Jun 212018
 

Burn One Down by Jeffrey A. Cooper Tour Banner

Burn One Down

by Jeffrey A. Cooper

on Tour June 11 – July 13, 2018

 

Synopsis:

Burn One Down by Jeffrey A. Cooper

Retiring thief Jack Apple is offered a low-­risk, six-­figure payout to heist a medical marijuana dispensary from the feisty and impetuous Diane Thomas after Diane steals the robbery plans from her shady ex-­husband Alvin, hoping to beat him to the score.

Diane promises to stay out of Jack’s way but she can’t help interfering, forcing them to take hostages inside the dispensary when the robbery is interrupted by law enforcement, inciting a media circus that deteriorates into a full-­on urban riot.

To escape, Jack and Diane must negotiate the hostages, their agendas, an army of Sheriff’s deputies, the tenacious local news media, crooked deals, corrupt politicians, rioters, Diane’s shady ex-­husband Alvin, and their growing attraction to each other.

This little ditty about Jack and Diane is a fast-paced read that finds a few new wrinkles in a familiar genre. ~ Kirkus Review

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Heist
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: June 15, 2018
Number of Pages: 271
ISBN: 978-­0­‐692­‐06952-3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

 

Jeffrey A Cooper

Author Bio:

Jeffrey A. Cooper lives in Los Angeles, CA. His previous novel, “How to Steal a Truck Full of Nickels” was published in 2015. Jeffrey has optioned several feature film scripts and co-­created two shows executive produced by Emmy-­award winning comedian Louie Anderson.

Jeffrey lives with his wife, daughter, two rescue dogs, a rescue cat and a fish who all get along famously.

 

Q&A with Jeffrey A. Cooper

Welcome!

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

Yes, but not necessarily my own. I’m an expert eavesdropper, especially when you’re talking so loud on the train that I can hear you through my earphones.

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

I start with a basic premise, then I ask myself what I like to call the “Busey on the Loosey” questions (which is a whole other story that I’ll tell you sometime). Who are they? Do we like this guy? Why do I like them? What about those people? What are they doing here? Why are they doing this? Then I go from there.

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

Yes, which should be a warning to anyone out there who might be thinking about bullying that nerdy kid with glasses who reads a lot. Who’s laughing now, pumpkin-face?

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

When I get stuck, I wander around the house and get involved in projects. I’ll cook, clean up the yard, re-plant flowers, trim hedges, tidy up the garage. My wife knows when I’m being productive because nothing gets done around the house.

Tell us why we should read this book.

You should read “Burn One Down” because you like fast, entertaining stories about flawed people in dangerous and funny situations. You hate books that spend three pages describing the drapes. You love snappy, witty, and realistic dialogue from characters that pop off the page.

You’re traveling. Going on vacation. Relaxing around the house. You want a fast-paced book that you could read in a day.

You need a break from “serious” literature. You don’t read “Burn One Down” because you have to read it. You read this book because you want to read it.

It’s fun.

You also support independent authors and self-publishers, and I can’t thank you enough for that. But I’ll try. Thank you.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Donald Westlake, Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Janet Evanovich, Carl Hiaasen, Patricia Highsmith, P.D. James, Hunter Thompson, Raymond Carver, Kazuo Ishiguro, Hunter Thompson, Paul Beatty, Douglas Adams, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury. That’s off the top of my head. We could be here a long time.

What are you reading now?

“A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James
“A Man with One of Those Faces” by Caimh McDonnell
“Autobiography” by Miles Davis

One is my audiobook for the car, one is my bedside book and one is my bathroom book. Oh, like you don’t have a bathroom book?

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

Yes, I can tell you that I’m working on the follow up to “Burn One Down”. There is no truth to the rumor that it will be done entirely as a puppet show.

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

I would cast anyone that I could write a tell-all book about and blame everything on if the movie does poorly. That, or Daniel Day Lewis.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

Standing on my deck facing the church parking lot next to my house and yelling at everyone leaving Sunday services to get the hell off my lawn.

Favorite meal?

I have had a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich every day of my life. Or, at least any day that mattered.

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

 

Catch Up With Mr. Cooper On:
Website, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

We are all thieves and criminals.

Jack Apple had too much pride to let people look down him because he’d been in prison. Most people were hypocrites. Their own lawbreaking might not extend past trivial offenses like unpaid parking tickets or racing past the posted speed limit, but if right was right and wrong was wrong then Jack Apple was someone who believed that everyone breaks the law at one time or another. People justified their behavior based on their own personal sense of morality just like he did. It wasn’t his fault that he aimed higher than they did. But that part of his life was over. Thievery and criminality were all behind him now. Jack Apple was a changed man.

At least he would be after tonight.

***

Jack swung himself over the top of the twelve-foot stone wall surrounding Leo Dorsey’s home and laid flat across the top for a good look at the property. Leo Dorsey was the owner of Ledo Luxury Automobiles, a limousine and hired car service that fronted for a long list of illegal activities including drug trafficking, gun running, extortion, prostitution and probably about six or seven other things. As a rule, Jack didn’t rob people in the trade out of professional courtesy, but Leo had stolen money from a friend of his, so Jack would let that rule slide on this one. If he really was ditching the trade for good, this was something he needed to take care of first. He planned this job before prison and knew there was a decent chance Leo would have the $80,000 he still needed to open his new business. In the trade, they called that a win-win.

The business Jack wanted to open was a gas station, positioned on the lower right-hand corner of a busy “Y” street traffic pattern that fed into two distinct thoroughfares, and was a popular route for locals to access the freeway. In addition to the pumps, a small retail store sold cigarettes, lottery tickets, energy drinks and lousy coffee. A service area hadn’t been operational since the days when they used real steel for bumpers, but it was a space ripe for expansion. The property had just been listed, and Jack knew it wouldn’t be on the market long. It had everything. What was the old adage?

Location, location, location?

The word came this morning that Jack needed to move on the property. Other parties were sniffing around, ready to make an offer, and there would be no time to raise money.

While Jack had money stashed away from his recent ATM fiasco, there was still a lot of heat on that job, and that money would need to stay buried for a while. He needed a quick score no one could trace, no one would report, and that he could do alone. Hitting Leo Dorsey was perfect. It had to be.

A series of motion detectors captured Jack’s movement and flooded the area with bright white light. Jack jumped down off the wall and hid behind tall landscaped shrubbery, waiting for a response. Instead, an automated voice spoke from a speaker sitting on top of the stone wall, giving Jack a terse warning in both English and Spanish.

“You are trespassing on private property. Security cameras are recording your movements. There is an armed response to all trespassers. Leave this property immediately.”

Jack moved toward Leo’s house and saw a large man in an open window staring into the yard. It looked like Leo, but Jack remembered a slighter man, guessing that this version topped out between three hundred fifty and four hundred pounds. Leo had become very successful since Jack had seen him last, but it did nothing for his disposition. Leo was still a miserable shit.

“Idiots! There’s something wrong with that security system!” Leo shouted at two haggard employees who were clearly showing early signs of PTSD. “Why do the lights go on for no reason? There it goes again! What don’t you simpletons understand? Get it fixed!” The employees looked at each other, certain that Leo was talking about the other one.

“Boss, I…,” one hapless employee pleaded.

“Get away from me,” Leo interrupted. “I’ve had enough stupid for one day. I’m going to bed now. Try not to burn the house down before I wake up. And make sure those dogs go out again, too. I don’t want them shitting all over my floors again.”

“Dogs,” Jack whispered to himself, grimacing. “Why is it always dogs?”

Jack slipped through the garden and climbed up to the veranda outside Leo’s bedroom with a backpack full of safecracking tools while he waited for Leo to finish browbeating his employees and go to sleep. Leo’s nightstand confirmed his notorious longtime habits of pills and a three-finger glass of Scotch was still current, telling Jack that sleep probably wasn’t far away.

Jack stretched out his shoulder. His thirty-five-year-old body was sending him reminders that it wasn’t about to put up with the kind of abuse he’d heaped on it all these years for much longer. While he tried to keep in shape in prison, his long, willowy frame strong from years of street running and urban gymnastics, Jack couldn’t do anything about getting older or the damage that twenty-three hours a day of lockdown did to a body. His guilty conscience chimed in, reminding Jack of everything he had risked: his health, his family, his freedom, his youth. All for money. Things. Shit. When would it be enough? Would it ever be enough?

Doubt. Crippling, stifling doubt. This was why he was getting out. He’d already been arrested and sent to prison once, so he obviously wasn’t the master thief he once thought he was. Could he even make it on his own? Jack always worked with partners and recent history would seem to indicate that he couldn’t work without them. He’d nearly been bested by a 70-year-old hermit and his English bulldog two weeks ago.

It was reasonable to ask that maybe his time in the trade had passed. He heard Leo through an open window, talking in drunk guy loudspeak.

“You think I dunno what you think I dunno but I know what you think I dunno ya know?” Leo enunciated every syllable as an almost empty glass of Scotch dangled from his fingertips, then dropped to the floor without breaking. He stumbled to a large double-door safe adjacent to his changing area, his head foggy from drink and drug. Leo focused on the keypad, entering the combination numbers at a slow, deliberate pace, then he pulled open the door with his right hand. Jack watched Leo through a monocular as he wrote the safe combination in pen on his pant leg, thankful that the tools in his backpack would no longer be necessary. It was nice of Leo to save him all that work. Maybe he’d send him a fruit basket later.

“I’ll be right outside if ya need me, Boss,” Leo’s other employee said, assuring him as he shut the bedroom door behind him. Leo said nothing. He wasn’t assured at all.

