Feb 212018
 

Death Theory by John D. Mimms Tour Banner

Death Theory

by John D. Mimms

on Tour February 1 – March 31, 2018

Synopsis:

Death Theory by John D. Mimms

Mankind’s greatest fear is also its greatest obsession. What awaits when we shuffle off the mortal coil of this world? We all have our beliefs based on faith or science, but both struggle to provide a tangible answer. Perhaps it is possible to prove the existence of the soul, to prove it goes on after death. Following the violent death of his parents, Jeff Granger seeks reassurance that they have moved on. After recording what he believes to be his mother’s voice at the site of the accident, Jeff’s obsession throws him into paranormal research. Realizing that most people are doing it just for fun, Jeff forms his own group. He is joined by Debbie Gillerson, a school teacher; Aaron Presley, a mortician; and Michael Pacheco, a grocery store manager. Even though they are all investigating the paranormal for very different reasons, they are all trying to fill an emptiness in their lives. The deeper they probe paranormal theory, the darker their results. The only way to truly test the ‘Death Theory’, as theorized by Aaron, is to monitor a person’s energy at the moment of death. Horrified by the immoral and unethical application, the group dismisses the theory. A darkness seems to follow their investigations and the police become involved. A former colleague of Jeff’s, a self-proclaimed demonologist, believes a demonic force is attached to the group. The police are not so sure. Evil comes in many forms as the small group is about to discover.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal
Published by: Draft 2 Digital
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781537849713
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Google Books 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Guest Post


How and what is entailed when researching for a paranormal aspect?

A great deal of my paranormal subject matter, especially in DEATH THEORY, comes from my own personal experiences in paranormal research. Depending on the subject matter, I sometimes find it necessary to research various scientific theories and principals as they pertain to a respective paranormal phenomenon. For example, I did a great deal of research on the Law of Thermodynamics for DEATH THEORY. The theory states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it merely changes form. That is a very interesting principal when you consider what happens to the body’s energy at death. Is the energy what we may consider the soul? If so, what happens to that energy at death?

Author Bio:

John D. Mimms

John D. Mimms is a business owner, paranormal researcher and author. John served as the Technical Director for a TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) family paranormal research group in Central Arkansas. During his four-year tenure with the organization, he helped supervise over 100 investigations and wrote more than sixteen technical articles. Paul Bradford, of Ghost Hunters International fame, read one of John’s articles titled A Christmas Carol Debunked live on the air of the Parazona Radio program on Christmas Day 2009. John also wrote a definitive technical/training manual, which is a comprehensive guide on equipment usage, investigation protocol and scientific theory for paranormal research.

In 2009 John decided to couple his knowledge of paranormal phenomena with his lifelong love of literary fiction. John’s first published work, The Tesla Gate, is the first installment of a three-part, heart-wrenching, sci-fi/paranormal drama.

Book 1 of this unique, ground-breaking story released July 2014 through Open Road Media. In January 2016, Open Road Media released The Tesla Gate Book 2: The Myriad Resistance. Book 3: The Eye of Madness is slated for release September 27, 2016. Though fictional, the trilogy is based on scientific, paranormal theory.

Publishers Weekly declared about The Tesla Gate in the March 3, 2014 issue “…touching sci-fi story that takes the reader on an unlikely road-trip adventure…a fast read with some entertaining ideas and a real emotional core in the relationship between father and son.”

The Examiner proclaimed in June 2014: “Entertaining as well as poignant, this book is extremely imaginative in its basic premise as well as the many colorful and emotionally compelling events that take place.”

John resides and writes on a mountaintop in central Arkansas with his wife and two sons.

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

Read an excerpt:

Death is the closest thing to omnipotence we will experience in our brief time on this planet. It is an all-encompassing power, binding everything, and providing a cold certainty to an otherwise uncertain existence. The firm grip of this assurance reaches much further than the extinguishment of life; it greedily claims the hope and happiness of those who remain. It is a definite ending, but is it also a provable beginning?

Prologue

Linda Granger did not see death coming.

Sleep shielded her from the unfolding horror. The looming headlights and the panicked screams of her husband were beyond her conscious state. When her head shattered the windshield, the dream about her son ended, sending her into what’s next. Linda was gone before the car rolled seven times and wrapped around a large oak tree. Her husband, Stephen, was not as fortunate. He died two minutes later. Linda had fallen asleep from emotional exhaustion. She died with regrets.

Chapter 1

Jeff’s sheets were drenched in sweat. He strained to hear because he wanted to continue the conversation he had been having. The bass drum of his pulse throbbed in his ears, making hearing impossible. He sat up and glanced about frantically. Where had she gone?

As sleep gave way to the waking world, dread filled him. He remembered the terrible truth. These muddled conversations with his mother had become nightly occurrences since his parents’ accident. The last words he shared with his mother were over the phone, and they were harsh. The next time he picked up the phone, mere hours later, it was the Missouri State Police asking him to come to the hospital. It has been over a year since the terrible night, yet the pain had not gone away. In some ways, it grew worse.

Jeff rolled on his side as tears streamed down his cheeks. In his dream, he told his mother he loved her. He wondered if she could hear him. Somehow, he believed it might be possible. His grieving heart longed for a way to communicate with his late parents.

Jeff rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. It was impossible. He eventually got up and opened the blinds. It rained last night and a steamy mist shielded the street from view. This was the perfect morning to stay in bed and he almost did if not for two things. His sheets were soaked and he was excited about today. Even though he needed extra sleep, since he would be staying up all night, he just couldn’t hold back the excitement of investigating with his fourth paranormal group in as many months. Missouri Spirit Seekers claim to do purely scientific investigations, but the three previous groups he joined did as well. He hoped this time would be different.

They would be investigating Pythian Castle tonight, the most ‘haunted’ location in Springfield, not too far from Jeff’s alma mater, Missouri State. The castle was a very cool historical site, but to Jeff, it was another opportunity to find answers for life’s greatest mystery -death.

Although the investigation was still twelve hours away, nervous anticipation consumed him. He hoped this was not another séance based, sage burning, ghost hunt like most of the others. His previous groups were as far away from science as one could get.

Jeff brewed a pot of coffee and microwaved a bowl of instant oatmeal, before sitting down to watch his recording of the show which started him on the path to paranormal investigation. He viewed it often, but it had become a ritual to watch on the day of an investigation. If Jeff were counting, this would be his eighty-third time to watch.

The show starred two men, who were electricians by trade, investigating haunted places using the scientific method. They gathered measurable scientific evidence in their investigations. In this particular episode, they were investigating the catacombs underneath an old church in Baltimore.

What peaked Jeff’s interest were the Electronic Voice Phenomenon the men captured on their digital recorders. He wondered if EVP’s are actually the voices of the dead. The guys on the show didn’t commit one way or the other, they just presented the recordings.

“You up above,” a disembodied voice said.

“The way through,” another one whispered.

The most eerie utterance of them all said, “Come down here among us.”

Jeff’s reaction was the same every time he watched; chills intermingled with hope and fear ran up his spine.

Jeff reached into a box under the coffee table and retrieved his digital recorder. He held it in his hands as if it were an object of holy veneration. Jeff recorded his own EVP one night several months earlier at the scene of his parent’s accident. Short, incredible, and heart-breaking; his mother seemed to call his name from beyond. The EVP was still on his recorder, even though he had backed it up to a dozen sources. He would never delete it from any device. Never.

A loud thud rattled the blinds on the front door. Jeff jumped, almost dropping the recorder. His alarm lasted only a moment when he recognized the sound of the newspaper carrier’s rattle-trap station wagon puttering up the street. He peeled back the blinds in time to see the tail lights disappear into the mist. Jeff was still in his underwear with a gaping fly, but he figured his rural setting, coupled with the fog, would spare him any indecent exposure charges.

Jeff scooped up the paper, almost losing his balance on the wet concrete, and then backed through the door. He plopped down on the sofa and began to unfold the massive log of news. He was heading straight for the sports section when an article caught his eye. The title read:

Springfield … the Most Haunted City in Missouri?

The Kansas City Royals box scores could wait. Jeff dove right into the article. The ghosts of Phelps Grove Park, Bass Country Inn, Drury University, Landers Theater, Springfield National Cemetery, University Plaza Hotel, and Pythian Castle were all mentioned prominently by the author. Jeff had investigated Phelps Grove Park with one of his previous groups. One of the members claimed he saw the infamous spectral bride near the bridge, but Jeff had no such luck. He never had success when it came to firsthand experiences. Either everyone else is lying or perhaps Jeff is walking ghost repellent. He didn’t think they were lying, at least not everyone who made a paranormal claim. His recording of his mother was enough to keep faith in the paranormal.

He read the claims of Drury University with great interest. There were allegedly several ghosts, in a few buildings, which had taken residence there since the school’s founding in 1873. The saddest one was a little girl who died in a fire. Her phantom laughter could be heard from time to time in one of the women’s dorms.

Jeff enjoyed a good ghost story since he was a kid, but these were more than merely a spectral yarn. Each story offered a small glimmer of hope.

He didn’t read about Pythian Castle; there was no need. He had spent so much time researching it the last couple of weeks, he could recite the history word for word. The shadow spirits who allegedly resided in the basement intrigued him the most. They had been reported so often over the years, there was little doubt that something unusual was occurring in the depths of the castle.

Jeff finally checked the box scores, lamenting another loss by his favorite team. He scanned the comics before tossing the paper on the floor. He trudged to the bathroom and took a long, hot shower. Afterward, he put on a fresh pair of boxers and a T-shirt before stretching out on the couch. He fell asleep watching Netflix. If he dreamed of his parents again, he did not remember.

Jeff arrived at Pythian Castle an hour before dusk. The rainy morning had given way to a perfectly clear early evening. The ghostly apparition of the full moon glowed in the eastern sky as the sun began to dip. The large tower on front of the castle cast a long shadow over his truck as he pulled in and parked. He ascended the stone steps onto an expansive porch where a very large woman with a mystical fashion sense met him at the front door.

“Hello … Jack?” she said.

“Jeff,” he corrected. “You must be Swoosie.”

Swoosie half-nodded and half-bowed. She reminded him of a fortune teller he visited one time, just for kicks.

“Would you like a charm for protection tonight?” Swoosie asked, reaching into a velvet bag and retrieving what appeared to be a tiny silk pillow.

“No, thanks … I’m good,” Jeff said. He couldn’t help smirking a little.

Swoosie noticed.

“Suit yourself,” she huffed. “Spirits can pick up on those less experienced in this field. They tend to prey more on them.”

“Good,” Jeff said. “Maybe I will get some good evidence.”

Swoosie narrowed her pudgy eyelids and motioned for a man who was milling about awkwardly, studying old pictures on the wall.
“Preston,” she called with a snap of her fingers.

He was a middle-aged man with a greasy ring of dark hair circling a large bald spot. His clothing was a mish mash of suit pants and a Molly Hatchett T-shirt. The shirt and pin stripe pants were riddled with stains.

“How are you?” Preston asked breathlessly. It seemed his pot belly was a strain for him to carry.

“Fine, Preston,” Jeff said. “Nice to meet you.”

“Oh … I think Mr. Leach is preferable,” Preston said. “I could be your daddy.”

“Not likely,” Jeff thought.

“I’m putting the two of you together tonight since you are both new to this,” Swoosie said. “You know … strength in numbers.”

Both men’s puzzled expressions testified their bewilderment of Swoosie’s logic as if to point out that it would make more sense to put them with an experienced investigator.

“I’m a fairly experienced investigator,” Jeff said. “Tonight, makes my twentieth investigation.”

Swoosie’s condescending smile let him know she still considered him a novice. She turned and then waddled over to a sofa in the foyer where her daughter and a couple of other men waited. Their familiar banter showed them to be a clique.

“Okay, Mr. Leach,” Jeff said. “Where should we start?”

This group didn’t set up night vision cameras or environmental equipment as he hoped. Each member was only armed with a flashlight, digital recorder, and maybe a camera. Jeff was sure most of them carried a silk charm pillow in their pocket.

“I think they want us to go the basement,” Mr. Leach said impatiently. “Didn’t you hear what Swoosie said?”

Swoosie was much larger than Mr. Leach, yet she seemed a bit more agile as he watched his partner shuffle down the corridor.

“Okay,” Jeff mumbled before following him down the stone stairs to the basement.

They picked a far corner in the dark, dingy basement, and then set their digital recorders on a wooden table. The musty smell of old buildings had become synonymous with ghosts in Jeff’s mind. Even though he knew better, he sometimes entertained the idea of it being a ‘ghost odor’.

The sun was beginning to set through one of the basement windows, so they agreed to wait until full dark before beginning their session.

“Hey … you know this used to hold POWs during World War Two?” Jeff said, nodding at the old cells across the room. The iron doors had been removed many years ago on all but one.

“It was an orphanage at one time, built by the Knights of Pythias,” Mr. Leach countered.

“Really?” Jeff said, a little confused at why an orphanage would be more interesting than a POW prison.

“Yeah, can you imagine how many kids died here?” Mr. Leach mused.

Jeff’s stomach twisted. His partner seemed a little too gleeful about dead children.

“Yeah,” Jeff said distantly. He watched the last rays of the sun disappear behind the shrubbery outside. When it was completely dark, he said, “Well, shall we get started?”

Jeff jumped when a flashlight beam flared in his eyes.

“Can I ask you something, Jeff?” Mr. Leach asked, lowering his flashlight.

“Sure.”

“How did you get into paranormal stuff?” Mr. Leach asked.

“Curiosity,” Jeff began and then anger began to simmer. He didn’t know why the question upset him so, it was benign and practical. Perhaps it was his partner’s tone. “It’s really nobody’s business,” Jeff snapped.

“Fair enough,” Mr. Leach said. “What did your fiancée say about it?”

Jeff glared at Mr. Leach in the darkness. How did he know he had a fiancée?

“What makes you think I had a fiancée?” Jeff asked, pointedly.

“I know things,” Mr. Leach replied. His coy response echoing from the darkness sounded like the prelude to a horror movie.

Jeff was angry. Mr. Leach seemed to have no boundaries. Jeff’s fiancée was a sore spot. She had been a former fiancée for almost a year.

“Why don’t you tell me her name?” Jeff said, a little too loud. Shushes hissed from deep in the darkness as his voice echoed off the stone walls. It seemed the whole building heard his question.

There was a very long pause. Jeff almost thought he was alone until the answer startled him.

“I can’t see that,” Mr. Leach answered. “Only events and feelings.”

“What are you … some kinda Jedi Master?” Jeff asked.

“I’m psychic,” Mr. Leach wheezed. His last word echoed about the basement, bringing more shushes from around the building.

“Oh,” Jeff whispered. He had encountered these people before; every paranormal group seemed to have them. Out of the dozen or so self-proclaimed psychics Jeff had known in his life, there was only one he believed legitimate. An old shut-in, who he delivered prescriptions to while in college, told him some interesting things about his life that came to pass a short time later.

“So, where is my fiancée?” Jeff asked.

There was a long silence before Mr. Leach replied flatly. “With another man, I’m afraid.”

Jeff didn’t say anything. He knew she was with another man now. Lurid images filled his head as to what they may be doing right now. Acid boiled in his guts and his heart began to pound. He didn’t expect this answer; he was looking for more of a geographical location. She had been with this schmuck for six months, two weeks, and three days, but he wasn’t counting.

“Does that shock you?” Mr. Leach whispered.

“You’re the psychic … you tell me,” Jeff barked. “Look, I just want to focus on the investigation, can we do that now?”

More shushes ensued followed by a booming female voice asking them to be quiet. Swoosie had some lungs.

They were so engrossed in their argument, neither man noticed the single cell door slowly swing open and a black shadow dart down the passageway. The air grew thick and uncomfortable, but both men thought it was from their awkward conversation.

Mr. Leach didn’t answer. A moment later, Jeff heard the beep of a digital recorder turning on. The small red recording light resembled a one-eyed demon in the complete darkness. Jeff knew he hurt the guy’s feelings, but he didn’t care. Mr. Leach had trodden on areas of Jeff’s life where he wasn’t welcome. In fact, no one was welcome. His fiancée had been the last living member of anything resembling family for Jeff. She had tried to get him to see a shrink to cope with his parent’s death, but he refused. Thus, the wedge between them was forged.

On the surface, Jeff seemed to recover. He tried to move on with his life. His preacher once told him that time is a river, washing away all pains and transgressions. Yet, for those who grieve, time is often an ocean. It ebbs and flows, sometimes exposing the pain lurking beneath the surface of our consciousness with each experience.

“Truth,” Jeff thought.

He finally turned on his digital recorder and began to alternate questions with Mr. Leach.

Is anyone with us?”

“Are you angry?”

“What is your name?”

“How old are you?”

“Why are you here?”

“When did you die?”

They repeated this process several times in different areas of the building. They never heard anything. Hopefully, there would be some evidence on the recording.

Jeff found it difficult to focus. Of course, he was tired, yet it was much more than fatigue. Mr. Leach had upset him, there was no denying it. The thing bothering him the most was the image running through his head; His fiancée and some faceless man with a Chippendale’s body were in bed together. He tried to push it aside and focus on the reason he was here. When he turned his thoughts to his parents, it did not help. He kept seeing the make-shift white cross memorial at the site of his parents’ crash. The same cross where he had recorded his mother’s voice. It wasn’t only the mental image distracting him. His mother’s one-word response echoed in his head after every EVP question – “Jeff”. A few times he thought he heard her voice coming from the darkness – “Jeff”.

Jeff knew it was fatigue, it had to be. If not, Mr. Leach would have heard something.

Jeff left Sunday morning frustrated. He sat in his truck and watched the last act unfold in what had been an all-night circus. Swoosie, her daughter, Mr. Leach, and a few other men sat in folding chairs arranged in a circle on the front lawn. They had asked Jeff to join them, but he respectfully declined. They burned sage while performing a cleansing ritual.

“We can’t have any spirits following us home,” Swoosie’s daughter proclaimed. “This’ll keep ‘em put.”

The obese Swoosie sat with her back to him. Her butt dangled on either side of the stressed chair as the legs sank into the soft and dewy sod. She swung a burning leaf around her head, making her resemble an elephant trying to douse the flames of a burning tree.

Jeff realized the only way he would get anywhere is starting his own team. He turned the ignition, causing his lights to fall on the group. They turned and glowered as if he farted and belched in church. He smiled and waved as he shifted the truck into gear.

Missouri Spirit Seekers,” Jeff muttered as he left the gate, “seems more like shit seekers.”

***

Excerpt from Death Theory by John D. Mimms. Copyright © 2017 by John D. Mimms. Reproduced with permission from John D. Mimms. All rights reserved.

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for John D. Mimms. There will be 3 winners of one (1) physical copy of Death Theory by John D. Mimms (US ONLY) AND 3 winners of one (1) audiobook copy of Death Theory by John D. Mimms. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2018 and runs through March 31, 2018. This giveaway is open to US addressess only.

