Category: Interview

THE JUDAS GAME by Ethan Cross (Review, Interview & Giveaway)

The Judas Game

by Ethan Cross

on Tour October 1 – Dec 3, 2016


The Judas Game by Ethan CrossWhen a correctional officer climbs to the top of his watchtower and opens fire on the inmates and guards, federal investigator Marcus Williams and serial killer Francis Ackerman Jr. must join forces again to unearth the truth behind the incident. What they find is a serial killer using the prison as his hunting grounds. But the Judas Killer’s ambitions don’t end with a few murders. He wants to go down in history and has no reason left to live.

With Ackerman undercover among the inmates and Marcus tracking down the mastermind on the outside, the team must learn the identity of the Judas Killer and stop a full-scale uprising that he’s orchestrated. But the more they learn about what’s happening at the prison and why the more enemies they must face. From inside the overrun facility, Marcus and Ackerman must save the hostages and stop an elaborate escape attempt while trying to determine how a rival corporation, the leader of one of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations, and an inmate with no identity only known as Demon fit into the Judas Killer’s plans.

Launching a bold new cycle of novels featuring The Shepherd Organization, The Judas Game is searing, mesmerizing fiction—it’s Ethan Cross at his very best.


5+ stars

Wow! Let me catch my breath! This book blew me away!!

On the cover it states International Bestselling Author. I think it should also say Brilliant. Ethan Cross is a very talented author that has an incredible art of writing and story telling.

In 2012 I read another book by him, THE PROPHET, #2 in the Shepherd series , and gave it a 5 star rating. With THE JUDAS GAME, #4 in the series, he outdid himself. It read easily as a stand alone, even though I have read out of order, throughout the book when needed, the back story was explained.

The Shepherd Organization, an agency within the DOJ, are an elite team of investigators that hunt serial killers and the worst of mankind using any means to neutralize them. The agency is given a case where, at a new state of the art experimental prison, with a vision of future reform, a Correctional Officer goes on a killing spree but this isn’t a typical mass killing, they are soon to discover. And what makes it even more bizarre, is that a highly intelligent, fearless, Hannibal Lecter type of man, who at one time was the most feared and was hunted by the agents, is now joining forces with them. The story takes place over a 2-3 day period, which makes for a wild ride! And at times, the agents feel that they are being hunted instead of hunting, or is that part of the plan by “Judas”? Full of betrayals!

Ethan Cross holds the reader captive, from the first page to 5 pages left in the book, when all comes together and all is exposed. A non stop, heart pounding read. Mr. Cross has created characters and a story, with intricate details, that is gripping and leaves the reader spellbound! A thrilling and chilling novel that will have your heart racing!

This is a book that you will not be able to put down and will have you unaware of anything around you. Captivating 100%!!!!! As soon as I catch my breath, I will be reading the other books in this series that I need to catch up on, and highly suggest you do too!

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: October 2016
Number of Pages: 350
ISBN: 1611882346 (ISBN13: 9781611882346)
Series: Shepherd #4

Grab Your Copy of The Judas Game by Ethan Cross on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and add it to your to read list on Goodreads!

Read an excerpt:

As he climbed the ladder of Tower 3, a strange memory struck Ray Navarro. It was of his son. Ray had been sitting on their front porch after finishing the mowing, and a green blur had come zooming down the road. His little boy, in a bright green T-shirt, running full blast, and tugging along their cocker spaniel puppy, the dog’s legs struggling to keep up with those of his son, Ian. A son he would probably never see again.

As Ray placed one hand in front of the next, his wedding ring kept clanging against the metal of the rungs. The echoes of metal on metal trickled down the concrete walls of Tower 3 like water. Each high-pitched sound sent shockwaves of regret and doubt down through Ray’s soul.

He felt like the world was upside down, and he was actually climbing down into hell instead of ascending Tower 3 at Foxbury Correctional Treatment Facility.

The prison was actually an old work camp and mental hospital, which had recently been recommissioned as part of a pilot program for a private company’s experimental prison. All of the guards, including himself, had been warned about the unique working conditions inside Foxbury. The program was voluntary. He had known the risks, but the money was just too good to pass up. He had bills to pay and mouths to feed.

Ray Navarro pushed open the hatch in the floor of the crow’s nest and pulled himself up into the ten-by-ten space of the tower. The little room smelled like cigarettes, even though no one was supposed to smoke up there. A tiny window air conditioner squeaked and rumbled in the tower’s back wall. He shed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. The gun case was bolted to the left wall of the crow’s nest. With almost robotic, instinctual movements, he watched himself unlock the case, grab the 30-06 rifle, and insert cartridges loaded with just the right mixture of chemicals and shrapnel, fire and steel, needed to blow a one-inch hole in a person’s flesh. He had always excelled in the use of high-powered, long-range weapons. A pistol and a tactical shotgun also occupied the tower’s gun cabinet. He was rated as an expert in their use as well, but he had taken to the 30-06 like a boy’s hand to a well-oiled baseball glove.

Ray Navarro extended the rifle’s bipod and started searching the prison yard for his first target.

The scope’s line of sight slid effortlessly over each man’s face. He noticed a pair of the prison’s celebrity inmates. Leonard Lash, the infamous gang leader awaiting execution, and Oren Kimble, the madman responsible for a mall shooting five years ago. Then his eye stopped on two of the guards moving along the perimeter of inmates like cowboys watching over the herd. The men seemed to be having an in-depth conversation, a wiser silver-haired mentor teaching a younger pupil. He knew the older black man well. Bill Singer was a war veteran and a former sniper, just like Ray. When Ray returned from his last tour, he had been lost in doubt and fear and hadn’t known where to turn. Until he had met Bill. Now, Ray Navarro was five years sober and had even patched things up with his wife, who had come very close to being an ex-wife before Bill had started counseling him.

Bill wasn’t supposed to be on duty until Sunday, but something must have changed because there was his friend giving what seemed to be a mini-sermon to his younger counterpart.

The younger white man beside Bill, Jerry Dunn, had just come on with them. Jerry walked with a catch in his gait which made it seem like three of his steps were equal to two of a normal man’s, but that wasn’t the only aspect of Jerry Dunn which had earned him the nickname “Gimp” among his fellow correctional officers. Jerry also blinked about four times more than a normal person and often struggled to spit out more than a sentence or two.

Ray had no problem with Jerry and even felt sorry for the way many of the other guards treated him. A minor limp and a few tics didn’t mean that Dunn couldn’t do his job and, by all accounts, the young CO was more than competent.

