (ISBN13: 9781684338719)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Rockfish sat in the Scion’s passenger seat while Jawnie drove. He wasn’t thrilled with the decision, but she was adamant that some of the dirt roads, deep within the Pine Barrens, were no place for a Dodge Challenger. Plus, she didn’t feel like playing navigator. In the end, Rockfish decided not to put up much of a fight, considering Jawnie was more than a little familiar with where they were headed, although he had second thoughts with the four cases of whiplash he had suffered before even reaching the highway.

“Do you drive with two feet,” he asked. “Because my head can’t keep jerking forward and slamming back much more. Unless you’re running an insurance scam, and if so, what would be my take?”

“Enough with the backseat driving, and can you put your visor back up? That late afternoon glare off the mirror is killing me.”

“Make a deal with you. You drive how you want. I’ll keep an eye on our surroundings the way I want. Speaking of which, can you move this right-side passenger mirror a little more to the right, all I’m seeing is the rear fender.”

“You got it,” Jawnie said, and she played with the mirror control until Rockfish let her know it was right where he needed it. He could monitor anyone approaching from behind without having to turn around.

“I do want to fill you in on something I learned before we left,” Rockfish said. “When you went into the house to fix those sandwiches, I reached out to a guy I know in the Baltimore PD, Dan Decker. He’s an old friend and helps me out when he can. He’s going to have one of their academy cadets do some research for us and see if there is anything more than a current history between the Marini and Provolone families. The Marini’s have run Baltimore as long as the Provolone’s have this area. If Edward’s notation of the two factions working together has anything to it, Decker will let us know. He said currently both families have worked together when it was profitable to do so. Sound familiar?”

“Yeah, same M.O. as our knuckle draggers and kid touchers,” Jawnie replied.

Rockfish was happy to learn Jawnie’s disdain for organized religion matched his own. “Well put. But if there is a history there, what are the odds that some wealthy, non-fertile Baltimore Catholics would be willing to pony up some cash to right the situation. And Edward was witness to it all?”

They drove in silence over the next twenty minutes, Rockfish trying to figure out exactly what he expected to find in a fifty-four-year-old decrepit building in the middle of the woods. He hadn’t arrived at a conclusion yet when something very familiar came into focus.

“Remember when you asked me about knowing when you’re being followed?” Rockfish said.

“Yeah, I just chalked it up to anxiety and paranoia. It comes standard on the Millennial base model.”

“Guess what? We are,” Rockfish deadpanned. “Don’t do a damn thing different and let me think for a second. There’s a Jeep Grand Cherokee, right now, two cars back that’s been with us since we pulled off the highway when I was telling you what Decker said.”

Rockfish pulled out a scrap of paper and jotted down the license plate.

“I’ll ask Decker to run this, if they end up sticking on our ass the whole way. I could be a tad paranoid, but I’d rather err on the side of caution. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll tell you if evasive actions become necessary. We’ll start you slow and work our way up to the infamous private eye J-turn.”

Ten minutes later, the Scion crossed the Hammonton City line and Rockfish lost sight of the Jeep. He had Jawnie drive a couple of concentric circles around the downtown area, before heading out on County Route 542 which, according to her, would point them towards the southern part of Wharton State Forest and the abandoned orphanage.

Rockfish spotted the Jeep, only a second or two after it turned on Route 542 from a side street.

“Company’s back,” Rockfish said. “I guess when we hit these dirt roads you mentioned, we’ll see how serious they are.”

When the Scion’s tires soon left the asphalt, and began rolling down the slightly larger than single lane dirt road, the Jeep’s true intentions came to light. No longer concerned about being spotted, the Jeep’s speed increased until it was only a few feet from Jawnie’s bumper. Rockfish’s head swiveled from the Jeep and back to his pilot. He needed to stay calm, but Jawnie looked petrified, and while her hands had a death grip on the wheel, they were also visibly shaking.

“Jawnie, listen to me and we’ll be alright.”

She didn’t say a word, but Rockfish could feel the car slowing down. Screw her feelings, he thought and began giving orders.