“Lock th’ door!” Leo barked with a pronounced slur. He took off his Patek Philippe watch and put it in the safe along with the bankroll from his bathrobe pocket. Leo inspected it all with a listless shake of his head then closed the large double doors, pulling on the handle again to make sure the safe was locked. He turned, his beefy feet squeaking along the marble tile as he stumbled back to his bed and fell face down on the mattress, fast asleep before his head even hit the pillow. His snores were deep and guttural. It was no mistake Leo slept alone.

Jack waited through several minutes of uninterrupted snoring next to a window underneath a security camera aimed at the French doors leading to Leo’s bedroom. He picked the lock as he waited, sliding the window open with little effort and easing himself inside. He looked around, wary of alarms or motion detectors. Once he was confident he could move without disruption, Jack stepped forward and immediately set off a motion detector that turned the overhead lights on and lit the space with lighting dimmed for the evening hours. Jack moved back to the window, ready to bail out. He listened. Nothing. No sound. No movement. No one was coming. It was quiet except for Leo, who was fifteen feet away and snoring like a champ.

“Okay, no more surprises,” Jack whispered.

He moved into the large room with caution, gently walking past the bed straining under Leo’s sleeping body and toward the safe, where he zeroed in on the combination keypad and the numbers he’d scribbled in pen on his pant leg. Forty-two. Eight. Thirty-one. Five. Jack pulled the handle to open the safe door, but the door remained locked.

Maybe I entered the numbers wrong?

No. He wrote the numbers down exactly as Leo entered them. Jack tried the series again, re-entering the numbers one at a time and pulling on the handle, but the safe still would not open. This time the repudiation was accompanied by a message on a small LCD screen: BIOMETRIC ACCESS DENIED. Your BioMetric Identification has been declined for the second time. For your protection, the safe will be locked if additional biometric identification is refused.

Jack looked at the handle. At the top was a thumb pad with a painted-on thumbprint he hadn’t noticed during his previous attempts. The numbers he’d entered were correct. The safe didn’t open because it needed a thumbprint, specifically Leo’s thumbprint, to open the door. Jack wondered what the odds were of chopping Leo’s thumb off without waking him up. He sat, considering his options. Technology sure was making it tough for a fella to earn a living.

***

At close to four hundred pounds, getting Leo to the safe over fifty feet away from the bed was a challenge. Jack rolled Leo over on the bed and was startled to discover Leo’s eyes were wide open despite Leo being in a deep, sound sleep. Jack waved his hand in front of Leo’s face. Leo didn’t blink, and the snoring got even louder once there was no mattress to contain it.

Jack mapped out his strategy. An office chair on wheels, probably for Leo’s shell-shocked employees, would suffice for moving Leo across the marble floor. That part was easy. The challenge would be getting Leo into the office chair. It was like moving a Smart Car by hand.

Jack pushed Leo up off the bed and reached his hands around his barrel chest, clenching his hands together the best he could across Leo’s massive sternum. Jack bent his knees, took a deep breath, then pulled Leo to the edge of the bed. Leo greeted the move with a loud snort, then went back to a steady snore, his drugged eyes still open as wide as the sky.

“Pull him up, right into the chair,” Jack coached himself. He used the same strategy as before, which this time pulled Leo off the bed too fast. His momentum landed Leo right on top of Jack, who howled. Leo, for his part, wasn’t disturbed by the fall at all.

“You know, you’ve really let yourself go, Leo!” Jack wailed before pushing Leo off of him. Jack stood up, grabbed Leo’s arms and leaned back, groaning, using the remainder of his strength to hoist Leo into the office chair, which creaked under the strain. Jack backed away, hoping the chair would hold. It would be a long, slow drag to the safe otherwise.

Jack positioned himself behind the chair but struggled across the marble floor. The chair moved slow but steady, gaining momentum once Jack picked Leo’s legs up and pulled him instead of pushing. After a heroic effort from Jack and especially the chair, Leo was positioned in front of the safe. Jack caught his breath, hoping that he didn’t give himself a hernia.

The lock on the outer bedroom door clicked, and the door opened. Leo’s employees, having heard Jack’s howling, came to investigate. Jack swiveled the office chair toward the door, pushed Leo’s head forward and ducked behind Leo’s mammoth frame. The employees looked around until they saw Leo in the chair, his eyes still wide open, staring at them.

“You okay, Boss? I heard something. Everything all right?”

Leo, who was still sound asleep, said nothing. His snoring sounded like a growl, especially to these two. “Just making sure you’re okay, Boss,” the nervous employee said in his awkward rush to get out of the room.

Jack swung the office chair back around and stood up. He entered the series of numbers on the combination pad, then lifted Leo’s stubby hand and placed it on the handle, so Leo’s thumb pressed down on the biometric sensor. This time the lock on the safe clicked and the doors opened. Inside the safe were three $10,000 stacks of hundred dollar bills and the large roll of money from Leo’s bathrobe, which Jack estimated at around $3,000. He could hock the watch, too. It wasn’t a bad haul, even though it was far less than Jack was expecting.

Isn’t it always less than you’re expecting?

Jack took what there was and left Leo on the overworked office chair in front of the open safe. He went back to the window he entered through and got out as easy as he came in, even taking time to re-lock the window behind him. The motion detector lights clicked on and off as Jack climbed down from the second story veranda. That’s when Leo’s dogs, two female German Shepherds outside to do their evening business, saw Jack and started barking in a frenzy.

“Nope,” Jack said once he saw them at the bottom, waiting for him to come down. “No dogs.” He climbed back up to the veranda, content to find another way. The only people in the house were Leo’s employees who, from the sound of it, weren’t nearly as smart as the dogs. Jack slipped back into Leo’s bedroom, where Leo was still snoring heartily in the office chair that would be lucky to last the night. At the bedroom door, Jack heard voices in the hallway.

“Keep those dogs quiet before they wake him up!” The two employees were in a panic, apparently unaware of how deep and sound Leo slept after his bedtime snack of pills and Scotch. Their panic gave Jack an opportunity to get to a stairwell at the end of the hallway that he hoped would lead him outside. Jack listened first then moved quietly, soft-stepping his way down the stairs, peeking his head over the railing as he went. He saw the two employees at the stairwell door window on the first floor, so Jack slipped down another level to avoid them.

The stairwell emptied Jack into nondescript hallways of white concrete and white tile floors. The stairwell door locked behind him, so Jack had a choice of the single steel door ahead of him or a hallway that led off to the right. As Jack approached the hallway, the two German Shepherds sauntered around another corner from a hallway fifty feet away.

There was a moment of silent recognition. They all stood still, sizing each other up. The dogs looked at Jack, then to each other, then back to Jack. Everyone jumped at the same time. The dogs took off after Jack, who sprang into action, running down the hallway toward the door.

“Why is it always dogs?” Jack screamed.

Jack raced through the door and pushed it closed behind him. He didn’t suppose the dogs were smart enough to follow, but they figured it out, jumping up together to push open the door’s exit bar and continue their pursuit down the long hallway. The dogs, whose nails clicked like icy rain on paws that were slipping and sliding across the waxed hallway, were gaining ground. There were several doors along the hallway that Jack tried to open, but each one was locked. When Jack finally found an unlocked door, he got inside and pulled the door shut behind him, half a second before the snapping jaws of the German Shepherds took a sizeable bite out of him.

“Okay. Big dogs. Very big dogs,” Jack wheezed.

His hands felt around in the dark until Jack found the light switch inside the door frame, revealing the janitor closet that was now his safe refuge. “What did I ever do to a dog?” Jack panted, catching his breath. He opened the door slightly and saw a door leading to the outside thirty feet further down the hallway. “All right. I’ve been in worse situations,” Jack said. His voice activated the dogs, who barked as he shut the door. “I’ve never been food…”

The dogs paced back and forth outside the closet door, waiting for Jack to come out. They heard a sound; a scraping, grinding noise coming from deep inside the janitor’s closet. The dogs cocked their heads to the side, confused. The doorknob moved, and their ears perked up. The pin on the door unlatched, and the dogs sat crouched, ready to strike. When the door opened the dogs rushed in, then stopped all at once. From inside the deep janitor closet came the loud, abrasive growl of a stand-up vacuum cleaner that Jack parried
out of the closet after them, and now was using to chase the German Shepherds back down the hallway.

“Ha-HA!” Jack jeered, quick on their heels. The dogs reached the exit door and jumped up against the bar to let themselves outside, but Jack wasn’t letting them off that easy. He went out after them, confident and mocking. “Mess with me, and you know what happens?”

The cord for the vacuum cleaner pulled taut and yanked out of the wall. The pitiful motor on the vacuum cleaner died down with a slow, agonizing, mournful wail. The two German Shepherds stopped to listen, then turned their heads around slow. Jack could swear they were licking their lips.

“Idiot,” Jack said. He jumped for the closing exit door, and the dogs were on top of him. One had Jack’s pant leg while the other held the bottom of Jack’s shirt. The shirt ripped when the dog tried to pull back, sending one German Shepherd onto her back, while the other dog tried getting a better grip on Jack’s pant leg. Loose for the split second he needed, Jack took advantage, getting inside and pulling the door closed, with the vacuum cord preventing the door from closing tight.

“Hey! Stop right there!” Leo’s two employees came through the first exit door and saw Jack pulling the exit door closed on the dogs.

Jack ran away. The employees were quick on his heels until they passed the exit door. The tenacious German Shepherds forced open the door at the exact moment the employees ran past, and the dogs sprang into action, jumping into the hallway and biting the first thing they saw.

“No! Him! Get him!” The first employee said as he was being mauled by the first dog.

“That one, girl! That one! Ow!” The second employee shook his free arm, pointing down the hallway. His other arm was firmly planted in the second German Shepherd’s jaw.

Jack’s only option at this end of the hallway was the window straight ahead of him. He pulled opened the window and looked out, craning his neck in both directions, but this was no time to get particular. Jack hoisted himself up and pushed through the window until momentum took over and he dropped ten feet to the ground. The soil was dry and loose, and Jack hit hard, flat on his back, before sliding down the sloped hill head-first and backward. The drop knocked the wind out of him, but Jack shook off the fall, spit dirt from his mouth, then scaled the twelve foot stone wall and jumped down on the other side. His pursuers knew Jack could still hear them.

“We know what you look like, pal! You’re on camera, dumbass! We’re gonna find you, you sonofabitch! You messed up bad, man, you messed up real bad!”

Jack ran for his life down the hill surrounding Leo’s house but couldn’t tell if the sounds he heard, of rustling trees, branches snapping, or running through fallen leaves was the sound of someone following him or the echo of the noise he was making all on his own. Jack turned his head to see the lead he had on his pursuers, but the night was dark, and it was difficult to see. What wasn’t difficult to see was the tree branch that caught Jack above the sternum when he turned back around, the one that clotheslined him flat to the ground. He slid down a steep, sloping hill, twisting and turning his body to avoid the rocks and tree stumps in his path before launching himself off an even larger, brush-covered hill.

Jack landed at the bottom of the hill next to a roadway, right at the feet of Diane Thomas, who stood next to her car like she’d been waiting there for him all along. Diane was dressed in black jeans and a black leather coat with a torn red t-shirt underneath. Her hair was long, with an easy, natural curl that fell over her flawless soft brown skin. Her necklaces and bracelets were tasteful; piled on but not overdone. Black boots were highlighted with metallic studs that covered the backs to the heels. She looked like trouble. Jack liked trouble.

“Something tells me you’re Jack Apple.” Diane stood in front of an idling muscle car, the headlights creating a silhouette that captivated Jack’s attention through his hazy thinking.

Jack asked, “Do I know you?”

“Not yet,” Diane said with a smile. “But you will.”

***

Excerpt from Burn One Down by Jeffrey A Cooper. Copyright © 2018 by Jeffrey A Cooper. Reproduced with permission from Jeffrey A Cooper. All rights reserved.

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 Jeffrey A. Cooper. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on June 11, 2018 and runs through July 16, 2018.
Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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Jun 132018
 

Preordained by David L Wallace Tour Banner

Preordained

by David L Wallace

on Tour June 1-30, 2018

 

Synopsis:

Preordained by David L Wallace

Art Somers is a detective in close-knit Murrell’s Inlet, S.C., a small-town, coastal community with deeply held spiritual and supernatural belief systems. A serial killer has shattered his peaceful existence by abducting multiple twelve-year-old boys within his county. Young thugs, backwater drug dealers and the occasional murderer are the most Art’s had to deal with, but now he must apprehend a predator who FBI profilers can’t find.

He discovers he has a tie by blood to the case and uncovers evidence that calls into question his long held spiritual and supernatural beliefs. Abraham, the father of faith, had to choose to either sacrifice his son or disobey a direct order from God. Art must now make a choice – sacrifice his soul to save his son.

“A riveting and intriguing read.” – Clarion Review

“Original and engaging.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“A gripping detective story.” – Kirkus Reviews

 

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Crime Thriller
Published by: David L Wallace
Publication Date: April 13th 2018
Number of Pages: 346
ISBN: 0997225726 (ISBN13: 9780997225723)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

David L Wallace

 

Author Bio:

Before publishing his debut novel in 2016, he served over 27 years as an information technology professional working initially for the US Navy, and then the Department of the Navy and various fortune companies. He’s a UCLA writing program alumnus who writes mystery thrillers and children stories. He has three wonderful kids who he enjoys immensely. Writing is his passion and his goal with each story is to capture the imagination in the opening pages and keep it engaged to the story’s riveting conclusion.

 

Q&A with David L. Wallace

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

For the sake of a good story, I’ll draw from anything. I’ve drawn from personal experiences for all three stories I’ve written. For my first novel, Trojan, it was also timely because of the current computer hacking events.

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

The key for me in structuring my storylines is in the beginning of the story. For the types of stories that I like to write, when you nail the character motivations and work out the confrontational elements properly early on, the ending simply becomes who will win, lose, or draw. The hard work goes into creating a satisfying ending, and I think working out the beginning and middle of the story will inform and illuminate a satisfying ending.

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

All my characters, in some way, are based on my own persona and people I’ve known and encountered in my lifetime. There are some aspects of my characters that I must create out of thin air, and since those characteristics are figments of my imagination, I count those elements as a part of me as well.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

When I started writing my first book, I use to go into my master-bedroom walk-in closet to get privacy. For whatever reason, I still find it’s the best place to produce my most productive writing sessions.

Tell us why we should read this book.

I think it’s a fun and riveting read. It’s scary in some moments and funny in others. It’s both a puzzle you need to solve and a thriller that puts the main character and the world at large in jeopardy. The people and plot events in the story are both familiar and unique in their own way and the telling delves into many aspects of my main character’s life.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I have a long list: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, Dan Brown – just to name a few.

What are you reading now?

Nothing. I’m taking a break to use the time to redo the flooring in my home.

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

I’m currently working on sequel draft outlines for Preordained, Trojan and Ralphy the Rabbit. I haven’t made the choice yet on which one I will write first. If Preordained becomes wildly successful, then customer demand would dictate that I write Preordained II next.

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

This is truly a wishful thinking question. I saw three people in my head as I wrote Preordained: Colin Farrell (Det. Art Somers), Vin Diesel (Tech Billionaire Corey D’Meadow) and Jennifer Lawrence (Det. Angela Hunter). Jennifer’s portrayal of Rosalyn Rosenfeld in American Hustle led me to envision her playing the role of Angela Hunter, my offbeat police detective.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

I love to dance to live music. My favorite hobby is playing my guitar.

Favorite meal?

I recently found out that I must stop eating meat products and cheeses, and I must stop drinking milk. Unbelievable. I’m currently working on a brand new set of meal choices.

 

Catch Up With Mr Wallace On:
davidlwallace.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

From his crouched position in the woods of rural Georgetown County, South Carolina, and under the echo of his heavy breathing in the night air, he watched his favorite family’s movements inside their small brown home.

After much thought about the impression his outfit would make, he’d decided it was festive enough for the occasion. The complete ensemble consisted of a red and black head mask, aligned perfectly to the holes for his eyes, nose, and mouth and a form-fitting, black bodysuit with white wings painted on the back.

For years, he’d contemplated a befitting name for himself and finally settled on Star of David killer. He liked the way the alias reverberated in his head. It revealed a lot. It concealed everything. It hinted at his purpose and yet – it withheld the true essence of his aspirations, keeping them covered in a shroud of secrecy. He hoped an insightful reporter would have an epiphany and bestow that nickname on him. It was far more interesting than the one his parents had given him at birth. He breathed deep and exhaled slowly, taking in the ambience of the moment. He flexed his muscles. It was time to initiate the events that would lead everyone to recognize him by his self-appointed moniker.

He clenched and released his toes on each of his hospital footie–covered feet. Through the sheer curtains of the dimly lit dwelling, he watched the boy pick up the used plates from the table, which signaled the parents and their twelve-year-old son had finished their dinner. He knew them well. He’d cased their dwelling for years, observing every nuance of their behavior. He sat flushed as he watched them for the last time, shivering from time to time from the thrill of the thought of what he was about to do.

The music of the bullfrogs kept him company, along with the thought that all he’d longed for, all that he was meant to be, was about to be on full display on the world stage in a matter of hours. Like Heinz ketchup, he’d been waiting in anticipation for a long time for this moment.

He glanced at the scavengers in the clear sky above him, each casting its shadow across the moon as it circled. They were his favorite creatures—the redheaded, black-feathered, and partially white-winged turkey vultures of the Carolina skies. His outfit mimicked theirs. The birds squawked in the sky, seeming to know his plan for that evening. They’d followed his vehicle from his home until he’d parked, and now they circled directly above him. He could feel their hunger and impatience.

The boy walked outside his home and scraped the remains of their dinner plates into a slop bucket on the back porch. He picked up the hog’s food and headed out to the pigpen, which was located near the backend of their yard.

The Star of David killer watched the boy make his evening trek on pigeon-toed feet that turned inward with each step. Ever since the infant pigs were born, the boy fed the adult male hog an extra feeding at night to prevent him from dining on his offspring. That’s right, the daddy hog actually ate his own children. What a disgusting breed of animal.

The overhead undertakers began to shriek and shrill as the boy moved across his lawn, their voices echoing in the night.

The boy jumped at their sound and looked to the skies. He stared into the woods directly below them.

The Star of David killer remained as still as a stone as the kid’s gaze seemed to linger on him for a moment. The last thing he needed was for the boy to detect his presence and yell out for his daddy. The papa of the family had an itchy twelve-gauge finger that he didn’t want to deal with that evening.

Seemingly satisfied, the boy stopped searching the woods and continued his walk.

The Star of David Killer glanced overhead at the vultures, angry with them for almost giving away his position. For their carelessness, they wouldn’t be feeding on his handiwork that evening, and if they didn’t atone for their misstep, they wouldn’t partake in any of the festivities on his planned itinerary.

This was the first night—the evening of his coming-out party and the kickoff of his personal pilgrimage. It was the acknowledgment that the presence within him, who had compelled him to plan and now execute the initial steps of his mission, had chosen the right vehicle for the job.

He felt something biting him on his lower legs. Glancing down, he saw by the light of the rear porch that ants were advancing up his calves. He remained silent and didn’t move, not wanting to sound the alarm that he was out there in the dark. A small green garden snake slithered out of the brush toward him. He stepped on it and crushed its head.

The grunting male hog reveled in the slop the boy had dumped into his pen. The female hog stood to the side with her five remaining piglets cowering under her.

