Jul 222020
 

Anarchy Of The Mice by Jeff Bond Banner

 

 

Anarchy of the Mice

by Jeff Bond

on Tour July 1 – August 31, 2020

Synopsis:

Anarchy of the Mice by Jeff Bond

From Jeff Bond, author of Blackquest 40 and The Pinebox Vendetta, comes Anarchy of the Mice, book one in an epic new series starring Quaid Rafferty, Durwood Oak Jones, and Molly McGill: the trio of freelance operatives known collectively as Third Chance Enterprises.

How far could society fall without data? Account balances, property lines, government ID records — if it all vanished, if everyone’s scorecard reset to zero, how might the world look?

The Blind Mice are going to show us.

Molly McGill is fighting it. Her teenage son has come downstairs in a T-shirt from these “hacktivists” dominating the news. Her daughter’s bus is canceled — too many stoplights out — and school is in the opposite direction of the temp job she’s supposed to be starting this morning. She is twice-divorced; her P.I. business, McGill Investigators, is on the rocks; what kind of life is this for a woman a mere twelve credit-hours shy of her PhD?

Then the doorbell rings.

It’s Quaid Rafferty, the charming — but disgraced — former governor of Massachusetts, and his plainspoken partner, Durwood Oak Jones. The guys have an assignment for Molly. It sounds risky, but the pay sure beats switchboard work.

They need her to infiltrate the Blind Mice.

Danger, romance, intrigue, action for miles — whatever you read, Anarchy of the Mice is coming for you.

Book Details:

Genre: Action-Adventure
Published by: Jeff Bond books
Publication Date: June 15, 2020
Number of Pages: 445
ISBN: 173225527X (978-1732255272)
Series: Third Chance Enterprises, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Jeff Bond

Jeff Bond is an American author of popular fiction. His books have been featured in The New York Review of Books, and his 2020 release, The Pinebox Vendetta, received the gold medal (top prize) in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards. A Kansas native and Yale graduate, he now lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.

Guest Post

Tidbits About the Third Chance Heroes

MOLLY

When Molly allows herself to slip from the daily grind and dream, she imagines having brunch at a funky diner with Karen—who’s settling into her first apartment, dishing breathlessly about some office romance—and later meeting Zach out somewhere. The details are fuzzier with Zach. Is he a graphic designer? An architect? An Uber driver? Do they meet at a seaside boardwalk? At Molly’s place? It’s different every time, but for some reason he’s always drinking a Red Bull smoothie.

Molly is twelve credit-hours shy of her PhD in Psychology. Her second husband convinced her, when she got pregnant with Karen, there was no point in finishing. His sales numbers were outta the park that quarter. She should just relax and kick up her feet. He had a plan.
Yeah, a plan…

She uses her kids’ birthdays joined together with the nonsense word “KfurrDL!” in between.

Molly speaks a half-dozen languages, making her invaluable to Third Chance Enterprises’ many international operations. She is also, in her own humble opinion, the world’s best splinter remover.

For Molly, the most important traits in a friend are kindness and selflessness. Jenny, her girlfriend down the street, is a perfect example. They watch each other’s kids in a pinch or drop chocolate biscotti by in hard times—Molly’s last divorce, Jenny’s middle schooler getting suspended. (Again.) True friends buck you up before you even know you need bucking.

QUAID

Quaid struggles with boredom and its insidious cousin, apathy. He does poorly with cases requiring monotonous daily chores like close surveillance. (A task at which Durwood Oak Jones excels.) Too often in these moment, Quaid falls back on women, gambling, alcohol—or all three.

Quaid has a soft spot in his heart for conversationalists. If you’re vain, if you’re mean, if you can’t reason your way out of a paper bag—all that’s fine with Quaid so long as you’ll open up your trap and engage. This is a common source of friction with Durwood, a conversationalist on par with cabinetry.

Quaid, when struck by the red devil of ambition, thinks of reentering politics. Could he assemble a new progressive majority, heal the dysfunctional left and bring home the flyover states with the same down-home charm he uses in his Jesse Holt—the Caterpillar rep from Peoria—disguise? Possibly. The womanizing could be a problem, though.

Before his second impeachment removed him from the governor’s mansion, Quaid successfully humanized Massachusetts’ criminal justice system and reformed its mental health bureaucracy—items on progressives’ bucket lists for a good long while.

The word “believe” is central to Quaid Rafferty’s ethos. He believes in the Blind Mice mission. He believes in Molly McGill and her ability to rise to the job. When a mission gets tough and the odds look long for Third Chance Enterprises, he believes their motley gang will pull together and prevail. More often than not, this belief carries the day.

Quaid travels with a signed copy of Ann Richards’s autobiography. The hand-scribbled note from the liberal former governor of Texas reads, “With that face, that tongue of yours, there’s nothing you won’t do.”

DURWOOD

Durwood is a widower. He lost his wife, Maybelle, to a terrorist attack in Tikrit. He later avenged her killing by wiping out the responsible cell in defiance of his commanding officer, who’d intended to wait on a full and proper investigation before retaliating. This incident resulted in Durwood’s discharge from the Marines.

Durwood suffers from chronic migraines. Sometimes fishing helps. Other times, he’ll lean into a headache—nurse it, use it to enhance that righteous rage that drives him.

Durwoood would give himself foot speed. A fan of West Virginia Mountaineers football, he admires the players’ speed and grace. He marvels at squirrels chasing each other in the sorghum fields, zooming through stalks like silent wind. He would love to be fast. It wouldn’t hurt for chasing down criminals, either.

Durwood’s blood pressure is lowest while with Crole, his neighbor, on the river dividing their two properties. The Appalachians loom at the horizon. Insects buzz and whine. Sue-Ann lies snoring on the muddy banks, all right with the world.

Crole cooks a variety of stews, eating them for upwards of a month. Durwood makes a point to join for the beet-turnip variety in the fall.

Durwood bears a secret grudge against the University of Texas. The first year his West Virginia Mountaineers joined the Big 10, Durwood saw them play UT in person. Watching the visitors prance onto Mountaineer Field in their pretty orange uniforms, jumping up and down, cocky. It bothered Durwood.

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Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

The first I ever heard of the Blind Mice was from my fourteen-year-old son, Zach. I was scrambling to get him and his sister ready for school, stepping over dolls and skater magazines, thinking ahead to the temp job I was starting in about an hour, when Zach came slumping downstairs in a suspiciously plain T-shirt.

“Turn around,” I said. “Let’s see the back.”

He scowled but did comply. The clothing check was mandatory after that vomiting-skull sweatshirt he’d slipped out the door in last month.

Okay. No drugs, profanity, or bodily fluids being expelled.

But there was something. An abstract computer-ish symbol. A mouse? Possibly the nose, eyes, and whiskers of a mouse?

Printed underneath was, Nibble, nibble. Until the whole sick scam rots through.

I checked the clock: 7:38. Seven minutes before we absolutely had to be out the door, and I still hadn’t cleaned up the grape juice spill, dealt with my Frizz City hair, or checked the furnace. For twenty minutes, I’d been hearing ker-klacks, which my heart said was construction outside but my head worried could be the failing heater.

How bad did I want to let Zach’s shirt slide?

Bad.

“Is that supposed to be a mouse?” I said. “Like an angry mouse?”

“The Blind Mice,” my son replied. “Maybe you’ve heard, they’re overthrowing the corporatocracy?”

His eyes bulged teen sarcasm underneath those bangs he refuses to get cut.

“Wait,” I said, “that group that’s attacking big companies’ websites and factories?”

“Government too.” He drew his face back ominously. “Anyone who’s part of the scam.”

“And you’re wearing their shirt?”

He shrugged.

I would’ve dearly loved to engage Zach in a serious discussion of socioeconomic justice—I did my master’s thesis on the psychology of labor devaluation in communities—except we needed to go. In five minutes.

“What if Principal Broadhead sees that?” I said. “Go change.”

“No.”

“Zach McGill, that shirt promotes domestic terrorism. You’ll get kicked out of school.”

“Like half my friends wear it, Mom.” He thrust his hands into his pockets.

Ugh. I had stepped in parenting quicksand. I’d issued a rash order and Zach had refused, and now I could either make him change, starting a blow-out fight and virtually guaranteeing I’d be late my first day on the job at First Mutual, or back down and erode my authority.

“Wear a jacket,” I said—a poor attempt to limit the erosion, but the best I could do. “And don’t let your great-grandmother see that shirt.”

Speaking of, I could hear Granny’s slippers padding around upstairs. She was into her morning routine, and would shortly—at the denture-rinsing phase—be shouting down that her sink was draining slow again; why hadn’t the damn plumber come yet?

Because I hadn’t paid one. McGill Investigators, the PI business of which I was the founder and sole employee (yes, I realized the plural name was misleading), had just gone belly-up. Hence the temp job.

Karen, my six-year-old, was seated cheerily beside her doll in front of orange juice and an Eggo Waffle.

“Mommy!” she announced. “I get to ride to school with you today!”

The doll’s lips looked sticky—OJ?—and the cat was eyeing Karen’s waffle across the table.

“Honey, weren’t you going to ride the bus today?” I asked, shooing the cat, wiping the doll with a dishrag.

Karen shook her head. “Bus isn’t running. I get to ride in the Prius, in Mommy’s Prius!”

I felt simultaneous joy that Karen loved our new car—well, new to us: 120K miles as a rental, but it was a hybrid—and despair because I really couldn’t take her. School was in the complete opposite direction of New Jersey Transit. Even if I took the turnpike, which I loathed, I would miss my train.

Fighting to address Karen calmly in a time crunch, I said, “Are you sure the bus isn’t running?”

She nodded.

I asked how she knew.

“Bus driver said, ‘If the stoplights are blinking again in the morning, I ain’t taking you.’” She walked to the window and pointed. “See?”

I joined her at the window, ignoring the driver’s grammatical example for the moment. Up and down my street, traffic lights flashed yellow.

“Blind Mice, playa!” Zach puffed his chest. “Nibble, nibble.

The lights had gone out every morning this week at rush hour. On Monday, the news had reported a bald eagle flew into a substation. On Tuesday, they’d said the outages were lingering for unknown reasons. I hadn’t seen the news yesterday.

Did Zach know the Blind Mice were involved? Or was he just being obnoxious?

“Great,” I muttered. “Bus won’t run because stoplights are out, but I’m free to risk our lives driving to school.”

Karen gazed up at me, her eyes green like mine and trembling. A mirror of my stress.

Pull it together, Molly.

“Don’t worry,” I corrected myself. “I’ll take you. I will. Let me just figure a few things out.”

