Oct 232014
 

Misdirection
The Rusty Diamond Trilogy

by Austin Williams

on Tour at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours October 17 – November 21, 2014


Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Published by: Diversion Books

Publication Date: June 24, 2014

Number of Pages: 266

Series: 1st in The Rusty Diamond Trilogy

ISBN: 9781626813557

Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

A street magician needs more than sleight-of- hand to survive getting embroiled in a murder case in this blistering novel of suspense, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and George Pelecanos.

After years of chasing fame and hedonistic excess in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Rusty “The Raven” Diamond has returned home to Ocean City to piece his life back together. When he finds himself an innocent suspect in his landlord’s brutal murder, Rusty abandons all hope of maintaining a tranquil existence. Acting on impulse, he digs into the investigation just enough to anger both the police and a local drug cartel.

As the unsolved case grows more complex, claiming new victims and inciting widespread panic, Rusty feels galvanized by the adrenaline he’s been missing for too long. But his newfound excitement threatens to become an addiction, leading him headfirst into an underworld he’s been desperately trying to escape.

Austin Williams creates an unforgettable protagonist in Rusty, a flawed but relatable master of illusion in very real danger. As the suspense builds to an explosively orchestrated climax, Williams paints a riveting portrait of both a city—and a man—on the edge.

Read an excerpt:

The bloodstain was shaped like Florida. Rusty didn’t know much about geography, probably couldn’t point out more than a handful of states on a map. But he knew what Florida looked like, even though he’d never been there. And the mass of drying blood stretching across the hardwood floor, coming to a rounded tip a few inches from his leather boots (this tip just slightly darker than the wide stream comprising most of the stain) was a dead ringer for the Sunshine State.

He knew it was a strange thing to consider, given the circumstances. Hardly an appropriate mental response to such an intensely disturbing situation. He wasn’t in shock, exactly, but he had no idea what to do with himself. There was nothing he could do until the police arrived. Which should be any minute now. In fact, he was starting to wonder what the hell was taking so long.

Rusty wasn’t sure of how much confidence to place in the Ocean City Police Department. When it came to traffic stops and busts for disorderly conduct, open containers, public nudity and the like, the OCPD was surely qualified.

But murder? That had to fall well outside the parameters of what the local law was accustomed to handling on a regular basis. Or so Rusty mused, mainly to occupy his mind and not keep checking his wristwatch every ten seconds.

Rusty stared at the bloodstain’s surface congealing in the reflection of an overhead lamp. About two feet in width at the center, it grew wider near its source. That source was the throat of a frail silver-haired woman who lay crumpled on the floor. The upper half of her body reached into the living room while her legs protruded onto the dull yellow linoleum of the kitchen. One orthopedic shoe lay on its side next to the stove, the other still on her left foot.

Two more minutes and I’m calling 911 again, he told himself.

This house in which he was currently the sole occupant—not counting its recently deceased owner—wasn’t technically located in OC proper but in a remote enclave called Ocean Pines, separated from the main town by eight miles of salty bay water. A quiet upscale community, Rusty had a fairly complete knowledge of its character, having spent the first eighteen years of his life here and moving back ten months ago.

Next Thursday would be his thirty-sixth birthday. He had little awareness of that fact, and less interest in it.

For all Rusty knew, this was the first murder to darken the Pines’ suburban pastoral facade since the town was incorporated in 1958. And it definitely was murder, of that he had no doubt. No one could conceivably take their own life in such a manner, and certainly not a frail seventy-eight-year-old spinster.

The opening in Ms. Garrett’s throat was not long, maybe three inches at most. It looked like more of a gouge than a slash. There was no knife or sharp implement anywhere in the room, and Rusty didn’t dare step over the body to take a look in the kitchen.

The skin around the gash didn’t appear to have been torn with a blade, but hacked away by a cruder implement.

Fingernails? Teeth?

Rusty shuddered as he pondered the options, and forced himself to stop thinking about it.

The hum of a car’s engine and pebbles crunching underneath a set of tires claimed his attention. He walked to the front door, pulling aside a sash by the adjacent window to look outside into the hazy afternoon light.

Finally.

An Ocean City Police Department patrol unit sat in the driveway, engine idling. Rusty saw the door swing open, and a powerfully built officer stepped out. He grimaced. The cop didn’t appear to be much older than a high schooler. Probably fresh out of the Academy with plenty to prove behind the badge.

Why didn’t they send a detective, Rusty wondered, unlatching the door and opening it slowly so as not to make a surprise appearance on the front porch. Well, it was possible the OCPD’s homicide unit didn’t keep more than one ranking detective on any given shift. They probably didn’t need more than that.

The young patrol cop was taking purposeful strides toward the house, fleshy face set tight as he spoke into a shoulder mic, confirming with a dispatcher his arrival at the location. His eyes widened just slightly before narrowing as he made a quick appraisal of Rusty Diamond.

“You’re the one who made the call?”

Rusty nodded.

“She’s in there,” he said, stepping aside to let the patrol officer enter the house.

The cop had not taken two full steps into the living room when he stopped abruptly, one hand falling onto the service revolver holstered on his right hip.

“Jesus Christ.”

“Yeah,” Rusty said. “That was pretty much my reaction.”

For a moment they stood there, two tall male shapes looming over a plump female form in a spattered floral dress.

“Found her just like this?”

“That’s right. I didn’t touch anything.”

“How long?”

“Can’t be much more than fifteen minutes. I called right away.”

“You know her?”

“Her name’s Thelma Garrett. She’s my landlord.”

The sound of that didn’t sit right with Rusty; it was too removed and devoid of any kind of feeling. He almost added something like, ‘She was kind to me’, but figured that was bound to come out wrong.

The cop finally looked up from the old woman’s body, seeming to peel his eyes away by an act of will.

“You live here?”

“No. She owns … owned a second house not far from here, on Echo Run. I’ve been renting it.”

Those words brought on a sudden rush of memory. Rusty could see with total clarity in his mind’s eye the day he first met Ms. Garrett. Just over ten months ago, on a frigid January morning. The meeting didn’t happen here but at the rental house he’d occupied ever since.

At the time Rusty was so disoriented at finding himself back in Ocean Pines after such a prolonged absence that he had some difficulty maintaining a conversation with the chatty spinster. He agreed to her proposed rental fee, which seemed low for a three-bedroom furnished property overlooking Isle of Wight Bay. Location alone must have made the house a highly desirable piece of real estate, and he couldn’t figure why she was willing to rent it out for such a reasonable sum.

Speaking in the kindly, crinkly voice he’d come to associate with her in all moods, Ms. Garrett replied she had no use for the property or a large boost in income. Once shared with her husband and the scene of many festive gatherings, it was too big for her current needs. And too lonely. Living as a childless widow in a modest two-bedroom tract house on nearby Heron Lane was much more comfortable.