“Put your foot back on the gas. You need to keep a constant speed.” And then a minute later. “Stay in the center, don’t give them space to get alongside of us.” Lastly, he shouted. “The center I said!” His voice gave out with that last outburst and he knew she heard the fear in it.

Rockfish swore as the Jeep slammed into their back bumper. “That a girl, keep her straight! Gas, give it some—”

The rear windshield exploded, shards of safety glass like small pellets peppered the interior of the car. Jawnie screamed and instinctively yanked the wheel to the left. Likewise, Rockfish now yelled in order to be heard.

“Foot off the gas! Steer into it!”

Rockfish wasn’t sure how he got through to Jawnie, but she listened, and the Scion straightened back up and they were rocketing straight down the dirt road once again. But before he could congratulate his pupil, the Jeep was now angling to get alongside; the Scion drifting dangerously close to the right shoulder, or lack thereof. Rockfish turned and looked out the driver’s side rear window. He could clearly see the Jeep’s front end.

In the next instant, they were sliding again, Jawnie’s foot slammed on the brake and the Jeep’s right fender nudged the Scion’s left rear. Brakes squealed, and tires howled as dirt, dust and burnt rubber filled their lungs.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on!” It was all he managed to say, but her eyes told him she was a million miles away. Rockfish closed his and braced for impact.

The car spun violently to the left, a hundred and eighty degrees, and his head whipped left and then right, slamming against the window. The seatbelt dug into his chest and he had trouble breathing. A second later, the earth beneath the car’s right side began to give way and the Scion slid into a ditch before coming to a stop.

By the time Rockfish opened his eyes and turned around, the taillights from the Jeep had disappeared into the distance.

* * * * * * * * * *

“That settles it, I’m going to the police now! They, someone, fuck I don’t know who just tried to kill us!” Jawnie said. “Look at my car! Who’s going to pay for this? Not like we’re exchanging fucking information with them!” Her mask was around her neck and Rockfish could see the tears.

Rockfish took a second before he replied. His partner was still in shock, borderline hysterical, and he didn’t want to push her over the edge, unlike the car they pulled themselves from. The Jeep had performed a textbook pit maneuver and Rockfish bet Jawnie wasn’t a big fan of Cops or Live PD. Hence, her jumping straight to attempted murder.

“Now hold on Jawnie,” Rockfish said. “You’re not hurt, right? That seatbelt and airbag did their jobs?”

“Of course, but—”

“No buts about it. Your chest might be a little sore tomorrow from that belt, your eyes swollen from the air bag, and more importantly, you’ll never forget your first chase. But seriously, no one tried to kill us. If they had wanted us dead, we’d be bleeding out from gunshot wounds. Your rear window was the victim of a warning shot. When we were in that ditch, no one walked up from behind and pumped a few slugs into the back of our heads.”

Rockfish stopped and looked at Jawnie, he needed to make sure he was getting through. Her breathing had slowed down quite a bit and that was a start.

“This was a warning, pure and simple. All this tells us is that someone thinks you might be sticking your nose somewhere it doesn’t belong. Obviously, it pertains to those boxes. I haven’t been in town long enough to piss someone off yet, at least, I hope. But if they were staking out your place, they’d have my license plate number and know who I am.”

“But I’ve only dealt with Hasty on this,” Jawnie said.

“Look. You might have worked out a deal with Hasty, but odds are he wasn’t the one that went into the very back of the evidence room and pulled those boxes for you. He’s probably recounted your conversation to a few of his ‘trusted’ senior men, and God knows who else might have been in the room when those conversations took place. Was there anything else you mentioned either to him or anyone else at the station that might cause a reaction like what just happened?”

“I d-d-did tell him I had hoped to t-t-take what I found in these boxes, scan what I could, and create a website. One that would ask the public for tips. Anonymously, of course. It would be a way to get the word out and maybe get someone’s attention who might remember something. Hasty asked his secretary to check and see if he had the authority to put the PD’s logo and tip line on this site. He was only trying to help.”

“So, he’s got a secretary. Old bird, I bet?”

“Yeah, Betty Lou Sommers. I’m guessing she’s logged more than a few years there.”

