Feb 212017
 

Revealing Nicola by Sam Cheever Tour Banner

Revealing Nicola

by Sam Cheever

February 21, 2017 Book Blast

Revealing Nicola by Sam Cheever

Synopsis:

She has to overcome a lifetime of secrets…the shock of discovery.

He must protect a treasure that has turned passion to hate… reason to incoherence.

Poisoned by danger, intrigue, lust, and greed…their very survival is in the balance.

Can they endure the conspiracy and find love? And if they do…will it be enough?

Book Details:

Genre:Romantic Suspense, Thriller
Published by: Electric Prose Publications
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Number of Pages: 183
ISBN: 978-1-63587-971-1
Series: La Fortuna DeVitis #1
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | iTunes 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

A coughing sound engaged Franco’s training and he had her on the ground beneath him before the second shot was fired.

The roast chicken exploded, sending shredded meat across the table and raining over them.

Nici’s eyes were wide with fear. “What?”

“Stay down. Don’t move.”

He crawled off her, reaching for his piece as he positioned himself between the car and the table. From the trajectory of the shots, Franco figured the shooter had gone high, probably sitting in a tree to the south of their position. If Nic stayed down on the ground between the table and the Jeep she should be out of his range. But he had no intention of leaving her there.

He needed to get her into the car and out of that park as fast as he could.

Another shot sighed past, hitting the side of the car. Behind him, Nic yelped and he was afraid she’d been hit. “You all right?”

“Other than peeing myself? I’m just dandy. You need to get down, Franco. You’re going to get shot.”

He couldn’t help smiling as his gaze slid slowly along the perimeter. “I’m the bodyguard, remember? I’m the one who’s supposed to get shot.”

“Don’t even joke about that.”

There! A dark form shifted between the branches of a tree, seventy-five yards away. Franco dived to the ground as three rounds peppered the table, spewing food in a messy arc around them. “Damn! This guy’s good.”

“Well yeah, I can see he’s really pissed off at that potato salad.”

Franco barked out a laugh. “Keep it down back there. I’m trying to concentrate.”

“Well can you hurry? I really do have to pee and I’m thinking you don’t want me to squat right here.”

The words were light but her voice quavered with fear. He nodded. “You’re right. Let’s quit screwing around with these jerks. When I say ‘go’, I want you to roll over to the car and slide underneath it. Move as quickly as you can to the other side and climb in. Keep your head down.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll be right behind you.”

“Okay.”

Franco lifted his head so he could see the guy in the tree. He hadn’t moved. He scanned the roads around the park and saw they were empty. Then he checked his magazine and found it half full. Hopefully it would be enough because his spare ammo was in the canvas bag in the back of the Jeep. He’d beat himself up for his carelessness later. At the moment he had bigger problems.

The SUV he’d seen driving past had pulled into position on the opposite side of the park, pinning them in.

“Franco?”

He slid back down, assessing his options. “No good. They’ve got the other side of the car covered now.”

She sighed so long and hard he glanced her way. She was glaring at him. “I told you I needed my gun.”

He shook his head, thinking fast. There had to be some way… Franco shoved at the picnic table but it was bolted down. Too bad, he thought, it would have made a good shield while they climbed into the car. His gaze caught on the trash can beside the table. It was metal, hopefully filled with a nice depth of neutralizing trash. It wasn’t much but it was the best chance they had. “Okay, new plan. I’m going to lay down cover fire while you climb into the Jeep on this side. Lie down on the floor in the back.”

“Then how are you going to get in?”

“I’m going to use that trash can as a shield.”

Silence met his statement. “While shooting, opening the car door, and driving away?”

“I didn’t say it was a good plan.”

“Here’s a better one. Give me the gun. I’ll provide cover while you grab the can and we can both use it to get into the car.”

“Not a chance.”

“Dammit, Franco! What’s the point in my having all this self-defense training if nobody will let me use it?”

“That’s a last ditch plan.”

“This is about as last ditch as it gets, homey.”

He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I just gained new respect for your brother. If I was him I’d have introduced you to the nuclear wedgie at an early age.”

“Give me the gun, Franco.”

He would have liked to blow a hole in her plan. Unfortunately it was better than his. Dammit! “Okay. But try not to shoot me with it.”

She took the gun, ejected the mag like an expert, checked the rounds and slammed it back home. Then she sat up and slid across the grass to the table, peering over it. “That’s the shooter up there?”

“Yeah. You won’t be able to hit him but…”

Nic settled the muzzle of the gun onto the table and closed one eye.

“You shouldn’t close your eye…”

“Shut up, this works for me.”

“Okay, whatever, shoot the bad guy in the tree. Not the good guy sprinting toward the can. Got it?”

“Shoot the mouthy bodynapper with the can and gain myself some peace and quiet. Got it.”

“Lord help me.”

