Oct 302019
 

Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner

 

Speak No Evil

by Liana Gardner

on Tour October 1 – November 30, 2019

Synopsis:

Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner

What if every time you told the truth, evil followed?

My name is Melody Fisher. My daddy was a snake handler in Appalachia until Mama died. Though years have passed, I can still hear the rattle before the strike that took her from me.

And it’s all my fault.

Since then, I’ve been passed around from foster home to foster home. I didn’t think anything could be as bad as losing Mama.

I was wrong.

But I will not speak of things people have done to me. Every time I do, worse evil follows. Now, the only thing I trust is what saved me years ago.

Back when I would sing the snakes calm …

Book Details:

Genre: YA Mystery
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Number of Pages: 285
ISBN: 1944109366 (ISBN13: 9781944109363)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Liana Gardner

Liana Gardner is the multi-award-winning author of 7th Grade Revolution (most recently the recipient of a 2018 Nautilus Book Award) and The Journal of Angela Ashby. The daughter of a rocket scientist and an artist, Liana combines the traits of both into a quirky yet pragmatic writer and in everything sees the story lurking beneath the surface.

Liana volunteers with high school students through EXP (expfuture.org). EXP unites business people and educators to prepare students for a meaningful place in the world of tomorrow. Working in partnership with industry and educators, EXP helps young people EXPerience, EXPand, and EXPlore.

Engaged in a battle against leukemia and lymphoma, Liana spends much of her time at home, but her imagination takes her wherever she wants to go.

Liana is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Guest Post
Showcase, The Good and the Ugly in Speak No Evil

While working on a book, I become intensely involved with the characters and experience their highs and lows right alongside them. With Speak No Evil, the main character, Melody Fisher, went through so many heartbreaking experiences, my heart bled for her from start to finish. But rather than go on and on about Melody, I’d like to share one of my favorite secondary characters who surprised me during the writing process.

After losing her parents, Melody went to live with Quatie Raincrow, a spiritual counselor, on the Cherokee reservation. Though my initial thought was that Quatie would be a minor character, she quickly proved me wrong. From the very start she captured my heart with her gentle, unassuming warmth and care for Melody.

Quatie Raincrow embodies unconditional love and acceptance. She instinctively cuts through the walls we all put up and sees the need underneath, and quietly does what is necessary to fulfill that need. For Melody, she is the safe haven she needs after traumatic events, and becomes the family she had lost. For me, she unexpectedly provided the balm for my soul when going through some turbulent times in my personal life. She transcended the page and helped ground and center me, and reawakened my love of nature.

She lives a simple life, unfettered by materialism, but at the same time she is richly fulfilled. She provides Melody with the basis for inner strength that carries her through some truly horrible situations. In context of the story, she provides a necessary time of healing for Melody. And through the healing helps her find her gifts and strengths.

Throughout the book little nuggets of wisdom from Quatie pop up. My favorite is, “You will never learn to fly if you let someone else carry your wings.” Using the “roots and wings” analogy, our wings are used when we step outside our comfort zone. But so often we hand those wings over to fear, or allow obstacles in our path to take them from us. How much of life as we should be living do we miss out on because we’ve let someone else carry our wings?

When it comes to characters I dislike in Speak No Evil, I’m a bit spoiled for choice. Her uncle Harlan is a nasty piece of work, and don’t even get me started on Wade Hatchet … but the character I truly disliked working with was Grady Jackson. Every scene with Grady I had to deal with the palpable hatred emanating from the character.

Why is Grady worse than Harlan or Hatchet? Most of the time I find at least a sliver of a redeemable quality in an unsavory character, but not this time. With Harlan, his background and the differing treatment he received than his sister drove his anger. Not an excuse, but at least some room for empathy. Hatchet on the other hand is a sick individual. It’s not a justification for his actions, but though he twists his guilt into justification for those actions, the guilt is still there. He is conflicted by his religious beliefs and his actions and he needs help.

With Grady, I never got close enough to him to know what drove his anger and hatred because his darkness was so aggressive. I had to take breaks after every scene containing Grady Jackson. His wife fears him, he bullies everyone around him, he is racist, and basically ignorant of any common decency. Besides, he did something to Melody I will never forgive or forget. Writing the scene made me physically ill, as did every editing round.

To say I don’t like snakes is putting it mildly. Snakes are the stuff of nightmares—I don’t like seeing a picture or video of them. But in the course of the story, Melody finds a rattler who is suffering from blister disease, which is when a snake has blisters full of pus and blood on its belly. She captures the snake to nurse it back to health. Before it has fully healed, her foster brother, Boyd Jackson, steals the snake to torture it.

Melody tracks him down and tries to stop him from hurting the snake any further. Grady shows up and kills the snake. I could live with that if the incident stopped there, but when Melody returns to the house for lunch, she is served fried snake. When she refuses to eat, Grady force feeds her. Shudder. It still makes me sick to think about it.

A reprehensible action that I have no forgiveness for and makes Grady the worst character I’ve dealt with so far.

Thanks to CMash Reads for hosting Speak No Evil today and allowing me to share some of the best and worst characters in the novel.

Catch Up With Liana Gardner On:
lianagardner.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

Uncle Harlan slammed my bedroom door open. “You’re going to learn to show the Lord respect, girl.” He grabbed my neck and forced me to walk in front of him.

My neck hurt where he dug his fingers in.

He took me outside and shoved me toward the shed. He slipped the key in the lock and removed it from the hasp. The door creaked as it opened and then he thrust me through.

“I’m not going to allow you to follow your mother’s footsteps. You’ll learn to make peace with snakes and not show them any fear. Or else.”

He grabbed a snake case from the shelf, put it on the ground, and opened it. He stepped backward out of the shed and swung the door shut. The latch clicked. Uncle Harlan on one side of the door, and the snake and me locked inside.

“I’ll come get you in time for school in the morning.”

His footsteps receded.

Light filtered through the cracks in the shed slats. In the dim light, the snake coiled in the corner, its tongue flicking out periodically. I slowly lowered to the ground and hugged Raksha Waya tight.

The inside of the shed was slightly warmer than outside. Staying warm might be a bigger problem than keeping the snake calm. It ignored me and remained coiled, but the cold seeped into my bones. I scanned the shelves. There had to be something in here I could use to help keep warm.

A tarp sat on a shelf on the opposite side of the shed from the snake. But I might not be tall enough to pull it down. Standing on tiptoes, I grabbed a corner and tugged. My fingers slipped. I set Rakkie on a lower shelf, then reached with both hands and tugged.

The weight of the tarp almost knocked me over as I caught it.

Making sure to keep my movements small so I didn’t threaten the snake, I unfolded the tarp and spread it out. Then I grabbed Rakkie and carefully crawled under a corner. Once settled with Rakkie on my lap, I pulled it over us and tucked it under my chin.