Thelma (she’d insisted Rusty use her first name) didn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to sell the larger house in a lackluster market, and was glad to simply know it would be occupied after many dormant years. It depressed her to think of the house where she and her family had shared so many good occasions sitting dark and forlorn all this time. Rusty signed the lease, feeling halfway guilty for paying so little.

“How’d you happen to find her?” the patrol officer said, yanking Rusty back from his reverie.

A slight whiff of something Rusty didn’t like crept into the cop’s voice. A taunt, almost, most likely the by-product of youth and rattled nerves. He scanned the badge pinned to the kid’s chest.

“Tell you what, Officer Neely. Why don’t we go through the whole thing when a detective gets here. Someone’s on the way, right?”

“I’m the one you need to talk to now.”

“Officer, trust me. I’m going to give my full cooperation. Whoever did this needs to …”

He stopped. The cop was looking at him with a new kind of scrutiny. Now that the initial shock of seeing the dead woman was fading, he seemed to take a full view of Rusty for the first time. The expression on his face didn’t make much of an effort to hide a sense of disgust.

Rusty suddenly wished he’d kept his leather jacket on, but the living room had become stifling as he stood here waiting for the cavalry to arrive. The jacket lay draped on a sofa and he was wearing a black tank top, leaving his shoulders and arms open to easy view. Perusal would be more accurate, given the snaking tracks of words and symbols tattooed across much of his upper torso, coiling around the back of his neck and splitting into two vines that reached down both arms almost to the wrists.

“Latin, for the most part,” he said with a self-deprecating shrug. “Just for looks, really. I don’t know what half of it means myself.”

Officer Neely’s posture tensed visibly. His fingers once again found a place to rest on his gun.

“Turn around slowly, and show me your hands.”

Rusty tried to pretend he’d misheard.

“Sorry, what?”

“Come on, do it.”

“You’re going to cuff me? I’m the one who called this in, remember?”

“Just turn around. We’ll keep you nice and snug till backup gets here.”

“Look, I’m as freaked out as you are. But I didn’t do anything to this poor woman.”

“You’re resisting? I said let’s see those hands.”

He unsnapped the button on top of his holster. It seemed like a good moment to do something.

“For the last time, turn around!”

Rusty knew he could disarm this uniformed frat boy in just about 2.7 seconds. The task wouldn’t present much of a challenge. He could easily divert Neely’s eyeline with a lateral, non-aggressive movement of his left arm.
Momentarily distracted, the cop would never see the fingers of Rusty’s right hand extracting a one-inch smoke pellet from a customized hidden pocket in his jeans. Pinched at the proper angle, the pellet would explode in a blinding flash followed by a plume of gray smoke. Utterly harmless but highly effective for misdirection.

The span of time Officer Neely would need to recover from his surprise would offer Rusty ample opportunity to relieve him of the gun. Using his fingertips, he’d grab the wrist and isolate pressure points causing Neely’s hand to open involuntarily. From there, Rusty would simply reposition his body at a 45-degree angle and use his left hand to retrieve a sterling set of monogrammed handcuffs tucked in a different hidden pocket. One more second would be sufficient to cuff the young patrolman to a column of the bannister directly behind him.

They were only trick cuffs, but Officer Neely didn’t know that. And unless he could perform with great precision, the sequence of twisting wrist movements needed to unlatch them, the knowledge wouldn’t do him any good.
So, yes, the maneuver would surely come off. Just as successfully as it had in a thousand performances, even if those all occurred some time ago and Rusty’s reflexes were no longer quite what they used to be.

But what would any of that accomplish other than to greatly amplify a sense of suspicion for his role in a brutal murder he had absolutely nothing to do with? Plus bring on a raft of other charges for failing to comply with orders, impeding police business, assault, et cetera. Obviously it was a bad play all around, however tempting.

So Rusty slowly turned 180 degrees and lowered his hands. Audibly relieved, Officer Neely stepped forward and bound them with a pair of un-monogrammed OCPD handcuffs. They closed around his wrists more tightly then necessary, pinching hard on the skin.

Hearing the cuffs snap shut, Rusty glanced up and was startled by his reflection in a mirror above the sofa. He’d deliberately removed all mirrors from his own residence the day he moved in, and hadn’t gotten a good look at his face in many months.

Given his appearance today, he could hardly fault this overeager junior lawman for wanting to lock him in restraints. For a guy who’d once placed such a premium on maintaining a well-cultivated exterior, it was shocking to see just how unkempt he was. Had he really let himself go that much in the past year? Evidently, if the mirror was to be believed.

His long black hair, once treated daily by a personal stylist, was now a ratty mane. The two-pointed devil’s goatee, formerly a key visual hallmark of his stagecraft, looked no more than an uneven graying scrub. And all that ink: pentagrams, death’s head skulls and weird incantations etched up and down his sinewy arms.

Hell, anyone with a working pair of eyes would find Rusty Diamond a more than credible murder suspect.

Author Bio:

The new thriller by Austin Williams, Misdirection, is now available from Diversion Books. It is the first novel of The Rusty Diamond Trilogy.

Williams is the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Crimson Orgy and The Platinum Loop. He is the co-author (with Erik Quisling) of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Sunset Strip.

He lives in Los Angeles.

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Oct 212014
 


WELCOME Jon Land

Jon Land

Hailed as “the greatest thriller writer alive today” by Bookviews and called “a creative genius” by Romantic Times, Jon Land is the author of 36 books, twenty-one of which have been national bestsellers, Jon is published in over fifty countries and six different languages, including German and Japanese. There are currently almost 7 million copies of his books in print. RT Book Reviews honored him with a special achievement award for being a Pioneer in Genre Fiction.

Jon’s latest series features female Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong who debuted in STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE (May ’09, Forge Books). The Associated Press wrote “The book is a page-turner, the pace blistering, the characters well-drawn and the action hot. Caitlin Strong is a female version of John McClane from Die Hard.” That was followed by STRONG JUSTICE (June ’10, Forge) which Publisher’s Weekly lauded with a starred review calling it, “Intense and skillfully plotted.” The San Jose Mercury News added that, “I’ve always wondered why there isn’t an estrogen driven, sometimes skirt wearing female competitor to James Bond, Jack Reacher, Mike Hammer, Spenser … Well ladies and gentlemen, now there is and her name is Caitlin Strong.” STRONG JUSTICE was named a Top Thriller of the Year by Library Journal and was named runner-up for Best Novel of the Year by the New England Book Festival. The third Caitlin Strong novel, STRONG AT THE BREAK (June ’11, Forge) was called “the best book I’ve read this year” by the San Jose Mercury News. “A terrific plot, vivid characters, suspense, a fast pace, all the ingredients of a great thriller,” adds Strand Magazine which included the book on their Best Books of the Year list as did Library Journal which named it, again, as a Top Thriller of Year. The next book in the series, STRONG VENGEANCE (July ’12, Forge) garnered the highest praise in series so far, including from the Huffington Post which proclaimed it, “a rare combination of meticulous research and good old-fashioned shoot-em-up action.” STRONG RAIN FALLING (August ’13, Forge) Caitlin’s latest adventure, won the 2013 USA Best Books Award and 2014 International Book Award in the Mystery/Suspense category. STRONG DARKNESS, the next in the series, will be published in September of 2014.

