Aug 292019
 

Eye for Eye

by JK Franko

on Tour July 22 – September 20, 2019

Eye for Eye by JK Franko

 

“NEW TWIST ON STRANGERS ON A TRAIN”
~ THE SUNDAY TIMES

Roy and Susie are on a skiing holiday, trying to take a break from the constant reminders of their daughter, tragically killed by a careless driver. Out of the blue they meet Deb and Tom, another couple with a tragic past and a shocking proposal to put things right.

As the bodies accumulate, secrets are revealed and alliances crumble. Ultimate survival depends on following the rules for a perfect murder. And the first rule is… leave no singing bones.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Crime & Mystery
Published by: Talion Publishing
Publication Date: June 22nd 2019
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 1999318803 (ISBN13: 9781999318802)
Series: Talion #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

JK Franko

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

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

Q&A with JK Franko

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads
Reading and Writing:

What inspired you to write this book?

I was actually driving home from the grocery store when the idea hit me—a book about what it would take for a normal married couple to plan and commit a murder. I could see the whole book clearly in my mind by the time I got home and was unloading the groceries, and I knew I was going to write it.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

About halfway through, I had an editor quit on me claiming that the morality of the story was “questionable”—particularly Chapter 19. That was when I knew I was onto something interesting.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.

One of my prior careers was as a trial lawyer, so the legal aspects came easy. The research into planning the perfect murder was very detailed, and is actually very clearly set out in the book. Then of course, I had to make all of those trips to the Bahamas on yachts…

How did you come up with the title?

The working title was actually “What makes you stronger.” But, when I got down into it, I wanted something much more primal and archetypal. The Old Testament just worked.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I write from both ends to the middle. Prologue, Epilogue, Chapter One, last Chapter, Chapter Two, next-to-last Chapter, and so on until everything meets in the middle.

Tell us why we should read your book?

I am a voracious reader myself, and I am always looking for tightly woven stories that serve up unexpected twists and bring everything brilliantly together. That’s what Eye for Eye is.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

There are three books currently planned for the Talion Series: Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth, and Life for Life—with a surprise prequel coming out as well. All I can say about Book Two, without spoilers, is “What goes around, comes around.”

Fun Questions:

Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?

I actually can’t say because we are currently in discussions regarding just that!
That’s GREAT!!!! Congratulations!!

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

Boating, of course.

Favorite foods?

Fava Beans

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

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

 

Read an excerpt:

When I try to piece together how this whole mess began, a part of me thinks it may have started over thirty years ago. At least the seeds were planted that far back, in the early 1980s. What happened then, at that summer camp in Texas, set the stage for everything that was to come.

Odd, how something so remote in time and geography continues to impact me here, today.

Sometimes I try to imagine her, how she felt—that eleven year-old girl—as she ran, stumbling and tripping through the woods that night. I try to put myself in her shoes. When I do, I wonder if she was frightened.

Did she understand the consequences of what she’d gotten herself into? I imagine it felt otherworldly to her, like a dream. But not a good dream. No, one of the bad ones—the ones that make your heart machine-gun as you try to outrun some dark thing that’s chasing you. But the faster you try to run, the slower you go, your legs feeling leaden, clumsy, useless.

Panic sets in. Tears of frustration form. Fear takes hold and won’t let go. You open your mouth to scream but realize, to your horror, that you’re paralyzed. It’s not that you can’t scream; you can’t even breathe. Not a dream—a nightmare.

Then again, all that may simply be my imagination. It could just be me projecting what I might have felt onto Joan. Maybe she wasn’t scared at all.

True, it was dark out. The night smelled of rain, but there was no lightning, only the far-off rumble of thunder hinting at a distant storm. There were no trail lights, no visibility but for the moon peeking out intermittently from behind a patchwork of clouds. But, Joan had been down this trail before. She was running toward the main cabin.

She had been at Camp Willow for almost two full weeks. She had been up and down that trail at least ten times a day, every day. Of course, that was during the day, and always with her buddy, or a camp counselor (the children called them troop leaders). Joan had never been on the trail at night. And never alone.

Maybe I imagine Joan was scared because, as an adult, I believe that she should have been. I would have been terrified.

***

Excerpt from Eye For Eye by JK Franko. Copyright © 2019 by JK Franko. Reproduced with permission from JK Franko. All rights reserved.

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



 

 

Enter The Giveaway!!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for JK Franko. There will be 6 winners. Two (2) winners will each win (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each win a signed copy of EYE FOR EYE by JK Franko (Open to U.S. addresses only) and Two (2) winners will each win a Knife set (Open to U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on July 22, 2019 and runs through September 22, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Aug 282019
 

Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens Banner

 

 

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One:

Silent Meridian

by Elizabeth Crowens

on Tour August 18 – September 21, 2019

Synopsis:

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is obsessed with a legendary red book. Its peculiar stories have come to life, and rumors claim that it has rewritten its own endings. Convinced that possessing this book will help him write his ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories, he takes on an unlikely partner, John Patrick Scott, known to most as a concert pianist, but a paranormal investigator and a time traveler professor to a select few.

Like Holmes and Watson trying to solve a mystery, together they explore lost worlds and their friendship is tested to the limits when they go back in time to find it. Both discover that karmic ties and unconscionable crimes have followed them like ghosts from the past, wreaking havoc on the present and possibly the future.

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: SILENT MERIDIAN reveals the alternate histories of Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Houdini, Jung and other luminaries in the secret diaries of John Patrick Scott, in an X Files for the 19th century. First Prize winner of Chanticleer Review’s Goethe Award for Turn-of-the-Century Historical Fiction and First Prize for Steampunk in the Independent Press Awards. Stay tuned for A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES; Book Two in the Time Traveler Professor series by Elizabeth Crowens.

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC
Publication Date: June 12th 2019
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781950384 (ISBN13: 9781950384044)
Series: The Time Traveler Professor #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Crowens

Crowens has worked in the film and television for over twenty years and as a journalist and a photographer. She’s a regular contributor of author interviews to an award-winning online speculative fiction magazine, Black Gate. Short stories of hers have been published in the Bram Stoker Awards nominated anthology, A New York State of Fright and Hell’s Heart. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime and a member of several Sherlockian societies. She is also writing a Hollywood suspense series.

Q&A with Elizabeth Crowens

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads

What inspired you to write this book?

On my book tour this summer, I’ll be giving a lecture in London on using metaphysical concepts in literature. There isn’t a lot of decent, entertaining literature which embodies these concepts on a level where “Muggles” will understand them. I spotted the parallels in Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope right away in regards to the Force, which is similar to ki (as in Aikido) or chi (as in Tai Chi). In fact, Star Wars inspired me to wind up getting a black belt in martial arts and to live in Japan. That experience helped me write our protagonist’s time travel adventure back to feudal Japan.

During the nineteenth century, there was a surging interest in the occult, seances and paranormal phenomena that inspired the Gothic writers like Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein and Bram Stoker to write Dracula and Edgar Alan Poe to write horror and some of the first detective stories. New technologies inspired authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to write some of the first science fiction, known back then as scientific romance. There was also a group of metaphysicians, primarily in Britain, that attempted to write fiction with occult themes: William Butler Yeats, Aleister Crowley, Sax Rohmer and Dion Fortune. Rohmer became more famous for his Dr. Fu Manchu series instead of his dream detective. Yeats was more well-known for his poetry, Dion Fortune’s material only made sense if you read and understood her non-fiction work, and Crowley was more of a poet with a reputation that undermined much of his credibility. Hermann Hesse attempted with Siddhartha and some of his other stories, but by and large, there has been a dearth of good metaphysical fiction. Ironically, many of these authors I mentioned had cameo roles in my novel.