Trying not to visualize myself walking into First Mutual forty-five minutes late, I took a breath. I patted through my purse for keys, sifting through rumpled Kleenex and receipts and granola-bar halves. Granny had made her way downstairs and was reading aloud from a bill-collection notice. Zach was texting, undoubtedly to friends about his lame mom. I felt air on my toes and looked down: a hole in my hose.

Fantastic.

I’d picked out my cutest work sandals, but somehow I doubted the look would hold up with toes poking out like mini-wieners.

I wished I could shut my eyes, whisper some spell, and wake up in a different universe.

Then the doorbell rang.

CHAPTER TWO

Quaid Rafferty waited on the McGills’ front porch with a winning smile. It had been ten months since he’d seen Molly, and he was eager to reconnect.

Inside, there sounded a crash (pulled-over coatrack?), a smack (skateboard hitting wall?), and muffled cross-voices.

Quaid fixed the lay of his sport coat lapels and kept waiting. His partner, Durwood Oak Jones, stood two paces back with his dog. Durwood wasn’t saying anything, but Quaid could feel the West Virginian’s disapproval—it pulsed from his blue jeans and cowboy hat.

Quaid twisted from the door. “School morning, right? I’m sure she’ll be out shortly.”

Durwood remained silent. He was on record saying they’d be better off with a more accomplished operative like Kitty Ravensdale or Sigrada the Serpent, but Quaid believed in Molly. He’d argued that McGill, a relative amateur, was just what they needed: a fresh-faced idealist.

Now he focused on the door—and was pleased to hear the dead bolt turn within. He was less pleased when he saw the face that appeared in the door glass.

The grandmother.

“Why, color me damned!” began the septuagenarian, yanking open the screen door. “The louse returns. Whorehouses all kick you out?”

Quaid strained to keep smiling. “How are you this fine morning, Eunice?”

Her face stormed over. “What’re you here for?”

“We’re hoping for a word with Molly if she’s around.” He opened his shoulders to give her a full view of his party, which included Durwood and Sue-Ann, his aged bluetick coonhound.

They made for an admittedly odd sight. Quaid and Durwood shared the same vital stats, six one and 180-something pounds, but God himself couldn’t have created two more different molds. Quaid in a sport coat with suntanned wrists and mussed-just-so blond hair. Durwood removing his hat and casting steel-colored eyes humbly about, jeans pulled down over his boots’ piping. And Sue with her mottled coat, rasping like any breath could be her last.

Eunice stabbed a finger toward Durwood. “He can come in—him I respect. But you need to turn right around. My granddaughter wants nothing to do with cads like you.”

Behind her, a voice called, “Granny, I can handle this.

Eunice ignored this. “You’re a no-good man. I know it, my granddaughter knows it.” Veins showed through the chicken-y skin of her neck. “Go on, hop a flight back to Vegas and all your whores!”

Before Quaid could counter these aspersions, Molly appeared.

His heart chirped in his chest. Molly was a little discombobulated, bending to put on a sandal, a kid’s jacket tucked under one elbow—but those dimples, that curvy body…even in the worst domestic throes, she could’ve charmed slime off a senator.

He said, “Can’t you beat a seventy-four-year-old woman to the door?”

Molly slipped on the second sandal. “Can we please just not? It’s been a crazy morning.”

“I know the type.” Quaid smacked his hands together. “So hey, we have a job for you.”

“You’re a little late—McGill Investigators went out of business. I have a real job starting in less than an hour.”

“What kind?”

“Reception,” she said. “Three months with First Mutual.”

“Temp work?” Quaid asked.

“I was supposed to start with the board of psychological examiners, but the position fell through.”

“How come?”

“Funding ran out. The governor disbanded the board.”

“So First Mutual…?”

Molly’s eyes, big and leprechaun green, fell. “It’s temp work, yeah.”

“You’re criminally overqualified for that, McGill,” Quaid said. “Hear us out. Please.”

She snapped her arms over her chest but didn’t stop Quaid as he breezed into the living room followed by Durwood and Sue-Ann, who wore no leash but kept a perfect twenty-inch heel by her master.

Two kids poked their heads around the kitchen doorframe. Quaid waggled his fingers playfully at the girl.

Molly said, “Zach, Karen—please wait upstairs. I’m speaking with these men.”

The boy argued he should be able to stay; upstairs sucked; wasn’t she the one who said they had to leave, like, immedia—

“This is not a negotiation,” Molly said in a new tone.

They went upstairs.

She sighed. “Now they’ll be late for school. I’m officially the worst mother ever.”

Quaid glanced around the living room. The floor was clutter free, but toys jammed the shelves of the coffee table. Stray fibers stuck up from the carpet, which had faded beige from its original yellow or ivory.

“No, you’re an excellent mother,” Quaid said. “You do what you believe is best for your children, which is why you’re going to accept our proposition.”

The most effective means of winning a person over, Quaid had learned as governor of Massachusetts and in prior political capacities, was to identify their objective and articulate how your proposal brought it closer. Part two was always trickier.

He continued, “American Dynamics is the client, and they have deep pockets. If you help us pull this off, all your money troubles go poof.”

A glint pierced Molly’s skepticism. “Okay. I’m listening.”

“You’ve heard of the Blind Mice, these anarchist hackers?”

“I—well, yes, a little. Zach has their T-shirt.”

Quaid, having met the boy on a few occasions, wasn’t shocked by the information. “Here’s the deal. We need someone to infiltrate them.”

Molly blinked twice.

Durwood spoke up, “You’d be great, Moll. You’re young. Personable. People trust you.”

Molly’s eyes were grapefruits. “What did you call them, ‘anarchist hackers’? How would I infiltrate them? I just started paying bills online.”

“No tech knowledge required,” Quaid said. “We have a plan.”

He gave her the nickel summary. The Blind Mice had singled out twelve corporate targets, “the Despicable Dozen,” and American Dynamics topped the list. In recent months, AmDye had seen its websites crashed, its factories slowed by computer glitches, internal documents leaked, the CEO’s home

egged repeatedly. Government agencies from the FBI to NYPD were pursuing the Mice, but the company was troubled by the lack of progress and so had hired Third Chance Enterprises to take them down.

“Now if I accept,” Molly said, narrowing her eyes, “does that mean I’m officially part of Third Chance Enterprises?”

Quaid exhaled at length. Durwood shook his head with an irked air—he hated the name, and considered Quaid’s branding efforts foolish.

“Oh, Durwood and I have been at this freelance operative thing awhile.” Quaid smoothed his sport coat lapels. “Most cases we can handle between the two of us.”

“But not this one.”

“Right. Durwood’s a whiz with prosthetics, but even he can’t bring this”—Quaid indicated his own ruggedly handsome but undeniably middle-aged face—“back to twenty-five.”

Molly’s eyes turned inward. Quaid’s instincts told him she was thinking of her children.

She said, “Sounds dangerous.”

“Nah.” He spread his arms, wide and forthright. “You’re working with the best here: the top small-force, private-arms outfit in the Western world. Very minimal danger.”

Like the politician he’d once been, Quaid delivered this line of questionable veracity with full sincerity.

Then he turned to his partner. “Right, Wood? She won’t have a thing to worry about. We’d limit her involvement to safe situations.”

Durwood thinned his lips. “Do the best we could.”

This response, typical of the soldier he’d once been, was unhelpful.

Molly said, “Who takes care of my kids if something happens, if the Blind Mice sniff me out? Would I have to commit actual crimes?”

“Unlikely.”

Unlikely? I’ll tell you what’s unlikely, getting hired someplace, anyplace, with a felony conviction on your application…”

As she thundered away, Quaid wondered if Durwood might not have been right in preferring a pro. The few times they’d used Molly McGill before had been secondary: posing as a gate agent during the foiled Delta hijacking, later as an archivist for the American embassy in Rome. They’d only pulled her into Rome because of her language skills—she spoke six fluently.

“…also, I have to say,” she continued, and from the edge in her voice, Quaid knew just where they were headed, “I find it curious that I don’t hear from you for ten months, and then you need my help, and all of a sudden, I matter. All of a sudden, you’re on my doorstep.”

“I apologize,” Quaid said. “The Dubai job ran long, then that Guadeloupean resort got hit by a second hurricane. We got busy. I should’ve called.”

Molly’s face cooled a shade, and Quaid saw that he hadn’t lost her.

Yet.

Before either could say more, a heavy ker-klack sounded outside.

“What’s the racket?” Quaid asked. He peeked out the window at his and Durwood’s Vanagon, which looked no more beat-up than usual.

“It’s been going on all morning,” Molly said. “I figured it was construction.”

Quaid said, “Construction in this economy?”

He looked to Durwood.

“I’ll check ’er out.” The ex-soldier turned for the door. Sue-Ann, heaving herself laboriously off the carpet, scuffled after.

Alone now with Molly, Quaid walked several paces in. He doubled his sport coat over his forearm and passed a hand through his hair, using a foyer mirror to confirm the curlicues that graced his temples on his best days.

This was where it had to happen. Quaid’s behavior toward Molly had been less than gallant, and that was an issue. Still, there were sound arguments at his disposal. He could play the money angle. He could talk about making the world safer for Molly’s children. He could point out that she was meant for greater things, appealing to her sense of adventure, framing the job as an escape from the hamster wheel and entrée to a bright world of heroes and villains.

He believed in the job. Now he just needed her to believe too.

CHAPTER THREE

Durwood walked north. Sue-Ann gimped along after, favoring her bum hip. Paws echoed bootheels like sparrows answering blackbirds. They found their noise at the sixth house on the left.

A crew of three men was working outside a small home. Two-story like Molly’s. The owner had tacked an addition onto one side, prefab sunroom. The men were working where the sunroom met the main structure. Dislodging nails, jackhammering between fiberglass and brick.

Tossing panels onto a stack.

“Pardon,” Durwood called. “Who you boys working for?”

One man pointed to his earmuffs. The others paid Durwood no mind whatsoever. Heavyset men. Big stomachs and muscles.

Durwood walked closer. “Those corner boards’re getting beat up. Y’all got a permit I could see?”

The three continued to ignore him.

The addition was poorly done to begin with, the cornice already sagging. Shoddy craftsmanship. That didn’t mean the owners deserved to have it stolen for scrap.

The jackhammer was plugged into an outside GFI. Durwood caught its cord with his bootheel.

“The hell?” said the operator as his juice cut.

Durwood said, “You’re thieves. You’re stealing fiberglass.”

The men denied nothing.

One said, “Call the cops. See if they come.”

Sue-Ann bared her gums.

Durwood said, “I don’t believe we need to involve law enforcement,” and turned back south for the Vanagon.

Crime like this—callous, brash—was a sign of the times.  People were sore about this “new economy,” how well the rich were making out. Groups like the Blind Mice thought it gave them a right to practice lawlessness.

 

Lawlessness, Durwood knew, was like a plague. Left unchecked, it spread. Even now, besides this sunroom dismantling, Durwood saw a half dozen offenses in plain sight. Low-stakes gambling on a porch. Coaxials looped across half the neighborhood roofs: cable splicing. A Rottweiler roaming off leash.

Each stuck in Durwood’s craw.

He walked a half block to the Vanagon. He hunted around inside, boots clattering the bare metal floor. Pushed aside Stinger missiles in titanium casings. Squinted past crates of frag grenades in the bulkhead he’d jiggered himself from ponderosa pine.

Here she was—a pressurized tin of black ops epoxy. Set quick enough to repel a flash air strike, strong enough to hold a bridge. Durwood had purchased it for the Dubai job. According to his supplier, Yakov, the stuff smelled like cinnamon when it dried. Something to do with chemistry.

Durwood removed the tin from its box and brushed off the pink Styrofoam packing Yakov favored. Then allowed Sue a moment to ease herself down to the curb before they started back north.

Passing Molly’s house, Durwood glimpsed her through the living room window. She was listening to Quaid, fingers pressed to her forehead.

Quaid was lying. Which was nothing new, Quaid stretching the truth to a woman. But these lies involved Molly’s safety. Fact was, they knew very little of the Blind Mice. Their capabilities, their willingness to harm innocents. The leader, Josiah, was a reckless troublemaker. He spewed his nonsense on Twitter, announcing targets ahead of time, talking about his own penis.

The heavyset men were back at it. One on the roof. The other two around back of the sunroom, digging up the slab.

Durwood set down the epoxy. The men glanced over but kept jackhammering. They would not be the first, nor last, to underestimate this son of an Appalachian coal miner.

The air compressor was set up on the lawn. Durwood found the main pressure valve and cranked its throat full open.

The man on the roof had his ratchet come roaring out of his hands. He slid down the grade, nose rubbing vinyl shingles, and landed in petunias.

Back on his feet, the man swore.

“Mind your language,” Durwood said. “There’s families in the neighborhood.”

The other two hustled over, shovels at their shoulders. The widest of the three circled to Durwood’s backside.

Sue-Ann coiled her old bones to strike. Ugliness roiled Durwood’s gut.

Big Man punched first. Durwood caught his fist, torqued his arm behind his back. The next man swung his shovel. Durwood charged underneath and speared his chest. The man wheezed sharply, his lung likely punctured.

The third man got hold of Durwood’s bootheel, smashed his elbow into the hollow of Durwood’s knee. Durwood scissored the opposite leg across the man’s throat. He gritted his teeth and clenched. He felt the man’s Adam’s apple wriggling between his legs. A black core in Durwood yearned to squeeze.

He resisted.

The hostiles came again, and Durwood whipped them again. Automatically, in a series of beats as natural to him as chirping to a katydid. The men’s faces changed from angry to scared to incredulous. Finally, they stayed down.

“Now y’all are helping fix that sunroom.” Durwood nodded to the epoxy tin. “Mix six to one, then paste ’er on quick.”

Luckily, he’d caught the thieves early, and the repair was uncomplicated. Clamp, glue, drill. The epoxy should increase the R-value on the sunroom ten, fifteen, units. Good for a few bucks off the gas bill in winter, anyhow.

Durwood did much of the work himself. He enjoyed the panels’ weight, the strength of a well-formed joint. His muscles felt free and easy as if he were home ridding the sorghum fields of johnsongrass.

Done, he let the thieves go.

He turned back south toward Molly’s house. Sue-Ann scrabbled alongside.

“Well, ole girl?” he said. “Let’s see how Quaid made out.”

CHAPTER FOUR

I stood on my front porch watching the Vanagon rumble down Sycamore. My toes tingled, my heart was tossing itself against the walls of my chest, and I was pretty sure my nose had gone berserk. How else could I be smelling cinnamon?

Quaid Rafferty’s last words played over and over in my head: We need you.

For twenty minutes, after Durwood had taken his dog to investigate ker-klacks, Quaid had given me the hard sell. The money would be big-time. I had the perfect skills for the assignment: guts, grace under fire, that youthful je ne sais quoi. Wasn’t I always saying I ought to be putting my psychology skills to better use? Well, here it was: understanding these young people’s outrage would be a major component of the job.

Some people will anticipate your words and mumble along. Quaid did something similar but with feelings, cringing at my credit issues, brightening with whole-face joy at Karen’s reading progress—which I was afraid would suffer if I got busy and didn’t keep up her nightly practice.

He was pitching me, yes. But he genuinely cared what was happening in my life.

I didn’t know how to think about Quaid, how to even fix him in my brain. He and Durwood were so far outside any normal frame of reference. Were they even real? Did I imagine them?

Their biographies were epic. Quaid the twice-elected (once-impeached) governor of Massachusetts who now battled villains across the globe and lived at Caesars Palace. Durwood a legend of the Marine Corps, discharged after defying his commanding officer and wiping out an entire Qaeda cell to avenge the death of his wife.

I’d met them during my own unreal adventure—the end of my second marriage, which had unraveled in tragedy in the backwoods of West Virginia.

They’d recruited me for three missions since. Each was like a huge, brilliant dream—the kind that’s so vital and packed with life that you hang on after you wake up, clutching backward into sleep to stay inside.

Granny said, “That man’s trouble. If you have any sense in that stubborn head of yours, you’ll steer clear.”

I stepped back into the living room, the Vanagon long gone, and allowed my eyes to close. Granny didn’t know the half of it. She had huffed off to watch her judge shows on TV before the guys had even mentioned the Blind Mice.

No, she meant a more conventional trouble.

“I’ve learned,” I said. “If I take this job, it won’t be for romance. I’d be doing it for me. For the family.”

As if cued by the word “family,” a peal of laughter sounded upstairs.

Children!

My eyes zoomed to the clock. It was 8:20. Zach would be lucky to make first hour, let alone homeroom. In a single swipe, I scooped up the Prius keys and both jackets. My purse whorled off my shoulder like some supermom prop.

“Leaving now!” I called up the stairwell. “Here we go, kids—laces tied, backpacks zipped.”

Zach trudged down, leaning his weight into the rail. Karen followed with sunny-careful steps. I sped through the last items on my list—tossed a towel over the grape juice, sloshed water onto the roast, considered my appearance in the microwave door, and just frowned, beyond caring.

Halfway across the porch, Granny’s fingers closed around my wrist.

“Promise me,” she said, “that you will not associate with Quaid Rafferty. Promise me you won’t have one single thing to do with that lowlife.”

I looked past her to the kitchen, where the cat was kinking herself to retch Eggo Waffle onto the linoleum.

“I’m sorry, Granny.” I patted her hand, freeing myself. “It’s something I have to do.”

***

Excerpt from Anarchy of the Mice by Jeff Bond. Copyright 2020 by Jeff Bond. Reproduced with permission from Jeff Bond. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Jul 022020
 

Tooth for Tooth

by JK Franko

on Tour June 1 – July 31, 2020

Synopsis:

Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko

What would YOU do?

What would you do if you got away with murder? Would you stop there? Could you?

Susie and Roy thought that they committed the perfect crime.

Their planning was meticulous. Their execution flawless.

But, there is always a loose end, isn’t there? Always a singing bone.

Now, while enemies multiply and suspicions abound, their perfect world begins to crumble.

The hunters have become the hunted.

IN THIS BLISTERINGLY RELENTLESS SEQUEL TO HIS DEBUT SHOCKER, EYE FOR EYE, J.K. FRANKO TAKES READERS ON A BREATHTAKING JOURNEY OF CAT AND MOUSE

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Legal
Published by:Talion Publishing
Publication Date: April 4th 2020
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781999318819
Series: Talion Series, #2
Purchase Links: Amazon || Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

JK Franko

J.K. FRANKO was born and raised in Texas. His Cuban-American parents agreed there were only three acceptable options for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect. After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name) and spent many years climbing the big law firm ladder. After ten years, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He went back to school where he got an MBA and pursued a Ph.D. He left law for corporate America, with long stints in Europe and Asia.

His passion was always to be a writer. After publishing a number of non-fiction works, thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight abandoned fictional works over the course of eighteen years, EYE FOR EYE became his first published novel.

J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in Florida.

GUEST POST

Which character do you like best and 5 reasons why?

Catherine Martin. She stands as a sort of proxy for all of us as we observe the events that transpire. She is able to interact with the characters and become a part of the story. I think she is the character that evolves the most in the first three books of the Talion Series. We will be seeing more of her in Book Six.

Which character do you not like and 5 reasons why?

Although he was fun to write, Senator Harlan is my least favorite character. He’s self-centered, narcissistic, manipulative. He pretends to have principles, but really he only cares about himself. He completely failed as a father and husband, and even as a lawyer. Were it not for politics, he’d be homeless.

Catch Up With JK Franko On:
jkfranko.com, Goodreads, Instagram, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

Before meeting Susie and Roy, I had never met a murderer. But then, I had also never lied to the police or destroyed evidence. I had never seen the inside of a jail cell. And I had most certainly never been complicit in a homicide.

I have to reluctantly admit that I am a better person for the experience. I now appreciate that murderers really are just regular people like you and me. Indeed, I have come to consider Susie and Roy more than mere patients… they are friends. And I think back on our time together with nostalgia—fondness, even.

This did not happen overnight. It was a process.

What would you do if you found out that your neighbor was a murderer? Would you double-check that you’d locked your doors every night? Keep an eye out for strange comings and goings? Would you ultimately put your house up for sale, not disclosing what you knew about the folks next door to potential buyers?

For most people, being in the proximity of a killer is neither pleasant nor desirable.

Imagine how I felt about having not one but two as-yet-undetected murderers as my patients. Sitting with each of them for hours every week. Trying to guide them toward more moderate conflict resolution techniques. And failing.

Well, I’m here to tell you that despite the complexities inherent in that situation, I found my path to inner peace and happiness.

I know. I may have said elsewhere that, as a psychologist, I’m not a big believer in “happily ever after.” But my thinking has evolved.

I’ve come to believe more in choices—in the power of decision. This is the key nugget of wisdom I have taken away from this whole mess: We are not what happens to us. We are what we choose.

And I am pleased to report, for the first time in years, that I can finally say I am happy.

You have to understand that my unhappiness was not due to lack of trying. Chalk it up to naiveté—but, at first, it was difficult to process everything Susie and Roy told me and still be happy.