Meanwhile, BETRAYAL (January ’12, Forge), Jon’s first nonfiction effort that reached as high as #5 on the Boston Globe bestseller list, was optioned by Fox as a vehicle for Denis Leery, and named Best True Crime Book of the Year by Suspense Magazine as well as winning the 2013 International Book Award for Best True Crime. Most recently, Jon has resurrected his longtime series hero Blaine McCracken in THE TENTH CIRCLE (December ’13, Open Road Media) and PANDORA’S TEMPLE (November ’12, Open Road Media) which was nominated for a 2013 Thriller Award in the Best E-Book Original category and won the 2013 International Book Award for Best Adventure Thriller.

No stranger to the world of the film, Jon’s first film, a teen caper-comedy called DIRTY DEEDS, was released theatrically in the summer of 2005 and in DVD in January of 2006. Among numerous others, his current film projects include CHALK (Handpicked Films and Millennium) and STRANDED (Milk & Media Productions).

Jon graduated Brown University in 1979 Phi Beta Kappa and Magna cum Laude. He continues his association with Brown as alumni advisor to the Greek System, and vice-president of the Brown Football Association. He bases his novels and scripts on extensive travel and research, as well as a twenty-year career in the martial arts. He is an associate member of the United States Special Forces, has volunteered frequently in schools to help young people learn to enjoy the process of writing and chairs the Marketing Committee of International Thriller Writers. He lives in Providence, RI and can be found on the web at:

Connect with Author:

WEBSITE TWITTER

NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST

Guest Post from Jon Land

I am not your personal customer service hotline. Do not ask me the order of my series or when the book is coming out in your particular country or how to make your ____ing Kindle turn on. Google it. It will take you less time and turn up a much more reliable answer.

That, my friends, is a message from author Chelsea Cain to her, er, fans posted on Facebook on September 3 at 1:23am. Last time I checked, we authors kind of depend on such fans for our very livelihoods, and the response to Cain’s comments were both scathing and caustic. Which made me realize that in our industry, among thriller writers anyway, Cain is way, way the exception, not the rule. Far from it.

I was talking to my publisher, Tom Doherty, founder of Tor/Forge, the other day. Tom also publishes the iconic George R.R. Martin, arguably the best-known writer in America today, thanks to his GAME OF THRONES series. Tom mentioned he’s bringing out three books of George’s later this year, two of which are anthologies that George edited in addition to contributing stories to. The reason?

“He wanted to help out some friends of his who aren’t as successful as he is,” Tom told me and added that one of George’s contributions is an original GAME OF THRONES novella.

Think about that for a moment. The most successful writer on the planet right now wanted to do something just to help his fellow writer friends, and here’s the thing: George isn’t alone. The mission statement of International Thriller Writers ITW, an organization for which I served on the board and am currently chair of the marketing committee, was founded based on the principle of the haves helping the not-yet-haves. Successful writers stretching a hand out to writers in search of that same success. Like Doug Preston, Lee Child, Steve Berry, Sandra Brown, James Rollins—some of the biggest in the business not named George R.R. Martin.

It’s not like other creative mediums share the same proclivity. You don’t see Brad Pitt offering to help struggling young actors or Maroon 5 mentoring some garage band. No, this inclination of giving back and paying it forward seems unique to writers not named Chelsea Cain. I learned this first-hand back in 2007 when I was in the process of publishing my first thriller in three years after a pointless foray concentrating on screenplays. I’d just joined ITW and was desperate for author quotes, also known as blurbs, to help reestablish myself in the marketplace and rebuild my brand. I asked eleven New York Times bestselling authors for those crucial endorsements and all of them said yes. Every single one.

Okay, so why? What makes writers, including among the most successful, so generous and giving of their time and energy?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately and my first thought boils down to a sense of community. Unlike actors or musicians, we spend an inordinate part of our lives alone, creating stories in a box of our own making. Writing isn’t a team sport; it’s relentlessly solitary and insular. We have to be very comfortable with our own company in order to pull it off. But that doesn’t mean we have to live like hermits which explains why so many of us thriller writers flocked to ITW upon its founding. Living and working in a box is a fine, but it also makes us long for the kind of camaraderie our profession seems to intrinsically reject. So the opportunity to band together to help others climb the elusive rungs of the publishing ladder is something we thrive on, not just tolerate.

That’s not all. Successful writers seem a truly unique bunch in the sense that we all remember, all too clearly, what it was like not to be successful. We all started in the same place pretty much and with the publication with each book, and the awards or bestseller list appearances if we’re lucky, comes the memory of what it was like the first time and the realization of how lucky we are to be succeeding, even thriving, in a business that seems to defy that. chaos

Another reason for this proclivity, I think, is the very nature and dynamics of publishing itself. It’s truly a tumultuous world where the rules keep changing so fast, nobody can really keep up. And the truth is we can learn a lot sometimes from the gorilla marketing tactics of authors who’ve been forced to go it alone after receiving the cold shoulder from the industry. Sure, they want in through the front door, but in the meantime many of them have found ways to make their mark by publishing independently on Amazon and the like. So in that respect we can gain something from them as well.

And that’s the point. Helping other writers flesh out their ideas and turn their Word files into published books makes us better writers too. If you can help someone fix their work, it only stands to reason that you’ll learn something about your own. In that respect, mentoring helps us fine-tune those crazy places in our minds from where the magic comes. Like stretching before a workout, getting loose and limber so you feel better and more comfortable about what you’re doing. We’re in the idea business, after all. Working with others to refine theirs helps us better refine ours.

Upholding the principles on which it was founded, International Thriller Writers now boasts a mentoring program, a remarkable Debut Author’s Program, and we have a board position dedicated to author development and education. In other words, we practice what we preach in large part because the process becomes self-perpetuating. Authors who’ve made their mark thanks in some part to ITW are going to give to others just as somebody gave to them. Nobody makes them; they do it because they want to.

Oh, and by the way, since I joined ITW and rebuilt my career on the shoulders of Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, who you can meet in STRONG DARKNESS, I’ve probably been asked to blurb, endorse, maybe a hundred books. And I’ve never turned a single request down. These authors deserve my time and attention because other authors gave both to me when I needed them the most. What goes around come around, my friends (and Chelsea Cain), a good thing in this case because, sometimes, nice guys do finish first.

ABOUT Strong Darkness

1883: Texas Ranger William Ray Strong teams up with Judge Roy Bean to track down the Old West’s first serial killer who’s stitching a trail of death along the railroad lines slicing their way through Texas.