The killer frowned at the stench of the hogs. It wasn’t the last smell he wanted on his mind before he began his body of work. To get past it, he closed his eyes and thought of the fragrances inside the boy’s family home, smells that he knew all too well. He’d spent many nights there while they slept, enjoying their scents, with his favorites being the individual smell of each of their worn clothing. The laundry room was a treasure trove of delights. Each of the family members left their own unique and enjoyable stains in their underwear. He’d gotten to know the other families in just as much detail, meticulously taking in their routines and schedules, getting to know every nuance of each of them.

He removed his blade from his waistband and watched Rueben, his first victim, as he rinsed out the slop bucket with a water hose attached to the rear of his home. He squeezed the black-handled blade. The paring knife felt perfect in his hand, after having gone through an exhaustive testing process to find the right cutting instrument—one with just the right shape and size for optimal carving control against a moving body. He’d practiced his skills with it for many hours, initially on cantaloupes, cucumbers, and other fruits and vegetables, until he’d graduated to successful tests on small gerbils, kittens, and puppies he’d purchased at various pet stores.

Finally, the lights went out in the shack. It was time. As usual, Rueben’s parents were more than likely already fast asleep. Rueben, on the other hand, should be wide-awake in his darkened room, surfing Internet porn sites by the light of his laptop. The little fella loved to look at online pussy, but he wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy any.

As the final step of his preparation process, he extracted a bottle of removable glue from the front waistband of his outfit and placed another coat over his hands. It was an additional layer to guard against him leaving fingerprints behind, but he knew he didn’t need to worry on that score. Over the past year, he’d used razor blades every month to remove the top layer of skin on each of his fingertips, making them as smooth as a baby’s ass.

He had no fingerprints.

He could’ve easily used gloves, but he wanted to touch them, to feel his prey with his bare hands. He blew on the glue until it dried. Satisfied, he stood, stretched his legs and approached Rueben’s home on silent feet.

He hadn’t troubled himself to brush the ants from his lower torso. The stinging sensation of their bites would serve as a reminder that before that evening, he was once human.

***

Excerpt from Preordained by David L Wallace. Copyright © 2018 by David L Wallace. Reproduced with permission from David L Wallace. All rights reserved.

 

Tour Participants:

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

 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David L Wallace. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2018 and runs through July 1, 2018.
Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Jun 082018
 

Dangerous Places by Susan Hunter

 

Dangerous Places

by Susan Hunter

on Tour June 4 – 15, 2018

 

Synopsis:

Dangerous Places by Susan Hunter

When teenager Heather Young disappeared from the small town of Himmel, Wisconsin everyone believed her boyfriend had killed her—though her body was never found. Twenty years later, his little sister Sammy returns to town. She begs her old friend, true crime writer Leah Nash, to prove her brother Eric isn’t a murderer.

But Sammy has no new evidence, and her brother doesn’t want Leah’s help. Leah says no—but she can’t help feeling guilty about it. That feeling gets much worse when Sammy is killed in a suspicious car accident. That’s when the independent, irreverent, unstoppable Leah takes up her cause. Her investigation takes her to some dark and dangerous places, and the truth she finds has an unexpected and shattering impact on her own life.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Himmel River Press
Publication Date: November 2016
Number of Pages: 348
ISBN: 1540356477 (ISBN13: 9781540356475)
Series: Leah Nash Mysteries #3 (Each is a Stand Alone Mystery)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Google Play 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Q&A with Susan Hunter

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

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

Not directly, but things that have happened to me, or to friends or family sometimes spark imagination and I use them as a starting point. I keep a file of things that I come across online or elsewhere that strike me as possibilities. I’ve also been known to use snippets of overheard conversation to get me started.

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

I start with the victim first. I think about who is killed and build out his or her backstory so that I know why, and who the suspects could be. Then I create backstories for all of the suspects and find ways that their lives intersected with the victim and sometimes with each other. I usually know who the killer is, and how the story will end, but when I’m writing I typically only plan about five chapters in advance and see where that takes me.

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

No, although I sometimes lift a physical description, or a mannerism or voice.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I write at my desk in my office, which when I start a book is always pristine. By the time it’s reached the midpoint, there are piles of papers, sticky notes affixed to my printer and desk, and lots of cookie crumbs and the occasional half-empty cup of tea. I like to use large sheets of paper—the kind you’d use at a work brainstorming session—and stick them up on the wall to work out my timelines.

Tell us why we should read this book.

Well, probably not everyone should. But if you enjoy a mystery with lots of surprises, a strong female lead who is funny, flawed and fierce, and a plot that allows the characters to grow a little, then I think you should read it.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Reginald Hill, Louise Penny, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Liane Moriarty, John Irving, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Michael Connelly, Laurie King

What are you reading now?

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home. It’s very good.

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

Yes, I’m writing the fifth Leah Nash Mystery. The victim is Laurel Sheridan, a creative writing teacher on the faculty of Alcott College, a liberal arts school about 10 miles away from Leah’s stomping grounds in Himmel. Leah is pulled into the investigation when her ex-husband becomes a person of interest to local police investigating the murder. As in all Leah Nash mysteries, there are plenty of suspects, a few twists and turns, and (I hope) a solution that surprises. A familiar cast of supporting characters, and some new ones, will also be part of the story.

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

That’s a fun one to think about. Off the top of my head—Anna Kendrick for Leah, Chris Pratt for Coop, January Jones for Rebecca, Jamie Lee Curtis for Leah’s mom, Michael Trevino, Miguel.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

Reading, watching classic movies from the 1930s and 1940s

Favorite meal?

Grilled rainbow trout, green beans, baked potato. For dessert, chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting—and I like to think of the cake as primarily a means to convey the frosting.

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

Author Bio:

Susan Hunter

Susan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first-place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting.

Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words.

During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain’s Bar and Grill.

 

Catch Up With Susan Hunter On:
Website, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

So, Leah, good to see you. I almost missed your book readin’ there. But what I heard, you did real good. I’m late because the stop ’n’ go light on Main is on the blink, caused a little fender-bender. But that’s OK, eh? Because we put the—”

“I know, Marty, you ‘put the sure in inSUREance.’ ”

Marty Angstrom beamed, thrilled at the evidence that his painstakingly-crafted slogan for the A-1 Independent Insurance Agency had achieved market penetration.

“Noreen was gonna come too, but she’s at her mother’s over to Waukesha tonight. But she bought your book anyway. Gonna give it to her sister for her birthday. I got it right here. Could you sign somethin’ personal? You know, make it special for her to give to Arlene?”

“Sure.” I took the book he handed to me and sat down to autograph it.

Unholy Alliances is the true story of the death of my younger sister Lacey at a residential school run by Catholic nuns. Years after the fact, I got a tip that her death wasn’t accidental as we’d all believed. The investigation I did for my small-town paper, The Himmel Times Weekly, brought the truth to light and also generated some national interest. I wound up with a book deal and a career switch from reporter to true crime writer.

My book reading at the annual Himmel Public Library Wine and Cheese Fundraiser was my first official “celebrity” appearance in town. Although I’d spent the past few months promoting my book across the country on every radio show, television interview program, and podcast that would have me, I’d been a little nervous no one would show up on my home turf. But there was a respectable crowd.

As I signed the book, Marty kept talking.

“So, you’re a big deal now, aren’t you? I saw you on the TV the other day, everybody at McClain’s was watchin’. Gettin’ real famous and all. Leah Nash, big-time author, eh? But I can still say I knew you when.” He smiled with the kind of hometown pride that was usually reserved for a Packers player. I was very touched. He really is a nice man.

“I don’t know about that. The book’s doing well, but that promotional tour stuff is pretty wearing. I’m glad to be home.”

“Speakin’ of home there, Leah, how you set for insurance on that new loft apartment you moved into? Renters need insurance too.”

“I hadn’t really thought about it, Marty. I’ll call your office and—” As I handed him the book, my response was cut off by a jolt to my arm from a woman carrying a full glass of burgundy. The slosh from it instantly made my pale-yellow blazer look as though I’d been a casualty in a shootout.

“Oh! I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.” She began dabbing ineffectively with her hand at the spreading deep red stain on the front of my blazer.

“It’s OK, don’t worry about it.” I stood and stepped away from the table, slipping out of my jacket. Fortunately, the wine hadn’t penetrated through to my shirt. I snagged a bottle of water and a napkin from a circulating waiter. As I liberally doused the front of my jacket, the woman apologized again, her voice high and tense.

“Hey, c’mon. It’s not a big deal,” I said. Several people began to glance our way. “I’ll just run to the bathroom and run some cold water on it.” I smiled to ease her embarrassment and hurried off to the restroom. I pushed through the door and narrowly missed slamming it into the bent head of a man who had just started to rise from kneeling under the sink. Startled, I took a half-step back to check the sign on the door. “Ladies.” Nope, I hadn’t barged into the men’s room by mistake.

As he stood I realized he was wearing workman’s clothes and held a wrench in his hand.

“Had a leaky pipe emergency. All done except the moppin’ up.” He indicated a puddle of water that nearly reached the two stalls on the opposite wall.

“Oh, well, sorry to bang in here. Is it OK if I just run some water on this stain so it doesn’t set?”

“Sure, sure. Workin’ fine now. I got to say, Leah, your daddy would sure be proud of you tonight.”

I stopped cold. Nothing brings me up short like mention of the father who abandoned us. “Excuse me?”

“Now, don’t get all huffy, there. You ’member me, don’t ya? It’s Dorsey. Dorsey Cowdrey. I knowed your dad. Knowed you too. We both did a little work for Anthony Dunn, back when he wasn’t so hoity-toity and his name was Tony. Likes to be called Anthony now. Mr. Dunn is even better.” He started a laugh that ended in a smoker’s cough before he went on. “I’m still Tony’s go-to guy. What my daddy used to call a jack-of-all-trades. Little plumbin’, little carpentry, little electrical, little this ‘n’ that. Not much I can’t handle.”