“Just go already, before these guys get restless.”

Right on cue, the Jeep jerked under a fresh round of bullets from the SUV. Franco glanced over the hood and saw that they were on the move. “The SUV’s coming on. We’ve got to do this now.”

“That’s what I said,” Nic murmured. She fired into the tree and Franco took off running.

Several more rounds sizzled through the air as he threw himself to the ground behind the can, some of them heading for him.

The can jerked under a couple of rounds, one of which went in high and passed straight through.
There was a yelp behind him. Panic flared. “Nic?”

“I’m fine. He just stomped on my last nerve.”

Franco grabbed the can and hunkered behind it as a fresh round of bullets slammed through the air toward the shooter in the tree. There was a yelp and a rifle pinwheeled through the air to the ground, followed by the darkly clad shooter.

“Well, damn.”

“Lose the can, Martin. Here come the bad guys.”

She opened the door and threw herself inside as the SUV barreled toward them, a gun sticking out of the front passenger side window. Franco flung himself into the Jeep, trying to keep low as he clambered into the driver’s seat, and turned the key, gunning it forward as soon as the engine caught. Bullets continued to ping off the metal sides and back. A back window shattered and glass sprayed over them.

Franco headed for a copse of massive evergreens, figuring the guys in the SUV would have a harder time hitting them with a bunch of trees around. They slipped under the drooping branches and the shower of bullets stopped as they barreled across a thick carpet of dried needles. The sharp tang of evergreen filled the car as he took a turn on two wheels and headed toward the back of the park, keeping sight of the SUV driving alongside the thicket. The big car was managing to stay even with them and the occasional tree trunk exploded under a wayward bullet.

Nici’s head popped up.

“Stay down.”

“Hit the street, there’s a delivery truck backing out of that driveway there.”

She was right. If they could tuck in behind the truck…

“Hold on!” He jerked the wheel hard right and the passenger side door squealed as it scraped along a row of trunks with prickly branches. They emerged from the evergreen copse and hit a sidewalk, heading straight for a hydrant.

“Franco!”

He jumped as she squealed. “Stop that! You scared the crap out of me.” He jerked the wheel and the car missed the hydrant by inches, heading for a fat gray squirrel holding an acorn, its shiny brown eyes wide.

“Franco!”

“Oh for god sakes!” He jerked the wheel again, barely missing the stupid rodent, and they dropped with a bang of tortured suspension into the street just as the boxy white truck started toward the intersection. Franco tucked the Jeep in on the opposite side of it, blocking them from the SUV’s view, and took the first turn into a large subdivision as the truck lumbered on down the street.

A few quick turns later brought them out of the subdivision and Franco headed for the highway, the SUV nowhere in sight.

Excerpt from Revealing Nicola by Sam Cheever. Copyright © 2017 by Sam Cheever. Reproduced with permission from Sam Cheever. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Sam Cheever

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

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Feb 202017
 

CHARLES SALZBERG

CHARLES SALZBERG is the author of the Shamus Award-nominated Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair (re-release Nov. 2016), Devil in the Hole (re-release Nov. 2016), Triple Shot (Aug. 2016), and Swann’s Way Out (Feb. 2017). His novels have been recognized by Suspense Magazine, the Silver Falchion Awards, the Beverly Hills Book Award and the Indie Excellence Award. He has written over 25 nonfiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Life and Zany Times, with Soupy Sales. He has been a visiting professor of magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, and he teaches writing at the Writer’s Voice and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a founding member.

Q&A with Charles Salzberg

Henry Swann is a classic amateur detective, but in “Swann’s Way Out,” your fourth book in the series, he’s really starting to get his bearings. How has his detective style changed since the first book, “Swann’s Last Song?”
For one thing, he’s a little more sure of himself now in terms of gathering information and putting that information together so it forms a logical pattern. Swann doesn’t really solve crimes as much as he makes sense of them, while at the same time, he grapples with his personal demons—the untimely death of his wife, his neglect of his son, his inability to set down roots. As someone who has for years lived on the margins of society, he’s trying to carve out a solid life for himself, one with connections to other people. And in an odd way, he makes up for real family by surrounding himself with friends like Goldblatt and Klavan. In short, his work has helped him adjust better to life, not that he still doesn’t feel like a complete fraud and outsider, as do most of us.

The mysteries in this book happen in three different locations. Was it difficult to tie them all together?
Not at all. In fact, it’s fun shifting the action from place to place. It gives the book a sense of movement and working with several plots at the same time I think is an added element that forces the reader (and me) to pay closer attention. It also adds to the sense of disorientation and alienation Swann suffers from. He never really feels “at home” anyplace, and so moving around mirrors his psychological disconnection.