The Present: Fifth Generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong finds herself pursuing an-other serial killer whose methods are eerily similar to the one pursued by her great-grandfather almost a century-and-a-half before. But that’s just the beginning of the problems confronting Caitlin in her biggest and most dangerous adventure yet, starting off when the son of her reformed outlaw boyfriend Cort Wesley Masters is nearly beaten to death while at college.

The trail of that attack at Brown University leads all the way back to Texas and a Chinese high-tech company recently awarded the contract to build the nation’s Fifth Generation wireless network. Li Zhen, a rare self-made man in China and the company’s founder, counts that as the greatest achievement of his career. But it’s an achievement that hides the true motivations behind a rise fueled by events dating back to the time of Caitlin’s great-grandfather. Because the same era that spawned a serial killer who has impossibly resurfaced today also hides the secrets behind Li’s thirst for nothing less than China’s total domination of the United States.

His fiendishly clever plan is backed by all-powerful elements of the Chinese underworld that will stop at nothing to insure its success. Up against an army at Li’s disposal, Caitlin and Cort Wesley blaze a violent trail across country and continent in search of secrets hidden in the past, but it’s a secret from the present that holds the means to stop their adversary’s plot in its tracks, even as a climactic battle dawns with nothing less than the fate of the U.S. at stake. Because there’s a darkness coming, and only Caitlin Strong can find the light before it’s too late.

BOOK DETAILS:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge
Publication Date: Sept 30, 2014
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 978-0765335111

Purchase Links:

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

San Antonio, Texas

“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

Caitlin Strong listened to the chant repeated over and over again by the Beacon of Light Church members who’d decided to picket a young soldier’s funeral here in San Antonio in pointless protest. The words were harder to make out across the street beyond the thousand-foot buffer the protestors were required to keep, but clear enough to disturb the parents of an army hero who just wanted to bury their son in peace.

“What are you going to do about this, Ranger?” Bud Chauncey, the young man’s father, asked her.

“I’ve requested that they vacate the premises, sir,” Caitlin told the man. “My orders are to do no more than that as long as they keep their distance. It’s the law.”

Chauncey, who owned several car dealerships in the area, turned toward the Beacon of Light Church members gathered on a patch of fresh land up a slight rise across the road Mission Burial Park had purchased in order to expand. His eyes looked bloodshot and weary, his face held in an angry glare that captured the frustration over being able to do no more about their presence here than he could for the son he was about to lay to rest. He stretched a hand through stringy gray hair to smooth it back down, but the breeze quickly blew it out of place again. Chauncey always looked so strong, vital and happy on his television commercials, leaving Caitlin to wonder if this was even the same man. His neck was thin and marred by discolored patches of skin that looked to have come from radiation treatments. His hands were thin and knobby and she noticed them trembling once he moved them from his pockets. She caught a glimpse of tobacco stains on the tips of his fingers and nails and thought of those radiation treatments again.

“Thousand feet away?” Chauncey questioned.

“Legislature passed a law restricting protests to that distance to funerals held in the state.”

Chauncey gazed back at the mourners gathered by his son’s gravesite waiting for the service to begin. He and Caitlin stood off to the side of the building funeral cortege at Mission Burial Park, the cemetery located on the San Antonio River where her father and grandfather were buried in clear view of the historic Espada Mission.

“Why don’t you explain that to my boy, Ranger?”

It sounded more like a plea than a question, a grieving father looking for a way to reconcile his son’s death in the face of picketing strangers paying him the ultimate disrespect. Blaming gays and their lifestyle for the landmine that had taken a young man’s life when he threw himself on two other soldiers to save them.

“The world might be full of shit,” Chauncey resumed with his gaze fixed across the road, electricity seeming to radiate out of his pores with the sweat to the point where Caitlin figured she’d get a shock if she stretched a hand out to comfort him. “But that doesn’t mean we ever get used to stepping in it.”

“I’ll be right back, sir,” she told Bud Chauncey and headed toward the street.

 

CHAPTER 2

San Antonio, Texas

It seemed like too nice a day to bury somebody as gifted as Bud Chauncey’s son Junior. An All-District athlete in three sports, Homecoming King and senior class president who’d joined the army’s ROTC program. He went to Afghanistan already a hero and came back in a box after his platoon was hit by a Taliban ambush while on patrol. It was bad enough when good boys died for no good reason Caitlin could see. It was even worse when it happened while a war was winding down and most back home had stopped paying attention.

Caitlin was thinking of Dylan Torres, the eighteen-year-old son of the man she considered, well, her boy friend, as she walked toward the road and grassy field across it in the process of being dug out to make room for Mission Burial Park’s expansion. Bud Chauncey’s son Junior had been barely a year older when he died and she couldn’t help picturing Dylan patrolling a desert wasteland with M-16 held in the ready position before him. Still a boy, no matter how much he’d been through or how many monsters with whom he’d come into contact. Currently in Providence, Rhode Island where he was in the midst of his freshman football season for Brown University.

Caitlin had read that Junior Chauncey had been accepted for admission at the University of Texas at Austin where he hoped to do the same. Dylan had a junior varsity game next weekend, if she remembered correctly. Junior would never don helmet and pads again.

That thought pushed a spring into her step as she strode across the road now crammed with cars, both parked along the side and inching along in search of a space. The funeral was being delayed to account for that, giving Bud Chauncey more time to suffer and the Beacon of Light Church more time to make their presence known. Alerted to their coming, television crews from five local stations and at least two national ones she could see had arrived first, their cameras covering all that was transpiring on both sides of the road.

Crossing the street, Caitlin thought she felt a blast of heat flushed by a furnace slam into her. It seemed to radiate off the protesters turning the air hot and prickly as they continued to chant. The sky was cloudless, the heat building in the fall day under a sun more like summer’s from the burn Caitlin felt on her cheeks.

Caitlin recognized the leader, William Bryant Tripp, from his wet-down hair, skin flushed red and handlebar mustache, and angled herself straight for him across the edge of the field that gave way to a drainage trench the width of a massive John Deere wheel loader’s shovel. The trench created a natural barricade between the Beacon of Light Church members and what might as well have been the rest of the world, while the big Deere sat idle between towering mounds of earth set further back in the field.
“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

“Mr. Tripp,” she called to the leader over the chants. He’d stepped out of the procession at her approach, smirking and twirling the ends of his mustache.

“It’s Reverend Tripp,” he reminded.

Caitlin nodded, trying to look respectful. “There’s people grieving a tragic death across the way, Reverend, and I’d ask you again as a man and a Christian to vacate the premises so they might do so in peace. You’ve made your point already and I believe you should leave things at that.”

The smirk remained. “Peace is what this church is all about, Ranger, a peace that can only be achieved if those who debauch and deface the values of good honest people like us repent and are called out for their sins.”

“Gays had nothing to do with putting that brave boy in a coffin, sir. That was the work of a bunch of cowardly religious fanatics like the ones serving you here today.”

The smirk slipped from Tripp’s expression, replaced by a look that brushed Caitlin off and sized her up at the same time. “We’re breaking no laws here. So I’m going to ask you to leave us in peace.”

Caitlin felt her muscles tightening, her mouth going dry. “You have every right to be here and I’m here to protect your rights to peaceful assembly as well as the rights of the Chauncey family to bury their son without a sideshow. The problem is that presents a contradiction it’s my duty to resolve. And the best way to do that is to ask you and your people to simply leave in a timely fashion.”

Tripp shifted his shoulders. He seemed to relish the threat Caitlin’s words presented. “And if we choose not to?”

“You’ve made your point for the cameras already, sir. There’s nothing more for you to prove. So do the holy thing by packing up your pickets and heading on.” Caitlin gazed toward the protestors thrusting their signs into the air in perfect rhythm with their chanting. “Use the time to paint over those signs, so you’re ready to terrorize the next family that loses a son in battle, Mr. Tripp.”

Tripp measured her words, running his tongue around the inside of his mouth. It made a sound like crushing a grape underfoot. Caitlin could feel the sun’s heat between them now, serving as an invisible barrier neither wanted to breach.

“It’s Reverend Tripp,” he reminded again.

“I believe that title needs to be earned,” Caitlin told him, feeling her words start to race ahead of her thoughts.
Tripp stiffened. “This church has been serving Him and His word since the very founding of this great nation, Ranger. Even here in the great state of Texas itself.”

“Those other military funerals you’ve been picketing from Lubbock to Amarillo don’t count toward that, sir.”

“I was speaking of our missionary work back in the times of the frontier; the railroads and the oil booms. How this church tried to convert the Chinese heathen hordes to Christianity.”

“Heathen hordes?”

“It was a fool’s errand,” Tripp said, bitterness turning his expression even more hateful. “The Chinese made for an unholy, hateful people not deserving of our Lord’s good graces.”

“But you believe you are, thanks to hurting those good folks across the way, is that right? Problem is you’re not serving God, sir, you’re serving yourself. And I’m giving you a chance to square things the easy way instead of the hard.”

Tripp sneered at her. “Such threats didn’t work in Lubbock or Amarillo and they won’t work here either.”

“I wasn’t the one who made them in those cities, Mr. Tripp. You’d be well advised to listen this time.”

“And what if I don’t?”

“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

The chanting had picked up in cadence, seeming to reach a crescendo as the funeral goers squeezed themselves around Junior Chauncey’s gravesite across the road so the ceremony could begin. Caitlin watched the members of the Beacon of Light Church thrusting their picket signs into the air as if they were trying to make rain, the image of their feet teetering on the edge of recently dug drainage trench holding in her mind.

“I guess I’ll have to think of something,” she told Tripp and started away.

 

CHAPTER 3

San Antonio, Texas

Caitlin looped around the perimeter of the protesters, her presence likely forgotten by the time she reached the John Deere wheel loader parked between matching piles of excavated earth. She recognized it as a 644K hybrid model boasting twenty tons of power that could probably level a skyscraper. Caitlin had learned to drive earlier, more brutish versions while helping to rebuild a Mexican family’s home after they’d been burned out by drunken kids for a pot deal gone wrong. Trouble was the drug dealer who’d screwed the kids actually lived across the street. Caitlin’s father had arrested the boys two days later. Considering them dangerous criminals, Jim Strong made them strip to their underwear and left them to roast in the sun while he waited for back-up to assist him in a cavity search. Jim had organized the rebuilding effort, financed ultimately by the restitution paid by the accused boys’ parents to keep them out of jail. Caitlin’s father had brokered that deal as well.

The hybrid engine of the 644K sounded a hundred times quieter than the roar coughed by the older version and handled as easy as a subcompact, when Caitlin started it forward.

“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

She couldn’t hear the chanting anymore, imagining it in her mind with each thrust of the picket signs into the air. It was loud enough to keep the protestors from detecting her approach, even when she lowered the shovel into position and let its teeth dig maybe a foot down into the ground.

Caitlin plowed the growing pile of dirt forward as if it were snow after a rare Texas blizzard. The back row of the protesters turned just as the wall of gathered earth crested over the shovel. Caitlin imagined the panic widen their eyes, heard screams and shouts as they tried desperately to warn the others what was coming.

Too late.

The massive power of the John Deere pushed the earthen wall straight into the center of the pack fronted by William Bryant Tripp himself, driving the mass forward without even a sputter. The last thing Caitlin glimpsed were picket signs closer to the front stubbornly clinging to the air before those holding them were gobbled up and shoved forward.

Down into the drainage trench.

Caitlin pictured Reverend Tripp toppling in first, imagined the trench as a mass grave or, better yet, the week’s deposit zone in the local landfill. Because that’s where the members of the Beacon of Light Church belonged in her mind, dumped in along with the other stench-riddled trash.

Some of the protesters managed to peel off to the side to escape the John Deere’s force and wrath, and Caitlin didn’t brake the big machine until the earthen wall she was dragging stopped on the edge of the trench. Portions of it sifted downward, forestalling the efforts of Tripp and his minions to climb out. So she gave the Deere just a little more gas to trap them a bit longer.

Caitlin cut off the engine at that point. Her gaze drifted across the street to the funeral ceremony for Junior Chauncey where to a man and woman everyone had turned around to face the other side of the road. They saw the members of the Beacon of Light Church visible only as hands desperately clawing for purchase to pull themselves from the trench into which Caitlin had forced them. She hopped down out of the cab and walked around the wall of dirt and grass the John Deere had helped her lay.

Then, to a man and woman led by Bud Chauncey himself, the funeral goers started to clap their hands, applauding her. It got louder and louder, reaching a crescendo just as the television cameras began rotating feverishly between both sides of the road and reporters rushed toward Caitlin with microphones in hand.

She leaped across the trench, brushing the microphones and cameras aside, the sun hot against her flesh.

“You’re going to pay for this, Caitlin Strong!” she heard Tripp scream at her, as he finally managed to hoist himself from the ditch. “The Lord does not forget!”

“Neither do I, sir,” Caitlin said calmly, regarding the dirt clinging to him no amount of shaking or brushing could remove. It turned his ash gray hair a dark brown, making him look as if he was wearing a vegetable garden atop his head. “And you’d be wise to remember that.”

Oct 172014
 

Prey of Desire

by JC Gatlin

on Tour at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours October 2014

Book Details:

Genre: New Adult Mystery-Suspense

Published by: Blurb, Inc.

Publication Date: February 2014

Number of Pages: 230

ISBN: 9780615961057

Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

They said the disappearance of two high school students over 25 years ago was mystery that couldn’t be solved.

No one ever said it shouldn’t be.