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Feb 072018
 

No Fury Like That

by Lisa de Nikolits

on Tour February 1 – March 2, 2018

Synopsis:

No Fury Like That by Lisa de Nikolits

No Fury Like That is a one-of-a kind suspense thriller about life and death – and the power of second chances.

The novel takes you on a fast-paced, funny, adventurous ride, exploring themes of love, friendship, revenge and family – and the transformation of character in impossible circumstances. No Fury Like That is about metamorphosis, and how friendship is more important than success, love is more important than money and family is more important than power.

What is your moral compass? Julia Redner has to die in order to find her answer to this question – but is she really dead or is she being given the opportunity to rethink her life while solving an intricate puzzle of murders? And she won’t miss the opportunity to exact righteous revenge!

No Fury Like That is a philosophical murder mystery with an unforgettable cast of characters, a surprising plot with twists and turns and a powerful, determined female protagonist. The novel will make you laugh and it will make you think but most of all, it will engage you from the get-go.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Mystery Thriller
Published by: Inanna Publications
Publication Date: September 15th 2017
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 1771334134 (ISBN13: 9781771334136)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Guest Post


10 facts about Julia Redner that wasn’t disclosed in the book but the reader would love to know.

1. Her favourite cocktail is the French 75: Gin, sugar, lemon juice and champagne.

2. Listening to Axl Rose singing November Rain makes her cry every time.

3. She has a small elaborate crown tattooed on the base of her neck, with Born to Rule in tiny cursive script below it.

4. She has a secret desire to write Harlequin romance novels.

5. She brushes her teeth five times a day.

6. She has a ridiculously loud and bellowing laugh – kind of like Julia Roberts’s laugh, only more so.

7. She dances very badly, like a giraffe with a puppet-like rhythm, but she thinks she’s a marvelous dancer.

8. She loves movies about fast cars, she’s watched Baby Driver four times and Wheelman twice.

9. If she could choose to be any Marvel character, she’d be Wolverine.

10. She sings Non, je ne regretted rien at the top of her lungs, wildly and unapologetically out of tune, with full French lyrics while fist-pumping the air and grinning broadly.

And if the readers have any questions, feel free to ask me anything at all! Thank you very much for having me as a guest on your blog today!

CM: Thank you for stopping by! It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to introduce you and your book to my followers and visitors!!!!

Author Bio:

Lisa de Nikolits

Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain. Lisa lives and writes in Toronto. No Fury Like That, her most recently published work, is her seventh novel and has received glowing preview reviews from internationally acclaimed authors, Metroland Media, and high-profile members of the Crime Writers of Canada. Lisa’s previous works include: The Hungry Mirror (2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and long-listed for a ReLit Award); West of Wawa (2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick); A Glittering Chaos (tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction); The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched in Spring 2014 to literary acclaim. Between The Cracks She Fell was reviewed by the Quill & Quire, was on the recommended reading lists for Open Book Toronto and 49th Shelf. Between The Cracks She Fell was also reviewed by Canadian Living magazine and called ‘a must-read book of 2015’. Between The Cracks She Fell won a Bronze IPPY Award 2016 for Contemporary Fiction. The Nearly Girl received rave reviews in THIS magazine and local newspaper, the Beach Metro, among others. No Fury Like That is her seventh book and Rotten Peaches will be published in 2018. All books by Inanna Publications.

Lisa has a short story in Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, 2015, and flash fiction and a short story in the debut issue of Maud.Lin House as well as poetry in the Canadian Women Studies Journal (Remembering, 2013, and Water, 2015). Her short stories have also appeared on Lynn Crosbie’s site, Hood and in the Jellyfish Review. She has a short story in the anthology PAC’HEAT, a Ms. Pac-Man noir collection and a short story in the Sisters In Crime anthology, The Whole She-Bang 3 and she will have two short stories in 13 Claws, the Mesdames of Mayhem anthology which will be published in August 2017.

Catch Up With Lisa de Nikolits On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Read an excerpt:

10. Beatrice The Administrator.

“I got kicked out of Cedar’s again,” I tell the others. I expect them to find this funny but they don’t. Of course they don’t.

“I didn’t mean to,” I acknowledge, “it’s like I had Tourette’s or something.”

“Cedar’s alright,” Grace comments. “You should try to work with him.”

“Why? So I can have a so-called realization? That clearly worked well for you, look, you’re all still here.”

They have no answer for that.

“What are everybody’s plans for the day?” Samia asks, brightly.

“Rest Room, Reading Room, Rest Room, cafeteria,” Fat Tracey says and she sounds grumpy. “I don’t know why you bother to ask us, Samia. It’s not like I can say oh, I’m going to Bermuda to lie on a beach or fuck it, let’s go to the mall and spend money we don’t have.”

“You are in a mood,” Grace says and Fat Tracey nods.

“I was telling her,” she nods her head in my direction, “my life story and I guess it got to me a bit.”

“Oh, I am sorry, dear,” Grace says and Fat Tracey’s eyes fill with tears.

“I shouldn’t have left my boys,” she says and she starts keening quietly. “Julia said so, and she was right.”

They turn to look at me. “I never said that!” I am indignant. “I asked her if they couldn’t have been reason enough to make her stay.”

“Well, obviously not,” Isabelle is scornful. “That’s a stupid thing to say, don’t you think?” I feel like she just slapped me across the face. How dare she speak to me like that? But what am I supposed to do, these are the only people I have in my life right now, and so instead of asking her just who the fuck she thinks she is, talking to me like that, I nod.

“I see that now,” I say meekly and the others accept this apology of sorts.

“I want my fucking Viewing time,” Fat Tracey says.

“Let’s go and see Beatrice again,” Grace suggests, and I am glad she does because any kind of activity will help pass the day, or whatever our strange allotments of time are.

“Enjoy your lattes first,” Fat Tracey says. “No point in wasting them.”

We sit and drink in silence.

I notice that Agnes has gnawed away the perfect manicure I gave her and I sigh.

“You okay?” Samia asks.

“Still trying to get my bearings on things,” I say, and she nods sympathetically.

“It takes a while.”

“I don’t suppose there’s a Massage Room here?” I am wistful. “I wouldn’t mind a four hour massage, that’s for sure.”

“No, dear, no Massage Room,” Grace tells me.

“No movie theatre either,” Isabelle says and they all chime in.

“No animals, sauna, hot tub, swimming pool, beach, no real grass or thunderstorms—,”

“There is the Rain Room,” Grace interrupts the long list and I gather this isn’t the first conversation they’ve had like this.

“Yeah, it’s super depressing,” Samia comments, and it is unlike her to say anything negative.

“Why?” I ask. “Rain can be soothing.”

She shakes her head. “I’ll take you one day and you’ll see. The whole place is grey and gloomy.”

“There are chapels,” Grace says “and there’s even a cathedral. It’s enormous, like St Peter’s in Rome.”

“I don’t see the point in praying,” Isabelle says and the others fall silent.

“We’re not supposed to talk about religion,” Agnes explains to me.

“Why not? That doesn’t make any sense. Of all the places, you’d think religion would be first on the list here.” I am baffled. “Are there priests and nuns?” I think about Intrigua with her hajib and nun’s outfit.

Agnes shakes her head. “Only Helpers like Cedar.”

“I find that pretty weird,” I say, and I finally get the group to laugh.

“Ah, ya, Purgatory is weird,” Samia agrees. “That might be the point.”

“If you’re all finished, let’s go and see the bitch,” Fat Tracey says. “But I’m not going to do the talking, someone else will have to.”

“I will,” Grace is firm. “I want to see my family too.”

“We’re not going to get anywhere,” Agnes says with a warning tone in her voice, “I can feel it.”

“Well, we’re going to try,” Grace insists and she stands up and brushes biscotti crumbs from her skirt. “We’re most certainly going to try.”

This time we don’t enter the maze. We walk the perimeter of the building, and we pass those eerie planes, those white sharks lined up on the licorice black, lined up and waiting for god knows what. We pass the counter where a group of people are still gathered and they are arguing and jostling, while harried flight attendants shout from behind the counter.

I want to check if it’s the same group of people or a new lot but we walk by too quickly. Besides, I hadn’t noticed much the first time.

I spot the womb that birthed my arrival, that steel and black leatherette chair, and I can still feel the burning pain as I surfaced. I look out the window. The immaculate green grass between the runways is unchanged, as are the cotton wool clouds which are two-dimensional and cartoon-like in their perfection. A movie backdrop, Grace had said. Sometimes, it’s as if I’ve stepped into a graphic novel that been assembled using clipart.
We walk for what feels like hours but of course, there’s no way of telling.

Shirley the Driver passes us, beeping and squawking, her lights flashing like a Christmas tree and we all press up against the wall.

“We’re nearly there,” Agnes tells me and I nod.

We turn down an unusually dark hallway.

“Everything’s on one level here,” I remark. “No escalators, elevators, stairs or ramps.”

No one finds my observation worthy of comment and I fall silent.

“We’re here,” Grace says after we turn a corner and walk past a series of yellow doors with yellow half-moon handles. I want to ask what’s with the yellow all of a sudden, but I sense it’s not a good time for questions. I don’t want the others to bounce me. They haven’t said they can do that, but I’m pretty certain they have the power.

We stopped at a door and no one wants to be the first to venture inside.

But then something creepy happens — the door handle twists down and the door swings quietly open.

“I know you lot are out there,” a hoarse voice bellows, “so come on in, you ninnies. I know what you’re going to ask me and I can tell you now that the answer is still the same, it’s no, nada, zip, zero, and I’ve got no idea why you wasted your time coming out all this way. I guess you had nothing better to do or you wanted to introduce me to your new friend. hear this, Julia, you’re a longer ways off from a Viewing than you can imagine. You, with your ego the size of Jupiter, well, you’ll have to wait in line like the rest of them, your charms hold no currency here.”

I feel as if someone has thrown a bucket of ice water on me. I can’t move or speak. I just stand there, dripping with the venom of this woman’s sarcasm.

“Come on in,” the voice bellows again. “Bloody rude to stand out there and make me shout.”

“Hardly a point in coming in, is there?” Fragile little Isabelle shouts back and I am surprised. The mouse has roared. But then again, this is a girl who had sex with strangers, she isn’t afraid of anything.

“You should at least give us a timeline,” Isabelle says loudly, and she marches inside and I can see that her fists are clenched and her face is white.

The others creep in behind her and I bring up the rear.

“Should? Fuck should,” Beatrice says and I guess she’s never had Cedar as her Helper.

Beatrice is sitting behind a desk, with her feet up. She’s wearing Birkenstocks and her toenails are as thick and gnarly as old tortoise shells. They are also inexplicably filthy. There is no dirt in Purgatory, so how did her feet get to be that dirty? Did she arrive like that, and never wash?

Beatrice is chomping on a large apple and bits of it are spraying everywhere. She chews loudly with her mouth open and I look away, studying her office instead. Her bookcase filled is with works by Dorothy Parker, Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hunter S. Thompson and Raymond Chandler and I wonder if she had been a drunk back on Earth. That, and heavy smoking, would explain her less-than-dulcet tones.

A large poster of a Hawaiian sunset covers one wall along with a framed picture of an old Cadillac convertible. A stack of needlepoint cushions is piled in the corner and I wonder if Beatrice was in the Needlepoint Room when I barged in looking for Agnes. A large framed embroidered canvas has a green alligator baring its teeth, with the slogan, Come In, The Water’s Fine!

Everything is pristine and polished but the items are old and show wear; the Scrabble set, the stacked, empty margarine tubs, the cans of Sanka. A tiny black toy cat is perched inside a glass bell jar on the edge of Beatrice’s desk and behind Beatrice’s head is a framed picture of a vase and a bowl of fruit and the artwork, if you can call it that, is so dreadful that I am mesmerized. It looks like it was drawn with thick crayon and then melted over an open fire.

Beatrice stops chewing for a moment and the silence is so thick that I stop my inventory of the place and glance at the others to see what is going on but they are fearfully looking at Beatrice who is calmly watching me.

“Enjoying yourself?” she asks. “Very nosy, aren’t you? Nosy parker.”

Beatrice, resplendent in plaid shorts and a red and black man’s checked shirt, cocks her head to one side and I can’t think of anything to say. She shrugs and returns enthusiastically to her apple and juice spurts out in an arc onto Grace’s blouse and Grace flinches.

“Well, when?” Fat Tracey can hold back no longer. “When can I see them?”

“Should have thought of that when you left them,” Beatrice counters. “It’s not up to me, anyway.”

“It is so,” Isabelle insists. “We all know that.”

“You don’t know fuck all,” Beatrice aims the apple core at a bin in the corner and slam dunks it. “You think you do, but you don’t. Who would you View, Isabelle? Huh? Tell me?”

“No one. It’s not for me. It’s for Fat Tracey and Grace and Agnes,” Isabelle says. “I never had anyone, I don’t care. I’m fine with things the way they are, but it’s not fair to the others.”

“Fair? Fair? Like life was ever fair?” Beatrice is mocking. She whips her feet off the desk and pulls her chair close to her desk. She gives her mouse a thwack, to wake up the computer. She peers at the screen and then she fumbles for a pair of reading glasses, searching on her desk until she realizes they are strung around her neck on a beaded cord.

She puts them on and examines the screen, using the rough, thick nail of her forefinger to scroll down. She mutters all the while, and we stand there, silent and unmoving.

She taps furiously at the keyboard, so hard I am surprised it isn’t damaged, and then she slams a fist on the Enter key.

The printer next to the desk springs into life and jerkily delivers a single page.

We hold our breath.

“Here,” she says handing the sheet to Agnes. “Access for you for the Viewing Room. You’ve got half an hour tomorrow.”

Agnes looks stunned. “But I’m not ready,” she says.

“And I am,” Fat Tracey and Grace both chorus at the same time.

“You’re ready when I say you are,” Beatrice retorts. She looks at Agnes and holds out her hand. “You want to give it back?”

“No.” Agnes clutches the paper to her chest.

“Thought so. Well then, goodbye all of you. Don’t come again, why don’t you?” She laughs and coughs up a wedge of phlegm that she spits into a Kleenex and lobs at the bin, narrowly missing my head.

“Go on, shoo! Out you go!”

We turn and file out slowly, and the yellow-handled door swings firmly shut behind us.

We stand in the corridor for a while, in silence.

“I can’t do it today,” Agnes says. “I’m not ready.”

“Yeah, well, you heard her, it’s for tomorrow in any case,” Samia points out.

“When you do it, do you want us to come with you?” Grace asks and Agnes nods.

“Yes, I can’t do it alone. We’ll go after coffee.”

“Will you wait to have coffee with me?” I ask, sounding unfamiliarly unsure of myself. “I have to go and see Cedar, first thing.”

“Of course we’ll wait,” Samia says when no one else replies, and my confidence level drops even further.

“I’ll come and find you,” Samia reassures me. “We’ll wait. Don’t worry.”

I thank her, and before I can say anything else or ask the others what they’re going to do next, I am back in the Makeup Room, alone.

***

Excerpt from No Fury Like That by Lisa de Nikolits. Copyright © 2017 by Lisa de Nikolits. Reproduced with permission from Lisa de Nikolits. All rights reserved.

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lisa de Nikolits. There will be 1 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Giftcard AND 5 winners of one (1) ebook copy of No Fury Like That by Lisa de Nikolits. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2018 and runs through March 3, 2018. Void where prohibited.

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER

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

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

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Nov 292017
 

A Pound of Flesh

by Alex Gray

on Tour November 6 – December 6, 2017

Synopsis:

A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray

In the depths of a freezing winter, Glasgow finds itself at the mercy of not one, but two serial killers

This is Detective Inspector Lorimer’s worst nightmare and beyond anything he’s faced in his many years on the force. Can he find a link between the brutal slaying of prostitutes in the back streets of the city and the methodical killing of several unconnected businessmen?

When the latest victim turns out to be a prominent Scottish politician, the media’s spotlight is shone on Lorimer’s investigation. Psychologist and criminal profiler Solly Brightman is called in to help solve the cases, but his help may be futile as they realize that someone on the inside is leaking confidential police information. Meanwhile two killers haunt the snowy streets and Lorimer must act fast, before they strike again…

Check out my review HERE and enter the giveaway

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Detective
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: November 7th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659227 (ISBN13: 9780062659224)
Series: DCI Lorimer #9
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Author Bio:

Alex Gray

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English. Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing. A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of fourteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Connect with Alex Gray on her Website 🔗 & Twitter 🔗.

GUEST POST

This was the 5th book that I have read in this series so I asked Ms. Gray what are 10 facts about DCI Lorimer that I may not know.

Ten little known facts about DCI Lorimer

Did you know …?

1. Lorimer never intended to be a police officer ~ he had hoped to pursue an academic career as an Art historian.

2. He has no brothers or sisters.

3. Both of Lorimer’s parents died before he left High School; his father of cancer, his mother of a brain aneurysm.

4. Lorimer enjoys watching soccer though his sport as a youngster was rugby.

5. Before he met up with Solomon Brightman, Lorimer was very skeptical about criminal profiling.

6. He is kept pretty busy as you can imagine but did you realize he often forgets to have a regular haircut?

7. Lorimer’s birthday is February 7th which makes his star sign Aquarius. He has several traits typical of that sign eg humanitarianism, fighting for causes, being a good listener and a highly intellectual person that likes helping others.

8. Everyone has a weakness and Lorimer’s is that he suffers from claustrophobia.

9. So far Lorimer and Maggie have not visited Australia (unlike me) but it is high on his wish list, particularly to see the fabulous bird life.

10. His preferred brand of whisky is an Islay single malt named Bunnahabhain.

Read an excerpt:

It wasn’t always easy to see the moon or the stars. This city’s sodium glow rose like yellow fog from its streets, blotting out any chance of star gazing. But she knew it was there. That cold white face dominated her thoughts tonight and she shivered as though it already saw her flesh naked and exposed to its unblinking watchfulness. Perhaps it was because she was trying to be seen that she felt such awareness. The red jersey pencil skirt folded over to create a too-short mini, those agonisingly high-heeled sandals cutting into her bare toes; spread across the bed back in the hotel they had seemed the garb of an adventuress.

Now, revealed in the glare of the street lamp on this corner she felt a sense of…what? Shame? Perhaps. Self-consciousness, certainly. But such feelings must be overcome if her plan was to work.

She had already overcome the blank indifference of the girls down in Waterloo Street, their body language both defiant and compelling. Her hips shifted, one slender foot thrust forwards, as she remembered how they had stood, languidly chewing gum, waiting for their punters. Their desperation drove them to return night after night, the price of a wrap of drugs equating to an hour with some stranger.

Her own need was just as strong, fuelled by a passion that would not be spent until she had fulfilled her desire. It was warm in this Glasgow summer’s night and her black nylon blouse clung to her back, making her uncomfortably aware of her own flesh. The thin cotton coat she’d worn to conceal these trashy clothes as she’d tapped her way across the marble foyer of the hotel was now folded into the black bag at her feet, along with her more sober court shoes. When it was over she would slip them on and return the way she had come, hair clipped in a businesslike pleat. She smiled thinly. Being a woman had some advantages; the facility for disguise was just one of them. Her carefully made-up face was stripped of colour in the unforgiving lamplight, leaving only an impression of dark eyes, darker hair tossed back to reveal a long, determined mouth. She recalled what Tracey- Anne, one of the girls at the drop-in centre, had told her: I get through it by pretending to be someone else for a few hours, then I can be myself again.