The details for my book tour are on my website, including when I’m going to be giving that lecture in London. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at elizabethcrowens[dot]com/contact for updates and for free eBooks I give away to my subscribers.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

Lack of available research material. I’m a stickler for fact-checking. The protagonist, John Patrick Scott, was based on a real, but largely unknown person, and there wasn’t a lot of information available. I had to play “Sherlock Holmes” and do a bit of detective work, but at least this is a novel and not a non-fiction reference book. Silent Meridian was much easier to research than its sequel, A Pocketful of Lodestones, because I had already written articles for magazines on feudal Japan which is featured in the main time travel subplot. Lodestones, which launches August 1st, tackles several historical time periods that I wasn’t that familiar with.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.

Five trips overseas with another one coming up this August. Plus, I had to invest in a lot of out-of-print antiquarian books that couldn’t be found in local libraries or libraries in London, Edinburgh or various cities in Germany where I wouldn’t have enough time to read them. I have to admit it was really fun to spend four and a half days in the Rare Books Room at the British Library reading handwritten letters by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When I’m abroad for my book tour, I’ll be doing research in St. Petersburg and Moscow — spoiler alert for Book Three.

How did you come up with the title?

Originally, the title of the first book was simply, Silent Meridian, but it wasn’t obvious what it meant and might’ve confused readers as to whether to buy the book. The term Silent Meridian is explained in a conversation our protagonist, John Patrick Scott has while consulting with the famous psychologist, C.G. Jung. It’s defined as the fine line between waking and dreams and parallel realities, and its transition can be as imperceptible as the effect Leonardo da Vinci creates on his famous paintings like the Mona Lisa where boundaries and edges seamlessly blend together. Yes, I know… It’s a mouthful. Now the book has been retitled, The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian to focus more on the concept of time travel. It will also help if you are searching online for books on that subject. It’s a search engine thing.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

Catch as catch can, but often my best time is in the middle of the night which doesn’t help my insomnia. For those of you who are writers, I use a combination of outlining and pantsing. For me, outlining is essential, because my plots are very complicated.

Tell us why we should read your book?

If you love time travel, I present a unique angle by tying it in with the concepts of karma and reincarnation. If you love steampunk or the Victorian era, you’ll love to plunge into that world. For those who appreciate Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, it’s something completely different. The book appeals on many different levels.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’m juggling three book projects at the moment. The Time Traveler Professor, Book Three: A War in Too Many Worlds, the third novel in a Hollywood suspense series I’m trying to get a literary agent to pick up, and an independent “chick lit” novel about three eccentric sisters trying to escape their problems in the States by hiding out in Mexico. Never a dull moment.

Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?

You’re asking that question to someone who wore many hats in the entertainment industry for over twenty years. Conan Doyle? No question about it, I’d cast Hugh Jackman. They are close to the same height and build, and if you compare photos of them side by side when Hugh is dressed in 19th century attire, it wouldn’t take much to make the transformation. Besides, Hugh is a big box office draw. Edward Norton could pull off H.G. Wells. Depending on how old we want to make Francois Poincaré, I’d go for Sasha Baron Cohen or Rami Malek, because the character has a Freddie Mercury-like quality. Cohen was one of the first choices to play Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. For the protagonist, John Patrick Scott, I’ve had my eye on Robert Sheehan, an Irish actor who recently was in The Umbrella Academy and National Geographic’s Genius series on Picasso.

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

Who has time for that? Just kidding. I enjoy going to author readings and traveling to conventions, although it’s for business as well as pleasure. This year I have a convention in Dublin. Next year I have one in New Zealand. While I’m there, you better believe it… I’m going to see some of those locations from Lord of the Rings.

Favorite foods?

Coffee and chocolate — the essentials. LOL

Catch Up With Our Author On:
elizabethcrowens.com, Goodreads, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

Edinburgh, 1898

Scotland was just barely crawling its way out of the nineteenth century. I was a naïve, but ambitious student studying music at the University of Edinburgh hurrying over to meet Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who would change my life forever.

“John Patrick Scott, sir,” I said and approached Mr. Doyle, who was already seated at a back corner table of the Deacon Brodie, the pub that inspired the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I extended my hand to greet him and removed my rain-soaked hat, while my overcoat slipped out of my hands and fell on the floor by accident. It was still hard to believe that good fortune finally brought us together, but we were both nervous. “Mr. Conan Doyle, or should I call you Doctor Doyle?” I was unsure how to address him.

Doyle scrutinized me from top to bottom as he signaled the waiter. “John, call me Arthur.”

“Sir, I’m so honored that you agreed to discuss this matter. Perhaps you can enlighten me in a way that I’ve failed to comprehend.”

I wanted to ask him about my unusual turn of events straight away but he caught me off guard and was dead set on pulling me into the swift current of an unexpected conversation.

“Can I assume you believe in the transmigration of souls?” he asked.

“Until now, I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” I said, unsure as to which direction he was leading.

“Did you ever read those books about that Swiss doctor who felt his body and soul had been taken over by a Benedictine monk? That presented a curious case. He claims that he was approached by the spirit of an elderly monk before he died, and that the monk needed to rent his body to continue his spiritual mission.”

“Rent?” I choked in disbelief.

“We truly don’t take anything with us when we pass on, do we? This monk knew he was dying and therefore needed to replace his physical body with something more youthful and vital.”

“That’s incredible. It debunks the theory that you need to die and be reborn as an infant to carry on your spirit.”

Mr. Doyle had the tinge of excitement in his voice.

“John, here’s another instance. I’ve had my suspicions about a famous musician who had an obsession about a notorious and controversial mystic. You’d surmise by his overwhelming attraction to that person he might’ve been him in a previous lifetime, but facts were clear he was born three years before the mystic died. My understanding is the mystic was aware he didn’t have long in his present incarnation. Therefore he made plans for some sort of partial soul transference while he was still alive to imprint his essence upon the child. That would’ve allowed him to carry on and accomplish unfinished business, which couldn’t have been executed otherwise. Essentially he had the ability of being two places at once.”

“Sounds more like Spiritualism,” I replied.

“Honestly, John, I don’t think there are any steadfast rules when it comes to this matter. That’s what makes it so intriguing.”

I sensed he had a secret agenda.

Doyle reloaded his churchwarden pipe with fresh tobacco and continued, “This is not at all like anything you’ve ever read from H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. We’re poking holes in every treatise written on the subject — the idea of being able to reincarnate a part of yourself while you are still alive into another soul.”

Our conversation was quickly becoming like a speeding train ready to jump the tracks. Realizing this, Doyle slowed down the pace and took a deep breath. He carefully composed his next statement.

“Fiction it may seem to be but it’s not hocus pocus. Don’t you also find it strange that you somehow found yourself initiated into a mystical order on a commuter train bound from London to Edinburgh when the instigators kept on mistaking you for me? There are no accidents.”

