May 152019
 

Bad Pick

by Linda Lovely

on Tour April 1-May 31, 2019

Synopsis:

Bad Pick by Linda Lovely

Vegan Brie Hooker lives and works with her feisty Aunt Eva at Udderly Kidding Dairy, a hop, skip, and jump away from South Carolina’s Clemson University. Brie’s fun farm outreach attempt backfires when religious extremists decide goat yoga is a form of devil worship. Believing one of the zealots might be persuaded to see reason, Brie’s free-wheeling friend Mollye convinces her they should call on the young woman. Big mistake.

Picketers at Udderly’s gates soon become the least of Brie’s troubles. Not only is she accused of murder, she worries the death might actually be her fault. Danger mounts when an old family friend’s visit ensnares Brie in a high-stakes feud between a U.S. Supreme Court nominee and the woman determined to expose his secrets. In her personal life, Brie’s still torn between the town’s two most eligible bachelors. While she’s edging toward a decision, she must first survive a cunning killer adept at crafting murders that look like tragic accidents. Will Brie be another “accident” victim? Pay a visit to Udderly Kidding Dairy and find out!

Praise for Bad Pick

“There’s such a lot to enjoy in Linda Lovely’s third Brie Hooker mystery Bad Pick. Of course, I came for the goat yoga and the religious extremists (I’m only human), but I stayed for the love triangle, the female friendships, the family members rubbing along so realistically, the sidelights on vegan cooking and the rich depiction of small-town life. And what kept me flicking the pages fast enough to cause a draft? The twisty, knotty, killer plot underneath all that charm. Bad Pick is a good un!”—Catriona McPherson, Multi-Award-Winning Author of the Last Ditch Mysteries.

“Wow! In Bad Pick, Lovely wrote an amazing novel only to see one part of the plot come to life in headlines all over the country. A fringe religious cult, a Supreme Court nominee, and goat yoga combine together in a tale that fans of mysteries won’t want to miss. –Sherry Harris, Agatha Award Nominee and Author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries.

“The Brie Hooker mysteries from author Linda Lovely continue to entertain, this time with extremists who really don’t like the farm’s new goat yoga offering. You’ll find yourself muttering, “What the feta?” as you follow the action around not one but two murders from the edge of your seat. Fix yourself a chevre sandwich and sit down to enjoy a delightful – and suspense-filled – read.”—Edith Maxwell, Author of the Local Foods Mysteries and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Number of Pages: 270
ISBN: 9781635114744
Series: Brie Hooker Mystery Series
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Linda Lovely

Hundreds of mystery writers have met Linda Lovely at check-in for the annual Writers’ Police Academy, which she helps organize. Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and ad copy. She writes a blend of mystery and humor, chuckling as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Her new Brie Hooker Mystery series offers good-natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin. Bad Pick is her eighth published mystery novel. She served as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter for five years and belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Q&A with Linda Lovely

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

Jeannie Nickles. She’s a sweet-smiling, kindly-grandmotherly-appearing hypocrite who projects an image of Christian virtue but manipulates everyone in her orbit to do decidedly un-Christian things.

Which of your characters was the hardest to write and why?
Ursula Billings. She’s a celebrity judge on a reality TV show. It was hard to imagine her day-to-day life and mesh it with her history.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through writing?
Once you have even a hazy idea of your plot and characters just start writing. You can’t edit and improve on a blank page. After you start writing, your characters will get in the act and suggest plot twists and options that never occurred to you when you began.

What has been your biggest challenge to your writing career?
There are so many books written each year—many of them excellent—that it’s very hard to be “discovered.” I also handicap myself in this regard by my ineptness at social media. I don’t get Twitter, and I resent spending a lot of time on social media posts when I could be working on a book.

What was your biggest challenge writing this book?
Bringing together the main plot with two different subplots and finding ways to ensure all the villains were brought to justice. That’s one of the reasons I write crime fiction—to show that good can triumph over evil and to make sure villains get their just desserts. That’s what I call a happy ending.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope they enjoy reading my books as much as I do writing them. I try to balance the crimes and villains in my mysteries with humor and romance. When they turn the last page of one of my books, I want them to feel every loose end has been tied up and they have a reason to smile. Of course, I’d also love it if they’d leave reviews, which are so important to authors in this age of algorithms that often determine a book’s online visibility.

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

Emma Stone would make an excellent Brie Hooker. I loved Stone in the movie, The Help.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series
I owe the Writers’ Police Academy and the many subject experts I’ve met and made friends with there over the years for both giving me ideas for plots and for helping me with forensics and other details to make my books as realistic as possible. For example, in BAD PICK, WPA friends provided me with several alternate scenarios when I wanted a tainted dish served at a luncheon to prove fatal to one person while only making the other guests sick. This August I’ll attend my seventh Writers’ Police Academy, which I’m helping to organize. It’s a unique once-a-year, four-day event that gives authors and fans of crime fiction a chance for hands-on learning with instructors who normally teach law enforcement professionals from around the world.

Favorite foods?
I love most pasta dishes, the entire Thanksgiving menu including turkey, gravy and all the sides, and, of course, I love chocolate.

Favorite activities?
Reading, tennis, walking with my husband, kayaking, gardening, spending time with friends and family.

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

 

Read an excerpt:

ONE

“How many people did you con into trying this goat yoga?” Aunt Eva asked as she slapped two strips of cold bacon in a skillet.

“No conning needed,” I answered. “Everyone’s looking forward to the class.”

“You sure goat yoga’s a good idea?”

I laughed. “I’m sure. People love it. Admittedly, a sense of humor’s required, but it’s caught on all across the country. Why don’t you join the fun? Class starts at three. We don’t have many Sunday customers this time of year. We’ll probably have the farm to ourselves by then. You up for some downward-facing dog?”

“No.” Eva harrumphed. “Don’t go insulting our noble dogs. Bad enough you’ll expose our baby goats to human pretzels. It’s bound to confuse the poor kids. Won’t know which human end is supposed to be up. They’ll think all us two-legged beings are bonkers. So who’s coming?”

“Jayla, our yoga instructor, wanted to limit the trial class to four students so it’s just Mollye, Fara, Mimi, and me.”

I pulled out a bag of frozen blueberries I’d picked at the Happy Berry Farm last summer. While Udderly Kidding Dairy, my home for the past seven months, boasted dozens of blueberry bushes, our four-hundred goats called first dibs on the fruit.

“Oh, and Paint’s shooting video to promote the class,” I added.

Aunt Eva chuckled as she flipped her sizzling bacon strips. “Not a hardship for Paint, videoing young ladies in nothing but skivvies and tutus.”

I glanced heavenward. “We don’t wear tutus. Our workout clothes show less skin than you do on the Fourth of July.”

Eva cocked an eyebrow. “Could be you’re helping Paint select babes for the weeks he’s not your designated beau.”

I opened the cupboard and grabbed a microwave packet of steel-cut oatmeal. “Paint sees a variety of ladies when we’re not dating, and he knows everyone in this class. No behind-the-camera scouting required.”

“Maybe, but as far as I know, he hasn’t seen any of them with their ankles up around their ears.”

“And he won’t today.”

“If you say so, but I swear my old bones creak just looking at some of those yoga contortions.”

Eva cracked two eggs in the hot bacon grease, while I used our microwave—a new kitchen addition—to thaw my frozen berries and heat the oats. My usual February morning fare. At Udderly, we didn’t chow down until the morning chores were done. That meant I was starved and in dire need of a caffeine injection.

Eva glanced over. “So how’s that boyfriend-for-a-week plan working? Who’s ahead in the Brie Hooker heart throb race? Any close calls on the clothing discard clause?”

I smiled. “Paint and Andy try to outdo each other in dreaming up ways to initiate a striptease. Despite their enterprising efforts, the nude- default clause remains unchallenged.”

Last November, I’d agreed to this bizarre boyfriend pact with Andy Green, our veterinarian, and David “Paint” Paynter, an entrepreneurial moonshiner. Though strongly attracted to both thirty-four-year-old hunks, I’d sworn I’d date neither. Didn’t want to lose them as friends or come between them. They’d been best buds for thirty years, practically since they left diapers.