Following the abrupt end of a relationship, college student Kimberly Bradford finds comfort in the friendship with her over-the-top neighbor, Mallory. And, Mallory encourages her to get back out there. She would of course if it weren’t for the thrilling little love notes and gifts she’s been receiving.

Kim thinks they’re from her ex-fiancee, not realizing he’s been murdered. Worse, whoever is sending her all the extra attention is not only in her inner-circle, but has a connection to that unsolved murder some 25 years ago. That connection puts her life in danger, and exposes secrets better left buried around her closest friends and family.

Read an excerpt:

“That was close.” Mallory laughed, pushing Kim out the diner doors and onto the sidewalk. They crossed the intersection against the light and headed back to Mallory’s parked Miata. Making it clear that she was not pleased, Kim walked several steps ahead. She crossed her arms, swinging her purse. Mallory caught up to her, telling her to slow down.

Kim picked up her pace. “I can’t believe you tried to set me up with that old psychologist again. You just don’t know when to quit, do you?”

“He’s a psychiatrist, and…” Mallory grabbed her arm to slow her down. “Stop being so melodramatic.”

“Melodramatic?” Kim whipped around to confront her friend face to face. “Not only did you ambush me, but this is the second time he’s stood me up – second time in a row!”

“He just got detained with another crazy patient, that’s all.” Mallory punctuated that with a light, throaty chuckle. “The whole town is freaked out over the Congressman’s murder so it’s understandable.”

“You’re changing the subject.” Kim turned and stepped off the sidewalk into the street. She headed toward the car parallel parked in front of a meter. Mallory followed her into the oncoming traffic.

“Would you just wait?” She grabbed Kim’s arm again. Mallory stopped her in the middle of the street. A car honked and swerved around them. Oblivious, Kim pointed a finger at her and leaned forward.

“You sandbagged me with another blind date. You know I’m involved.”

“Ross went M.I.A. on you, what, six weeks ago? He’s gone.” Another car blared its horn. Mallory waved it away. “I just wanted to get your mind off it. Besides, Dr. Whitman has lined up a very exciting date.”

“You just don’t give up, do you?”

“Listen to me, Kim. He’s really been putting a lot of pressure on me lately. He’s talked about you for ages and he’s been asking me to set you two up for a long time. Ever since…”

Breaks squeaked on a truck as it swerved to miss them. Kim ignored it. “Ever since what, Mallory? Since Ross dumped me?”

“No – since Ross disappeared.” Mallory paused. Her eyes softened and a faint smile crossed her lips. “Kim, he’s not coming back.”

Kim was about to protest. It was a knee-jerk reaction to tell Mallory how wrong she was. For a moment, Kim considered explaining about the mysterious poems and the invitation for dinner on Friday night. She wanted to tell Mallory about the phone calls. All those cryptic messages and notes – it had to be from Ross. It just had to be. They were meant for each other.

Instead Kim looked down at her feet and sighed. “I’m just not in the mood to be sweet and sociable. You know what I mean? I’m angry. And I want to hit something. I want to rip something apart and stomp on it and crush it and…”

Another car honked and the driver screamed obscenities as he whizzed past. The girls were unfazed standing in the center of the road.

“Exactly my point.” Mallory snapped her fingers, seemingly very pleased with herself. “That’s why this handsome, debonair psychiatrist suggested a double date at a mock war camp.”

“A what?”

“A mock war camp,” Mallory repeated. “Instead of miniature golf or going to a movie, we’d play weekend warrior.”

Kim hesitated, watching her a moment, then followed. “What kind of date is that?”

“The kind that’ll get you over Ross!” Mallory headed toward her Miata parked at the curb. Unlocking the car door, she paused and leaned against the hood. She turned back toward Kim.

“It’s the kind of date where you can be tank girl and rip men apart and blow them away and stomp on them… only with paint pellets.” Mallory’s eyes enlarged and she took a breath, as if waiting for Kim to protest. When she didn’t, Mallory continued. “He’s a head shrink, Kim. He knows about these kind of things.”

 

Author Bio:

JC Gatlin lives in Tampa, Florida. In addition to regular fishing trips, he wrote a monthly column for New Tampa Style Magazine, then began penning several mystery/suspense stories. His first novel, The Designated Survivor, was released in July 2013, and Prey of Desire followed in February 2014. Both are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle edition.

Coming from a large family with five brothers, JC grew up in Grapevine — a small Texas town just outside of Dallas.

Catch Up With JC:

 

Q&A with JC Gatlin

  -Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

Not consciously, but to some degree, all writers build from personal experiences. I’m sure if my psychiatrist read one of my books, she’d find a lot of me in it.

  -Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

I create a very detailed outline before I even put down the first word on the first page. Since I writer murder mysteries, which are essentially puzzles, you could say I start with the end in mind. I generally have the elaborate murder in mind, and all the drama that goes with its motive, means and opportunity. Then, comes the amateur sleuth who shows up to solve that murder.

-Your routine when writing?  Any idiosyncrasies?

It seems like a lot of writers like to have that quiet, private alcove, but I like loud and busy. I go to the food court at the mall, sit down with my laptop and write a few scenes or a chapter. Sometimes I go to a restaurant to write. I’m often more productive in that environment than in a quiet study.

  -Is writing your full time job?  If not, may I ask what you do by day?

I don’t write murder mysteries full time… yet. I have a 9 to 5’er writing manuals in the home building industry.

-Who are some of your favorite authors?

Dean Koontz is probably my favorite, but I’ve read about everything written by Mary Higgins Clark and grew up reading Sydney Sheldon. I just finished “Cell” by Robin Cook.

-What are you reading now?

I’m reading Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso. It won the 2012 Florida Book Award and is well deserving of that award. I want more people to discover this incredibly talented young adult author!

-Are you working on your next novel?  Can you tell us a little about it?

Yes! Yes! Yes! And I can’t wait for it to come out. It’s about a woman named Tori who returns to her home town to attend her childhood friend’s funeral. Tori’s been out of touch with everyone for over five years and is bitter about her ex-fiancee ending their relationship. Before the final services though, she discovers that her friend was murdered by her ex-fiancee. However, no one believes her because they think she’s just angry at him.

Fun questions:

  -Your novel will be a movie.  Who would you cast?

Oh, man. That’s a tough one. I had a fan write me to say that she saw Kimberly Bradford looking like an actress named Jessica Khoury. The character and her best friend Mallory are actually based loosely on two girls I knew in college.

  -Manuscript/Notes: hand written or keyboard?

Most of it is written by keyboard, but I do like to print out a chapter to read it, and will make notes in the margin.

-Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

Love fishing, and I’m great at eating. But then, who isn’t? I just want to get to a place where I have leisure time for an activity or a hobby.

-Favorite meal?

I love anything chicken — grilled, blackened, fried — it’s all good.