I became silent for a moment, stalling for time as I slowly raised my glass of ale to my lips. As soon as I fished a small red book out of my coat pocket and placed it on the table in front of us Arthur eyed it intently. It had been the source of intrigue, which led me to Doyle in the first place and piqued his curiosity as much as it did mine.

“Could I have done something terrible in my youth that caused this to happen?”

“You have no recollections, John?”

“I remember so little of my childhood. I wish I could.”

“You’re a smart young man. I’m sure you’ll come up with a clever deduction.”

Mr. Doyle paused to relight his pipe. He had an unnerving look in his eye, which I vainly tried to read into, but he took me for a spin when he brought up the next topic.

“On another note, John, have you ever considered that people are capable of communicating without speech, and I’m not talking about writing letters?”

“Pardon me?”

“Imagine communicating by mere thoughts. I’ve always wanted to experiment with someone open to these concepts. God knows — my brothers at the Society for Psychical Research certainly talk enough about it. My wife, Touie, has been an unwilling subject and is not the most objective choice.”

I looked at him, somewhat perplexed. “Are you asking me to accurately guess what you’re thinking?”

“Come now. We’ll play a game. I’ll form an image in my mind, and for the next minute I will try to project it into yours. Clear your thoughts of any distractions and be as receptive as possible,” he explained.

As much as I tried, I couldn’t have been more preoccupied. Images of that fateful event flashed through my brain. My recollections revealed my rain-soaked train ticket. I kept arguing with the steward about putting me in the wrong cabin. An erroneous judgment had been made when three strangers insisted I was Arthur. We were so different in physical appearance. He was a large, athletic man with a distinguished moustache. On the other hand, I had baby smooth skin and couldn’t grow facial hair to save my life. I was nearly twenty years younger and much shorter with wild auburn hair that resembled Maestro Beethoven’s with the exception of premature strands of gray.

So why was I singled out? Was there laudanum in my brandy? Details spun like a whirlwind. I must’ve been in a drug-induced stupor but I was initiated into some secret Masonic-like society, and when it was all over those mysterious men were gone. What remained were an engraved silver ring on my finger and an ominous red book on the seat beside me.

“Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.” Arthur broke my trance and realized my thoughts had been elsewhere.

“I felt like I had.” Barely able to articulate, I tried to tame my wild mane in place. Visions faded in and out. Timelines jumped. So I gulped down another swig of ale to focus on the present.

Arthur leaned in closer. “I can see you’re still worried about that event on the train. Those men have been after me for some time. Why? It’s hard to fathom. I’ll dilly dally with notions here and there about Sherlock Holmes and his partner, Watson, who fancy themselves as detectives. Me? I’m just a simple doctor and writer with interests in Spiritualism trying to find scientific explanations for the unknown.”

“Arthur, what would anyone want with an unassuming music student like me?”

“Personally, I don’t think this was A Case of Identity,” Arthur replied with a smile.

Obviously he meant to say my dilemma was not a case of mistaken identity, not the name of one of his famous Sherlock stories. He was pleased I caught the humor of his play on words.

“Perhaps it has something to do with that book,” he said pointing to the one I brought.

“I’m concerned it’s dangerous, that it’s a curse. I wish I had never found it.” I shoved it back into my pocket and drained my glass.

* * *

One week later as I was returning home from school, my landlady, Lydia Campbell, yelled from the kitchen as I trudged my muddied shoes through the front door of her boarding house. “John, a letter from Undershaw arrived for you today! I wonder whom it could be from? You don’t know anyone from Undershaw, do you?”

Oh, yes I did. I grabbed the letter and ran upstairs so fast I nearly tripped on my muffler and fell on my face. I poured myself a glass of port to calm my nerves, doffed my wet garments and sank into my most comfortable brass-studded leather chair I affectionately named my thinking chair, where I created many a melody in my head, could think deep thoughts, and drift off to dreamland.

* * *

Dear John,

I wholeheartedly enjoyed our conversation at the Deacon Brodie and kept my promise of a prompt reply. By now, you are well aware of my passion to explore the realms of Spiritualism and related paranormal phenomena far surpasses any personal interests involved with Sherlock Holmes. Public demand for my writing, however, exerts a strain on how much I can overtly reveal to even my most trusted colleagues. Whenever I indulge in any activity, be it a simple séance, investigating a revered medium or attending a meeting of the British Society for Psychical Research, it never fails to raise the eyebrows of my wary publishers and critics. It’s God’s honest truth that I believe in many of these inexplicable accounts. Even my father painted beautiful renditions of fairies, which I trust he witnessed with his own eyes. The betterment of mankind rests on embracing such theories once they are proven to exist by the scientific community. Thus, I’ll have to continue more controversial and debatable endeavors in utmost secrecy, or at least for the time being until more evidence can be brought to light.

Since you seem to be an open-minded young man who has already experienced some effects of the preternatural, this is my proposal: At midnight every night, we should conduct a variety of remote operations with the primary purpose of communicating through means of telepathy. Since I have a tendency to travel, we’ll have to make some sort of adjustment to take into account the different time zones. Of course, you must share this secret with nobody. Besides us, only my wife will know, although she will not participate.

When you shared the account of the strange commuter train incident that was enough to convince me that you would be the perfect partner for this private undertaking. Most assuredly, there was something you did in the past in the realm of the arcane to warrant such a chain of events. That was not mere happenstance, and now since you possess that enigmatic red book, I’m sure it will affect your life in ways you’ve never imagined.

My intentions have been to perform similar trial and error enterprises with Harry Houdini, a rising star whose stage performances have been astounding audiences, but his busy schedule has made it nearly impossible to coordinate such engagements with any sort of regularity. One of these days we’ll catch up. Meanwhile, I collect whatever news comes from across the herring-pond. At one point, he and I will develop a special relationship based on mutual interests.

Regarding the two of us, however, we’ll back up our observations with letters or telegrams as often as possible as proof of results, but those must be destroyed as soon as they are read. Once again, I cannot over emphasize the importance of confidentiality. Regardless, we must keep a faithful agreement, as skill will come with practice.

If you are willing to put aside any apprehensions regarding trains, I’ll pay for you to travel down to Undershaw and visit me on weekends whenever possible. My driver can meet you in London at a pre-arranged time. You’ll stay in one of our guest bedrooms, and as long as you don’t mind the children and can tolerate what our kitchen staff provides, you’ll be well taken care of. That’ll give us the opportunity to expand our repertoire and commence further psychical experimentation with ectoplasm, spirit photography and astral projection. And bring the red book. I’d like a chance to look at it.

I’ve also desired a partner to accompany me for ghost sightings and occult investigations. For all we know with the knowledge gained, we might even break through the barriers of time. That would certainly give Bertie (H.G. Wells) a shock to the senses, proving his imagination does not merely dwell in the realm of fiction. We’ve been at odds on this topic for years.

Regarding telepathic technique, I can only suggest you conduct yourself in a way as you see fit. Personally, I don’t give credence to things like magical amulets, but if it helps to have an etheric link, use this letter you hold in your hand, as it contains my heart, soul and signature with a drop of blood, which I added to the ink. You might wish to reciprocate.

Let’s raise our glasses to honor the quest of conquering the unknown.

Arthur Conan Doyle

* * *

So, Arthur was serious when he first brought up the subject. When he and I left the pub, I really didn’t know what to think. After all, he was a famous author, and I was merely a student. What possessed him to choose me for such an engagement?