The boys came up with an alternative. I’d date Paint one week, Andy the next, until either I selected a fulltime beau, one of them opted out, or a ridiculous nudity clause kicked in. If I disrobed on any date, the magician who assisted in making my clothes disappear would win by default. Both men swore the arrangement would not affect their friendship.

Me? I felt like I’d been locked in a chastity belt. Foreplay’s a lot less fun when there’s no after.

“You know it can’t last, don’t you?” Aunt Eva asked, giving voice to my own misgivings.

“Yep, I do. But like today’s sunny warmth—way too early for mid- February—I’ll enjoy it while I can.”

TWO

Jayla Johnson, our tall, willowy teacher waved as she walked toward me. Had to admit Paint would get an eyeful watching her stretch every which way. He was male, and Jayla was a stunner. As a shorty—I’m five four—I’d always envied long-legged ladies like Jayla. Somehow those extra inches made them look cool and sophisticated.

Luckily, Jayla wasn’t in the running to join Paint’s off-week harem. She was happily married to one of Clemson University’s football coaches and had a darling three-year-old son.

“Do we have a plan B?” Jayla glanced up at the Carolina blue sky. “It’s really warm for February, but the ground’s too muddy to put our mats down in a pasture. After five minutes, we’d look like we’d been mud wrestling.”

“Agreed. It’d be a shame to get that outfit muddy.” Jayla looked like an Oreo cookie, her ebony skin a sharp contrast to her snowy outfit. “I did warn you baby goats aren’t potty-trained, didn’t I? Accidents can happen.” “Not to worry.” Jayla smiled. “My laundry room has one whole shelf devoted to stain removers for husband-son accidents. So where are we setting up?”

“The horse barn. Plenty of room and it will be easier to keep Curly, Moe, and Larry contained.”

“Who?”

“Curly, Moe, and Larry are the baby goats—five-day-old triplets. We named the kids after The Three Stooges. Full of energetic hijinks. They’re also super cuddly.”

We turned as Mollye Camp’s psychedelic van crunched down the gravel drive. Her van’s midnight blue paint job served as a backdrop for a galaxy of glittering stars, a super-sized harvest moon, and a broom-riding witch. Moll, my best friend since childhood, was a gifted potter who sold her creations along with an eclectic hodgepodge of homeopathic remedies, herbs, and astrological doodads in her Starry Skies shop.

Moll jangled as she hopped down from her ride. She adored jewelry and had more piercings than a rapper. A vibrant purple streak adorned her white-blonde hair. She chose a new neon hue every month.

Mollye hustled over. “Who we waiting for?”

“Mimi and Fara,” I answered. “We’re keeping the group small for the test run. Paint’s shooting video.”

Mollye checked the amount of cleavage revealed by her scoop-necked purple top and inspected the seams of her orange leggings as they meandered south of her shorts. “Glad I didn’t wear anything too revealing. Don’t want folks thinking I’d participate in some racy video.”

Mimi and Fara’s arrival cut short Jayla’s and my eye rolls. Racy might not be Mollye’s middle name, but outrageous could be. I loved Mollye and her adventurous spirit though it sometimes landed me in hot water. Okay, in one case, freezing water.

With rolled mats tucked under their arms, the class newcomers looked like an odd couple. Mimi, who’d emigrated from Vietnam at age two, stood four feet nine on tiptoe, while Fara, a busty blonde with long braids, topped out at five ten. Mimi was a pharmacist; Fara grew up in her family’s funeral parlor and was now the town’s youngest funeral director.

Hard for this class to be more diverse. Paint would enjoy himself. “Hey, Fara, you boxing anyone up today?” Mollye joked.

“Maybe you after class,” the funeral director quipped. “You want the deluxe mahogany coffin or a pine box? I’m thinking you and Brie have used up eight of your nine lives. Better not exert yourselves today.”

Jayla clapped her hands. “Now children. Snarky is not the proper frame of mind for yoga. Think serenity. We want to clear our minds, be one with nature.”

I chuckled at the good-natured kidding. “Follow me to our classroom. We have the horse barn to ourselves. The smell alone will remind you we’re one with nature. I evicted Rita and Hank. They’re grazing in the pasture. Figured Lilly’s mule and Eva’s horse were more inclined to nicker than meditate.”

“Where are the goats in this goat yoga?” Fara asked.

“Eva will bring Curly, Moe, and Larry in after we start. We need to leave the barn door open for the light. Jim, our Border collie, will keep the little goat Houdinis from escaping.”

The triplets’ antics drove Jim nuts. Yesterday Moe pranced on top of a picnic table for five minutes taunting the poor herd dog. Jim ran circles around the table, barking in protest, unable to figure out how to nudge Moe back to her pen. After we placed our mats, Jayla led us through a series of simple warm-up stretches and breathing exercises. I’d been an avid runner and swimmer for years, but yoga was a new pursuit. I was pleasantly surprised to find its emphasis on breathing and mindfulness and its practiced movements helped me shed stress and fall asleep faster.

Believe me, falling asleep quickly is a prized skill for anyone required to rise before the sun. At Udderly, one of my jobs appeared to be waking the roosters.

Jayla announced the cat pose. I knelt on my mat and set my arms to provide four-point support. Then I arched my back like cats do when threatened. I lowered my head, giving my neck muscles a pleasant stretch.

“Looking good, ladies.” With my head down I heard the man’s voice before I saw him.

“Don’t mind me,” the newcomer continued. “I’m gonna wander around and take photos.”

The sexy baritone belonged to Paint. It should be outlawed.

“Have fun, kids—human and goat.” Eva laughed as she let the baby goats loose in the barn. Moe immediately darted under my arched back, executed a one-eighty, and raced back again as if she were playing a game of London Bridge.

My concentration faltered as Curly discovered she had easy access to one of my earlobes and began to nibble with her lips. It tickled.

Fara broke out laughing as Larry scrambled up her arched back and danced a little jig on his newly discovered perch.

“I’ve got a miniature geisha doing a four-footed massage.” Fara giggled. “Actually feels kind of good, though very strange.”

“No talking,” Jayla admonished. “Concentrate on your breathing, your muscles. Be one with nature.”

Paint hooted. “Nature’s winning.”

Paint obviously felt he was exempt from Jayla’s no-talking reprimand. The instructor began laughing, too. Moe had curled her body around Jayla’s legs as she attempted to hold the Big Toe pose.

We were all bent in half, butts in the air, when a loud voice brayed, “Oh dear God, save us. They are bowing to the devil, mocking the Lord Jesus by thrusting their bottoms at heaven above.”

THREE

What the feta?

I snapped around to see who was calling us devil worshippers. Was this a joke?

Flipping out of downward dog, I body slammed the mat. A second after hitting the plastic, a furry comedian bounced against my side. Curly shook her head as she attempted an impressive four-legged hop. She’d taken my tumble to the ground as an invitation to play. The little goat butted my side again.

“Lord Jesus, help us keep these devil worshippers from claiming more souls!” the stranger bellowed.

I was flabbergasted. No other word for it. Then my shock morphed into anger. Who did this woman think she was, calling us devil worshippers? Who invited her to our private workout? How did she even find out about it?

The plump leader held a super-sized wooden cross before her as if she were fending off a clutch of vampires. I figured her for mid-fifties. Gray streaks wound through her mousy brown hair. Light glinting off oversized spectacles lent her the look of an alien with round yellow bug eyes.

Two cross-carrying acolytes hovered about a foot behind her.

Were these people serious? I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. My heartbeat raced. Angry? You betcha.

I almost yelled one of my old-time favorite curses. Years back, I cleaned up my salty language for dear old Mom. As a vegan, processed- meat-and-cheese exclamations had become my exclamatory substitutes. But Cruddy corndogs! didn’t quite express my outrage.

Mollye, closest to the barn door, marched toward the scowling leader. “Susan, what in blazes do you think you’re doing?” she growled. “I got a restraining order to keep you and your looney-tune zealots off my property. Now you’re following me?”

“I didn’t know you’d be here,” the intruder raged, “though I’m not surprised. Goat yoga! What blasphemy. At church this morning, one of our faithful told me you were planning this abomination. I prayed on it, and decided we had to stop the spread of this evil in Ardon County.”

She waved her cross at us. “In the name of the Father and the Son we demand—”

“You need to leave,” Paint spoke through gritted teeth. “The only evil here is you.”

Susan closed her eyes and rocked back and forth on her heels. “You are Satan’s handmaidens duping people into believing Baphomet goat worship is fun.”

Susan’s diatribe was accompanied by a murmur of “Amen, Sister, Amen” from her backups. The sidekicks still wore church-go-to-meeting dresses, nylons, and heels. They kept sneaking peeks at the ground. Worried their high heels might sink in goat doo-doo during their barnyard sortie?

One of the acolytes looked to be Susan’s age; the other much younger, about my age.

“Knights Templar worshipped Baphomet as a deity.” Susan’s tone changed. Her words flowed in a singsong chant. “These monsters with their snake eyes are his descendants.”

“Are you nuts?” Jayla broke in. “How can you think these adorable babies are evil?”

Susan’s rant hadn’t cowed my friends.

The harpy wasn’t deterred. “Open your eyes. The Satanic goat is a source of evil.” Her yellow bug eyes flashed at each of us in turn. “You worship the Devil. We won’t allow your sickness to infect the pious people of Ardon County.”

Aunt Eva appeared in the barn door carrying two pails of goat milk. “You’re trespassing and you’re scaring the baby goats.”

My aunt’s face flamed red.

“We’ll leave,” Susan said. “But this isn’t over. We will fight to the death for the soul of Ardon County. Goat yoga will not corrupt our world.”

Curly made a break for it. The tiny kid ran pell-mell toward the barn door, which happened to be a few feet beyond where the intruding trio stood. Susan screeched. Did she really believe the Devil inhabited the itty- bitty creature?

The woman raised her leg to kick Curly.

Eva flung both buckets of goat milk, drenching Susan. The white liquid plastered her beehive hairdo to her scalp and her puffy blouse to her chest.

Oh my, was she really wearing a flaming red teddy under her prim white cotton?

A laugh bubbled up. I laughed so hard I doubled over.

Susan shrieked like a storm-warning siren and ran. Though only a few drops of goat’s milk spattered her companions, they caterwauled like they’d been doused with acid as they scurried after their leader.

The entire Udderly Kidding Dairy crew exploded in laughter.

Eva halted her hee-haws long enough to imitate a cackling witch. “You’ve been baptized with the milk of Baaa-Phooey. Your souls belong to us!”

Susan spun when she reached a shiny Chevy van. “You’ll pay for this!” she yelled. “Laugh all you want. You’ll see Hell sooner than you thought.”

I quit laughing as abruptly as I’d started. It was Susan’s tone not her words that gave me the heebie-jeebies. We’d embarrassed the woman. Humiliated her. Perhaps she’d started this protest as some form of ecclesiastical theater, art for show, a way to rally the troops.

Now it was personal. Susan had been scorned.

***

Excerpt from Bad Pick by Linda Lovely. Copyright © 2019 by Linda Lovely. Reproduced with permission from Linda Lovely. All rights reserved.

 

 

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May 092019
 

Strong As Steel

by Jon Land

on Tour April 22 – May 25, 2019

Synopsis:

Strong As Steel by Jon Land

Tough-as-nails Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong returns in this electrifying ninth installment of the series, by USA Today bestselling author Jon Land

1994: Texas Ranger Jim Strong investigates a mass murder on a dusty freight train linked to a mysterious, missing cargo for which no record exists.

The Present: His daughter, fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, finds herself on the trail of that same cargo when skeletal remains are found near an excavation site in the Texas desert. She’s also dealing with the aftermath of a massacre that claimed the lives of all the workers at a private intelligence company on her watch.

These two cases are connected by a long buried secret, one that men have killed and died to protect. Caitlin and her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters must prove themselves to be as strong as steel to overcome a bloody tide that has been rising for centuries.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: April 23rd 2019
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0765384671 (ISBN13: 9780765384676)
Series: Caitlin Strong #10
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Jon Land

Jon Land is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of 50 books, including ten titles in the critically acclaimed Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong series, the last of which, STRONG TO THE BONE, won both the 2017 American Book Fest and 2018 International Book Award for Best Mystery. The next title in the series, STRONG AS STEEL, will be published in April. MANUSCRIPT FOR marked his second effort writing as Jessica Fletcher for the MURDER, SHE WROTE series, and he has also teamed with Heather Graham for a new sci-fi series starting with THE RISING. He is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

12 THINGS THE READER

DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT CAITLIN

She was inspired to follow the Strong family tradition by becoming a Texas Ranger, only after she was sexually assaulted as a college student and the man who did it was never caught.

Her legendary father and grandfather, Jim and Earl Strong, worked on only a single case together as Texas Rangers, tracking killers who were after the legendary lost treasure of the pirate Jean Lafitte who really did base his operations off Texas’ Galveston Island, as told in STRONG VENGEANCE.

In the next book in the series, STRONG FROM THE HEART, she develops an addiction to opioids she’s being treated with for something that happens at the end of STRONG AS STEEL.

She actually left the Rangers for a time after tracking down and executing the cartel soldiers who killed her Texas Ranger partner Charlie Banks.

She was married for a brief stretch and her husband was thought to have died while serving as a contractor in Iraq. But the first book in the series, STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE, brings him back into her life as an amnesiac with no memory of her or what happened to him. This proved to tbe the impetus for her return to the Rangers.

Her grandfather taught her how to shoot at the age of six or seven and she could handle the likes of a 1911 Springfield model .45 by the time she was nine when she won her first shooting competition.

At the age of four, she witnessed the murder of her mother by drug mules but has no memory of that to this day, though she believes a lot of her more violent tendencies, and gunfighter mentality, stem from that day.

Caitlin also believes that incident is to blame for the fact that she never married or had children of her own. But it also explains her attachment to the sons of her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters for whom she becomes a surrogate mother.

When she was thirteen she witnessed her father gunning down a villain who’d escaped the law. Years later, as told in STRONG AT THE BREAK, she comes up against the man’s son, who also bore witness to Caitlin’s father Jim Strong killing his father.

Caitlin’s giant, deadly protector and guardian angel Guillermo Paz, the former head of the Venezuelan Secret Police, was actually hired to kill her in STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE. But she turned the tables in classic Caitlin form.

Caitlin is a quarter Mexican, thanks to an affair her grandfather, and fellow Texas Ranger, Earl Strong had with a woman he rescued from an early form of human trafficking in 1934 Texas.

Staying on the family theme, Caitlin also has a half-sister thanks to an affair her father Jim Strong had with a Mexican crime boss whose life he saved in STRONG AS STEEL, the most recent, and just released, book in the series

Catch Up With Our Jon Land at:
jonlandbooks.com, Goodreads, Twitter @jondland, & Facebook!

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Dallas, Texas

“You want to tell me what I’m doing here again?” Caitlin Strong said to Captain Bub McNelly of the Texas Criminal Investigations Division.

McNelly, who favored string ties and shiny cowboy boots, turned to the quartet of figures in equally shiny windbreakers milling behind him in the makeshift staging area, who looked more like businessmen. Caitlin had heard he was a descendant of the famed Texas Ranger captain Leander McNeely, a man who’d once told the whole of the U.S. government to go to hell, but wasn’t too keen on the freedom with which Rangers still operated today.

“Special Response Teams hang their hat on being multi-jurisdictional,” McNelly told her. “Consider yourself the representative Ranger.”

“Since when does an SRT look more comfortable holding briefcases than firearms?”

“I need to tell you that computers are the real weapons these days?” McNelly asked her. “And those boys accompanying us are forensic experts who know how to fire back.”

“Just two guns, yours and mine, backing them up,” Caitlin noted.

“I don’t need a computer to do the math, Ranger,” McNelly said, while the four techs wearing windbreakers hovered behind them in front of the elevator. “You and I serve the warrant on the geek squad upstairs and let the experts do their thing with brains instead of bullets. How hard can it be?”

They were about to serve a search warrant on an information technology firm on the 42nd floor of the Chase Tower, the city’s tallest building. Caitlin had served plenty of more “traditional” search warrants in her time on the likes of biker gangs, drug dealers, and various other suspects. The kind of service that found her backed up by guns and plenty of them, instead of briefcases and backpacks.

A chime sounded ahead of the elevator door sliding open.

“In my experience,” Caitlin said, stepping in first to position herself so the door didn’t close again before the SRT computer forensics techs were inside, “it pays to have brains and bullets.”

McNelly smiled thinly. “That’s why you’re here, Ranger. You were specifically requested for the job.”

“By who?”

“I don’t know. Orders came from the top down.

The cab began its ascent. If this were a Ranger operation, as opposed to CID, Caitlin would have insisted on securing the space in question prior to bringing up the civilians. Because that was clearly what these personnel in ill-fitting windbreakers pulled from a rack were. Civilians.

“Get your warrant ready, Captain,” she told McNelly, as the cab whisked past the floors between “L” and “42.”

He flapped the tri-folded document I the air between them. “Got it right here.”

“What’s CTP stand for again?” Caitlin asked, referring to the acronym of the company on which they were about to serve the warrant.

“Communications Technology Providers. I thought I told you that.”

“Maybe you did, but you never told me what the company did to get on the Criminal Investigation Division’s radar. I’m guessing that’s because somebody ordered you to take me along for the ride. All well and good in this political world we live in, until something goes bad.”

McNelly flashed Caitlin a smirk, as a chime sounded to indicate the elevator had reached its desired floor. “I can tell you this much, Ranger. The suspects we’re after here don’t know a gun from their own assholes. Worst thing they can do is infect us with a computer virus.”

He led the way through the open cab door, without waiting for Caitlin to respond. She exited next, followed in a tight bunch by those four computer techs in their windbreakers which made it look like they’d stuck their arms through Hefty bags.

The doors along the hall were uniformly glass, sleek and modern, some frosted. According to the building layout Caitlin had studied, Communications Technology Providers occupied a pair of adjoining office suites adding up to nearly five thousand square feet in total. One was a corner office, meaning at least a portion of those suites would enjoy wraparound windows and plenty of natural light.

Caitlin had just reflexively shoved her jacket back behind the holster housing her SIG Sauer P-226 nine-millimeter pistol, when the glass double-door entrance to Communications Technology Providers ruptured behind a fusillade of gunfire.

***

Excerpt from Strong As Steel by Jon Land. Copyright © 2019 by Jon Land. Reproduced with permission from Jon Land. All rights reserved.

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Apr 242019
 

And Every Word Is True by Gary McAvoy BannerAnd Every Word Is True

by Gary McAvoy

on Tour April 1 – May 31, 2019

Synopsis:

And Every Word Is True by Gary McAvoy

Truman Capote’s bestselling book “In Cold Blood” has captivated worldwide audiences for over fifty years. It is a gripping story about the consequences of a trivial robbery gone terribly wrong in a remote village of western Kansas.

But what if robbery was not the motive at all, but something more sinister? And why would the Kansas Bureau of Investigation press the Attorney General to launch a ruthless four-year legal battle to prevent fresh details of the State’s most famous crime from being made public, so many years after the case had been solved?

Based on stunning new details discovered in the personal journals and archives of former KBI Director Harold Nye—and corroborated by letters written by Richard Hickock, one of the killers on Death Row—And Every Word Is True meticulously lays out a vivid and startling new view of the investigation, one that will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they pick up where Capote left off. Even readers new to the story will find themselves drawn into a spellbinding forensic investigation that reads like a thriller, adding new perspectives to the classic tale of an iconic American crime.

Sixty years after news of the 1959 Clutter murders took the world stage, And Every Word Is True pulls back the curtain for a suspenseful encore to the true story of “In Cold Blood.”

Book Details:

Genre: True Crime, Memoir
Published by: Literati Editions
Publication Date: March 4, 2019
Number of Pages: 310
ISBN: 978-0-9908376-0-2 (HB); 978-0-9908376-1-9 (PB)
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble iBooks Kobo Goodreads

And Every Word Is True Book Trailer

 

Read an excerpt:

Over a half century ago, Special Agent Harold R. Nye of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI)—who would later become that agency’s third director—was thrust into an investigation to help solve what would eventually become an iconic tale of true crime in America: the brutal slayings of a Kansas wheat farmer, Herbert Clutter, and his wife and two children in November 1959.

A little more than 50 years later—being a dealer of rare collectible letters, photographs, manuscripts, and books—I was contacted by Harold Nye’s son, Ronald, in March 2012, revealing who his father was and what materials he had to offer for sale. As an ardent collector of historical autograph memorabilia since the 1980s, with a particular appetite for literary manuscripts and signed first editions, I felt privileged to be handling the sale of the rarest books and letters by Truman Capote—presentation copies personally given by the author to one of the principal investigators, during the time history was being made.

The books, first editions of both In Cold Blood and Capote’s earlier work Selected Writings, were each warmly inscribed by Truman to Harold Nye and his wife Joyce. That alone would generate solid interest in the sale, but this particular copy of In Cold Blood was also signed by 12 other people, including Logan Sanford, Director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation; the other three principal investigators in the case, among them Special Agent Alvin Dewey (who fared remarkably well in the story); and the director, actors, and crew of the eponymous 1967 movie, which used the Clutter house and other area locations to produce on film a chillingly authentic portrayal of what appeared on the page. As of this writing, only three such books signed by all principal figures are known to exist.

But the two personal letters Truman had written to Agent Nye were the most tantalizing of the lot. Both were sent in 1962 from his villa in Spain, overlooking the Mediterranean on the Costa Brava, where he spent three springs and summers writing much of his book. In one letter, neatly composed on thin pages the color of wheat, Capote laments having to suffer yet another delay in finishing his book, the Kansas Supreme Court having issued a stay of execution for the killers. For the frustrated author, this meant he didn’t yet have an ending—one way or the other—and he was to endure another three years before realizing that goal, with the hanging of Richard Hickock and Perry Smith in April 1965. For a collector, this is the most vivid form of autograph correspondence: handwritten documents richly infused with direct historical impact and solid provenance.

The second letter, also in Capote’s cramped, childlike scrawl but this one on 3-holed, blue-lined composition paper, teasingly informs Nye how often he appears in the book and that “…my editor said: ‘Aren’t you making this Mr. Nye just a little too clever?’

Along with the two signed books, then, these letters were to form the centerpiece of the auction. The rest of the material, though interesting on its own, held little tangible value to serious collectors. But it did contribute historical relevance and an in-person, chronicled authority to the auction as a whole, so we chose to offer all materials to the winning bidder—and only one bidder, since Ron Nye felt the material should stay together for historical continuity.

Sensing the gravity of the task ahead, like an eager historian I began educating myself more deeply in the Capote legacy. As I paged through Harold Nye’s investigative notebooks and copies of actual case reports he had written—not digging deep, just skimming the material—I was reminded of key passages in Capote’s masterwork—but they were hazy, since my first and last reading of it was the year it was published, in 1966. So I reread the book with new vigor—though now every word seemed to have fresh perspective, since I was privy to actual handwritten notes describing Nye’s interviews, his discovery of clues and gathering of evidence, his random thoughts, and a hastily penned transcript gleaned while extracting a confession from one of the killers—all of which made the experience as visceral as being on the scene in 1959.

I watched the indelible 1967 film “In Cold Blood,” as well as the 1996 TV production of the same name, followed by 2005’s film “Capote” and 2006’s “Infamous.” I absorbed Ralph Voss’s skillful examination of Capote’s book, Gerald Clarke’s rich biography, George Plimpton’s interviews with Capote’s “friends, enemies, acquaintances and detractors,” Charles Shields’ portrait of Harper Lee, and anything else I could find that brought objective viewpoints to the table—along with many not so objective.

As prepared as one could be, then, I began assembling the material for an online catalog exhibiting the auction—excluding, ultimately, the crime scene photos, most of which were simply too gruesome to release “into the wild,” realizing well before the auction went live that we would have no control over how they might be used in the future. Not wishing that burden on our shoulders, we removed the photos from the auction, and instead voluntarily sent them to the KBI for archival disposition.

To our surprise and dismay, a few days later we were served with a cease and desist letter from the Kansas Attorney General at the instigation of the KBI, claiming among other things that Harold Nye’s personal journals were state property and were possessed of “highly confidential information.” On the face of it this was a farcical claim at best, since they had never even seen the notebooks, not to mention that it had been well over 50 years since the case was closed and those charged with the crime had been executed, as the Court itself would ultimately point out. Our position, obviously, couldn’t have been more at odds with Kansas’s reckoning, and believing we were on the right side of the law, we took on their challenge. After a grueling legal battle lasting years, it’s clear now that Kansas thought Ron and I would just roll over and be done with it. That was their first mistake.

Over the time we prepared our defense—all the while baffled as to why Kansas was so vigorously mounting an expensive, and unusually high-level campaign of suppression and intimidation—a new thesis emerged that seemed at odds with the State’s declared rationale. And the deeper we looked, the clearer that proposition became. To our thinking—not to mention the views of independent lawyers, journalists, forensic criminologists, and others who in some way touched our case—it looked more and more as if Kansas had something to hide. At the very least there was something more to this story, and I intended to find out what it was.

And therein lies their second mistake and the irony of this cautionary tale: Had the State of Kansas simply avoided such heavy-handed tactics as pressing the lawsuit against us, and publicly tarnishing Harold Nye’s good name, we might never have discovered the sensational “new” details of the Clutter case that time and opportunity revealed as our own investigation deepened. Had they not interfered in our legitimate business—to provide for the Nye family’s medical needs by selling the books, letters, and notes that rightfully belonged to his father—the KBI would not now be suffering under the weight of the embarrassing disclosures being made here.

Throughout his life Truman Capote maintained that his book was “immaculately factual,” as he told George Plimpton in a January 1966 interview. Shortly after In Cold Blood first appeared in print—in September 1965, when the story was serialized in four consecutive issues of The New Yorker magazine—critics, pundits, and others assessing the work were already taking Capote to task for inaccuracies found in his account, or as one reviewer put it, “reaching for pathos rather than realism.” Not least among these was Harold Nye, who not only lived it, but whose prominent role in the book ultimately ensured a firsthand comparison of the known facts.

But for as much as Capote added to or reshaped the brilliant telling of his story, in analyzing Harold Nye’s notebooks I found that much had been omitted from In Cold Blood, and in many cases there were surprisingly crucial details that, at the time, would have appeared in the eyes of many to be of little value. It was only when other documents came into my possession that we were able to connect the dots, alluding to something very different than was passed on to readers of In Cold Blood.

In a striking coincidence, within a matter of weeks another new client—a grandson of Garden City Undersheriff Wendle Meier, one of the central characters in the story—consigned to me the Death Row diaries, family photos and correspondence, poetry, and a whole passel of riveting memorabilia given to Wendle Meier and his wife, Josephine, by one of the killers, Perry Edward Smith, on his way to the gallows. To be clear, I have no interest dealing in the so-called “murderabilia” market. But this was becoming more of a literary mystery the likes of which few people in my position could resist.

By this point any writer would feel grateful to have such an abundance of material to work with. But later, as a result of the media coverage our case had sparked, synchronicity struck again. I came into possession of copies of handwritten letters by the other killer, Richard Eugene Hickock, which had originally been sent to Wichita Eagle reporter Starling Mack Nations. Hickock had contracted with Nations to write his “life story” while he was on Death Row To the chagrin of both Hickock and Nations, though, no publisher showed interest in the book, High Road to Hell, at the time. But it’s clear from Hickock’s remarkable memory and his command of precise details, which both Capote and case investigators marveled over, that he did have compelling things to say.

As of this writing neither the Smith diaries nor the Hickock letters have been published, and only a handful of people have seen Hickock’s letters to Mack Nations. But at least one thing is clear from putting all this material together—it appears there was a good deal more to the foundations of Capote’s story than was originally told. And if there were any doubt as to whether Ron Nye and I would just give in to the bullying tactics of a well-funded state government—saving ourselves a lot of time and money fighting a senseless battle—the new evidence coming at us from all directions made it unambiguously clear that we were on to something. And we had to believe Kansas suspected it, too.

Presented here, then, are several new hypotheses—undoubtedly bound for controversy, while nonetheless supported by facts—including one in particular that would surely have given authorities in Kansas every reason to fight as hard as it did to keep this material from being published: that robbery may not have been the motive for the death of Herbert Clutter and his family.

Despite an abundance of leads pointing in this darker direction, it appears that the original KBI investigation overlooked this fundamental possibility, one that no responsible law enforcement agency would ever rule out, given the circumstances. Indeed, this was and remained for some time coordinating investigator Alvin Dewey’s strongest opinion, and he personally knew Herb Clutter very well.

Yet despite new information coming out years later, before the killers had even been executed, the Kansas attorney general at the time appears to have adopted a stance of letting sleeping dogs lie, without further investigation. But why? As is often the case with powerful institutions, could their keen drive for self-preservation have overshadowed a full accountability of justice?

Now, nearly six decades later, and with the passing away of nearly every involved character since 1959, it’s unlikely any final determination can be made, short of a “Deep Throat” insider emerging from the shadows of time. But much of what you find here will present compelling new arguments, and I leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions.

***

Excerpt from And Every Word Is True by Gary McAvoy. Copyright © 2018 by Gary McAvoy. Reproduced with permission from Gary McAvoy. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author.

 

 

Author Bio:

Gary McAvoy

Gary McAvoy is a veteran technology executive, entrepreneur, and lifelong writer. For several years he was also a literary media escort in Seattle, during which time he worked with hundreds of authors promoting their books—most notably Dr. Jane Goodall, with whom Gary later collaborated on “Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating” (Hachette, 2005).

Gary is also a professional collector of rare literary manuscripts and historical letters and books, a passion that sparked the intriguing discoveries leading up to his latest book, And Every Word Is True (Literati Editions, March 2019), a revealing look at startling new disclosures about the investigation surrounding the 1959 Clutter family murders, heinous crimes chillingly portrayed in Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.” And Every Word Is True pulls back the curtain for a suspenseful encore to Capote’s classic tale, adding new perspectives to an iconic American crime.

Q&A with Gary McAvoy

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

What inspired you to write this book?
While a lifelong writer, I am also a literary manuscript dealer. In 2012 I was approached by Ronald Nye, the son of former Kansas Bureau of Investigation Director Harold Nye (who was also the lead field investigator for the 1959 Clutter murders, on which Truman Capote based his book, In Cold Blood), who consigned to me several books and letters from Truman to his father during the 1959 murder investigation. Shortly afterward the State of Kansas sued both Ron and me to prevent the material from being made public.

We prevailed in that litigation, but over the next six years, as I dug more deeply into the Nye archives, I found that Capote’s book didn’t tell the whole story—and there is much more to tell. It looks as if robbery was not the motive at all, but something more sinister. Based on stunning new details discovered in Nye’s personal journals and archives—and corroborated by letters written by Richard Hickock, one of the killers on Death Row—my book, And Every Word Is True, meticulously lays out a vivid and startling new view of the investigation, one that will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they pick up where Capote left off.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?
Dealing with a lawsuit by the State of Kansas, not knowing if we would win in court and allow this book to be published.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.
Voluminous. This book is the result of over six years of research relying on a generous collection of source material, including the personal investigative notebooks of Kansas Bureau of Investigation Special Agent and former director Harold R. Nye; official State of Kansas law enforcement reports, prison records, photographs, and other largely-inaccessible documents published here for the first time, as permitted by Kansas court ruling; reports found in the preserved files of the Finney County Sheriff’s office, including photos, copies of KBI investigation reports, copies of memoranda written by local police and KBI investigators; the original research papers of Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee archived in the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress, and the product of that research, Capote’s nonfiction novel In Cold Blood; Richard Hickock’s Death Row letters; Perry Smith’s personal journals and correspondence; publicly available records and news reports; books and articles published over the past 60 years specific to the subject matter; and extensive interviews with scores of individuals related to the events or hypotheses contained herein. Where appropriate—and without revealing the identity of certain sources who have requested anonymity—all references are cited in the narrative or in endnotes.