“There’s your problem. Old Betty Lou sees all Hasty’s business that comes and goes out of his office. I’d lay odds her loyalties lie with others she’s worked with or for through the years and not the guy who knocked the latest Ringle out of office.”

“I’d never thought of it that way.”

“If you’re trying to be a junior special agent, I’d advise you to think that way. Someone in that department is crooked and an off-duty cop or on-duty mafioso ran us off the road. Doesn’t matter who, I’m betting they can be one and the same. Now if you feel alright, we need to call for a tow.”

“And an Uber.”

“Do you have any bars?” Rockfish said.

“Nope.”

“We were lucky this was only a warning. We’ve got some walking ahead of us. They shouldn’t be coming back.”

I gotta reach out to Davenport, he thought. The stakes have significantly increased.

***

Excerpt from The Pine Barrens Stratagem by Ken Harris. Copyright 2022 by Ken Harris. Reproduced with permission from Ken Harris. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Ken Harris

Ken Harris retired from the FBI, after thirty-two years, as a cybersecurity executive. With over three decades writing intelligence products for senior Government officials, Ken provides unique perspectives on the conventional fast-paced crime thriller. While this is his first traditionally published novel, he previously self-published two novellas and two novels. He spends days with his wife Nicolita, and two Labradors, Shady and Chalupa Batman. Evenings are spent cheering on Philadelphia sports. Ken firmly believes Pink Floyd, Irish whiskey and a Montecristo cigar are the only muses necessary. He is a native of New Jersey and currently resides in Northern Virginia.

Catch Up With Ken Harris:
www.KenHarrisFiction.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @08025writes
Twitter – @08025writes
Instagram – @KenHarrisFiction
Facebook – @kah623

 

Q&A with Ken Harris

1. Reviewers say that “The Pine Barrens Stratagem” is fun, but also sarcastic, quirky, or irreverent… what is the tone of your story and why did you choose it?

The main theme is action, but with a heaping side of sarcasm and dry wit. I write what I know best. Loyalty is another element that means a lot to me, so it’s woven pretty well into the story. When someone says the book is ‘fun’ I hope they meant that there was a number of out loud laughs. That’s a major compliment to me. A fun read to me is one you don’t have to fight your way through. I don’t want someone to put the book down a dozen times and come back to it. I want them strapped in like at an amusement park. You’ll laugh and be taken back a few times but when you’re on the way home, you can’t wait for the next visit (or book in the series, in this case).

2. What are the most important (or relevant) do’s and don’ts in your crime/thriller stories?

I don’t expect the reader to have to suspend a ton of belief. My characters are down to earth, both good and bad. Average Joes, so to speak, not part of the Marvel Universe. I don’t want a reader to put the book down because they have to contemplate if something is plausible or even possible. There’s a good chance they might not pick it back up.
My background tends to make my writing grounded. If I’m writing about it, it happened or can, in the real world. I don’t have a character that sits down at a computer, bashes on a keyboard, tying 37 databases together into a virtual 3-D model hovering over a conference table in the course of 15 seconds. There is so much wrong with police procedurals in print and on the small and big screens. I mean, I get it, people want to be lost in a fantasy world sometimes, but it’s not something that entertains me. So I don’t write that way. I mention this further down in the questions, but if I wanted to lose people in a fantasy world, I would have managed to incorporate half a dozen zombies into the story.

3. “Don’t judge a book after its cover” – is this saying expressed somehow in your story? How?

I think it’s best expressed by the journey the protagonist, Steve Rockfish takes from start to finish. He starts off flawed. He’s a textbook 1970s private eye attempting to navigate 2020 waters. The political climate and pandemic aren’t helping matters. Compassion or lack thereof is his major flaw in the first few chapters. You see him change once he meets his co-protagonist (is there such a thing?) Jawnie McGee. She teaches that old dog some new tricks.

4. Going beyond the metaphorical sense of the saying and talking about the actual books and their covers, what is your opinion about the covers of the crime thrillers stories (old and new) and what was important for you in deciding the cover for “The Pine Barrens Stratagem”?

I love the old retro, vintage noir type of covers. They draw me in and then as a largely horror fan, I move onto the horror section. But I knew I wanted something vintage and retro for the cover of this book. Something that could portray the 1970’s detective I grew up with, but swimming like a fish out of water in the 2020s. Also Lana, Steve’s car, plays a major part in the story and I wanted her front and center on the cover.

5. What are “intelligence products” you have written in your career and what are the advantages/disadvantages for you as a writer?

Yeah. That’s classified.
Seriously though – As an analyst and then senior manager, I dealt with crafting warning pieces that would provide the President, his Cabinet, and Intelligence Community leaders across Government with the insight needed to make actional decisions based on the subject matter of the written piece. My particular team dealt with emerging technologies.
The advantages were that I know what my protagonist will do. I don’t have to research much, or try and craft him into some super secret rogue 007 FBI Agent that does crap that is totally unbelievable, like you see in the movies or on television. If I’m writing it, it’s plausible and credible.
The disadvantage is that the writing I did while working for the FBI and the writing I do now are two totally different styles. Not even close. If I wrote a Steve Rockfish adventure like a piece for the President’s Daily Brief, you’d be bored out of your skull. And worse, not laugh once.

6. The crime/thriller genre is somehow understandable. Did you ever think to write another genre – which one? What could convince you to write a totally different genre?

I am a huge fan of horror. I love horror movies and horror novels are pretty much all I read. But when it comes to writing, I find it very hard to suspend the proper amount of belief needed. I have a previously self-published novella, one could call light horror (Huckleberry’s Hail Mary) that I would like to go back and give the full novel treatment. Currently it is on my to-do list after getting a contract for the third “From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish” series.
With my 32 years in law enforcement and the majority of that spent in the fields of critical and analytical thinking, I believe I’d be hard pressed to develop the intestinal fortitude needed to suspend belief to write proper horror. It’s much easier to sit in a recline and be scared.

7. Considering the plot of “The Pine Barrens Stratagem” and that you are a former FBI cybersecurity executive, please, tell us why did you choose this subject related to the C-19 epidemic?

The pandemic plays a major role in the story. I make use of it to shape not just the premise but my characters every encounter.
I knew there was a large chance of turning off readers by placing my novel smack dab in the middle of the pandemic. People are tired of reading/hearing about it. A matter of fact, that point was brought to my attention in a query rejection email from a small publishing house. Fear of the unknown. I get it, but I wanted to write the story I wanted and you can’t please everyone. If I wanted to write what I thought the general public would willingly accept and were I solely in this for the money, I’d have tossed half a dozen zombies in the story.
I also wanted to challenge myself as a writer. First, I was interested in how a modern-day detective would operate in such a challenging landscape. How would the pandemic affect the number of clients walking through the door and how it would change normal avenues of investigation. And the second was how I as a writer could find different ways to show character emotions and non-verbal cues while they were behind a mask. It is the time we live in and I wanted to capture it the best I could. With some humor, sarcasm and thrills thrown in.

 

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One Will Too Many by PJ Peterson | #Showcase #Interview #Giveaway

One Will Too Many by PJ Peterson Banner

One Will Too Many

by PJ Peterson

March 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

One Will Too Many by PJ Peterson

A wealthy banker with a long list of secrets dies.

The bizarre crime scene stumps the local police…

… but a young doctor could be the key to solving the case.

Internist Julia Fairchild encounters banker Jay moments too late – the poor man is near death in his own dining room. At first no one can figure out what killed him, but the coroner soon confirms that it was homicide: Jay died of methanol poisoning, and now a murderer is on the loose. Julia knows how to catch a killer and she can cut through the noise like a scalpel through skin. She agrees to help the understaffed police force solve the case, but each clue only complicates her investigation further.

Can Julia dissect the deadly riddle and nail the perp, or will this be the first time a monster succeeds in giving her the slip?

If you love Louise Penny, Kelly Oliver, and PC James, you need this medical mystery! Find out why fans say, “I love the character Julia Fairchild!”