I stared at him without recognition. He had a foxy face, long and sharp-featured with weathered skin. His build was lean, his hair ginger-colored and streaked with gray. Even his ears were fox-like, high and almost pointed. I guessed him to be in his late fifties or early sixties.

“I’m sorry, I don’t remember you, Mr. Cowdrey.” I had turned my back and was running water over the spot on my blazer.

“Oh now, darlin’, don’t say that. You can’t forget the man what used to give you them Baby Ruth candy bars you was so crazy about. I used to call you ‘little Ruthie’ ’cause you liked ’em so much.”

As I squeezed the excess water from my jacket, I closed my eyes and saw my five-year-old-self and a much younger version of this man leaning toward me. “Here you go, little Ruthie. You sit right there on your swing and chew on this. I’m goin’ in to talk to your daddy fer a minute.” I hadn’t liked him very well—he smelled like stale sweat and tobacco—but I had indeed been crazy about the Baby Ruths, and at five, I was easily won over. Actually, even now, the right candy bar can take you pretty far with me. I faced him and said, “Yes, you’re right. I do remember you, Mr. Cowdrey.”

He smiled, revealing small, sharp yellow teeth that made him look more vulpine than ever. “I heard your little presentation there. You did a real nice job. I’m not much of a reader myself. My boy Cole, though, seems like he read your whole book. I guess he likes bein’ famous, even if he don’t come out lookin’ too good.”

Again I was puzzled. “Cole Granger? He’s your son?”

Cole had been a low-level drug dealer involved with my youngest sister Lacey in her lost days. The last time I saw him, he was a pretty scared loser, on the run out of town from some criminals who were a lot more dangerous than he was.

“By marriage, yeah. He’s my stepson. We don’t get along too good. Still, kin is kin, right?”

The door swung inward then as two laughing women came through. They stopped at the unexpected duo who greeted them. I gave them that funny little half-smile you offer to strangers, and I stepped to their left.

“Excuse me, please. Bye, Mr. Cowdrey.” I didn’t say it was nice seeing him, because it really hadn’t been. Something about that guy gave me the willies. He was picking up his tools as I left.

I hurried back to the reception room, lest Dorsey Cowdrey decide to escort me, and found an empty chair to drape my damp blazer on. As I did so, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and saw the woman who’d spilled my drink. My expression must have conveyed a not-very-friendly “Enough, all ready. Let it go,” because she started talking quickly.

“No, but wait, please. What an idiot I am. I’m just nervous, I guess. You know, you think something through in your head, and you imagine what you’ll say and how it will go, and then it doesn’t.” She was speaking so quickly that it was hard to follow her, and what I did catch I didn’t understand. Her obvious nervousness was all out of proportion to the slight accident she’d caused.

“I have to talk to you. I need you to—please.” She gulped, emitting a sound between a gasp and a hiccup. She continued a little desperately, “Leah, don’t you remember me?”

Two in one night. What were the odds? I had no idea who she was, and she saw the lack of recognition on my face.

“It’s me, Samantha. Sammy. You have to remember. You were my best friend!” Her voice was stronger now, but still pleading. And then I saw it, as I looked straight into her face. I flashed back to a big, sunny room, with two little girls sitting on a bed, repeating in unison: “We’re best friends. We’ll always be, ’cause I’m for you, and you’re for me.” Then high fives and waves of laughter.

“Sam? Sammy.” I repeated the name with growing certainty. The eyes had it. They were Samantha’s—big and wide set, a little wary now, as though the world were an unfriendly place, but still an amazing shade of aquamarine. Her fine flaxen hair was darker, and instead of hanging like a shining curtain down her back, was cut short and blunt-edged. But it was Sam.

***

Excerpt from Dangerous Places by Susan Hunter. Copyright © 2018 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved.

 

Tour Participants:

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

 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Hunter. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card. The giveaway begins on June 4 and runs through June 17, 2018. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Jun 072018
 

Yesterday’s News by R.G. Belsky Tour Banner

Yesterday’s News

by R.G. Belsky

on Tour June 1-30, 2018

 

Synopsis:

Yesterday's News by R.G. Belsky

A classic cold case reopened—along with Pandora’s box

When eleven-year-old Lucy Devlin disappeared on her way to school more than a decade ago, it became one of the most famous missing child cases in history.

The story turned reporter Clare Carlson into a media superstar overnight. Clare broke exclusive after exclusive. She had unprecedented access to the Devlin family as she wrote about the heartbreaking search for their young daughter. She later won a Pulitzer Prize for her extraordinary coverage of the case.

Now Clare once again plunges back into this sensational story. With new evidence, new victims and new suspects – too many suspects. Everyone from members of a motorcycle gang to a prominent politician running for a US Senate seat seem to have secrets they’re hiding about what might have happened to Lucy Devlin. But Clare has her own secrets too. And, in order to untangle the truth about Lucy Devlin, she must finally confront her own tortuous past.

**Check out my review HERE and enter the giveaway**

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: May 1st 2018
Number of Pages: 343
ISBN: 160809281X (ISBN13: 9781608092819)
Series: A CLARE CARLSON MYSTERY
Learn More about Yesterday’s News & Get Your Copy From: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Oceanview Publishing | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

R.G. Belsky

R.G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. Belsky’s crime novels reflect his extensive media background as a top editor at the New York Post, New York Daily News, Star magazine and NBC News. His previous novels include the award-winning Gil Malloy mystery series. YESTERDAY’S NEWS is the first in a new series featuring Clare Carlson, the hard-driving and tenacious news director of an NYC TV station.

 

Q&A with R.G. Belsky

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

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

Absolutely!

First off, on current events, I’m a big proponent of the “Ripped from the Headlines’ inspiration for mystery fiction writing. I’m a longtime New York City journalist, who’s worked as a top editor at the New York Post, New York Daily News, Star magazine and NBC News. I’ve covered most of the big crime stories of the past several decades – including Son of Sam, O.J, the murder of John Lennon and many, many others. I was even in the newsroom – and part of creating – the famous New York Post headline of Headless Body in Topless Bar, about a particularly gruesome murder at a…well, topless place. So, when people ask me where I get the ideas for my crime novels, I’ve always said: “I just go to work every day!”

My new novel YESTERDAY’S NEWS is about a missing child cold case in New York City, the disappearance of an 11-year-old girl years earlier who has never been found. As a young journalist, I covered the legendary Etan Patz case in New York, about a six-year-old boy who vanished. Eventually, after years of searching for answers, a man was convicted for the Patz murder – giving his family at least some kind of closure for their grief. My book is about a different kind of case in which there has been no closure.

I also draw extensively on my personal experiences for my fiction stuff. I write about things in New York City, where I’ve lived and worked for many years; I write about places I’ve been or came from like my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio; I write about events in the newsroom (fictional) of course that I’ve seen in my time as a journalist; and, most of all, I draw on many of the colorful real-life characters I’ve met in newsrooms.

None of my characters – like my new protagonist Clare Carlson in YESTERDAY’S NEWS – are directly based on any one person, of course. She’s more of an amalgamation of many wonderful women journalists I’ve known and worked with in the NYC media. Let’s just say that I’ve met a lot of Clare Carlsons in my time!

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

Wow! Start from the conclusion and plot in reverse? Never heard that one before.

No, I start at the beginning and just see where the story line brings me. I should make clear right now though that I’m definitely a “pantser” – not a “plotter.” I never outline my novels. Generally, I start out with an idea of how the book will begin and a vague notion of how I want it to end. The challenge then is writing the rest of the middle of the book. The reality though is that the ending I had in mind frequently changes –or at least the way I get there does – during the writing of the book. I find the characters change too during the writing process. Doing unexpected things or following paths that even surprise me. So the book I end up with can be a lot different than the one I may have started out to do. Hey, it’s a helluva lot more fun that way!

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

As I said earlier, many of my characters – including Clare Carlson in the new book – are inspired in part by people I’ve met in newsrooms during my career. Of course, everyone thinks the character is THEM. No, it’s not. I do appropriate interesting traits, incidents – and even some jokes – from real life newsroom characters. But my characters in the novels are all fictional.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

Oh, I have a lot of routines and idiosyncrasies for writing.

First, I write early in the morning. Always have, always will. That’s when I’m inspired to write. It can be as early as 6 a.m. at times. I generally have about 3 or four hours of new writing in me before I’m done with that. Then the rest of the day is for reading it, rewriting and editing, and – maybe most importantly of all – thinking about where I’m going to go the next day with the book when I sit down again to write in the morning. I almost never start with a blank page. I have a pretty good idea in my head of what I’m going to be writing about. Even if it does change as I put the words down.

Second, I write all my fiction out long hand. On yellow legal pads. I use a computer for everything else and always worked on a computer as a journalist. But, when I’m writing fiction, writing it out longhand always feels more comfortable to me. Then I put it into the computer afterward. For whatever its worth, I once read that Hemingway used to do much of his novels in longhand too. Then he wrote the dialogue on a typewriter. That worked out pretty well for him.

Third, I love to write in noisy, crowded, hectic places. Probably from my background of working in noisy newsrooms. I can’t write in my home or any other place that’s too quiet. I write in coffee shops, park benches, on trains, on the beach and even – occasionly – in a crowded bar.

Finally, I write all the time. Whether or not I particularly feel like writing that day or have anything obvious to say. I don’t wait for inspiration to strike, I go looking for inspiration on my own. That’s the best piece of advice I can give to anyone who wants to be a writer. Just write! Simple as that.

Tell us why we should read this book.

Hopefully because you’ll enjoy it. That’s the reason I read books from the authors I love. To enjoy the characters, to enjoy the story, to enjoy the whole experience of getting lost in a fictional world for several hours. I try to write the same kind of books that I like to read.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Michael Connelly, Robert B. Parker, Raymond Chandler, Robert Crais, Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton and Dennis Lehane.

What are you reading now?

Last book I just finished was A Stone’sThrow by James W. Ziskin, the most recent in his award winning and delightful Ellie Stone series, about a young woman newspaper reporter working at a small, upstate NY paper during the early ‘60s. Before that, it was True Fiction from Lee Goldberg, a quick-moving, satisfying thriller from a longtime Hollywood screenwriter. I also recently finished The Late Show by Michael Connelly. I’ve read every book Michael Connelly has written for the past 25 years or whatever – and I think he’s the most consistently excellent mystery author of our times. And an ex-newspaperman too!

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

I have a new book coming out in 2019 called THE CINDERELLA MURDERS. It’s the second in the Clare Carlson series and will be published again by Oceanview next May.

It’s about the seemingly insignificant death of a homeless woman murdered on the streets of New York City who called herself Cinderella. At first, the crime barely gets a mention in the media. But Clare – a TV news director who still has a reporter’s instincts – decides to dig deeper into the murder. She uncovers mysterious links between the homeless woman and a number of prominent and powerful people. Soon there are more murders, more victims and more questions. As the bodies pile up, Clare realizes that her job, her career – and maybe even her life – are at stake as she chases after her biggest story ever.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

I’m a big sports fan, baseball and football especially; I do fantasy sports games; I gamble a bit in Atlantic City; I like swimming, riding a bike and just taking long walks. Oh, and I watch a tremendous amount of TV.

Favorite meal?

Not very exotic, I’m afraid. I’m much more of a basic, comfort food person. Give me macaroni and cheese, a pizza, a good steak or cheeseburger or even just a big bag of popcorn at the movie theater – and I’m a happy man.

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

 

Catch Up With R.G. Belsky On:
rgbelsky.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

School was always special to her.

Some children hated to go to school. But she always looked for- ward to going back to school each morning. She loved her friends. She loved her teachers. And most of all, she loved to learn.

For her, it was a time of excitement, a time of adventure, a time of new beginnings each day she sat in the classroom—like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon in a field of flowers underneath a blue, cloudless sky.

And so, on this sunny morning, like so many others, the mother and daughter leave their house and walk together toward the school bus that will pick up the little girl.

“What about your lunch?” the mother asks.

“I’m buying it at school today, remember?”

“Do you have enough money?”

“Yes, you gave it to me last night.”

“Right,” she says. The mother knows that, but she’s forgotten. “And remember to come home right after school.”

“You worry too much, Mom. I’m not a baby anymore.” That’s all too true, of course. She is growing up. Just like they all do.

But today she is still her little girl.

The mother hugs her and puts her on the school bus, watching her in the window until the bus disappears from sight.

A little girl who has everything in the world ahead of her. A lifetime of memories to come. And all the time in the world to enjoy it.

OPENING CREDITS

THE RULES ACCORDING TO CLARE

I always tell the same story to the new reporters on their first day.

It goes like this: Two guys are sitting in a bar bragging about their sexual exploits. As they get drunker and drunker, the conversation becomes more outrageous about how far they’d be willing to go. Would you ever have sex with an animal, one of them asks? Of course not, the other guy replies angrily. What if someone paid you $50 to do it with a dog? That’s ridiculous, he says. How about $500? Same answer. Okay, the first guy says to him, would you have sex with a dog for $5,000? The other guy thinks about that for a while, then asks: “What breed?”

The point here is that once you ask the question “what breed?” you’ve already crossed over a very important line and can never go back.

It’s based, I suppose, on the famous old Winston Churchill story. They say Churchill was seated at a dinner party next to a very elegant and beautiful lady. During the meal, he turned to her and asked if she’d be willing to have sex with him if he gave her $1,000,000. The woman laughed and said sure. Then he asked if she’d have sex with him for $25. “Of course not, what do you think I am?” the indignant woman replied. To which Churchill told her, “Madame, we’ve already established what you are. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”

This is a crucial concept in the news business where I work. Because there is no gray area for a journalist when it comes to honesty and integrity and moral standards. You can’t be just a little bit immoral or a little bit dishonest or a little bit corrupt. There is no compromise possible here.

Sometimes I tell a variation of the dog story. I call it the Woodstein Maneuver. The idea is to come up with a new scenario for the Watergate scandal. To speculate on what might have happened if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (“Woodstein!” in the Robert Redford–Dustin Hoffman movie) had not written their stories that led to Richard Nixon’s ouster, but instead gotten hush money to cover up the scandal. What if Nixon had paid them to make it all go away?

I ask a new reporter to put themselves in Woodward and Bernstein’s place and think about what they would do if offered such a bribe.

Most of them immediately say they would never take money under any circumstances to compromise a story. I’m not sure if they say it because they really mean it or simply because they believe it’s the answer I want to hear. A few laughingly say they’d go for the money, but I’m not sure I believe them either. I figure they’re just trying to be outrageous or different. Only a few reporters ask the key question. The “what breed?” question. “How much money?” they want to know. Those are the ones I worry about the most.

 

PART I

LUCY

CHAPTER 1

“It’s the fifteenth anniversary of the Lucy Devlin disappear- ance next week,” Maggie Lang said. “Little eleven-year-old girl leaves for school and just vanishes into thin air. It’s a legendary missing kid cold case. We should do a story for the anniversary.”

“Lucy Devlin is old news,” I told her. “The girl’s never been found, Clare.” “And after a while people just stopped caring about her.” “Well, you sure did all right with it. You won a damn Pulitzer.” Maggie Lang was my assignment editor at the TV station where I work as a news executive these days. She was a bundle of media energy—young, smart, ambitious, outspoken, and sometimes a bit reckless. I liked Maggie, but she scared me, too. Maybe because she reminded me of someone I used to know. Myself when I was her age.

Back then, I was Clare Carlson, award-winning reporter for a New York City newspaper that doesn’t exist anymore. When the paper went out of business, I moved on to a new career as a TV reporter. I wasn’t so successful at that. They said I came across as too intense on the air, too grating, too unlikeable to the viewers. So, they offered me a job in management. I was never quite sure I followed the logic of that, but I just went with the flow. I started out as an assignment editor, moved up to producer, and then was named news director for Channel 10 News here in New York City. It turned out that I really like telling other people what to do instead of doing it myself. I’ve always been a bitch. I guess now I just get paid for being one.

Maggie looked over at the Pulitzer Prize certificate I keep prominently on my desk at Channel 10. Hey, you win a Pulitzer—you flaunt it.

“You helped make Lucy Devlin one of the most famous missing child stories ever in New York City fifteen years ago, Clare,” she said. “Imagine if we could somehow find her alive after all this time . . .”

“Lucy is dead,” I told her. “How can you be so sure of that?” “C’mon, you know she’s dead as well as I do. Why else would she never have turned up anywhere?”

“Okay, you’re probably right. She is dead. And we’ll never find the body or catch who did it or know anything for sure about what happened to her.”

“So, what’s our story then?” “There’s a new angle.” “Believe me, I covered all the angles on this story a long time ago.”

“Anne Devlin, Lucy’s mother, is telling people she has some new evidence about the case,” Maggie said.

“Anne Devlin always claims she has some evidence. The poor woman has been obsessed with finding answers about her daughter for years. I mean, it’s understandable, I guess, given all the pain and anguish and uncertainty she’s gone through. But none of her so-called evidence ever goes anywhere.”

“Doesn’t matter. We go to the mother and say we want to hear about whatever new evidence she thinks she’s come up with. I tell her we want to interview her about the case for the anniversary. That maybe someone will see it and give cops some new information. It’ll be great TV. And that video—the heartbroken mom still pleading for someone to help her find out what happened to her daughter fifteen years ago—would go viral on social media.”

She was right. It was a good idea. A good TV gimmick. A good social media gimmick.

And that was my job now, whether I liked it or not. I was a long way from winning Pulitzer Prizes or writing thoughtful in-depth journalism. In television, it was all about capturing the moment. And an emotional interview like that with Lucy’s mother on the anniversary of her disappearance would definitely be a big media moment.

I looked out the window next to my desk. It was early April, and spring had finally broken in New York City. I was wearing a pale-pink spring pantsuit to celebrate the onset of the season. I’d bought it at Saks one bitterly cold day during the depths of winter to cheer myself up. But right now, I didn’t feel very cheerful.

“Okay,” I finally said reluctantly to Maggie, “you can reach out to Anne Devlin and see if she’ll sit down for an interview with us.”

“I already did.” Of course. Knowing Maggie, I should have figured she’d already set it in motion before checking with me.

“And?” I asked her. “She said yes.” “Good.” “Under one condition. She wants you to be the person who does the interview with her.”

“Me?” “She said she’d feel more comfortable talking to you than some reporter she didn’t know.”

“C’mon, I don’t go on air anymore, Maggie.” “She insisted on talking to you. She said you owed her. She said you would understand what that meant.”

I sighed. Oh, I understood. Anne Devlin was holding me to a promise I made a long time ago.

It was maybe a few months after Lucy was gone. Anne had become depressed as people stopped talking about the case. The newspapers, the TV stations, even the police—they seemed to have given up and moved on to other things. She felt so alone, she said. I told her that she wasn’t alone. I told her I’d always be there for her. I made her a lot of promises that I couldn’t keep.

“Let’s make a pact,” she said, squeezing my hand on that long- ago night. “If I ever find out anything, you’ll help me track Lucy down, won’t you, Clare?”

“I promise,” I said. “No matter what happens or how long it takes, you can’t let people forget about her.”

“No one will ever forget about Lucy.” I thought about that long-ago conversation now as I sat in my office looking at the Pulitzer that had come out of my coverage of the Lucy Devlin story in what seemed like another lifetime ago. That story had been my ticket to fame as a journalist. It made me a front-page star; it catapulted me into the top of the New York City media world; and it was eventually responsible for the big TV executive job that I held today.