Ray prayed that the next person up the tower’s ladder after him wouldn’t be Bill Singer or Jerry Dunn. Although, he didn’t really want it to be anyone else either. It was one thing to kill enemy soldiers or even an inmate if there was no other choice. This was different. This was the outright murder of men who were his coworkers, his friends.

Ray threw up all over the floor of Tower 3.

He cursed under his breath and then said, “It’s them or you.”

He re-acquired his target. Slid the crosshairs over the man’s heart and then up to his head. Normally, he would go for the chest, a larger target capable of accomplishing the same task. But since this was quite possibly one of his very last acts on the planet, he figured there was no harm in showing off and going for the true killshot.

“It’s them or you.”

He kept repeating that phrase like a mantra, over and over.

“It’s them or you.”


Bill Singer watched Jerry limp along in front of him. The more he watched, the more he noticed that the limp didn’t seem to slow Jerry down a bit. Bill realized that from Jerry’s perspective each step may have been painful or at the very least require twice as much effort. At his age, Bill realized the importance of pain management and the economy of movement, the debts that needed paying for each step, each incorrect dietary choice, each year with no trips to the gym, each time you tried to do something that you did easily ten years ago.

Knowing the difficulties faced by Jerry having been forced to start his life with inherent setbacks in that arena, Bill felt a soft spot for the kid and had taken the younger guard under his wing. Bill and his wife had neglected to have children, but he considered himself blessed to have some young men he had mentored who had become like sons to him. Jerry Dunn was one of those adopted sons. Another was Ray Navarro, who Bill knew was on overwatch in Tower 3 at that very moment. Then there were several others whom he had met through his volunteer work down at the clinic with his wife, Caroline.

Jerry Dunn actually reminded Bill more of one of those counseling patients than a correctional officer like Ray Navarro. Jerry was a wounded orphan while Ray was a wounded warrior. Both real problems that were no fault of either man, but whose differences were evident in each man’s demeanor.

Jerry had shared his story around a table of hot wings and beers on the first night Bill met him. The kid had blinked ten times and twitched twice before explaining that his parents had been killed in a car accident when he was only eight months old.

Some of the others had sympathized but continued to mock Jerry behind his back. And, of course, there were a few assholes in the group, who referred to Jerry as Gimp even to his face. Bill had gone a different way. He had befriended the young officer quickly and learned that whatever its cause, Jerry lived with a lot of pain in his heart.

Jerry Dunn halted his half-gait mid-stride and turned on his heels to face the yard. Bill shook his head at the younger man’s appearance. Jerry’s shaggy, black, stick-straight hair hung over his ears and looked as if it hadn’t been combed in days. Jerry’s skin was as pale as Bill’s was dark, and it had a certain smell about it. A mix of body odor and a cheap deodorant that acted as a substitute for bathing.

Jerry said, “I’m bored senseless. Let’s make a bet. I bet you two bucks that the two big Aryan brotherhood type guys right there. See them, one benching a million pounds and the other spotting him and looking disinterested. I bet you two bucks that the big guy doesn’t get it up and the smaller guy either makes fun of him about it or he barely even notices that the big guy dropped the thing on his chest.”

Bill followed Jerry’s gaze and shook his head again. This time at the younger man’s assessment of the situation. Bill said, “I’ll take that bet, but let’s make it twenty bucks.”

Jerry seemed worried by this raising of the stakes, but not worried enough to keep from saying, “You’re on.”

Bill let his gaze linger on the ABs and watched the scene play out just as he suspected it would. The bigger man dropped the bar, but his spotter didn’t even let the bar touch the other man’s chest before snatching it up onto the rack.

Bill said, “The spotter wasn’t looking away because he wasn’t paying attention. He was looking away because he was scanning the yard for threats.”

“But they don’t need to do that here. There are no physical threats.”

“Old habits.”

Crestfallen, Jerry continued along the perimeter, and Bill followed in step beside him.

“This group of one hundred,” Bill said, referring to the first wave of prisoners being transferred to the refurbished and repurposed Foxbury prison, “has had to form bonds quickly in order to maintain their dominance when the next wave hits. I know we’ve only been here a few months, but I’m shocked that no one has been killed yet. This new ‘experimental model’ gives these guys way too much freedom.”

As the bigger Aryan rose from the bench and took his place as spotter, the two locked fists, held the embrace for a breath, and released each other with a final squeeze of the shoulder. A strangely intimate public gesture that stretched the limits of the physical contact allowed at Foxbury. They may have even felt the jolt of a warning shock. Maybe that was the point. To bond through a little shared pain.

“It’s in their nature to join together into packs. They’re a group of hungry wolves thrown into a pen. The laws of nature take over. They’re going to gang up and start establishing bonds and hierarchy. I don’t care what they claim about this software and technology and cameras. It’s nature of the beast out here. Always has been, always will be. Someone’s going to get this place’s number. There isn’t a security system in the world that can’t be bypassed. If one guy’s smart enough to design it, then there’s another guy out there hungry enough to bypass it.”

“So far, it seems to be working. I think it’s a glimpse of what the prison of the future could look like.”

“Don’t drink the Kool-Aid just yet. It’s only been six months, kid. Trust me. ‘So far’ doesn’t last that long.”

Bill glanced back at the big Aryan, now standing solemn guard over his comrade like a stone sentinel.

Then Bill watched the big Aryan’s head split down the middle. He saw the blood a heartbeat before he heard the crack of a high-powered rifle.


A millisecond of held breath followed the first man’s death. A fraction of a heartbeat when the fight or flight instincts of every inmate twitched toward fight. After all, these men were all fighters in one way or another. It made time seem frozen somehow.

Then everyone, all at once, realized what had happened. The inmates dropped to the ground, as they had been taught, and the guards struggled to keep their wits.

Bill analyzed the situation, years of training and drills all floating to the surface of his personal sea of memories. The training kicked in and won the battle over his instincts.

An inmate must have been putting the life of a guard in danger. That was the only reason a tower guard would have opened fire. His gaze had just enough time to slide over the yard, searching for what he had missed, when the second shot rang out.

This time one of the inmates with his belly to the ground jerked wildly and then lay still, a spray of blood splattering the man to his left.

Bill tried to work it out. Why would a tower guard shoot an inmate lying on the ground?

Unless this was something more.

An entirely different set of training and drills took over—from before he became a correctional officer, from back when he was a young army recruit—and those military-issued instincts helped Bill immediately recognize what this really was. A sniper attack. They were under assault.

“Everyone up!” Bill screamed. “Get inside the buildings. Get to cover!” The throng of prisoners scattered as they scrambled to find protection. The sound of a third shot spurred their legs to pump harder.