Don’t wait – Click the BUY button now!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Finngirl, LLC
Publication Date: December 2021
Number of Pages: 206
ISBN: 978-1-7335675-7-2
Series: A Julia Fairchild Mystery, #4 || Each is a stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Julia arrived at the Hotel Montpelier just as Drake drove up. She took advantage of his simultaneous presence to make a proper entrance to the celebration in the Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. It had recently been refurbished to its original grandeur from the early 1920’s. She admired the beauty of the ceilings with their Art Deco design, recently uncovered by the removal of a false ceiling from a previous “upgrade.” The beautiful wood floor with exquisite inlaid mosaics shone from a recent floor polishing. The cherry and mahogany woodwork glistened in the light from the elegant crystal chandeliers which had also been hidden until now.

Julia and Drake were greeted by some of the other members of the restoration committee. Drake was the designated master of ceremonies while Julia’s primary duty was to personally welcome as many of the potential donors as possible and say a few words in support of the project. He certainly looked the part tonight in a well-cut black velvet tuxedo. His dark hair was touched with silver—just enough to give him a classy look. He stood tall and proud as he walked through the crowd, nodding to some and saying a word or two to other attendees.

Julia searched the assembled festival attendees for familiar faces as Drake gently guided her to an older man and woman. He placed his hand at the small of her back as he addressed the wealthy couple. “Julia, I’d like to introduce Mr. And Mrs. George Oglethorpe. They have been long-time supporters of the theatre.”

Julia stepped forward a half-step and extended her hand. “I’m Julia Fairchild. I’m honored to meet you. I love our theatre, too.”

The woman’s face brightened as she recognized the name. “Of course! Dr. Fairchild. Call me Anna. I’ve heard a lot of good things about you.” She took Julia’s hand in both of hers. “You’re so young and pretty for a doctor.”

Julia reddened. She actually felt a little mousey most days, but conceded to herself that she did ‘clean up’ nicely for such events. “Thank you. I was blessed with good genes. How long have you and your husband lived in Parkview?”

“My goodness. Forever. Right out of college anyway. George heard about the paper mill here looking for mechanical engineers and applied right away.” She smiled proudly at him. “We love the town and were never inclined to leave once we settled in. Isn’t that right, dear?” Her husband nodded between sips of his drink. “Are you from here?”

“Not from Parkview. I grew up down the highway on a small farm. My grandma persuaded me to come home and here I am.” Julia felt her eyes well up as she recalled warm memories of time spent with her grandparents. “Thank you for your support of our lovely theatre. The restoration committee will be sharing the plans for the renovation during the program.”

Julia felt Drake’s arm around her waist as he interceded. “Thank you for coming this evening. Please excuse us. I see someone who is clamoring to talk with Dr. Fairchild before the dinner starts.”

Drake took Julia’s arm and as they turned around, they found Gregory Lantz and his wife Sandy who had been standing right behind them. “Greg! So good to see you here tonight. Thanks for coming.” They exchanged nods and handshakes. “Julia is standing in for Karen tonight. She’s also supporting the project.” Julia smiled and nodded. Aside from the perfunctory smiles, Julia sensed a tension between the men, and she moved a step away from Drake to better observe them both.

Greg stirred his gin and tonic vigorously. “I’ve talked with some of the members of the board at the bank, but I don’t have a definite commitment yet for a donation. I think we can come through for $50,000. But nothing close to the million dollars that everyone seems to think the bank can donate.”

“Greg, any amount would be great. I understand it’s been a little tough with the new bank still getting started.” Drake Ashford was the president of the older, long-established Parkview National Bank. He was aware that despite heavy advertising and promotions, the new River City Community Bank was not yet meeting expectations. He was also acutely sensitive to the loss of some of his own banking clients to the new bank, where Greg was Vice President.

Greg bristled. “Actually, we’re meeting our numbers and seeing new business every day. I would think you would have noticed already.” He smirked.

“We’ve noticed a little change, but we’re prepared to handle it.” Drake took a large swallow of his scotch. “Please excuse us. I have some other people to greet. Talk to you later, Greg.” Drake and Julia moved away.