It’s hard to put a positive spin on murder.

Selfishly, I was overwhelmed by the fear that they might turn on me. They had shared everything about their crimes with me in meticulous detail. It was manifestly apparent that I was the weak link. The one person who could bring them down.

I was not just a loose end.

I was the loose end.

And, though I tried, I could not initially find peace under these circumstances. But, as I said earlier, happiness is a choice. And it was a choice that I made which finally ended my torment and brought me to a place where I could be at peace—even though everything ended tragically: my relationship with Susie and Roy, their marriage, the whole mess.

For you to understand the rest of my journey with Susie and Roy, I must share with you something that happened years ago at an ostensibly happy event. I say ‘ostensibly’ because it was a wonderful night for almost everyone concerned.

There were two people at that event who figure in this story—in my story.

The first is Sandra Bissette. For her, the night in question was the beginning of what would become a successful career in politics and law.

For the other, Billy Applegate, the night would end in tragedy.

PART ONE

Billy Applegate

1974

Everybody loves a party.

And there’s nothing quite like an election night party. What makes an election night celebration different?

The guest of honor. You see, all parties—birthdays, anniversaries, wakes—feature a guest of honor. But an election night party is a completely different animal because it isn’t about any one person or couple. It’s not even about the candidates.

At an election night party, the guests of honor are the attendees.

The people who gather to watch election results together are all of one mind. Of one spirit. They are like pack animals, all focused on the same outcome. They all share the same heroes and the same enemies.

If their candidates win, they all win. And a “win” means real-world changes for them—tax breaks, preferential government spending, judicial appointments—and money in their pockets.

Now, that’s a party.

This particular election night party took place in Maryland in 1974. To be precise—because I can be—this party was held on the night of the 1974 midterm elections, on Tuesday, November 5th.

It was a good year for Democrats.

This was the first national election after Watergate. Nixon’s resignation had severely damaged the Republicans’ chances in the election. Gerald Ford was just three months into his presidency, having taken over from Richard Nixon a few months earlier. And, of course, having pardoned Nixon in September, Ford had destroyed his own hopes for re-election and added to the national animus against Republicans.

This election night party took place in a spacious colonial-style home decorated in red, white, and blue, with American flags hanging from the windows and banisters. It featured a spacious living and dining area. The kitchen was large and well-equipped. There was a generous backyard with a comfortable deck and a terrace around the pool. All four bedrooms—aside from one guest bedroom—were upstairs.

There was even a “pin the tail on the donkey” game set up near the bar, for those with a sense of humor. No one actually played.

This house belonged to Dan and Annette Applegate, two proud and active members of the Democratic party in Maryland.

Dan’s family had always been active in politics. His grandfather had been a state representative. His father had served as a county judge for most of his career. Dan—born Daniel Parsons Applegate IV—was the fourth generation of Applegates admitted to the Maryland bar. While he would never actually serve in public office, he understood the value of political contacts and actively cultivated them.

This party was part of that effort.

Dan was dressed in a three-piece, tan wool suit, a white Brooks Brothers shirt, and a burgundy silk tie. The lapels and tie were wide, and the shirt collar oversized—all very fashionable at the time. Annette wore a slim, gold-belted, navy blue flare-leg pantsuit with a pale blue silk blouse and a pair of simple gold earrings. Apropos for the gathering, and it went quite nicely with all the flags, she’d decided.

Their twelve-year-old son, Billy Applegate, was in dark green overalls with a white shirt and blue Keds. A handsome boy, Billy had inherited his mother’s cornflower blue eyes and his father’s thick sandy blond hair, which he wore in a neatly trimmed surfer cut.

Billy was an only child. His parents doted on him, as did his grandparents since he was the only grandchild in both families. Even so, Billy was a good boy and knew to stay out of the way when his parents had guests, though he stayed close enough to be in the mix and see what was going on. He was at the age where he still enjoyed watching the grown-ups. Spying on them. In fact, he was familiar with many of the faces that night from other events of this kind. It was a small community.

Tonight, Tuesday night, the guests were arriving early, many coming over straight after work before polling places even closed.

It was going to be a long night.

The band played. Alcohol flowed. Anticipation and excitement were in the air at the prospect of big Democrat wins. And, after everything Nixon had put the nation through, how could voters not want a change?

In the living room, a handsome mahogany console TV with a big twenty-five-inch-diagonal color screen announced results as they came in. Dan was loitering by the avocado green Trimline rotary phone, mounted on the kitchen wall, that rang periodically with live information. The spring-coiled, twelve-foot receiver cord allowed him to pace anxiously as he fielded calls from the few Democrats charged with providing up-to-the-minute results from county polling.

Remember, this was back in the days before computerized voting machines. Back then, voters travelled to their precinct’s designated polling station and used a machine to punch holes in their ballot. These were then collected and transported to a central counting center where the ballots were put through a counting machine which tabulated the results that were then released to the public.

Dan relayed results to his guests, with each ring of the phone bringing more good news. More cheering and more drinking.

It was a good year to be a Democrat.

At the peak of festivities, there were over 250 guests in and around the property, to the point where the party overflowed onto the street, which was not a problem. No one was going to complain, as most of the neighbors were in attendance. And these were all good white folk. The police were kind enough to block off both ends of the street and make sure that those who’d had too much to drink made it home safely.

Inside, the house was a political orgy. Supporters rubbed elbows with candidates. Candidates rubbed elbows with incumbents. Incumbents rubbed elbows with donors. And lobbyists rubbed elbows with everyone except each other.

There were a number of judges in attendance. Several city council members hovered by the buffet, and a few state representatives were sprinkled through the crowd.

It was into this whirlwind of excitement that Sandra Bissette arrived.

At a time when men still ran everything in politics, Sandra hoped to make a name for herself. The fact that she was a Yale-graduated lawyer didn’t hurt, nor did the fact that she had both the figure and the looks of Jackie Kennedy.

Sandra was the daughter of lifelong Democrats, and her father happened to be the county sheriff. Although Sandra was not part of the elite set in Maryland, she was making her way. She was two years into working as an associate at a top law firm after having done a couple of high-level summer internships in D.C.

That night, Sandra was primarily interested in meeting two people: one was Annette Applegate. Although Sandra knew that both Dan and Annette were active in the Maryland Democratic party, Dan was known to be a snob—his career consisted of riding on his family’s coattails. Annette was universally recognized as the nicer of the two. Annette knew everyone, and everyone loved Annette. It was with her that Sandra was hoping to build a connection.

The second person who Sandra had added to her charm offensive for the evening was Harrison Kraft—another young Yale lawyer who, unlike her, was connected in all the right ways. Having graduated a few years ahead of her from law school, Harrison was running for state representative. He checked all the right boxes— family pedigree, education, professional credentials. There was no doubt the man was going places. Sandra had heard good things about him as a person and was interested in seeing for herself.

It was a little after 9:00 p.m.—Dan had just announced the results from Precinct Four in Montgomery County when Sandra saw an opening. Annette was by the buffet chatting with Howard Patrick, an older lobbyist—handsy, and a bit of a bore. Sandra straightened her back, raised her chin, and approached.

“Hello Howard,” she said with a big smile.

“Sandra! Hello, my dear. Don’t you look beautiful tonight?” “Why, thank you, Howard. Ever the charmer,” she said, allowing him to kiss her hand.

“Have you met our hostess, Annette Applegate?”

As Sandra turned to greet Annette, she noticed that the woman was looking past her, over her shoulder.

“Um, excuse me, young man!” Annette said, eyebrows raised and pearly white teeth dazzling.

Sandra turned and followed Annette’s gaze to a young boy in green overalls filching shrimp from the buffet. She guessed he was just shy of being a teenager.

“Aw, crap,” said Billy as he chewed.

“Come here, you,” Annette said, narrowing her eyes in mock disapproval.

The boy hesitated as he took in the young woman, the fat old man, and his mother, who stood waiting for him expectantly with her hands on her hips. He’d never seen the young woman before. She was new.

Unconsciously, he slowly moved to return the three shrimp in his sticky hand to the platter.

“With the shrimp, silly,” his mother said, shaking her head. Billy moved toward her, chewing rapidly so he could stuff
the other shrimp into his mouth.

Howard put his hand against the small of Sandra’s back, a little too low, and harrumphed to her under his breath, “Better seen, not heard. That’s how it used to be.”

Sandra tried to smile and fought the instinct to pull away.

Howard’s breath smelled of scotch and cigarettes.

Annette overheard, but ignored the old lobbyist’s comment.

“I suppose I don’t need to ask if you’ve had dinner? I left meatloaf for you in the kitchen.”

“I know. But, Mom, these shrimp are amazing.”

“And the meatballs?” asked Annette, looking over Billy toward the platter on the buffet.

Billy blushed. “Those, too.”

“Well, it’s getting a bit late for you,” Annette said, ruffling her son’s fair hair and then kissing him on the forehead, making him squirm. “Finish up the shrimp and get to bed.”

“What about Dad?” Billy asked, looking around. Annette’s face darkened, and she sighed. “I’ll send him up for a goodnight kiss. But you come along now, young man.” She put her hands on her son’s shoulders and steered him towards the stairs. “Excuse me for a moment,” she said over her shoulder.

Shit, thought Sandra as she twisted politely away, getting the old lobbyist’s hand off her lower back as he struck up a conversation. While she tried to focus on what he was saying, it was all she could do not to stare at the green thing wedged in between the man’s tar-stained teeth.

It took her ten minutes to extricate herself from Howard, thanks to Alan Watts—a wiry man who was only modestly more interesting. His family ran a small chain of grocery stores. Alan had asked her out a while back, and though she’d declined, he still had hopes—she could tell.

After a few more minutes of polite conversation, Sandra fell back on “old reliable” with a forced smile. “Excuse me, gentlemen… ladies’ room.”

Once she was sure she had escaped, she continued to work the room. About half an hour later, as she accepted another glass of white wine from a passing waiter, she felt a hand pressing low on the small of her back.

Oh fuck, not again.

“Yes, Howard?” She turned, fake smile firmly in place, to find Annette Applegate standing behind her.

“Gotcha!” laughed Annette.

Sandra laughed, both from relief and from delight at the inside joke made by the woman to whom she’d hoped to ingratiate herself.

This is going to be a great night.

While Sandra and Annette chatted amiably, many other members of the party were well beyond civility.

The drinking had begun five hours earlier, but there was more than just alcohol flowing. Other substances were being abused. It was all very discreet, of course. Most were partaking solely for recreational purposes, but a few were ingesting more heavily. Beyond alcohol and drugs—and most hazardous of all, given that it was infecting everyone to some degree and was in ample supply—was the potent and dangerous combination of two psychological stimulants, victory and power.

You see, politics doesn’t attract only “normal” people. As in every part of society, there is a spectrum. And politics, too, has its outliers. The smug and the superior. The arrogant and the snide. And the sociopaths.

Victory and power are dangerous to all, but more so to the sociopath.

Do not consume alcohol or operate heavy machinery while taking…

For these select few, the alcohol, drugs, and victory combined with power was toxic. It created a euphoria that knew no rules.

No limits.

No fear.

* * *

Upstairs, Billy had fallen asleep with the soothing press of his mother’s goodnight kiss still fresh on his cheek.

A small nightlight plugged into a wall socket illuminated his bedroom, casting a warm glow on a baseball snuggled in a catcher’s mitt that lay in a corner next to a wooden Adirondack baseball bat.

On one end of his small dresser sat a model airplane—a Douglas A-20 Havoc that he’d built with his grandfather. It was a replica of the plane Gramps had flown during World War II. The model was flanked by a teddy bear that Billy claimed he’d outgrown but refused to give away. The other end of the dresser was reserved for the little boy’s current prized possession—Rock’em Sock’em Robots. A gift from his parents for his birthday.

The room was quiet, the party sounds muffled.

Suddenly, the door opened, spilling light into the little boy’s room along with the blare of music and the chaotic chatter of voices. Then, just as quickly, the door shut, returning the room to calm semi-darkness.

Billy was groggy and didn’t try to open his eyes. Instead, he just spoke out loud. “Dad?”

He felt the bed sag as his father sat next to him in a cloud smelling of alcohol and cigars.

Then he felt dry lips on his forehead. The kiss made him smile sleepily.

A hand stroked his head and his hair as Billy snuggled into his pillow and drifted back to sleep.

Suddenly, the same hand that had been stroking his hair gently clamped over his mouth. It was a man’s hand, but it was soft. Clammy. It was not his father’s….

Billy tried to sit up, but the hand squeezed harder, the man leaning into him, pushing him down and pinning him to the bed as a second hand groped at him, pulling away his sheets.

Billy didn’t know what to do. He was terrified. He opened his eyes, but with just the little nightlight on, he couldn’t see anything other than the vague shape of the form pressing down on him. He could smell booze and food on the man’s warm breath.

Tears came as the vise over Billy’s mouth forced him to suck air noisily through his nose as the groping continued—searching, finding, fondling, stroking, then reaching, penetrating, sending a hot shard of searing pain through his body. Inside.

He tried to fight, but couldn’t. The hands were too strong. The body too heavy. He felt sick. The stench of cigars, food, and alcohol on fetid breath was nauseating. And he was scared. Terrified. In pain.

Bile rose in Billy’s throat. But the hand over his mouth prevented him from vomiting. He gagged, then swallowed everything back down.

His body began to convulse.

To thrash.

As it did, the second hand stopped.

The man’s weight eased on top of his body, no longer pinning him down. The hand over his mouth loosened slightly, and Billy felt the other stroking his hair. He wanted to move, but he was paralyzed with fear.

The whole ordeal lasted minutes, but it felt like hours.

Then the presence leaned over and whispered, “Sleep. Sleep.

You were dreaming. Go back to sleep.”

The weight lifted from the bed, and as it did, the hand fell away from Billy’s mouth, leaving him shivering in the aftermath.

The door opened, first slightly. Through the crack, the man looked out into the hall as the babble of music and voices invaded the bedroom. Then the door swung fully open, and as it did, Billy saw the man clearly in the light from the hallway. The image burned itself into his memory. The image of a stranger whose identity he would eventually learn.

The door closed and the crowd cheered as the band started playing—“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”

And Billy Applegate cried himself into a fitful sleep.

***

Excerpt from Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko. Copyright 2020 by JK Franko. Reproduced with permission from JK Franko. All rights reserved.

 

 

Tour Participants:

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for JK Franko. There will be six (6) winners. Two (2) winners will each win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each win TOOTH FOR TOOTH by JK Franko (print) and two (2) winners will each win TOOTH FOR TOOTH by Jk Franko (eBook). The giveaway begins on June 1, 2020 and runs through August 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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Jun 262020
 

Danger in Plain Sight

by Burt Weissbourd

on Tour June 1-30, 2020

Synopsis:

Danger in Plain Sight by Burt Weissbourd

It took fourteen years to construct a safe world for her and her son–and only one night for her ex to unravel it.

Celebrated Seattle restaurateur Callie James is more than a little thrown when her ex-husband, French investigative reporter Daniel Odile-Grand, shows up after fourteen years asking for her help. Even more disturbing: as she throws him out, Daniel is deliberately hit by a car, hurled through the front window of her restaurant–broken, bloody and unconscious. He flees from the hospital and breaks into Callie’s apartment, where he passes out. Reluctantly, Callie hides him. When she gets back to her restaurant, two assassins walk in, insisting that she find Daniel for them by tonight or pay the consequences.

Overwhelmed and hopelessly out of her depth, Callie hires the only man she knows who can help her: Cash Logan, her former bartender, a man she had arrested for smuggling ivory through her restaurant two years earlier, and who still hasn’t forgiven her.

The assassins blow up her restaurant. It’s Callie’s nightmare. And the worst is yet to come as she and her unlikely, incompatible ally discover that the most perilous dangers are far closer to home than they’d imagined.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Blue City Press
Publication Date: September 8th 2020
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 1733438211 (ISBN13: 9781733438216)
Series: A Callie James Thriller, 1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Burt Weissbourd

Burt Weissbourd is a novelist and former screenwriter and producer of feature films. He was born in 1949 and graduated cum laude from Yale University, with honors in psychology. His book, Danger in Plain Sight, published on May 15th 2020, is the first book in his new Callie James thriller series. His earlier books include Inside Passage, Teaser, Minos, and In Velvet, all of which will be reissued in Fall 2020.

GUEST POST

How Screenplays and Movies Influenced my Novel Writing
KLUTE – an example

Between 1975 -1987 I was a film producer in Hollywood. My initial focus, and eventually my specialty, was developing screenplays. I worked with writers whose work grabbed viewers viscerally, not with explosions but with multi-dimensional characters that would draw you into a deeply moving story. I spent countless hours working out the stories and shaping the people in them. I worked with the following screenwriters, some of their most famous works noted in parentheses: Frederick Raphael (“Two for the Road”), Alvin Sargent (“Ordinary People”, “Julia”), Andy Lewis (“Klute”), Joe Esterhas (”Basic Instinct”), Ron Bass (“Rain Man”), Stewart Stern (“Rebel Without a Cause”). William Wittliff (“Lonesome Dove,” Raggedy Man”), Larry D. Cohen (“Carrie,” “Ghost Story”), etc. These writers’ film credits are for identification purposes with the exception of “Raggedy Man” and “Ghost Story,” as I did not work on these films.

I’ve just finished my fifth novel. All are character-driven thrillers. I love to write well drawn, complicated people who eventually are able to do unexpected things. I learned to do this from working on screenplays and studying movies. I’d like to describe one movie and screenplay that profoundly impacted me:

KLUTE — screenplay by Andy and Dave Lewis, directed by Alan Pakula, starring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland

People still argue about whether KLUTE is a thriller or a love story. The answer, I believe, is both, and it makes my point about character-driven stories. In KLUTE, Jane Fonda (Bree Daniels) is a conflicted call girl trying to change her life. Donald Sutherland plays a small-town police detective, (John Klute), who is trying to find a missing man, a friend, from his town who was one of her clients. Eventually, the detective learns that his friend was killed, and discovers that the killer is stalking Bree. That’s the entire plot. What grabs you, makes you care viscerally about the outcome, and is finally deeply moving, is the growing, often ambivalent relationship between these two people. The director, Alan Pakula, is also very psychologically minded and between him and the writers, they manage to keep the tension, the frustration between them, even the angry clashes, grounded in their respective emotional realities. The encounters between Bree and her therapist still set the standard for meaningful, authentic treatment interactions in film.

Their evolving relationship is multi-faceted and at one point she fights with him and goes back to her pimp. By then, you’re routing for her getting together with this small town, soft-spoken, very smart and sensitive detective. By then, you’ve understood that she’s also very smart and becoming more and more self-aware as she struggles to get out of the call girl life. In the end, he saves her life when the killer attacks her. The final scene has both of them in her apartment. She’s packing up to go with him back to his small town. There’s no certainty that they’ll succeed together, but the audience is hoping mightily that they will. The reason you feel that they have a chance is the way they’ve grown, learned, separately and together about each other and what they both know that they could have together. This self-knowledge is earned the hard way, and this hard-earned character development gives us hope for their life together. I did not work on the screenplay for Klute, but I worked with Andy Lewis on four other screenplays, and in every single one he pays the same careful attention to the people.

Working with screen writers was a great experience. As a producer developing a screenplay, you learn to look for stories with strong, complex characters and a “rich stew” — that is to say a situation with conflict, emotional intensity, and the potential to evolve in unexpected ways. That is exactly how I approach the books that I write, and I learned how to do that as a producer working on screenplays.

Catch Up With Burt Weissbourd On:
BurtWeissbourd.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

It was 1:15 a.m. when Kelly and Gray returned. They must have been watching, because they came in as the last patron left. Will showed them to the bar, where Callie was waiting at her table. They sat facing her, different suits this time. Gray wore a thin gold square-link chain around his neck and a matching gold earring—stylish and expensive. Kelly wore a similar gold necklace with a floating diamond solitaire pendant. As Will was asking where their suits had been made, Callie interrupted. “A drink?”

“Another time,” Gray said, all business now. “Have you found Daniel Odile-Grand?”

“No, as I said before, I have no idea where he is.”

“That’s unacceptable,” he said matter-of-factly. He turned to his partner, who nodded, regretfully smiling her agreement.

Callie was prepared. Cash had told her to hit her “ice mode” button—a phrase he’d coined for her chilliness when irritated—at any sign of trouble. He’d recognize that and take it from there. “I beg your pardon?” she replied, classic subzero. She sipped her tepid San Pellegrino with lime.

“As I explained, urgent matters are at stake.” Gray waved his hand to include the dining room downstairs. “I’m told this fine restaurant is underinsured.”

“Yo, Callie.” Cash had materialized behind her, carrying chips and guacamole for the table. “I thought you said we were well insured.”

“We are, in fact, well insured,” she agreed.

Cash leaned in. His physical presence didn’t seem to faze these people. “So we don’t need insurance, then, we’re fine,” he pointed out.