“She said you owed it to her,” Maggie said again. Anne Devlin was right. I did owe her.

 

CHAPTER 2

Lucy Devlin disappeared on a sunny April morning.

She was eleven years old, and she lived on a quiet street in the Gramercy Park section of Manhattan with her parents, Anne and Patrick Devlin. That last day her mother had helped her get dressed for school, packed her books in a knapsack that hung over her back, and then kissed her goodbye before putting her on the school bus.

As far as anyone knew, she was with the other students on the bus when they went into the school. The first indication that something was wrong came when Lucy didn’t show up in her classroom for the morning attendance. The teacher thought she was either late or sick, reporting it at first to the principal’s office as a routine absence. It wasn’t until later that police began a massive search for the missing eleven-year-old girl.

The disappearance of Lucy Devlin exploded in the media when the New York Tribune, the newspaper I wrote for, ran a front-page story about her. The headline simply said: “MISSING!” Below that was a picture of Lucy. Big brown eyes, her hair in a ponytail, a gap between her two front teeth.

The story told how she was wearing a blue denim skirt, a white blouse, and cork sandals when she was last seen. It said she loved reading; playing basketball and soccer; and, most of all, animals. She petted every dog in the neighborhood and begged her parents to get her one. “She was my little angel,” Anne Devlin said in the article. “How could anyone want to hurt an angel?”

The whole city fell in love with her after that. The Tribune story spared no emotion in talking about the anguish of her parents as they waited for some kind of word. It talked about their hopes, their despair, and their confusion over everything that had happened.

I know because I was the reporter who wrote it. With my help, Lucy Devlin—just like Maggie had said— became one of the most famous missing person stories in New York City history. Posters soon appeared all over the city. Announcements were made in schools and churches asking people to look for her. The family offered a reward. First it was $10,000. Then $20,000 and $50,000 and as much as $100,000 as people and civic groups pitched in to help the Devlin family. For many it brought back memories of the tragic Etan Patz case—a six-year-old boy who had disappeared from the streets of New York City a quarter century earlier. Little Etan became the face of the missing child crisis all over the country when his picture was the first to appear on a milk carton in the desperate search for answers about his fate. In that case, the family had finally achieved some closure when a man was eventually arrested and convicted for their son’s murder. But there was no closure for Anne and Patrick Devlin.

I sat in the Devlins’ apartment—crying with them, praying with them, and hoping against hope that little Lucy would one day walk in that door.

I’ve never worked a story before or after where I identified so much with the people I was writing about. My access to the parents gave me the opportunity to see things no one else did, and I put every bit of that into my stories. Everyone was picking up my stuff—the other papers, TV news, and even the network news magazines like Dateline and 60 Minutes.

Yes, I did win a Pulitzer for my coverage of this story. The Pulitzer judges called it “dramatic, haunting, and extraordinarily compassionate coverage of a breaking deadline news story” in giving me the award. That was nice, but they were all just words to me. I wasn’t thinking about a Pulitzer or acclaim or my career when I covered the Lucy Devlin disappearance. I just reported and wrote the hell out of the story, day after day.

Eventually, of course, other stories came along to knock this one off the front page.

All the reporters moved on to cover them. In the end, I did, too. It wasn’t that easy for Anne and Patrick Devlin. The police told them that Lucy was probably dead. That the most likely scenario was she’d been kidnapped outside the school that day, her abductor had become violent and murdered her. He then must have dumped her body somewhere. It was just a matter of time before it turned up, they said.

Anne Devlin refused to believe them. “I can’t just forget about my daughter,” she said. “I know she’s still alive. I know she’s out there somewhere. I can feel her. A mother knows. I’ll never rest until I find her.”

Her obsession carried her down many paths over the next few years. Every time a little girl turned up murdered or police found a girl without a home, Anne checked it out. Not just in New York City either. She traveled around the country, tracking down every lead—no matter how slim or remote it seemed.

There were moments of hope, but many more moments of despair.

A woman who’d seen the story on TV said she’d seen a little girl that looked like Lucy at an amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. She was standing with a man holding her by the hand near the roller coaster, looking confused and scared. At one point, she tried to break away, but the man wouldn’t let her go. The woman told one of the security guards that there was something suspicious about the man and the little girl, but never found out what happened. Anne went to Ohio and talked to everyone she could find at the amusement park. She eventually tracked down the security guard and finally the little girl herself. It turned out that the man was her father, and she looked scared and tried to run away because she was afraid to ride the roller coaster.

Another time a group of college coeds thought they spotted her in Florida during spring break. Some fraternity guys who tried to hit on them had a young girl in the back seat of their car, and she seemed out of place amid the beer swilling Neanderthals par- tying up a storm in Fort Lauderdale. The coeds told Anne they were convinced it was her missing daughter. That lead turned out to be a dead end, too. She was the daughter of a woman the fraternity guys had picked up the night before. The woman had passed out back in their hotel room, and they were just driving around with the girl because they didn’t want to leave her alone.

And then there was the time the body of a young girl about Lucy’s age and description was found alongside a highway in Pennsylvania. The state troopers found Lucy’s name on a list of missing children and contacted Anne. She drove ten hours through a blinding snowstorm to a morgue outside Pittsburgh, where the body had been taken. The entire time she had visions of her daughter lying on a coroner’s slab. But it wasn’t Lucy. It turned out to be a runaway from Utah. A truck driver had picked her up hitchhiking, raped and killed her, then dumped the body alongside the road. Anne said afterward she felt relief it wasn’t Lucy, but sadness for the family in Utah who would soon endure the same ordeal as she did.

Once a psychic came to Anne and said she’d seen a vision of Lucy. Lucy was living somewhere near the water, the psychic told her. Lucy was alright, but lonely. Lucy wanted to get back to her family, but she didn’t know how. Eventually, the psychic said she saw a sign in the vision that said La Jolla. La Jolla is a town in Southern California, just north of San Diego. The psychic offered to travel with Anne there and help search for her. They spent two weeks in La Jolla, staying in the best hotels and running up big bills at fancy restaurants. The psychic found nothing. Later, it turned out she just wanted a free trip to the West Coast and some free publicity for her psychic business.

Worst of all were the harassing phone calls. From all the twisted, perverted people in this world. Some of them were opportunists looking for extortion money by claiming they had Lucy. Others were just sickos who got off on harassing a grieving mother. “I have your daughter,” they would say and then talk about the terrible things they were doing to her. One man called Anne maybe two dozen times, day and night, over a period of six months. He taunted her mercilessly about how he had turned Lucy into his sex slave. He said he kept her in a cage in the basement of his house, feeding her only dog food and water. He described unspeakable tortures and sexual acts he carried out on her. He told Anne that when he finally got bored, he’d either kill her or sell her to a harem in the Middle East. When the FBI finally traced the caller’s number and caught him, he turned out to be one of the police officers who had been investigating the case. He confessed that he got a strange sexual pleasure from the phone calls. None of the others turned out to be the real abductor either. But Anne would sometimes cry for days after she got one of these cruel calls, imagining all of the nightmarish things that might be happening to Lucy.

All this took a real toll on Anne and Patrick Devlin. Patrick was a contractor who ran his own successful construction firm; Anne, an executive with an advertising agency. They lived in a spacious townhouse in the heart of Manhattan. Patrick had spent long hours renovating it into a beautiful home for him, Anne, and Lucy. There was even a backyard with an impressively large garden that was Anne’s pride and joy. The Devlins seemed to have the perfect house, the perfect family, the perfect life.

But that all changed after Lucy disappeared. Anne eventually lost her job because she was away so much searching for answers about her daughter. Patrick’s construction business fell off dramatically, too. They had trouble meeting the payments on their town house and moved to a cheaper rental downtown. Their marriage began to fall apart, too, just like the rest of their lives. They divorced a few years after Lucy’s disappearance. Patrick moved to Boston and started a new construction company. He remarried a few years later and now had two children, a boy and a girl, with his new wife. Anne still lived in New York City, where she never stopped searching for her daughter.

Every once in a while, at an anniversary or when another child disappeared, one of the newspapers or TV stations would tell the Lucy Devlin story again.

About the little girl who went off to school one day, just like any other day, and was never seen again. But mostly, no one had time to think about Lucy Devlin anymore.

Everyone had forgotten about Lucy. Except her mother.

***

Excerpt from Yesterday’s News by R.G. Belsky. Copyright © 2018 by R.G. Belsky. Reproduced with permission from R.G. Belsky. All rights reserved.

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Apr 252018
 

Dead Air by Cliff Protzman Tour Banner

Dead Air

by Cliff Protzman

on Tour April 1-30, 2018

 

Synopsis:

Dead Air by Cliff Protzman

Dead Air signals trouble at the radio station. Glenn Beckert discovers his high school best friend is shot in the head while on the air. Beck, the owner of Blue Water Security, is employed to provide security for the station.

He becomes willingly embroiled in the investigation by the not-so-innocent widow. The list of potential suspects is long, gleaned from the numerous extramarital affairs of the victim and widow. The pending sale of the radio station has created friction between his now dead friend, Richie Zito and the major stockholders. Motives for murder becomes increasingly murky after the search reveals an encrypted file on Zito’s laptop.

Beck enlists the help of a friend from college, Irene Schade, to break the code, revealing a money laundering network leading to the financial and political powers of his beloved city of Pittsburgh. Their collaboration ignites the flames of passion each had considered extinguished.

A former college teammate, police Lieutenant Paglironi delivers a message to back off. Arrogantly, he ignores his friend’s advice. The threats from less friendly sources are more ominous, forcing Beck to move in an unfamiliar world. A startling revelation from his client forces Beck to deal with his inner conviction of right and wrong, challenging the gray areas of his ethical principles. Betraying his client’s confidence could expose the killer. The alternative is to confront the suspect and take matters into his own hands. Either way his life is in jeopardy.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: October 2017
Number of Pages: 308
ISBN: 1545607141 (ISBN13: 9781545607145)
Don’t Miss Your Chance to Purchase Dead Air from: Amazon & Barnes & Noble! Plus add it to your Goodreads list!