“That man really annoys me,” Drake said under his breath. “He’s so naive. He doesn’t see how Jay is using him. He’s just a ‘yes’ man. But I guess it makes him feel important.”

“What do you mean?” Julia asked, nodding and smiling at some of the faces she recognized. She knew he referred to Jay Morrison, recently divorced and head of the new bank. She felt Drake’s hand shaking as he maneuvered her through the crowd.

“I’ll tell you later. Too many ears here.” He surveyed the guests nearby. “Let’s see…there’s Warren Pontell and his lovely wife Sarah. He’s talked about making a major contribution. His wife was a theatre actress in her younger days. And they have money to burn.” He turned to Julia and wiggled his eyebrows, à la Groucho Marx.

Drake and Julia chatted with the Pontells for a few minutes, using the time to emphasize the benefits of the smaller venue of the “little theatre.” It was designed to be an intimate stage setting with seating for about one hundred fifty people. Until recently, the area had been used for storage and was marginally functional for stage events in its current state.

Julia had found herself daydreaming but tuned back in when she heard Mr. Pontell say, “We’d like to donate $50,000 for the little theatre. Perhaps you can find a way to let us have something to say about naming it.” He grinned broadly as his wife beamed.

“Warren, that’s wonderful!” said Drake. “I’ll talk with the board of directors about naming opportunities. Let me get back to you on details for your donation. Thank you.”

Now grinning, Drake gently guided Julia toward Adam Johns, an influential man in the local union hierarchy, and his wife. He had started working at ESCO Paper Company right out of high school and had worked his way up from the labor pool to an electrician apprenticeship and then to a journeyman electrician. His constituents considered him to be fair and honest. He had an unofficial status in the union as a leader, although he didn’t have an elected or paid position as such.

Adam tugged at the neck of his dress shirt and pulled at the bottom of his dark blue waistcoat. The jacket gaped over his generous girth. He looked uncomfortable in his tuxedo. Julia was sure her mother would have said something like “putting perfume on a goat,” but most likely his wife had insisted he dress up for this occasion. He certainly looked impressive at his height of six foot three inches.

“Mr. and Mrs. Johns, good evening,” said Drake as he offered his hand. “Do you know Dr. Julia Fairchild? She’s helping to support the Theatre Restoration project as we all are.”

“We sure do,” said Adam, returning the handshake. “Dr. Fairchild, you took care of my mom several years back. She was real sick but you got her well and she’s fine now. Thanks to you. In fact, she’s going on a cruise through the Panama Canal with her church group this coming week. She’s always wanted to go on that trip.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Johns. I do remember your mom—Violette, I believe? She’s a lovely lady with a lot of spunk.” Julia shook his hand before turning to his wife. “Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Johns.”

Mr. Johns turned back to Drake. “Mr. Ashford, some of the guys at the mill want to know if you had talked with our union officials yet about the stock trading going on with our pension funds. And if you know anything, they hope you can tell them. And call me Adam. My wife is Linda.”

“Yes, Adam. I talked with a Scott Sowders in Portland. He’s looking into whether those trading fees can be traced back to any individuals. May I call you when I know something more?”

“Sure. You can call me at ESCO. The operator knows how to reach me. Thanks a lot, Mr. Ashford.”

“You can call me Drake, please. I’ll call you soon and we’ll go from there. Thanks again for being here tonight.”

“Hey. It’s an alright party. My wife is always trying to get me to gussy up. It’s more fun than I thought it would be.” He grinned and saluted with his cocktail.

Julia saw the auctioneer heading their way and alerted Drake. “I’ll check my lipstick while you talk with him. Where are we sitting?”

“Main table,” he said, pointing to the center of the long side of the room. He scowled. “Unfortunately, it appears we’re seated next to Jay Morrison, of all people.”