As your fourth book in the Henry Swann series, are there any things that surprised you about Henry as a character in the latest book?
Everything surprises me about Swann. I don’t go into these books with a “plan.” They’re not plotted out and not only don’t I ever know what’s going to happen, I also don’t know what characters are going to appear and when they do what role they’re going to play in the story. Besides, he’s not the kind of character who does much planning about his life. He doesn’t know where he’s going to be or what he’s going to do from one day to the next. That’s what keeps the books fresh and fun to write for me, but also a little scary and challenging. So, when I actually sit down at my desk to write I have two feelings…anticipation as to what’s going to happen next, and fear because what if I don’t know what’s going to happen next? Or what if it’s not very interesting?

Henry Swann’s son is a fascinating development in his character. How does his entrance affect Henry?
Swann has always suffered enormous guilt as a result of sending his son away to live with his maternal grandparents after his mother, Swann’s wife, was killed in a freak accident. The only way he can deal with this “abandonment,” because that’s what it was no matter how often he tells himself it was for his son’s own good, is through denial. This results in him thinking about him as little as he possibly can. But when his son turns up missing he can’t do this anymore, and yet it proves him with an opportunity to use his skill, what he does best, finding things, to reconnect with his son and maybe, just maybe, assuage some of that guilt he’s carried with him all these years. He hopes it might lead him to redemption, something we’re all looking for, by the way, in that he can finally make up for all those lost years when he was out of touch.

For long-time Henry Swann fans, what do they have most to look forward to in the upcoming release?
More Goldblatt, for one thing. Their partnership is now solidified and although Swann is not pleased about working with someone else, especially Goldblatt, he has come to accept it and it’s probably made him better at what he does, and lit something of a fire under him. For the first time in a long time he’s not only responsible for himself for for someone else. He doesn’t like this but still he knows it probably makes him a better person. Readers can also expect to be brought into two worlds that interest me: the fine art scene and Hollywood. They’re very different art forms, but in a way they’re very similar in that they’re based on smoke and mirrors, deception, fantasy and sleight of hand. In both cases, if successful, the viewer is totally conned, but not necessarily duped.

Is it true that you initially intended “Swann’s Way Out” to be the last book in the series?
Well, I thought it would be because I thought I’d taken the character as far as I could, that I had nothing new to say about him or the world that existed around him. And so I started and completed another novel called Second Story Man, with two new protagonists (actually, they weren’t totally new, as they were “borrowed” from an earlier novel, Devil in the Hole), and even started what I think might be another detective series with a very different kind of detective. But just when I thought I was out, he pulled me back in again. In other words, I got a first line for a new Swann and then two ideas for two new cases he could work on, one of them would reveal more about Goldblatt’s background, and the other would have him get involved in a murder trial. And one of the reasons I said I would stop is that I didn’t think I could come up with another title, but I think I have, at least for now, and that’s Swann’s Down, so there you go. There will be a fifth Swann, probably out in the spring of 2018 (and I only say this so that now I actually do have to finish it).

Connect with Charles at these sites:

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Detective Henry Swann returns to search for the truth behind a Hollywood hack, fraudulent art and the sudden absence of his son
NEW YORK CITY – Fans of Henry Swann, rejoice! He’s back in the usual cerbral, hard-boiled way that everyone knows and loves in Charles Salzberg’s latest addition to the detective’s adventures, “Swann’s Way Out” (Feb. 20, 2017, Down & Out Books).

In the newest novel in Salzberg’s suspenseful crime fiction series, Swann is on the search for $1 million seemingly embezzled by a shady Hollywood producer, the salesman of a possibly illegal painting, and in an intriguing turn of events, his long-estranged teenage son. With such an unusual personal distraction, a guilt-ridden Swann is forced to step away from his paying cases to chase after his son, who seems to have joined some sort of cult.

With Salzberg’s always-brilliant writing and beautiful plotting, three mysteries intertwine into a brilliant, hold-your-breath story as Swann sleuths his way to the finish in this dazzling follow-up to “Swann’s Lake of Despair” (2014), which was re-released in November 2016 along with the other books in the Henry Swann series, “Swann’s Last Song” and “Swann Dives In.”

READ AN EXCERPT

Chapter 1
Raising the Stakes
“What am I going to do with the rest of my life?” I asked no one in particular.
I don’t know why it occurred to me at that very moment to ask directions. It wasn’t as if I expected anyone in the room to answer my question, much less provide me with any kind of useful road map to my future. And looking around, would I actually want any of these assholes to give me life instruction? The obvious, to paraphrase Conan Doyle, need not be stated.
“Is that a rhetorical question?” Goldblatt asked as he glared at the cards in his hand, as if staring at them hard enough would miraculously change the crap he was no doubt holding into a winning hand.
“I thought this was a card game, not group therapy,” growled Klavan as he pushed several multi-colored chips to the center of the table, where the growing pile now represented close to fifty bucks, a large pot for the relative chump change stakes we were playing at. “I’m raising ten bucks. Any of you losers got the cojones to see me?”
“Too rich for my blood,” squeaked Stan Katz, whose voice sounded much like chalk scraping across a blackboard. I’d met him for the first time an hour or so earlier when Goldblatt introduced him to the game as such: “This is Stan. He does my taxes, so he’s good with numbers.” Evidently, that was all the recommendation he needed to join what had been for the last few months a semi-regular, bi-weekly poker game. The idea was Goldblatt’s. He felt it would be a good bonding experience. I like poker, though I am certainly no fan of bonding experiences, so I acquiesced in large part because it passed the time and kept me from feeling too sorry for myself as a result of evenings left with nothing to do. I’d pretty much given up hanging out at dive bars. Goldblatt even begrudgingly agreed to include Klavan, not one of his favorite people in the world.
“I know he’s a friend of yours though I have no idea why, so you can ask him if he wants to play,” Goldblatt had said. “But tell him I’m not putting up with any of his bullshit.”
So I invited Klavan and he jumped at the opportunity to redistribute Goldblatt’s—and everyone else’s—wealth.
“I’m in,” said a much too enthusiastic Doug Garr, a friend from my college days at Columbia. We’d reconnected a year or so earlier when I bumped into him on Broadway just as he was about to disappear into the subway. He was actually a working journalist, which meant he was able to eke out a living by writing for magazines, newspapers and writing or ghostwriting nonfiction books. He was on his way to the gym to play squash. I was now sorry I’d asked.
“What about you, O’Mara?” Klavan asked, peeking over the cards held at eye level. “You in or out?”
T.J. O’Mara, another old acquaintance of mine, was a former cop turned local prosecutor who was now looking to change careers again. I first met him when he was a beat cop and he caught me repoing a car. When I explained what I was doing, he looked the other way and we’ve been friends ever since. The last time we’d had lunch he told me he was considering “the writing game,” as he called it. “I’ve got stories up the wazoo just waiting to be told,” he had said.
“I’m sure you do,” I agreed.
“And how difficult can it be to write them up?” he had asked.
“Not difficult at all,” I’d assured him, trying hard to suppress a smile. “I’m sure any moron can do it.”
“Yeah, and from what I’ve been reading a lot of them are,” he’d said. “I figure I’ll take a few classes, just to get the form and all that shit, then sit down, write up a few stories, get myself an agent. And there you have it.”
If it were that easy we’d all be best-selling authors, but who was I to burst his bubble?
“So, T.J., you in or out?” Klavan persisted.
“I think I’ll sit this one out,” said T.J., tossing his cards face down on the table.
“What was it you said you did for a living?” Kenny Glassman asked me. Glassman was a friend of Klavan’s. He owned a small bookstore in lower Manhattan. The bookstore was this close to going under, but family money was keeping it afloat, Klavan had explained to me earlier. “He’s a good guy in a bad business, but he’ll come out okay. His folks just bought the building, so he’s existing rent-free, which is the only way to make it in the book game, unless you’re buying and selling rare books, like me.”
“He’s a private detective,” Goldblatt piped up. “We’re partners,” he added quickly, puffing up his ample chest, as if no one had slipped him the memo that private detecting was not exactly at the top of anyone’s list of preferred occupations, mine included.
“You in or out?” growled Klavan, peering at the rest of the players over his black-framed eyeglasses, which were balanced precariously near the end of his nose. I thought he was bluffing, but I couldn’t be sure. He was used to bidding on rare books, so he knew how to project a poker face. Still, his being so anxious was probably meant to make us believe he had a winning hand, and was doing the opposite for me. When people try too hard, and when they try not hard enough, they’re lying. The truth, I’ve found, if there is one, lies somewhere in the middle.
“I’m thinking,” said Goldblatt, shuffling his cards back and forth, hoping, I guessed, they’d miraculously morph into the straight I figured he was aiming for.
“I’m not a private detective,” I protested, pushing the appropriate number of chips toward the center of the table. I wasn’t about to let Klavan or anyone else steal that pot without a fight.
“Then what are you?” asked Kenny, whose thick, nasal, heavily-accented voice left little mystery as to which borough he hailed from.
“Not one of those guys who peeps through windows and rummages through garbage, are you?” kidded Garr.
I ignored him, though those were things that were not beneath me, so long as I was being paid for doing them.
“Therein, Kenny, lies the problem,” I said.
“Fucking identity crisis,” said Klavan. “Can we just leave it at that and finish the damn hand before we help Swann figure his way out of the morass that is his sad, pathetic life.”
This insulting commentary was from someone closest to being my best friend, although I would never say that to Goldblatt, whom I was sure believed he held that unenviable position.
“Okay, I’m in,” announced Goldblatt, pushing an indeterminate number of blue chips into the growing pile of reds and whites. “Hey, where’s the dip?”
“There is no dip,” replied an exasperated Klavan, in whose apartment we were playing, his living room, to be precise, which also doubled as his library. It gave the game a comfortable feel, amongst all those books.
“Where there are chips there should be dip,” said Goldblatt. “It’s one of the immutable laws of life.”
Kenny, not knowing any better, had generously brought along a few bags of chips along with the two six-packs of beer he’d offered to provide.
“You want fuckin’ dip go out and get it,” snapped Klavan.
“Easy, Ross,” I said. “Goldblatt, forget the damn dip. We’re here to play cards, not feed our faces.”
“Okay, but I have to tell ya, every game I’ve ever been in there’s been some kind of edibles, usually provided by the host,” he added, never missing an opportunity to needle Klavan.
Klavan shot him a look that was at least as lethal as an AK-47.
“We can call out for pizza,” Kenny offered, obviously trying to bring peace and tranquility to the land. Good luck with that.
“I could go for some pizza,” said Doug. “I know a great place in the neighborhood.” He checked his watch. “And I don’t think it’s too late for them to deliver.”
“Could we please just finish this goddamn hand,” pleaded Klavan, whose face was turning a bright shade of red. Now, I was sure he was bluffing.
“You boys are pretty serious about your poker, aren’t you?” said T.J. who, with a big smirk on his face, was balancing back and forth in his chair. He was out, so what did he care?
Me, I was enjoying myself, too. Maybe because I was having a pretty good night for a change. The buy-in was fifty bucks, the stakes relatively low—two bucks maximum, until the last round, when you could go as high as ten. That’s where we were now. Being ahead for the night, I figured with a high flush in hand it was worth it to see Klavan’s cards.
“I’ll raise it another five,” I said, not wanting to scare him out of the game.
Goldblatt looked me in the eye with an accusing squint. “You’ve got some hand there, don’t you, Swannie?”
“You can pay another five bucks to see it,” I snapped, ignoring the fact that I hated being called Swannie and he knew it. But in poker, anything goes, trash talk, psychological warfare, any kind of distraction, so I let it slide.
He shook his head. “I’ll let you and Klavan duke it out.”
“Kenny?” Klavan said, nodding in his direction.
Kenny shook his head and folded his cards.
“Looks like it’s just you and me, Ross.”
He eyed me, then the pot, then back to me.
“It’s only five bucks,” I taunted.
“I’m hungry,” he said, folding his hand, then laying it on the table. “Garr, call that place you know. But no friggin’ anchovies. They’re an insult to the world of fish.”
*****
The pizza arrived and, as the big winner for the night, I uncharacteristically sprung for it, though Klavan, still grumbling about playing with “amateurs” added a generous tip. We ate in the kitchen, at a large wood top table, because Ross didn’t want any flying cheese or sauce to land on any of his precious books. And with Goldblatt on board, that was a very plausible outcome.
We finished the pizza in record time, washed it down with imported beer, then returned to the table for another hour or so of poker
By the time the evening ended, just short of midnight, I was up about a hundred bucks, well beyond the price of the pizza. This made the third game in a row I’d come up a winner and I was sure Goldblatt, who’d lost every week, was about ready to call for a federal investigation.
As Klavan dutifully emptied the rooms of the detritus of beer bottles, pizza boxes and paper plates, and Goldblatt studied the pizza stains on his shirt as if he was trying to decipher some arcane code, Stan Katz pulled me aside.
“I understand you’re in the business of finding people,” he said, his squeaky voice whispered so low I had a little trouble hearing him.
“I guess.”
“That’s what Goldblatt told me.”
“Then it must be true.”
“I’d like to speak to you about something.”
“Sure thing.”
“Not here, though.” He handed me his card. “Can you call me tomorrow? And if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say anything to Goldblatt about this.”
I took the card, slipped it into the pocket of my T-shirt. “My lips are sealed.”
“Thank you. And for the record, you’re a pretty good poker player.”
“No offense, Stan, but I’m only as good as my competition is bad. And believe me,” I said, “it doesn’t get much worse.”
He smiled and backed away, his index finger pressed to his lips.
I mimicked his gesture, and backed into the living room, where Goldblatt and Garr were putting on their jackets. It was mid-spring and though the days had warmed up a bit, the nights were still chilly. I had worn a sweater, figuring the brisk walk home would keep me warm enough. Not to mention the wad of ones and fives swelling the size of my wallet.