 

Author Bio:

Cliff Protzman

Cliff was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Cliff’s family relocated to Northeast Ohio when he was in high school. Immediately after graduation he returned to his hometown to attend the University of Pittsburgh. Cliff planned to major in journalism and write the great American novel. Instead, he switched to Business Administration and began a 30-year career in accounting and finance.

Cliff rekindled his passion for writing acquired as a reporter for his school newspaper. He published his first novel, DEAD AIR: a Glenn Beckert Mystery in September 2017. Cliff also writes short stories. He was a winner in the Unfinished Chapters anthology in 2015. Cliff is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Pennwriters.

 

Q&A with Cliff Protzman

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

I don’t know how a writer can dismiss personal experience from their stories. The underlying theme is personal, from the soul. The author is trying to convey a personal message. The plot can be something foreign to the author’s background, but the story is unique. It is our life events that make us who we are and we must include them in our writing.

I write contemporary stories. Current events can’t be avoided. They are actually part of the scenery. However, unless they are germane to the plot, current events are a backdrop.

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

When I started Dead Air, I had a victim, an investigator, and a killer planned. As I wrote and the characters developed, I let them lead me through the story. Along the way the motive developed differently than I originally planned. Indeed, the killer I planned was actually innocent. The one character I envisioned as a guide for Glenn Beckert actually proved just the opposite. I didn’t know, but fortunately Beck did.

The timeline is important to creating the suspense. An investigation requires cues to be assembled and leads followed in progression. Writing sequentially allows me to maintain that timeline.

Are any of the characters based on you or people you know?

Absolutely. I try to blend characters based on the many people I have met. Irene is the perfect example. She is beautiful, intelligent, and the perfect compliment to Beck. She is based on two women that have influenced my appreciation of strong women. The police lieutenant is based on a former teammate of mine. Beck and I do share many of the same personality quirks. It would be extremely difficult to create believable characters without depending on the people in our world.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, a neighborhood of homes packed closely together. In the summer people hung out on the front porch since there was no air conditioning. Each porch had a radio tuned to the Pirates game. We would play ball in the street and listen to the echoes of the game throughout the neighborhood. When there was a late game form the West Coast, I took a transistor radio to bed listening until I fell asleep or the batteries died.

Today, I like to write when there is a game on. In my office the television is behind me. I listen when I write.

Tell us why we should read this book.

I could give a number of reasons, but I will defer to the readers and reviewers. They have the ultimate opinion.

One reviewer called Dead Air a modern noir. I loved that comment. The characters are believable, strengths and weaknesses alike. Many commented about Irene specifically. If readers can involve themselves in the characters, the action and suspense is more intense.

Readers were intrigued by the twists and unexpected revelations. The crime was complex, but clearly explained. The “wrap up” in this mystery was outside the norm.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Max Allen Collins, Grandmaster of the Mystery Writers of America, wrote a series featuring PI, Nathan Heller. Heller worked famous case from the Lindberg kidnapping to the Kennedy assignation.

Troy Soos wrote a series involving Mickey Rawlings, a journeyman ball player in the early twentieth century. Rawlings played in various cities, each time finding himself involved in a murder. Fascinating historical mysteries.

Also, Sue Grafton, Raymond Chandler, Robert Parker, David Baldacci, and many others.

What are you reading now?

Detroit Electric Scheme by D E Johnson, a murder mystery set in 1910 Detroit. The protagonist is the son of the owner of the leading electric car manufacturer. He finds the fiancé of his former girlfriend dead in his plant and quickly becomes a suspect. He battles alcoholism and the police to clear his name and find the killer.

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

The next novel will be the second in the Glenn Beckert series. Beck is asked to find a missing man the week before his wedding. Beck figures it is a case of wedding jitters until the man’s dead body is fished out of the river. Beck is distraught that he dismissed the case so casually, he is determined to find the killer. The dead man is a developer of artificial intelligence for a large defense contractor. In addition, the deceased seems to have some problem with past lovers. Beck has to sift through conflicting motives to find the murderer, while resolving a conflict between him and Irene.

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

Dead Air would be a great movie. Michael Keaton would play Beck. He has the ability to show the many emotional challenges Beck faces and add the witty comments. The story is set in Pittsburgh and Keaton is a native, a good match. Also, Keaton will always be the best Batman.

Tea Leoni would make a great Irene. Leoni herself is a strong-willed personality, an actor and producer. She would be convincing as the tech wizard assisting Beck. Leoni can bring the flirty nature of Irene to life.

What is your favorite leisure activity?

As a youth, I played baseball for fifteen years through college. As a parent, I coached for another fifteen years. As a grandparent, I love to watch my grandchildren play. This past winter I decided to play Senior Baseball. Despite the sore muscles, the game is still fun, even if it seems to be a slower pace. I look forward to the summer playing the game I love.

 

Catch Up With Our Author On His Website cliffprotzman.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

Dead Air. It was the most unforgivable of sins. I was standing at the bar in Jergel’s Rhythm Grille in Warrendale, PA when the overhead sound system finished blaring “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” the seventeen-minute, two-second version, then dove into silence… and stayed there.

Minutes crawled past while WZOC, better known as Z-Rock to Pittsburgh-area listeners, remained silent. The long version of the Iron Butterfly song was played when DJs need extended bathroom time. Apparently, it was not enough time.

The seventeen-thousand-square-foot bar and restaurant was beginning to fill up. The stage hands scrambled over the stage in a well-orchestrated dance as they prepared the stage at the rear of the building. I was at the front bar, one of six serving the customers. The crowd noise increased due to the silent overhead system. The bartenders and service personnel went about their jobs, oblivious to the lack of music. I appeared to be the only person who noticed it. The dead air was an unexpected lapse for a normally proficient staff at Z-Rock. The station owned by my high school best friend, had been my first client, so I was always glad when the bar staff piped it in to provide background noise.

A Pittsburgh favorite, The Clarks, were scheduled to take the stage in forty-five minutes. Their classic rock style was often compared to Tom Petty. Z-Rock had introduced The Clarks to the Pittsburgh market, and it remained a strong supporter of the band. They had parlayed the station’s promotion into a broader following along the Southern Atlantic states. The quartet was almost as well-known in the city as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting lineup. I had had the great fortune to see many of their local performances.

Before heading to the front door, I finished my IC Light, a low- calorie brew from Pittsburgh Brewing. The bartender grabbed my empty bottle and asked, “Another one, Beck?”

“No thanks; probably later.” I headed toward the entrance, featuring solid wood double doors, the left side closed to restrain the incoming crowd. The line stretched outside beyond my view.

My firm was in charge of crowd control for the event. Even though I was on duty tonight, my plan was to be more of a spectator.

In my earpiece, I heard my site manager of Jergel’s security, Lance Parisi. “Beck, we have a problem at the front door. This patron is drunk and belligerent. He may be armed. I’m trying to get him to leave.”

I replied, “On my way.” As the owner of Blue Water Security, I was always glad to help with situations like these. I tried to hire only the best, so backing them with my support was always a pleasure.

An obviously intoxicated man was pointing a finger at Lance who had to be at least six inches taller than the swaying man. “You fucking asshole! I have a ticket! You can’t keep me out!” I heard the word motherfucker and that was that. This wasn’t going to end well for the drunken ticket holder.

In my mouthpiece, I said, “Stay cool, Lance. He’s all talk,” but before I could arrive, the man took a swing at Lance. So much for my expert analysis. In one quick movement, Lance had the man’s right arm twisted behind his back, Lance’s left arm firmly around his neck in a choke hold.

I rushed to Lance’s side. The man’s open coat displayed the butt of a gun in his waistband. I jerked the .38 Special from his belt holster and turned to look him in the eyes. The combined stink of beer and whiskey oozed from him.

Adrenaline was pumping through my body as if facing a 3-2 pitch. I regained my composure before speaking in a calm, determined voice. “Sir, even with a concealed carry permit, it is illegal to bring a gun into a bar, especially when you are intoxicated.” The other patrons waiting to enter had backed away when they saw the gun. “The man with his arm around your neck is going to escort you to the office. The police will be called. I hope you have your permit with you. You can walk to the office quietly. If not, I’m certain Lance will find a way to get you there. Is that clear?”

The man nodded as best he could with Lance’s muscular arm wrapped around his neck. Lance released his stranglehold, keeping a firm grip on the man’s arm. I handed the gun to my employee. The drunk remained calm and allowed Lance to lead him away. Using my mic, I paged Jason Weaver, who had been assigned to dance floor security for the night, to come to the front door.

I remained at the door, checking tickets for the anxious concert fans, until Jason appeared. It was then I realized there was still silence coming from the sound system. The normal professionalism of Z-Rock’s staff made me wonder about the cause of the extended silence. I could imagine engineers scrambling to locate and repair whatever technical problems had occurred.

Jason arrived, assuming Lance’s position at the door. I turned back to the bar as my cell phone rang. “Glenn Beckert,” I answered.

“This is John Waner at Z-Rock.” He paused and I wondered if I was truly surprised to be hearing from my security guard at the station. His voice was high-pitched, his words rushed as he said, “There’s a big problem here.”

“John, what’s the problem?”

“Beck… H-He’s… I don’t know what to do. R-Richie’s been murdered.”

***

Excerpt from Dead Air by Cliff Protzman. Copyright © 2018 by Cliff Protzman. Reproduced with permission from Cliff Protzman. All rights reserved.

 

Tour Participants:

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

 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cliff Protzman. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com. The giveaway begins on April 1 and runs through May 2, 2018. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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