Tracey-Anne was lucky, though. After tonight she could never again be the person that she used to be. Glancing at the elegant façades around the square, the dark-haired woman suddenly saw these city streets through different eyes: the shadows seemed blacker, the corners harbouring ill intent. Her chin tilted upwards, defying those inner demons tempting her to turn back.

After tonight things would change for ever. When the car slowed down at the kerb her heart quickened in a moment of anticipation that astonished her. She had expected the thrill of fear, not this rush of excitement sweeping through her blood.

The man behind the wheel had bent his head and she could see his eyes flicking over her hungrily, appraising his choice. He gave a brief nod as if to say he was pleased with his first instinct to stop. Her lip-glossed mouth drawn up in a smile, she stepped forward, willing him to reach across and open the window, ask her price. For a moment he seemed to hesitate and she could see tiny beads of sweat on his upper lip, glistening in the light. Then the door of the big car swung open noiselessly and she lowered herself inside, swinging her legs neatly together to show as much thigh as she could. But the gestures were still ladylike, almost reserved, as if she knew that would quicken his senses.

‘How much?’ he asked. And she told him, one shoulder moving insouciantly as if to declare that she wasn’t bothered whether he could afford her or not: someone else would pay that price if he wouldn’t. She glanced at him briefly, catching sight of the tip of his tongue flicking at his lips like a nervous lizard, then he made a gruff noise of assent, looking at her again, as though to be sure of his purchase, before accelerating into the night.

***

Excerpt from A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winner of one (1) eBook copy of Alex Gray’s SLEEP LIKE THE DEAD. The giveaway begins on November 6 and runs through December 10, 2017.

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Oct 272017
 

A Daughter’s Promise
by Fran Lewis
on Tour October 1 – December 1, 2017

 A Daughter’s Promise by Fran Lewis

Synopsis:

This story is about a promise I made to my mother to take care of her through her Alzheimer’s disease nightmare. The book includes my mother’s own thoughts from her journal about her ordeals with the various stages of this debilitating and dehumanizing condition. Her outlook on life was remarkable, and although her mind began to wander, she never lost sight of who she was, her sense of humor, or her family. This is the story of someone whose courage went beyond what most people could endure, and whose never-dying zest for life kept her alive. I hope our story will help others in coping with this difficult and demanding affliction.

Read my review and enter the giveaway HERE

Book Details

Genre: Memoir

Published by: Edit Pros

Publication Date: July 2017

Number of Pages: 147

ISBN-10: 1937317404

ISBN-13: 978-1937317409

Purchase Links: Title on Amazon Title on Barnes & Noble Title on Goodreads

Author Bio:

Fran Lewis

Fran Lewis is the author of the Bertha and Tillie Series, Faces Behind the Stones series and a series of books on Alzheimer;s and Caregiving. She has three master’s degrees, worked as the reading and writing staff developer and dean of a NY CITY PUBLIC SCHOOl for over 36 years and remains in touch with her students. She is an avid reader and reviewer and has her own show on blog talk radio: Literary Viewpoints with Fran Lewis. Fran created her own Magazine MJ magazine in memory of her sister Marcia Joyce and her radio network too: MJ network.

Fran’s Website | Fran’s Twitter | Fran’s Facebook

Guest Post

What is one bit of advice that you would give someone that is the caretaker of a parent with Alzheimer’s?

Being a caregiver is a full time responsibility and the person that you are caring for needs full time help with just about every personal, physical need that is required on a daily basis.

You as the caregiver must understand that a person with Alzheimer’s goes through many phases or stages and at times will say and do things that are inappropriate. You cannot get angry. Most of the time I just smiled or laughed at my mom’s words and she did too. As a caregiver you cannot forget that you are entitled to free time too and your family needs to help out at times if you want to just go out for breakfast with a friend or get your hair and nails done.

Choosing the right person from an agency to help you required research, planning and someone that is trained in working with people with Alzheimer’s. The one thing I did do when I realized my mom was losing her memory is label things around the house and ask her to read what they are and show me what it was that she read. I took photos of family and friends and asked her to help me place them in albums and I told her to tell me who she thinks the person is or was. This helped keep her mind active. When asking her what she wanted to eat I along with the home health aides would give her two choices, boot up pictures on our phones and she would decide for herself. This worked most of the time. She went out daily with the aides and I would often accompany them on their journey around the area. She would remember where she lived and when we went into a store it was hysterical she would pick out what I should buy for myself and dared me to choose something else. She was tough, she was smart in her own way she was the glue that held us together until she fell apart.

Before you even think or decide to place a person in a facility you need to visit every one of the homes closest to where you live at different times and observe the residents. Some that are just there because they are in assisted living are aware of their surroundings and can take care of themselves. You need to visit all of the floors that have patients with Alzheimer’s and see the different levels of care. You won’t believe what you will see and you might decide to make the same promise I did Never to put my mom in any facility. If you choose an agency and have aides at home you need to monitor them, make sure they are vetted and have background checks and put a nanny cam in every room to monitor them.

I am also going to include my kindness tips:

Discussions and Tips

a. I find that speaking slowly and softly in a calm voice does help to calm the person down.
b. Speaking in simple sentences and short phrases does help
c. Repeating something in different ways sometimes helps her to understand what she needs to do: It is a simple as saying Open or Open your mouth instead of eat this or trying to explain to her that she needs to eat.
d. I always call her by her first name or of course Mom to get her attention: at this point she still knows who she is when you call her. She does not always say her name or respond verbally when asked who she is.
e. Always be positive and smile at the person. Do not let them think that you are angry with them. They are not at fault and cannot control or help their behaviors.

Kindness Tips

1. Always say good morning when entering a patient’s room
2. Address the patient by name and tell the patient your name
3. SMILE!
4. Explain the task you are going to perform before you do it and explain the task as you are performing. Patients are often leery or afraid of strangers and need to feel confident and safe with you.
5. If a patient needs assistance bathing, eating or walking help them and do not leave them before they complete the task.
6. Patients that need help eating: You need to make sure that person eats and are fed. Make sure that you do not leave the tray untouched and if you have to feed the patient you need to do it with kindness and patience.
7. Ask the patient if they need help dressing or assistance going to breakfast or any other area of the home or hospital
8. If you are bringing magazines or books allow the person to choose
9. Never speak to a patient as if they were a small child
10. Speak to people with respect and as an adult
11. Making sure that the person’s environment is safe
12. Make sure you have a list of things that need to be done for that person and complete them

1. Meet with other volunteers and discuss their successes
2. When you speak to a patient make sure that you make eye contact and have their attention
3. Speak at eye level and speak clearly
4. Use simple and direct statements
5. Never raise your voice
6. Include the person in your conversation: Talk to the person not at the person
7. Never speak to them as if they are a third party and not in the same room
8. Speak to them as an adult not a small child
9. Listen to their concerns and show a lot of understanding
10. Never leave a patient in distress

Read an excerpt:

Part One

A Daughter’s Promise

Reading has always been the way for me to escape to other worlds, learn about many different places, and expand my knowledge of so many subjects. With a notepad in hand and several pens at the ready, I begin reading the many books that authors send me each day. Detailing the plot, the characters, and taking notes throughout, I create a perfect analysis of the book.

Remembering what my mom had told me, to always look for that special message in the book and create that first paragraph to stimulate reader interest, I begin my review. Perfection: that’s what she always told me. Each piece of writing, each assignment had to be done to the standards set by my teachers and professors, and then pass the highest test: mom’s. I remember coming out of school one night, and she stuck her hand out waiting to see what I’d gotten on my midterm in one of my graduate courses in administration. I still smile when I remember what happened. I left out one question and got a 98, and I told mom what I did wrong and the right answer. But, the professor was so frustrated with most of the other students that she had to revamp the scores by adding ten points to everyone’s test scores just to have more students pass, so mom was satisfied with my 108. And, of course, on the final I did get 100 and an A in the class, because it was what was expected of me by myself, and of course, mom.

Till this day I still create my reviews, my schedule for my radio show, and anything else that I decide to venture into, like the MJ magazine in memory of my sister Marcia Joyce, with the understanding that my work has to stand up to the highest standards. The articles, reviews, stories, and issues that are published should be equal to those of any credible magazine on the newsstands.

So, mom, it’s been five years and it seems like yesterday. I hope I will continue to make you proud of me. You taught me well. Yes, I never leave the house without looking my best. You were my mom, my mentor, and my best friend. You will always be here for me in spirit.

Today you would have celebrated your 89th birthday with a special red rose and your favorite chocolate cake. Your blue eyes and your great smile would light up the room, and of course the presents we would give you would make you proud. You taught us never to give up on our dreams, nor settle for less than we want in our lives. You made sure that you listened when we felt down and needed a guiding hand to rise back up. You never faltered and never passed judgment. You were our mother, our guide, and our best friend. Rules were made and enforced, but never with an iron hand. Explanations were given for your requests, and we all followed suit and showed you the respect you deserved.