Bill didn’t see the third man fall, but he did see from where the shot had originated. He had looked to the towers and walls first, scanning for the shooter. And up in Tower 3, he saw a man who looked like Ray Navarro, eye to his rifle, lining up another shot.

The yard was, looking down from above, the shape of a giant stop sign. Guard towers topped four of the outer vertexes. The safety of the prison’s main buildings was in the distance to Bill’s left. But Tower 3 and the sniper who had become like a son to Bill was closer on the right.

Safety or friendship.

When Bill had served his tour of duty, he had learned and believed that it was all about the man on your right and on your left, your brothers.

Safety or friendship.

Saving his own ass or trying to keep his friend from being killed. The decision was an easy one for Bill Singer. Not even a choice really. Just another instinct; a natural result of all he’d learned and experienced.

He ran toward Tower 3.

Access to the outer perimeter of the yard and the guard towers was made possible via a barred gate in the old stone wall. The problem was that the gate was actually more modern than its surroundings, and it had no locks or keys. It could only be opened by one of the watchers—the name the guards had bestowed on the computer techs who constantly monitored the prison’s thousands of cameras through some kind of special software. Amid the chaos of the yard, among the disorder of one hundred men running for their lives, one of those watchers would have to notice him and buzz him through the gate.

It was a long shot. Not to mention that he had to put himself squarely in Ray’s crosshairs—if that really was Ray up there—just to reach the gate.

The Ray he knew would never fire on him. But the Ray he knew would never fire on anyone. If it really was Ray, then it wasn’t the Ray he knew, and he had no way of anticipating the actions of this robot that had taken Ray’s place, this creature that seemed to walk in Ray’s skin.

Bill wasn’t really surprised to see a pair of the other guards having the same idea. A pair of energetic thirty-something guards who Bill knew as Trent and Stuart were already pounding their fists on the shiny aluminum gate and shouting up at one of the prison’s legion of cameras.

To his surprise, Bill was still twenty feet from the gate when he heard the buzz and clank of the lock disengaging. Big brother was watching. The other pair of guards pushed through and ran out of his view, but he knew where they were headed. He shot a glance to Tower 3 as he ran toward the now-open gate.

Ray had disappeared from the tower’s window. Whether the shooting was over or Ray was just reloading, Bill couldn’t be sure, but he did know that things would go better for his young friend if he was the first one up that ladder.

Bill shouted at the other guards to wait, to let him go up first, but he was so winded from the sprint across the yard that he couldn’t make the sound come out with as much force as he wanted.

The younger guards didn’t stop their assault. “Wait!” he shouted. The thought of Ray attacking the guards and escalating the situation spurred him forward, pumping his adrenaline to the next level.

Bill caught the gate before it could swing shut and relatch. He rounded the corner of the wall toward Tower 3 and looked up just as the parapet of the tower exploded in a searing ball of glass and fire.


The concussion wave slammed Bill to the ground like a swatted fly. Blackened and flaming chunks of concrete rained down around him. He looked back at Tower 3, and his eyes struggled to regain focus. The midday sun hung in the sky directly behind the watchtower. It looked to Bill as if the sun had simply absorbed the parapet of Tower 3 like some giant fiery PAC-MAN. He held his gaze into the sun just long enough to see that the tip of Tower 3 was gone, as if the crow’s nest was the top of a dandelion blown away and scattered to the wind, there and then not.

He was still disoriented by the blast wave. His vision blurred and then came back into focus. Blurred and focused. Then, through the haze, Bill saw Ray Navarro stumbling toward the opening in the stone wall, heading back to the main building.

It was Ray. Bill was sure of it. Not some impostor or impersonator, but his friend. Had the kid completely snapped?

If something was happening in Ray’s life that could have driven him to this, then Bill had no clue what it could have been. Maybe the kid had some kind of PTSD flashback? He couldn’t have been in his right mind.

Bill’s hearing suddenly returned. One second, it was a high-pitched ringing, a shrill otherworldly sound. Then the sound quickly merged back with the real world. The screams brought Bill back to the moment. He crawled, then stumbled, then ran toward the sound of the screaming. One of the men who had beaten him to the tower was on fire. He didn’t see the other.

The man, or more of a boy to Bill’s old eyes, rolled feebly on the ground to smother the flames. Bill could smell the man’s flesh cooking. It reminded him of sizzling bacon.

Bill shoved his hands through the flames to get to the boy. Just enough contact with the fire to singe off all the hair on Bill’s arms, but also just enough contact with the boy’s torso to shove him into a full roll.

He helped extinguish the last of the flames and then rolled the kid onto his back. His face was charred. He couldn’t stop crying and coughing. And Bill could think of nothing he could do to help.

The sound of boots crushing sand and gravel announced the arrival of more guards. One pushed Bill back and started performing CPR on the burned man.

Bill hadn’t even noticed that the kid had stopped breathing. He felt suddenly disoriented, as if he had just woken up from a bad dream, and his mind was struggling to realign with reality. All he could hear was the ringing, and it seemed to be growing in volume, swelling toward a climax.

He bent over and threw up. What could Ray have been thinking? Had he seen Ray heading back toward the prison? Had that been real? If so, where was Ray going? Had his young friend done this and then was trying to sneak away in the confusion?

Bill ran back toward the gate. The other guards shouted something about needing help, but Bill ignored them. He moved with a singular focus now.

One emotion drove him forward. Anger. One thought fueled his anger. That could have been me.

If Ray had premeditated this—and he obviously had, because he must have brought some kind of explosives with him and had at least some semblance of an escape plan—then that meant that Ray had no way of knowing who would have been the next person through that hatch. It could have been anyone. It could very easily have been Bill.

A few steps closer or a few seconds faster, and it would have been him.

His friend had nearly taken his life; he had nearly taken him away from Caroline.

That didn’t sit right with him and, at the very least, he was going to find out why.

The yard was almost evacuated, and Bill couldn’t miss Ray moving toward the north barracks.

He lowered his head and ran harder, trying to close the gap between them.

Ray didn’t look back, didn’t check over his shoulder once. As if not looking at the destruction he had caused would make it less real, less horrifying. As if guilt and shame wouldn’t catch him if he refused to acknowledge them.

The anger fueled Bill even more—the anger awakened something in him. Something that he hadn’t felt since his army days. He could still smell the young guard’s burning flesh. He could still hear his screams.

He closed the last of the gap in a dive, driving his shoulder into Ray’s back and sending them both sprawling onto the concrete of a basketball court.

Ray was first to his feet. He held a Glock pistol, probably stolen from the gun cabinet of Tower 3.