***

Excerpt from One Will Too Many by PJ Peterson. Copyright 2022 by PJ Peterson. Reproduced with permission from PJ Peterson. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

PJ Peterson

PJ is a retired internist who enjoyed the diagnostic part of practicing medicine as well as creating long-lasting relationships with her patients. As a child she wanted to be a doctor so she could “help people.” She now volunteers at the local Free Medical Clinic to satisfy that need to help. She loved to read from a young age and read all the Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew books she could find. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she wrote anything longer than short stories for English classes and term papers in others. Writing mysteries only makes sense given her early exposure to that genre. Sprinkling in a little medical mystique makes it all the more fun.

Q&A with PJ Peterson

What was the inspiration for this book?

About fifteen years ago two brand new banks opened in my hometown at the same time. I remember wondering if we needed them at the time. I started writing this book then, and put it aside after 7 or 8 chapters. Last year when I was looking for ideas for the next book (after Pickled PInk in Paris) I ran across a notebook with those first few chapters written in long-hand and decided to flesh it out. I hadn’t done an outline (I’m more of a pantser than a plotter) so picked up the thread from what I had written earlier and finished the book.

What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?

Believing that my books are as good as thousands of others out there and are worth spending the dollars on marketing and getting them in front of potential readers’ eyes.

What do you absolutely need while writing?

A dedicated writing space with a notebook handy to write down ideas that I want to check out, my CD player with good music to listen to in the background, and a synonym finder or thesaurus for looking up other words to avoid using the same adjective fifty times!

Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?

Almost every day I do SOMETHING related to writing, whether it’s joining a promo, or watching/reading something I need to learn. Most days I sit down and write at least a scene in a book if I can’t write a chapter. When I’m on a roll, I can write 2000-5000 words in a sitting, but most of the time I’m happy with 1000 +/-.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Probably Carly, my younger sister and sidekick. She is pretty much the character as I’ve portrayed her. She makes me smile.

Tell us why we should read your book.

The story encompasses a little medical mystery, touches on some legal aspects when death is involved, and has several relationship situations going on. But it doesn’t have a talking animal or recipes or other common cozy mystery features.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?

This story is set in my current town, although the name has been changed to protect the innocent! None of the people are “real” but are based on people that I know and some of the incidents really happened.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you’ll give my book, or one of its predecessors, a try. I think you’ll find it’s not like many of the cozy mysteries out there.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a retired internist and grew up loving to read mysteries of all kinds, as well as historical fiction and autobiographies. I grew up with 5 siblings on a small farm, did well in school and all that. I play the piano, am a cantor at church, and am on several boards in my community. My first book, Blind Fish Don’t Talk, grew out of a journal entry after a fantastic vacation to St. Maarten. I didn’t know about professional editing and all that until years later, and self-published with lots of encouragement. I’ve learned much about being an author, and now a self-marketer in the last three years since I pushed that “publish” button. It reminds me of the three years of residency after medical school–That’s where doctors learn to apply the basic tools in real life.

What’s next that we can look forward to?

Julia Fairchild’s next adventure is set on Virgin Gorda. She and her sister are on vacation but of course there’s a dead body on a beach, a pirate movie being filmed, and a mystery surrounding old pirate booty. Stay tuned!

Catch Up With PJ Peterson:
www.PJPetersonAuthor.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @mizdrpj1
Facebook – PJ Peterson

 

 

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Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday

According to Marcia, “Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

Monday: (02/28/22)

Watch Out For Her by Samantha M. Bailey~ Kindle from Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley

Tuesday: (03/01/22)

Or Else by Joe Hart ~ Kindle from Prime First Reads
Say Her Name by Dreda Say Mitchell and Ryan Carter~ Kindle from Prime First Reads

Wednesday: (03/02/22)

Tell Us No Secrets by Siena Sterling ~ ARC from William Morrow

Thursday: (03/03/22)

Blood Will Tell by Heather Chavez~ ARC from William Morrow

Saturday: (03/05/22)

The American Sweeney Todd by Mariyn J. Bardsley ~ Kindle from DarkHorse MultiMedia, Inc.

 

Mailbox Monday

winter mailbox3

Mailbox Monday

According to Marcia, “Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

Friday: (02/18/22)

Please Join Us by Catherine McKenzie~ Kindle from Atria Books via NetGalley

Tuesday: (02/22/22)
Speed Reading by Kam Knight ~ TPB personal purchase