Tour Participants:


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Oct 162014
 


WELCOME Author

Tara Meisner

Tara Meissner is a former journalist and a lifelong creative writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree and works part-time at her local library. Tara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Mike, and their three sons. She writes longhand in composition notebooks. Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is her first book. th grew up writing short stories and bad poetry before escaping the cold winters of Wyoming and settling in the Sonoran Desert. She lives in Tempe, Arizona with her husband and two children, Abigail (11) and Gabriel (6). She still loves to write, but fortunately gave up on poetry.

Connect with Author:

WEBSITE TWITTER

Creating Time to Create

Guest Post by Tara Meisner

I am fortunate that I actually have time to write, and I’m sure you do too!
I have a husband, three kids, volunteer for youth organizations, take on freelance projects, and work ten hours a week at the library. Yet, I fit in time for creative writing. Some weeks are better than others.
Time has never been the thing holding me back! It was staying focused during that time and not squandering it with Facebook, blog reading, phone calls, reading, laundry, naps, list making, lunch or coffee with friends, etc.
Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert shares keys to her success and inspiration for living the life you want on her Facebook page. Most of us, of a certain age, have learned to say no to the things we don’t like or want to do. (If you haven’t done this yet, it is a great first step!) The next step, Gilbert presented, is saying no to the things you do enjoy. That advice changed my attitude. I felt I had permission to decline activities that didn’t get me closer to the creative life I craved. I miss out on things that would have been fun, but feel better about it.
Writing time might be found the first four hours of the day, every day. For some it is the lunch hour during the day job. Others may find time from 9-11 p.m. after kids are in bed or 1-3 p.m. during a toddler’s afternoon nap. Maybe it is Sunday mornings from 6-10 a.m.
If you are not cranking out two or three novels a year, writing six to eight hours a day at the exact same time is probably not a realistic goal, or even necessary. I carve out ten hours a week for creative work, all in blocks of time at least two hours long.
I schedule everything that I have to do in a week on “sticky notes” on my laptop. Things like carpool, library hours, swim team, doctor appointments, client meetings, and paid freelance work are blocked in and then I “find” ten hours a week when I can write.
The key then is to actually WRITE during those times and not squander them on the mentioned distractions. One of my friends writes on her laptop at a coffee shop and doesn’t ask for the WIFI password. I write at home longhand in composition notebooks, index cards, and legal pads.
The dang smart phone is difficult to ignore. I have three children, and I developed this notion that I must always be assessable to them in case of an emergency and should never leave my phone away from me. The oldest is 16; there has never been an emergency!! Seriously, nothing that couldn’t have waited an hour or two. So, I use the smart phone to my advantage. I set the timer for an hour, place it face down and ignore it until the timer goes off.
There is little immediate income attached to my creative writing, which makes it hard to justify for me. Yet, I realize the value developing my creative writing skills, so I try to let go of distractions and excuses, and I give myself permission write.

Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis

Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is a moving and honest psychology memoir about the things that break us and how we heal. It offers a raw view a 33-year-old wife and mother swallowed by psychosis. The psychotic episode includes meeting Jesus Christ, dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, and narrowly escaping eternity in the underworld.
Casually called a nervous breakdown, psychosis is an entrapment outside of self where hallucinations and delusions anchor. Family, doctors, and fellow patients witnessed a nonverbal, confused, distraught shell of a woman. In the security of a psychiatric care center, the week-long psychosis broke and spit out a bipolar patient in the cushioned place of middle class medicine.
Outpatient recovery consumed the better part of a year with psychiatric treatment and spiritual contemplation. Left scarred and damaged, health returned allowing her to tentatively embrace a grace and peace earned through acceptance of bipolar disorder.

BOOK DETAILS:

Number of Pages: 224
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Tara Meissner
Publication Date: June 23, 2014
ISBN-10: 0990495108

PURCHASE LINKS:

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

 

Oct 152014
 

Pigeon River Blues

by Wayne Zurl

 

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural / Mystery

Published by: Iconic Publishing

Publication Date: May 31, 2014

Number of Pages: 258

ISBN: 1938844025 / 978-1938844027

Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

Winter in the Smokies can be a tranquil time of year—unless Sam Jenkins sticks his thumb into the sweet potato pie.

The retired New York detective turned Tennessee police chief is minding his own business one quiet day in February when Mayor Ronnie Shields asks him to act as a bodyguard for a famous country and western star.

C.J. Profitt’s return to her hometown of Prospect receives lots of publicity . . . and threats from a rightwing group calling themselves The Coalition for American Family Values.

The beautiful, publicity seeking Ms. Proffit never fails to capitalize on her abrasive personality by flaunting her alternative lifestyle—a way of living the Coalition hates.

Reluctantly, Jenkins accepts the assignment of keeping C.J. safe while she performs at a charity benefit. But Sam’s job becomes more difficult when the object of his protection refuses to cooperate.

During this misadventure, Sam hires a down-on-his-luck ex-New York detective and finds himself thrown back in time, meeting old Army acquaintances who factor into how he foils a complicated plot of attempted murder, the destruction of a Dollywood music hall, and other general insurrection on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

 

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

An oddball named Mack Collinson sat in his mother’s office discussing the upcoming auction of farmland straddling the border of Prospect and neighboring Seymour, Tennessee.

Jeremy Goins, part-time real estate salesman at the Collinson agency, defrocked federal park ranger, and now full-time maintenance man in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, walked into the room and tossed a newspaper on Mack’s lap.
Collinson, a short, dark man in his late-forties, had close-cropped, almost black hair, a single bushy eyebrow spanning his forehead, and a thick beard that covered his face from just below his eyes and disappeared into the collar of his sport shirt.

“You seen this article in the Blount County Voice?” Goins asked.

Mack shrugged. His mother neither commented nor gestured.

Goins sighed and continued, seemingly unimpressed with his male colleague. “’Bout how Dolly’s havin’ a benefit show and that lezzy bitch—‘cuse me, Ma—C.J. Profitt’s comin’ back home fer a week a’forehand.”

People showing deference to her age referred to Collinson’s mother as Miss Elnora. Those who knew her more intimately, called her Ma.

“Lemme see that,” Elnora snarled, screwing up her wide face, one surrounded by layers of gray, arranged in a style the locals called big hair.

“Yes, ma’am.” Anxious to please his employer, Jeremy snatched the newspaper from Mack and handed it to Mrs. Collinson.
The Collinson Realty and Auction Company occupied an old and not very well maintained building on McTeer’s Station Pike just below the center of Prospect. Sixty-five-year-old Elnora Collinson had been a realtor for more than forty years, first with her late husband and now with her son. In either case, Ma represented the brains of the operation.

After allowing the woman a few moments to read the article, Jeremy Goins continued the conversation.

“I hated that bitch back in hi-skoo,” he said. “And I hate her even more now that I know what she is and what her kind means ta the rest o’ us.”

Goins was a stocky, rugged-looking man, approaching fifty, with a liberal mix of gray in his dark brown hair. The gray hair was the only liberal thing about Jeremy Goins.

“I s’pose she’s fixin’ to stay around here and mebbe bring some o’ her pur-verted women friends with her,” Mack said. “This world’s goin’ ta hell when ya got ta be subjectedsta the likes o’ her on the same streets good Christian folk walk on.”

“Amen ta that,” Jeremy said.

When Ma finished reading she snorted something unintelligible, rolled up the paper, and threw it at a wastepaper basket, missing by a foot.

“Boys, this is shameful.” She took a long moment to shake her head in disgust. “Downright shameful.”

Both men nodded in agreement.

“When that girl went ta Nashville an’ become a singer, I thought Prospect was rid o’ her and her kind once’t and fer all. Lord have mercy, but we’re doomed ta see her painted face on our streets ag’in.”

“Momma,” Mack said, “we ain’t gotta take this.”

He spent a moment shaking his head, too. Then he decided to speak for the rest of the population.

“Don’t nobody here want her back. Mebbe we should send’er a message if the elected leaders o’ this city won’t. We kin let her know.”

“You’re rot, son. Ain’t no reason why that foul-mouthed, lesbian should feel welcome here.” Ma Collinson, who resembled a grumpy female gnome, sat forward in her swivel chair and with some difficulty, pulled herself closer to the desk. “Jeremy, git me that li’l typewriter from the closet. I’ll write her a note sayin’ as much.”

Goins nodded and moved quickly.

“And Jeremy, afore yew git ta work at park headquarters, mail this in Gatlinburg so as ta not have a Prospect postmark on it.”

Goins stepped to a spot where he could read over her shoulder and said, “Yes, ma’am, I’ll do it.”

After inserting a sheet of white bond paper under the roller, Elnora Collinson began to type:

Colleen Profitt we know you. We know what you are. All the money you made don’t make no difference about what you have became. You are a shame to your family and the city of Prospect. Do not come back here. We do not want you. God does not want you.

SIGNED

The Coalition For American Family Values

That was the first of six messages sent to country and western star C.J. Profitt.

The last letter, typed almost two weeks later, said:

CJ Profitt you have not called off your visit to our city. We repeat. You and your lesbian friends are violating God’s Law. You must not come here. If you do you will regret it. The people of this city will not suffer because of you. Your ways are the ways of Sin. Your life is a life of SIN. If you come here YOU WILL suffer and then burn in Hell. Do not show your painted face here again. If you do you better make your peace with GOD. You will face HIM soon enough. Sooner than you think.

The Coalition for American Family Values

<><><>

On Friday morning, February 2nd, Mack Collinson slammed the front door to the real estate agency, shrugged off his brown canvas Carhartt jacket, and tossed it on an old swivel chair. He spent a moment blowing his nose in a week-old handkerchief and stormed into his mother’s office.

“Well she’s here,” he said, putting his hands on his hips. “She never done took your warnin’s serious-like.”
Ma Collinson looked at her son over the tops of reading glasses she recently purchased at the Wal-Mart Vision Center.
“This mornin’ Luretta and the kids was watchin’ that Knoxville mornin’ show,” he said. “And there she was—film o’ her at the airport ‘long with some others goin’ ta perform at Dolly’s benefit thing. She never listened ta ya, Ma. Now she’s here.”

At five after nine, a coo coo clock in Elnora’s office struck eight.

Mrs. Collinson pulled off her glasses and tossed them onto the desk. She wrinkled her brow and puckered her mouth in disgust. Elnora did not look happy.

“She’ll be talkin’ ‘bout her ideas and her ways like she always does,” Mack said. “It’s un-natural is what it is. Against God’s way. Why does God let people like her live, Ma? Makes me jest so gat-dag mad. Makes me think we ought ta kill her. Kill her our own selves.”

 

Author Bio:

Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.

Twenty (20) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. Ten (10) of these novelettes are now available in print under the titles of A MURDER IN KNOXVILLE and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries and REENACTING A MURDER and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries. Zurl’s first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards, chosen as 1st Runner-Up from all Commercial Fiction at the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and was a finalist for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. His other novels are: A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT and HEROES & LOVERS. A fourth novel, PIGEON RIVER BLUES, was published in 2014.

For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see www.waynezurlbooks.net. You can read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and see photos of the area where the stories take place.

Catch Up With the Author:

GUEST POST

 Are the Sam Jenkins books imitating life or the other way around?

Good cops are born actors. All you have to do is watch a pair of world-class interrogators go through their routine and you’d become a believer. And all cops have stories to tell. In many cases, their reality is that which much fiction is based. I’m surprised more cops don’t write books when they retire.

What a reader likes is very subjective. But I’ve heard that some people like my stories. That may be true, because I sell a few books. Here’s where I confess—I have more of a memory than imagination. Most of my stories are based on actual incidents I investigated, cases I supervised, or things I just knew a lot about. Often, I composite incidents into a single storyline and embellish and fictionalize it to make the finished product more readable. Not all police work is a thrill a minute. Recently, I’ve combined things I’ve seen since retiring and incorporate them as components of a story that originated in New York, but as ever, gets transplanted to Tennessee.

PIGEON RIVER BLUES is one of these eclectic blends of numerous vignettes surrounding one story-worthy plot.

The Collinsons and their henchman, Jeremy Goins, that trio of right-wing morons who threaten country singer, C.J. Proffit, are based or real characters I’ve met.

Since I began writing, I’ve been looking for the right place to introduce retired Detective John Gallagher, the goofy-acting but extremely competent former colleague of Sam Jenkins, who suffers from a severe case of malapropism. “John,” who is now a regular cast member at Prospect PD, is also based on a real person with whom I worked for many years.

Giving Sam and company an unwanted job of providing personal security for the famous singer allowed me to recall a few assignments I had in the Army and the reoccurring VIP security details we were bamboozled into taking on during my time in one command of the police department where I worked.

Originally, I had included an addendum or author’s disclaimer at the end of the novel—sort of a “don’t try this at home” statement about some of the things Sam pulled off during this adventure. But the publisher didn’t want it, and he was probably correct because they were all things that in reality, whether good police practice or not, are done for the sake of expedience.

You’ll read a statement at the beginning of all my books sounding something like this:  ‘This book is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead or to actual incidents is a coincidence and a figment of the author’s immagination.’ Yeah? Nuts. I was there. I knew these people. But I take literary license to change things as I see fit. I make incidents more exciting, people more beautiful or uglier, and to paraphrase Jack Webb’s weekly statement on the old TV show DRAGNET, I change the names to protect the guilty . . . and keep me out of civil court.

Cheryl,

Thanks for inviting me to your blog to meet your fans and followers.  To all those who take the time to read my guest posting, I wish you the best and  hope you enjoy the rest of the autumn and have happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year.

Givwaway:

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