I shuffled through my schoolwork to find my pen and ink and a fresh sheet of paper. Blood, I needed blood. Ah, my razor! That would work. I fetched my shaving kit and winced as I drew a few drops. I scribbled a swift, affirmative reply with the blood-tainted ink, mailed the letter the following day and looked forward to our first otherworldly encounter.

***

Excerpt from The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.

 

 

Tour Participants:

Tour Participants:

Visit these 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 Elizabeth Crowens. There will be eight(8) winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card and seven (7) winners will each receive Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens (eBook). The giveaway begins on August 18, 2019 and runs through September 23, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Aug 212019
 

The Ornery Gene by Warren C. Embree Banner

 

 

The Ornery Gene

by Warren C. Embree

on Tour August 1-31, 2019

Synopsis:

The Ornery Gene by Warren C Embree

When itinerant ranch hand Buck Ellison took a job with Sarah Watkins at her ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska, he thought he had found the place where he could park his pickup, leave the past behind, and never move again.

On a rainy July night, a dead body at the south end of Sarah’s ranch forces him to become a reluctant detective, digging into the business of cattle breeding for rodeos and digging up events from his past that are linked to the circumstances surrounding the murder of Sam Danielson.

Working with his boss Sarah, her nephew Travis Martin, and the cook Diane Gibbons, Buck unmasks the murderer, but at the cost of learning the reality of past events that he chooses to keep to himself.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Published by: Down and Out Books
Publication Date: April 27, 2019
Number of Pages: 216
ISBN: 1643960121 (978-1643960128)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Down & Out Books

 

Author Bio:

Warren C Embree

WARREN EMBREE and his wife grew up in the Sandhills of Nebraska. He did both farm work and ranch work during those years, and he still keeps track of what goes on in the hills. After leaving the area, he pursued an academic career in English, Classical Languages, and Divinity. He lectured at a couple of institutions and preached at a few churches, and he now works in Lincoln as a data analyst for the University of Nebraska. His knowledge and love of the unique culture of the Sandhills, his education in languages and literature, and his analytical skills contribute to his story telling. He and his wife currently live in Nebraska and have 3 grown children.

Q&A with Warren C. Embree

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to answer a few questions.

Reading and Writing:
What inspired you to write this book?

I have been writing fiction off and on for over fifty years but, with a few exceptions, I never took it seriously. Even those exceptions were half-hearted. Then, a number years back, I ran into an old college classmate at the University bookstore, and he wondered if I was still writing. He said he had always enjoyed what I had written in the classes we had taken together and told me I needed to write a novel about the Nebraska Sandhills. I wrote a couple of novels after that, but I wasn’t happy with them. However, a few years ago I finished one I rather liked. After numerous rewrites, I let it sit for a while with the intention of making a final version. Then my older sister, Paula Horii, wanted to read it, liked it, and said I should get it published. It was her dogged persistence that got it finished. So I was inspired to write the book by one individual and motivated to finish by another. Unfortunately, the gentleman passed away last year before he could see results of his “charge” to me.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

Actually, there are two biggest challenges for me with anything I am writing. One is focus and the other is an obsession to find the right word or phrase. With respect to focus, I often go down the rabbit hole when my imagination is ignited by some image or an idea that pops into my head in the process of writing. While writing and thinking about how to motivate Buck to look into his mother’s past, I thought finding an old thimble of hers would be an interesting thing. So I wondered about what metal–gold or silver or steel. Then I wondered about what pattern would be etched into the thimble. Before I knew it, I’d worked on a number of pages and literally days and weeks, and I had to throw it all away and backtrack to get back on track. I enjoy those adventures, but there comes a time to force myself to finish a book. I’ve learned over the years that I need to create an outline of some sort to guide my thinking and keep me focused on the story. Otherwise, as noted, I get lost in my imagination.

With respect to the right word, I’m haunted by Mark Twain’s observation that “the difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” As an example, as I was writing one scene where I was having Buck consider his options, he crumpled up a beer can and tossed it across the floor. I spent countless hours trying to come up with the “right word” that embraced both the motion and the sound of the can across the floor. All the rest of my writing stopped. I finally came up with it–skittered. But the whole thing never got into the book because it ended up not being able to drive the story. Which dovetails into the challenge of focus.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.

While I grew up in the Sandhills of Nebraska, Dad was a school superintendent and Mother a teacher, so I didn’t grow up on a ranch. I did work on ranches and worked on our farm on the edge of the Sandhills, but I never worked much directly with livestock. Dad had a small ranch and would buy calves in the spring and feed them out during the summer to sell in the fall, he didn’t breed cattle. Fortunately, my wife did grow up on a ranch, was familiar with the various nuances of the cattle industry, and so was always my first source of knowledge. I also read books and articles about brands, bulls, cattle chutes, DNA, rodeo bulls, leatherworking, red angus, saloons, soapweed, windmills, and the like. And of course, the internet is now a great resource.

That would be a glimpse. But as I mentioned in the previous question, my lack of focus would have be researching things in a wide range of areas, none of which found their way into the novel.

How did you come up with the title?

I had a working titles for the novel throughout the process. One was “Death of a Bullfighter” and another “Recessive Gene.” However, after the book was finished and I needed to have a title, I wanted one that embraced all the layers of the novel as well as focus on a central thread that was woven into the entire story. “The Ornery Gene” seemed to provide such a focus and tied rather nicely into the central story, the characters, and the various scenes.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I’m afraid my routine in writing is “fits and starts.” Although I work full time, I do daydream a lot about characters and storylines. I enjoy the process of research immensely and even enjoy rewriting once I have something to edit, but the actual business of writing takes place in a rather haphazard fashion. At one time I did force myself to write 2 to 4 pages a night, but I neither liked the process nor the results. I hope to be a little more dedicated once I retire.

Tell us why we should read your book?

It is simply a well-written novel, with a satisfying story, set in a little known part of the United States, and populated by interesting and compelling characters. The Sandhills of Nebraska is the largest grass-stabilized sand dune region in the Western Hemisphere and sits atop the largest aquifer in North America (the Ogallala estimated at 174,000 sq. mi.–450,000 sq. km.). Its culture is as unique as its geography.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I am working on another novel, plus a couple of other books.

My sister wants to know about one of the minor characters in the “The Ornery Gene,” Peggy Williamson, who did not make the final cut of the novel. Buck knew her from the time he worked construction in Gordon, Nebraska and roomed with her boyfriend, John Lambert. She had left Gordon under suspicion of having had a part in the death of a classmate and ended up working in a bar and grill in Tryon, a small town north of where Buck was working at Sarah Watkins ranch. When Lambert turns up dead in Tryon, Buck gets reluctantly involved in finding out why Lambert was killed and why Peggy has vanished. The background to the story is, of course, the Sandhills, but more specifically the county fair, show cattle, 4-H, trucking, and whatever else I might be able to weave into it. I do not know when it will be done or if it will be picked up to be published.

Fun Questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

Buck Elison: Jeremy Lee Renner
Sarah Watkins: Ellen Tyne Daly
Travis Martin: Kodi Smit-McPhee
Diane : Chloe Bennet
Goff Hansen: Robert Duvall
Harvey : Joshua James Brolin
Tom Anderson: Kurt Russell
Eleanor Anderson: Annette Carol Bening

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

During the summer I garden and during the winter I work on indoor projects, but reading is my primary leisure activity.

Favorite foods?

Philly cheese steak sandwiches, but only when I’m in Philly. Sweet corn, shrimp, ice cream sandwiches and, believe or not, spam. Spam was a treat when I was a kid.

Catch Up With Warren Embree On:
warrenembree.com, Goodreads, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Wednesday, 9:15 p.m.

Sam Danielson slowed his pickup to a stop beside an old cattle chute, switched off the engine, rolled the window all the way down, and listened. He absentmindedly counted the cricket chirps for ten seconds, added forty to the number of chirps and calculated it to be about sixty-five degrees or so outside. A trick his dad had taught him. It was a little chilly for July in this part of the hills, but he had heard the low rumbling of thunder on the drive out. It smelled like rain; there was a storm moving from the northeast that was cooling things down. There could even be some ice in it. He checked his watch: nine-fifteen. Just past twilight. He opened the pickup door and took a deep breath. He reached over, grabbed the flashlight from the glove box, and slid out of the driver’s seat onto the soft sand.

Off in the distance, he heard a mama cow lowing. This was the life he had chosen, and he had never looked back. It hadn’t been easy working for, and then with, his dad. They had gone back and forth on the best way to select the bulls and broncos they supplied for “rough stock” events at the rodeos in the Sandhills of western Nebraska. There was only one way for Dad. “You don’t have the feel for how much the bull don’t want rode,” his dad would say. But Sam had gone to school and studied twentieth-century methods of livestock rearing. For his dad it was a way of life; for Sam it was a business. Sam liked the numbers. He liked to narrow the odds by more than just a feeling. He had tried to show his dad the value in breeding techniques and genetic tracking in estimating the probability that a particular bull would do well in the arena. His dad would just laugh it off. “Show me the ornery gene,” his dad would laugh. “I’ll have five bulls picked before you decide on one.” But Sam knew his would be a better one than the five. He could prove the temperament of a bull before anyone tried to ride it. He had never convinced his dad. The ornery gene had been elusive, but not the genetic makeup of the ornery bulls. He had been right, and he had a genetically identifiable line of stock to prove it.

During his travels from his ranch outside of Laramie, Wyoming, Sam had been made aware of a genetic curiosity in one of the cattle he purchased in Colorado in the spring. Being off in the records would end up being off in the genetic makeup of the calves. There never was just one gene that made the difference. It was a matter of multiple generations. He had traced the lines that looked the most promising, and closely followed the leaders in the industry. Discovering that curiosity had led him into this part of the Sandhills of Nebraska. Talking about it at the bar had got him into an argument with the old cowboy, and listening to the old man had brought him to this particular spot.

“You’ll find what you’re looking for out there,” the old cowboy had said. “Then you’ll know I was telling you the truth.” Danielson switched the flashlight on and scanned the area around the cattle chute. He had let himself be convinced that the old man knew a thing or two about cattle breeding. What had surprised Danielson most was that the old man had known about the science behind modern breeding at all. The old cowboy looked more like he’d been “rode hard and put up wet” as his dad would have said: a man who had spent a hard life out in the sun and the rain and the snow. Danielson expected someone like that to know less about biogenetics and more about old school solutions. Like his dad.

The excitement the old cowboy had shown assured Danielson it would be worth his time to find out if he was headed in the right direction. But as he looked around the area, all he saw was a dump site for old batteries, tires, cook stoves, windmill parts, cans, bed springs, and used up corral panels. He saw nothing that would explain the old cowboy’s intensity. Now he was more curious to find out how the old cowboy would explain the genetic anomaly that he was so passionate about. It was one of those things his dad would say shouldn’t make a whole lot of difference in his deciding on a bull. It probably wasn’t all that important to breeders either. But he was curious, and keeping careful records was important to the integrity of breeding livestock. It was a necessary component in the breeding business and his business. He was hoping he could find some answers out here as he tried to piece together the puzzle. He was determined to take some time to track it down to the source and maybe be able to verify when and where the mistake was made.

He had tried to be low-key when he was asking questions, but the speed at which the old cowboy had raised his hackles this afternoon showed Danielson just how hard that was going to be. He had touched the wrong nerve on the first try. He wasn’t sure whether he had asked the wrong question or his question had been taken the wrong way. It took a couple of beers and a good bit of time getting the old man calmed down. When it finally got friendly again, the old cowboy had told him about the spot out here in the hills. He gave directions and said he’d meet him out there around nine that evening.

As he waited for the old cowboy to show up, Danielson kicked at a broken pitman, picked it up, and used it to move around some cans at the edge of the dump site. He wasn’t terribly interested in getting bitten by a rattlesnake or a rat. It was a half-hearted effort. He sniffed the air again and caught the scent of pine and cedar trees this time. The hills hadn’t changed much from when he was a kid except the cedar trees. They were becoming a weed out in the hills. He shoved a wooden box with the pitman, then threw the stick of wood back into the pile. It was altogether possible that the old cowboy had sent him out on a snipe hunt. It just as well be. There was nothing he’d seen so far that was tied to the cattle breeding. If it were here, it wasn’t something obvious. What galled him was that he could be looking right at it and still not see it. For that matter, there could be nothing to it.

A loud clap of thunder caused Danielson to look up at the sky. In the southwest the clouds were fast turning to an ugly black. He saw the lightning streak across the sky and started counting. He reached fifty-two and he heard the thunder again. The storm was only about ten miles away. He didn’t want to get caught in the storm, and he hadn’t found anything yet. It wouldn’t be the first time he had gone on a wild goose chase.

He walked over to the rear of the pickup, pulled out a can of chewing tobacco from his back pocket, and stuffed a pinch in the back of his cheek. He put the can back in his pocket and picked up an old spur that was in the pickup box. He turned it over in his hand as he walked over to the chute—just an old spur. The old cowboy had given it to him, along with some old rodeo flyers, claiming he’d known Danielson’s dad and had got it from him. His dad had never been a bull rider, so the spur didn’t belong to him. He didn’t know whether someone had given it to his dad or his dad had simply found it tearing down after one of the rodeos they had supplied the bulls and broncs for. It reminded him that he needed to go through his dad’s things, a clutter of boxes, something he’d put off for ten years after his dad died. He tossed the spur toward the pickup box but hit the fender instead, bouncing the spur at an odd angle forward of the pickup. He walked over toward the cattle chute and battery and pointed his flashlight in the direction the spur had bounced.

Danielson caught the flash of lightning in the corner of his eye, heard a pop from behind him, then felt a sledgehammer hit him in the middle of the back. The strength drained out of his legs. He felt a sharp pain spring out from where the hammer had hit that seemed to rush through his torso. His legs gave out and he hit the ground, knees first, and then fell on his face. The pain was now a hot, burning sensation from the place where the hammer had hit and his back felt wet. He thought he had been struck with lightning, cursing himself for miscalculating the distance of the storm. He tried to use his arms to push himself up, but he couldn’t gather the strength. He dropped back down. He could feel that his back was soaked, but it hadn’t started raining yet.

From off to his right, he heard something moving cans around. It wasn’t the wind. It was deliberate. No animal would do that either. A few moments later, he felt someone kick his side. He grunted involuntarily, and then tried to roll over. His legs were a dead weight. He twisted his face away from the pickup, but couldn’t see anything. “He shot me,” he whispered. He tried to raise himself with his arms, but was light-headed now. I can’t believe he shot me. A few moments later rain poured from the clouds, diluting the blood from his back and mingling it with the sand.

