Oct 102019
 

A Pocketful Of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens

 

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two:

A Pocketful of Lodestones

by Elizabeth Crowens

on Tour October 1-31, 2019

Synopsis:

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens

In 1914, the war to end all wars turns the worlds of John Patrick Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West and Harry Houdini upside down. Doyle goes back to ancient China in his hunt for that “red book” to help him write his Sherlock Holmes stories. Scott is hell-bent on finding out why his platoon sergeant has it out for him, and they both discover that during the time of Shakespeare every day is a witch-hunt in London. Is the ability to travel through time the ultimate escape from the horrific present, or do ghosts from the past come back to haunt those who dare to spin the Wheel of Karma?

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES, sequel to SILENT MERIDIAN, combines the surrealism of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five with the supernatural allure of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell set during WWI on the Western Front.

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES was the First Prize winner of the Chanticleer Review’s Paranormal Fiction Awards.

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC
Publication Date: August 1st 2019
Number of Pages: 334
ISBN: 9781950384051
Series: The Time Traveler Professor #2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Crowens

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

Q&A with Elizabeth Crowens

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

What inspired you to write this book?

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

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

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

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

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

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

I like my protagonist, John Patrick Scott, the best. He definitely goes through a character arc and learns something from past mistakes. He’s also far from perfect, although he strives to make himself a better person. Honestly, I don’t dislike any of my characters.

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

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

How did you come up with the title?

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

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

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

Tell us why we should read your book?

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

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

Favorite foods?

Coffee and chocolate — the essentials. LOL

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

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One: Kitchener’s Call to Arms

August 1914

“Have you ever killed a man before?”

I had, but close to three hundred years ago. So, I lied and just shook my head.

“Your name, son?” the recruitment officer asked.

“John Patrick Scott,” I said, with pride.

The officer handed me a card to fill out. “Write your date of birth, where you live and don’t skip any questions. When finished, bring this over to Line B.”

Born during the reign of Queen Victoria, somehow or other I managed to travel to the 23rd century, feudal Japan, and ancient China long before the Great War started. The army wanted to know all the places I had traveled, but it was doubtful that much information was required.

Since the war to end all wars commenced, recruiting centers sprang up like wildflowers. This one took over an Edinburgh public library. If unaware as to why the enthusiastic furor, one would’ve guessed the government gave away free land tracts with titles.

“Let’s see how clever you blokes are. Tell me the four duties of a soldier,” another enlistment administrator called out.

An overeager Glaswegian shouted, “Obedience, cleanliness, honesty and sobriety, sir!”

The chap next to him elbowed his side. “Takes no brains to read a bloody sign.”

Propaganda posters wallpapered the room with solicitous attempts at boosting morale. Kitchener wanted us and looked straight into our eyes. Proof of our manhood or perhaps stupidity. Queues of enthusiasm wound around the block. Impatient ones jumped the lines. We swore our allegiance to the King over a bible. As long as the war lasted, our lives were no longer our own.

Voices from men I’d never see again called out from the crowd.

“It’ll be over in six weeks.”

“Are you so sure?”

“Check out those men. All from the same cricket team. Play and die together. Medals of Valor in a blink. Local heroes with celebrations.”

“I’ll drink to that.”

A crusty old career soldier yelled out to the volunteers, “Does anyone speak Flemish?”

Suddenly the place got quiet. Then he looked at me. “Soldier, do you know anything besides the King’s English? French?”

“Fluent German,” I said. “That should be helpful.”

“Since when were you with the Bosches?”

“Fourteen years, sir. Before the war.”

“And what were you doing in enemy territory?”

“Worked as a teacher. A music professor and a concert pianist when I could get the engagements and sometimes as an amateur photographer. They weren’t our enemies then, sir.”

“Have you ever shot a rifle, son?”

“Actually, I have…”

“Find a pair of boots that fits you, lad. Hustle now. Time’s a wasting.”

The Allied and German armies were in a Race to the Sea. If the Germans got there first, then England was in danger of invasion. Basic training opened its arms to the common man, and it felt strange to be bedding alongside Leith dockworkers and farmers, many underage, versus the university colleagues from my recent past. Because of the overwhelming need for new recruits, training facilities ran out of room. The army took over church halls, local schools and warehouses in haste. Select recruits were billeted in private homes, but we weren’t so fortunate.

Except for acquired muscles, I slimmed down and resembled the young man that I was in my university days except with a tad more gray hair, cut very short and shaved even closer on the sides. No more rich German pastries from former students as part of my diet. At least keeping a clean-shaven face wasn’t a challenge since I never could grow a beard. Wearing my new uniform took getting used to. Other recruits laughed, as I’d reach to straighten my tie or waistcoat out of habit despite the obvious fact that I was no longer wearing them.

While still in Scotland during basic training, I started to have a series of the most peculiar dreams. My boots had not yet been muddied with the soil of real battlefields. New recruits such as I, had difficult adjustments transitioning from civilian life. Because of my past history of lucid dreaming, trips in time travel and years of psychical experimentation I conducted both on my own and with my enthusiastic and well-studied mentor, Arthur Conan Doyle, my nightmares appeared more real than others. My concerns were that these dreams were either actual excursions into the Secret Library where the circumstances had already occurred or premonitions of developments to come.

The most notable of these episodes occurred toward the end of August in 1914. In this dream, I had joined another British platoon other than my own in Belgium on the Western Front. We were outnumbered at least three to one, and the aggressive Huns surrounded us on three sides.