Praise for the Henry Swann Detective Series

“Swann’s Lake of Despair”
“Smart, satisfying, even profound, this is exactly what every mystery reader is looking for: A terrific story, full of wit and originality, and a master class in voice. Charles Salzberg is a true talent, and his Henry Swann is a classic–complex, hilarious, and completely charming.
“—Hank Phillippi Ryan

“Like a good detective, Swann looks past the obvious and follows the plot twists to their unexpected conclusions. As he clips through his paces, Swann takes the reader on an enjoyable ride sprinkled with plenty of sass and vinegar and illuminated by the bright lights and dark underside of the Big Apple. He’s a hero who grows more endearing with each book and whose capers ultimately beg the question: What’s next for Henry Swann?”—Books in Brief

“Swann’s Lake of Despair feels like three short story concepts that have been merged, shoe-horned as it were, into a single storyline. It’s a little slow going at first, as each subplot requires its own setup and there is nothing to connect them. (Indeed, they turn out to be three completely separate storylines.) Too, Henry Swann is a difficult character to embrace. He’s gruff and aloof, and yet tends to grow on the reader as someone who’s also basically fair and incredibly insightful. But what is most intriguing about the book is how Swann negotiates an end game to each of his cases. For each, there is a simple way out but it clearly isn’t the right way out; what Swann wants to do — indeed, what the reader wants Swann to do — is come up with an exit strategy that may not be easy but one that is mutually acceptable to all parties involved, allowing each to walk away agreeable with the outcome if not necessarily completely satisfied with it. There’s a nuanced complexity here that makes this all very appealing in the end. A solid mystery and one that is recommended.”—Mysterious Reviews

BOOK DETAILS:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: Feb. 20, 2017
ISBN13: 9781943402540
Pages: 276

PURCHASE LINKS:


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Feb 202017
 

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia of A girl and her books and is now hosted on its own blog.

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.

Thursday: TILL DEATH by Jennifer L. Armentrout from Harper Collins
Friday: I LOVE YOU TODAY by Marcia Gloster from The Story Plant/PBP
Friday: ONE O’CLOCK HUSTLE by Joanne Pence from Author
Friday: SIGN OFF by by Patricia McLinn from Author

Feb 192017
 

Ashes
by Steven Manchester
on Tour February 19 – April 21, 2017

Ashes by Steven Manchester

Book Details
Genre: Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Number of Pages: 260
Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life – and death – has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other’s company. It’s either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he’s left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.

At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, Ashes puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.

MY REVIEW

5+ stars

Let me first state that I am a HUGE fan of Steven Manchester, having read all his books TWELVE MONTHS, GOODNIGHT, BRIAN, THE ROCKIN’ CHAIR, GOOSEBERRY ISLAND, PRESSED PENNIES and THE CHANGING SEASON, and now ASHES. And I only have 1 question, HOW DOES HE DO IT? With each book, he raises his own bar and gives the reader an incredible story!!

ASHES, like the synopsis states, is about 2 brothers who haven’t spoken in 15 years and had a very dysfunctional childhood living with their abusive father, are forced to take a cross country trip. They receive word that their father has passed away but realize he is still in control. They are to drive cross country, to spread his ashes, and then they will find out what is in the letter he left with his attorney.

The journey starts with animosity, sibling rivalry and feelings that were never resolved. As the journey continues, the brothers find themselves, maybe even liking each other. (vague due to not wanting to have a spoiler).

Steve Manchester, an astonishing and brilliant author, creates a story where the reader is swept away. His prolific ability to describe the characters, emotions, and settings, allows the reader to vividly imagine and feel all.
His books transport the reader from wherever they are to becoming part of the story. With ASHES, I felt that I was the invisible back seat passenger on the brothers’ journey.

In this book, there was humor, raw emotions, beautiful settings traveling cross country and a bit of mystery. How did the brothers’ trip end? Who did they meet along the way? What was in that envelope? And what became of their brotherly relationship after all these years estranged?

A poignant, passionate, sentimental read! I could not put this book down!!!! A heart warming, intense, and at times, a humorous story.

He really won Gold with this book! Sure to be another award winning novel. The only negative, now I have to try and wait patiently for his next book.

If you haven’t read a book by Steven Manchester, you are truly missing out on an extraordinary writer. Highly recommend, not only ASHES, but all of his books. I guarantee you will become a fan too.

Read an excerpt:

Tom wheeled his late-model, platinum-colored BMW into Attorney Russell Norman’s freshly paved lot and parked between a brand new Lexus—sporting the license plate JUSTIS4U—and a custom pickup truck. Looks like I’m going after the hillbilly, he thought when he spotted the faded Massachusetts Department of Correction sticker in the rear window. His blood turned cold. “It must be Jason,” he thought aloud. I didn’t think he’d come.