“Stay back,” Ray said.

“What have you done?”

“I said stay back!”


Bill’s voice cracked as he took a step toward the man he had spent countless hours counseling and guiding back toward sanity.

“Back,” Ray said, retreating toward the barracks.

“You tell me why!”

“I’m sorry. I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Glad I’m okay? I could have been killed. And what about the others you just murdered?”

“I can’t. . .” Ray shook his head and turned to run.

Bill stared at him a moment, dumbfounded.

It looked like the Ray he knew. The voice was the same. The look in his eyes. But the Ray he knew would never have done something like this. Did he have the capability? Sure. Ray was a former soldier. He had killed in combat. This was different. This was the visceral act of an animal with its back to the wall. This was the final attack of a dying predator.

What could have possibly driven Ray to such a desperate, animalistic decision?

Ray had taken three big strides toward the barracks before Bill made up his mind that Ray Navarro wasn’t leaving the yard.

Bill closed the distance between them in two huge strides. He threw all of his weight and momentum into a single blow. He hurled himself at Ray like a locomotive of flesh and bone. He aimed one huge punch directly at the back of Ray’s head. He would hit Ray hard with one sucker punch that would instantly knock him out. The fight would be over before it began.

But Ray ducked the punch at the last second and spun around, the gun still in his hand.

Bill immediately recognized his mistake. An old drill instructor’s words floated back to him from the ether of his memory.

Go for the body. The head is too small a target that can move and shift too easily.

Bill immediately knew the consequence of not heeding that advice.

The gun flashed.

Bill saw the shock and horror in Ray’s eyes.

He felt the warmth of the blood leaving the wound before actually feeling the pain of the puncture. He fell back to the concrete.

The ringing in his ears was fading away but leaving only silence in its place.

He heard the shouts of other guards telling Ray to get down. He closed his eyes. At least he had stopped Ray from escaping and hurting anyone else or himself.

Bill Singer heard the ringing. Then more shouting. Then the ringing again. And then nothing at all.

Author Bio:

Ethan CrossEthan Cross is the award-winning international bestselling author of The Shepherd (described by #1 bestselling author Andrew Gross as “A fast paced, all too real thriller with a villain right out of James Patterson and Criminal Minds.”), The Prophet (described by bestselling author Jon Land as “The best book of its kind since Thomas Harris retired Hannibal Lecter”), The Cage, Callsign: Knight, Father of Fear, and Blind Justice.

In addition to writing and working in the publishing industry, Ethan has also served as the Chief Technology Officer for a national franchise, recorded albums and opened for national recording artists as lead singer and guitar player in a musical group, and been an active and involved member of the International Thriller Writers organization and Novelists Inc.

He lives and writes in Illinois with his wife, three kids, and two Shih Tzus.

Q&A with Ethan Cross

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I think that James Grippando hit the nail on the head when he stated, “Someone you know, something you did, some abstraction you fear, some desire you hold, some piece of news you heard and interpreted through your own moral prism—in short, the person you are at the time you put pen to paper—goes into those characters.”

For me, that’s what it means to “write what you know.” That definitely doesn’t mean that I advocate inserting yourself into your story. I’m not all that interesting. And I think we all cringe a little when we read the dust jacket of a book that contains a writer as the heroic protagonist. However, I think that characters become especially real and interesting when the author has given them a quirk, passion, hobby, flaw, emotional baggage, etc that is personal to the writer. This familiarity and first-hand knowledge comes across on the page, and as a reader, I find those moments to be truly captivating. You can deeply feel that person’s pain, their need, their desires.

I guess what I’m saying is that I would never (or at least try not to) insert myself into a story, but I do think that there is something to be said about channeling a small aspect of yourself into a character when you breathe life into them. The trick is to do so and then let them live their own lives and be their own person.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I usually only have a vague idea about the ending and the events in the second half of the book. I’ll brainstorm a bunch of thoughts about plot points and the characters and their stories and motivations. Then I’ll usually do an outline of the first section of the book and try to channel that down into the first few chapters. I then let the story unfold in a pretty much linear fashion. Outlining further and refining ideas as I go. I consider my process to be a bit of a hybrid between outlining and pantsing. I like to think of it as linear story sculpting.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Stan, the Shepherd team’s tech genius, is loosely based on a friend and publishing industry colleague.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I typically start at 8:00 or earlier and don’t quit until 6:00. My usual spots for writing are either in a recliner, in my office, or a lounger, sitting in what I call “my secret garden.” If I’m in my office, writing, I’ll have all the lights shut off. I read somewhere that we’re more creative neurologically in a darkened room. I find it helps me to focus.

Tell us why we should read this book.
I think a wonderful writer of both books and for the screen, Matthew Quinn Martin, answers that question best:

An absolute next level thriller! The Judas Game welds the balletic brutality of Lee Child at his peak to the cerebral chicanery of David Ely’s Seconds…then girds the whole thing with a healthy dose of the emotional heft found in Wagner & Locke’s A History of Violence. If you are looking for a thriller with cartoon heroes and cardboard villains…look someplace else. If you want something that will leave you floored…this is the book.” – Matthew Quinn Martin

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I enjoy any book that’s action-packed, regardless of genre, and I’ve been known to read three or four books in a week. I love David Morrell, James Rollins, Lee Child, F. Paul Wilson, Dean Koontz, Jeffery Deaver, James Patterson, Douglas Preston, and many, many more.

What are you reading now?
Strong at the Break by Jon Land – The third book in the Caitlin Strong series

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
Sure! The next book in the Shepherd series will take place in San Francisco and features a killer known as the Gladiator. And Ackerman, Marcus, and the rest of the crew will all be back as well. And I’ll let you in on a little secret… I’m thinking of killing off a character who’s been in the series since the beginning.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
I’m going to run down my list of current actors and actresses who could possibly fit the bill for each character and briefly explain why….

Marcus – Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman (if he were younger), Stephen Amell, Sam Worthington, Chris Evans, Jensen Ackles, Henry Cavill

Marcus is my main protagonist. He’s a tortured soul with the frightening ability to get inside the head of a killer, a memory that’s both a blessing and a curse, and a gift for hurting people. The actor playing him would need to be physically intimidating, but also have some acting chops. I think Hugh Jackman could definitely pull it off, but he would be quite a bit older than the actual character. I would also love to see what Jensen Ackles (Dean from one of my favorite shows—Supernatural) could do with the role. He could definitely pull off the smart-ass part of Marcus, but I’m not sure if he could capture some of the character’s other traits. So the most likely candidate would probably be Chris Pine.

Ackerman – Michael Fassbender, Dan Stevens, Michael Keaton (if he was only younger)

This one is probably the toughest call, but also a role that a talented actor could really have a lot of fun with. He’s been described as a less-cultured Hannibal Lecter by a great number of people. He’s cunning, ruthless, extremely intelligent, charming, handsome, and completely insane. I think Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, Prometheus) or Dan Stevens (The Guest) could really shine in this role. And just for a bit of a wildcard… Michael Keaton. He’s way too old now, but if the movie was made 15-20 years ago, he could have been great. Don’t believe me? Check out Desperate Measures 😉

Maggie – Amber Heard, Julianne Hough, Ali Larter, Charlize Theron, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rose McIver

Maggie is the primary love interest and a member of the Shepherd team. She’s strong, but not tough. She’s beautiful, but not girly. She also has deep-rooted personal issues and suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. Any of the actresses mentioned above could do an incredible job with it, so this one is too close to call.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I’m a huge movie buff. My wife and I religiously have date night every week and take in a movie at the theater.

Favorite meal?
Hmmm…. I love food, so this is a tough one. But I’m going to say Cold Stone Creamery: Cake Batter Ice Cream with Marshmallows, White chocolate chips, and Cookie Dough 😉

Catch Up online with Ethan Cross on his Website, Twitter, and Facebook.

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PICT PRESENTS: A BLACK SAIL by Rich Zahradnik (showcase, interview, giveaway)

A Black Sail by Rich Zahradnik Tour Banner

A Black Sail

Rich Zahradnik

on Tour September 2016


A Black Sail by Rich ZahradnikOn the eve of the U.S. Bicentennial, newsman Coleridge Taylor is covering Operation Sail. New York Harbor is teeming with tall ships from all over the world. While enjoying the spectacle, Taylor is still a police reporter. He wants to cover real stories, not fluff, and gritty New York City still has plenty of those in July of 1976. One surfaces right in front of him when a housewife is fished out of the harbor wearing bricks of heroin, inferior stuff users have been rejecting for China White, peddled by the Chinatown gangs.

Convinced he’s stumbled upon a drug war between the Italian Mafia and a Chinese tong, Taylor is on fire once more. But as he blazes forward, flanked by his new girlfriend, ex-cop Samantha Callahan, his precious story grows ever more twisted and deadly. In his reckless search for the truth, he rattles New York’s major drug cartels. If he solves the mystery, he may end up like his victim—in a watery grave.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Camel Press
Publication Date: Oct 2016
Number of Pages: 264
ISBN: 1603812113 (ISBN13: 9781603812115)
Series: Coleridge Taylor Mystery, 3rd (Stand Alone Novel)

Purchase Your Copy of A Black Sail by Rich Zahradnik on:
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or check it out on Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


The NYPD Harbor Launch Patrolman Crane thudded over the waves toward the Brooklyn docks.
Millions of New Yorkers lived on islands and never gave a thought to the sea surrounding them. At this moment, the water was very much on Taylor’s mind. Gripping the rail of the police boat, he was looking down at a small undulating patch of it. Throwing up.

Minutes earlier, Taylor had watched the big orange Staten Island Ferry John F. Kennedy cross the harbor. He’d stared too long, and the police boat had bounced even harder as it crossed the ferry’s wake. The rocking of the Patrolman Crane and the counter movement of the Kennedy on Taylor’s immediate horizon had sent him running for the side.

Once he was done, Taylor stood and leaned against the side of the boat. A small American flag fluttered from a pole on the back of the launch. The Patrolman Crane’s white cabin and pilothouse, which took up most of the space on the vessel, were in front of him. The NYPD craft looked like a working boat—all business—and one that could move quickly when necessary.

Officer Greg Mott laughed at Taylor’s rookie distress. “You haven’t been out on the water for thirty minutes and you’re sick.” He handed Taylor a wet cloth.

Taylor wiped his face and thanked the Greek Orthodox God of his late mother he’d only had a buttered hard roll for breakfast two hours ago.

“Wouldn’t mind if this was real news. Seasick for a feature story? Not a price worth paying.”

“We’ve had a bunch of ride-alongs with reporters. Suddenly there’s lots of interest because the tall ships are coming for the Bicentennial celebrations. Usually no one cares what we do out here.”

Taylor gritted his teeth and ordered his stomach to stop flipping. It wasn’t listening.

The police boat slowed as it neared the Brooklyn piers, which jutted into water deceptively blue, considering how badly polluted it was. Must be some trick of the light.

Mott, a short, muscular member of the NYPD scuba team, leaned against the rail. “How the hell you going to cover Operation Sail if you’re seasick?”

“After this one feature about the harbor and what you guys will be doing July Fourth, I’m working from dry land. There are lots of safe, solid places to watch the boats.”

“Wouldn’t call them boats. Not if you want to write accurate. There’ll be ships. A lot of ships. Full-rigged and barks and barkentines and schooners.”

“Sound like an expert.”

“Sail myself. I begged to work the Bicentennial on Sunday. July Fourth, 1976. Two hundredth birthday of the USA. We’ll have the biggest modern day assembly of tall ships ever. Naval review. Fireworks. Great day to be on the water. Then there’s all the events on land. Might not see the like of any of it again. I mean, took them years negotiating just to get the ships here.”

At this moment, Taylor didn’t care if he saw a boat, ship, or whatever again, much less stood on one.

Sergeant Pat McCarthy, pilot and commander of the launch, stuck his head out the window of the bridge.

“Get ready, Motty. Possible drop.”

Mott pulled on his wetsuit and zipped himself in. “What’s the call?”

“Someone said they saw something go in before dawn.” “They’re telling us that now?”

“Precinct’s apparently been really busy.” Sarcasm seasoned McCarthy’s thick New York accent—Queens or maybe the borderlands with Brooklyn. “New York, man.”

Mott checked his equipment. Taylor marveled at him. The man should get a medal for just jumping into the polluted soup of New York Harbor.

“What’s a ‘drop’?” Taylor said.

“Drugs, usually. They cruise over from Jersey and dump sealed packages near the piers for pick-up later. The narcotics boys have had me check a bunch of times. Came up with four kilos of smack a month ago.”

“Why go by water?”

“Because of traffic stops outside the Jersey docks. The narcs have a fix on some of the suppliers’ messenger boys. Been grabbing them after the stuff comes off the freighters.”

Taylor shook his head. More than a decade covering cops in New York, and he still came across new and different ways to commit crime. The launch slowed more as McCarthy eased the craft between two piers. Sunlight turned to shadow. The morning had started with the air on land humid and heating up, but the breeze across the water made it feel less like an oppressive summer day.