Whistles blew. “Retreat!” yelled our commanding officer, a privileged Cambridge boy, barely a man and younger than I, who looked like he had never seen the likes of hardship.

We retreated to our trenches to assess what to plan next, but instead of moving toward our destination everyone froze in their tracks. Time was like a strip of film that slowed down, spooled off track, and jammed inside a projector. Then the oddest thing happened to our enemy. For no apparent reason, their bodies jerked and convulsed as if fired upon by invisible bullets over the course of an hour.

When the morning fog lifted, the other Tommies and I broke free from our preternatural standstill and charged over the top of the trenches with new combat instructions. Half of our platoon dropped their rifles in shock. Dead Huns, by the thousands, littered No man’s land long before we had even fired our first retaliatory shot!

I woke up agitated, disoriented and in a cold sweat. Even more disturbing was finding several brass shell casings under my pillow — souvenirs or proof that I had traveled off somewhere and not imagined it. I roused the sleeping guy in the next bed and couldn’t wait to share this incredible story.

“Shush!” he warned me. “You’ll wake the others.”

Meanwhile, he rummaged inside his belongings and pulled out a rumpled and grease-stained newspaper clipping that looked and smelled like it had originally been used to wrap up fish and chips.

He handed it to me with excitement. “My folks sent this me from back home.”

The headlines: “Angels sited at the Battle of Mons”

Almost as notable was the article’s byline written by my best friend from the University of Edinburgh, Wendell Mackenzie, whom I had lost track of since the war started.

He begged me to read on.

“Hundreds of witnesses claimed similarities in their experiences. There were rumors aplenty about ghostly bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt where the Brits fought against the French back in 1415. Inexplicable apparitions appeared out of nowhere and vanquished German enemy troops at the recent Battle of Mons.”

“This looks like a scene from out of a storybook.” I pointed to an artist’s rendition and continued.

“Word spread that arrow wounds were discovered on corpses of the enemy nearby, and it wasn’t a hoax. Others reported seeing a Madonna in the trenches or visions of St. Michael, another saint symbolizing victory.”

“Now, I don’t feel so singled out,” I said and handed the newspaper articles back to my comrade.

For weeks, I feared talking to anyone else about it and insisted my mate keep silent. Even in wartime, I swore that I’d stay in touch with my closest acquaintances, Wendell Mackenzie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was easier to keep abreast of Arthur’s exploits, because of his public celebrity. On the other hand, Wendell, being a journalist, could be anywhere in the world on assignment.

* * *

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie,

I regret having missed Wendell when he never made it over to visit Scotland, and you wonder if someone up above watches over us when we make decisions where to go and when. In my case it was when I decided to take a summer vacation and travel to Edinburgh before the war. Those without passports or proper documentation endured countless detours and delays getting back to their respective homelands. One of Mrs. Campbell’s lodgers had been detained in France.

With nothing to return to back in Germany, I joined the Royal Scots. Military training commenced in Edinburgh, and at least they had us wearing uniforms of pants tucked into gaiters as opposed to the Highland troops who wore kilts. Although I was born and bred in Scotland, as a Lowlander that’s one outfit you’d have to force me into with much duress.

Our tasks would be in the Scots Territorial units deployed on our coastline in case of an enemy invasion. Potential threats could come from spies or submarines, but most say that the worst enemy has been the frigid wind blowing off the North Sea.

As there is always talk about combining forces and transfers, my aunt can always forward letters. It would mean more than the world to hear from Wendell saying that not only is he all right, but also in good spirits.

Yours most devoted,

Private John Patrick Scott

* * *

Dear Arthur,

In our last correspondence, I conveyed that I was unable to return to my teaching post in Stuttgart. With your tour in the Boer War as my inspiration, I joined the military. We learned the basics: how to follow commands, first aid, march discipline and training in all matters of physical fitness. My feet have been in a constant state of rebellion, since my previous profession as a pianist was a sedentary occupation.

Deployment was supposed to be along the coast of Scotland, but the army reassigned me despite first promises because of too many staggering losses on the Western Front. I requested to be part of the air corps and a pioneer in new battle technology, but my recruiting officers had other plans. Our regiment left for Ypres in Belgium. None of the Tommies could pronounce the name of this place, so everyone called it Wipers. You’re no stranger to war, but everyone has been surprised that it lasted longer than anticipated.

Yours Most Devoted,

Private John Patrick Scott

* * *

Troops from all over under the wing of the British Expeditionary Forces piled on to ships to sail out to the continent. The locals from Edinburgh didn’t expect to leave bonnie ole Scotland. They told us we’d defend our shores from foreign invasions. I’d crossed the North Sea before, but then it was a sea of hope and a new life full of opportunity when I got my scholarship to continue my musical studies in Germany, now the enemy.

I turned to the nearest stranger, hoping that a random conversation would break the monotonous and never-ending wait until we set anchor in Belgium. “How was your basic training?”

“Three months at an abandoned amusement park,” the soldier replied. “We trained for the longest time in our street clothes and were told they ran out of uniforms. Probably sent recycled ones after the first troops died. Used wooden dummy rifles until the real ones arrived. What about you?”
“We used an abandoned dance hall. Never could get used to waking at 5:30 a.m.”

“Word got around that in Aldershot soldiers had luxury facilities with a billiards room, a library, private baths and a buffet. I suspect that was for the regulars, the old-timers, not new recruits like us.”

“I should’ve enlisted elsewhere,” I grumbled, not that it would’ve made much of a difference if we’d all die in the end.

He pointed to my face and examined my flawless hands. “You don’t look like much of an outdoorsman. Pale, hairless complexion. No scars.”

“I’m a concert pianist.”

“Not much use on the Front.”

“Probably not. Excuse me, I need some air.” I bundled up in my great coat, wrapping my muffler a wee bit tighter.

Wasn’t sure which were worse — the soldiers with their asphyxiating cigarettes or numbing sleet turning into ice pellets. Hadn’t gotten my sea legs, yet. Stormy swells churned my stomach. Sweet Scotland. Lush green grass and the sky the color of blue moonstone. Never thought I’d be so sentimental. Continued staring until brilliant hues of the shoreline merged into dismal grays of a foggy horizon. In the transition from civilian to soldier, I stepped through a door of no return unless I desired to come back home in a coffin.

Chapter Two: The Other Lost World

Ypres, Belgium Late fall, 1914

A sea of strange men, but all comrades-in-arms, all recent transplants marched to their assignments and followed orders without question to who-knows-where on the way to the battlefield sites. We sallied forth, anonymous troops with a distorted sense of time and distance through the streets of has-been cities, once thriving communities. Poetry in ruination.

As we marched through the Grote Markt (Grand Market) heading out toward the Menenpoort (or Menen Gate) I didn’t expect to get an education. The soldier to my left kept talking out loud and compared notes of local tourist attractions. He was probably unaware that anyone else had overheard his comments.

“That long, distinctive building with the church hiding behind it must be the Hallen… or their Cloth Hall. There were impressive paintings on the interior walls of the Pauwels Room depicting the history of this town and its prosperous textile trade.”

“How do you know this?” I asked, trying not to attract too much attention.

“I’m a historian. Used to teach at a priory school in Morpeth.”

Perhaps I was naïve, but I asked, “Why would the armed forces recruit someone with a background in history?”

“That didn’t influence my enlistment although I’m sure it’ll come in handy somewhere. Before the war, I traveled all over Europe when time permitted. I brought original postcards with me as to what this town used to look like. It’s frightening to see the difference.”

“Your name?” I asked.

“Private Watson. What about you?”

“Not John Watson, by any chance?”

“No, Roger Watson, why?”

I shook my head thinking about Arthur and bit my lip to hide a slight smile. “Oh nothing… My name is Private Scott, John Patrick Scott.”

“What brings you to this dismal corner of the earth?”

“Ich war ein Musiklehrer. Pardon me, sometimes I break into German. I’m from Edinburgh but was living in Germany as a music teacher. Can’t be doing that sort of thing now.”

“I suppose not.”

“Roger, sorry to have eavesdropped, but it sounded so interesting. Then you are familiar with the area we just marched through?”

“That was the central merchant and trading hub of Ypres and has been since the mid-fifteenth century. On the north side over there is St. Martin’s Cathedral. You can already see the damage from German attacks.”

There was no escaping the needless destruction by aggressive enemy bombing. We continued marching forward in formation. A little way beyond the city gate, we passed by the remains of a park and children’s playground. The soldiers took a rest break and snacked on portable rations.

Many of them took off their boots and massaged their feet. Not too far away, I found a shattered brick in the rubble of what had been a schoolhouse and brought it back to where everyone was having his makeshift picnic.

Watson noticed that I kept twirling the small fragment in my hand while intermittently closing my eyes. “Scott, what are you doing?”

“Pictures form in my mind similar to movies. It’s the art of psychometry,” I replied.

“Psycho — what?” Another soldier overheard us talking.

“Sounds like something from Sigmund Freud,” one called out.

“Not at all, it’s like a psychical gift or talent. It has nothing to do with psychoanalysis.”

“What’s the point?” the first one asked.

I felt under pressure to put my thoughts into words. “I can understand what building this brick was part of when it was intact and what was here before it was destroyed.”

“That’s incredible!” Watson exclaimed. “If you are able to uncover bygone times by psychical means, I am all ears.”

When everyone else discounted my talent, Watson gave it full praise. Others became impatient and weren’t interested in our sidebar history lesson.

“Can you use those skills beyond inanimate objects?” one soldier asked.

“Find me an object, someone’s former possession,” I said.

Another soldier found a broken pocket watch not far from a trampled garden. He tossed it over, and I caught it with both hands. When I closed my eyes, the images materialized in my mind’s eye.

“A loving grandfather was reading to his grandchildren from an illustrated story book. He was balding. Wore spectacles. Had a trimmed white beard.

“‘Time for bed,’ he said, looking at his watch. Tick tock, tick tock. It was a gift from his father.

“He kissed each grandchild on the forehead as they scampered off. Two girls, one boy, all in their nightgowns. The tallest girl was a redhead with… pink ribbons in her long, curly hair. Then the bombs dropped. Fire. The roof collapsed. All was lost. Then… then… Oh my God!”

“Scotty, what’s wrong?” Watson asked.

I looked at the blank faces around me. “You don’t see him?”

Watson was baffled. “See who?”

“That grandfather,” I said, horrified and clutching onto that timepiece. His ghost was standing right in front of me!

Then I realized that no one else was capable of seeing him. Inside, I panicked until my frozen fingers let go of the watch, and it tumbled into the dirt. That’s when his phantasmal form vanished, but there were still indelible memories impressed upon the ether that refused to fade with the passage of time.

Warning bells tolled from a nearby church. “Quick, run for cover!” our commanding officer shouted.

Double-time over to shelter. Incoming bombs whistled and boomed in the distance. Civilians followed, carrying their most precious possessions, also fleeing for their lives.

The sanctuary already suffered from shell damage that left large gaping holes in its roof. Birds nested above the pulpit. Cherished religious statuary had been knocked over and broken. Several nuns rushed up and motioned the way for us to take refuge in the basement. We joined the crowd of scared families, members of the local community.

“Isn’t Britain giving them haven?” I asked Watson. “I thought most of the civilians evacuated by now.”

“There are still the ones who want to hold out,” he explained. “Wouldn’t you if your entire life and livelihood were here for multiple generations? That’s why they’re counting on us, but the Germans are relentless. Ypres is right on the path of strategic routes to take over France.”

When several farmers brought over their pigs and chickens, our retreat began to resemble a biblical nativity scene. From inside the cellar, we could hear the rumble of the outside walls collapsing.

“We’ll be trapped!” People yelled out in panic.

A group of sisters prayed in the corner. Our trench diggers readied themselves to shovel us out if it came to that. One terror-stricken woman handed me a screaming baby.

“I found him abandoned.” At least that’s what I thought she said in Flemish, but none of us could understand her. Confused and without thinking, I almost spoke in Japanese, but that would’ve been for the wrong place and an entirely different century during a different lifetime.

“What will I do with him?” I said to her in German, but she didn’t comprehend me either. I couldn’t just place him down in a corner. We’d be marching out in a matter of minutes.

I approached a man with his wife and three other children. First I tried English, then German, random words of French, and then I tried Greek and Latin from my school days. Finally I resorted to awkward gestures to see if he’d take the child. But he shook his head, gathered his brood and backed off.

Troops cleared a path out of the cellar. We needed to report to our stations before nightfall.

“Sister, please?” I begged one nun, interrupting her rosary. To my relief, she took the infant.

“Oh Mon Dieu!” I cried out in the little French that I knew. “Danke, thank you, merci boucoup.” Then I ran off to join the others.

Watson slapped me on the back. “Looked like you were going to be a father, mate.”

“Not yet. Got a war to fight,” I replied.

***

Excerpt from The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. 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 Elizabeth Crowens. There will be 8 winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card. Seven (7) winners will each receive A Pocketful Of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens (eBook). The giveaway begins on October 1, 2019 and runs through November 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Sep 202019
 

Silent Voices

by Fran Lewis

on Tour September 1-30, 2019

Synopsis:

Silent Voices by Fran Lewis

Driving down a rocky road I saw the overgrown grass, weeds, and poison ivy overtaking the outer perimeter of the bushes. The smell of mildew permeated the air, along with the stench of animals killed by cars coming up from the ground along this dirt road. I could see the sadness on the faces in the cars behind me; I could feel the pain and sorrow. As I looked inside the cars and saw the faces of the drivers, I began to wonder what they were thinking, their thoughts and feelings as they traveled down life’s highway, maybe for the very last time.

What stories lay behind the faces behind the wheel of each oncoming car?

What stories were hidden?

Whose voices are now silenced?

 

Reviews:

“Unique, haunting, terrifying, incredibly moving: Fran Lewis’ SILENT VOICES is all that and more as people tell spell-binding stories of their lives – and their deaths – from beyond the grave. You won’t forget this one!” – R.G. Belsky, award-winning author of the Clare Carlson mystery series.

“Silent Voices is a shrewd, sensitive and scintillating collection of short stories that make us feel and think. Noted talk show host Fran Lewis proves herself to be as skilled a storyteller as she is a listener, adept at both tugging on our heart strings and exposing the raw emotion between the lines. Her tales reach beyond the grave in fashioning rich tapestries drawn on a sprawling landscape at once both rich in color and gray-toned. A can’t miss effort certain to live with you far beyond the turn of the final page.” -Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author

“Once again, Fran Lewis knocks it out of the park with the latest in the Silent Voices series. At once chilling, but also inspirational, these stories do not fail to entertain. They will also raise the goosebumps on your skin. Prepare to be thrilled.” Vincent Zandri, New Your Times bestselling Thriller Award winning author of The Remains and The Caretaker’s Wife

Check out my Review HERE

Book Details:

Genre: Horror, Suspense
Published by: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: June 10th 2019
Number of Pages: 51
ASIN: B07S75JPQW
Series: Silent Voices
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Fran Lewis

Fran Lewis taught for 36 years as a staff developer in reading and writing and a dean. She is the author of the Bertha and Tillie series and the author of the Faces behind the stones series as well as her books for caregivers on Alzheimer’s and mj magazine and mj network.

Q&A with Fran Lewis

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

What inspired you to write this book?
Walking the cemetery after my sister died I wondered what really happened to her and I asked her as I looked at her headstone what she would tell me if she could about that day she had the massive heart attack and what she think caused her to fall over and hit her head. Then I looked at the other stones and wondered if each person was put there because of a bad deed and deserved to be there or someone caused them to be there.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?
Deciding which characters or main protagonists to write about and creating their back stories.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.
The first two stories are based on real life experiences and I did do some research about Polish serialization camps and my cousins did help me with the story about Bertha and her past.

How did you come up with the title?
After visiting the cemetery, I decided that some of these people needed to be heard and their voices should no longer remain silent while others deserved their fate.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I can start at five in the morning or anytime during the day. At times I just pick up my phone and write notes on my notepad and email them to myself.

Tell us why we should read your book?
The concept of voices and faces behind a gravestone is original I think, and my stories teach lessons to those that need to understand what happens when you do something to hurt someone else.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I did start Faces 6 and I have added a new twist; The Bodies will still be behind smaller stones but in a forest, what is desolate, isolated and the trees are practically bare. I did start some, but I won’t give away who will be behind the stones and in this forest.

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

I would need many actors or actresses that have been in science fiction movies or horror.

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?
Walking, reading, love doing hook rugs and color by numbers of coloring books

Favorite foods?
Pizza and nondairy vanilla cupcakes with nondairy whipped cream.

Catch Up With Fran Lewis On:
tillie49.wordpress.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Sep 102019
 

The Deception

by Kat Martin

September 10, 2019 Book Blast

Synopsis:

The Deception by Kat Martin

“Fans of romantic suspense won’t be able to put this book down until the final page is turned.”―Publishers Weekly on The Deception

When missing turns to murdered, one woman’s search for answers will take her to a place she never wanted to go…

After searching for her sister for two long years, Kate Gallagher is devastated when she’s called to the morgue to identify Chrissy’s body, the runaway teen the victim of a brutal attack. Guilt and grief send Kate into a tailspin. She failed Chrissy once…she won’t do it again. Even if finding her sister’s killer means following a lethal bounty hunter into the heart of darkness, placing both their lives in danger.

Working at Maximum Security has taken Jason Maddox down some dangerous paths, but never for a client he’s so drawn to, or for a case so monstrous. As clues lead them deeper into the city’s underbelly, connections to human trafficking draw them closer and closer to peril, but even Jase’s warnings can’t convince Kate to walk away. As the deadly operation puts a target on their backs, they’ll have to decide what matters most: the truth…or their lives.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Harlequin Books
Publication Date: September 10th 2019
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 1488054320 (ISBN13: 9781488054327)
Series: Maximum Security #2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Jason Hawkins Maddox sat at the old-fashioned long bar in the Sagebrush Saloon, a country-western hangout with a live band for dancing on the weekends and a jukebox that served the same purpose the rest of the week. The place, out I-30 on Bruckner Boulevard, was a spot Jase had been to before but not for a couple of years.

He was there tonight on business, meeting an informant he hoped would give him a lead on the fugitive he was hunting.

Randall Darren Harding, a cement contractor, had been arrested for the brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend. He’d been out on bail when he’d decided to flee instead of standing trial, where most likely he would have been convicted.

On the outskirts of Dallas, he’d had a firefight with police, shot two sheriff’s deputies and escaped. The guy was tough. He wouldn’t go down easy.

From what Jase could find out, Harding was a rotten, self-centered, mean-tempered bastard, the kind who could wind up killing again. He’d strangled his girlfriend in a fit of rage, but a fancy lawyer had gotten him out on bail.

Jase had a warrant for Harding’s arrest—rearrest, technically, since the guy had already been charged with murder-one, the premeditated kind that could earn you the death penalty in Texas.

The reward for catching him was a fat 15 percent of his million-and-a-half-dollar bond. Jase planned to collect.

Thus his meeting with Tommy Dieter at the Sagebrush Saloon.

It was relatively early, a little after 9:00 p.m., but the place was already more than half full. A big dance floor dominated the interior, surrounded by a sea of wooden tables. Being Wednesday, there was no band, but the juke was belting Willie Nelson so a few couples two-stepped out on the floor.

It was a decent place, not one of the rat holes he occasionally frequented for information, the crowd a mix of cowboys and bikers, couples of various ages, and a smattering of tourists, there to try some real Texas line dancing.

From the mirror in the carved oak back bar across from him, Jase could keep an eye on the front door and watch for Tommy’s arrival. Between a row of liquor bottles, he could see himself on a bar stool next to a little guy in a blue Texas Rangers baseball cap. The little guy made Jase look even bigger than his six-foot-four-inch, 210-pound frame, a size that in his job often came in handy.

So far Tommy hadn’t shown, but he wasn’t due for another few minutes. In the meantime, Jase was enjoying the local scenery, his attention fixed on the tall blonde with the pretty face, sexy curves and amazing cleavage, but then half the guys in the bar were watching her.

In a short denim skirt, a pair of cowboy boots and a bright pink tank top, she had danced to five songs in a row. Jase figured as long as her stamina held out, she wouldn’t lack for partners. If he weren’t there on business, he might have asked her for a turn around the floor himself.

The blonde finished the dance and sat back down on a bar stool a ways down from him. He noticed she was drinking tequila shooters. Looked like someone was going to get lucky tonight. Hearing the throaty purr of her laughter, he felt a tug in his groin and couldn’t help wishing it was him.

The front door swung open and Tommy Dieter walked in. Jase tossed money for the Lone Star he’d been drinking on top the bar. Time to go to work.

Tommy spotted him and walked over to the bar. “Hey, Hawk.” It was a nickname Jase had picked up thanks to his middle name. They called him the Hawk because he swooped down on his prey and always got his man. Or so the story went.

“Tommy.” He was a slender guy in his early twenties with carrot-red hair, not a bad sort, but he hung with a bad crowd, which gave him access to a lot of dirt, and he was hungry enough to deal the info for money.

Jase nodded toward an empty table at the back of the bar, and the two of them made their way past a pool table where a couple of cowboys clacked balls across a sea of green.

Tommy and Jase both pulled out chairs and sat down at the battered wooden table. Jase didn’t ask Tommy if he wanted a beer. It wasn’t healthy for an informant to spend too much time with a guy who hunted people for a living.

“You got something on Harding for me?” Jase asked.

“Yeah. Randy has a girlfriend in Houston,” Tommy said. “Mexican girl. No papers. She keeps him happy. He pays her rent.”

“What’s her name?”

“Rosa Diaz. She’s got a brother in town. A mechanic named Paulo.”

“You think Randy’s still in Houston? I figured he’d leave the state, head for Arizona, maybe, or New Mexico.”

“Word is he’s got the serious hots for Rosa. According to Randy, she’s a great piece of ass.”

The words sent Jase’s gaze back to the blonde who had returned to the dance floor with a lanky biker too short for her, too skinny and a few years too young.

She wasn’t meant for the boy biker, but she was just Jase’s type, luscious, with legs that went on forever. And, as she slid her arms around the boy biker’s neck and he pulled her close, clearly uninhibited. It didn’t take much to imagine the way she’d feel moving beneath him.

Jase ignored a surge of heat and forced his mind back to business. “If Randy’s that close, you’d think the cops would already have him in custody.”

“I don’t think the cops know anything about the girl.”

Probably not. They had their hands full without having to arrest the same guy twice.

Jase reached into the pocket of his black T-shirt, plucked out a folded-up hundred-dollar bill and slid it across the table to Dieter. “Let me know if you come up with anything else.”

Tommy snagged the hundred. “Good luck,” he said. “I hope you nail this prick. What he did to that girl…fucker deserves to fry.”

Jase made no comment since he completely agreed. One of the perks of the job was bringing dicks like Harding to justice.

As Tommy walked away, Jase noticed his seat at the bar was still empty. Since he wasn’t ready to leave, he picked up his beer and headed back the way he’d come.

He watched the blonde as he passed the dance floor. He’d been watching her all evening. The good news was, she’d been watching him, too.

When the song came to an end, she left the boy biker and walked toward him, stopped right in front of his bar stool, the heels on her boots pushing her closer to his height.

She smiled. “You like to dance, cowboy?”

***

Excerpt from The Deception by Kat Martin. Copyright 2019 by Kat Martin. Reproduced with permission from HQN Books. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Kat Martin

Top ten New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara. Residing with her Western-author husband, L.J. Martin, in Missoula, Montana, Kat has written 70 Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than 17 million of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently hard at work on her next novel.

Catch Up With Kat Martin Online:
www.katmartin.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:



 

 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kat Martin. There will be one (1) winner. The winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on September 10, 2019 and runs through September 19, 2019. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Sep 092019
 

Strands of Truth

by Colleen Coble

on Tour September 9 – October 4, 2019

Synopsis:

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.

So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Supsense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: September 10th 2019
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0718085906 (ISBN13: 9780718085902)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Guest Post
Five Fun Character Facts from Strands of Truth

Harper and Annabelle discover through DNA testing that they’re half-sisters. They have the same father but different mothers. The kicker is that neither of them know that father’s identity, though they’d each hoped for clarity when they finally meet.

I don’t have a blood sister, though I have friends who are as close as a sister could be. Does blood tell when it comes to likes and dislikes in real life? I think I want to see how it plays out in fiction!

Harper

1. Harper dislikes cooking. She’d starve if her best friend didn’t constantly stop by with food. Research is much more interesting to her than something as mundane (in her mind) as cooking and eating. Her favorite meal is fondue.

2. Harper has a strong creative streak that she expresses by making sea silk—a fabric made from the sticky strands of a pen shell.

3. Her longing for family comes through in her taste for movies and novels. On her bookshelf you’ll find every Kristin Hannah book published, and her copy of The Nightingale is dogeared and stained. Her favorite movie is The Pursuit of Happyness, mostly because of Gardner’s great love for his son and all he goes through to provide for him.

4. At the top of Harper’s bucket list is a trip to Italy, specifically Sardinia. She longs to meet the last known artisan of sea silk, an Italian woman named Chiara Vigo.

5. In spite of her love for the sea, Harper is afraid of stingrays. She makes sure to give them a wide berth when diving or snorkeling.

Annabelle

1. Annabelle loves to cook. She believes in showing love by taking care of people, and her chocolate chip cookies are famous. She loves Mexican food.

2. Her creativity comes through with interior design. Her special style, a kind of coastal casual, is sought after in central Florida. Until she finds some of her dead mother’s belongings, she had no idea she inherited that creative gene.

3. Annabelle is a romantic. She had a great marriage to her husband, and she’s very close to her two boys. On her nightstand is a dog-eared copy of Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Her favorite movie is The Princess Bride.

4. Someday Annabelle wants to dip a toe in the cold waters of Lake Superior. Her husband grew up along its banks in Eagle River, but she’s never seen it. Her sons have promised to take her as soon as she finishes her cancer treatment.

5. Annabelle is afraid of drowning and never goes into the sea. She nearly drowned once when she was a little girl, and she’s never been able to overcome that fear.

So there you have it! Are you and your sister alike or very different?

Connect with Colleen online at:
colleencoble.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @ColleenCoble
Twitter – @colleencoble
Instagram – @colleencoble
Facebook – @colleencoblebooks!

 

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

January 1990

St. Petersburg, Florida

Lisa ran to her Datsun Bluebird and jerked open the yellow door. Her pulse strummed in her neck, and she glanced behind her to make sure she wasn’t being followed. She’d tried not to show fear during the confrontation, but it was all she could do not to cry. She couldn’t face life without him.

She’d been on edge ever since yesterday.

Twilight backlit the treetops and highlighted the hanging moss. Instead of finding it beautiful, she saw frightening shadows and shuddered. She slid under the wheel and started the engine, then pulled out of her driveway onto the road.

She turned toward the Gulf. The water always calmed her when she was upset—and she had crossed upset moments ago and swerved into the scared zone.

Her belly barely fit under the wheel, but this baby would be born soon, then she’d have her figure back. She accelerated away from her home, a dilapidated one-story house with peeling white paint, and switched on her headlights.

The radio blared full of the news about the Berlin Wall coming down, but Lisa didn’t care about that, not now. She switched channels until she found Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ”playing, but even her favorite tune failed to sooth her shattered nerves. Could she seriously be murdered over this? She’d glimpsed madness in those eyes.

She pressed the brakes as she came to a four-way stop, but the brake pedal went clear to the floor. She gasped and pumped the pedal again. No response. The car shot through the intersection, barely missing the tail end of another vehicle that had entered it before her.

Hands gripping the steering wheel, she struggled to keep the car on the road as she frantically thought of a way to bring it to a stop that didn’t involve hitting another car or a tree. The baby in her belly kicked as if he or she knew their lives hung suspended in time.

“We’re going to make it, little one. We have to. I can’t leave you alone.” No one would love her baby if she died. Her mother couldn’t care for her child. She cared more about her drugs than anything else.

Lisa tried to tamp down her rising emotions, but she’d never been so frightened. The car fishtailed on the sandy road as she forced it back from the shoulder. Huge trees lined the pavement in a dense formation. Where could she drive off into relative safety? A field sprawled over on the right, just past the four-way stop ahead. If she made it through, it seemed the only place where they might survive.

Had the brakes been cut? What else could it be? She’d just had the car serviced.

Lisa approached the stop sign much too fast. The slight downhill slope had only accelerated the speed that hovered at nearly seventy. Her mouth went bone dry.

***

Taken from “Strands of Truth” by Colleen Coble. Copyright © 2019 by Colleen Coble. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Sep 052019
 

Fatal Strike

by DiAnn Mills

on Tour September 1-30, 2019

Synopsis:

Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills

There’s a killer on the loose in Galveston, targeting law enforcement officials and using a fatal injection of snake venom to take them down. Authorities have reasons to believe the Veneno gang is behind the hits, and FBI Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert team up to track down those responsible. Their best lead is an eyewitness who identifies a young man dumping the third body on a church doorstep. But their suspect has gone into hiding, and those closest to him are reluctant to reveal anything that might help investigators find him.

As Leah and Jon check connections among the victims and dig deeper into motives, they discover appearances may be deceiving. Someone is desperate to keep their secrets hidden, and Leah and Jon must face their greatest fears in order to stop the next fatal strike.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 3rd 2019
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 1496427106 (ISBN13: 9781496427106)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

Guest Post

10 things the reader doesn’t
know about Leah and Jon

Leah

1. I have a collection of steampunk costumes, and I’ve made many of my own hats.
2. I like to design steampunk jewelry.
3. While I have a problem with how my parents and I handled the adoption of my siblings, and I’m sure I would also make mistakes, I’d like the opportunity to adopt children from other countries.
4. When I began training at Quantico, I was the worst shot. But I didn’t let my lack of skill stop me. I practiced at every opportunity until I reached the top of my class in marksmanship.
5. I never met a cupcake I didn’t like—all flavors, even weird ones that are supposed to be healthy but smell and taste a little funky.

Jon
1. I can be bossy, but I’m working on it. With Leah’s marksmanship skills, I don’t want to make her mad.
2. If a woman chooses to spend one on one time with me, I’m impressed.
3. I’ve like to have my PhD in Criminal Justice
4. I almost drowned when I was ten years old during a family outing. The next day and for 10 days afterward, my dad made me swim to eliminate my fear.
5. I’m not big on chocolate. I’d rather have a fruit dessert.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on:

diannmills.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

SPECIAL AGENT LEAH RIESEL scanned the headlines on her phone. A prosecutor from Galveston had been found murdered behind a construction site, the second apparent victim of gang violence in two days. Both deaths were caused by rattlesnake venom injections to the heart. Before she could pull up additional reports on the woman’s untimely death, Leah’s phone
rang.

“Riesel, hostage situation in Galveston,” the SWAT commander said. “Grab your gear. The chopper takes off in five.”

“On it.” She took a last lingering look at the half-eaten blueberry donut and coffee on her cubicle’s desk.

Could this have anything to do with the two murders in Galveston?

Before most of the city began the workday, Leah boarded a Little Bird helicopter beneath whirling blades and the pressure of a critical operation. Dressed in full camo and shouldering her sniper gear, she inhaled the rising temps. Feverish Houston. With the familiar air transport sounds ushering in memories of past missions, her adrenaline kicked in.

A pilot from the tactical helicopter unit lifted the chopper into the air for the twenty-minute ride to Galveston. She recognized him from previous assignments involving aircraft used to deliver SWAT and the elite hostage rescue teams to crisis incidents. This morning her focus eliminated any chitchat.

Leah grabbed sound-canceling headphones and contacted the SWAT commander already on the ground. “Riesel here. Special Agent in Charge Thomas briefed me on a home invasion that’s turned violent.”

The SAC would be watching the operation at the Crisis Management Operations Center.

“Negotiations have gotten us nowhere.” The SWAT commander’s voice rose above the chopper’s blade-snap. “Two unidentified men are holding two women and three children at gunpoint. Galveston PD estimates they’ve been inside the home for at least an hour. Demanding we leave the area after giving them five hundred grand and a gassed-up speedboat.
Clock is ticking with forty minutes max. We’ve backed off as far as they know.”

Leah swiped through pics taken with telephoto lenses and sent to her phone. Each ski-masked man held a child as a shield. Leah detested the savagery and the horrific emotions the hostages
must be feeling.

“We’re located on San Luis Pass Road on the western section of the island. Nearest house is five hundred yards away. Owners are in Europe. We’re in contact with the agency managing it.”
She didn’t need a key to access the home.

The SWAT commander continued. “One of the hostages is the owner of the home, Amanda Barton.”

“Is there a Mr. Barton in the picture?”

“Divorced. Lives in California.”

Unlikely the ex-husband was behind this.

“Agent Jon Colbert will be on scene shortly,” the commander said. “He had a deposition early this morning in Texas City and drove on to Galveston. Over the weekend, his SWAT partner had emergency knee surgery. Out for six weeks.”

And Leah’s partner had left the city yesterday on vacation.

The luck of the draw meant she and Jon would be working together. “I’ll contact you as soon as we land.”

Jon Colbert, a sniper who had excellent marksmanship and a stellar reputation, also worked organized crime. But she and Jon had never worked together. The idea of teaming up with an agent she barely knew made her uneasy. If a sniper mission required a partner, she preferred an established relationship where she would know how the person processed information.

Shoving aside her doubts, she narrowed her thoughts on what lay ahead. The precarious situation and local law enforcement’s inability to negotiate added up to why she and Jon had
been assigned to the case.

She grasped her backpack, lighter than usual with only a spotting scope, ammo, water, communication equipment, extra batteries, granola bar, and a handheld radio. Her Glock, as comfortable in her right hand as a toothbrush, found its spot in her back waistband. She touched her H-S Precision heavy tactical rifle.

The sooner she got to Galveston, the sooner she could provide intelligence and help neutralize the circumstances. Her priority was seeing the women and children freed from these ruthless men.

* * *

Jon received a text from Special Agent in Charge Thomas that Leah Riesel had left the Houston FBI office and was en route to Galveston. He’d met her a few times, and they’d qualified
together. Attractive woman—dark-brown hair, light-olive skin, New Yorker with the accent to prove it. Her professionalism in the violent crime division wavered between exceptional and extraordinary. A touch of toughness. Jon had heard not to make her mad—she had earned the nickname Panther for a reason. He remembered her stats—number three in the US for distance shots. Good thing he wasn’t easily intimidated.

Once the chopper landed, Leah would be transported in an unmarked car to a vacant house more than a quarter of a mile away from the Barton home. No point in making the two men more trigger-happy when they’d warned law enforcement to back off.

The SWAT commander spoke through Jon’s radio attached to his collar. “Thermal imaging confirms four adults and three children inside the Barton home. The men claim they’ll kill the
children first. We have fifteen minutes.”

In Galveston, Jon stopped at Broadway and Sixty-First Street. Tourists persisted in the middle of the thoroughfare, pushing strollers, riding surrey bikes, and enjoying the day. Some were dressed for the beach and others clutched what they needed for their excursion. All hindered his turn. Obstacles in his mission. If they knew the situation not far from them, they’d grab their loved ones and speed home. Each moment delayed his shot and shoved the hostages closer to death. A chilling composure took over his emotional, mental, and physical reactions. The busy street finally cleared. Jon turned west onto Seawall Boulevard and drove on to San Luis Pass. The hostage site was four and a half miles beyond there.

Were the two men inside the Barton home wannabes looking to make a name for themselves? Strung out on drugs? Was this a personal vendetta? No matter how this ended—either a surrender or he’d be instructed to take a shot— their moment in history would likely be the lead story on tonight’s news. His phone alerted him to an incoming call. He responded
before the first ring ended. “Colbert.” The chopper’s rhythmic whir reverberated through his phone.

“Riesel here. Landing in five at Galveston Island State Park. SWAT commander has given me a location on the west side of the Barton home.”

“I’ll be on foot by then. Taking a position on the east, beach side.”

“I’ll need seven minutes to get into place,” she said.

“Okay.” No need to remind her of the ticking clock.

He touched End and whipped his truck onto a beach-access road where police officers had instructed residents to shelter in place. He switched off the engine. Grabbing his gear, he bolted
down the beach. A Galveston police officer stopped him, and Jon handed him his ID. Seconds later, he moved toward his site.

A sultry breeze blew across the water, and he recalculated his shot.
Crouching low, he moved past police SWAT standing guard.

FBI SWAT held the position Riesel was headed for. They were racing against time, a commodity that stopped for nothing or no one. At any moment, one of the armed men could pull the
trigger on those inside the Barton home.

Restraint.

Control.

Tense muscles relaxed. His heartbeat slowed.

A clear head laid out the steps before the kill shot.

No mistakes.

Precision.

Accuracy.

A chance for the women and children to live another day.

Near a sand dune, he tuned out the occasional seagull and the waves rushing against the shore. After wiping the sweat from his hands on his pants, Jon set up his rifle and scope,
activated his radio, and spoke to the SWAT commander and Leah Riesel.

***

Excerpt from Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills. Copyright © 2019 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



 

 

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for DiAnn Mills. There will be 2 winners each winning one (1) Gift Card (choice of Amazon or B&N). The giveaway begins on September 1, 2019 and runs through October 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours