Feb 082018


by Leslie Jones

on Tour February 1 – March 3, 2018


Framed by Leslie Jones

The next action-packed thriller from the author of Night Hush, Bait, and Deep Cover

When former hacker turned FBI cybersecurity specialist Hadley “Lark” Larkspur is asked to analyze a piece of malware, she never imagines the simple task will put her on the radar of underworld criminals. After armed gunmen try to abduct her outside a nightclub, though, it’s suddenly clear she’s in way over her head.

Delta Force operator Thomas “Mace” Beckett is in Boston awaiting his next assignment when he witnesses an attempted kidnapping. His training forces him to intervene, but then the woman pulls a gun on him. Mace isn’t sure what to make of the spitfire holding him hostage, but he quickly discovers that Lark is an innocent pawn in a dangerous game. Someone has framed her for the theft of millions from the mafia, and they want her to pay… in blood, if necessary.

With only days to find the funds, Lark and Mace scramble to track the real culprit. But their investigation unexpectedly leads straight to the heart of a terrible plot, one that could mean death for thousands. The criminals have stolen something far worse than money… and it’s about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0062499475 (ISBN13: 9780062499479)
Series: Duty & Honor #4 | Each is a Stand-Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Q&A with Leslie Jones


Thank you Cheryl! I’m thrilled to be here.

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

I do use my personal experiences in my writing. Eleven years in the Army exposed me to a plethora of sticky situations and entertaining characters. Great grist for the mill! I’m always on the lookout for current events that will inspire a plot twist, but I generally don’t write from the headlines. By the time the book comes out, the events are already dated. I’d rather create my own unique plots.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

I’m a plotter by nature. I always start a book by developing my heroes and villains. Then I brainstorm different scenarios, accept or reject plot ideas, and try to go beyond the obvious to something unique and exciting. While my books aren’t inspired by real-world events, I strive to create believable scenarios that will make readers say, “Boy, I hope that never really happens!”

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?

Lark, the female protagonist in Framed, was inspired by my best friend. Lark has a vibrant personality all her own, with quirks and mannerisms that are unique and entertaining. I enjoyed writing her the most of any of my characters. My BFF says I nailed it!

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

Now that I’m an empty-nester, I sleep in until 8:00, then stumble to the coffeepot for my caffeine. I check email and Facebook, then play a couple rounds of Candy Crush while I eat breakfast. Eventually I schlep myself through the shower. I write from 10 till 6 weekdays. Sometimes I remember to eat lunch.

Tell us why we should read this book.

Framed has a complex plot that was very challenging to write. It follows the story of Hadley “Lark” Larkspur, who is framed by an unknown entity for the theft of millions of dollars of mafia money. That’s just the beginning, though. With only days to find the funds and return them, Lark and Delta Force special operator Mace Beckett scramble to track the real culprit. But their investigation unexpectedly leads straight to the heart of a terrible plot, one that could mean death for thousands. The criminals have stolen something far worse than money…and it’s about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I love Suzanne Brockmann, Janet Evanovich, Robert B. Parker, and Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series. I also love Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas books. When I want something a little darker, I head for Andrew Vachss.

What are you reading now?

I’m currently reading One Shot by Lee Child.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

I’m excited to be starting a brand-new series, tentatively called the Hard Chargers. The 1st book, Kill Zone, is about a joint Delta Force/85th Military Police Battalion training mission that takes a deadly turn when convicts bound for the United States Disciplinary Barracks overrun a Fort Huachuca, Arizona prisoner transfer facility. I’m thoroughly enjoying figuring out how to torment my heroes!

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

I would be so thrilled to have any of my books made into a movie, I’d love anyone they cast.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

I love reading and painting. I’m also heavily involved with my local writing chapter.

Favorite meal?

Pizza, without a doubt – ham and pineapple with black olives. And double chocolate fudge ice cream for dessert. Yum.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

Thanks so much for having me!

Leslie Jones

Author Bio:

Leslie Jones was an Army Intelligence officer for many years and she brings her first-hand experience to the pages of her work. She resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is currently hard at work on her next book.

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

Read an excerpt:

Lark came even with an idling taxi, unaware of the danger as the two men stopped on either side of her. She half-turned, surprise and then alarm filling her face as she finally noticed them. A puff of white escaped her open mouth. She wrenched open the door of the taxi to escape, but one of the men yanked her away, pulling a Colt M1911 and pressing it into her stomach.

Mace came in fast and low, catching the second gunman around the waist and riding him down hard. The man’s head smacked against the pavement. Mace tore the semiautomatic from his hand, already rising and turning to the man holding Lark. The taxi driver yelled something Mace couldn’t hear and burned rubber as he raced away from the violence. Fucking coward.

He forced himself to ignore the blind panic on her face, instead focusing on the threat.

“What the fuck?” said the gunman. “Who the hell are you?”

Mace felt his expression go cold. “I’m the man who’s goan kill you if you don’ let her go.”

The man’s eyes narrowed and his grip on Lark tightened. The two gunmen—Dumb and Dumber—wore clothing almost identical to his own. Black jackets over T-shirts, military pants and black boots.

Dumb frowned as he looked Mace up and down. “Did Palachka send you? We got this covered, man. Get lost.”

“Let her go. Now.”

Dumb shook his head, anger growing in the depths of his eyes. “I got my orders. Palachka wants to have a chat with her, so I ain’t going to hurt her none.”

Damned straight he wasn’t. These men were muscle, just following orders. Palachka’s orders.