***

Excerpt from The Ornery Gene by Warren C. Embree. Copyright © 2019 by Warren C. Embree. Reproduced with permission from Warren C. Embree. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Aug 012019
 

The Experiment by Robin Lamont Banner

 

 

The Experiment

by Robin Lamont

on Tour August 1-31, 2019

Synopsis:

The Experiment by Robin Lamont

Jude Brannock is a brash and single-minded female protagonist for today’s readers who believe that nature and animals deserve our respect and must be protected. In The Experiment, author Robin Lamont brings these forward-looking themes to her newest suspense novel.

Jude is an investigator for an animal protection organization. When the young man she has trained for an undercover job suddenly vanishes after a tantalizing text that he’s “on to something,” Jude rushes to the quiet, farming community of Half Moon, only to discover that her trainee might have perpetrated an elaborate con job on her. Determined to get to the truth, she unearths a biopharmaceutical company’s deadly secret, and in doing so, comes up against dark secrets of her own.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Grayling Press
Publication Date: May 15th 2019
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 0985848588 (ISBN13: 9780985848583)
Series: The Kinship Series
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Robin Lamont

Before becoming a novelist, Robin was a popular Broadway actress and singer, turned private investigator, and then New York prosecutor. She draws on these diverse careers for her work, infusing suspenseful plots with character-driven drama.

Robin’s prior work has garnered awards and recognition, including Suspense Magazine’s Best of the Indies and a Gold Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards for her novel If Thy Right Hand. Her book The Chain, which introduced Jude Brannock to readers, was a Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalist. Her screen adaptation of the book, Six Seconds, is currently under option.

Q&A with Robin Lamont

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m a big animal lover, and this is the 3rd book of a series in which the central character, Jude Brannock, is an investigator for an animal protection group. I thought that there are so many cops, PI’s, lawyers, etc. who seek justice for human victims of crime, there should be a protagonist looking out for the animals. In The Experiment, I sought to deepen her character and explore how her job often drives her to the fringes of society and the effect that has on her.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

It’s been challenging to create a main character in the suspense genre who works in a field that not many people know about. A lot of readers don’t know that investigators for animal protection groups are out there every day trying to hold abusers accountable. It can be a dangerous and difficult job. So, I’m trying to bring Jude to life, with all her passion and her own personal issues that get in the way, and still create a character that will resonate for readers.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.

Naturally, I did quite a bit of research into the science part of the book. But I called up my own experience as an undercover investigator in New York City. What it’s like to wrap yourself in a different persona while at the same time trying to elicit information on the “bad guys” you’re investigating. It’s a bit like juggling – in a really uncomfortable way. Before I became a private investigator, I was an actor. There’s always some nervousness that you’ll go up on your lines and muck things up, but it’s nothing like the hum of constant fear that your criminal targets will find out who you really are. The consequences are quite different.

How did you come up with the title?

The Experiment has dual meaning here. The book does touch on the testing done on animals before a product can go to clinical trials. But the story also deals with genetically engineered plants for food, which hasn’t been around long enough for us to know the long-term health effects. We’re playing with nature, believing we can control it in every circumstance, and that’s one big experiment – we don’t really know how that’s all going to play out.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I’m definitely a morning person, and I come up with my more workable ideas when I’m moving – driving a car or walking the dog in the park. I have a few friends who don’t understand why I don’t jump at the chance to walk the dogs together. But it’s usually because I like the time to think.

I used to keep a journal, but now I work primarily on the computer, where I have easy access to the internet to look things up as needed. Of course, that means that I have masses of disparate files and pages on research, characters, scene ideas, dialogue, etc. I could probably use some better organization.

Tell us why we should read your book?

First, The Experiment is a fast-moving story with some non-traditional characters each of whom has a deeply personal story that drives them. I also bring readers into a world that they may not be familiar with but will find interesting and fraught with emotional tension.

As an avid suspense reader myself, I appreciate a story with twists and turns. But if it’s lacking in human feelings, then it can leave me feeling a bit flat. The Experiment is, first and foremost, a human drama wrapped in a suspense theme.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’m working on creating a TV/cable series about Jude Brannock and the organization she works for. It may incorporate ideas from some of The Kinship books but will ultimately focus on her animal protection group – and all the odd characters there.

Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?

I could see Kate Mara as Jude – edgy, progressive, flawed. Perhaps Casey Affleck as Lucas – a character where 90% lurks under the surface.

Also wouldn’t mind seeing Meryl Streep and Idris Elba up there. Not sure what roles they’d play, but I’d find something, and they’d sure class up the film.

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

I’m an avid tennis player. I like to knit and usually have 2-3 unfinished sweaters lying around that I mean to get to. I hate to cook but do it anyway because whole foods are good for me and my family.

Favorite foods?
(I’m shaking my head here – too many to name). I go through phases. Right now, I’m into rice pudding, which I make slowly like a risotto with almond milk. Oh my God, the ultimate comfort food!

Catch Up With Our Author On:
thekinshipseries.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

John Harbolt wasn’t easily shaken. With over forty years of medicine under his belt, there was hardly an injury, disease, or fatality he hadn’t seen, and he’d treated just about everyone in the small town of Half Moon at some time or other. But on that late summer day, young Tori Lacey showed him something that baffled him. Her symptoms were inexplicable and downright scary.

She was his first patient of the day, a young woman who had battled her weight for years. In between the earaches and the sore throats, Harbolt had gently counseled her about diet and exercise. He hoped she wasn’t here to ask him about diet pills again, because as far as he was concerned, they were off the table.

After removing her file from the plastic holder bolted to the outside of the examination room, he adjusted his wire rim glasses and straightened his lab coat. The younger doctors often wore khakis and a short-sleeved shirt at work, and maybe it put the kids more at ease. But Dr. Harbolt stuck with a freshly starched white coat, believing that it made his patients feel more confident in his abilities. And confidence in one’s doctor was important to the healing process.

“Tori Ann Lacey,” he announced jovially as he shambled into the room.

“Hi, Dr. Harbolt.” The morose girl before him sat on the table. She had taken off her running shoes but left her sweatshirt and shorts on.

“I haven’t seen you for a while,” he said, noting with some surprise that she had slimmed considerably, her round face now leaner and more mature. “How is college life treating you?”

“Ok, I guess.” Her voice and posture belied this.

“What brings you here today, my dear.”

“I don’t really know. But we thought you should look at these.” She pushed back the sleeve of her sweatshirt and held out her arm for inspection.

There were several bruises that vandalized the translucent skin of her inner arm. Dr. Harbolt held her wrist and peering over his glasses, looked closely at the red and purple marks.

He pressed lightly on one of them. “Does that hurt?”

She shook her head no.

“What happened?”

“That’s the thing. Nothing happened. They just appeared.” She showed him another set of bruises on her other arm.

“Did you fall?”

“No.”

“Knocked into something?”

“No,” she exclaimed, as though he didn’t believe her. “My mom thinks it’s my diet. That I should be eating meat.”

“And you’re not?”

“No. I needed to lose five more pounds for the track team, which I was having a hard time doing, so I switched over to a raw food diet. And it really helped because I made my goal.”