When you became ill we all rallied together as a family to make sure you remained at home and received great help. We were truly blessed to have Joyce, Joan, Laurel, Pat, Tessa, Loretta, and Getty to take such good care of you and, of course, someone we all miss and loved, Veronica Collins, your case manager, who made sure that you were safe and protected by the best aides in the world from Partners in Care. So, mom, happy birthday, and let the sun shine tomorrow so we know that you are still watching over us and protecting Marcia, who is with you now. We miss your wisdom, your guidance, the huge grey mobile that you drove anywhere you were needed, as the taxi driver for your friends, and the orange mobile that my reading students loved when you picked me up or drove me to school. I made a promise and vowed that I would do everything in my power to care for you, keep your mind and body active, and never even consider the one thing so many others do—placing you in a nursing home.

The circle of life begins on the day you are born and ends when you close your eyes for the last time and take your last precious breath.

Ruth Swerdloff started her life on November 22, 1927, and became a part of a loving, nurturing family that would remain intact for the first two years of her life until the loss of her mother, when things would change. But, Ruth was special from the start, and although facing her first obstacle at the age of two, losing a parent, she somehow learned to accept the change with the help of her sister, Tova, and three brothers, Kenny, Irving, and Harry. This is her story. This is where her circle of life begins.

Excerpt from A Daughter’s Promise by Fran Lewis. Copyright © 2017 by Fran Lewis. Reproduced with permission from Fran Lewis. All rights reserved.

Tour Host Participants:

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Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Fran Lewis. There will be 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of A Daughter’s Promise by Fran Lewis. The giveaway begins on October 1 and runs through December 3, 2017.
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Oct 102017
 

The Grand

by Dennis D. Wilson

on Tour October 1-31, 2017

Synopsis:

The Grand by Dennis D. Wilson

Chicago cop Dean Wister takes a forced vacation when he is on the brink of a breakdown after the death of his wife. During his summer solstice in Jackson Hole, where he met her years before, he is called in to consult by local police when a notorious Chicago mobster is found dead in the Snake River. Dean’s investigation threatens to uncover the secrets of a group of memorable suspects, ranging from rich tycoons to modern day cowboys, and threatens to derail the Presidential prospects of the Senator from Wyoming. As Dean follows the leads from Wyoming to Chicago to Washington D.C., he also struggles to cope with the personal loss that threatens his mental stability, as the nocturnal visits from his deceased wife suppress his will to let her go and make him question his purpose in life. The climactic scenes contain reveals the reader will never see coming. A funny, romantic, sexy, roller coaster thriller.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Water Street Press
Publication Date: December 2016
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-1-62134-330-1 (ASIN: B01N682LXW)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Kindle 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Guest Post

CM: Additional facts about the main character, Dean Wister, not included in the story.

DW: Dean’s background is pretty well fleshed out in the story, but here are 10 pieces of Wister Trivia that may interest readers:

Dean has sandy blonde hair and blue eyes and has been told he resembles Matthew McConaughey.

Dean is a lefty.

Dean is a big fan of crime novels and, in particular, James Lee Burke’s crime novels and westerns.

Dean returned an intercepted a pass in his high school state championship game of and returned it for a touchdown. His high school coach was a college classmate of the head coach of the University of Illinois, and was instrumental in arranging for Dean’s football scholarship.

Dean rides a motorcycle, but this wasn’t mentioned in the book. It could provide fodder for a future adventure.

Dean plays the banjo, and played in a bluegrass band in college.

Dean is a huge fan of Taylor Swift, and his wife Sarah would tease him incessantly about this.

Dean’s favorite movie is The Godfather, which he estimates he has seen a hundred times.

Dean’s favorite food is Chicago deep dish pizza, but he also fasts for 36 hours once each month.

Dean has never traveled outside of the U.S.

Read an excerpt:

1

SENATOR THOMAS MCGRAW sat back in the hand-distressed, buffalo-hide easy chair and contemplated the room around him. This was his first visit to the brand new, custom-designed mountain home of his lover. When their affair started a little over a year ago, what a sweet and savory surprise it had been to both of them. A business relationship grew into friendship, and then suddenly and unexpectedly exploded into something else— a red-hot, cross-country, obsessive romance fueled by shared erotic tastes. The senator felt sexually liberated under the spell of his exotic lover, and he was pretty sure those feelings were mutual. True, they needed to be discreet for a variety of reasons— indiscretion had nearly cost them everything— but they had worked it out. Although hectic schedules limited their rendezvous to only a couple of weekends a month, the deprivation and anxiety of anticipation made these weekends that much more satisfying. He was generally in a frenzy by the time he could get to her.

The room was the den of a typical ten-thousand-square-foot vacation home of the rich and powerful in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Decked out in nouveau western, its reclaimed timbers, Wyoming sandstone, and river rock were either complemented by— or detracted from, depending on your esthetic point of view— the original modern paintings depicting bold and most definitely non-earth-toned western landscapes and various forms of neon-colored wildlife. As Tom sipped his twenty-three-year-old Pappy Van Winkle, he studied the visage of a purple and orange moose head sculpted from California mahogany hanging dispiritedly over the fireplace. Damn, any self-respecting Wyoming moose would be embarrassed to know that this is some guy’s idea of what a trophy moose should look like. His personal style was more traditional Western— big wooden beams and a glut of real dead animal heads on the walls. But, the sex was still new and novel, unlike anything he had felt before, and he was willing to overlook these stylistic differences for the time being or, who knew, maybe for a long time. As his mentor had told him a long time ago: “Pussy is a powerful motivator.”

“I am soooo happy we were able to start our weekend a day early,” his lover called from the other room. “I’ve been so horny this week that I’ve been bouncing off the walls. I brought back something special for you from Chicago. Just give me another minute, sweetie.” Charlotte Kidwell dressed, and undressed, to accentuate her best features: her big green eyes, her long, toned legs, and her perfect bubble butt. Her regular head-to-toe salon appointments, personal trainer, and strict dietary regimen were essentials to the healthy, put-together appearance that women of her age and social status often have, if they have the money and motivation to work at it. In her younger days, her insecure attempts to add sex appeal fell short, and she’d ended up with an oddly unfeminine look with her clumsy and unsuccessful experiments with cosmetics. But middle age had actually softened her features, and as she became more adept at the finer points of female grooming, she began to realize how much she resembled her sister. During what she referred to as “The Sexual Awakening,” she had finally developed the confidence in her sexuality to consciously emulate her sister’s makeup and dress. Her older sibling had always exuded effortless sexuality, and throughout high school and college had gone through more boys in most years than Charlotte had dated for her entire youth.

The senator had certainly surprised her. Although his belly professed his lust for food and drink and a disinclination for exercise, his face was the opposite, exuding an irresistible cowboy masculinity. At middle age, most people have to choose between a wrinkle-free face and a toned and youthful body. What was it her friend in Chicago called fat? “Nature’s botox.” He had chosen his beautiful face at the expense of his body, but that was fine with her, because he was a sexual artiste. Certainly no one who knew him could possibly conceive of the hot spring of sexuality that was percolating beneath his surface. In spite of their distinctly different personalities, she considered him her soul mate. The first man in her forty-four years who had ever laid claim to that title. The thought made her giggle.

“Hurry up, baby, and get your pretty little ass out here.”

Appearing in the doorway, she framed herself with the hand-on-the-hip pose so popular with women much younger than herself. “You like? I know this little specialty boutique in Chicago, and it ain’t Macy’s Intimate Apparel.”

He liked the look very much. The red lace push-up bra, matching thong panties, silk kimono, and six-inch stilettos appealed to the man who’d had a weakness for strippers in his younger days. Though the untied robe looked more like a cape than boudoir attire, and the entire outfit reminded him of a porn movie he once saw— Superslut, a parody of Superwoman, he had to give her an “A” for effort. “Wow, you look like a very sexy Little Red Riding Hood. And where in the world did you find a bra that makes those pretty little A cups of yours look like Cs? Now turn around and let me admire your world-class bootie.”

She did a little twirl for him, grinned, and pushed together her bra cups to emphasize her cleavage. “It’s called a miracle bra, and see, it does work miracles. Now you just sit there and sip your whiskey. I have another surprise for you.” She strutted over to the bookcase, flipped a switch, and AC/ DC’s “Shook Me All Night Long” filled the room. And she began to dance.

“Oh my.” Tom took a big swallow and relished the burn. “You are just full of surprises tonight.”

“Just sit back and enjoy, Senator. I’ve got a few more surprises coming your way.”

Watching her rehearsed moves, the familiar hunger began to stir below his opulent belly. And then, in a maneuver that would have been impressive for a woman of any age, she turned away from him, spread her legs, touched her toes, looked straight up at him from her bare inverted V, and twerked. She had been practicing all afternoon, and when she saw the image of her quivering butt in the mirror she couldn’t wait to see his reaction.

“Oh, my god, where did you learn that?” The stirring rising now to a different level. And he was also wondering… her dance routine looked really professional.

“I have a very good friend in Chicago who does this for a living, and she’s been giving me some lessons.”

“Judging from that pose, sweetie, your friend must be an instructor in ‘stripper yoga’.” The senator, feeling the fire down there, leaned forward and reached for that perfect ass. “Get over here and let me take you the way I like, the way I know you like.” Putting his hands on her bare cheeks and grabbing two hands full, he left his chubby fingerprints as indentations on her flesh. Crazed now, pulling off his pants and underwear but not bothering with his shirt and tie, he pulled her thong aside, mounted her, grunting, sighing. Both of them grunting, sighing, grunting some more. And now just the sounds of flesh slapping flesh. And AC/ DC, urging them on…

Hayden Smith was running late. He was always running late. It was common knowledge in town that you had to book every appointment with Hayden an hour early to get him to show up on time. Attorney, county commissioner, real estate broker and developer, owner of a property management company— all that, plus trying to live up to the moniker of Teton County’s most eligible bachelor as determined by Mountain Woman magazine, well, that could take a toll on a man, even a man as fit and athletic as Hayden. And it was taking its toll on Hayden today. Sometimes he thought there was little point in taking any time off because you had to work twice as hard just to clear your schedule.

The last item of the day on his long list was to make sure all was in order in the home of his newest property management client before their arrival the next morning. But what he really was thinking about, as he put the key in the door, was that he was already an hour late for a dinner date at the home of one of Teton County’s richest and most beautiful socialites. And so if he hadn’t been fantasizing about the evening’s upcoming sensual activities, and if he hadn’t assumed that it was his cleaning crew that had left that open bourbon bottle on the counter, and if he hadn’t been formulating the words he was going to use to chew Pablo’s ass about getting control of his maintenance team, and if he had checked his voicemail after his last two meetings instead of engaging in licentious banter on the phone with the young socialite, then he might have reacted differently to the pounding bass of one of the most iconic rock anthems of the 1980s. He might not have followed the mesmerizing sound of Brian Johnson’s sandpaper voice into the den, assuming that he would find some of his employees having an unauthorized party; and he might not have witnessed the sight in front of him that would not only drastically change his life but would also set in motion a chain of events that had the potential to change the course of American history.

If he had looked directly at the man’s face, he almost certainly would have recognized one of the most well-known faces in Wyoming, soon to be equally famous throughout America. However, Hayden looked everywhere but into his face. The man, still dressed for business on top but naked from the waist down, was humping a pretty redhead doggie style, and Hayden was fascinated that with each thrust, her red stilettos would come off the ground about twelve inches, and then at the end of the thrust, the tips of her heels would bang down on the pine floor. Thrust, bang, thrust, bang, thrust, bang. Later when he played that video clip back in his mind, he captioned it “porn star tap dancing.”

He looked all around the room, but his eyes kept coming back to those red shoes, maybe because he didn’t really want to look at the man’s jiggling ass, or maybe because when his eyes followed those shoes north he was treated to a pair of the finest legs and most delicious bootie that he had ever seen. If he had been thinking clearly, he would have just turned around and walked right out of the house and he would have been able to go back to his great life as Teton County’s busiest and most eligible bachelor. But for whatever reason— the shock of the scene, or his own perverse voyeurism— he did not turn back around. He knocked on the door jamb with his clipboard and stammered loudly enough to be heard over AC/ DC. “Ah, ah, ah, I thought you weren’t coming in until tomorrow. I just came to check on the house. Is everything OK? I mean, just call me if anything isn’t OK. Sorry to interrupt. I’ll just let myself out…” And then he backed out of the room and nearly sprinted out the door.

Tom jumped up with impressive agility considering his exertion and girth, partly hopping, definitely bobbing. “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.”

Charlotte rolled over onto her side. “What the fuck, I left him a message that I was coming in today. What was he thinking?”

And the senator just kept repeating, “Oh, shit, oh, shit, oh, shit.” Then, catching his breath, added to his mantra, “I’m sure he saw me, I’m sure he saw me, I’m sure he saw me.”

His lover, handing him the rest of his twenty-three-year-old Pappy, said, “Here, drink this,” trying not to let the panic sound in her voice. She thought for a moment. “We’ll call Mario. He’ll know what to do. If that asshole tells anyone it’ll hurt Mario as much as us. Well, maybe not quite as much as us, but you know what I mean.”

Tom sat down for a minute, his white dress shirt soaked through, wheezing from the exertion, from the excitement, from the fear, his heart a thumping kettle drum in his chest. Neither of them said a word for a minute, then two. Finally realizing the heart attack wasn’t coming, he took a huge breath and said, “OK, call him.”

Charlotte punched the number into her mobile phone. “Mario? Sorry to bother you, but we have a problem. Some asshole just walked in on the two of us. Walked in on us… you know. What do you think we were doing? How could he not recognize him? Yeah, he’s my property manager. Hold on. Honey, would you hand me that business card on the table?”

2

THE FIRST TIME Dean Wister had visited the Tetons was twelve years ago, the summer before his senior year in college. Although he said it was adventure he was looking for, it was escape that he was really seeking when he answered an ad to guide for one of the rafting companies that run whitewater trips down the Snake River, just south of Teton National Park. It was a grueling twenty-four-hour drive from his home in Chicago to Jackson Hole, the mountain town at the foot of the spectacular Teton Range, and the route that he was taking, I-90 across Illinois, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, was one of the most monotonous and boring stretches of highway across America. Hour after hour he would stare at the road between truck stops, trying to keep alert for the highway patrol and the erratic driving of drowsy long-distance truckers. He tried listening to music and audio books, but his mind wouldn’t let him focus. Lately, he had a lot of trouble focusing. He’d once tried meditation, taking a Transcendental Meditation workshop with his wife, Sara, but meditation wasn’t for him. His mind would inevitably wander from the rhythm of his breathing to some problem from work that he was trying to solve. Dean had always been more of a ruminator than a meditator. And so he ruminated for hour after hour. He ruminated about all that had happened over the last twelve years. He ruminated about the horror of the last year. And he ruminated about what the future might, or more importantly, might not, hold.

That first trip had also been a time of transition for him. His mother died after his freshman year in high school, and his dad was killed in a work accident at the lumber yard just before Dean started college. As an only child he had led a solitary existence growing up, but by the time he left for college he was officially an orphan, no parents to cheer him as the starting safety on the University of Illinois football team, and no siblings to share the empty and confused feelings of losing the only responsible adults he had ever known. His hometown of Summersville, West Virginia, was near the banks of the Gauley River, one of the most famous whitewater-rafting rivers in the East, and the gray, small-minded, and cruel little town resembled what Mayberry may have looked like if Andy hadn’t been born. Until he was seventeen, Dean had never met a college graduate outside of a classroom, and growing up with his nose stuck in a book most of the time, his peers, and even most of the adults he knew, looked down on his habit as a sign of either homosexuality, laziness, or both. Maybe it was resentment for not living the fantastic and interesting life of the characters in the books that he read, or maybe it was the bullying that he experienced from his literature-averse peers, or maybe it was his sense of insecurity and inferiority from his hillbilly background, or maybe it was just his nature— for whatever reason, there was a well of anger deep inside of Dean.

The bullying stopped the first time he stepped on a football field. He loved to play defense, and putting the hammer to the ball carrier or receiver was equally pleasurable to him, whether in practice or during an actual game. He loved the rush of power he felt when a body crushed beneath him as he delivered the blow. As he would take aim at his target coming across the field, he imagined his body as a sledge hammer and he would launch himself, helmet first, at his opponents, relishing the pain he received nearly as much as the pain he delivered. As his scrawny adolescent body matured into a six-foot, one-hundred-ninety-pound defensive back, his football hits became ever more fearsome, and attracted the attention of a recruiter for the University of Illinois. Football would end for him upon college graduation for, as a pro scout told him, “Son, you sure have the meanness for pro football, but not the speed.” But that was all right; football had served its purpose.

The first time his dad had taken him along to run the rapids of the Gauley he was only nine years old, but after that he was addicted to the river. Working as a gofer for one of the rafting companies, imagining himself as one of the cocky swaggering guides, he would do anything to be near the river. The owner of the company took a liking to him, and broke the rules to put him on as a guide at sixteen. He worked on the Gauley through high school and college. But, with the death of his father, West Virginia held too many painful memories; he needed to get away. He heard from some fellow guides that the Snake River in Wyoming, south of Jackson, could be fun. Sure, its mostly Class 2 and 3 rapids were nothing compared to the Gauley, but he had always wanted to see the Rockies, and it was about as far away from West Virginia as he could imagine. That summer on the Snake, in the Tetons, revealed another side that he didn’t know he had. He learned how to cap that well of anger, to regulate the flow, to use it instead of letting it use him, and for the next decade was able to let it out only when his job demanded it. He discovered that there was another well, an untapped well, within him. A well of love and sweetness, of kindness and generosity. And the auger that tapped that well was Sara.

He’d just sent some food back at the Pioneer Grill, the coffee shop in Jackson Lake Lodge in Teton National Park. His order of sautéed Rocky Mountain rainbow trout appeared on his plate as buffalo meatloaf. His anger rising at this inexcusable display of disrespect and incompetence, he called over the pretty blonde server and pointed at the food in front of him. “Miss, do you think you would recognize a Rocky Mountain rainbow trout if you saw one?” She’d looked first at the gravy-smothered brown glob, and then directly into his twisted angry face, and behind her best smile said, “Apparently not, but I can recognize an asshole when I see one.”

Dean was overmatched by the spunky girl with eyes of a deeper blue than the summer skies over the Grand Tetons, and he fell in love on the spot. They laughed at the story forever, and she still called him “meatloaf asshole” on occasion, either when she was feeling especially fond or, more often, particularly annoyed with him. She loved to tease him and ridicule his quirks, calling him “schizo” for the many paradoxical elements in his personality: jock/ intellectual, hot head/ sentimentalist, loner/ showoff. But when she would call him “schizo” and flash him her irresistible smile, it would always soften his mood, and he was able to laugh at himself.

As a trust-fund baby of a power couple in Chicago’s legal community, Sara’s suburban childhood was exactly the opposite of Dean’s. Her bookworm ways were admired by her parents, friends, and her community. The vivacious blond with the sharp wit and the ability to fit in with every social group was a psych major at the University of Chicago, less than a two-hour drive up the interstate from Champaign if you are a hormone-crazed college boy, more like three hours for everyone else. Her well of anger was only a fraction of Dean’s and reserved exclusively for bullies and people who abused children, animals, and the less fortunate. But if you happened to occupy that territory, her fierceness could make even Dean flinch.

When he thought of their first summer, it played back in his head like some film made from a Nicolas Sparks novel. As he watched the movie, alone in the theater seat of his Jeep Cherokee, he smiled at the “meet cute” first scene in the coffee shop, marveled at the on-location, awe-inspiring backdrops of the Snake and the Tetons, was moved to tears by the scene where he makes love to Sara for the first time. And he couldn’t criticize the filmmaker’s decision to leave every sex scene of the summer in the movie. There they are making love on the window seat in the tiny apartment shared by Dean and his four other river rat roommates. There they are making love after a picnic at Schwabacher’s landing, the Tetons reflected like a painting in the beaver pond. And there they are on their last day of the summer, on a picnic in the alpine meadow they had discovered on their long hike into the mountains. The meadow they had named “Sara’s Meadow.” The meadow where Dean proposed. The meadow they pledged to return to each year on their anniversary. They talked of it often, and relived the moment every year on that special day. But they never came back. Life, and careers, and bullshit got in the way.

Careers included the single-minded ambition they shared. Dean’s resulted in a meteoric rise to detective in the Chicago Police Department and, after being handpicked to join the Midwest Organized Crime Task Force as the only local police detective among FBI and ATF agents, his days and weeks became an unending blur of clues, criminals, and cases. Sara’s graduate degree at Northwestern led to a tenure track appointment at Loyola University. But tenure track meant running never-ending, back-to-back-to-back marathons of teaching, research, and publishing. Their career ambitions allowed no room for children, or travel, or a return to Sara’s Meadow.

And then, over the last year, came the bullshit. Dean was working eighty-hour weeks on a high-profile case involving government and police corruption, and many of the Chicago cops whom he considered friends turned away from him. And then, just when they thought they were getting close to breaking the case, the investigation was shut down and he was reassigned. He was exhausted, disappointed, stressed, and his friends treated him like a traitor.

And then there was Sara. She had been diagnosed with cancer just as Dean began the investigation from hell. After her initial treatment, she received a clean report, and he was too preoccupied to notice when she continued to lose weight. A check-up a few months later showed that the cancer had returned. The rebound was aggressive, additional treatment failed to stop the spread, and she continued to get weaker and weaker in spite of what she would call “frequent invitations for happy hour cancer cocktails with my oncologist.” She even made up names for the cocktails based on the side effects she would experience afterward. There was the Diarrhea Daiquiri, the Migraine Martini, and the Vomit-rita. No subject was out of bounds for her wicked and irreverent sense of humor. Once, when she was bedridden near the end, Dean asked her how she was feeling, and in her best Sally Field Mama Gump imitation, she said “Well, Forrest, I’ve got the cancer.”

Dean wanted to take a leave to stay at Sara’s bedside, but she made up her mind that that was not an option. And when Sara made up her mind about something, he had learned to let her have her way. So Dean was relegated to spending every hour that he wasn’t working by her side, holding her close, imagining how they would live their lives differently when she was well.
The night she died, she asked him to describe that day in Sara’s Meadow. And when he finished, she said, “Promise we can go there when I get well. Will you take me there next summer?” He nodded, unable to speak. She slept peacefully that night for the first time in quite a while, and in the morning she was gone.

Strangely, although she was the center of his universe, the only person that he could say he ever truly loved, he showed little emotion when she died. He didn’t cry. He felt almost as if he were an outside observer of these terrible events. He experienced only numbness. An unrelenting, withering numbness. A numbness interrupted only by random bursts of anger that disturbed even the hardened cops he worked with. Dean was not unaware of his problem, and tried to channel the anger by hooking up with Manny Cohen, a mixed martial arts coach and self-proclaimed king of “Jew-Jitsu”. He loved the physicality of the MMA bouts, and that the jiu-jitsu moves he learned permitted him to disable much bigger and stronger fighters, even if he was on the ground being pummeled. He justified the training as part of his law-enforcement skills, but he knew what it was really about— the ability to inflict some of the horrible hurt he was feeling on others.

The changes in Dean since Sara’s death were most troubling to his boss, Carlos Alvarez. Carlos had been crushed when, on the verge of busting a Chicago mob guy who had both political and police connections, which evidently reached all the way to Washington, the whole operation had been shut down. In his heart, he knew it was those same connections he was investigating that had defeated him. He looked at Dean and watched one of the most competitive spirits he had ever known flicker out, starved for the oxygen that Sara could no longer supply. The case they had put their hearts and souls into for the last year was ripped out of their hands and Dean, who normally would be just as pissed off as he was, seemed to be only going through the motions.

But the most disturbing problem, as far as he was concerned, was Dean’s refusal to mourn Sara. Carlos watched as Dean’s isolation became extreme, and he refused all offers to talk or socialize. Dean’s robotic demeanor and increasingly unpredictable violent outbursts were scaring him. When Carlos sent him to meet with the psychologist assigned to their department, he refused to cooperate. He insisted that he was fine. But Carlos knew he wasn’t fine. He saw a man on the brink of a breakdown and finally decided that drastic action was needed to rescue the man from himself. One morning he walked into Dean’s office and handed him a letter worded as an authorization, which was actually an order, to take a three-month leave of absence.

“But where will I go? What will I do?” Dean said, seemingly incapable of entertaining any change to his barely functional routine. Carlos looked toward the picture on his desk, the one taken twelve years earlier. It showed Dean standing on a whitewater raft. Sara was sitting in the boat looking up at him with a combination of love and lust in her eyes. In the background, the grandeur of the Tetons loomed. “You have to get out of town. You have to get away from here, from all this. And I know where I would go if I had no obligations and three months off. I’ve been envying that picture since the day you moved in here.”

What his boss didn’t know, and what Dean couldn’t tell him, or anyone else for that matter, was the real reason that he wouldn’t see the psychologist— something that would make him seem crazy to outsiders. Hell, he often had that thought about himself. Not every evening, but maybe two or three nights a week, he would spend the night with Sara. He would wake up a couple of hours after he went to sleep, and she would be there, sitting in the chair next to his bed. He would get up, and they would talk just like they used to, about everything, what was happening in his life and in his job, or what was going on in the news. They would make love, and it was every bit as passionate and real as before she was sick. When he would wake up in the morning, she would be gone. At first, he tried to convince himself that it was all a dream, until one night he washed the sheets before he went to bed, and the next morning her perfume lingered on the bedding. She was really there, and she was as real as anything he had ever experienced.

He had nothing against psychologists. He had seen a therapist in college after a particularly hard break-up and had found it very helpful. In fact, he visited that same therapist when Carlos was pushing him to see the department shrink— he wasn’t about to have his craziness officially certified to his employer. And his own therapist confirmed what he instinctively knew himself. “Your hallucinations of your dead wife will go away when you allow yourself to fully mourn her.” But that was exactly the problem. Her very real apparition was the only tangible thing he had left of her. Her visits were the only thing that let him get through the day, that kept him from becoming totally out of control, and he wasn’t going to let anyone take that away from him. He was determined to hold on to whatever was left of her, for as long as he could.

Sara was the one that convinced him to take the trip. She told him during one of their nocturnal visits that he could use the time off; that she knew he was stressed out. He agreed on one condition. That she would come with him. She gave him her mischievous smile, the one that had captured him that first day in the coffee shop, and said, “That’s not a problem. I’m not going without sex for three months. And the ghosts here are too creepy to sleep with.”

That first summer twelve years ago, he had come into town from the south, getting off I-80 west of Rock Springs, approaching Jackson via Alpine and driving up through the Snake River canyon so that he could view the whitewater section he would be working. Wyoming is mostly high plains except for the northwestern part, which is an endless vista of scrub grass, prickly pear, sage brush, with occasional red-rock battleships and gargoyles. On that first trip he was able to view the Wind River Range in the distance outside his window, but he didn’t really get a good view of the Teton Range until he reached the outskirts of the town of Jackson. This time he had decided to take the Northern route via I-90, because he wanted to see the Black Hills, one of the few topographic areas of interest that is easily accessible from the interstate. So he was not really prepared for what happened when his Jeep rounded the bend on Route 26, east of Teton National Park, and he looked west. The fragrance hit him first. He had the windows in his Jeep rolled down and, as the road increased in elevation, the air turned cooler and became infused with snow runoff blended into mountain streams and the bouquet of lodgepole pine forests to form the unique perfume that his unconscious associated with his first summer there. He was looking down for a station on the radio when he felt the jolt, as if a switch was flipped in his brain, and when he turned his face back to the road, the windshield was suddenly and magically filled with the panorama of the majestic purple, snow-tipped peaks of the mountain range that symbolized all that had been true and pure in his life. All that was lost and would never ever return. The image struck him like a bullet in his chest, sucking all the air from his body. The next thing he knew, he was out of his car, on the side of the road, on his knees, gasping for air, heaving, sobbing. “Oh, Sara. My sweet, sweet, Sara.”

***

Excerpt from The Grand by Dennis D. Wilson. Copyright © 2017 by Dennis D. Wilson. Reproduced with permission from Dennis D. Wilson. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Dennis D. Wilson

After a career working in an international consulting firm and as a financial executive with two public companies, Dennis D. Wilson returns to the roots he established as a high school literature and writing teacher at the beginning of his career. For his debut novel, he draws upon his experiences from his hometown of Chicago, his years living, working, hiking and climbing in Jackson Hole, and secrets gleaned from time spent in corporate boardrooms to craft a political crime thriller straight from today’s headlines. Dennis lives in suburban Chicago with his wife Paula and Black Lab Jenny, but spends as much time as he can looking for adventure in the mountains and riding his motorcycle.

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