The police boat stopped, gently bobbing between the pilings. That wasn’t enough to convince his stomach. Taylor didn’t know what would, but he wasn’t putting his head over the side if a real story was about to come aboard. He’d held no hope of anything that good happening when he stepped onto the launch.

Mott dropped into the water. Minutes passed. He came up with a headshake and dove again.
McCarthy stood by the rail, watching.

Taylor joined him. “How does he know where to look?” “The divers have a way of combing an area. Eliminates guesswork. Dumbasses think they can throw a gun in the water and it’s gone. They’re so wrong. Motty and the other divers know what they’re about.”

“What will they do during Operation Sail?”

“Untangle anchor lines of civilian craft. Help direct traffic. We hope nothing more serious. The Coast Guard expects thousands of small boats. Maybe more. We don’t want anything bad to go down on Sunday. New York needs this.”

Mott came up, pulled his mouthpiece out, and yelled for a line.


“Up against one of the pilings. A body.”

“Shit. I’ll call homicide.”

It took Mott more than ten minutes to get the body properly secured with the line. McCarthy and a second crewman strained to pull the dripping thing up into the boat. Water ran off a blue gingham dress onto the deck. The face and arms were already puffed up. Taylor knew the dead woman hadn’t been in the water long because the body would have looked a whole lot worse. She was white, with red hair, and appeared to have been relatively young. Her right foot had on a purple sandal. Her left was bare. She’d been shot in the right eye.

The witness had seen the body dumped early this morning. It was like the woman had gone for a summer walk sometime on Tuesday and run into terrible violence.

Around the body’s waist, looking almost like a floatation belt, was taped a chain of six square packages wrapped in heavy-duty black plastic. Maybe garbage bags. Maybe sheets of industrial-grade stuff.

Mott came up the ladder and dropped an iron bar in the boat. “That was tied to her foot. Why she wasn’t a floater.” Perversely, the body had settled Taylor’s stomach. Now he had a crime to focus on, and the possibility of a real story acted like some kind of natural Dramamine. He eased around to her left side. There was a deep depression above her left ear, the hair still matted by dried blood that hadn’t washed away. Hit hard and shot. Just to make sure? Somebody seriously wanted this woman dead. He wrote down everything he saw so he’d remember what to ask about later.

Wearing a work glove, McCarthy leaned in and pressed one of the black packages. It gave in to the pressure. “They’re not weights. That was the iron bar’s job. What’s inside stayed dry. The heroin we pulled up last month was wrapped exactly like this.”

Taylor looked up from his notebook. “Really think it’s drugs?”

“What else?”

“Why would someone deliver drugs strapped to a body?” “What if we didn’t pull her up?”

“Well, whoever was coming for the drugs would find her.”

Taylor pointed at the blue gingham.

“Exactly. I ain’t no detective. Never will be. Like driving my boat too much. My guess is someone’s sending a message.”


“That I couldn’t tell you. Know a message when I see one. Right now, I got other things to worry about. This week is supposed to be big PR for the city. My captain is going to go through the roof. Like I dropped the poor thing in the water.”

McCarthy went back to the cockpit, slowly backed the 50-foot Patrolman Crane out and navigated her between Governor’s Island and Brooklyn. Taylor, at the rear, took one moment to watch the Brooklyn Bridge, with its massive granite towers and, by comparison, fragile webs of steel cables, recede and disappear as the boat came around Red Hook. He loved that bridge, New York’s most majestic. As a Queens boy, he had to give Brooklyn credit for the bridge, but that was all. Brooklyn had nothing else to recommend it. He could say that in full confidence, especially since he lived there now.

McCarthy, the crewman, and Mott attended to their duties, taking care of all sorts of boat-related chores. There wasn’t anything more they could tell Taylor about the woman. Once the bridge disappeared from view, he sat near the body with his long, lanky legs stretched out in front of him, wondering who had put her under the water as some kind of message. He folded a stick of Teaberry Gum in his mouth to clear the bad taste. His stomach didn’t flinch. He stayed with her during the launch’s short journey from the piers to Harbor Charlie, the docks at the Army Terminal used by the Patrolman Crane and the rest of the Harbor Precinct.

Narcotics and homicide detectives, two apiece, from the 72nd Precinct were on the scene when the launch tied up. The narcs and the murder cops both wanted the case. They were still arguing over jurisdiction when the wagon took away the woman’s body. McCarthy and his crewman stowed gear and secured rope. Mott checked his diving equipment. Taylor hung back from the argument. Stepping in the middle of it would get him in trouble and yield no information.

The homicide cops ended the dispute by leaving. As the aristocracy of the NYPD, they swaggered off, probably certain they would go back to the house and win the turf war. Why were any of them trying so hard to add to their caseload? There was more than enough crime to go around for a police force shrunk by huge budget cuts. Too much. Maybe they wanted to be in on what was happening in New York Harbor this weekend. Even if it was the evil stuff.

One of the two narcotics detectives jumped into a Ford, leaving behind the other, Marty Phillips, a narc of Taylor’s acquaintance. Dressed in the not-quite-convincing attire of the modern plainclothesman—flared jeans, blue-and-white tie- dye T-shirt, and long hair not actually long enough—Phillips walked toward the exit to the street.

Taylor caught up. “Where’re you heading?”

“I need a drink.” Phillips always needed a drink. “How’d you sniff this one out so fast?”

“I was on the launch.”

Phillips’ light-brown eyes gave Taylor a quizzical look.

“A ride-along for an Operation Sail feature.”

“Seriously? Police reporter like you is writing about sailboats?”

“Everybody’s writing about sailboats. At least through the weekend. That why the homicide guys wanted to add this to their board?”


“I’ve seen killings over drug deals. I’ve seen ’em over who sells on what corner. This doesn’t fit.”

“This one’s not about corners.” Phillips looked around, which was odd, since he wasn’t a guy to worry who heard what. “It’s an import war. Not saying more out on the street. Let’s get a beer. Fraunces Tavern.”

“All the way back in Manhattan?” “I like to get off my patch to think.” To drink.

After the subway ride under the East River, they walked several blocks, winding their way along the narrow streets that made downtown so different from the grid—the squares and numbers—of midtown. At the corner of Broad and Pearl Streets stood Fraunces Tavern, one of New York’s great survivors. Built in 1719, a tavern off and on since 1762, it had been headquarters to Washington and witnessed his farewell to his officers.

As they both stepped up to the bar, Taylor breathed in sweet wood polish mixed with the pleasant hint of fresh beer. The tavern’s greatest feat of survival was the most recent one: re- opening after being bombed by the Puerto Rican terrorist liberation group FALN. A year ago January, a deadly explosion had ripped through the building when ten sticks of dynamite detonated, killing four and injuring more than 50. A crack running through the wall mural of the City of New York remained as a testament to the attack.

Taylor pushed a hand through windblown brown hair, trying to get back the rough side part that was supposed to last all day. He didn’t carry a comb. Unlike Phillips’ hair, his was trimmed shorter than the fashionable style. He’d tried long hair briefly, but it’d looked messy and dirty. He now kept the close, parted style he’d worn—except for the experiment with the mop top—since he’d outgrown his childhood crew cut.

Phillips ordered rye on rocks, and Taylor a seven-ounce Rolling Rock. It was a few minutes after noon.

“What’s with the cute beers?”

“I’m a cute guy.”

Taylor didn’t tell the narc that drinking little beers was one of the rules he followed to avoid the alcoholism of his father. The rules weren’t something he shared with cops—or anyone else. His stomach had already settled some. The Rolling Rock would be the real test. The first sip went down well. In fact, made him feel better.

Phillips took a big swallow of rye. “Never used to come here. Place is for bankers, not cops. But I’ll be fucked if some scumbag ’Rican terrorists are going to kick me out of a bar.”

“Still haven’t arrested anyone.”

“This is America. We let you blow shit up. We let you get away.”

“Tell me about this import war.”

“Where’s the heroin on the street come from?’

That question was New York Crime 101. “Mostly Afghanistan by way of Marseilles. Brought in by the Italian mob.”

“Yeah. The Fronti crime family, to be specific. That’s one reason for those Brooklyn pier drops. When the package comes in on a ship, the ship docks in Jersey. Slipping across the water’s become a safer way to get it over. But there’s a new supply of heroin and a new supplier. China White out of Southeast Asia. The Golden Triangle. The Leung tong in Chinatown is bringing it in. They want the import license for New York City.”

Confirms what Mott said about Brooklyn drops. But….

“It’s actually referred to as the ‘import license’?” “No, that’s me. Pretty good huh?”

He smiled around another swallow of whiskey. “How’s the murder figure into this?”

“The tong wants to take over as heroin supplier to New York City. I’ll bet money the victim’s related to someone in the Fronti family. That woman’s a statement.”

“McCarthy said something like that. Sounds like a leap with the body just recovered.”

“C’mon. It’s even obvious to a guy who paddles around in a boat. Wives and kids are off limits for the Italians. Nobody hits them. The tong doesn’t play by the same rules. Slant-eyed bastards never do. That’s why her body says this is about the import war.”

“What other evidence you got?”

“There’s already more China White on the street. This is big. It’s why the homicide guys want in. Important case. Meanwhile, they want us to stay on the street busting pushers—who will sell whatever comes their way. Pushers don’t care who’s importing. They want the smack the addicts will buy. China White is the better shit.”

Taylor got Phillips a second rye and left the narcotics cop at the bar. The one little beer on an empty stomach had already given him a buzz. He needed to get out of there before he spent the afternoon drinking and talking cop stories he wouldn’t remember later.

He caught the subway uptown to Times Square and walked one block to the City News Bureau’s offices in the Paramount Building. He needed to manage expectations with Henry Novak. He’d write the feature on the harbor patrol. He also wanted to work on something his boss—and friend—wasn’t looking for on the eve of the Bicentennial. Taylor was covering a murder that could turn into a big drug story.

© Rich Zahradnik

Author Bio:

authorRich Zahradnik is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Coleridge Taylor Mystery series (A Black Sail, Drop Dead Punk, Last Words).

The second installment, Drop Dead Punk, won the gold medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs). It was also named a finalist in the mystery category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Last Words won the bronze medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2015 IPPYs and honorable mention for mystery in the 2015 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Awards.

“Taylor, who lives for the big story, makes an appealingly single-minded hero,” Publishers Weekly wrote of Drop Dead Punk.

Zahradnik was a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter.

In January 2012, he was one of 20 writers selected for the inaugural class of the Crime Fiction Academy, a first-of-its-kind program run by New York’s Center for Fiction.

Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1960 and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where writes fiction and teaches kids how to publish newspapers.

O&A with Rich Zahradnik

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads.

-Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
The first book in the series is set in 1975 and this one, the third, is set in July of 1976 so I draw a lot from events that were current at the time. The second book, for example, deals with the financial collapse of New York City. This one features the Bicentennial celebrations in New York as the backdrop. My personal experiences as a journalist also inform the series.

-Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I start with the beginning and see where the journey takes me. I outline lightly—a couple of sentences on the next four or five chapters I will write. I definitely don’t know the end until I get close.

-Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I take traits and emotional reactions from different people I know and incorporate those into characters. But no character is based entirely on a real person. My protagonist, a journalist, has some of my traits, but in many ways is different from me. Taylor is a much better reporter than I ever was. He is far more focused on getting the story—sometimes to his detriment.

-Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
After about an hour of coffee drinking, email, social media and other chores, I start writing. I try to complete a chapter a day when writing the first draft. With revisions, I’m looking to do two or three chapters a day. I close email and social media windows and only open them during quick breaks.

-Tell us why we should read this book.
People should read this book if they enjoy mysteries that keep them guessing and keep the pace moving fast. Those who enjoy visiting a particular place and time—and perhaps seeing it anew—will also like A Black Sail.

-Who are some of your favorite authors?
Michael Connelly, Georges Simenon, Derek Raymond, Graham Greene, Tony Hillerman, William Gibson, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Charles Dickens.

-What are you reading now?
Plum Island by Nelson DeMille, The Orient Express by Graham Greene, Reporting World War II Vol. 1: American Journalism 1938-1944 edited by Samuel Hynes, Weird Heroes Volume 2 edited by Byron Preiss.

-Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m just finishing a stand-alone thriller called “The Causeway,” in which three people witness a drug murder as a hurricane is approaching a barrier island off New Jersey. With the storm raging, they must escape over the causeway back to the mainland before the murderers can catch them. In the next couple of weeks, I will start writing book 4 in the Coleridge Taylor series. This one will be set during the summer of 1977, when the serial killer Son of Sam terrorized the city and a blackout in July resulted in looting, millions of dollars in damages and more than 3,000 arrests.

Fun questions:
-Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Mark Ruffalo to play Taylor.

-Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Love movies and watching soccer (attended three world cups and still played pick up until three years ago). Swim for fitness. Still read comic books. As a volunteer, I teach journalism to middle school and high school kids, primarily in New York City schools.

-Favorite meal?
Rib eye

Catch Up with Rich on his Website, Twitter, or Facebook

Tour Participants:


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Rich Zahradnik. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of A Black Sail by Rich Zahradnik. The giveaway begins on August 31st and runs through September 30th, 2016.

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PICT Presents: HIDDEN TRUTHS AND LIES by Fran Lewis Review, Interview, Showcase & Giveaway

Hidden Truths and Lies

by Fran Lewis

on Tour June 13 – July 31, 2016


Hidden Truths and Lies by Fran LewisEach story in this series teaches a lesson the person behind the stone should have learned before committing crime, hurting someone else, or generally failing at life.

We’re about to enter Golden Stone Cemetery, where these unfortunate people are buried so deep you can barely find their markers. Their crimes are so heinous and their deeds so cruel that family members buried them here because they want to forget they ever existed.

Enter at your own risk.


“The stories in this collection by Fran Lewis are gripping in suspense and demonstrate a vivid imagination. I picked them up planning to read for a few minutes and couldn’t stop until I had finished the last story. Fran understands well and expresses the dark side that many people have. Motivated by greed or self-interest, some in these stories who seem like people we encounter every day are willing to undertake terrifying actions. It makes for an excellent read.” — Allan Topol, author of !e Italian Divide and The Washington Lawyer

Hidden Truths and Lies is a compilation of stories told from beyond the grave each one filled with terror as the character faces his or her own fate. The final two stories are pure science fiction and will hopefully allow readers to see the magnitude of this talented writer.” — Susan Ross, Board Of Education, NYC

My Thoughts and Opinion:

Horror and/or Paranormal was never a genre I would read. However, after reading the synopsis I was intrigued, and decided to read this book. I’m so glad I did.

Welcome to Golden Stone Cemetery, where those have passed over, reflect on what their life on earth was. Some ask the reader if it murder or natural causes, what they did to end up in limbo, who did they hurt and some just totally disagree as to why their life ended.

This is a very quick read, not being able to put it down. A definite page turner! Ms. Lewis’ writing style is descriptive and fluid. Her characters were life like but not always liked. I look forward to reading more by this author!!

I highly recommend this book. I think this would be a great addition to a book club as their are many questions that could and would make for a lively discussion.

Book Details:

Genre: Horror; Paranormal Suspense
Published by: Fideli Publishing Inc.
Publication Date: April 7th 2016
Number of Pages: 98
ISBN: 1604149124 (ISBN13: 9781604149128)
Series: Hidden Truths and Lies is the 4th book in Fran Lewis’s FACES BEHIND THE STONES series of stand alone novellas.
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Smashwords Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


Each story in this series teaches a lesson the person behind the stone should have learned before committing crime, hurting someone else, or generally failing at life. We’re about to enter Golden Stone Cemetery, where these unfortunate people are buried so deep you can barely find their markers. Their crimes are so heinous and their deeds so cruel that family members buried them here because they want to forget they ever existed.

Welcome to Golden Stone Cemetery, where the voices of these unfortunates can be heard loud and clear. Learning what they did and what their fates became will make you shudder. When you find out just how cruel they were in life, you’ll be glad they’re gone. You’ll be relieved that their families made sure the spirits of each of these nefarious characters will never rise again.

Who lies behind these unmarked stones? Let their stories unfold…

© Copyright 2016 Fran Lewis All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

Author Bio:

Fran LewisFran Lewis: Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three masters Degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure. The title of my new Alzheimer’s book is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey; Ruth’s story and Sharp as a Tack and Scrambled Eggs Which Describes Your Brain? Fran is the author of 13 titles.


Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
When creating my short stories I tend to draw from experiences that are often related in the news or from friends. Some of the stories in Bad Choices or Faces 2 are based on real life experiences such as being bullied or someone driving drunk and having to deal with the consequences. Faces 3 and 4 are quite unique unto themselves and both deal with someone that has been wronged or someone who has wronged them. The inspiration for these stories came to me after my sister passed away and I attended and created the program for her memorial service the following year. I imagined what would happen if she could tell me how she feels, what really happened that day and why she is gone. I walked around several other sites on the cemetery and began wondering what stories each person behind the headstones would tell if they could. Hence: Each story is told from the point of view of the person that passed away.

­Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where 
the story line brings you?
I begin by deciding the titles and people behind the stones whose stories I want to tell and why. I create table of contents and then begin writing. I never know just how justice will be served until the last page is written.

­Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
As a reviewer I feel a certain responsibility to the author’s waiting for my reviews so I always start my day by trying to read at least three books a day and create the reviews. I am the editor and creator of my own magazine and write articles in what I call the Speak Out section so sometimes my novel or short story writing takes a backseat. But, not to worry: Faces Five is in the works.

­Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day? 
I worked in the NYC Public Schools as a dean, assistant to the Assistant Principal, reading and writing specialist and peer mediator. I retired in 2003 when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my sister dared me to review a cookbook just for fun. I don’t know when end of the stove from another so this was a real challenge. But, I did it and Martha Cheves book was fun to review and my review was anything but ordinary. Humor is something I like to add when I can and I did.

Who are some of your favorite authors? 
­What are you reading now?
My favorite authors are: Steve Berry, Jon Land, Vincent Zandri, Larry Thompson, Daniel Palmer and children’s author: Martha Casper Cook. At the present time I am reading 5 books at once: Nothing but Echoes, Guilty Minds, America’s First Daughter: the story Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Hot Start and When Shadows Come.

­Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about i?
Faces Five is in the works. It will be in two separate parts: the first three or four stories will be based on the lives of real people and the next six based on real live events.

Fun questions: 
­Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
If I had to cast the driver of the limo it would be Alfred Hitchcock and I would have loved for him to direct the movie. The actor who played Lurch on the Addams Family would be great for the undertaker. The characters are real people so I think real people not just actors might play the part of the drunk teens, the dangerous drivers, the nasty girls and the bullies.

­Manuscript/Notes: hand written or keyboard? I type everything. I take notes and then because my handwriting is not so great I wind up rewriting them and then giving up and return to the keyboard.

­Favorite leisure activity/hobby? 
­Favorite meal?
I love to walk and of course read. I love listening to classical music and my favorite food is pizza and I love oatmeal. I am on a special diet and at times I just eat foods that are bland. But, no one can give up Pizza of course without sauce.

Catch Up:
Fran Lewis's website Fran Lewis's twitter Fran Lewis's facebook

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Don’t Miss Your Chance to Win!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Fran Lewis. There will be 3 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Hidden Truths and Lies by Fran Lewis. The giveaway begins on June 13th and runs through July 31st, 2016.

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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.
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.
I do not have any affiliation with or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.