“And you were selected for the team?”

She nodded, anxiously chewing on a nail.

“Congratulations. You getting enough protein?” he asked, studying the bruising and letting her answer drift past him. This wasn’t because of her diet.

She rambled for a moment about nuts and spinach, then peeled off her socks and lifted her bare feet to the end of the examination table. “And then yesterday after a run, I found this,” she said. “I didn’t even show my mom ’cause she’d freak out.”

Dr. Harbolt caught his breath. It looked as though someone had taken a baseball bat to the soles of the girl’s feet. Fiery maroon blotches screamed out some kind of violence. Three of her toes had turned a dark purple.

“Good Lord!” he blurted out. “What happened to you?”

“Nothing! I’m telling you nothing happened,” wailed Tori. “They just … showed up.”

***

Excerpt from The Experiment by Robin Lamont. Copyright © 2019 by Robin Lamont. Reproduced with permission from Robin Lamont. All rights reserved.

 

 

Tour Participants:

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Robin Lamont. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on August 1, 2019 and runs through September 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Jul 182019
 

American Red

by David Marlett

on Tour July 1 – August 31, 2019

 

Synopsis:

American Red by David Marlett

In American Red, as the Great American Century begins, and the modern world roars to life, Capitalists flaunt greed and seize power, Socialists and labor unions flex their violent will, and an extraordinary true story of love and sacrifice unfolds.

In his critically acclaimed debut novel, Fortunate Son, David Marlett introduced readers to a fresh take on historical fiction-the historical legal thriller-bringing alive the people and events leading to and surrounding some of the most momentous, dramatic legal trials in history. Now he returns with American Red, the story of one of the greatest domestic terrorists in American history, and the detectives, lawyers, spies, and lovers who brought him down.

The men and women of American Red are among the most fascinating in American history. When, at the dawn of the 20th century, the Idaho governor is assassinated, blame falls on “Big Bill” Haywood, the all-powerful, one-eyed boss of the Western Federation of Miners in Denver. Close by, his polio-crippled wife, Neva, struggles with her wavering faith, her love for another man, and her sister’s affair with her husband. New technologies accelerate American life, but justice lags behind. Private detectives, battling socialists and unions on behalf of wealthy capitalists, will do whatever it takes to see Haywood hanged. The scene is set for bloodshed, from Denver to Boise to San Francisco. America’s most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, leads the defense-a philandering U.S. senator leads the prosecution-while the press, gunhands, and spies pour in. Among them are two idealists, Jack Garrett and Carla Capone-he a spy for the prosecution, she for the defense. Risking all, they discover truths about their employers, about themselves and each other, and what they’ll sacrifice for justice and honor-and for love.

 

Book Details

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: July 2nd 2019
Number of Pages: 535
ISBN: 1611881781 (ISBN13: 9781611881783)
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

David Marlett

David Marlett is an award-winning storyteller and writer of historical fiction, primarily historical legal thrillers bringing alive the fascinating people and events leading to major historical trials. His first such novel, Fortunate Son, became a national bestseller in 2014, rising to #2 in all historical fiction and #3 in all literature and fiction on Amazon. The late Vincent Bugliosi — #1 New York Times bestselling author of Helter Skelter — said David is “a masterful writer of historical fact and detail, of adventure, peril and courtroom drama.” Just released is American Red which follows the extraordinary true story of a set of radical lovers, lawyers, killers, and spies who launched the Great American Century. Visit www.AmericanRedBook.com. He is currently writing his next historical legal thriller, Angeles Los, which continues some of the lead characters from American Red. Angeles Los is based on the true story at the 1910 intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of America” kingdom. In addition, David is a professor at Pepperdine Law School, was the managing editor of OMNI Magazine, and guest-lectures on story design. He is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, the father of four, and lives in Manhattan Beach, California. For more, visit www.DavidMarlett.com.
 

Find Our Author Online:

davidmarlett.com | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter | Facebook
 

Q&A with David Marlett

Which of your characters do you like the most and why?

Oh my…well, AMERICAN RED has a host of characters, each with unique traits, strengths, quirks, weaknesses. So, I would be hard pressed to say which one I liked the most. But if you’re asking which one I most enjoyed writing, then that would be Pinkerton Chief Detective James McParland. He was one of AMERICAN RED’s many actual characters from history…a true-to-life man, bold and brazen man—a bit stuck in the late 1800s Wild West, clearly an advocate of “the ends justifying the means”—seeing his career coming to an end—attempting to do what he thinks is right—while all the same being willing to do some quite nefarious acts in the name of the law. I love his single-minded focus in the face of obvious conflicts of loyalty and duty.

Which of your characters do you dislike the most and why?

Clearly that would have to be the two horrific mass murderers: Orchard and Adams. One might think I disliked Haywood—and sure, he was a nasty soul, ordering the death of hundreds. But he was also true to his convictions and was a principle catalyst and advocate for desperately needed improvement of conditions and wages for laborers.

Which of your characters was the hardest to write and why?

Perhaps it was Neva. She was a real person, and the things she went through were actual events, circumstances. She was complex and full of conflict, just like the male counterparts. But sadly there is almost nothing about her in the historical record, so it was a challenge to bring her to life with the best estimation of her personality. Getting her right was central to the success of the whole book, so I would say she was the greatest challenge. I hope I did her justice.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through writing?

To trust myself. To allow myself to write what I feel and edit later. To let go and let the story and narrative drive the work.

What has been your biggest challenge to your writing career?

Well, that would be much the same as the “biggest lesson”: to trust my research and work and let go—to disappear into the past and write what I discover there.

What was your biggest challenge writing this book?

Developing and getting to know Neva and the other female characters. The men are documented in history, but not the women. In fact, for that reason, I had this book on development hiatus for over a year or more while I tried to find the story I wanted to tell that was beyond just the masculine plot lines.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope they enjoy AMERICAN RED—that is first and foremost. And in that enjoyment, I would like to challenge them to consider the battling conflicts within the story—as reflected in why I chose and designed the cardinals on the cover—the entanglement we all have with ourselves, not just between right and wrong, but in our perceptions of ourselves and our place and purpose in the world—and our willingness to make a difference in the lives of others. Most will read AMERICAN RED for the story that it is, and that is terrific. But perhaps a few will dig deeper into book—beginning with the Overture—and find themselves within the complexities of the tapestry of humanity and challenge themselves as to what they would do in the position of these characters.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

I see a terrific ensemble cast for the many characters of AMERICAN RED. As it is currently in discussions for series adaptation, I’ll refrain from weighing in on specific actors/actresses.

Give us an interesting fun fact, or a few, about your book or series.

AMERICAN RED is the first of a series of historical legal thrillers carrying some real and some fictional characters through actual events in the first half of the twentieth century. My next (what I am researching/writing currently), ANGELES LOS, tells the true story at the intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous, 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of American” kingdom. It brings forward a number of characters from AMERICAN RED, most notably Clarence Darrow, Jack Garrett, and Carla Capone.

Favorite foods?

A great prime rib steak.

Favorite activities?

Time spent with my kids. Hiking with my dog. Participating in live storytelling events.