Gray leaned in, too, measuring Cash, finding him wanting. “Listen carefully, cowboy, this is not your concern.” He said it slowly, advising a dim-witted child.

Kelly shook her head and spoke for the first time. “No, surely not.”

Cash’s eyes locked onto Gray’s. “Then this is your unlucky day, pardner. From now on, to get to the lady, you go through me.” He flashed a shit-eating grin. “Did you call me Cowboy?”

Gray grinned ever so slightly. Kelly smiled, picture perfect.

“Cowboy?” Cash repeated, frowning now as he emptied the bowl of guacamole on Gray’s cream-colored silk suit.

Gray was up, going for his gun. He fell to the floor, writhing, when Andre planted his metal prosthetic in the hit man’s groin. Cash already had Kelly’s arms pinned at her sides. Andre took her gun from its shoulder holster and trained it on Gray, who was on the floor, covered with guacamole.

“Let this go,” Cash told Gray. “You don’t want a war. Not with me.”

“Nice suit,” Andre added, and lifted Gray’s gold necklace with the black metal toe of his prosthetic leg. “Love the bling.”

More from Danger in Plain Sight

Cash closed his eyes. He had to do something to divert his mind from these horrific insects. He turned away, stretched his sore arms, flexed his tense back, focusing on Callie. Callie James . . . Okay, it was working. Picturing her face, the corners of his mouth turned up and his spirits soared.

Callie James . . . Why did he feel so wholly in love with her?

He stood, arms extended behind him, as he considered his on-again, off-again history with women.

Women found him attractive, and he’d been with many of them. His relationships, however, rarely lasted as long as he expected. There was some part of himself that he held back, and women sensed this and eventually moved on or asked for more of a commitment than he could make. Over time, he realized that it wasn’t a part — like a piece — but rather some portion of his unusual intensity. He understood that he was very accepting of other people and only offered as much as a woman looked for — some essential emotional minimum — to sustain the relationship. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It was a strong, keenly sensitive person’s way of protecting a partner from unwanted, possibly unsettling intensity. It’s who he was. Everything that he did, he did well but sparingly. So in some way he didn’t understand, he was choosing women who were less intense than he was.

Callie was the first woman he’d ever been with who demanded one hundred percent at all times. She was relentless, and even when she wasn’t aware of it, every bit as intense as he was. He didn’t hold anything back with her — yet she always wanted an explanation, an elaboration, an argument, or an answer to a difficult question. She’d never idealized him, that’s for sure. And he never pretended with her. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but the out-of-the-blue way this had happened between them, the strength of it, was something entirely new for him. Did he trust it? Yes, unequivocally. Did he know why? Yes, unequivocally again — it was because Callie James could never be untrue to herself.

Cash sat down, and turning back, he watched the horrible insects squirming in the jar.

No, he couldn’t lose her. Not now.

More from Danger in Plain Sight

He opened the back door and then led Christy up the stairs to apartment 2D. Will opened the apartment door, held it for her. Christy came through the door into the living room. Will closed the door behind her.

“Christy,” Callie called from where she’d been standing behind the door.

When Christy turned, confused, Callie whispered, “You miserable bitch,” and she fired two barbed, dart-like electrodes from her Taser into Christy’s chest. The electrodes created a circuit in the body, essentially hijacking the central nervous system, causing neuromuscular incapacitation.

Christy fell to the floor, writhing in uncontrollable muscle spasms. When the writhing stopped and she’d curled into the fetal position, Callie and Will cuffed her hands behind her back.

When they were able to get her on her feet, Callie said, “We’re trading you for Cash Logan and Amjad Hasim.”

“What are you talking about?”

Callie slapped her, as hard as she was able. The blow tore Christy’s lower lip, drawing blood, and bruised her cheek. Callie hadn’t planned to do that—it was her second time, and she’d never hit anyone nearly so hard in her life—but red-hot rage was coursing through her veins. She was trembling, though her ever-present anxiety had receded, and she sure as hell didn’t feel helpless.

“Are you crazy?” Christy cried out.

“Don’t even try that. I know what you and Avi have done—to Daniel, to my restaurant, to my friend Doc. You almost killed us all on the boat. And now you have Cash, damn you!”

Christy’s face changed; she got it—Callie had somehow put it together. “You low-life skanky cunt, I’ll kill you myself.” Christy spit in Callie’s face.

Callie slapped her again, a fierce crack, astonished, yet again, by the rage she felt welling inside. And in that moment, she understood that her usual internal restraints—her rules and regulations—were no longer in place. It was as if an anvil had been cut loose from around her neck.

Blood dripped from Christy’s lip, her left eye was partially closed, and tears streamed down her face.

Callie stepped closer. “If anything happens to Cash, if you hurt him again, I’ll kill you, Christy Ben-Meyer. I swear that on my son’s life.”

Five minutes later Christy was standing on a stool in the center of the room. Her hands were cuffed behind her back. Her feet were bound. Her mouth was covered with duct tape. There was a noose around her neck that was tightly tied off to the pair of sturdy eyehooks that Will had screwed into the ceiling beam earlier. Christy’s head was tilted back and up; the rope was that tight. Another rope was tied to the leg of the stool. If the stool were pulled out from under Christy’s feet, she would hang.

Callie held a handgun to Christy’s kneecap.

Will was shooting a video with Callie’s iPhone.

Callie spoke to the camera. “Avi Ben-Meyer, I promise you that I will shoot out Christy’s left kneecap in fifteen minutes if you haven’t arranged the exchange with Itzac by then. In thirty minutes, I’ll shoot out her other kneecap and hang her. Believe me on this — if Cash Logan is hurt in any way, I’ll torture her without mercy before she dies.” Callie nodded, done. She walked to a corner of the room, fighting for breath. Dear God! What had she just said? Torture Christy? Damn it, if they hurt Cash . . . She gasped — she’d never even known that she could have feelings like that.

Will placed a calming hand on her back, and he gave her the phone. Callie noted the time, then sent the video to Itzac.

More from Danger in Plain Sight

The martinis arrived, each one with an extra inch of refill in a glass tumbler. “The angel’s share,” Cash explained. He raised his drink, a toast. “To you, Callie, to what you could become.”

She clicked his glass with hers. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“You have a shot at extraordinary.”

“You think so?”

“Possibly. But it’s an entirely different kind of extraordinary than turning-me-over-to-the-cops-for-smuggling-erotic-netsuke-into-your-restaurant extraordinary.”

“I deserve that. Jesus what an unforgiving, righteous gal I was.” She raised a palm. “Your words. And you were right. I’m sorry.” She touched his arm. “I was mean-spirited, foolish—just plain wrong — and I’ll always regret that.”

“Suppose we let that go.” Cash raised his glass again.

She touched her glass to his. “Thank you.”

“Speaking of regrets, honestly, I never anticipated that this past week would be so difficult—the anxiety, hiding Lew, the mace, the damage to your restaurant, the explosives on the boat . . . It was especially hard to lose Doc . . .” He let it drift.

She nodded, found his eyes. “I misjudged you early on . . . Conventional thinking sometimes blinds me—how you look, how you dress, what your job is. Long story short, you’re not at all what you seem. I listened carefully to you with Detective Samter today. You’re so smart, so able in the world. And in your way, though you’d never admit it, you try to get it right. Yes, you present whatever you’re proposing as practical, a calculated, opportunistic thing. What I’m learning, though, is that with you that’s also, as you see it—after carefully weighing pros and cons—the best for all involved. Or as I would say it, theright thing. How you get there is often confusing to me, but you do get there, way ahead of me, and, well, I admire you.”

“Thank you . . . That’s a two-way deal.” Cash watched her, surprised by her expressiveness. “Truthfully, this past week, I underestimated you. You’ve been right there, as hard as that must have been for you. You kept defying my expectations. Just when I was ready to give up on you, you did the smart thing, the hard thing, under protest, but you did it. And now, I’m watching you in the eye of a serious storm, just when I’d expect you to cave in, fall apart. But no, you manage. You even stand tall. Callie, you have a fine, strong heart.”

She smiled. “I’m a restaurateur. I never knew what to do outside my restaurant. I was always afraid.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“It took a lot of work and a huge amount of energy to accomplish that deception. I mean you can’t imagine what it was like for me to find you — ask for your help — at the Dragon. It was all I could do to look at you, to keep even a semblance of composure.”

“And that’s changing?”

“Yes, I think so. I hope so.”

“How did this happen?”

“It’s you, Terry.” She looked at him, eyes serious. “In your tenacious, patient way, you dragged me—kicking and screaming—out into the world, step by baby step, and though it’s every bit as frightening and even more unsettling than I imagined it, I’m okay with it. Yeah, I’m even getting my sea legs.”

“Bravo, then, Callie James. To both of us.”

She raised her glass. They toasted silently.

“Truthfully, Cash, at times I even like it out here.”

“Well, it suits you.” Cash watched her smile.

“I even like talking with you . . . And I was never a talker.”

“I’m guessing we have some great, contentious conversations ahead of us.”

“I like the idea of that.”

“Likewise.”

“Cash and Frosty, tête-à-tête.”

He took her small, delicate hands in his big, busted-up mitts.

Their kiss was tender, sweet, Cash thought. After, there were tears in Callie’s eyes.

***

Excerpt from Danger in Plain Sight by Burt Weissbourd. Copyright 2020 by Burt Weissbourd. Reproduced with permission from Burt Weissbourd. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Apr 222020
 

Diver's Paradise by Davin Goodwin Banner

 

 

Diver’s Paradise

by Davin Goodwin

on Tour April 6 – May 8, 2020

Synopsis:

Diver's Paradise by Davin Goodwin

After 25 years on the job, Detective Roscoe Conklin trades his badge for a pair of shorts and sandals and moves to Bonaire, a small island nestled in the southern Caribbean. But the warm water, palm trees, and sunsets are derailed when his long-time police-buddy friend back home, is murdered.

Conklin dusts off a few markers and calls his old department, trolling for information. It’s slow going. No surprise, there. After all, it’s an active investigation, and his compadres back home aren’t saying a damn thing.

He’s 2,000 miles away, living in paradise. Does he really think he can help? They suggest he go to the beach and catch some rays.

For Conklin, it’s not that simple. Outside looking in? Not him. Never has been. Never will be.

When a suspicious mishap lands his significant other, Arabella, in the hospital, the island police conduct, at best, a sluggish investigation, stonewalling progress. Conklin questions the evidence and challenges the department’s methods. Something isn’t right.

Arabella wasn’t the intended target.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 1608093832 (ISBN13: 9781608093830)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Davin Goodwin

My family members have always been epic storytellers. I regularly wrote short stories in high school and college and, later in life, freelanced several articles for trade and industry publications. For years, the idea of writing a novel bounced around in the back of my mind, but never found its way out of the darkness.

My wife, Leslie (Double L), and I have visited the island of Bonaire nearly 30 times over the past 20 years, many of those trips for extended periods. The island is a perfect setting for the style of novel I wanted to write. Yes, the book would be a murder mystery, but I needed a laid-back, slightly exotic setting. And I wanted the book to partially center around scuba diving, an activity Les and I enjoy together as often as possible.

During the Spring of 2010, with mild coaxing from friends and family, the concept of Diver’s Paradise came to fruition. However, after close to a year of writing, I gave up, not touching the story for almost six years. In the Spring of 2017, I pulled out the tattered manuscript, rewrote and edited till blue in the face, then endured daily heart palpitations, waiting for submission responses from agents and publishers.

Nine months after my first submission, and after agonizing through a boatload of rejections, Oceanview Publishing—to my good luck—offered a contract. I would be a published author.

Diver’s Paradise launches on April 7, 2020 in Hard Cover and eBook, followed later in paperback.

I enjoy being outdoors when the weather is nice. I don’t particularly like snow and cold weather, which can be problematic dwelling in the frigid, midwestern state of Wisconsin.

Exercise is a passion of mine, although I don’t do it as intensely as in past years. Running, biking, and swimming are my favorites. As of several years ago, golf and I decided that we can no longer be friends.

Through high school and college, I played violin in the orchestras and community ensembles. Much to the chagrin of those close to me, around the age of sixteen I was struck with an uncontrollable desire to play the 5-string banjo. And play I did.

Hours and hours a day.

Everyday.

In 1992, the band I played with at the time, travelled to the Ukraine and performed in the International Kiev Music Festival. I’ve also performed on radio, TV, and recorded on several albums.

I’m 58 years old and live in Madison, WI. Originally from Rockford, IL, I went to college at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR., graduating with a degree in Computer Science. I’m married and have one daughter and one stepson, both grown.

Professionally, I have roughly 30 years’ experience in the technology industry and currently manage a group of software developers for a local, mid-sized company. In the past, I’ve owned several small businesses, worked as an aerial photographer, a semi-professional banjo player, a flight instructor, and a real estate investor.

Future Plans: Continue the Roscoe Conklin series, hopefully, for a long time.

Guest Post

10 Things Readers Don’t Know About Roscoe Conklin

1. Hates vegetables. He’ll eat some corn or peas occasionally, but vegetables are off the menu. Loves almost all fruit, though.

2. Doesn’t eat anything that comes from the ocean. Not allergic to seafood, just doesn’t like it.

3. Never played high school sports. He thought sports was a waste of time and that he was too cool to be involved. He despises bodybuilders and tough guys. To this day, he still doesn’t watch sports on TV or follow any teams.

4. Doesn’t drink hard liquor. He loves beer and partakes regularly, but doesn’t drink whiskey, scotch, vodka, gin, etc. The few time he did in the past, didn’t work out well. It revealed a side of him he didn’t like. That no one liked. He swore it off for good.

5. Doesn’t listen to rap music or anything with an exaggerated bass beat. Prefers 70’s rock, mellow country, or bluegrass.

6. Astute at odd jobs. Even though he’s a procrastinator and prefers to relax as often as possible, Roscoe is very adept as a handyman. He personally renovated his old house in Rockford, IL. Reluctantly, and with excessive prodding from Erika, the office manager, he performs most of the maintenance at the YellowRock Resort.

7. Killed a man in the line of duty. Unlike most other law enforcement officers, Roscoe once pulled his service weapon in the line of duty. He had to shoot and kill a man in order to protect /save a hostage. He’s never talked about it, not even to Arabella. He regrets the incident but understands it was the only option. He was cleared of all wrongdoing.

8. Knows he has an anger management problem. Roscoe has attended several anger management classes, both in a professional and personal capacity. His anger doesn’t turn violent, but he struggles sometimes to control it. His “ten counts” are a personal reminder to get control and not go over the edge.

9. He’s been a regular visitor to the island. Before retiring, moving to Bonaire, and purchasing the YellowRock Resort, Roscoe made multiple trips to the island as a tourist. He enjoyed the scuba diving and the laid-back atmosphere of the island. Upon retirement, he decided to make Bonaire his home. But he knew he couldn’t scuba every day, so he bought the resort to stay busy, have a purpose, and be involved with the local community.

10. Has a two-year college degree. Roscoe graduated at the top of his high school class but wasn’t interested much in secondary education. He worked odd jobs in the Rockford area for a few years, eventually enrolling in the local junior college where he received an associate’s degree in criminal justice. At the age of 24, he was accepted for training by the Rockford Police Department. He graduated from academy and field training, then went on to complete over 25 years of service. He took an early retirement at the age of 50.

Catch Up With Davin Goodwin On:
DavinGoodwinAuthor.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @dgoodwin7757
Facebook – @authordavingoodwin
Instagram – davin_goodwin_author

 

Read an excerpt:

With the windows down and the top off, the warm Bonaire-island breeze flowed through the cabin of my four-door Jeep Wrangler. I glanced right, across the sea, savoring the salt-filled air. A brilliant shade of blue—one found only in the Caribbean—filled the cloudless sky.

Living on Bonaire, I never worried about traffic lights or big city hustle and bustle. With fewer crowds and more locals, I considered this tiny island my undiscovered paradise, not yet spoiled by restaurant chains, high-rises, or all-inclusive resorts. Scooters and bicycles were primary transportation for many, while others walked, greeting each other with smiles and waves. The culture, best described as laid-back with an unhurried pace, continued to have that slow, relaxed feel of the old Caribbean.

Unhurried, unspoiled, unforgettable.

My phone rang as I turned left, heading north on the road called Kaya International, toward Kralendijk. Even island life has its flaws.

Damn cell phones.

“Hello, Erika,” I said.

“Hello, R. You are on your way back?”

My full name is Roscoe Conklin. However, most folks refer to me as R. “Yes. Do you need anything?”

“It is Friday,” she said. A Bonaire native, and having lived on the island her entire life, Erika spoke English as a third, maybe fourth, language. As with most of the local population, her speech contained a hint of Dutch accent and reminded me of someone who wanted to sound formal and correct, but sometimes placed words in the wrong order.

“Yes, it is Friday… all day,” I said.

“I must leave early today.”

She had reminded me three times since noon. I smiled, downshifting around a curve.

“I know, I know. You must have a wonderful boss.”

“I did have a wonderful boss. Now I work for you.”

“Yes, you do.” I sighed. “Need anything?”

“I need a raise.”

I shook my head. “Anything else?”

“I do not think so.”

“See you soon.”

A few turns later, I stopped for a road-crossing iguana, or tree chicken as they’re called on Bonaire. It stood in the middle of the lane and swiveled an eye my direction which I considered a gesture of gratitude for saving its life. Even so, this guy had better quicken the pace. Many locals considered iguanas a food source, and one this size—maybe three feet long from head to tail—would be a prized catch.

We studied each other a moment or two, then I beeped the horn, ending our one-sided standoff. The iguana scurried away and found refuge in the roadside underbrush.

I pulled into the parking lot of the YellowRock Resort, which I owned, courtesy of my life savings and a large chunk of my pension. The Resort part, however, was a bit of a misnomer. It was a 10-unit ma-and-pa type hotel with a front reception area and a small apartment upstairs where I lived.

Guilt shot through me knowing the roof leaked in several units, and, scattered along the path, yellow flakes of paint reminded me of some much-needed upkeep. Bonaire is an island for water lovers and, most days, I wished for more time in the sea. Retired, and in no hurry to overwork myself, I struggled to stay ahead of the repairs. Erika seemed her happiest when keeping me busy.

I’d be lost, though, without her.

Before going into the office, I walked around the side of the building. Mounds of dirt, a cement mixing tool, and several wooden forms laid haphazardly around a partially repaired section of the foundation. The mess had cluttered the small side yard between the YellowRock and the building next door for several weeks. Neither the contractor responsible for the work nor any of his crew had bothered to show for work in several days. He wanted more money to finish; I wanted the job completed before paying him another cent. A stalemate like this on Bonaire—on island time—could last for months. Shaking my head, I walked into the guest reception area, which also doubled as the office, on the first floor.

Erika sat behind an old gray desk that reminded me of something from a 1960’s secretarial office. I did my work on an identical one against the back wall, and a third, stacked high with papers and other junk, gathered dust in the corner. The place needed an upgrade, but the retro decor of our cozy office served our function and suited us well.

Erika punched away at a computer keyboard, acting as if she hadn’t seen me enter. Her yellow polo, embroidered with YellowRock Resort on the upper left shoulder, deepened the tint of her dark skin. She refused to tell me her age, but insisted she was older than me “by several years.” I loved her like a big sister, and most of the time, she treated me like a little brother.

With black-rimmed glasses perched halfway down her nose, she rolled her eyes as I walked by her desk. “There are still some papers on your desk that still need your signature,” she said, turning back to her work.

“Hello to you, too.”

I laid a plastic bag on my desk and retrieved a bottle of water—or awa as it’s called in the native language of Papiamento—from the small fridge in the corner. I sat and put my feet on Erika’s desk, playing a game with myself by blocking out most of her face with my size eleven sandals. Her modest afro formed a dark halo around the tops of my toes.

“You still have not fixed the problem with that bathroom light.” She continued to gaze at the computer, not giving me the satisfaction of showing the least bit of aggravation.

I didn’t say anything and hoped she’d look over and see the soles of my sandals.

“The light?” she said.

I decided I’d better answer. “Which unit?” I glanced at the bags I’d placed on my desk. They contained several packages of light bulbs.

“You know which unit.”

“It’s just a light bulb.”

“Then it will be easy to fix, yes?”

“I’ll get it tomorrow.”

She moved her head to look around my sandals. “That is what you said last month about the paint.” She grabbed a small stack of papers, slapped my feet with them and turned back to her work, muttering “hende fresku.”

My Papiamento wasn’t good, but I got the gist of what she said. “What would I do without you?” I lowered my feet to the floor.

Knowing how far to push was most of the fun.

“Don’t forget you have some friends arriving on tomorrow afternoon’s flight,” Erika said. “You’ll need to meet them at the airport.”

“Yup, I remember. Tiffany and her boyfriend.”

She removed her glasses, laid them on the desk, and leaned forward resting on her elbows. “And how does that make you feel?”

I knew what she trolled for but didn’t bite. Tiffany and I had met during a case many years ago and were friends long before I moved to the island. She had visited me on Bonaire in the past and decided to bring her new boyfriend along on this trip.

“I feel fine about it.”

“You know what I mean.” She leaned back in her chair. “When do you plan to introduce her to Arabella?”

“Tiffany is a friend. That’s all she’s ever been. Nothing more, nothing less.” I took a swig of water and wiped my mouth with the back of my arm. Letting out an exaggerated “Ahh,” I concentrated on screwing the cap on the bottle before continuing. “Erika, you think you know more than you actually do.”

“Uh-huh.” She put her glasses back on, grabbed the stack of papers, and walked to the filing cabinet.

Wanting the conversation to end, I stood and headed up the stairs leading from the office to my apartment. “I’m going to take a shower. Have a nice weekend and don’t forget to lock up when you leave.”

Entering my apartment, I went straight to the fridge for a cold beer, my favorite being an Amstel Bright. The advertisements described it as a “Euro Pale Lager,” whatever that meant. Most of the bars and restaurants served it with a slice of lime wedged atop the bottle’s neck. At home, I didn’t waste time slicing limes.

Unlike Jeff “The Big” Lebowski, I liked the Eagles and Creedence, so I popped the Eagles Greatest Hits, Volume 1 into the CD player and sat in front of my computer to check email. Twelve new messages. Eleven went straight to my junk folder, but one had a recognizable address—Marko Martijn, the contractor responsible for the unfinished foundation work. Before I clicked it open, my cell phone rang.

“What’s up, Bella?” I said.

“Hey, Conklin, happy birthday.”

I laughed. “Thanks, but you’re a little early.”

“I know, but since it will be the big five-oh, I thought your memory might slip and needed a reminder.”

“Yeah, that’s funny.” Arabella was from the Netherlands, and I’d found sarcasm doesn’t always work on the Dutch.

“I thought so. I called to see how you are doing.”

“Well… I’m about to take a shower. Want to join me?”

“I wish I could, but I am on my way to work. They called me in to work the desk tonight.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Yes, for both of us. It is that new inspector, Schleper. He thinks we are at his beck and call.”

I walked out on the balcony and sat on a lounger facing the sea. “Yup, sounds familiar.”

“Ach. You think he would give me more respect.” She exhaled a short, hard breath. “I’ve been a cop for ten years on this island. Longer than him!”

Changing the conversation, I asked, “We still running tomorrow morning?”

“You bet. Eight kilometers?”

“If you mean four point nine miles, then yes.”

She laughed. “No, I mean eight kilometers.”

“Ah, forgive me. My measurements are still strictly American.”

“I will forgive you. You are drinking a beer right now?”

“Yup. Need to drink away my sorrows before I shower. Alone.”

“Do not drink too much. I do not want to hear excuses for tomorrow’s run.”

“Maybe one more, then I have some paperwork to do. Or maybe change a lightbulb.”

“Yeah, right. You are drinking, so you will not do more work tonight.

“Hey…”

“I will see you tomorrow. Usual time?”

“Yup. Good night.”

She chuckled. “I will send you a text reminder.”

I seldom read text messages and never answered them, but the phone pinged as soon as I set it down. She’d included the words “old man” as part of the reminder about our run.

The sun had moved closer to the distant horizon, creating an orange aura behind the few low clouds. Palm trees and sunsets. Tough to find a more relaxing setting. I nursed my beer and watched the sparse traffic crawl along the one-lane road that ran between the YellowRock Resort and the sea.

I imagined Erika’s delight in arriving at work in the morning and finding the light fixed. It’d be easy—just a bulb. As I headed towards the stairs to retrieve the bags sitting on my office desk, the landline phone rang; the one used most often for off-island communications. It might’ve been a future guest wanting to make a reservation at the YellowRock or maybe an old friend from the States calling to chat me up about retirement in paradise.

Darkness was settling over the vast, smooth sea and I took a swig of beer, not interested in answering the phone, content with letting voicemail do its job. Besides, the Eagles were telling me to take it easy, and, regardless of the lightbulb, that sounded like a good idea. Arabella was right. I was drinking; my work finished for the night.

Second ring.

Nearby, my banjo sat on its stand. Erika had kept me busy enough lately that practice had eluded me. Picking some tunes sounded good.

Third ring.

Turning around, I noticed my old 7-iron propped in the corner. I hadn’t played golf since moving to Bonaire five years ago but still fed the urge to practice my swing. Make sure my elbow stayed tucked, and the clubface didn’t open.

Fourth ring.

Or I could swap the Eagles CD for Creedence, sit on the balcony, and drink another beer or two or three, watching the sun settle below the horizon. Maybe skip the shower, doze off early, and catch a few Zs to the rhythm of the waves.

Fifth ring.

I could’ve done any of those things but didn’t.

Instead, I went to my desk and answered the phone.

***

Excerpt from Diver’s Paradise by Davin Goodwin. Copyright 2020 by Davin Goodwin. Reproduced with permission from Davin Goodwin. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Giveaway!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Davin Goodwin. There will be 6 winners. Two (2) winners will each win (1) Amazon.com Gift Card; two (2) winners will each win one PRINT copy of DIVER’S PARADISE by Davin Goodwin (US addresses only); and two (2) winners will each receive one EBOOK copy of DIVER’S PARADISE by Davin Goodwin. The giveaway begins on April 6, 2020 and runs through May 9, 2020. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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Apr 152020
 

Flight Risk

by Cara Putman

on Tour April 1-30, 2020

Synopsis:

Flight Risk by Cara Putman

Bestselling author Cara Putman returns with a romantic legal thriller that will challenge the assumptions of truth tellers everywhere.

Savannah Daniels has worked hard to build her law practice, to surround herself with good friends, and to be the loyal aunt her troubled niece can always count on. But since her ex-husband’s betrayal, she has trouble trusting anyone.

Jett Glover’s father committed suicide over a false newspaper report that ruined his reputation. Now a fierce champion of truth, Jett is writing the story of his journalism career—an international sex-trafficking exposé that will bring down a celebrity baseball player and the men closest to him, including Savannah’s ex-husband.

When Jett’s story breaks, tragedy ensues. Then a commercial airline crashes, and one of Savannah’s clients is implicated in the crash. Men connected to the scandal, including her ex, begin to die amid mysterious circumstances, and Savannah’s niece becomes an unwitting target.

Against their better instincts, Jett and Savannah join ranks to sort the facts from fiction. But can Savannah trust the reporter who threw her life into chaos? And can Jett face the possibility that he’s made the biggest mistake of his life?

Book Details:

Genre: Political/Romantic Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 7th 2020
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 078523327X (ISBN13: 9780785233275)
Series: This is a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Cara Putman

Cara Putman is the author of more than twenty-five legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense novels. She has won or been a finalist for honors including the ACFW Book of the Year and the Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Cara graduated high school at sixteen, college at twenty, completed her law degree at twenty-seven, and recently received her MBA. She is a practicing attorney, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at a Big Ten business school, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.

Guest Post
Ten Facts about Savannah Daniels

1. Savannah Daniels is based on the woman who was my mentor in law school. Victoria made all the difference in that first year and then became a dear friend. She’s one of the people I still miss years after we left the DC area. I only hope I’m half the mentor to my students that Victoria was to me.

2. Savannah wants to be a good sister, but sometimes it’s really hard. I think she’s like a lot of in that respect. We want to be the person our family members need, but family has a way of putting us off balance.

3. She doesn’t want to be a loner, but she’s never sure where she fits. Even with the gals she mentors, she doesn’t quite fit…especially as their lives begin to look like the life she’d imagined but doesn’t have.

4. Savannah is stuck in the past, but hasn’t been willing to acknowledge it. That means she can’t move forward because she hasn’t released the things that have her trapped.

5. Her favorite idea of an evening is curling up with a good book from her favorite author.

6. If she could travel anywhere she’d start with Israel and then move to Budapest. There’s something about the birthplace of her faith that grabs her heart. And once she read that the castle in Budapest had been destroyed and rebuilt three times, it got added to her bucket list.

7. Savannah’s niece is the child she never had in so many ways. She’s grateful for the special relationship even when it adds tension to her relationship with her sister.

8. Savannah lives in the neighborhood we did when we lived in DC. It’s such a fun spot, basically a small town tucked inside the beltway.

9. Savannah finds too much of her identity in being excellent in all she does. That’s why her failed marriage is still a wound fifteen years later.

10. What Savannah doesn’t see in herself that those around her do is that she readily lends her strength to others. She is a rock for those who need her and will do anything for her people. That is a gift that makes her the mentor figure for the Hidden Justice heroines and for her niece.

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Read an excerpt:

The conversation flowed over the antipasti course and into the pasta della casa. Every bite of Savannah’s manicotti alla fiorentina was wonderful, the ricotta and spinach blending perfectly. Just when she knew she couldn’t take another bite and get anything done afterward, thanks to the food coma, a waiter came out with a slice of cheesecake. Her mouth watered as she took in the raspberries atop the homemade delight. She put a hand on her stomach and then smiled. “I hope you brought fresh forks for everyone.”

The handsome waiter flashed a bright smile. “Whatever the birthday donna wishes is my command.” He gave a slight bow and turned away. A moment later when he returned, a fist of forks at the ready, his demeanor had changed.

Emilie watched him a moment. “What’s wrong, Antonio?”

“There has been a horrible accident. It is on the TV in the office.”

“What kind of accident?” Savannah leaned toward him. “Does it involve someone you know?”

“No.” The man shook his head, and not one of his dark hairs moved. Yet his eyes were weighted with sadness and the shadow of something more. “It is a plane. It looks bad.”

“Oh no.” The memory of a plane careening by as she looked out a courtroom window in downtown Washington, DC, years earlier flashed through her mind. Savannah fought a shudder as she withdrew a credit card from her phone case and placed it on the bill, only for Hayden to slide it back to her and replace it with her own.

“Thank you.”

Please let this be a terrible accident and not the beginning of another 9/11.

Jaime’s head was bowed over her phone as she clicked the screen. “Looks like an isolated crash.”

All Savannah could think was that Jaime should add so far to her sentence. “That’s what we all thought on 9/11 too.”

Then a second plane careened into the Twin Towers. She saw the plane that hit the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania, killing one of her fellow law students. She cleared her throat and stood, motioning the gals to join her.

“Let’s get back to work and see what we can learn.”

As they left her favorite restaurant, her phone buzzed and she paused to pull it out of her pocket. She glanced at the text message on the screen and her blood froze.

911. From Addy. Their emergency code.

***

Excerpt from Flight Risk by Cara Putman. Copyright 2020 by Cara Putman. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

 

 

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