How did you come up with the title?
It comes from a quote Truman Capote made in an interview, claiming his book was immaculately factual; but it isn’t.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I am a master multitasker, which is often an impediment to focus.

Tell us why we should read your book?
Truman Capote’s bestselling book “In Cold Blood” has captivated worldwide audiences for over fifty years. It is a gripping story about the consequences of a trivial robbery gone terribly wrong in a remote village of western Kansas.

But what if robbery was not the motive at all, but something more sinister? And why would the Kansas Bureau of Investigation press the Attorney General to launch a ruthless four-year legal battle to prevent fresh details of the State’s most famous crime from being made public, so many years after the case had been solved?

Based on stunning new details discovered in the personal journals and archives of former KBI Director Harold Nye—and corroborated by letters written by Richard Hickock, one of the killers on Death Row—“And Every Word Is True” meticulously lays out a vivid and startling new view of the investigation, one that will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they pick up where Capote left off. Even readers new to the story will find themselves drawn into a spellbinding forensic investigation that reads like a thriller, adding new perspectives to the classic tale of an iconic American crime.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I’ve been working on my first novel for 20 years and hope to finish it “eventually.” It’s a historical Vatican thriller in the vein of The da Vinci Code.

Fun Questions:
Your book will be a movie. You would you cast?
My friends are already lining up. Not sure this lends itself to dramatic treatment, more like a documentary mini-series (which is in the works).

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?
Travel to Italy, specifically Lake Como and Tuscany.

Favorite foods?
Anything Italian (pasta comes to mind).

Catch Up With Gary McAvoy On:
garymcavoy.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

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Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gary McAvoy. There will be four (4) giveaway winners. One winner will receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and three (3) winners will receive one (1) print copy of And Every Word Is True by Gary McAvoy (Open to U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on April 1, 2019 and runs through June 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Mar 192019
 

Dead In A Week by Andrea Kane Banner

 

 

Dead In A Week

by Andrea Kane

on Tour March 18 – April 19, 2019

Dead In A Week by Andrea Kane

What would you do if your daughter was kidnapped and given only a week to live?

Lauren Pennington is celebrating her junior year abroad when life comes to a screeching halt. At Munich’s Hofbräuhaus, she engages in an innocent flirtation with a charming stranger for the length of a drink. Drink finished, Lauren leaves—only to be snatched from the streets and thrown into an unmarked van.

Officially, Aidan Deveraux is a communications expert for one of the largest financial firms in the world. In his secret life, the former Marine heads the Zermatt Group, a covert team of military and spy agency operatives that search the data stream for troubling events in an increasingly troubled world. When his artificial intelligence system detects Lauren’s kidnapping, Aidan immediately sees the bigger picture.

Silicon Valley: Lauren’s father, Vance Pennington, is about to launch a ground-breaking technology with his company NanoUSA—a technology that the Chinese are desperate for. No sooner does Aidan arrive on Vance’s doorstep to explain the situation than the father receives a chilling text message: hand over the technology or Lauren will be dead in a week.

In a globe-spanning chase, from the beer halls of Germany, to the tech gardens of California, to the skyscrapers of China, and finally the farmlands of Croatia, Aidan’s team cracks levels of high-tech security and complex human mystery with a dogged determination. Drawing in teammates from the Forensic Instincts team (introduced in The Girl Who Disappeared Twice), the Zermatt Group will uncover the Chinese businessmen responsible, find the traitors within NanoUSA who are helping them, and save Lauren from a brutal death.

Check out my review HERE!

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Thriller
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing
Publication Date: March 19th 2019
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 1682320294 (ISBN13: 9781682320297)
Series: Forensic Instincts, Zermatt Group
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Munich, Germany
20 February
Tuesday, 4:00 p.m. local time

Normally, Lauren Pennington loved the sound of her combat boots clomping across the cobblestone apron. But right now, all she could think about was the growling of her empty stomach, urging her to move faster. She was oblivious to everything else—the couple on the corner sharing a passionate, open-mouthed kiss, the guy puking up his over-consumption of beer into the storm sewer grating, and the man watching her every move as he talked into his cell phone in a language that Lauren wouldn’t have recognized had she been paying attention.

She walked into Hofbräuhaus’ main hall, took a seat at one of the wooden tables, and placed her order. Minutes later, the waitress came over and brought Lauren’s food and drink. Barely uttering a perfunctory “Danke,” Lauren bit into a pretzel the size of her head and took a healthy gulp of Hofbräu.

The semester had ended, and she was entitled to some carbs and a dose of people-watching at the historic Munich brewery. Pretzels and beer were addicting, but people-watching had always fascinated her. Despite a whole winter semester of her junior year abroad studying art history at the Ludwig Maximilian University at Munich, she still enjoyed playing the tourist. Not at school, but every time she strolled the streets, studied the architecture, chatted with the locals.

Hofbräuhaus was less than a mile from campus, but the brewery’s main hall had a reputation all its own. With its old-world atmosphere of wooden tables, terra cotta floors, painted arches, and hanging lanterns, how could anyone not feel a sense of history just being within these walls?

Maybe that’s why Europe called out to her, not just here, but from a million different places. Museums. Theaters. Cathedrals. She wanted to experience them all, and then some. She’d be going home to San Francisco in July, and she hadn’t been to Paris or London or Brussels. She’d gotten a mere taste of Munich and had yet to visit Berlin.

When would she get another chance to do all that?

Not for ages. And certainly not with the sense of freedom she had as a college student, with little or no responsibilities outside her schoolwork to claim her attention. On the flip side, she felt terribly guilty. Every February, her entire family traveled to Lake Tahoe together. It was a ritual and a very big deal, since her father rarely got a day, much less a week, off as a high-powered executive. Her mother usually began making arrangements for the trip right after the holidays. In her mind, it was like a second Christmas, with the whole family reuniting and sharing time and laughter together.

This year was no different. Lauren’s brother, Andrew, and her sister, Jessica, were both taking time off from their busy careers to join their parents at Tahoe—no easy feat considering Andrew was an intellectual property attorney in Atlanta, and Jess was a corporate buyer for Neiman Marcus in Dallas. Lauren was the only holdout. Lauren. The college kid. The baby. The free spirit who always came home from Pomona College to nest, especially for family gatherings and rituals.

Her parents had been very quiet when she’d told them about her plans. Lauren knew what that silence meant. After the phone call ended, her mother would have cried that she was losing her baby, and her father would have scowled and written off her decision as college rebellion. Neither was true. But no matter how she explained it, her parents didn’t understand. They’d traveled extensively in Europe, and to them, it was no big deal. But it was Lauren’s first time here, and to her, it was like discovering a whole new world—a world she felt an instant rapport with. It was like discovering a part of her soul she’d never known existed. And she had to immerse herself in it.

She’d entertained the idea of flying to Lake Tahoe for the week and then returning to fulfill her dream. Her parents would definitely pay for that. But given the long international travel, the flight changes, the time differences, and the jet lag, Tahoe would put too much of a crimp in the many plans she had for her break between semesters. She’d had invitations from school friends who said she could stay with them during her travels—friends from Germany and so many other countries.

The world was at her feet.

No, despite how much she loved her family, she had to do things her way this time. There’d be other Februarys, other trips to Tahoe. But this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

She was still drinking her beer and lamenting her situation when a masculine voice from behind her said, “Hallo. Kann ich mitmachen?”

Turning, Lauren saw a handsome, rugged-featured guy, gazing at her with raised brows. He was asking if he could join her.

“Sind Sie allein?” he asked, glancing to her right and to her left.

“Yes, I’m alone,” she answered in German. “And, yes, please join me.”

The man came around and slid onto the bench seat. He propped his elbow on the table, signalling to the waitress that he’d have the same as the lady. The waitress nodded, hurrying off to get his refreshment.