Tom took a few deep breaths, not because he was nervous about his father’s death or talking to any lawyer but because he hadn’t seen his Neanderthal brother—for fifteen years, I think. He paused for a moment to give it more thought. Although their relationship had essentially vaporized in their late teens—the result of a fall out that still haunted his dreams—they’d occasionally wound up in each other’s orbits; weddings, funerals, and the like, enough to remain familiar with each other’s career choices, wives, and children. But even that came to an end fifteen years ago, he confirmed in his aching head before opening the door. While his toothache-induced migraine threatened to blind him, he took one step into the oak-paneled waiting room. His and Jason’s eyes met for the briefest moment. As though they were complete strangers, they both looked away. And here he is, Tom thought, disappointed. This is just great.

Through peripheral vision, Tom noticed that his older brother now wore a scar over his right eye, just above a bushy eyebrow that could have easily belonged to a homeless Scotsman. A jagged ear lobe, a piece clearly torn away, pointed to a crooked nose that sat sideways on his face—all of it rearranged since birth. What a big tub of shit he’s turned into, Tom thought, struggling to ignore his throbbing face and head. He’s as fat as a wood tick now, he thought, grinning, and he looks like he’s ready to pop. Jason looked straight at him, as if reading his mind. Tom immediately looked away, his rapid heartbeat starting to pound in his ears, intensifying his physical pain. Unbelievable, he thought. After all the years and all the distance, his elder brother—by only two years—still scared the hell out of him. He’s just a big asshole, that’s all, he told himself, but he still couldn’t bring himself to rejoin his brother’s penetrating gaze.

The secretary answered her phone before calling out, “Mr. Prendergast . . .”

Both brothers stood.

“Attorney Norman will see you now.”

Tom walked in first, letting the door close behind him—right in Jason’s face.

“Still a weasel,” Jason muttered, loud enough for all to hear.

“What was that?” Tom asked just inside the door.

“Don’t even think about playing with me,” Jason warned as he reopened the door and entered the room, “’cause I have no problem throwing you over my knee and spanking you right in front of this guy.”

I’m fifty years old, for God’s sake, Tom thought, and he thinks he’s going to spank me? I’m surprised the prison even let him out.

The attorney—his hand extended for anyone willing to give it a shake—looked mortified by the childish exchange.

Tom shook the man’s hand before settling into a soft leather wing chair. Jason followed suit.

The room was framed in rich mahogany paneling. The desk could have belonged in the oval office. Beneath a green-glassed banker’s lamp, stacks of file folders took up most of the vast desktop. An American flag stood in one corner, while framed diplomas and certificates, bearing witness to the man’s intelligence and vast education, covered the brown walls.

Attorney Norman wore a pinstriped shirt and pleated, charcoal-colored slacks held up by a pair of black suspenders. He had a bow tie, a receding hairline that begged to be shaved bald, and a pair of eyeglasses that John Lennon would have been proud to call his own. There’s no denying it, Tom thought, trying to ignore his brother’s wheezing beside him, he’s either a lawyer or a banker. He couldn’t be anything else.

While Jason squirmed in his seat, visibly uncomfortable to be sitting in a lawyer’s office, his hands squeezed the arms of the chair. What a chicken shit, Tom thought, trying to make himself feel better. Peering sideways, he noticed that his brother’s knuckles were so swollen with scar tissue they could have belonged to a man who made his living as a bare-knuckle brawler. He’s still an animal too, he decided.

Attorney Norman took a seat, grabbed a manila file from atop the deep stack and cleared his throat. “The reason you’re both here . . .”

“. . . is to make sure the old man’s really dead,” Jason interrupted.

In spite of himself and his harsh feelings for his brother, Tom chuckled—drawing looks from both men.

“The reason we’re all here,” Attorney Norman repeated, “is to read Stuart Prendergast’s last will and testament.” He flipped open the folder.

This ought to be good, Tom thought, while Jason took a deep breath and sighed heavily. Both brothers sat erect in their plush chairs, waiting to hear more.

As if he were Stuart Prendergast sitting there in the flesh, the mouthpiece read, “My final wish is that my two sons, Jason and Thomas, bring my final remains to 1165 Milford Road in Seattle, Washington, where they will spread my ashes.”

“Seattle?” Tom blurted, his wagging tongue catching his tooth, making him wince in pain. Quickly concealing his weakness, he slid to the edge of his seat. “Oh, I don’t think so,” he mumbled, careful not to touch the tooth again.

Jason was shaking his head. “Hell no,” he said.

The attorney read on. “I’ve always been afraid to fly, so I’m asking that I not be transported by airplane but driven by car.”

“No way,” Tom instinctively sputtered.

Jason laughed aloud. “This is just great. The old bastard’s dead and he’s still screwing with us.”

The less-than-amused attorney revealed a sealed envelope and continued on. “As my final gift to my sons . . .”

“Only gift,” Tom muttered, feeling a cauldron of bad feelings bubbling in his gut.

“I’m leaving this sealed envelope for them to share, once and only once they’ve taken me to my final resting place.”

“What the fuck!” Jason blurted.