The hours passed as the light changed and moved through the shed. My tailbone ached and my back hurt from sitting still for so long. Twilight came. Surely Uncle Harlan didn’t really mean to leave me here with the snake all night.

When the darkness was complete and I could no longer see my hand in front of my face, I faced the hard truth—Uncle Harlan meant it. I’d spend the night locked in a small space with a pit viper.

While my toes still felt frozen, the rest of me was warmer with the tarp. My eyes drooped and closed. Then I heard it.

Hiss. Rattle. The whisper of something dragging across the floorboards.

The snake was on the move. The slight rattle as it slithered through the shed made my heart pound. I froze.

***

Excerpt from Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner. Copyright © 2019 by Liana Gardner. Reproduced with permission from Liana Gardner. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Vesuvian Books and Liana Gardner. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and 2 winners of a signed print copy of Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner. The giveaway begins on October 1, 2019 and runs through December 2, 2019. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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Sep 092019
 

Strands of Truth

by Colleen Coble

on Tour September 9 – October 4, 2019

Synopsis:

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.

So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Supsense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: September 10th 2019
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0718085906 (ISBN13: 9780718085902)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Guest Post
Five Fun Character Facts from Strands of Truth

Harper and Annabelle discover through DNA testing that they’re half-sisters. They have the same father but different mothers. The kicker is that neither of them know that father’s identity, though they’d each hoped for clarity when they finally meet.

I don’t have a blood sister, though I have friends who are as close as a sister could be. Does blood tell when it comes to likes and dislikes in real life? I think I want to see how it plays out in fiction!

Harper

1. Harper dislikes cooking. She’d starve if her best friend didn’t constantly stop by with food. Research is much more interesting to her than something as mundane (in her mind) as cooking and eating. Her favorite meal is fondue.

2. Harper has a strong creative streak that she expresses by making sea silk—a fabric made from the sticky strands of a pen shell.

3. Her longing for family comes through in her taste for movies and novels. On her bookshelf you’ll find every Kristin Hannah book published, and her copy of The Nightingale is dogeared and stained. Her favorite movie is The Pursuit of Happyness, mostly because of Gardner’s great love for his son and all he goes through to provide for him.

4. At the top of Harper’s bucket list is a trip to Italy, specifically Sardinia. She longs to meet the last known artisan of sea silk, an Italian woman named Chiara Vigo.

5. In spite of her love for the sea, Harper is afraid of stingrays. She makes sure to give them a wide berth when diving or snorkeling.

Annabelle

1. Annabelle loves to cook. She believes in showing love by taking care of people, and her chocolate chip cookies are famous. She loves Mexican food.

2. Her creativity comes through with interior design. Her special style, a kind of coastal casual, is sought after in central Florida. Until she finds some of her dead mother’s belongings, she had no idea she inherited that creative gene.

3. Annabelle is a romantic. She had a great marriage to her husband, and she’s very close to her two boys. On her nightstand is a dog-eared copy of Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Her favorite movie is The Princess Bride.

4. Someday Annabelle wants to dip a toe in the cold waters of Lake Superior. Her husband grew up along its banks in Eagle River, but she’s never seen it. Her sons have promised to take her as soon as she finishes her cancer treatment.

5. Annabelle is afraid of drowning and never goes into the sea. She nearly drowned once when she was a little girl, and she’s never been able to overcome that fear.

So there you have it! Are you and your sister alike or very different?

Connect with Colleen online at:
colleencoble.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @ColleenCoble
Twitter – @colleencoble
Instagram – @colleencoble
Facebook – @colleencoblebooks!

 

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

January 1990

St. Petersburg, Florida

Lisa ran to her Datsun Bluebird and jerked open the yellow door. Her pulse strummed in her neck, and she glanced behind her to make sure she wasn’t being followed. She’d tried not to show fear during the confrontation, but it was all she could do not to cry. She couldn’t face life without him.

She’d been on edge ever since yesterday.

Twilight backlit the treetops and highlighted the hanging moss. Instead of finding it beautiful, she saw frightening shadows and shuddered. She slid under the wheel and started the engine, then pulled out of her driveway onto the road.

She turned toward the Gulf. The water always calmed her when she was upset—and she had crossed upset moments ago and swerved into the scared zone.

Her belly barely fit under the wheel, but this baby would be born soon, then she’d have her figure back. She accelerated away from her home, a dilapidated one-story house with peeling white paint, and switched on her headlights.

The radio blared full of the news about the Berlin Wall coming down, but Lisa didn’t care about that, not now. She switched channels until she found Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ”playing, but even her favorite tune failed to sooth her shattered nerves. Could she seriously be murdered over this? She’d glimpsed madness in those eyes.

She pressed the brakes as she came to a four-way stop, but the brake pedal went clear to the floor. She gasped and pumped the pedal again. No response. The car shot through the intersection, barely missing the tail end of another vehicle that had entered it before her.

Hands gripping the steering wheel, she struggled to keep the car on the road as she frantically thought of a way to bring it to a stop that didn’t involve hitting another car or a tree. The baby in her belly kicked as if he or she knew their lives hung suspended in time.

“We’re going to make it, little one. We have to. I can’t leave you alone.” No one would love her baby if she died. Her mother couldn’t care for her child. She cared more about her drugs than anything else.

Lisa tried to tamp down her rising emotions, but she’d never been so frightened. The car fishtailed on the sandy road as she forced it back from the shoulder. Huge trees lined the pavement in a dense formation. Where could she drive off into relative safety? A field sprawled over on the right, just past the four-way stop ahead. If she made it through, it seemed the only place where they might survive.

Had the brakes been cut? What else could it be? She’d just had the car serviced.

Lisa approached the stop sign much too fast. The slight downhill slope had only accelerated the speed that hovered at nearly seventy. Her mouth went bone dry.

***

Taken from “Strands of Truth” by Colleen Coble. Copyright © 2019 by Colleen Coble. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

 

 

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Sep 052019
 

Fatal Strike

by DiAnn Mills

on Tour September 1-30, 2019

Synopsis:

Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills

There’s a killer on the loose in Galveston, targeting law enforcement officials and using a fatal injection of snake venom to take them down. Authorities have reasons to believe the Veneno gang is behind the hits, and FBI Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert team up to track down those responsible. Their best lead is an eyewitness who identifies a young man dumping the third body on a church doorstep. But their suspect has gone into hiding, and those closest to him are reluctant to reveal anything that might help investigators find him.

