Oct 182018
 

Three Strikes

by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara, and Charles Salzberg

on Tour September 1 – October 31, 2018

Synopsis:

Three Strikes by Ross Klavan, Tim O'Mara, and Charles Salzberg

I Take Care of Myself in Dreamland

by Ross Klavan

Bartok is horribly scarred. Wounded in the Army, he roams through 1970’s New York, a city of perpetual night, punctuated by crime and populated by streetwalkers, hooker bars, strip clubs, easy drugs and a feeling of doom. There’s one thing on his mind: an experience he had when his Army truck exploded, an experience he calls Red River. More than bliss, more than spiritual. But nothing goes right. Bartok loses his girl, his money, any possibility of support and decides that he’s finished, he’s going to end it but before he does, he’s going out on the town for one last attempt to recapture the incredible experience of Red River. And when he does, he runs into others who see him as an easy mark for dirtier plans…plans that involve murder before suicide.

Bartok’s story is told by a driver for the mob, a guy who’s heard it all and usually keeps his mouth shut because when he begins a trip, it’s almost always one-way.

Jammed

by Tim O’Mara

Aggie’s back. After barely escaping with his life in “Smoked,” Aggie disproves the old adage of “Once burned…” This time around he’s heading from the Midwest to New York City with a sweet shipment of stolen maple syrup. He also has picked up an unwanted-and potentially dangerous-passenger; the fifteen-year-old daughter of his latest boss has hopped on for a free ride to the Big Apple and her on-line boyfriend. When they arrive in NYC, Aggie’s worst fears are realized when the “boyfriend” turns out to be a group of human traffickers. Aggie knew that running one of the world’s most valuable liquids across state lines was skirting the line between safety and danger, but he never knew it could get this sticky.

The Maybrick Affair

by Charles Salzberg

It’s a couple weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor and a young reporter, Jake Harper, who works for a small Connecticut newspaper, is assigned a routine human interest story. A reclusive, elderly woman, has quietly passed away in her small cottage upstate. Anxious for bigger stories, Jake begins his assignment by trying to find out who this woman was and what kind of life she led. As Jake investigates the old woman’s death he finds that years earlier she was tried and convicted of murdering her husband in a well-publicized, lurid trial in London, England. And, after digging further, he, unearths evidence that she might have had a connection to an even more famous British serial killer and that the ramifications of this story might affect America’s entry into the War.

 

Check out my review HERE and enter the giveaway!

Book Details:

Genre: Crime
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: September 10th 2018
Number of Pages: 350
ISBN: 978-1-948235-25-9
Series: 3 Authors, 3 Novellas
Purchase Links: Down & Out Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Our Authors:

Ross Klavan, Tim O'Mara, and Charles Salzberg

Ross Klavan

Ross Klavan’s work spans film, television, radio, print, live performance and visual art. A novella, “Thump Gun Hitched,” was published in 2016 by Down and Out Books as part of “Triple Shot” along with Charles Salzberg and Tim O’Mara. His darkly comic novel Schmuck was published by Greenpoint Press in 2014. Klavan’s original screenplay for the film Tigerland was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and the film was released by New Regency starring Colin Farrell. He recently finished an adaption of John Bowers’ The Colony and has written scripts for Miramax, Intermedia, Walden Media, Paramount, A&E and TNT-TV among others. The “conversation about writing” he moderated with Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer was televised and published as Like Shaking Hands with God, and his short stories have appeared in magazines and been produced by the BBC. An earlier novel, Trax, was published under a pseudonym. His play How I Met My (Black) Wife (Again), co-written with Ray Iannicelli, has been produced in New York City, and he has performed his work in numerous theaters and clubs. He has acted and done voice work in TV and radio commercials and has lent his voice to feature films including: Casino, You Can Count on Me, Revolutionary Road, Awake and the Amazon web series Alpha House, written by Gary Trudeau. He has worked as a newspaper and radio journalist in New York City and London. He lives in New York City with his wife, the painter, Mary Jones.

Catch Up With Ross Klavan On: Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Tim O’Mara

TIM O’MARA is best known for his Raymond Donne mysteries about an ex-cop who now teaches in the same Williamsburg, Brooklyn, neighborhood he once policed: Sacrifice Fly (2012), Crooked Numbers (2013), Dead Red (2015), Nasty Cutter (2017), published by Minotaur Books (#1–#3) and Severn House (#4). He recently signed a deal for a fifth Raymond book, The Hook, which should be published in late 2019 by Severn House. His novellas Smoked and Jammed appear in 2016 and 2018 crime trilogies from Down & Out Books. O’Mara taught special education for 30 years in the public middle schools of New York City, where he still lives and teaches adult writers. In addition to writing The Hook and the stand-alone high-school-based crime drama So Close to Me, O’Mara is currently curating a short crime story anthology to benefit the non-profit American Rivers.

Catch Up With Our Author On: timomara.net, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Charles Salzberg

Charles Salzberg is a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer. He is the author of the Shamus Award nominated Swann’s Last Song, and the sequels, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair and Swann’s Way Out. His novel, Devil in the Hole, was named one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine. His latest novel is Second Story Man. He is co-author of Triple Shot, with Ross Klavan and Tim O’Mara (three crime novellas). He teaches writing in New York City and is on the board of the New York chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Catch Up With Charles Salzberg On: charlessalzberg.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Guest Post by Charles Salzberg


What inspired you to write your first book?

I’m going to skip over the inspiration for my first book, which I began to write when I was 12-years old, primarily because I never finished it. It was a roman a clef (I don’t even think I had a title for it) based on several unhappy summers spent at sleepaway camp. I’d recently learned how to touch type—the most useful course I’ve ever taken in school—and was eager to put my new skill to work. I thought those three or four single-spaced pages were lost forever, but when I moved apartments a few years ago, I found them. Don’t bother asking about them, though, because I haven’t worked up enough nerve yet to actually read them. But I will. Maybe.

I guess the inspiration for my first completed novel, for writing all subsequent novels, in fact, came from reading the work of Saul Bellow, Seize the Day, Herzog, and The Adventures of Augie March, Bernard Malamud, The Fixer and The Natural, Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and Norman Mailer’s, Naked and the Dead.
But the actual inspiration for my first completed novel, The Executioner, came from a yearly feature in the Village Voice. The novel is not what you think, an action-packed tale about a ruthless hitman, but rather a moody, literary novel about a middle-aged man who feels his life is meaningless, and is searching for something he can do to make the world a better place. One day, he reads a feature story in the Voice naming the 10 worst landlords in New York City. One of them acts so egregiously, intimidating tenants so they’ll move and he can hike up the rents, failing to provide basic services like heat and hot water, that the protagonist decides his contribution to society will be to rid the world of this horrible man (mind you, I was only in my early twenties when I wrote this novel, so how I thought I knew anything about mid-life crises is beyond me). The novel was never published but it did find me an agent, make me a finalist in for a prestigious fellowship, and serve as a writing sample to get me into an MFA program.

The inspiration for my first published novel, Swann’s Last Song, was an insult. I’d been accepted into the MFA program at Columbia and before classes began I met with my advisor, a pompous published author of middling and certainly not critically acclaimed novels. Our meeting consisted of him berating me because he said I wrote “that psychological crap like Roth and Doestoevsky” (pretty good company, I thought), and then he added gratuitously, “don’t you know what a story is?”

Yeah, I knew what a story was. I was an English major. I’d read hundreds of novels and short stories. The above mentioned The Executioner, was what got me into the program in the first place. Then he delivered the coup de grace, “if you can forget everything you think you know about writing, I can teach you how to be a good writer.” Yeah, right. I quit the program a week later.

But his words stuck in my mind. Of course, I can tell a story. I know exactly what a plot is. I wanted to prove it to him and me and everyone else in the world, so I decided I would write the most heavily plotted kind of book I could think of: a detective novel. So, I read dozens of crime novels: Chandler, Hammett, Nero Wolfe, John D. MacDonald, James M. Cain, Big Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, anyone I could get my hands on.

And then I began to write. The result was Swann’s Last Song, which languished in a desk drawer for almost twenty years before it was finally published.

Oh, by the way, it was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel.

All of this suggests, at least in my case, that revenge is a very powerful form of inspiration.

 

Read an excerpt:

I Take Care of Myself in Dreamland
By Ross Klavan

 
It was a great time for whores.

New York City, 1970, ’71 maybe, ’72, but, as Bartok was saying, “If nothing else, it’s an ace of a time to be a hooker.” In fact, he says, maybe it’s a lousy time to be anything else. This is what Bartok is telling us he told the whore he’s with, standing in the fleabag hotel on Lex across from Grand Central. Something like, “Must be a great time to be turning tricks.”

Now, a certain kind of guy won’t tell you this but—it doesn’t bother me a damn bit that I’m stupid. Plenty of people would mind—I don’t. They’d be embarrassed—I’m not. When I was a kid they use to say to me, “You don’t have the brains you were born with.” And you know what? They were right. Or maybe I did have those brains, maybe I was born this way. Whatever it is, “stupid” is the reason I’m still around.

The way I see it, I’m just smart enough to keep my mouth shut and at this age—I’m an old man now—you get to see that being smart enough to zip the yap is all the smarts you need. If you take the trip and make your way around, what you’ll end up with anyway is lots of stories you can tell in a bar when nobody wants to listen. So, it’s okay that I’m stupid. Back then, I kept myself dumb except to sometimes say something stupid to make them all laugh. That’s all.

That’s why they let me drive. The smart guys? They didn’t last so long. Smart guys or guys trying to be smart. They’re always the ones who get it first.

“You’re an interesting guy,” they said to me. “You’re the only dumb Yid I’ve ever met.” I told them I was proud to show them that it takes all kinds.

So. Bartok. I’m driving, he’s in the back seat between Nicky and Ray, and he can’t keep his mouth shut, he keeps on chattering like Mr. Happy and he has this strange way of saying things like that he was a guy who “travels the night city, the dark arsenal of bad dreams.”

I said, “You’re a real poet,” and he agreed. I knew he wasn’t gonna last too long.

In the back seat, Bartok shoves his voice down into a whisper so that he sounds like he’s got some hot, evil secret to get off his chest—that’s the way he tells us that he likes hookers except the thing is, they usually don’t take to him. I’m thinking that if this is gonna be his confession, then it’s his last one. “So you’re a guy that even hookers won’t go with,” I say to him. “Man, you ain’t gonna miss much in this world.”

“I can’t say,” Bartok says and it’s the only time he gets so agitated that Ray and Nicky hold him back on the seat. “I can tell.” And then he goes on about the hotel room and how he’s trying to be so cool and charming because, like he says, he’s got this thing for hookers. He likes scotch and hookers he says, and that’s about everything. That’s his entire life. That, and Red River.

 

Jammed
By Tim O’Mara

 

“I oughta shoot you where you stand.”

I know, but I swear to God, that’s exactly what he said. With all I’d been through in the past day and a half, I almost laughed, and I woulda, except he had this huge-ass gun pointed at my face. I guess all guns look big when they’re pointed at you. Forget about it being the biggest cliché in the world, but I was sitting at the time. In his pickup truck. A beautiful red pickup truck. I tell ya, if ya ever commit a crime in the Midwest, make your getaway vehicle a red pickup truck. Soon as you hit the highway, you’ll blend in like a sore thumb in a podiatrist’s office. A sore toe is more like it, but I don’t know what they call hand doctors, so…whatever. You know what I mean.