 

Read an excerpt:

The lawyer lobbed a verbal spear across the courtroom, piercing the young man, pinning him to the creaky witness chair and tilting the twelve jurymen forward. Their brows rose in anticipation of a gore-laden response from the witness as he clutched his bowler, his face vacant toward the wood floor beyond his shoddy boots. When the judge cleared his throat, the plaintiff’s attorney, Clarence Darrow, repeated the question. “Mr. Bullock, I know this is a strain upon you to recount that tragic day when fifteen of your brothers perished at the hands of the Stratton-”

“Your Honor! Point in question,” barked the flint-faced defense attorney representing the Stratton Independence Mine, a non-union gold operation near Cripple Creek, Colorado. On this warm summer afternoon in Denver, he and Darrow were the best dressed there, each wearing a three-button, vested suit over a white shirt and dull tie.

The robed judge gave a long blink, then peered at Darrow. With a chin waggle, his ruling on the objection was clear.

“Yes, certainly. My apologies, Your Honor,” feigned Darrow, glancing toward the plaintiff’s table where two widows sat in somber regard. Though his wheat-blonde hair and sharp, pale eyes defied his age of forty-nine, his reputation for cunning brilliance and oratory sorcery mitigated the power of his youthful appearance: it was no longer the disarming weapon it had once been. No attorney in the United States would ever presume nascence upon Clarence Darrow. Certainly not in this, his twenty-sixth trial. He continued at the witness. “Though as just a mere man, one among all …” He turned to the jury. “The emotion of this event strains even the most resolute of procedural decorum. I am, as are we all, hard-pressed to-”

“Whole strides, shall we, Mr. Darrow?” grumbled the judge.

“Yes,” Darrow said, turning once again to James Bullock who seemed locked in the block ice of tragedy, having not moved a fraction since first taking the witness seat. “Mr. Bullock, we must rally ourselves, muster our strength, and for the memory of your brothers, share with these jurymen the events of that dark day. You said the ride up from the stope, the mine floor, was a swift one, and there were the sixteen of you in the cage made to hold no more than nine-is that correct?”

“Yes, Sir,” Bullock replied, his voice a faint warble.

“Please continue,” Darrow urged.

Bullock looked up. “We kept going, right along, but it kept slipping. We’d go a ways and slip again.”

“Slipping? It was dropping?”

“Yes, Sir. Dropping down sudden like, then stopping. Cappy was yelling at us to get to the center, but there was no room. We was in tight.”

“By Cappy you mean Mr. Capone, the foreman?”

“Yes, Sir. Our shift boss that day.” The witness sucked his bottom lip. “He was in the cage ‘long with us.” He sniffed in a breath then added, “And his boy, Tony. Friend of mine. No better fella.”

“My condolences,” said Darrow. “What do you think was the aid in getting the men to the middle of the cage?”

“Keep it centered in the shaft, I reckon. We was all yelling.” Bullock took a slow breath before continuing, “Cappy was trying to keep the men quiet, but it wasn’t making much a difference. Had his arms around Tony.”

A muscle in Darrow’s cheek shuddered. “Please continue.”

“So we was slipping, going up. Then the operator, he took us up about six feet above the collar of the shaft, then back down again.”

“Which is not the usual-”

“Not rightly. No, Sir. We should’ve stopped at the collar and no more. But later they said the brakes failed on the control wheel.”

“Mr. Bullock, let’s return to what you experienced. You were near the top of the shaft, the vertical shaft that we’ve established was 1,631 feet deep, containing, at that time, about twenty feet of water in its base, below the lowest stope, correct?”

“Yes, Sir. Before they pumped that water to get to em.”

“By ‘them’ you mean the bodies of your dead companions?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Ok, you were being hoisted at over 900 feet per minute by an operator working alone on the surface-near the top of the shaft, when the platform began to slip and jump. Is that your testimony?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“That must have been terrifying.”

“Yes, Sir, it was. We’d come off a tenner too.”

“A ten-hour shift?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Darrow rounded on the jury, throwing the next question over his shoulder. “Oh, but Sir, how could it have been a ten-hour work day when the eight-hour day is now the law of this state?”

The defense lawyer’s chair squeaked as he stood. “Objection, Your Honor.”

“I’ll allow it,” barked the judge, adding, “But gentlemen …”

The witness shook his head. “The Stratton is a non-union, gold ore mine. Supposed to be non-union anyway. Superintendent said owners weren’t obliged to that socialist law.”

“Hearsay, Your-”

“Keep your seat, Counsel. You’re going to wear this jury thin.” Darrow stepped closer to the witness.

“Mr. Bullock, as I said, let’s steer clear from what you heard others say. The facts speak for themselves: you and your friends were compelled to work an illegal ten-hour shift. Let’s continue. You were near the top, but unable to get off the contraption, and it began to-”

“Yes. We’d gone shooting up, then he stopped it for a second.”

“”By ‘he,’ you mean the lift operator?”

“Yes, Sir. He stopped it but then it must have gotten beyond his control, cause we dropped sixty, seventy feet all the sudden. We were going quick. We said to each other we’re all gone. Then he raised us about ten feet and stopped us. But then, it started again, and this time it was going fast up and we went into the sheave wheel as fast as we could go.”

“To be sure we all follow, Mr. Bullock, the lift is the sole apparatus that hoisted you from the Stratton Mine, where you work?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And the sheave wheel is the giant wheel above the surface, driven by a large, thirty-year-old steam engine, run by an operator. That sheave wheel coils in the cable”he pantomimed the motion-“pulling up the 1,500-pound-load platform, or lift, carrying its limit of nine men. And it coils out the cable when the lift is lowered. But that day the lift carried sixteen men-you and fifteen others. Probably over 3,000 pounds. Twice its load limit. Correct?”

“Yes, Sir. But, to be clear, I ain’t at the Stratton no more.”

“No?” asked Darrow, pleased the man had bit the lure.

“No. Seeing how I was one of Cappy’s men. Federation. And, now ’cause this.” His voice faded.

Darrow frowned, walked a few paces toward the jury, clapped once and rubbed his hands together. “The mine owners, a thousand miles away, won’t let you work because you’re here-a member of the Western Federation of Miners, a union man giving his honest testimony. Is that right?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Again, the defense counsel came to his feet. “Your Honor, Mr. Darrow knows Mr. Bullock’s discharge wasn’t-”

The judge raised a hand, took a deep breath and cocked his head toward the seasoned attorney before him. “Swift to your point, Mr. Darrow.”

“Yes, Your Honor.” Darrow’s blue eyes returned to the witness. “Mr. Bullock, you were telling us about the sheave wheel.”

“Yes. It’s a big thing up there, out over the top of the shaft. You see it on your way up. We all think on it-if we was to not stop and slam right up into it-which we did that day. We all knew it’d happen. I crouched to save myself from the hard blow I knew was coming. I seen a piece of timber about one foot wide there underside the sheave, and soon as we rammed, I grabbed hold and held myself up there, and pretty soon the cage dropped from below me, and I began to holler for a ladder to get down.”

“Must have been distressing, up there, holding fast to a timber, dangling 1,631 feet over an open shaft, watching your fifteen brothers fall.”

Bullock choked back tears. “Yes, Sir. That’s what I saw.” He paused. When he resumed, his tone was empty, as if the voice of his shadow. “I heard em. Heard em go. They was screaming. They knew their end had come. I heard em till I heard em no more.”

Excerpt from American Red by David Marlett. Copyright 2019 by David Marlett. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

 

 

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