He turned his gaze back to Lauren. “You’re American,” he noted, speaking English that was heavily accented.

“Guilty as charged,” she responded in English. “Is it that obvious?” She gave him a rueful look.

He smiled, idly playing with the gold chain around his neck. “Your German is quite good. But I picked up the American…what’s the word you use? Twang.”

Lauren had to laugh. “It’s my turn to take a stab at it, then. You’re French? Slavic? A combination of both?”

“The last.“ His smile widened. “You have a good ear, as well.”

“Your German and your English are excellent. I guess I just got lucky.”

“Speaking of getting lucky, what’s your name?” he asked.

His boldness took her aback, but she answered anyway. “Lauren. What’s yours?”

“Marko.” He held out his hand, which Lauren shook. “I’m in Munich on business. And you?”

“I’m an exchange student. I’m on break, and I’m looking forward to enjoying some time exploring Europe.”

Marko looked intrigued. “I can give you a few tips.” A mischievous glint lit his eyes. “Or I could travel with you for a few days and give you the best taste of Munich you’ll ever have.”

Lauren felt flushed. She was twenty years old. She knew very well what Marko meant by “the best taste.” She should be offended. But she couldn’t help being flattered. He was older, good-looking, and charming.
Nonetheless, she wasn’t stupid. And she wasn’t in the market for a hookup.

“Thanks, but I’m tackling this trip on my own,” she replied. “I’m meeting up with friends later, but I’m good as planned.”

“Pity.” The glint in his eyes faded with regret. “Then at least let me give you some pointers about the best sights to see and the best restaurants and places to visit.”

“That would be fantastic.” Lauren rummaged in her purse for a pen and paper. Having found them, she set her bag on the floor between them.

She spent the next twenty mesmerizing minutes listening to Marko detail the highlights of Munich and other parts of Bavaria, as she simultaneously scribbled down what he was saying.

“Thank you so much,” she said when he was finished. “This is like a guided tour.”

“Once again, I could do it in person.”

“And once again, I’m flattered, but no thank you.” Lauren signaled for her check, reaching into her bag and retrieving a twenty euro bill when the waitress approached the table. “The rest is for you,” she told her.

“I’ll take care of that,” Marko offered, stopping Lauren by catching her wrist and simultaneously fishing for his wallet. Evidently, he was still holding out hope that she would change her mind.

“That’s okay. I’ve got it.” Lauren wriggled out of his grasp, leaned forward, and completed the transaction.

“You’ve been a tremendous help,” she said to Marko as she rose. “I’m glad we met.”

This time it was she who extended her hand.

Reluctantly, he shook it. “I hope we meet again, Lauren. I’ll look for you the next time I’m in Munich.”

Still smiling, Lauren left the café and walked through the wide cobblestone apron outside. There were little tables with umbrellas scattered about, with patrons chatting and eating. Sated by the beer and pretzel, she inhaled happily, and then, walking over to the sidewalk, began what she expected to be a thoughtful stroll. Maybe she’d text her parents this time, try explaining her position without all the drama of a phone call.

She was halfway down the street when she heard a male voice call after her, “Lauren!”

She turned to see Marko hurrying in her direction. “Here.” He extended his arm, a familiar iPhone in his hand. “You left this on the table.”

“Oh, thank you.” How could she have been so careless? She protected her cell phone like a small child. “I’d be lost without that—“

As she spoke, a Mercedes van tore around the corner and came screeching up to them.

The near doors were flung open, and a stocky man jumped out, his face concealed by a black hood. Before Lauren could so much as blink, he grabbed her, yanking a burlap sack over her head and tossing her over his shoulder.

“Merr në makinë,” he said in a language Lauren didn’t understand.

By this time, Lauren had recovered enough to struggle for her freedom. Her legs flailed in the air, kicking furiously, and she pounded on the man’s back as he carried her and flung her into the back of the van.
Marko jumped in behind her, slamming the doors shut and barking out something in the same dialect as the other man—neither French nor Slavic—as the stocky barbarian held her down.

Finally finding her voice, Lauren let out a scream, which was quickly muffled by the pressure of Marko’s hand over her mouth. She could taste the wool of the sack, and she inclined her head so she could breathe through her nose.

A short-lived reprieve.

Marko fumbled around, then shoved a handkerchief under the sack, covering her nose and mouth. Lauren thrashed her head from side to side, struggling to avoid it. The odor was sickeningly sweet and citrusy.

Chloroform.

Tears burned behind her eyes. Shock waves pulsed through her body.

Oh God, she didn’t want to die.

Marko clamped his other hand on the back of her head, holding it in place while he forced the handkerchief flush against her nose and mouth, making it impossible for her to escape.

Dizziness. Nausea. Black specks. Nothing.

“Shko,” Marko ordered his accomplice, shoving him toward the driver’s seat.

The van screeched off, headed to hell.

***

Excerpt from Dead In A Week by Andrea Kane. Copyright © 2019 by Andrea Kane. Reproduced with permission from Andrea Kane. All rights reserved.

Andrea Kane

Andrea KaneAndrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-nine novels, including fifteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles. With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.

Kane’s first contemporary suspense thriller, Run for Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller. She followed with a string of bestselling psychological thrillers including No Way Out, Twisted, and Drawn in Blood.

Her latest in the highly successful Forensic Instincts series, Dead in a Week, adds the Zermatt Group into the mix—a covert team of former military and spy agency operatives. With a week to save a young woman from ruthless kidnappers, this globe-spanning chase, from the beerhalls of Germany, to the tech gardens of California, to the skyscrapers of China, and finally the farmlands of Croatia will keep readers guessing until the very end. The first showcase of Forensic Instincts’ talents came with the New York Times bestseller, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, followed by The Line Between Here and Gone, The Stranger You Know, The Silence that Speaks, The Murder That Never Was, and A Face to Die For.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, Echoes in the Mist, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan. Otherwise, she’s either writing or playing with her Pomeranian, Mischief, who does his best to keep her from writing.

Author Hometown – Warren, New Jersey

Q&A with Andrea Kane

Writing:
Q: Which of your characters do you dislike the most and why?
A: Hmmm… given DEAD IN A WEEK’s storyline, how do I answer this question without giving too much away? I’ll start out by saying that I have the same kind of emotional attachment and sense of loyalty to the Zermatt Group as I do to the Forensic Instincts team. I could never dislike any of them, and if I did, they’d be gone! That covers the “good guys”. Next, come the gray characters—the ones who are unpleasantly flawed but not evil. Some of them I pity, some of them ruffle my feathers, and some of them truly irk me. Still, it’s the unconscionable characters, the ones who commit despicable and unforgivable acts—those are the ones I can’t help but hate. The problem here is, I can’t tell you who they are since it would ruin the book for you! But, trust me, once you’ve turned the final page, you’ll know exactly who I mean.

Q: Which of your characters is the hardest to write and why?
A: The Zermatt Group makes its debut in DEAD IN A WEEK, so I had to dig deep to create the “core four”. I already had a connection to Aidan Devereaux, from his assistance on Forensic Instincts cases, and from the fact that he’s Marc’s brother and Abby’s daddy. He was the first Zermatt team member (as it should be, since he’s the guy at the helm!) that I fleshed out, and he quickly grew to be exactly who he was meant to be (his decision, not mine!). That left Simone, Philip, and Terri. An easy choice: Terri. Her way over-the-top techno-sophistication, her scientific focus, and her more insular personality are all so diametrically opposed to who I am that I had to really get inside her head (not to mention doing a lot of research) to flesh her out and watch her become a real person. She’s so brilliant that it was worth the effort!

Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through writing?
A: That there’s no half-measure and no shortcuts. The basics still hold true: You must care deeply about the characters you create, whether it’s love or hate, and feel the excitement of the storyline as it unfolds and the danger escalates. If you don’t, you can’t expect your readers to. I set super high standards for myself, and I do everything I can to meet or exceed those standards. My ultimate goal is always to write the very best book I can write.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge to your writing career?
A: Balancing my professional and my personal life without compromising either, which I refuse to do. I lay out great organizational timelines, but life always intervenes and blows my schedule apart. So I ride the waves, but, given what a diehard perfectionist I am, the thing that usually goes by the wayside is my sleep. Oh, and my housework, but that’s secondary to me.