As Leah and Jon check connections among the victims and dig deeper into motives, they discover appearances may be deceiving. Someone is desperate to keep their secrets hidden, and Leah and Jon must face their greatest fears in order to stop the next fatal strike.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 3rd 2019
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 1496427106 (ISBN13: 9781496427106)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

Guest Post

10 things the reader doesn’t
know about Leah and Jon

Leah

1. I have a collection of steampunk costumes, and I’ve made many of my own hats.
2. I like to design steampunk jewelry.
3. While I have a problem with how my parents and I handled the adoption of my siblings, and I’m sure I would also make mistakes, I’d like the opportunity to adopt children from other countries.
4. When I began training at Quantico, I was the worst shot. But I didn’t let my lack of skill stop me. I practiced at every opportunity until I reached the top of my class in marksmanship.
5. I never met a cupcake I didn’t like—all flavors, even weird ones that are supposed to be healthy but smell and taste a little funky.

Jon
1. I can be bossy, but I’m working on it. With Leah’s marksmanship skills, I don’t want to make her mad.
2. If a woman chooses to spend one on one time with me, I’m impressed.
3. I’ve like to have my PhD in Criminal Justice
4. I almost drowned when I was ten years old during a family outing. The next day and for 10 days afterward, my dad made me swim to eliminate my fear.
5. I’m not big on chocolate. I’d rather have a fruit dessert.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on:

diannmills.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

SPECIAL AGENT LEAH RIESEL scanned the headlines on her phone. A prosecutor from Galveston had been found murdered behind a construction site, the second apparent victim of gang violence in two days. Both deaths were caused by rattlesnake venom injections to the heart. Before she could pull up additional reports on the woman’s untimely death, Leah’s phone
rang.

“Riesel, hostage situation in Galveston,” the SWAT commander said. “Grab your gear. The chopper takes off in five.”

“On it.” She took a last lingering look at the half-eaten blueberry donut and coffee on her cubicle’s desk.

Could this have anything to do with the two murders in Galveston?

Before most of the city began the workday, Leah boarded a Little Bird helicopter beneath whirling blades and the pressure of a critical operation. Dressed in full camo and shouldering her sniper gear, she inhaled the rising temps. Feverish Houston. With the familiar air transport sounds ushering in memories of past missions, her adrenaline kicked in.

A pilot from the tactical helicopter unit lifted the chopper into the air for the twenty-minute ride to Galveston. She recognized him from previous assignments involving aircraft used to deliver SWAT and the elite hostage rescue teams to crisis incidents. This morning her focus eliminated any chitchat.

Leah grabbed sound-canceling headphones and contacted the SWAT commander already on the ground. “Riesel here. Special Agent in Charge Thomas briefed me on a home invasion that’s turned violent.”

The SAC would be watching the operation at the Crisis Management Operations Center.

“Negotiations have gotten us nowhere.” The SWAT commander’s voice rose above the chopper’s blade-snap. “Two unidentified men are holding two women and three children at gunpoint. Galveston PD estimates they’ve been inside the home for at least an hour. Demanding we leave the area after giving them five hundred grand and a gassed-up speedboat.
Clock is ticking with forty minutes max. We’ve backed off as far as they know.”

Leah swiped through pics taken with telephoto lenses and sent to her phone. Each ski-masked man held a child as a shield. Leah detested the savagery and the horrific emotions the hostages
must be feeling.

“We’re located on San Luis Pass Road on the western section of the island. Nearest house is five hundred yards away. Owners are in Europe. We’re in contact with the agency managing it.”
She didn’t need a key to access the home.

The SWAT commander continued. “One of the hostages is the owner of the home, Amanda Barton.”

“Is there a Mr. Barton in the picture?”

“Divorced. Lives in California.”

Unlikely the ex-husband was behind this.

“Agent Jon Colbert will be on scene shortly,” the commander said. “He had a deposition early this morning in Texas City and drove on to Galveston. Over the weekend, his SWAT partner had emergency knee surgery. Out for six weeks.”

And Leah’s partner had left the city yesterday on vacation.

The luck of the draw meant she and Jon would be working together. “I’ll contact you as soon as we land.”

Jon Colbert, a sniper who had excellent marksmanship and a stellar reputation, also worked organized crime. But she and Jon had never worked together. The idea of teaming up with an agent she barely knew made her uneasy. If a sniper mission required a partner, she preferred an established relationship where she would know how the person processed information.

Shoving aside her doubts, she narrowed her thoughts on what lay ahead. The precarious situation and local law enforcement’s inability to negotiate added up to why she and Jon had
been assigned to the case.

She grasped her backpack, lighter than usual with only a spotting scope, ammo, water, communication equipment, extra batteries, granola bar, and a handheld radio. Her Glock, as comfortable in her right hand as a toothbrush, found its spot in her back waistband. She touched her H-S Precision heavy tactical rifle.

The sooner she got to Galveston, the sooner she could provide intelligence and help neutralize the circumstances. Her priority was seeing the women and children freed from these ruthless men.

* * *

Jon received a text from Special Agent in Charge Thomas that Leah Riesel had left the Houston FBI office and was en route to Galveston. He’d met her a few times, and they’d qualified
together. Attractive woman—dark-brown hair, light-olive skin, New Yorker with the accent to prove it. Her professionalism in the violent crime division wavered between exceptional and extraordinary. A touch of toughness. Jon had heard not to make her mad—she had earned the nickname Panther for a reason. He remembered her stats—number three in the US for distance shots. Good thing he wasn’t easily intimidated.

Once the chopper landed, Leah would be transported in an unmarked car to a vacant house more than a quarter of a mile away from the Barton home. No point in making the two men more trigger-happy when they’d warned law enforcement to back off.

The SWAT commander spoke through Jon’s radio attached to his collar. “Thermal imaging confirms four adults and three children inside the Barton home. The men claim they’ll kill the
children first. We have fifteen minutes.”

In Galveston, Jon stopped at Broadway and Sixty-First Street. Tourists persisted in the middle of the thoroughfare, pushing strollers, riding surrey bikes, and enjoying the day. Some were dressed for the beach and others clutched what they needed for their excursion. All hindered his turn. Obstacles in his mission. If they knew the situation not far from them, they’d grab their loved ones and speed home. Each moment delayed his shot and shoved the hostages closer to death. A chilling composure took over his emotional, mental, and physical reactions. The busy street finally cleared. Jon turned west onto Seawall Boulevard and drove on to San Luis Pass. The hostage site was four and a half miles beyond there.

Were the two men inside the Barton home wannabes looking to make a name for themselves? Strung out on drugs? Was this a personal vendetta? No matter how this ended—either a surrender or he’d be instructed to take a shot— their moment in history would likely be the lead story on tonight’s news. His phone alerted him to an incoming call. He responded
before the first ring ended. “Colbert.” The chopper’s rhythmic whir reverberated through his phone.

“Riesel here. Landing in five at Galveston Island State Park. SWAT commander has given me a location on the west side of the Barton home.”

“I’ll be on foot by then. Taking a position on the east, beach side.”

“I’ll need seven minutes to get into place,” she said.

“Okay.” No need to remind her of the ticking clock.

He touched End and whipped his truck onto a beach-access road where police officers had instructed residents to shelter in place. He switched off the engine. Grabbing his gear, he bolted
down the beach. A Galveston police officer stopped him, and Jon handed him his ID. Seconds later, he moved toward his site.

A sultry breeze blew across the water, and he recalculated his shot.
Crouching low, he moved past police SWAT standing guard.

FBI SWAT held the position Riesel was headed for. They were racing against time, a commodity that stopped for nothing or no one. At any moment, one of the armed men could pull the
trigger on those inside the Barton home.

Restraint.

Control.

Tense muscles relaxed. His heartbeat slowed.

A clear head laid out the steps before the kill shot.

No mistakes.

Precision.

Accuracy.

A chance for the women and children to live another day.

Near a sand dune, he tuned out the occasional seagull and the waves rushing against the shore. After wiping the sweat from his hands on his pants, Jon set up his rifle and scope,
activated his radio, and spoke to the SWAT commander and Leah Riesel.

***

Excerpt from Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills. Copyright © 2019 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for DiAnn Mills. There will be 2 winners each winning one (1) Gift Card (choice of Amazon or B&N). The giveaway begins on September 1, 2019 and runs through October 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Aug 142019
 

The Best Lousy Choice by Jim Nesbitt Banner

 

 

The Best Lousy Choice

An Ed Earl Burch Novel

by Jim Nesbitt

on Tour August 1-31, 2019

Synopsis:

The Best Lousy Choice: An Ed Earl Burch Novel

Dallas private eye Ed Earl Burch is an emotional wreck, living on the edge of madness, hosing down the nightmares of his last case with bourbon and Percodan, dreading the next onslaught of demons that haunt his days and nights, including a one-eyed dead man who still wants to carve out his heart and eat it.

Burch is also a walking contradiction. Steady and relentless when working a case. Tormented and unbalanced when idle. He’s deeply in debt to a shyster lawyer who forces him to take the type of case he loathes — divorce work, peephole creeping to get dirt on a wayward husband.

Work with no honor. Work that reminds him of how far he’s fallen since he lost the gold shield of a Dallas homicide detective. Work in the stark, harsh badlands of West Texas, the border country where he almost got killed and his nightmares began.

What he longs for is the clarity and sense of purpose he had when he carried that gold shield and chased killers for a living. The adrenaline spike of the showdown. Smoke ‘em or cuff ‘em. Justice served — by his .45 or a judge and jury.

When a rich rancher and war hero is killed in a suspicious barn fire, the rancher’s outlaw cousin hires Burch to investigate a death the county sheriff is reluctant to touch.

Seems a lot of folks had reason for wanting the rancher dead — the local narco who has the sheriff on his payroll; some ruthless Houston developers who want the rancher’s land; maybe his own daughter. Maybe the outlaw cousin who hired Burch.

Thrilled to be a manhunter again, Burch ignores these red flags, forgetting something he once knew by heart.

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. And it might just get you killed.

But it’s the best lousy choice Ed Earl Burch is ever going to get.

Book Details:

Genre: Hard-boiled Crime Thriller
Published by: Spotted Mule Press
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Number of Pages: 347
ISBN: 978-0-9983294-2-0
Series: An Ed Earl Burch Novel; 2
Purchase Links: Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Jim Nesbitt

Jim Nesbitt is the author of three hard-boiled Texas crime thrillers that feature battered but dogged Dallas PI Ed Earl Burch — THE LAST SECOND CHANCE, a Silver Falchion finalist; THE RIGHT WRONG NUMBER, an Underground Book Reviews “Top Pick”; and his latest, THE BEST LOUSY CHOICE.

Nesbitt was a journalist for more than 30 years, serving as a reporter, editor and roving national correspondent for newspapers and wire services in Alabama, Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. He chased hurricanes, earthquakes, plane wrecks, presidential candidates, wildfires, rodeo cowboys, migrant field hands, neo-Nazis and nuns with an eye for the telling detail and an ear for the voice of the people who give life to a story.

His stories have appeared in newspapers across the country and in magazines such as Cigar Aficionado and American Cowboy. He is a lapsed horseman, pilot, hunter and saloon sport with a keen appreciation for old guns, vintage cars and trucks, good cigars, aged whiskey and a well-told story.

He now lives in Athens, Alabama.

 

Guest Post
SHOW, DON’T TELL: CHARACTER REVEALED THROUGH
SNAPPY DIALOGUE AND A KEEN SENSE OF PLACE

I’m a Chandler junkie. As in Raymond Chandler. Always have been, always will be.

One of the founding fathers of the hard-boiled school of crime fiction, Chandler’s at the head of a semi-long list of writers who taught me a lot about the trade before I ever tried my hand at it.

Most of them are dead. Which means they won’t be calling me out for hanging their names on what I’m about to say about character and dialogue. Not even Chandler, although his cantankerous spirit might just give it a go.

What I learned from Chandler was the importance of character and dialogue over plot. Chandler was a notorious ‘pantster,’ the term the modern wags use for writers who make it all up as they go along rather than outline elaborate plots and character sketches before they start telling a story.

One of his famous quotes: “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” Which is the second primary lesson I learned from Chandler — use action and concrete descriptions of place to drive a story largely told through character and dialogue.

Character and dialogue are intertwined. You show a character’s traits — you define them — through dialogue, either snappy exchanges with other characters or the internal dialogue they have with themselves.

Dialogue between characters is a dance where they reveal themselves by what they do and don’t say and the way they say it or stay silent. Internal dialogue is a character dancing in the dark with themselves, but the same revelations occur. Or should occur. If they don’t, a writer has blown a golden opportunity to define a character and give the story life, depth and context.

I’ll give two examples from my latest work, The Best Lousy Choice: An Ed Earl Burch Novel. My main character, Dallas PI Ed Earl Burch, is a cashiered vice and homicide detective. He’s also a terminal smartass who doesn’t know when to shut up. I don’t tell you that — I show it through dialogue with a crooked West Texas sheriff looking to frame him for the murder of a prominent local rancher who died in a suspicious barn fire.

“You run the ID on those shooters I blew away? Bet they’re either freelance talent or connected to some other drug lord slimeball. Looks like you got a little turf war going on. Or maybe Dirt Cheap crossed his cousin. Just guesses on my part. But either way, it ain’t a good look for an anti-drug crusader like you, Sheriff.”

“Burch looked at Willingham. The anger that colored his face and flashed in his eyes was gone. He wore the stone mask of a poker player and his voice was a husky whisper as he asked a quiet question.


“You a barnburner, son?”

Burch was flummoxed. No smartass quips, no barbed conjecture. All he had as a comeback was the brass to meet the sheriff’s stare head-on and not flinch.

“Let me put it to you this way — are you a man who could set another man’s barn on fire, burn up his horses, burn up the man himself? Are you that kind of murderin’ sumbitch, a fire worshiper, a man-burner?”

“Jesus, Sheriff — you need to make up your mind what you want to frame me for. First you have me as a gun for hire workin’ for this Malo Garza fella, now you got me as the second coming of Ben Quick’s daddy in The Long Hot Summer. I’m way too ugly for any frame job that needs me to look like Paul Newman.”

“Ugly will do, my friend, if I find out you did the crime.”

Burch also has frequent conversations with his dead partner, Wynn Moore. Burch blames himself for getting his partner killed while they were tracking a narco and murder suspect in Dallas years ago when he still carried a gold shield.

These conversations are real as a dime to Burch and show both the guilt that still gnaws at him and the left-handed relief he’s found when Moore appears. They also reveal the simple and brutal approach to police work Burch learned from Moore.

He felt shaky from his session with Bustamante and fished out the bottle of Percodan and a dented nickel flask from his bag. He shook out a pill, broke it in half and popped it on his tongue, washing it down with a long pull of Maker’s. It wasn’t quite noon but he needed a Percodan cocktail to get rid of the jangles and keep the demons in their holes.

He stood under the fan in his boxers, smoking another Lucky until he felt the half-hit and e-less whisky take hold, then carried the Colt into the bathroom and placed it on the porcelain top of the toilet tank. He reached into the shower stall to turn on the water and wait until it was as hot as he could stand it, then stepped into the scalding spray.

You ain’t right, sport model. Poppin’ them pills, sluggin’ whiskey and it ain’t hardly noon yet.

Keeps me sane, Wynn. On track and movin’ down the trail instead of curled up in a corner screamin’ about demons and snakes with wings.

Turnin’ into a goddam junkie and day drinker, you ask me.

I ain’t askin’.

Never could talk sense to you, sport model. One more thing, then I’ll shut my yap. You fly the black flag on this one. Take that rule book we usta have to work around and chuck it right out the fuckin’ window. You sabe?

Rule book already chucked, Wynn. No quarter. No prisoners. No judge and jury.

Good deal, sport model.

One other lesson I learned from Chandler, whose novels and short stories are packed with detailed physical descriptions of the rooms, places and streetscapes where his stories take place.

These “concrete descriptions” help create a Los Angeles that is so real that it becomes a character unto itself. Far more than mere backdrop, these descriptions of place define the characters that live and move through this landscape.

This struck a chord with me, largely because of my upbringing and lineage. I come from a long line of North Carolina hillbilly storytellers. My parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins told stories of our kin and the mountains my ancestors called home, creating a keen sense of family and place in my sister and me, even though we grew up in suburban Philadelphia.

As a journalist, I was always fascinated with how the land shaped the people who lived there, even as they struggled to make a living from it. I also fell in love with the harsh beauty of West Texas, with stark mountain ranges that look like the bones of the earth on display for any and all to see.

It seemed like the perfect place for the bloody tales of revenge and redemption I was trying to tell in my Ed Earl Burch novels, a land so forbiddingly beautiful and demanding that it shapes the characters in my books and gives resonance to their dialogue.

It’s another way of revealing who your characters are. And showing instead of telling is the essence of the writer’s trade.

 

Catch Up With Jim Nesbitt On:
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Read an excerpt:

Burch slipped through a thick snarl of gawkers, glad-handers, gossips and genuine mourners going nowhere fast in the vestibule of Sartell’s Funeral Home, nodding and smiling like the prodigal returned to the paternal table.

To ease his passage toward the chapel where Bart Hulett’s charred corpse was surely hidden in a closed casket, he patted the passing shoulder, shook the hand thrust his way and mouthed the “good to see you” to the stranger’s face that smiled in mistaken recognition. Baptist reflexes from a long-ago boyhood, handy for the preacher, pol or low-rent peeper — remnants of an endless string of God Box Sundays he’d rather forget.

The chapel was packed and the well-mannered buzz of polite stage whispers filled the room, triggering another Baptist flashback — the hushed sanctuary conversations of the flock anticipating the opening chords of a Sunday service first hymn.

Ten rows of hard-backed dark wooden pews flanked each side of a center aisle leading to a low lacquered plywood platform topped by a glossy Texas pecan wood casket with burnished brass lugs and fixtures. Two blown-up photographs in fluted gilt frames faced the mourners, standing guard at each end of the casket — a colorized, wartime portrait of a young Bart Hulett in Marine dress blues and visored white cover at the foot; a candid of Hulett and his blonde wife on horseback at the head, their smiling faces goldened by the setting sun.

Behind the pews, five rows of equally unforgiving aluminum folding chairs, all sporting the durable silver-gray institutional enamel common to the breed, stood as ready reserve for the overflow of mourners. The pews were filled and a butt claimed every chair — a testament to Bart Hulett’s standing as a fallen civic leader and member of one of the founding families of Cuervo County.

No cushions in pew or chair. Comfort wasn’t on the dance card in this part of West Texas. The land was too stark, harsh and demanding, intolerant of those seeking a soft life of leisure. And Baptists damned dancing as a sin and kept those pews rock hard so you’d stay wide awake for the preacher’s fiery reminder about the brimstone wages of sin.

Dark blue carpet covered what Burch’s knees told him was a concrete floor. Flocked, deep-red fabric lined the walls, brightened by a line of wall sconces trimmed in shiny brass that reflected the dimmed light from electric candles. Two brass candelabras hung from the ceiling, bathing the chapel in a warm, yellow glow. Heavy, burgundy velour drapes lined the front wall and flanked the rear entrance and the opening to a sitting room to the left of the casket.

The total effect was meant to be plush, somber and churchly, yet welcoming. Don’t fear death. It comes to us all. Just a part of the great circle of life and God’s eternal plan. Let us gather together and celebrate the days on earth of this great man who has left us for his final reward.

But Burch wasn’t buying the undertaker’s refried Baptist bill of fare. To his eye, the drapes, the wall covering and the brass light fixtures looked more like the lush trappings of a high-dollar whorehouse than a church, an old-timey sin palace that packaged purchased pleasure in a luxury wrapper. All that was missing was a line of near-naked whores for the choosing and a piano man in a bowler hat and gartered shirt sleeves, tickling the ivories while chomping a cigar.

Nothing more honest than a fifty-dollar blow job from a working girl who knows her trade.

Nothing more bitter than the cynical heresy of a backslidden Baptist sinner.

Nothing more useless than a de-frocked cop still ready to call out the hypocrisy of a church he thought was just a dot in his rearview mirror.

Burch cold-cocked his bitter musings and wiped the smirk off his face. He grabbed a corner at the rear of the room and continued his chapel observations. He tried to settle into the old routine. Relax. Watch and wait. Keep the eyes moving and let it come to you. Don’t force it.

But the watcher’s mantra wasn’t working.

Couldn’t shake the feeling that eyes had been on him while he juked and doubled back through town earlier in the day and that eyes were on him now. Couldn’t blame the demons for this. He was still cool and calm from that special cocktail he served himself before leaving the ranch. That meant the sixth sense was real, not a figment of his nightmares. And he was far too old a dog to ignore it.

Burch took a deep breath and let it out slow, just like he did at the rifle range before squeezing off the next round. His heartbeat slowed. He felt himself relax. The uneasy feeling was still there, but it was a small sliver of edginess. Do the job. Watch and wait. Keep the eyes moving. Let it come to you.

From the chapel entrance, a thick line of mourners broke toward the right rear corner of the room and angled along the wall opposite Burch before bending again to crowd the closed casket, leading to a small knot of Hulett family members standing next to the photo of Bart and his dead wife.

Stella Rae was playing the head of household role, reaching across her body to shake hands with her left because her right was burned, bandaged and hanging loose at her side, the white tape and pinkish gauze riding below the rolled-back cuff of a navy cowgirl shirt with white piping and a bright red cactus blossom on each yoke.

She was wearing Wranglers too new to be faded and pointy-toed lizard-skin boots the color of peanut brittle, her dark blonde hair swept back from her oval face and touching her shoulders. The warm light from the candelabras picked up the slight rose tint of her olive skin and the flash of white from her smile.

A beautiful woman putting on a brave front. A woman custom-made to be looked at with lustful intent. Burch didn’t need imagination to mentally undress Stella Rae Hulett. He had seen her at her carnal best while staring through the telephoto lens of a camera as she fucked her lover in a dimly lit motel room. He had his own highlight reel of her taut body stored in his brainpan.

But his mind was on the charred chain in the bed of Gyp Hulett’s pickup, his eyes locked on the bandaged hand dangling at her side. How’d you really burn your hand, missy? Where were you when your daddy died?

Jason Powell stood behind her, looming over her right shoulder, the protective hand of a lover on her upper arm as he nodded to each mourner paying respect as Stella Rae shook their hand. Gotta give the guitar picker some credit. Looks like he’s in it for the long haul.

To Stella’s right stood a young man in jeans, boots and a red brocade vest over a crisp, white shirt and a bolo with a silver and onyx slide. His round face was pale and pockmarked, his hair black and wiry. Burch guessed he was looking at Jimmy Carl Hulett, Bart Hulett’s only son.

Jimmy Carl looked like a sawed-off version of his ancient cousin, Gyp, minus the gunsight stare, the wolf smile and the Browning Hi-Power on the hip. Which was another way of saying the boy had more than a few dollops of bad outlaw blood running through his veins, but none of the lethal menace.

The younger Hulett looked uncomfortable shaking the hands of mourners, his eyes shifting but always downcast, his head nodding with a nervous jerk, the overhead glow highlighting a slight sheen of sweat on his forehead. Between handshakes, he wiped his hawk’s beak nose with a dark blue bandana.

He looked like a man who needed a drink.

Or a spike of Mexican Brown.

Burch knew the look. Saw it a thousand times as a Dallas street cop. Telltales of a junkie. A loser. A Hulett in name only. A weak link who would sell his soul for his next fix. Or sell out his daddy. How bad are you hooked, boy? Who has his claws in you besides your dealer? Malo Garza? Needle Burnet? Or another player to be named later?

Burch tucked these questions into his mental deck and resumed scanning the crowd, ignoring that edgy sliver, keeping a slight smile on his face — just a prodigal looking for old friends and neighbors. Damned tedious work, standing in the corner of a whorehouse chapel, watching and waiting, working a cop’s most hackneyed routine — hitting the victim’s funeral.

His feet and knees started to ache. Never cut it walking a beat again. He ignored the pain and kept his eyes moving. He wasn’t expecting a lightning flash of sudden insight or the appearance of a beady-eyed suspect wearing their guilt like a gaudy neon sign. That only happened on Murder, She Wrote and Angela Lansbury didn’t fit in with this West Texas crowd.

Burch was looking for smaller stuff. Dribs and drabs. A pattern. A sense of how people caught up in a case fit together — or didn’t. A loose thread. An odd moment. A step out of line or time.

A facial tic or look. Like a Hulett with the junkie’s sniffles.

A mismatch. Like a beautiful woman with a burned and bandaged right hand.

A shard. Anything that caused his cop instincts to tingle, triggering questions he needed to ask. He found two. Small kernels, granted, but grist for the mill.

He kept his eyes moving, looking for more of something he wouldn’t know until he saw it. Minutes dragged by, grinding like a gearbox with sand in it. The line of mourners grew shorter. The pain moved up to the small of his back.

The sliver grew into a sharp stab of warning. Eyes were on him. Felt rather than seen. He shifted his gaze to his right, keeping his head still. Across the center aisle, at the near end of the last row of chairs, a gaunt brown face with thin black hair turned to face the front of the chapel. Before the turn, Burch saw intense, dark eyes studying him — the watcher being watched.

Both knew the other was there so Burch took his time studying the man’s profile. Thin, bony nose, hair brushed back dry from a receding widow’s peak, black suit with an open-collar white dress shirt. The man quit pretending he hadn’t been made, turning to look at Burch with a slight smile and close-set eyes that flashed a predatory interest.

Burch returned the stare with the dead-eyed look of a cop and burned an image for his memory bank.

Who are you, friend? Another Garza hitter? Jesus, Burch, that isn’t what the narcos call their gunsels. Get your head out of the 1940s. Sicario — that’s it.

What about it, friend? You another of Malo’s sicarios? Or are you outside talent? Maybe that specialist Bustamante talked about. Maybe a freelancer working for Malo’s competition. Or the Bryte Brothers.

You the eyes I feel watchin’ me? Why the sudden interest? Those two shooters I smoked friends of yours?

Movement up front caught Burch’s attention. Gyp Hulett, hat in hand and wearing a black frock coat straight out of the 1890s that wasn’t in the truck cab during the ride to town, parting the sitting room drapes. The old outlaw walked up to his younger cousins in a bow-legged stride, whispering to each, then beckoning them to follow him as he retraced his steps.

Burch glanced back toward the gaunt Mexican. Gone. A sucker’s play if he followed. Burch slid out of his corner perch and along the back row of chairs to get a better look at the sitting room entrance. Gyp parted the drapes to let Stella Rae and Jimmy Carl enter.

Through the opening, Burch could see Boelcke standing next to a tall man with a thick, dark moustache, an inverted V above a stern, downturned mouth, echoed by thick eyebrows. He had ramrod straight posture and was wearing a tailored, dark gray suit, a pearl gray shirt and a black tie. Black hair in a conservative businessman’s cut, light brown skin and an aquiline nose gave him the look of a criollo, the New World Spaniards who ripped the land of their birth away from the mother country.

Malo Garza, paying his respects in private. Gyp Hulett swept the drapes closed as he ducked into the room. Burch braced himself for the bark of a Browning Hi-Power he hoped he wouldn’t hear and marveled at the high hypocrisy of Garza showing up at the funeral of a man he wanted dead.

Took balls and brass to do that. Matched by a restraint Burch didn’t know Gyp Hulett had.

“Bet you’d like to be a fly on the wall in that room.”

For a split second, Burch thought he was hearing the voice of Wynn Moore’s ghost. Then he looked to his right and met the sad, brown eyes of Cuervo County Chief Deputy Elroy Jesus “Sudden” Doggett.

“Wouldn’t mind that one bit. Imagine it’s quite the show. Lots of polite words of sorrow and respect. Lots of posturing. Lots of restraint. Have to be considerin’ one man in there would like to kill the other.”

“That would be your client, right? The ever-popular Gyp Hulett, gringo gangster of the Trans-Pecos.”

“Can’t tell you who I’m working for, Deputy. You know that’s confidential.”

Doggett’s eyes went from sad to flat annoyed and his voice took on a metallic edge.

“That ain’t no secret, hoss. Not to me or anybody else who matters around here, including the other big
mule in that room. And that man probably wants to kill you.”

“Malo Garza? The man don’t even know me.”

“That’s a point in your favor. If he did know you, he’d put you out of your misery right now.”

“A big dog like him? He’s got more important things to worry about than lil’ ol’ me.”

“You don’t know Malo Garza. Anybody pokin’ his nose anywhere near his business draws his personal interest. And believe you me, that ain’t healthy.”

“Ol’ Malo might find me a tad hard to kill. I tend to shoot back. If he wants a piece of me, he’ll have to get in line.”

Doggett paused. His eyes turned sad again. When he spoke, the edge was gone from his voice.

“Listen to us — two guys talkin’ about killin’ at a great man’s funeral. Let’s step outside for a smoke and a
talk.”

“Unless this is the type of talk that follows an arrest, I’d rather stay here and watch the floor show.”

Doggett chuckled.

“Don’t have that kind of talk in mind right now, although the man I work for just might. This’ll be a private chat between you and me.”

“Thought we had a meeting tomorrow. You are the hombre that had that trustee give Lawyer Boelcke that invitation to Guerrero’s, right?”

“Right. Things change. Come ahead on. I’ll have you back for the next act. It’s one you won’t want to miss. Star of the show. Blue Willingham, shedding crocodile tears for Bart Hulett. He won’t show up until Garza’s done paying his respects.”

Nothing like dancing the West Texas waltz with bent lawmen, lupine outlaws, patrician drug lords, gaunt killers and Baptist undertakers with bordello tastes.

In three-quarter time.

***

Excerpt from The Best Lousy Choice: An Ed Earl Burch Novel by Jim Nesbitt. Copyright © 2019 by Jim Nesbitt. Reproduced with permission from Jim Nesbitt. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Giveaway:

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Swann's Down by Charles Salzberg Banner

 

Swann’s Down

by Charles Salzberg

on Tour May 1 – June 30, 2019

Synopsis:

Swann's Down by Charles Salzberg

When Henry Swann is asked by his quirky partner, Goldblatt, to find a missing psychic who’s swindled his ex-wife out of a small fortune, he just can’t say no. Although he doesn’t actually expect to get paid, he figures it might give him a chance to finally learn more about his partner’s mysterious past. His search takes him into the controversial, arcane world of psychics, fortune tellers, and charlatans, while raising questions in his own mind about whether or not there is an after-life.

While working his partner’s case, he’s approached by a former employer, attorney Paul Rudder, to track down a missing witness who might be able to provide an alibi for his client, Nicky Diamond, a notorious mob hitman who’s scheduled to go on trial for murder he claims he didn’t commit in a week. Swann’s search for the missing witness, who happens to be the defendant’s girlfriend, takes him from Brooklyn to a small beach town across the Bay from Mobile, Ala. But what does she really know and will she even come back with him to testify for her boyfriend?

Praise for Swann’s Down:

“Psychics, double-crosses, missing persons–Charles Salzberg’s latest Henry Swann book has it all. Swann’s Down is a gritty, no-frills PI novel that brings to mind greats like Reed Farrel Coleman’s Moe Prager and Michael Harvey’s Michael Kelly. Whether this is your first Swann adventure or the latest, you won’t want to miss the brass-knuckle punch that is Swann’s Down. Trust me.”
~ Alex Segura, author of Blackout and Dangerous Ends

“From Manhattan to Coney Island to the steamy shores of Alabama, Charles Salzberg delivers a top-flight mystery with his latest Henry Swann outing. Highly recommended.”
~ Tom Straw, New York Times bestselling author as Richard Castle

Swann’s Down gives readers two intriguing mysteries for the price of one, as skip tracer Henry Swann pursues a woman who might alibi a murderer and a psychic who swindled the ex-wife of Swann’s partner. Shamus Award-nominated Salzberg does a superb job cutting between the two investigations. I kept turning pages to stay with both chases as the suspense increased to the very end. Whatever is going on, Swann is at the center of this story. His wry wit, quotes from authors and philosophers, genius for questioning suspects, and dark past make him a character readers will follow anywhere as he seeks his quarry. This is another thrilling addition to this excellent series.
~ Rich Zahradnik, Lights Out Summer, winner of the 2018 Shamus Award for Best Paperback Private Eye Novel

Henry Swann dives in where others fear to tread in Swann’s Down: Fast. Funny. And Smart. This time out, Swann crosses paths with a psycho hitman, a phony psychic and Swann’s mysterious partner, a disbarred lawyer. Who could ask for more? I hope we’ll see a lot more of Swann in the future and that this isn’t Swann’s swan song.
~ Paul D. Marks, Shamus Award-winning Author of White Heat and Broken Windows.

Check out my Review HERE and enter the giveaway

Book Details:

Genre: Detective/Noir/Mystery
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 978-1-64396011-1
Series:Henry Swann
Purchase Links: Amazon | BN.com | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Charles Salzberg

Charles Salzberg is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in New York magazine, Esquire, GQ, Redbook, The New York Times Book Review and other periodicals. He has written over 20 non-fiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Zany Life and Times. He is author of the Shamus Award nominated Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair, nominated for two Silver Falchions, Swann’s Way Out, Devil in the Hole, named one of the best crime novels of the year by Suspense Magazine. He was a Visiting Professor of Magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and he teaches writing the New York Writers Workshop where he is a Founding Member. He is a member of the MWA-NY Board.

Guest Post by Charles Salzberg

10 Things the Reader Doesn’t Know About Henry Swann

1. He attended Columbia University as an English major.

2. His favorite poets are Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams.

3. He’s had upwards of a dozen jobs before becoming a skip-tracer and his least favorite was cable TV installer—too many flights to climb; too many cranky people without cable to deal with.

4. He doesn’t carry a weapon, has never shot anyone and hasn’t had a fist fight since he was 12-years old.

5. His father was a corrupt cop; his mother a high school teacher and then librarian.

6. He has a secret crush on Kate Beckinsale.

7. His favorite movie is Goodfellas.

8. His favorite authors are Vladimir Nabokov, Norman Mailer and Djuna Barnes.

9. His wife has been dead nearly a dozen years and, in that time, he’s only gone out on a “real date” twice, and each one of them ended with the woman telling him never to call her again, and on one of the dates he “forgot” his wallet and so the woman had to pay. He did pay her back, eventually.

10. Despite their charged, sometimes contentious relationship, Swann actually has a fondness for his partner, Goldblatt. And despite knowing the disbarred lawyer with a mysterious past has something to hide and very likely lies about his accomplishments, Swann respects his “talents,” though sometimes it’s difficult to know what those “talents” really are.

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

Read an excerpt:

1
The Age of Aquarius

“We’re partners, right?”

Nothing good can come from that question when it comes from the mouth of Goldblatt.

“I mean, all for one and one for all, am I right?” he quickly added in an attempt, I was sure, to seal the deal.

“I think you’re confusing us with the three musketeers. May I point out there are only two of us, and I’m afraid that’s not the only fallacy in your declaration. But you might as well finish what you’ve started.”

We were having our weekly Friday lunchtime sit-down to discuss what Goldblatt likes to refer to as “business.” I have another name for it: waste of time.

Our venue changes from week to week but the concept is always pretty much the same: a cheap diner-slash-coffee shop somewhere on the island of Manhattan. Today’s eatery of choice (Goldblatt’s choice, my destiny) is the Utopia Diner, on Amsterdam, near 72nd Street. And as for the business we’d just finished discussing, well, to be honest, there never is very much actual business to discuss and today was no exception.

At this particular moment in time, we were going through a bit of a dry spell, which always makes me a little nervous because no matter how much I banish it from my mind, the rent is due the first of every month and at least three times a day I seem to develop a hunger that must be quenched. Still, a good fifteen, twenty years away from Social Security, and with precious little dough in the bank–okay, let’s be honest, no dough in the bank–and no 401-K to fall back on, I need to keep working. And, as much as I don’t like to admit it, lately it’s been my “partner,” as he likes to refer to himself, as opposed to my preferred albatross, who’s brought in the bulk of our clients.

We’d already finished eating–though technically, Goldblatt never actually finishes eating which means a meal can easily turn into an all-day affair, if I don’t apply the brakes–and we were just waiting for the check to arrive. This is a crucial point of any meal with Goldblatt because it is the opening gambit in what has become our weekly routine of watching the check sit there in no-man’s land somewhere between us until I inevitably give in, pick it up, and pay. Otherwise, I risk one of two things: either we’d be there all afternoon or, worst case scenario, Goldblatt will decide he’s still hungry and threaten to order something else. Neither one of these options is the least bit appealing.

“I’ll get right to the point,” he said.

Just then, out of the corner of my eye I spotted the waiter, like a white knight, approaching with our check in hand. If I acted quick enough I might be able to get out of there before I can be sucked into something I don’t want to have anything to do with.

“That would be nice,” I said, reaching for my wallet. “What is your point?”

“I need to hire you.”

I was stopped in my tracks before I got my wallet halfway out of my back pocket.

“Really? To do what?”

“I want you to find someone for me. Well, to be more precise it’s not really for me. It’s for my ex-wife.”

Wait a minute! Goldblatt married? Goldblatt with a wife? Goldblatt a husband? This was a new one on me, something I’d never even considered.

“You…you’ve been married?” I stammered.

Truth is, I never pictured Goldblatt being in any relationship other than with, yes, as irritating as it might be, me. I mean the guy isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of Don Juan, although I suppose in theory there are women who might find him if not attractive in the conventional way at least interesting in a specimen-under-glass way. Or maybe as a project. Women love a project. They love a challenge. They love the idea that they have the opportunity to remake a man in their image. Maybe that was it. But whatever it was, my world was shaken to the core. And what would shake it even more would be to find that he was actually a father, too. But one shock per meal is more than enough, so there was no chance I was going to pursue that line of questioning.

“Unfortunately, the answer is yes. More than once, in fact.”

“Holy Cow,” I blurted out, channeling the Scooter. “You’re kidding me?”

At this point the same bald, squat waiter who seems to serve us in every diner we patronize, reached our table and dropped the check right in front of me.

“This is not something a man usually kids about.”

“How many times?”

He held up three fingers.

“Three times! You’ve been married three times?”

“Yeah.”

I gulped.

“Are you married now?”

He shook his head. “Nah. I’m kinda between wives. Giving it a rest, if you know what I mean.
But chances are I’ll be back in the saddle again soon enough.”

“Okay, so let me get this straight. You’ve been married three times and now you’re single but you would consider getting married again?”

“Man is not meant to be alone, Swannie. You might consider the possibility that your life would be enriched if you found your soulmate.”

You’re fortunate if you find one soul mate in life and I’d already had mine. She was yanked from my life as a result of a freak accident, a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn’t know if Goldblatt knew the circumstances of her bizarre accidental death, but I wouldn’t have been surprised because he seems to know a lot of things he has no business knowing.

“Some men are meant to be alone, Goldblatt. I’m one of them and after three failed marriages maybe you should consider the possibility you are, too.”

He smiled and puffed out his chest. “What can I say, Swann? I’m a friggin’ babe magnet.”

I would have laughed, should have laughed, but I was still processing the scary fact that he’d been married three times. That meant there were three women in the world who not only were willing to marry him but did marry him. I wanted to know more. Much more. Everything, in fact. But this was not the time and certainly not the place to delve into Goldblatt’s mysterious, sordid past. Nevertheless, I promised myself I would revisit this topic in the not too distant future.

Still in shock, I avoided our weekly “who’s paying for this meal” tango, grabbed the check and reached for my wallet…again.

“So, wanna know the story?” he asked.

“Which story would that be?”

“The story of why I want to hire you?”

“Desperately.”

***

Excerpt from Swann’s Down by Charles Salzberg. Copyright 2019 by Charles Salzberg. Reproduced with permission from Charles Salzberg. All rights reserved.

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