Every cell in Tom’s overloaded brain flashed red. Don’t do it, he thought. You don’t owe that old man a damned thing. But every cell in his body was flooded with curiosity. He looked at Jason, who was no longer shaking his fat head.

“Maybe the bastard finally hit it big at the dog track?” Jason suggested.

Tom nodded in agreement but secretly wondered, Could it be the deed to the land Pop bragged about owning in Maine? He stared at the envelope. For as long as I can remember, he claimed to own forty-plus acres with a brook running straight through it. He stared harder. Could it be? he wondered, wishing he had X-ray vision. A parcel of land in Maine sure would make a nice retirement . . .

“How ’bout we travel separately and meet in Seattle to spread the ashes?” Jason said, interrupting his thoughts.

“Great idea,” Tom said, hoping against all hope that the idea would fly with their father’s lawyer.

Attorney Norman shook his head. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but your father specifically requested that you travel together with his remains to Seattle. Any deviation from this can and will prohibit you from attaining the sealed envelope.”

There was a long pause, the room blanketed in a heavy silence. Son of a bitch, Tom thought, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. He turned to Jason, who was already looking at him. “What do you say?” he asked, already cursing his inability to curb his curiosity.

Jason shook his head in disgust. “The last thing I want to do is to go on some stupid road trip with you.”

“Trust me, that’s a mutual feeling,” Tom shot back.

“But I don’t think we have a choice,” Jason added. “Our fucked-up father wants to play one last game with us, so to hell with it—let’s play.”

This is insane, but he’s right, Tom thought. With a single nod, Tom stood. “Okay, let’s have the ashes then,” he told the lawyer.

The attorney shook his head. “I don’t have them. They’re currently at a funeral home in Salem.”

“Salem?” Tom squeaked, unhappy that his tone betrayed his distress.

“That’s right. You have to take custody of your father’s remains from the Buffington Funeral Home in Salem, Massachusetts.”

“You must be shitting me.” Jason said.

The attorney smirked. “I shit you not,” he said, throwing the letter onto his desk.

Salem? Tom repeated in his head. Just when I thought Pop couldn’t be a bigger prick . . . The migraine knocked even harder from the inside of his skull, making him feel nauseous. Amid the pain, his synapses fired wildly, considering all this would mean: I’ll have to take bereavement leave from school and find someone to cover my classes. I should probably double my treatment with Dr. Baxter tomorrow. And what about Caleb and Caroline? he asked himself, quickly deciding, They’ll be fine without me for a few days. Then he pictured his wife’s face. And Carmen, she’ll be fine without me for a lot longer than that. The nausea increased. Screw her.

“Are we done here?” Jason asked, obviously itching to leave.

The lawyer nodded. “I’ll need proof in the form of a video or a series of photos that you’ve deposited your father’s remains where he wished. Once I have that, the letter’s all yours.”

“How wonderful,” Jason said sarcastically. He stood, turned on his heels, and headed for the door.

Tom also got to his feet. He looked at the lawyer and, trying to ignore his physical discomfort, he smiled. “Don’t mind him,” he said, shrugging. “That imbecile is exactly what our father trained him to be.”

Author Bio:

Steven ManchesterSteven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island as well as the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Find Steven on his Website, on Twitter, & on Facebook!

Tour Host Participants:

Don’t miss your chance to learn more about Steven Manchester & his book, Ashes! Visit the tour stops for interviews, guest posts, and lots of reviews!


Don’t Miss Your Chance to WIN Ashes!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Steven Manchester and The Story Plant. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of Ashes by Steven Manchester. The giveaway begins on February 18th and runs through April 23rd, 2017.

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Visit Providence Book Promotions for more great reads!

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
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.

Feb 182017
 

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING by Kathryn Croft
Published by Bookouture
Publication Date: Nov. 16, 2016
ISBN-10: 1786810956
ISBN-13: 978-1786810953
Pages: 326
Review: Personal Purchase
Edition: Kindle
My Rating: 5Synopsis (via GR)

You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
What do you do?

Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbour Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them.
And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.

Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything?

A gripping, shocking psychological thriller, with a twist that will take you by surprise.

My Thoughts and Opinion:

Just imagine, you wake up in your neighbor’s bed naked,and find your friend’s husband dead and you can’t remember how this came to be. No recollection!

Tara knows she is not capable of murder but it’s not only her as a suspect but so is her troubled 17 year old daughter who had a “crush” on him. Tara needs to clear both her and her daughter but she guiltily wonders if her daughter could be the killer. If that isn’t enough, her co-worker is stalking her and her sister in in an abusive relationship.

A family of many secrets and lies. A white-knuckle read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I thought I had this one figured out but was shocked when all the pieces came together.

Highly recommend! I will be looking for more books by Ms. Croft!

100x30 photo 715a7b0a-fc85-4ee8-a819-679fec1f28ed.jpg

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
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.