Truth be told, I was surprised he said anything to me at all. If I was him, I’da shot my ass before I got into his truck. Make sure I didn’t get any blood on the seats. That’s if I was him. Me? I couldn’t shoot someone who wasn’t trying to shoot me. Or maybe trying to hurt a loved one, I guess, y’know? I especially couldn’t shoot someone who comes to a gunfight with a set of keys, which is all I had on me when I got in his truck. That, my driver’s license, and an expired credit card. I think back on it, if I did laugh, it woulda been more than likely my last laugh. My momma used to say, “He who laughs last, laughs best.”

She’da been wrong this time, though. He who laughed last mighta got his ass blown all the way to hell.

Anyway, that was my cook talking, the guy I got my meth from. I screwed up trying to go big league with him. I shoulda learned my lesson and stayed small time and just kept on going with the flow. Sitting next to my cook, in the back seat of the pickup, was that guy Robert who owned the ranch, and was gonna pay me, Elmore, and Mickey to drive those illegal cigarettes to Illinois.

You know things are going to shit when three guys ride out and only two ride back. Somebody wrote a song like that a buncha years ago. The Byrds? The Eagles, maybe?

So, there I am in the back of a pickup, sitting across from my cook and Robert, and I very slowly reach behind me and pull out the money I owed them. What I had left of it, anyway. Robert took it and did that thing like he was weighing it in his hands, letting me know that had the deal gone the way it was supposed to, he’d be holding a lot more money than I’d just given him, we’d be talking about the next deal, and I wouldn’t have a gun sticking in my face.
Nobody talked for a few minutes and I sure as shit wasn’t gonna be the first one to strike up a conversation. I could tell they were both deciding what to do with me and none of the things I came up with in my head were good. Next thing I know, they both take out their phones and start texting. That confused the shit out of me, but after a little while it dawned on me—the way Cook texted and then Robert’s phone would ding and then he’d text and Cook’s phone would ding—that they were texting each other. About me.

 

The Maybrick Affair
By CharlesSalzberg

 

1

If there’s anything more boring, make that deadly boring, than a town council meeting I’ve yet to experience it. But when you’re a young reporter for a small newspaper in a small state—Connecticut—and you’re low man on the totem pole, you don’t have much choice in what you cover. Thank goodness, I only have to do it once a month or in the unlikely event an emergency meeting is called.

It’s not exactly what I had in mind when I broke into journalism after graduating from Yale a couple years ago. I can hardly budget my own meager salary much less understand the town’s budget, and the idea of sitting through lengthy, mostly pointless discussions about traffic violations, Christmas festivals, parades and holiday decorations, well, let’s just say I can think of at least a dozen better uses of my time.

The truth is, not much goes on up here, so you wind up praying for something big, like a multi-car pile-up, a domestic dispute, a burglary, or even a small fire. Nothing too serious, just anything to break the monotony.

But it’s my job to be here, and so I make sure I pay attention and take good notes, which I’ll have to decipher later, since my handwriting leaves much to be desired. My friends used to joke that with that scrawl I should have been a doctor. Not much chance of that, since I gag at the sight of blood.

The way I figure it, I’m just biding my time, paying my dues, impressing my boss with my work ethic in hopes he’ll see he’s wasting me on crap like this and gives me something more interesting. Something like the crime beat. Not that there’s all that much crime up here, but every so often there is a break-in or a domestic squabble, or some two-bit white-collar crime that can possibly make it below the fold on the front page.

I am a fish out of water, living and working in a small town like New Milford. I’m a city kid, born and raised in New York City. Yorkville, to be precise, which is on the upper east side of Manhattan. I literally grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, the tracks of the elevator train, also known as the subway or just plain el. The wrong side of the tracks in this case being east of Park Avenue. My family isn’t German, Czech or Hungarian, but that’s who mostly inhabit my neighborhood and that heritage is reflected in the local restaurants and bakeries, places like the Bremen House, Geiger’s, Schaller and Weber, and Kleiner Konditorei,
A small-town council meeting is a stretch for me, especially since the usual issues under discussion are so provincial and, for the most part, intrinsically uninteresting, at least to me.

***

Excerpt from Three Strikes by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara, and Charles Salzberg. Copyright © 2018 by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara, and Charles Salzberg. Reproduced with permission from Down & Out Books. All rights reserved.

 

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Oct 102018
 

Beneath The River by Alexandrea Weiss and Lucas Astor Banner

Death by the River

by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor

on Tour October 1 – November 30, 2018

Synopsis:

Death by the River by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor

A High School “American Psycho

SOME TRUTHS ARE BETTER KEPT SECRET.
SOME SECRETS ARE BETTER OFF DEAD.

Along the banks of the Bogue Falaya River, sits the abandoned St. Francis Seminary. Beneath a canopy of oaks, blocked from prying eyes, the teens of St. Benedict High gather here on Fridays. The rest of the week belongs to school and family—but weekends belong to the river.

And the river belongs to Beau Devereaux.

The only child of a powerful family, Beau can do no wrong. Handsome. Charming. Intelligent. The star quarterback of the football team. The “prince” of St. Benedict is the ultimate catch.

He is also a psychopath.

A dirty family secret buried for years, Beau’s evil grows unchecked. In the shadows of the ruined St. Francis Abbey, he commits unspeakable acts on his victims and ensures their silence with threats and intimidation. Senior year, Beau sets his sights on his girlfriend’s headstrong twin sister, Leslie, who hates him. Everything he wants but cannot have, she will be his ultimate prize.

As the victim toll mounts, it becomes crystal clear that someone has to stop Beau Devereaux.

And that someone will pay with their life.

Book Details:

Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Number of Pages: 389
ISBN: 1944109145 (ISBN13: 9781944109141)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Alexandrea Weis:

Alexandrea Weis

Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, CRRN, ONC, PhD, is a multi award-winning author of twenty-five novels, a screenwriter, ICU Nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight.

Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable.

A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured animals. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans. Weis writes paranormal, suspense, thrillers, horror, crime fiction, and romance.

Q&A with Alexandrea Weis

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

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

I draw from a lot of personal experiences. As a nurse for over twenty-five years I have had a lot of experience with the human condition—good and bad. It has made me a better writer.

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

I always start at the beginning and see where the story brings me. I like to surprise myself as I write, and I never plot out a story because I never stick with it.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?

Some characters in every book I write are based on the people I know. Makes them more relatable for me and the reader.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I just sit and write. I spend several hours a day writing, so it has become a habit for me.

Tell us why we should read this book.

Death by the River is an entertaining and riveting in-depth look at a man’s descent into depravity and the psychological instability he suffers from. How he manifests his fantasies by hurting the innocent also ignites the need for revenge in the women he harms. How his mental illness develops, and how it affects others, is the crux of the story. Beau Devereaux for me is a fascinating character.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Ian Fleming, Mary Renault, Charles Dickens.

What are you reading now?

ISAN: International Sensory Assassin Network by Mary Ting

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

My next YA (historical) novel is complete and will be out in May 2019. Realm (Vesuvian Books) is about the sixteen-year-old Persian wife of Alexander the Great—Roxana. The daughter of a local governor in Bactria, Alexander married her and took her with him on his travels across Persia and India. It is about her time with him and the years after his death when she is bounced around his myriad of generals who are vying for control of his empire. It is an epic tale of love, conquest, and the plight of women in ancient times. History tells his story. This is hers.

Fun questions:
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

I’m a runner. When I am not writing, I am working out on my treadmill.

Favorite meal?

French fries.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

 

Catch Up With Our Alexandrea On:
Website, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Lucas Astor:

Lucas Astor

Lucas Astor is from New York, has resided in Central America and the Middle East, and traveled through Europe. He lives a very private, virtually reclusive lifestyle, preferring to spend time with a close-knit group of friends than be in the spotlight.

He is an author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche. He likes to explore the evil that exists, not just in the world, but right next door behind a smiling face.

Photography, making wine, and helping endangered species are just some of his interests. Lucas is an expert archer and enjoys jazz, blues, and classical music.

One of his favorite quotes is: “It’s better to be silent than be a fool.” ~Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

 

Read an excerpt:

Crickets chirped and mist curled around him as Beau eased out of the crack in the wall to the cells. The chill in the air teased his sweaty skin, but the surge of power pounding through his blood was like liquid fire.

The rush consumed him. He knew in that instant he would find another victim, but his rational mind begged him to be careful.

Don’t get caught.

He chuckled. Besides the money, his father still had hefty political clout in Baton Rouge, thanks to his notorious grandfather and years of murky business dealings. The family name had spared him in the past from legal proceedings and institutions. It would again.

Heading toward the fountain across the grassy field, Beau considered his next night of fun. Before he reached the forgotten angel, a flash in the corner of his eye made him turn.

Amid the trees, crowding the edge of the property, something darted in and out. He could just make out a long, white hooded cloak, fluttering and billowing at the edge of the woods. Then it disappeared.

His heart rocketed to his throat. It can’t be!

All the stories he’d heard of the lady in white of The Abbey came rushing back at once, intensifying his panic.

Then he calmed. Someone had to be messing with him. It wasn’t the girl. Kelly had taken off, a bawling mess, across the field several minutes before and he’d heard the slam of the iron gate. He was alone. Unless … the guys had pulled a fast one on him.

But the guys don’t know about your room in the cells.

Beau cut across the grass, anxious to get to the iron gate and back to the party. Almost to the path, he glanced back over his shoulder to the patch of trees where he had seen the ghostly presence. Nothing was there.

It was just your imagination. Or was it?

He made it to the party at the beach, relieved to be back among people, but the incident with the ghost had eradicated his high.

He hungered for it to return but would have to wait.

***

Excerpt from Death by the River by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor. Copyright © 2018 by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor. Reproduced with permission from Vesuvian Books. All rights reserved.

 

Tour Participants:

Tour Participants:

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Enter To Win:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Vesuvian Media Group. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on October 1, 2018 and runs through December 3, 2018. Void where prohibited.

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Oct 092018
 

Dead in the Dark

by Stephen Booth

on Tour September 25 – October 25, 2018

Synopsis:

Dead in the Dark by Stephen Booth

How do you prove a murder without a body?

Ten years ago, Reece Bower was accused of killing his wife, a crime he always denied. Extensive police searches near his home in Bakewell found no trace of Annette Bower’s remains, and the case against him collapsed.

But now memories of the original investigation have been resurrected for Detective Inspector Ben Cooper – because Reece Bower himself has disappeared, and his new wife wants answers.

Cooper can’t call on the Major Crime Unit and DS Diane Fry for help unless he can prove a murder took place – impossible without a body. As his search moves into the caves and abandoned mines in the isolated depths of Lathkilldale, the question is: who would want revenge for the death of Annette Bower?

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0062876104 (ISBN13: 9780062876102)
Series: Cooper & Frye Mysteries #17
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Guest Post by Stephen Booth

10 things that readers don’t know about Detective Inspector Ben Cooper

  1. Ben Cooper’s birthday is in late June, so his star sign is Cancer (like mine!).

  2. He broke his arm as a child when his older brother Matt pushed him off his bike. He still gets a twinge of pain in the winter.

  3. Like many children who grew up on a farm, Ben once had pet lamb that had lost its mother. He called it Norman.

  4. As a teenager, his first girlfriend’s name was Stephanie. She was the daughter of a local veterinary surgeon, but she dumped him when he announced he was joining the police.

  5. Ben barely scraped good enough grades at school to qualify as a police cadet – unlike his colleague Diane Fry, who is a university graduate in Crime and Policing.

  6. However, after his day-to-day experience as a cadet and a police constable, he passed his sergeant’s exams with flying colours.

  7. Ben played rugby for a while, as a wing threequarter with Edendale rugby club, but a bad tackle during a match against Buxton aggravated his old injury.

  8. As a uniformed police constable, he was once called to an incident of domestic violence and had to single-handedly tackle a man armed with a knife, for which he received a Chief Constable’s commendation.

  9. On his desk in his office, Ben Cooper has an aerial view of Bank End Farm, where he grew up.

  10. He doesn’t have much time for reading because of his job, but when he does he enjoys historical fiction like Bernard Cornwell or Simon Scarrow. He rarely reads crime novels, because he finds them too unrealistic.

 

Stephen Booth

Author Bio:

A former newspaper journalist, British author Stephen Booth is the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, Ben Cooper and Diane Fry, who have appeared in 17 crime novels, all set in and around England’s Peak District.

 

Catch Up With Stephen Booth On:

stephen-booth.com

Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

No one wants to die in the dark. To lie alone in the blackness, feeling the chill of death creep slowly over you. Shut away from the light as the fear numbs your limbs and chokes the breath in your throat. The long, long sinking into the cold depths. And then to sense that slipping away. The final slipping away into nothing.

Do you feel that stab of pain as it shoots through your chest? Try to make your breathing more shallow. You have several broken ribs, a fractured arm, perhaps a punctured lung. You can hardly know, in the dark. But you can feel the internal bleeding, the seeping blood as it squeezes your internal organs, bloats your stomach and intestines. You know your injuries are fatal.

That fear of the dark is overwhelming. Because this is true darkness, an eternal night in which your eyes have become useless. Your heart thumps uselessly as you strain to see where you’re lying. You can sense space around you, a slight movement of icy air, a shifting of heavy masses, a solid weight way above your head. A sharp, stabbing pain is in your back from something hard you’re lying on. This isn’t a grave. But it is your tomb.

Does your fear of the dark make any sense? When you’re dead, you go into endless blackness. Yet you’ve always hoped you would get one last glimpse of the light, always prayed that you wouldn’t die alone.

Well, that’s not going to happen. There’s nothing for you to see here. Not a glimmer of light, not a flicker of hope. Only the darkness.

A creak and a rattling makes you freeze. Is someone here? Or some thing? But no . . . you breathe out and release the pain. The noise has quite a different meaning. It’s something huge shifting overhead. It signals the end, the approach of your death. You’re about to be crushed completely.

***

Excerpt from Dead In The Dark by Stephen Booth. Copyright © 2018 by Witness Impulse. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

 

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Oct 022018
 

Scar Tissue

by Patricia Hale

on Tour October 1-31, 2018

Synopsis:

Scar Tissue by Patricia Hale

Track star, Ashley Lambert, has just been accepted into the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, so when she jumps eighteen stories to her death her parents hire the PI team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan to find out why. The investigation exposes a deeply disturbed family hiding behind a façade of perfection and follows Ashley’s descent into performance enhancing drugs and blackmail. Ashley’s coaches, peers and even her parents come into question. The disturbing truth behind Ashley’s death is testimony to lines crossed and allegiances sworn…. in the name of love.

Meanwhile, things don’t add up next door. Britt’s working overtime researching their new neighbors whose one-year-old son disappeared four years ago. Rhea McKenzie, has a secret and bruises aren’t the only thing she’s trying to hide. When an off-hand comment discloses a connection to Ashley Lambert the two cases become entwined, setting off an unstoppable chain of events. Britt is sucked into an alliance with Rhea and driven to make decisions that challenge her ethics, threaten her relationship and in the end, push her over a line she never thought she’d cross.

**Check out my review HERE and enter the giveaway**

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Intrigue Publishing
Publication Date: September 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 194
ISBN: 978-1-940758-85-5
Series: Cole and Callahan #3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Patricia Hale 

Author Bio:

Patricia Hale lives in Standish, ME with her husband. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Goddard College, a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance and the NH Writers Project. Scar Tissue is the third book in the Cole & Callahan thriller series. When the computer is off, you can find Patricia on the sideline of her grandsons’ sporting events or hiking the trails near her home with her German shepherd and one very bossy Beagle.

 

Guest Post

10 Things about Britt and Griff the reader doesn’t know….

It’s hard to find things unknown about Britt, she’s not one to exercise discretion. But she does understand self-preservation and doesn’t always show her hand when it comes to her own insecurities. Truth be told, a childhood spent with dis-interested parents took its toll and left her forever feeling like she has something to prove, hoping someone will notice. So, she leaps before she looks and gets into things she shouldn’t… like the neighbors’ secrets in Scar Tissue.

But Griff understands her. Although he doesn’t always approve of her impulsivity, it’s one of the things about her that he loves. It keeps her interesting and nicely off-sets his careful, methodical approach to investigations and to life. If he could just make her give up her honey berry cigars their relationship would be damn near perfect. Even though everything about them seems to run in opposition. He’s mid-forties, she’s early thirties. He’s been married once, she panics at the “M” word. She’s mercurial, he’s grounded. What one lacks, the other offers. No wonder they work so well together.

What Griff hasn’t mentioned is that he wants a dog and a fleet of antique cars and the big one… someday he wants to live in St. John, Virgin Islands.

What Britt has neglected to mention is that she’ll never move from Maine. It’s home and where her sister, Amy, lives. Maine is her living, breathing security blanket.

And the big one is coming. Now that they own a house together, Griff’s ring shopping and planning a Christmas surprise.

But Britt finds Christmas depressing, filled only with memories of disappointment as a child. It’s a holiday she’d sooner forget than celebrate.

But so far, they’ve made it through a serial killer too close to home in, The Church of the Holy Child. A religious cult covering for a prostitution ring in, Durable Goods. And in Scar Tissue, Britt crosses a line that flies in the face of everything Griff stands for.

If they can weather those storms, I think they’ll make it through whatever I can throw at them. And at the end of the day we’ll see them munching Wheat Thins and smoked Gouda, washing it all down with a Pinot Grigio and Gritty’s Black Fly Stout.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
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Read an excerpt:

“I don’t believe my daughter jumped. She wouldn’t have done that. I told the police, but they dismissed me. Evidently, they knew my daughter better than I did.”

“What’s your feeling on that, Mrs. Lambert?” I asked. Parents don’t always share perspectives on their children.

When she looked at me, her eyes were moist. She cradled the columbine in her palm. “Call me Gwen.”

I nodded.

“Ashley was a good girl. She worked very hard at everything she did.”

“She was the best, always. She made sure of it,” Greg chimed in.

Or else you did, I thought.

“It would have gone against her nature to jump off that building. It just wasn’t her way,” Gwen added.

“Her way?” Greg squinted at his wife, his face twisted in disgust as though studying an insect on flypaper. “What the hell does that mean?” He stood and walked around the circumference of our seating arrangement and then came back and took his chair again. “My girl did as she was told. And only what she was told.”

“It’s not always easy to tell a senior in college what to do,” I said. “At some point they start making their own choices even if some are ones their parents might not like.”

“Not my girl.” Greg shook his head, knocking my theory out of the park. Dismissed as impossible.

I couldn’t help but notice he kept referring to Ashley as my girl not our girl as though he’d created her, given birth and raised her throughout her short life singlehandedly. I didn’t like him. My assessment of Gwen was still up in the air, but she was wrapped so tight I couldn’t get a glimpse inside. It’s never easy to work for someone you don’t like, but Ashley’s case held the interest factor. Why had this seemingly perfect child jumped to her death?

“She was a star athlete at the top of her class and a week from graduation,” Greg continued. “She’d been accepted at Johns Hopkins Berman Institute for Bioethics. And you’re telling me that’s a kid who makes bad decisions? I don’t think so, Ms. Callahan.”

Okay, he shut me up. (A momentary lull.)

“Mr. Lambert,” Griff spoke up. “I have a daughter. I can’t imagine what you must be going through dealing with all this. What is it you think we can do for you?”

“I told the police and the medical examiner that my daughter wouldn’t take her own life. Cops shook their heads, said it wasn’t their call to make. The medical examiner said it presented as a cut and dried suicide.”

“And what do you say, Mr. Lambert?”

“My daughter was murdered.”

I glanced at Gwen. “Do you agree, Mrs. Lambert?”

She raised her eyes, glanced at her husband and then to me. “I’m not convinced, but I do agree that suicide doesn’t fit with who my daughter was.”

Griff kept his focus on Greg. “What makes you think someone would have killed your daughter? Did she have enemies that you’re aware of?”

“No, no enemies that I know of, but her jumping makes no sense. She had everything going for her and absolutely no reason to end her life. She would never have done that to me.”

Strike two. The selfish bastard assumed his daughter’s tragic death had more to do with him than whatever had driven her to that fateful state of mind. “Suicide is about what’s going on within the person themselves,” I said trying not to let my voice betray my disgust. “I doubt Ashley was consciously doing anything to you at the moment she jumped. If she jumped.”

“She knew the goals we’d set,” he said dismissing my remark. “And she had every intention of attaining them.”

“Goals?” I asked.

“Johns Hopkins, her PhD, an Olympic gold medal.”

“Had she been accepted to compete in the Olympics?” Griff asked.

“It was in the works,” he said annunciating each word as though we were hard of hearing.

“Did you let the medical examiner know how you felt?”

“Of course, I did.”

“And was an autopsy performed?”

Greg Lambert glanced at his wife. She looked away. Touchy subject, I gathered.

“Useless,” he said. “They found nothing.” He turned to Gwen. “Go get my checkbook.”

She rose and disappeared inside the house without a word, still holding the columbine in her hand.

I caught Griff’s eye and he raised his eyebrows as though asking, should we?

“Look Mr. Lambert,” he said. “Britt and I like to discuss a case before we commit to it. We want to feel some degree of surety that we can help you before money changes hands and we sign a contract. Give us time to talk it over and we’ll get back to you tomorrow.”

Gwen reappeared holding a large, black-spiraled checkbook. Greg took it from her along with the pen she offered and flipped open the front of the book. He looked at Griff. “How much do you want?” he asked.

“Mr. Lambert, I…” Griff started.

“We’ll give you the information you need to get started. I don’t have any doubt you’ll see it my way. What’s the retainer?” He held the pen poised over the checkbook.

“Five thousand,” Griff said.

I thought that was a little high. He must be thinking about the pool we wanted to install.

“And a list of names. Professors, coaches and friends,” he added.

Greg pointed to his wife. “Put that together.”

Dismissed, Gwen went inside to gather what we needed.

Once we had the necessary information from Gwen, and Greg’s check was folded inside Griff’s pocket, Carole stepped onto the deck and offered to show us out.

“We’ll be in touch,” Griff said. He stood extending a hand toward Greg.

Greg Lambert rose from his chair and placed his hands on his hips. “When?”

“As soon as I have something to tell you,” Griff said lowering his arm.

Griff’s ability to come off unfazed by blatant rude behavior is beyond me. I couldn’t get off that porch fast enough. If I’d lingered I would have placed a well-directed snap kick to Greg Lambert’s groin.

We followed Carole to the front door. She swung it wide and stepped with us outside then pulled the door closed behind her. On the front step she glanced from one of us to the other then dropped her head and stared at the granite, clearly trying to make up her mind. We waited. When she looked up she extended her arm toward Griff as though intending to shake.

“Look,” she said. “I’m probably way out of line here and dipshit in there will have me banned if he knows I’m talking to you. I’m already on probation around here so whatever I say stays between us, all right?”

Griff nodded and reached for her hand, keeping his eyes on her face.

She slipped a folded piece of paper into his palm. “I’m Carole Weston, Gwen’s sister. Call me,” she said. “There’s more to this. A lot more.”

***

Excerpt from Scar Tissue by Patricia Hale. Copyright © 2018 by Patricia Hale. Reproduced with permission from Patricia Hale. All rights reserved.

 

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Jul 192018
 

Tail Of The Dragon by Connie di Marco Banner

Tail of the Dragon

by Connie di Marco

on Tour July 16 – August 31, 2018

Synopsis:

Tail of the Dragon by Connie di Marco

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought murder would be part of her practice, but now, Julia’s former boss and current client has asked for help. He has serious problems at his law firm. Two attorneys and a paralegal have received death threats and the only common denominator between all three is a case long settled — the highly publicized Bank of San Francisco fire. Julia’s convinced a woman is behind the threats, perhaps even the widow of the man who died in that same fire, but no one wants to listen — they can’t believe astrology could provide a clue. Before Julia can help her client, two lawyers are dead and her own life is threatened. Can she unmask the killer before he (or she) takes another life?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: August 8th 2018
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0738751065 (ISBN13: 9780738751061)
Series: Zodiac Mystery #3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

The doorbell rang. I hurried down the stairs to the front door. I hesitated as I saw a woman’s figure through the glass. Maggie. It was Maggie. I threw the door open and we hugged. Michael’s sister and I got along famously from the first time we met. Maggie probably understands better than anyone how I feel and even though we don’t stay in touch as much as we used to, every time we meet it’s as though no time has elapsed at all. I stepped back and took a good look at her. She wasn’t smiling. “Maggie? What is it?”

“Can I come in?”

“Of course. Yes.” She was quiet as we climbed the stairs. She headed straight for the kitchen and sat down at the table. I joined her. “What’s wrong?”

“Something’s come up.”

“About . . .”

“Yes,” she didn’t have to say it. I knew she meant Michael.

“What’s happened?” Part of me hoped against hope that we might find an answer some day, another part of me just wanted the sadness and unknowingness to go away.

“Let me try to tell you in some kind of order.” She took a deep breath. “Do you remember the elderly man who used to live across the street from Michael’s old apartment?”

I nodded. I did remember. Michael’s apartment at 45th and Taraval was just a few blocks from my old place in the Sunset District. “Michael and I used to see him when he walked his dog. And then . . .” I shrugged, “there was a time when we didn’t see him as much.”

“Well, I think what happened was his son took the dog because it became too much for the old guy. But the dad didn’t want to leave his home so the family arranged some care and a companion for him.” I waited, not sure what Maggie’s story had to do with Michael. “Apparently, the old man was always taking pictures. He wasn’t any kind of a real photographer, but he liked to do that. He was always fooling around with his camera.”

“Yes, I remember now. He’d even take pictures of the flowers in his yard.”

“He died a couple of weeks ago. And his son and his daughter-in-law are putting the house up for sale. They’ve been there every day, moving stuff out and selling a few things to the neighbors. The thing is . . . they found a box of photos. The father didn’t like digital cameras, he had an old camera that he used and then he’d . . .

“Maggie . . .” I couldn’t imagine where she was going with this story.

“They found a photo of Michael. On the street. Just as that car hit him.”

I gasped and covered my mouth. My heart was racing wildly. “He saw. He saw who hit Michael?”

“He must have. He must have tried to take a picture of what happened from his window.”

“Why didn’t he ever say anything?”

Maggie shook her head. “I don’t know. I really don’t. Maybe he didn’t want to get involved. Maybe he was afraid he’d have to testify.”

As much as I dreaded looking at anything Maggie had described, I still needed to see the photo. “Do you have it with you?”

“I don’t. The old man’s son and his wife knew what it was. They didn’t know Michael, but they knew there had been a hit and run in the neighborhood and that someone had died, so they turned it over to the police.”

“Have you seen it?”

“Yes, they showed it to me and my mother. She’s hysterical right now.” Celia, Michael’s mother had refused to speak to me since his death. She wasn’t on firm ground to begin with but after the accident, in her convoluted logic, she blamed me for her loss. If he hadn’t been in such a hurry to meet me, he would have been more careful. He wouldn’t have been killed.

“I can imagine.” I didn’t envy Maggie the emotional turmoil she must be dealing with.

“I told you before, Julia, she’s made a shrine of Michael’s room and I’m so worried about her. She never wants to go out or do anything. Once in a while I manage to drag her to a restaurant for brunch or something, but even her old friends have given up calling her.”

“What can they tell from the photo?”

“Not much, it’s not digital and it’s old. He had an old Nikon, I think, so they can’t see very much. Michael is lying on his side on the street and . . .” Maggie’s voice shook, “and you can just see the edge of the car. It’s dark or black and there’s a bit of a bumper and the corner of the right rear tire. The police think the driver must have panicked and took off. The old guy might have been looking out his window when it happened and snapped it really quick. They’re going to try to get as much information from it as they can, but they don’t really hold out much hope.”

“Who’s in charge of this?”

“Actually, a retired detective has volunteered to work on it. The case has never been closed, but this is the first thing they’ve had to go on at all. I can get you the name of the detective in charge, and maybe he’ll give you more information. I’ll find out and let him know you might want to talk to him.”

“Thanks, Maggie.” My heart sank. In all this time, no witnesses to the accident had come forward. One woman at the end of the block remembered a dark vehicle traveling fast, but couldn’t swear it had anything at all to do with the car that hit Michael. “We shouldn’t get our hopes up.”

“I want some answers, Julia!” Maggie’s voice had risen. “And I’m sure you do too. It’s not right. What this has done to our family, to me, to you. All our lives have been changed because of this. I want to see someone pay for what they did.”

I nodded. “I do too. It won’t change anything. It won’t bring him back. But you’re right. We’ve all gone through so much . . .”

“I have to go.” Maggie stood suddenly and I realized she hadn’t even taken her coat off. “I’m staying at my Mom’s for a little while. I’m so worried about her. I don’t like the thought of her being all alone in that big house.”

“Okay. Stay in touch and let me know what you find out?”

“I will.” Maggie leaned toward me and I put my arms around her, holding her tight. I felt her chest rise, a quiet sob. “I’m sorry to arrive on your doorstep like this, but I had to tell you face to face.”

“I’m glad you did, Maggie. I’m glad you did. And maybe we’ll learn more.”

Maggie pulled away. I could see tears forming in her eyes as she rushed down the stairs.

***

Excerpt from Tail of the Dragon by Connie di Marco. Copyright © 2018 by Connie di Marco. Reproduced with permission from Connie di Marco. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Connie di Marco

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. Tail of the Dragon, third in the series, will be released on August 8, 2018.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of MWA, Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.

 

Guest Post

10 Things About Julia Bonatti You Didn’t Know

Ten things we don’t know about Julia Bonatti? Well, let me think. As the author of the Zodiac Mysteries, I’m not sure there’s anything my protagonist Julia hasn’t already revealed. I’ve tried to make her fairly open and honest about who she is and what motivates her. But maybe I can go further . . .

Let’s see . . . Julia’s a Sagittarian and because she’s an astrologer she lets everyone know that her Sun sign indicates optimism, generosity, a free spirit, one who isn’t afraid to take on challenges or tackle danger. But her birthday? So far, that’s been a secret. So here goes — Julia was born on December 3, 1981 at 11:51 a.m. PST in San Francisco.

You can see her chart below. Notice that her Sun, Mercury and Uranus are all clustered around her 10th house cusp (her career). Uranus always figures significantly in the charts of astrologers. Neptune is in the 10th as well. Her profession is linked to the mysterious, to the occult arts. Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn are clustered in her 8th house, a mysterious arena, the house of death. Her Ascendant is Aquarius. She’s eccentric, doesn’t really fit into the norm of a woman her age. And her Moon is in Pisces. She’s sensitive and a pushover for people in trouble.

We do know that her parents were killed in a car crash on the Bay Bridge when she was just a child. She really can’t remember them too well, just an occasional vague memory. And she’s an only child raised by her grandmother. What she doesn’t talk about very much is her sense of displacement, her sense of not belonging. Her grandmother is her only link to the past. Then of course there’s Kuan, her grandmother’s friend who lives in the first floor apartment of her grandmother’s house in Castle Alley and practices Chinese medicine. Kuan was a dear friend of Julia’s grandfather (now deceased). In fact, Kuan saved her grandfather’s life many years before, but that’s something I’m holding back for a future story. To Julia, he’s a surrogate grandfather.

With such a small family, her friends, Gale and Cheryl, are terribly important to her. Julia had hoped that when she and Michael married, that haunting sense of not belonging would be healed. Together they would start a family, but sadly that was taken away from her with Michael’s death.

But what does Julia not talk about in the Zodiac Mysteries? Her fears. None of us can talk very lightly about our deepest fears. Maybe we’re superstitious, as if talking about the things we fear will bring them about.

Julia fears her grandmother will die. After all, everyone else has left her. She knows logically that her grandmother will die someday, but it’s more than she can get her head around.

She fears she’ll be alone for the rest of her life.

She fears she’ll never fall in love again.

She fears she’ll make a terrible mistake with a client’s chart and make a wrong prediction. That would destroy her reputation and her practice.

She fears her skills as an astrologer won’t help her prevent another disaster, like the death of her fiancé.
And she fears if she keeps sticking her nose in crime, she’ll die young. Then she thinks, maybe that’s better than being alone and the last one left on earth.

She fears she’ll find out her parents weren’t the wonderful people her grandmother claims they were. And most of all, she is still terrified of driving across the Bay Bridge.

Is that 10? Oh, not quite. One more thing — she absolutely loves bitter-sweet dark chocolate!
I hope you’ll get to know Julia even better in the books of the Zodiac Mysteries and tag along with her on her crime-solving adventures. Don’t worry, she’s not going to talk about her fears, she’ll be following the clues and tracking down a murderer! And hopefully entertaining you.

 

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Connie di Marco. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on July 16, 2018 and runs through September 1, 2018. Void where prohibited.

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