Who the hell was Palachka?

He glanced at the crowd. A small group watched them, grinning and nudging one another. As long as they thought theirs was simply a drunken brawl, no one would bother to call the police.
Lark hadn’t so much as twitched a muscle, but the whites of her eyes showed and he could feel her terror. She, too, looked at the line outside the nightclub.

He took a risk with a bald-faced lie. “Palachka tol’ me to take over. He said to tell you to head back and leave her to me. I’m the one’s goan to chat with her.”

Dumber picked himself up off the pavement and staggered over to his partner. “Lying prick. He’d’ve called us. And I don’t know you.”

“Best you don’ know me. I’m who Palachka calls when fucks like you bungle it.” Mace snorted. “What, you think he don’t have nothing better to do than deal with the likes of you? He’s waiting for you, though. Don’t want him pissed, do you?”

Both blanched. Mace walked casually over and tugged on Lark’s arm. Dumb hesitated, looked into Mace’s icy eyes, and finally loosened his grip. Mace lifted the Colt he’d taken from Dumber, pointing the barrel at the sky.

“This registered anywhere?”

Dumber felt the back of his head for the lump that must be forming. His fingers came away red with blood. “Nah, man. It’s clean. Why’d you wallop me, man?”

“Get out of here. We’re attracting attention.” He stared pointedly at the line of people outside the Promenade. “I’ll check in with Palachka when I’m done with her.”

Mace settled the matter by tightening his grip on Lark and dragging her toward the parking lot. Dumb and Dumber followed, exchanging a look.

“I’d better check in with him,” Dumb called. “Make sure you’re on the level.”

Mace forced an uncaring shrug. “Your funeral.”

They reached the edge of the deserted lot. Mace paused, raising his eyes pointedly. The two men hesitated, then shrugged and started in the opposite direction.

Stupid fucks.

Lark wrenched her arm so abruptly he lost his grip, and she took off like a rabbit back toward the nightclub. How could she even run in those ridiculously high heels? He caught her in three strides. Sure, she’d be safe inside—for now. But what happened when the two gunmen realized Mace had clowned them? They’d be back, and they would be furious.

“Wait,” he said. He pulled her to a stop.

She swung her huge purse like a brick. He pulled back just in time to avoid being clocked in the head. She dug into her bag, scrabbling around inside. Maybe she really did have a brick in there.

“Come on. We have to get away from here. It won’t take those idiots long to figure out I’m not one of them.” He risked a glance behind.

When he turned back a second later, she had dropped her purse and now pointed a Smith & Wesson .38 Special at him, backing off several steps to gain distance. Her hands shook so badly he feared she’d drop it. He looked hard at it, then had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop the laughter that threatened.

The cylinders were empty; the revolver wasn’t even loaded.

Clearly, she was no criminal mastermind. So why were those men after her?

He needed to get her somewhere safe. Then he could get the answers he wanted. Pulling his cell phone from his pocket, he punched in the code to unlock it.

“Put it down!” she nearly shrieked. “Put down the goddamned phone. Drop it right now!”

Of course. He was the idiot. She now thought he worked for the same man who’d sent thugs after her. Interestingly enough, she’d demanded he drop the phone, but not the pistol he still carried. He bent down and set both on the muddy slush of the asphalt, stepping away from them and raising his arms from his sides to show her he meant her no harm.

“Look, that was just—”

“Shut up,” she snapped, narrowing her eyes. He guessed she was trying to cow him, but she seemed as threatening as a baby kitten. “If you don’t do what I say, I’ll…I’ll shoot you.”


Saturday, February 18. 12:35 a.m. The Promenade. Boston, Massachusetts.

Lark tightened her grip on the gun, her mind a blank. Her life had been threatened. Why? And what the hell was she supposed to do now?

“I’m calling the police.” She tried to reach her right front pocket with her left hand, but it shook so badly she couldn’t manage it.


“What?” She stopped fumbling with her phone out and stared at him.

“No. I can’t allow you to call the police. Either I’ll have to vacate the area or they’ll arrest me. Either way, I can’t protect you.”

He seemed so calm. Did he know she wouldn’t shoot him? The gun Kaley had insisted she buy felt heavy in her hand. In fact, Kaley had all but dragged her to the gun store, explaining to the owner that Lark often worked late at night, when Chelsea was dark, deserted, and dangerous. The box of bullets in the bottom of her purse made it worse than useless, but she’d barely had time to register for a class in how to use the gun, let alone load it. Not that she’d admit such a thing to him.

His words finally penetrated her panicked mind. “You should be arrested. Attacking defenseless women on the street? Kidnapping? You should be in jail.”

“I did none of those things.” Mace nodded toward the nightclub. “This is too public. Someone is going come into the parking lot soon. Someone will have called the police by now. We need to get out of here.”

She snorted. “So you can protect me?”

“Yes.” He remained maddeningly calm.

“Bullshit.” Call the police, her rational mind told her. Let them handle it. It was their job, after all. But some buried instinct agreed with him. In her experience, the police were the enemy. You’re not a hacker any more. You’re legit. You work for the FBI. You have nothing to fear.

Except maybe being arrested for carrying a gun in her purse without a permit. She’d worry about that little detail later.

But old habits died hard. If Mace were arrested, the odds that the cops would share information with her were minimal, and she would still be in the dark. And it pissed her off that her big brain couldn’t find a logical solution to her current dilemma. “We’re going to walk to my car. If the police show up, so be it. You become their problem. Get your hands up higher, and walk in front of me.”

Common sense dictated she force him to leave. To get into her car and drive away. To call 911 and hope for the best. But she’d still know nothing. Mace was clearly working with those other men with guns, and she needed him to tell her what was going on. That meant keeping him with her. Not her smartest idea ever, since he’d been sent to kill her. But what choice did she have?

She’d make him spill the beans. Somehow.

Right now, she needed to get out of this neighborhood before any more black-clad thugs came within grabbing distance of her.

“Move,” she said, deepening her voice and snapping off the words. Hopefully he couldn’t see the tremors in her hands. Thankfully he obeyed, strolling down the line of cars as though she didn’t have a gun trained on him. She scooped up her purse and followed.

“Go to the left. Down this row. There…no, stop. The orange Jeep Liberty.”

He paused beside her car. “Good God. You actually drive this thing?”

It had been her first purchase after getting her Master’s degree, even before the FBI hired her. She’d been so relieved to ditch her junker and drive a new-ish car, and she’d gotten a smoking deal on it. Her hackles rose, and for a moment, she forgot to be terrified.

“It’s a sweet ride. What do you know?”

He grinned at her. “Whatever you say.”

For a moment, she wished she’d gone through agent training with the FBI, instead of as a computer scientist. She’d know, for instance, how to shoot her shiny new gun. Computer scientists received training at Quantico, sure. But in reverse engineering of malware, digital forensics, and intrusion detection. Administrative processes. She’d received no training in firearms, tactics, or taking smokin’ hot men prisoner.

Who else could she call for advice? Trevor’s mobile was number five on her phone’s favorites tab. It would be, what? Nine in the morning in London, assuming he wasn’t on assignment. She put a hand to her head. Her gun hand, she realized, as it thumped her temple. “God damn hairy ass wrinkly old man balls!”

Mace laughed. “You don’ mess around, do you? Dat was an impressive bit of cussing.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“Lark, I’m serious. It won’ take those yahoos long to come back. We need to be long gone by then. Please trust me.”

First thing first. Before her innards melted from his honeyed Cajun drawl, she switched the revolver to her left hand, keeping it trained on him as she fished her phone out.

“Please don’t call the cops,” he said again. “Say they show up. You tell them what happen’. I tell them what happen’. Maybe they take me down to the station, maybe they just put me in a squad car while they check me out. Either way, the cops will release me. But while all the fuss is going on, you might decide to just walk away. Bad people are gunning for you. Keep me with you.”

She shot him a warning glare and pressed Trevor’s number. It went straight to voice mail. Now what?

She swung her bag forward so she could scrabble inside for her keys. Damn it! She risked a quick look inside her purse and spotted them. Hooking the ring out with a finger, she tossed the whole thing to him. He caught it one handed.

“Get into the driver’s seat,” she commanded.

He obeyed, squashing his six-foot-three inch frame into the driver’s seat. “Gawd damn. This t’ing built for a child.”

He reached down and pulled the seat lever, sighing in relief as the seat moved back. He stretched his legs, reaching across to unlock the passenger door for her. She dropped her bag at her feet before easing inside, keeping the gun trained on him. He glanced at her and away. She could have sworn he hid a smile.

“Now what?” he asked.

She had no earthly clue. Putting a hand to her aching head, she made a sound of pure frustration. Only he could provide the information she needed.

She couldn’t take him to her home; that would be insane.

Would it?

It would have to be her room at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge. Kaley had insisted the entire wedding party stay at the hotel the night before the wedding.

“A hotel.”

“Good choice. I know one down by—”

“No,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere anyone knows you, or can find you.”

“All right. You’re calling the shots.”

Why did he seem so calm? She’d threatened to shoot him.

“Get on the freeway.”

He put the car into gear and drove on surface streets till he got to the highway, then took the entry ramp and merged with traffic. They headed northwest.

“Take this exit.”

“Why this one?”

“Just do it!” She couldn’t help the way her voice rose. “Turn left.”

Mace made a soothing motion with one hand, then returned it to the wheel. “Look, I know what I said back there. I played along to get them away from you. I’m not trying to hurt you.”

“Yeah, you’re just trying to kill me.” Anger replaced her fear. She lifted the gun and pressed it against his head. “Turn in here, asshole.”

Mace slowed and turned into the parking garage for the Hyatt Regency Cambridge. Lark cringed, already regretting her choice to bring him back here.

“What now?”

In for a penny, in for a pound. That sounded like something Trevor would have said. Remembering his cool competence steadied her. She squared her shoulders. “Park it.”

Mace did so. “Now what?”

Lark felt like tearing her hair out in frustration. How could she get him up to her room without him just walking away? “Now you tell me what’s going on. Now you tell me who the fuck Palachka is, and why he wants me dead.”

Surprise lifted his brows. “You don’t know?”

“Aagh!” She thunked her head against the headrest. “Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. All right. This is what we’re going to do. You’re going to open your door and come out with your hands where I can see them. Is that clear?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

What would she do if he attacked her here, in the still, dark parking lot? He’d already caught her once because of her high heels. She could threaten all she liked, but, ultimately, she had no control over him.

“Stand by the hood and don’t move.”

When he’d complied, she dug frantically in her purse for the box of bullets. The store owner had shown her how to open the cylinder thingy so she could put the bullets into the holes, but hadn’t allowed her to load it inside his store. Pulling the box into her lap, she fumbled it open, spilling most of the bullets down her leg and onto the floor mat. Swearing and sneaking looks at Mace to ensure he hadn’t moved, she pressed the button to swing the cylinder open, and got it on the third try. Shoving some bullets into the holes, she pushed the cylinder closed again. According to the gun store owner, all she had to do now was pull the trigger. She reached down and scooped as many bullets as she could find back into her purse.

Time to face the music. Or the firing squad.


Excerpt from Framed by Leslie Jones. Copyright © 2017 by Leslie Jones. Reproduced with permission from Leslie Jones. All rights reserved.

Tour Participants:

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


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Witness Impulse. There will be 2 winner of one (1) eBook copy of FRAMED by Leslie Jones. The giveaway begins on February 1 and runs through March 4, 2018. Void where prohibited.

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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 Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Feb 072018

No Fury Like That

by Lisa de Nikolits

on Tour February 1 – March 2, 2018


No Fury Like That by Lisa de Nikolits

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Guest Post

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

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

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

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

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

5. She brushes her teeth five times a day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Bio:

Lisa de Nikolits

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

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

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

Read an excerpt:

10. Beatrice The Administrator.

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

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

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

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

They have no answer for that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We sit and drink in silence.

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

“You okay?” Samia asks.

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

“It takes a while.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?” I ask. “Rain can be soothing.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We turn down an unusually dark hallway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We hold our breath.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Go on, shoo! Out you go!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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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 Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Feb 022018

The Amendment Killer by Ronald S. Barak Tour Banner

The Amendment Killer

by Ronald S. Barak

on Tour February 1 – March 3, 2018


The Amendment Killer by Ronald S. Barak


That’s the text message Supreme Court Justice Arnold Hirschfeld receives as hearings commence in the U.S. Supreme Court to determine the fate of the 28th Amendment – enacted to criminalize abuse of power on the part of our political representatives.

In court to defend the amendment, retired U.S. District Court Judge Cyrus Brooks observes his old friend and law school classmate Hirschfeld acting strangely and dispatches veteran D.C. homicide detective Frank Lotello to find out why.

In the meantime, Hirschfeld’s precocious and feisty 11-year-old diabetic granddaughter Cassie, brutally kidnapped to control her grandfather’s swing vote upholding or invalidating the amendment, watches her insulin pump running dry and wonders which poses her greatest threat, the kidnappers or the clock. As Brooks is forced to choose between saving our nation or saving the girl.

**Read my review HERE and enter the giveaway**


Editorial Reviews

THE AMENDMENT KILLER is tense, timely, and terrific!”
-Lee Child, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of the Jack Reacher novels

“With an unparalleled sense of terror forewarned on the opening page, Ron Barak’s THE AMENDMENT KILLER is a high-speed, tense political thriller about one of today’s most fundamental issues, the integrity of our SupremeCourt.”
Andrew Gross, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The One Man

THE AMENDMENT KILLER is a high concept, hybrid blend of a political, psychological and action thriller all rolled into a smooth, savory, and suspenseful mix. Ron Barak manages to channel the best of John Grisham, David Baldacci and even Steve Berry in this amazingly timely tale cast with a SupremeCourt backdrop. As prescient as it is thought-provoking and as much fun as it is factual, this is reading entertainment of the highest order. I’d be shocked if this book doesn’t become a bestseller.”
Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author of Strong Light of Day

“From its electrifying opening line to its powerful conclusion, THE AMENDMENT KILLER is a ripped from tomorrow’s headlines story of law and politics set against the backdrop of the Supreme Court. But more so, it’s a story about the lengths we will go for the ones we love. Timely, fast-paced, and heartfelt, you’ll mourn the turning of the last page. Ron Barak is a writer to watch.”
Anthony Franze, author of The Outsider

“Ron Barak’s THE AMENDMENT KILLER is easily the best high stakes legal thriller we’ve read in 2017.”
Best Thriller Magazine


Book Details:

Genre: Political and Legal Thriller
Published by: Gander House Publishers
Publication Date: November 1st 2017
Number of Pages: 570
ISBN: 0982759096 (ISBN13: 9780982759097)
Series: Brooks/Lotello Thriller, Volume 1


**Q&A with Ronald S. Barak**

Writing and Reading:

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I draw from personal experiences and current events. The idea for a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution criminalizing abuse on the part of our political representatives came from my observation of current events, the political dysfunction in modern day Washington, D.C. But I combined my observation of those current events with my personal experiences as a courtroom lawyer, both how the Supreme Court battle takes place in The Amendment Killer and on the language of the 28th Amendment. The story is about that amendment. As you may know, I drafted that amendment in the real world and put it on my website even though it’s just fantasy in my novel.

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 in the beginning and work toward the end. I know what happens in the opening scene of the novel and generally what I think will happen, but I don’t know the specifics or the details. I am not a plotter. I don’t make an outline first of how the story will go. I am a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants, making up the details as I go.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Yes. First of all, Cyrus Brooks is patterned after me. I think his personality and his humor is very much like mine. Also Cyrus’ wife Eloise is very much like my wife Barbie. You will note that Cyrus and Eloise have a dog, named Ryder, and a cat, named Maccabee, or Maccs. Ryder and Maccs are based on a real dog and a real cat that Barbie and I have. Unfortunately, the real world Maccs recently had kidney failure and became very ill. We had to put him to sleep because he was suffering. That was of course very hard on Barbie and me. I wrote about losing Maccs on my website blog. There is one other character in The Amendment Killer that is based on real world people we know. Cyrus works with a detective by the name of Frank Lotello. Frank has a daughter who is named Madison. She is best friends in the novel with Cassie Webber, the young kidnapped diabetic granddaughter of the Supreme Court Justice who is kidnapped in the story to control her grandfather’s vote in the very important case concerning the 28th Amendment. Our granddaughter is named Madison. Frank’s daughter is patterned after our real-world granddaughter Madison.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
My routine is not very routine. When I have lots of responsibilities to my law clients, I have to fit my writing in when I can, one or two hours at a time here or there, sometimes very early in the morning or late in the day. When I’m able to reduce my law practice commitments then I write as much every day as possible, at least four to six hours and sometimes twelve to fifteen hours. That’s not hard on me because I really like writing. The only idiosyncrasy that I have is I like to write sitting on the floor. I put my back against a sofa and my laptop computer keyboard and monitor on a coffee table in front of me. It sounds weird, but it’s actually very comfortable and works well for me. I listen to my music while I write and I have my cell phone within reach—unless I’m on deadline.

Tell us why we should read this book.
Because I wrote the book for people to read. I love engaging with my readers. I answer all of my emails personally. I think people should also read the book because it is very timely in terms of the political dysfunction in our country today. I try to write novels that are very timely, and cause people to think about what’s going on in the world. I also try to make my stories very exciting. Lee Child, NYT #1 bestselling author of the Jack Reacher novel called my book “Tense, timely, and terrific!” He gave me that for the cover of my novel. Best Thriller Magazine recently featured The Amendment Killer on the cover of its magazine and called it “Easily the best high stakes legal thriller of 2017. At the end of the day, the reason why people should read this book is because what all the readers who have posted five-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are saying about it. They are the judges, not me. Oh, and one other reason to read this book: To read it you need to buy it and my wife and I have pledged 50% of the proceeds of sales of the book to diabetes research. Like Cassie in the novel, 30 million people in the real-world U.S.—one in every ten Americans is diabetic. I am one of those 30 million.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I read almost all of the novels of the present and past bestselling thriller and mystery writers.

What are you reading now?
Right now, I’m reading two novels, The Outsider by Anthony Franze, who writes great mysteries about the U.S. Supreme Court where he practices appellate law, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie, which many in England call the best English mystery of all time.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on my next novel, The Puppet Master. It’s another in the Brooks/Lotello Thriller series and is the prequel to The Amendment Killer. It’s in final rewriting and editing and I expect it to be released before next summer. You can read the first five chapters of it at the end of The Amendment Killer. It’s about a vigilante serial killer in modern Washington, D.C. going around assassinating corrupt political leaders. It’s a real who-dunnit. Or maybe I should say why-dunnit? No spoilers here.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie.

From you lips! Who would you cast? I’ll go you one better. Please go to my website, www.ronaldsbarak.com/meet-the-characters/the-amendment-killer and www.ronaldsbarak.com/meet-the-characters/the-puppet-master, and see the images of all of the characters in The Amendment Killer and The Puppet Master as I perceive them and you tell me who you’d cast to play them.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Golf and reading.

Favorite meal?
Sushi and other Japanese food.


Author Bio:

Ronald S. Barak

Described by his readers as a cross between Agatha Christie, Lee Child, and John Lescroart, bestselling author Ron Barak keeps his readers flipping the pages into the wee hours of the night. While he mostly lets his characters tell his stories, he does manage to get his licks in too.

Barak derives great satisfaction in knowing that his books not only entertain but also stimulate others to think about how things might be, how people can actually resolve real-world problems. In particular, Barak tackles the country’s dysfunctional government representatives—not just back-seat driving criticism for the sake of being a back-seat driver, but truly framing practical remedies to the political abuse and corruption adversely affecting too many people’s lives today. Barak’s extensive legal background and insight allow him to cleverly cross-pollinatepollenate his fiction and today’s sad state of political reality.

In his latest novel, THE AMENDMENT KILLER, Barak calls upon his real world legal ingenuity and skill to craft a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution criminalizingcriminalizng political abuse and corruption that Constitutional scholars across the country are heralding as a highly plausible answer to the political chaos destroying the very moral fiber of the country today. It’s difficult to read THE AMENDMENT KILLER and not imagine what could—and should—be expected and demanded of those political leaders who have forgotten they are there to serve and not be served.

Barak is also a committed and strident advocate of finding a cure for diabetes. One of the primary characters in THE AMENDMENT KILLER is the feisty and precocious 11-year-old diabetic granddaughter of the Supreme Court justice holding the swing vote in a case in which Congress is challenging the validity of Barak’s hypothetical 28th Amendment. It is no small coincidence that Barak is himself a diabetic. Or that he has committed 50% of the net proceeds of THE AMENDMENT KILLER to diabetes research and education.

Barak is singularly qualified to have authored THE AMENDMENT KILLER, which will appeal to political and legal thriller aficionados alike. Barak is a law school honors graduate and a former Olympic athlete. While still in law school, he authored a bill introduced in Congress that overnight forced the settlement of a decades long dispute between the NCAA and the AAU to control amateur athletics in the United States.

Present-day politicians would do well to read THE AMENDMENT KILLER and not underestimate the potential of Barak’s 28th Amendment. You can read his 28th Amendment at ronaldsbarak.com/28th-amendment-page-2. You can also read his occasional political blogs at ronaldsbarak.com/blog.

Ron and his wife, Barbie, and the four-legged members of their family reside in Pacific Palisades, California.

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


The Amendment Killer Trailer:

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Tuesday, May 6, 6:30 am

We have your granddaughter. Here’s what you need to do.

Thomas T. Thomas III reviewed the language. Again. He closed the phone without hitting send. Yet.

He stared through high-powered binoculars from atop the wooded knoll. As always, the girl hit one perfect shot after another.

Cassie Webber. Age 11. He’d been tailing her for three months. It seemed longer.

She was chaperoned everywhere she went. Two-a-day practices before and after school. Her dad drove her in the morning. He watched her empty bucket after bucket and then dropped her off at school. Her mom picked her up after school, ferried her back to the practice range, and brought her home after daughter and coach finished. Mom and daughter sometimes ran errands on the way, but always together. Even on the occasional weekend outing to the mall or the movies, the girl was constantly in the company of family or friends. Having someone hovering over me all day would have driven me batshit.

His childhood had been different. When Thomas was her age, he walked to school on his own. And he lived a lot farther away than the girl. His daddy had never let his driver chauffeur him around. Wasn’t about to spoil him. Spare the rod, spoil the child. Didn’t spoil me that way either.

He kept telling himself patience was the key. But his confidence was waning. And then, suddenly, he’d caught a break. The girl’s routine had changed.

She started walking the few blocks between school and practice on her own. Dad dropped her off at morning practice and Mom met her at afternoon practice instead of school. Only a ten minute walk each way, but that was all the opening he needed.

Everything was finally in place. He would be able to make amends. He would not let them down.

This time.

She completed her morning regimen, unaware of Thomas’s eyes trained on her from his tree-lined vantage point. No doubt about it, he thought to himself. She was incredibly good. Driven. Determined.

And pretty.

Very pretty.

He relieved himself, thinking about her. A long time . . . coming. Haha! As the girl disappeared into the locker room, he trekked back down the hill, and climbed into the passenger side of the van. He returned the binoculars to their case. He removed the cell from his pocket, and checked the pending text one more time.

Moments later, the girl emerged from the locker room, golf bag exchanged for the backpack over her shoulders. She ambled down the winding pathway, waved to the uniformed watchman standing next to the guardhouse, and crossed through the buzzing security gate. She headed off to school.

Without taking his eyes off her, Thomas barked at the man sitting next to him. “Go.”

Chapter 2

Tuesday, May 6, 7:00 am

Eloise Brooks stared at Cyrus and shook her head. After more than 50 years of marriage, she understood everything about him there was to understand. Still: “I take the time to make you a nice breakfast. The least you could do is eat it while it’s hot.”

She held the warm cup of tea in both hands. “And can’t you talk to me, Cyrus? Why do you treat me like I’m not here? Like I’m some kind of a potted plant.”

Cyrus moved the eggs around on his plate. Speared a bite of fruit, swallowed it, but showed no visible pleasure in it. “I’m eating. What do you want to talk about? You think the couple cut from Dancing With The Stars last night deserved to be sent packing?”

“Should have got the hook weeks ago. You dance better than he does. Even with your two left feet.”

He didn’t answer. She knew why. “What’re you thinking about? Esposito? Whether 50,000 is enough? Your two left feet?”

“All of the above.”

She gazed at him but said nothing. Notwithstanding his apparent disinterest in the plate of food in front of him, his appetite—and his imagination—were never-ending. He loved upbeat music and dancing. And sports. He couldn’t carry a tune or dance a lick. Except for an occasional round of golf, his sports these days were mostly played out in front of the television. But that didn’t stop him from daydreaming. He danced like Fred Astaire. He sang and played guitar and harmonica like Bob Dylan. He moved around a tennis court like Roger Federer.

However, Eloise knew his real passion in life was the law. He had enjoyed a distinguished legal career, first as a trial lawyer and then as a U.S. District Court judge. Now retired from the bench, writing and teaching, and occasionally trying a case that got his hackles up, when it came to the law, those who knew Cyrus Brooks knew he was second to none. Amazing how sometimes he exuded that—with confidence bordering on arrogance—but at other times did not. More so since Frank Lotello had been shot, and barely survived.

Brooks sat there fidgeting restlessly with the newspaper. Eloise reached over and put her hand on his. “You’ll be great, Cyrus. I need to walk Ryder and get dressed, so we can drive into Court together. Please make sure Maccabee’s dishes have enough water and dry cat snacks.”

Arguments in the case were scheduled to commence in barely two hours. The chance to appear before the United States Supreme Court was rare, even for Brooks, but to do it in a landmark case that could permanently change the U.S. political landscape was unparalleled.

When they were first married, Eloise often attended Cyrus’s court appearances, both to show her support and because the judicial process was new to her. Now long accustomed to Cyrus’s legal adventures, Eloise was a less frequent visitor to the courtroom. Given the importance of this case, she told Cyrus the night before that she planned to attend.

He looked up absently with a gentle, distant smile, still fixed in some far-off place, no doubt grateful for her efforts to distract him, and bolster his confidence. “Macc’s snacks? Sure.”

Chapter 3

Tuesday, May 6, 7:20 am

Cassie left the practice range, looking momentarily at the clock on her phone. School began at eight. She had plenty of time.

She strolled along the familiar middle-class neighborhood route to school, sticking to the tree-hugged, concrete sidewalk. Well-kept houses on modest-sized manicured lots, one after another, adorned both sides of the paved street that divided the opposing sidewalks.

Mouthing the words to the song streaming through her earbuds, she made a mental note of a few questions from her morning practice to ask Coach Bob that afternoon.

Using her ever present designer sunglasses—a gift from her grandparents—to block the sun’s glare, Cassie texted her best friend Madison:

Hey, BFF, meet u in cafeteria in 10. Out after 1st period to watch ur mom & my poppy in S Ct—how dope is that? 2 excited 4 words!

As she hit “Send,” she was startled by the sound of screeching tires. She looked up from her phone and saw a van skid to the curb a few houses ahead of her. A man in a hoodie jumped out and charged straight at her.

She froze for an instant, but then spun and raced back in the direction of the clubhouse. “Help! Help!! Someone help me!!!”

As she ran, she looked all around. No one. She saw no one. The guard kiosk was in sight, but still over a block away. Does he want to hurt me? Why? Why me?

Hearing the man gaining on her, she tried to speed up. If I can just get close enough to the gatehouse for someone to help me. She glanced back, shrieking at the top of her lungs, just as the man lunged. He knocked her to the ground, shattering her glasses in the process. “What do you want?! Leave me alone! Get off me!!!”

She saw him grappling with a large syringe. “No!” She screamed even louder, clawing and kicking him savagely—until she felt the sharp stab in the back of her neck. Then nothing.


Excerpt from The Amendment Killer by Ronald S. Barak. Copyright © 2017 by Ronald S. Barak. Reproduced with permission from Ronald S. Barak. All rights reserved.


Grab Your Copy of The Amendment Killer:

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Plus Add it to Your Goodreads 🔗 List!

Don’t miss your chance to grab a copy of The Amendment Killer during these two great sales!

The Nook AudioBook 🔗 will be $9.99 February 20-26, 2018
The Kindle eBook 🔗 will be $1.99 February 22-28, 2018.


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Jan 182018

Fiona Maria Simon’s



Tour Begins November 13th!



In Gambling on Granola: Unexpected Gifts on the Path of Entrepreneurship, Simon shares a tale that is uplifting and inspiring but also raw and honest. This is a business memoir but also a love story―the love for her daughter, of a journey in uncharted waters, of the products and company she created, and of the continued challenge to follow her dream.

We see her growth and healing over fifteen years, as mistakes, weaknesses, and naiveté evolve into resilience, resolve, and inspiration. For Fiona, it started out as all new businesses do―with an idea. But her world quickly became more complex as she established her company, developed new product lines, forged personal relationships in a competitive environment, grew her business, and held onto her deepest values―all while raising her daughter, Natalie, as a single mom.


Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Terra Nova Books

Publication Date: January 1, 2018

ISBN-10: 1938288920

ISBN-13: 978-1938288920/center>
Pages 200



Fiona Maria Simon is a former journalist, travel writer, editor, and communications director of the Boulder, Colorado, Chamber of Commerce. She is passionate about developing healthy food products, writing, traveling the world, and inspiring and empowering others with her story. Lured by the adventures of entrepreneurship, she launched her own organic granola company and led it to success despite having no business background and simultaneously juggling the demands of being a single mom. Her book is a story of challenges, hardships, and triumphs, both personal and professional.

Connect with Fiona at these sites:



“Fiona’s story is both personal and transformative. She lays bare the hopes and anxieties, challenges, betrayals and lessons learned in creating her own business. From the mountaintops of a solar observatory where she was raised, to the struggles and triumphs, her story is like a path of granola crumbs leading the reader to understand how to succeed at any enterprise.”
– Jeff Kline, M.A. Ed., Chairman, Hispanic Communications Network, Washington, DC.

“Fiona Simon is an engaging storyteller and her narrative moves right along. It should inspire and motivate anyone who needs to remember the importance of persistence, belief in oneself, and vision in pursuing a goal. Her granola is good and so is her book.”
– Bob McCormick, Publisher, Editor, Author

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 Amazon.com 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.

Dec 272017

One Red Bastard

by Ed Lin

on Tour November 20 – December 31, 2017


One Red Bastard by Ed Lin

It’s the fall of 1976, and New York’s Chinatown is in turmoil over news that Mao’s daughter is seeking asylum in the U.S. Robert Chow is a detective in training, and he is thrilled when his girlfriend Lonnie scores an interview with the Chinese representative of Mao’s daughter. But hours after the interview, the man is found dead. Lonnie, the last person to see him alive, is the main suspect.

As Lonnie is subjected to increasing amounts of intimidation from his fellow policemen, who want to close the case, Robert is tempted to reach into his own bag of dirty tricks. Will he stay on the right side of the law, or will his loyalty to Lonnie get the better of him? Find out in this exciting and fast-paced mystery set in one of New York’s most fascinating neighborhoods.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: November 21st 2017
Number of Pages:
ISBN: 0062444204 (ISBN13: 9780062444202)
Series: Detective Robert Chow #3
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Ed Lin

Ed Lin:

Ed Lin, a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards and is an all-around standup kinda guy. His books include Waylaid and This Is a Bust, both published by Kaya Press in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Snakes Can’t Run and One Red Bastard, which both continue the story of Robert Chow set in This Is a Bust, were published by Minotaur Books. His latest book, Ghost Month, a Taipei-based mystery, was published by Soho Crime in July 2014. Lin lives in Brooklyn with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung, and son.


On Writing and Reading:

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

I would say both. Even though One Red Bastard is set in 1976, when I look back through the lens of today to the past, I like to find a way to comment on today’s issues by showing similar events back then. My own take on things is the filter I write through, so my personal experiences and opinions are embedded with the story.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

I actually go from the beginning to the end, but as I near the end, I jump ahead to write the ending and then backtrack a bit. I’m just so anxious to get the ending right, I want to jump there and get a first crack at that last line as soon as I can!

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?

All of my characters are based on me. You know what they say about dreams, that every person you meet is really you. That’s what my books are like.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I don’t have a routine anymore–having a child will do that to you! Whenever I can clear an hour to work, I will. I made a point years ago to not have any “writing rituals” I needed to get out of the way because it was simply more procrastinating. I do, however, do my writing on vintage Macintosh laptops because I like the feel of the older keyboards, not the super-quiet newfangled ones.

Tell us why we should read this book.

This book will blow your mind with its surprising twists and turns. You will also never be able to look at Chinese people the same way.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Some of my favorite dead writers are Charles Willeford, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Hughes, Shirley Jackson and Chester Himes.

What are you reading now?

I am reading The Butcher’s Wife, which features the title novella and a few short stories by Li Ang, a Taiwanese writer. It’s quite ugly and violent but acts as an indictment against misogyny.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

I also write a mystery series set in Taipei for Soho Crime. I’m currently writing the third book, the follow-up to Ghost Month and Incensed.

Fun questions:

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

I can’t do this. My wife is an actress and so many of our friends are in the acting community, which is rather tight among Asian Americans–these are the people who would populate the film version of the book. Let’s just say that I would try to get all my friends into it!

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

I really enjoy video games and reading, of course. I play bass, too, but I haven’t been able to round up people to be in a band for years.

Favorite meal?

Anything with decent fries, and by that, I mean real potatoey fries–none of that dry, mummy-meat sticks.
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Read an excerpt:

The woman was standing in a pool of wet ashes, her hands at her sides. She was about five seven but that was with heels on. Her thick black hair cascaded over her ears and shoulders, and she did something to it to make it shiny. A light brown coat stopped above a skirt that stopped midway down two taut thighs in stockings with a dull glow.

I smirked because I was sure that she had spent some time thinking about how she wanted to look from the rear. To men.

But this was no time for amusement. I came in close to her forehead and growled under my breath, “Barbara, what the hell are you doing here!”

When she turned around I saw my head and torso in her two black, sparkling eyes. Her face was long and not too narrow and came down to a chin that fairy princesses had. Her red lips, usually curved like a little blossom, were pulled taut into a wide smile.

She grabbed my arm and said, “Robert!”

“This is a crime scene! Now let’s get out of this thing!”

“I’m so sorry!”

She continued to hold on to me as we stepped over the tape together, matching leg for leg. I had lost part of my mind in Nam, but she had lost a lot more. Barbara used to be the prettiest girl in Chinatown. Now she was its prettiest widow.

“You know anything about the fire, Barbara?” I looked into her face. There was lightning behind her dark eyes.

“No. I don’t. Can we stop whispering now?”

“Well, I guess it doesn’t matter at this point,” I said in full voice.

“Look, I didn’t mean any harm. I just had to see the place up close. Artie Yee published my first story, back when I was in grade school.”

“I didn’t know about that.”

“I brought it into school to show everybody. Don’t you remember?”

“How am I supposed to remember that one thing? You always had something to show off in school. If it wasn’t a story you wrote, it’d be a story about you.”

She snorted.

“Did you stay in touch with Artie over the years?” I asked.

“I’d run into him from time to time.”

“Were the two of you friends?”

“Oh, no, no. I learned to keep my distance from that one. Did you know that he asked me to marry him when I turned eighteen?”

“He wasn’t much better looking back then, was he?”

“He looked like a younger walrus.”

“You’re not enemies with Artie, though, are you?”

“I’m not one of them, but he has many enemies,” she said. “You know that.”

“He did his part in pissing off all areas of Chinatown.”

“Artie doesn’t respect authority. That’s a good thing for a journalist.”

“Then how come you didn’t keep writing for him?”

“Artie doesn’t respect women.” She shivered and then slapped my arm. “I heard Paul got into that program at Columbia.”

“Thanks to you,” I said.

“Thanks in part to me, anyway.” She paused. “Doesn’t that mean you’ll take me to dinner?”

“Maybe Paul should.”

“Get serious. Actually, maybe Paul should come and meet my youngest sister. You know she’s up at Columbia because she got into Barnard early. Maybe she should stick to Chinatown boys, like I should have.”

“Hey, Barbara, let’s talk about this later. I have to get back to work here.”

“You’re going to call me?”

“I’ll get in touch.”

She walked off and I returned to my post.

Years ago, Barbara and her three younger sisters were the four little princesses of Chinatown. She liked to say that her parents never did get that son, but the truth was her parents learned to love all their daughters to death. They all had beauty and smarts, and because of that you knew they’d get out of Chinatown and never come back.

But Barbara did return after her husband was killed in Khe Sanh. The oldest, the prettiest, and the smartest of the sisters, she moved back alone into their old family home to find some comfort, I guess.

There was a brief period when I thought she was the love of my life, but it was a while ago and it ended embarrassingly enough. Thinking about it again put me in a bad mood.

“Hello Sunshine,” said Vandyne.

“It was Barbara,” I said.

“Oh! What the hell was she doing there?”

“She wanted to see the place up close. Artie published one of her stories back when she was a smart, little girl.”

“Seriously, though, could she have had anything at all to do with this?”

“Her? No way, man!”

“Do you know that for sure?”

“Yes,” I said. “I would bet my soul on it.”


Excerpt from One Red Bastard by Ed Lin. Copyright © 2017 by Ed Lin. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

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