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?
A: I’ve been telling stories since I was a little girl, long before I could write them down. I’d play them out through my stuffed animals, through the books that I read, through the wonder of my imagination. As soon as I could, I started writing smaller pieces—essays, stories, and, of course, long, long journal entries. I always loved to read and I always loved to write. When my daughter was little, I wrote book reviews, which taught me a great deal about being concise—and about the fact that I wasn’t born to be concise! At a certain point, when my ideas kept growing and growing, I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at a novel. Despite the grueling work hours, setbacks, and struggles along the way, I’ve never regretted my decision and never once looked back. I know the saying is trite, but for me it’s still true: Writing is really who I am, not just what I do.

Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A: The creation of the Zermatt Group, and its integration with the Forensic Instincts team, was truly a labor of love for me. I hope you feel the same way when you read DEAD IN A WEEK.

Fun Questions:

Q: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
A: I’ve been asked this question before and I never have an answer. My characters are so specific in my mind that no actors or actresses ever feel right to play the parts. I wish I could give you a better answer, but I just don’t have one. I doubt I ever will.

Q: Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
A: Since a good chunk of DEAD IN A WEEK takes place in Croatia, I had to do months of long-distance research. My FBI liaison (a/k/a my lifesaver) connected me up with everyone from law enforcement to dairy farmers, all of whom were beyond generous with their time and knowledge. The dairy farmers sent me a fabulous care package of kulen (their own high quality sausage) and a home produced bottle of Rakia (a fruit brandy I had never tasted but later learned had a 50% alcohol content). I savored the kulen and then took a deep swallow of the Rakia. My insides burst into flames and my sinuses sure cleared up in a hurry! Wow! That stuff is potent! I was slumped over the table after one glass and didn’t do any writing that night. 

Q: Favorite foods?
A: Hands-down, pizza and ice cream.

Q: Favorite activities?
A: Playing with my 1-year-old granddaughter, cuddling up with my Pomeranian, and watching the New York Yankees.

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

 

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Enter To Win!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Andrea Kane. There will be 6 winners. One winner (1) will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card and five (5) winners will receive an eBook copy of Dead In A Week. The giveaway begins on March 18, 2019 and runs through April 21, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Feb 272019
 
Blackwell by Alexandrea Weis with Lucas Astor

Blackwell

by Alexandrea Weis with Lucas Astor

on Tour February 1 – March 31, 2019

Synopsis:

Blackwell by Alexandrea Weis with Lucas Astor

“… an intriguing, dark tale complete with vividly drawn characters, and a uniquely compelling character in Magnus … seamlessly blends mystery, magic and matters of the heart to create an enthralling read. Readers will be engaged from the start of the story to its climactic ending.” ~Melanie Bates, RT Book Reviews

“A dark story of passion and revenge … A guilty-pleasure read that kept me captivated knowing something sinister is looming in the plot and over the characters.” ~New Orleans Magazine


In the late 1800s, handsome, wealthy New Englander, Magnus Blackwell, is the envy of all.

When Magnus meets Jacob O’Connor–a Harvard student from the working class–an unlikely friendship is forged. But their close bond is soon challenged by a captivating woman; a woman Magnus wants, but Jacob gets.

Devastated, Magnus seeks solace in a trip to New Orleans. After a chance meeting with Oscar Wilde, he becomes immersed in a world of depravity and brutality, inevitably becoming the inspiration for Dorian Gray. Armed with the forbidden magic of voodoo, he sets his sights on winning back the woman Jacob stole from him.

Amid the trappings of Victorian society, two men, bent on revenge, will lay the foundation for a curse that will forever alter their destinies.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery with Supernatural Elements
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication Date: January 17th 2017
Number of Pages: 295
ISBN: 1944109242 (ISBN13: 9781944109240)
Series: A Magnus Blackwell Novel 0.5
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Guest Post by Alexandrea Weis

10 interesting fun facts about your book or series
  1. The Magnus Blackwell Series is set in the most haunted city in America-New Orleans. Ghosts are the norm there, not the exception.
  2. The series spans well over a century and shows the progression of New Orleans from the 1890s (beginning with BLACKWELL: the prequel) to modern day. The interesting fact is that many of the businesses and buildings mentioned in 1890s New Orleans are still around. The French Quarter is a time capsule which has preserved the past.
  3. In book one: DAMNED, one of the lead characters—Magnus Blackwell—is a ghost. His life and sins are the impetus for the story, and his quest for redemption sets in motion a chain of events that changes the lives of many. He is the spirit guide to Lexie Arden, and he is bound to her through the power of voodoo.
  4. The Magnus Blackwell Series is steeped in New Orleans traditions and folklore. Many tales known to New Orleanians are blended into the storyline.
  5. Voodoo and the gods and goddesses who oversee it are an integral part of the Magnus Blackwell Series. It taps into this side of ritual magic not known by many outside New Orleans, and the gods in the story exist in the religion.
  6. Many of the locations described in the story exist. The restaurants, buildings, addresses, and cemeteries named can be visited in the city.
  7. One of the authors, Alexandrea Weis, grew up in the French Quarter and lived next door to a voodoo priestess. Her childhood memories are used to describe many of the rituals and spells recreated in the series.
  8. The baton juju described in the series and used by the mambo, Lexie Arden, is something utilized by priests and priestesses during voodoo ceremonies. It comes from the gods or Loa of voodoo. Their sacred batons are recreated for rituals used to please a particular god or gain favor.
  9. The term Mambo comes from Hattian voodoo. It is the term for a female (as opposed to the Houngan, or male) High Priest. In the Magnus Blackwell Series, it is the title given to the priestess in charge of New Orleans. The person through which all magical power flows.
  10. The next installment in the Magnus Blackwell Series arrives in the Spring 2019. SEIZE continues Lexie Arden and Magnus Blackwell’s story and introduces more voodoo gods from the pantheon.

 

Blackwell Trailer:

 

Read an excerpt:

“We all saw different spirits,” Emily surmised. “How is that possible?”

Katie rose from Jacob’s side. “We each saw the person we wanted to see. The person we felt most connected to on the other side.” She came around the table to Magnus, grinning like a proud peacock. “Do you still doubt my abilities?”

“No.” Magnus blew out a long breath. “I think we should not do this again, though. I got the impression what happened tonight may be only the beginning.”

“The beginning of what?” Emily pestered.

Magnus straightened his coat as he turned for the door. “Something very dangerous.”

***

Excerpt from Blackwell by Alexandrea Weis with Lucas Astor. Copyright © 2017 by Alexandrea Weis. Reproduced with permission from Alexandrea Weis. All rights reserved.

Alexandrea Weis:

Alexandrea Weis

Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, CRRN, ONC, PhD, is a multi-award-winning author of over twenty-seven novels, a screenwriter, ICU Nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured animals. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans. Weis writes mysteries, suspense, thrillers, horror, crime fiction, action, historical, and romance. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers Association.

Lucas Astor is from New York, has resided in Central America and the Middle East, and traveled through Europe. He lives a very private, virtually reclusive lifestyle, preferring to spend time with a close-knit group of friends than be in the spotlight. He is an author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche. He likes to explore the evil that exists, not just in the world, but right next door behind a smiling face.

Catch Up With Alexandrea On:
alexandreaweis.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

Lucas Astor:

Lucas Astor

Lucas Astor is from New York, has resided in Central America and the Middle East, and traveled through Europe. He lives a very private, virtually reclusive lifestyle, preferring to spend time with a close-knit group of friends than be in the spotlight.

He is an author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche. He likes to explore the evil that exists, not just in the world, but right next door behind a smiling face.

Photography, making wine, and helping endangered species are just some of his interests. Lucas is an expert archer and enjoys jazz, blues, and classical music.

One of his favorite quotes is: “It’s better to be silent than be a fool.” ~Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Tour Participants:

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


GIVEAWAY:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Vesuvian Books. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2019 and runs through April 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours