Jul 192018
 

Tail Of The Dragon by Connie di Marco Banner

Tail of the Dragon

by Connie di Marco

on Tour July 16 – August 31, 2018

Synopsis:

Tail of the Dragon by Connie di Marco

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought murder would be part of her practice, but now, Julia’s former boss and current client has asked for help. He has serious problems at his law firm. Two attorneys and a paralegal have received death threats and the only common denominator between all three is a case long settled — the highly publicized Bank of San Francisco fire. Julia’s convinced a woman is behind the threats, perhaps even the widow of the man who died in that same fire, but no one wants to listen — they can’t believe astrology could provide a clue. Before Julia can help her client, two lawyers are dead and her own life is threatened. Can she unmask the killer before he (or she) takes another life?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: August 8th 2018
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0738751065 (ISBN13: 9780738751061)
Series: Zodiac Mystery #3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

The doorbell rang. I hurried down the stairs to the front door. I hesitated as I saw a woman’s figure through the glass. Maggie. It was Maggie. I threw the door open and we hugged. Michael’s sister and I got along famously from the first time we met. Maggie probably understands better than anyone how I feel and even though we don’t stay in touch as much as we used to, every time we meet it’s as though no time has elapsed at all. I stepped back and took a good look at her. She wasn’t smiling. “Maggie? What is it?”

“Can I come in?”

“Of course. Yes.” She was quiet as we climbed the stairs. She headed straight for the kitchen and sat down at the table. I joined her. “What’s wrong?”

“Something’s come up.”

“About . . .”

“Yes,” she didn’t have to say it. I knew she meant Michael.

“What’s happened?” Part of me hoped against hope that we might find an answer some day, another part of me just wanted the sadness and unknowingness to go away.

“Let me try to tell you in some kind of order.” She took a deep breath. “Do you remember the elderly man who used to live across the street from Michael’s old apartment?”

I nodded. I did remember. Michael’s apartment at 45th and Taraval was just a few blocks from my old place in the Sunset District. “Michael and I used to see him when he walked his dog. And then . . .” I shrugged, “there was a time when we didn’t see him as much.”

“Well, I think what happened was his son took the dog because it became too much for the old guy. But the dad didn’t want to leave his home so the family arranged some care and a companion for him.” I waited, not sure what Maggie’s story had to do with Michael. “Apparently, the old man was always taking pictures. He wasn’t any kind of a real photographer, but he liked to do that. He was always fooling around with his camera.”

“Yes, I remember now. He’d even take pictures of the flowers in his yard.”

“He died a couple of weeks ago. And his son and his daughter-in-law are putting the house up for sale. They’ve been there every day, moving stuff out and selling a few things to the neighbors. The thing is . . . they found a box of photos. The father didn’t like digital cameras, he had an old camera that he used and then he’d . . .

“Maggie . . .” I couldn’t imagine where she was going with this story.

“They found a photo of Michael. On the street. Just as that car hit him.”

I gasped and covered my mouth. My heart was racing wildly. “He saw. He saw who hit Michael?”

“He must have. He must have tried to take a picture of what happened from his window.”

“Why didn’t he ever say anything?”

Maggie shook her head. “I don’t know. I really don’t. Maybe he didn’t want to get involved. Maybe he was afraid he’d have to testify.”

As much as I dreaded looking at anything Maggie had described, I still needed to see the photo. “Do you have it with you?”

“I don’t. The old man’s son and his wife knew what it was. They didn’t know Michael, but they knew there had been a hit and run in the neighborhood and that someone had died, so they turned it over to the police.”

“Have you seen it?”

“Yes, they showed it to me and my mother. She’s hysterical right now.” Celia, Michael’s mother had refused to speak to me since his death. She wasn’t on firm ground to begin with but after the accident, in her convoluted logic, she blamed me for her loss. If he hadn’t been in such a hurry to meet me, he would have been more careful. He wouldn’t have been killed.

“I can imagine.” I didn’t envy Maggie the emotional turmoil she must be dealing with.

“I told you before, Julia, she’s made a shrine of Michael’s room and I’m so worried about her. She never wants to go out or do anything. Once in a while I manage to drag her to a restaurant for brunch or something, but even her old friends have given up calling her.”

“What can they tell from the photo?”

“Not much, it’s not digital and it’s old. He had an old Nikon, I think, so they can’t see very much. Michael is lying on his side on the street and . . .” Maggie’s voice shook, “and you can just see the edge of the car. It’s dark or black and there’s a bit of a bumper and the corner of the right rear tire. The police think the driver must have panicked and took off. The old guy might have been looking out his window when it happened and snapped it really quick. They’re going to try to get as much information from it as they can, but they don’t really hold out much hope.”

“Who’s in charge of this?”

“Actually, a retired detective has volunteered to work on it. The case has never been closed, but this is the first thing they’ve had to go on at all. I can get you the name of the detective in charge, and maybe he’ll give you more information. I’ll find out and let him know you might want to talk to him.”

“Thanks, Maggie.” My heart sank. In all this time, no witnesses to the accident had come forward. One woman at the end of the block remembered a dark vehicle traveling fast, but couldn’t swear it had anything at all to do with the car that hit Michael. “We shouldn’t get our hopes up.”

“I want some answers, Julia!” Maggie’s voice had risen. “And I’m sure you do too. It’s not right. What this has done to our family, to me, to you. All our lives have been changed because of this. I want to see someone pay for what they did.”

I nodded. “I do too. It won’t change anything. It won’t bring him back. But you’re right. We’ve all gone through so much . . .”

“I have to go.” Maggie stood suddenly and I realized she hadn’t even taken her coat off. “I’m staying at my Mom’s for a little while. I’m so worried about her. I don’t like the thought of her being all alone in that big house.”

“Okay. Stay in touch and let me know what you find out?”

“I will.” Maggie leaned toward me and I put my arms around her, holding her tight. I felt her chest rise, a quiet sob. “I’m sorry to arrive on your doorstep like this, but I had to tell you face to face.”

“I’m glad you did, Maggie. I’m glad you did. And maybe we’ll learn more.”

Maggie pulled away. I could see tears forming in her eyes as she rushed down the stairs.

***

Excerpt from Tail of the Dragon by Connie di Marco. Copyright © 2018 by Connie di Marco. Reproduced with permission from Connie di Marco. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Connie di Marco

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. Tail of the Dragon, third in the series, will be released on August 8, 2018.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of MWA, Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.

 

Guest Post

10 Things About Julia Bonatti You Didn’t Know

Ten things we don’t know about Julia Bonatti? Well, let me think. As the author of the Zodiac Mysteries, I’m not sure there’s anything my protagonist Julia hasn’t already revealed. I’ve tried to make her fairly open and honest about who she is and what motivates her. But maybe I can go further . . .

Let’s see . . . Julia’s a Sagittarian and because she’s an astrologer she lets everyone know that her Sun sign indicates optimism, generosity, a free spirit, one who isn’t afraid to take on challenges or tackle danger. But her birthday? So far, that’s been a secret. So here goes — Julia was born on December 3, 1981 at 11:51 a.m. PST in San Francisco.

You can see her chart below. Notice that her Sun, Mercury and Uranus are all clustered around her 10th house cusp (her career). Uranus always figures significantly in the charts of astrologers. Neptune is in the 10th as well. Her profession is linked to the mysterious, to the occult arts. Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn are clustered in her 8th house, a mysterious arena, the house of death. Her Ascendant is Aquarius. She’s eccentric, doesn’t really fit into the norm of a woman her age. And her Moon is in Pisces. She’s sensitive and a pushover for people in trouble.

We do know that her parents were killed in a car crash on the Bay Bridge when she was just a child. She really can’t remember them too well, just an occasional vague memory. And she’s an only child raised by her grandmother. What she doesn’t talk about very much is her sense of displacement, her sense of not belonging. Her grandmother is her only link to the past. Then of course there’s Kuan, her grandmother’s friend who lives in the first floor apartment of her grandmother’s house in Castle Alley and practices Chinese medicine. Kuan was a dear friend of Julia’s grandfather (now deceased). In fact, Kuan saved her grandfather’s life many years before, but that’s something I’m holding back for a future story. To Julia, he’s a surrogate grandfather.

With such a small family, her friends, Gale and Cheryl, are terribly important to her. Julia had hoped that when she and Michael married, that haunting sense of not belonging would be healed. Together they would start a family, but sadly that was taken away from her with Michael’s death.

But what does Julia not talk about in the Zodiac Mysteries? Her fears. None of us can talk very lightly about our deepest fears. Maybe we’re superstitious, as if talking about the things we fear will bring them about.

Julia fears her grandmother will die. After all, everyone else has left her. She knows logically that her grandmother will die someday, but it’s more than she can get her head around.

She fears she’ll be alone for the rest of her life.

She fears she’ll never fall in love again.

She fears she’ll make a terrible mistake with a client’s chart and make a wrong prediction. That would destroy her reputation and her practice.

She fears her skills as an astrologer won’t help her prevent another disaster, like the death of her fiancé.
And she fears if she keeps sticking her nose in crime, she’ll die young. Then she thinks, maybe that’s better than being alone and the last one left on earth.

She fears she’ll find out her parents weren’t the wonderful people her grandmother claims they were. And most of all, she is still terrified of driving across the Bay Bridge.

Is that 10? Oh, not quite. One more thing — she absolutely loves bitter-sweet dark chocolate!
I hope you’ll get to know Julia even better in the books of the Zodiac Mysteries and tag along with her on her crime-solving adventures. Don’t worry, she’s not going to talk about her fears, she’ll be following the clues and tracking down a murderer! And hopefully entertaining you.

 

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

 

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 Connie di Marco. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on July 16, 2018 and runs through September 1, 2018. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Jul 182018
 

Selected by J. Allen Wolfrum Banner

 

Selected

by J. Allen Wolfrum

July 1 – August 31, 2018 Tour

 

Synopsis:

Selected by J. Allen Wolfrum

Former Army helicopter pilot, Susan Turner is Selected as the next President of the United States. In order to avoid a nuclear war, she must overcome personal demons and learn to navigate the murky waters of international diplomacy.

Five years ago, the Dove Revolution changed the political structure of the United States. The President, Senate, and Congress are no longer elected by the public, they are Selected at random every two years. A shadow organization known only as The Board, advances their sinister agenda by taking advantage of their anonymity and Susan’s tendency to make brash decisions. Blackmail, espionage and murder are all in play as The Board manipulates geo-political events to spark a war between the Soviet Union and the United States.

With the help of her former Squadron Commander, General LeMae, Susan Turner attempts to lead the nation through these turbulent times while battling her own internal demons. Susan is a battle-hardened war veteran but she must learn what it takes to be a world leader. Nuclear war and the future of the human race hang in the balance.

 

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

 

Book Details:

Genre: Political Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 28th 2017
Number of Pages: 326
ISBN: 1981498974 (ISBN13: 9781981498970)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

J. Allen Wolfrum

J. Allen Wolfrum is a fiction author and former Marine. He served four years as a Marine Corps Infantryman in the most decorated Regiment in Marine Corps history. During Operation Iraqi Freedom he led an infantry squad on missions spanning from the oil fields of Southern Iraq to the streets of Baghdad.

After the Marine Corps, he spent the next fifteen years exploring life from several perspectives: press operator in a plastics factory, warehouse stocker, confused college student, Certified Public Accountant, bearded graduate student, management consultant, and data analyst.

J. Allen Wolfrum’s writing career began in 2017 with his debut novel, Selected. He uses the unique combination of his Marine Corps, professional and life experience to create a realistic perspective on the political thriller genre. He lives in Southern California with his beautiful wife and two cats.

 

Q&A with J. Allen Wolfrum

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

For my debut novel, Selected, the original idea came from the 2016 election cycle. My wife and I were listening to the presidential debates and I made an off hand comment to her, ‘why don’t they just pick random people, it can’t be any worse’, the idea stuck with me. In writing the book I used a lot of personal experiences, I’m a former Marine so that helped with some of the Military jargon. As a form of self defense, I tried to make choices for the characters that were outside of my experiences. For example, Susan being an Army pilot and not a Marine Corps pilot was a conscious decision on my part. I was afraid of putting too many insider jokes and terms about the Marine Corps in the book.

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

When I started writing Selected, I started with the premise and then plotted out the storyline to the best of my ability. Then majority of the credit goes to the Story Grid methodology developed by Shawn Coyne. Without his book and the accompanying podcast I would have never learned the storytelling techniques required to complete a full length novel. Don’t get me wrong, Selected, is nowhere near being perfect but I would have never made it past chapter one if I hadn’t stumbled upon Shawn’s Story Grid methodology. Shawn isn’t paying me, I promise. He doesn’t even know I exist. But I want to let people know that a methodology exists for learning story structure, you don’t have to toil away in agony, it helped me and I hope that others find it useful as well.

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

Again this is another example of me trying to defend myself from being a cliche. I’m not sure if cliche is the right word, let me explain. I’ll be intentionally vague to protect the innocent. A few years ago I was given a rough draft manuscript that was written by someone I know. The author used his hometown and I assume name of people he knew in the manuscript and it had every cliche and stereotype of growing up in a small town. At the time I knew nothing about writing, stories or story structure but I knew that I did not want to do that. When I wrote Selected, I very intentionally did not use any characters or even character names of people that I know. There was one name that snuck in there, Claire the barista. I know a Claire and when she got to that part in the book, she asked me, “am I the barista?” Thankfully Claire the barista is nothing like the real Claire.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I have a red Tuff Shed in my backyard that serves as my writing sanctuary. I sit down with the intention of writing one scene at a time. I define ‘scene’ as 1,500 to 2,000 words with the following components; an inciting incident, progressive complications, a crisis (a decision that needs to be made), climax (the decision), and resolution. One scene at a time is how I break down the enormous task of writing a novel.

Tell us why we should read this book.

Toughest question of them all. I think it’s a compelling story about a woman who puts her personal well being aside and takes on the task of leading a nation through a turbulent time. It doesn’t always go well and she makes some mistakes. In the end she learns that in order for peace to occur, nations need to work together, they cannot be bullied into a decision.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, Ken Follet, Larry McMurtry, Jim Harrison, Mark Twain, and Steven Pressfield are at the top of the list.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt. I’m working on a Western novel and have been devouring as much Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey as possible. Unfortunately I have had a hard time finding Westerns written in the past few years that I enjoy. If you have suggestions let me know, me@jallenwolfrum.com 🙂

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

I’m working hard on a Western novel set in 1880 Durango, Colorado.

Lane Shepherd had been through the mill. A veteran of the Yavapai wars in Arizona and a few rough cattle drives through the Indian Territory of Oklahoma, he was darn lucky to be alive and he knew it. A streak of bad luck at the poker table left him with nothing but his salty mule, Georgina and a mining claim of questionable validity. He drifted into Durango with the intention of keeping to himself, striking it rich, and living out the rest of his days in the fancy hotels and poker rooms of San Francisco. Before he knew what happened, he was stuck in the middle of a land war and head over heels for a curvy brunette that tortured him with every swing of her hips. Lane had seen his fair share of trouble, but this was more than he bargained for when he rode into Durango.

That’s the back cover description that I have written so far, it’s a work in progress. The tentative title is Under the Durango Sky.

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

Emily Blunt as Susan Turner and Roger Slattery as General LeMae.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

I enjoy running and mountain biking.

Favorite meal?

Carne Asada burritos washed down with a cold IPA.

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

 

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

 

Read an excerpt:

Susan Turner looked up through a haze of white dust and saw a group of men in black suits huddled around her body. The muffled ringing in her ears overpowered their voices. The men helped her to her feet and they ran as a group toward the entrance to the underground tunnel. Her hearing slowly returned, screams of panic in the hallway replacing the ringing. As they ran, she recognized the men surrounding her were Secret Service agents.

Four agents surrounded Susan as they jogged through the underground tunnel together. Ten yards into the tunnel, she slowed down. In mid-stride, she took off one heel at a time and returned to the pace of the group. There were no words exchanged; they moved together in focused silence. Four hundred yards down the tunnel, the group stopped at two large steel doors. The lead agent opened the doors and light from the helicopter pad above burst into the tunnel.

Before moving toward the helicopter, the agent stand- ing behind Susan shouted into his headset, “Checkpoint Bravo. Waiting for clearance.” He nodded as the response came through and relayed the message to the group: “Let’s move.” They ran from the tunnel into the daylight and across the tarmac to the open doors of the helicopter.

The agent sitting across from Susan handed her a com- munications headset. “Ma’am, are you okay? Any injuries?” Susan wiped the sweat and dust from her face. “No, I’m fine. My family?”

“They’re safe. Your children were brought to a safe location under the Pentagon, and your parents are there with them.”
She nodded. “Is it over?”

He pursed his lips before responding, “I don’t know. I only heard snippets of radio chatter while we were on the way to the helipad.”

Susan leaned back in her seat, cupping her hands over her face and replaying the events in her mind. The group stayed in radio silence for the remainder of the brief flight. The helicopter landed at Andrews Air Force Base and the doors immediately opened. Susan and her security detail rushed across the tarmac and boarded the Boeing 747. She walked onto the plane in her bare feet. Jogging on con- crete caused the pinky toe on her left foot to bleed. She left a trail of blood down the center aisle of Air Force One.

***

Excerpt from Selected by J. Allen Wolfrum. Copyright © 2018 by J. Allen Wolfrum. Reproduced with permission from J. Allen Wolfrum. 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 J. Allen Wolfrum. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on July 1, 2018 and runs through September 1, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Jul 092018
 

Bad Time To Be In It

by David Burnsworth

on Tour July 9 – August 10, 2018

 

Bad time To Be In It by David Burnsworth
 

Synopsis:

The past is never past. Sometimes it repeats itself. And sometimes it comes back to pay a visit. Blu Carraway, flush with cash and back in business, never had it so good. Or so he thought.The reality is his love life is in shambles, his business partner is spending too much time with women half his age and not enough time on the job, and someone close goes missing. Blu’s business partner goes off the rails, his friends show their true colors, and he realizes that getting closure sometimes means walking away from everything. With a case from the past gone wrong twice, a loved one in trouble, and an unanswered marriage proposal, it’s a bad time to be in it for Blu Carraway Investigations.

 

MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW

4 stars

Blu, of Blu Carraway Investigations. and his partner Mick Crome are back! And that means only one thing, a lot of action!

This is the 2nd book in this series, see my reviews for BLU HEAT, a prequel and IN IT FOR THE MONEY.

Blu and Mick are hired by Mr.Jansen, as he feels someone is following him. At the same time, Mick’s girlfriend goes missing. The days are going by and they are no closer to following Maureen.

So their friends join them in the search. A journalist that works with them, Harmony, joins the Mayor on his boat and word comes that the Mayor’s body has washed up but no sign of Harmony.

Are these disappearances and Jansen connected in some way? Where are the women? The group ramps up in finding who has kidnapped.

After reading the previous books in this series, I knew that would be non stop action. And because of that, I was turning the pages as fast as I could because I knew there would be an explosive ending if they found Maureen and Harmony.

This book did not disappoint. Another great read by David Burnsworth! And with a cliff hanger at the end, I’m so excited now knowing that this series will be continued. Now I have to try to wait patiently for the next book!

Definitely recommend!!

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 9781635113587
Series: Blu Carraway Mysteries #2
Purchase Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo

 

Read an excerpt:

<

div class=”excerpt” style=”height:250px; overflow:auto; border-width:3px; border-color:800000; border-style:groove;”>

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Belize City, Belize, August, mid-Monday

Paco squinted as he stared out over the courtyard, the afternoon sun a brilliant blaze. Sounds of local women selling vegetables, cheap pottery, and trinkets to tourists filled the air. The clinking of dishware. Some of the vendors were lucky enough to have an umbrella or canopy to shield them from the burning heat. Most weren’t.

The pavement baked Paco’s feet through his cowboy boots.

He lifted his straw hat, one with an orange band he’d bought from a local Mennonite child, and wiped his brow. The air tasted of salt, dust, and tamalito grease.

His two partners, a Belizean Creole called Lin and a Jamaican named Peter, were already in position. Lin nodded at him from the other side of the square. Paco checked on Peter and found him fifty meters due east scoping out the three young women they’d come for.

Well, really it was just one of them they wanted. The other two women were going to be a bonus. The contract was to grab the woman with the family name of Kincaid, make a phone call when they had her at their hideout, and then do whatever they wanted with the other two. And eliminate any resistance.

The stupid chicas had only one guard with them. Some tall, middle-aged Bufon Paco guessed was half-Cuban, half-gringo, who wore sunglasses and dressed in light-colored fatigues and military style boots. He looked fit but was most likely nothing but an easy target. In the three days Peter, Lin, and Paco had tracked the women, the man with the sunglasses always kept watch from behind.

The past two nights Paco had dreamt of shooting the man through those sunglasses.

Using the sleeve of his shirt, Paco wiped his forehead one more time and then replaced his hat. He watched Peter wait until the women and the man passed and then fell in behind them.

God, the women were beautiful. Suntanned white girls in their early twenties. Perfect teeth. Curled, long hair. Linen blouses, short shorts, and sandals. After he shot their protector, his dreams ended with tying each of them to a bed, the fear in their eyes giving him immense pleasure.

And today was the day his dream would come true.

Paco watched the group pass through a crowd of old people in bright clothes unloading from a tour bus.

Except Peter didn’t emerge behind them when the women came through the other side of the gray-haired mass.

Neither did the sunglass-wearing guard.

Paco smiled and thought, good, Peter took him out already.

He nodded at Lin who gave him a thumbs-up.

The women perused another row of vendors.

He and Lin followed, coming from opposite ends.

The women were just ahead. Paco caught sight of their toned caderas and thanked his god again for tight American shorts. He picked up his pace as he threaded through the crowd.

After about forty meters, something didn’t seem right any more. He should have caught up to them by now. And Lin should have joined him.

Paco stopped, checked his phone. No messages.

Looking around, he thought he spotted the women turn down an alley.

Where were Peter and Lin?

It didn’t matter.

He had to get the woman now. Especially with the guard out of the picture.

Paco knew he could handle her by himself, even if the other two females had to die to make things easier. He sprinted after them, cut down the alley, and found himself alone with nothing but a dead end. The only noise he heard was the market from which he’d come.

An abandoned car on blocks with its hood open mocked him. Dust kicked up from his boots as he skidded to a stop. Paco turned around. No one had followed him.

He turned back and looked straight down the barrel of a revolver.

His eyes would not—could not—keep from staring at the black hole in front of him that brought death. Where in the hell did this come from? There had been no sound.

A man’s voice said, “Esto es donde dar la vuelta y a pie.” (This is where you turn around and walk away.)

Thinking fast, Paco said, “Que buscaba para mi hija.” (I was looking for my daughter.)

The thumb of the hand holding the revolver cocked the hammer back.

Anyone else would have soiled his pants at this. But Paco knew the man had made a very big mistake. Other peoples’ mistakes, and Paco’s awareness of them, were how he had survived this long. The cocked pistol an arm’s reach from his face had caught him off guard. If it had been five feet away, the perfect distance for control,he would have had a problem.

But this close—

Paco swung an arm at the hand with the pistol and ducked the other way, all in one motion just like he’d done before.

Except another gun fired.

Paco felt an inferno of heat and lead tear through his leg. He screamed and crashed to the ground.

A large, military boot kicked him in the face. It jolted his focus off the pain in his leg for a second and onto the sunglasses of the man from his dreams. Paco spotted a second pistol in the man’s other hand. He hadn’t seen the second gun because he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the first. The man had outsmarted him.

The man smiled down at him and said, in Spanish, “Who hired you?”

The pain flooded back. Paco seethed out a “Piss off.”

The man with the sunglasses put his large boot on Paco’s injured leg and stepped down hard.

Paco had never felt pain so great in his thirty-three years on this earth. He tried to scream, but nothing came out. He swam in a horizon of white noise.

The pressure on his leg let up. The boot kicked him in the ribs, ripping his concentration away from his leg once more, long enough for him to breathe.

“Your two friends won’t be joining us. Tell me who hired you. Do it now. I won’t ask again.”
Paco’s mind recovered enough from the pain to formulate a last desperate plan. He slipped a hand behind his back and pulled out a derringer.

Before he could aim it, the man standing over him blasted his hand from two feet away. And Paco felt a different twinge of pain that almost matched the firestorm in his leg. He lifted his hand to where he could look at it. Two of his fingers were missing.

Then he saw nothing.

Chapter Two

Charleston County, South Carolina, August, mid-Monday

DAY ONE

Mick Crome sat on a stool at the inside bar of the Pirate’s Cove on the Isle of Palms. He finished off a second pint while staring at all the liquor bottles lined up on the shelves in front of him. They had a habit of staring back. Maureen, his sometimes girlfriend and bartender a hundred miles north up in Myrtle Beach, was pissed off at him. He couldn’t chill and watch her tight rear end as she poured drinks tonight. Maybe not tomorrow night, either.

The current bartender serving the beers, a friend named Brack Pelton, wasn’t exactly his type. At six feet and with a perpetual suntanned complexion, Brack looked like he should be tending bar in the Bahamas, not owning two watering holes in the South Carolina lowcountry.

Pelton asked, “You want another one, Mick?”

Even inside the place, the smell of the Atlantic Ocean directly behind him cleaned out his sinuses. The song streaming on the bar’s sound system, “Paradise City” by Guns and Roses, was a real classic.

Crome nodded, hooked a boot heel on the bottom rung of his stool, and pulled a vape pen out of the breast pocket of his weathered leather vest.

He couldn’t figure out what exactly he’d done wrong with Maureen but was sure it might have something to do with the two women he traded vodka shots with the night before. Mainly
because neither of them was Maureen. Maureen hadn’t taken too kindly to him cancelling their date so he could follow a lead only to end up getting drunk and crashing at another woman’s pad. She didn’t believe him when he’d tried to explain that nothing had happened. The lead was legit, but even he knew he should have just gotten the information over the phone.

What did people say in times like this? C’est la vie?

Whatever.

Pelton set a fresh pint of draft down in front of Crome. “Haven’t seen you or Blu around in a while. How’s it going?”

The kid, Pelton, meant well. If Crome hadn’t taken a liking to him, and if he hadn’t watched a video of the kid, empty handed, take on an armed giant of a man and win, he might have picked a fight with him just for fun. But the kid had saved his best friend’s daughter and was an unofficial partner in the private investigation firm Crome co-owned. Unofficial because just about everything Crome did was unofficial. The official side was handled by his main partner, Blu Carraway.

Crome said, “Blu’s on a security job. In Belize, the lucky bastard. Should be back in a day or two.”

A voice from behind him said, “Hi, Crome.”

It was female and familiar. Damn.

Anyone else would have been a welcome change to his wandering thoughts, a defense mechanism he used to avoid thinking about Maureen.

Hell, Maureen in her most pissed-off state would have been a welcome companion compared to—

The female voice interrupted his thought. “Aren’t you going to invite me to sit down?”

Crome saw the smirk form on his own face reflected in the mirror behind the bar. He also saw the strawberry-blond curls, red lipstick, and tight dress of his newest problem. “It’s a free country.”

Harmony Childs pulled out the stool next to him and sat. “That bad-ass biker routine won’t work on me, Sugar. You’ve seen me in my underwear.”

Twenty years his junior, nuttier than a pecan tree, driven, and drop-dead gorgeous, Harmony was the very cliché of Kryptonite for him. She was also one of the two women he’d traded shots with last night.

It was true; he had seen her in her underwear. But not out of her underwear, thank God, or he and Maureen wouldn’t have lasted this long.

Harmony said, “Don’t tell me you’ve still got a hangover. I’d hate to think you couldn’t hang with us, given your propensity for bars and liquor.”

She really was beautiful. And she’d matched him shot for shot, unless the bartender was feeding her and her friend water instead of Citron. But that couldn’t be because he’d watched all their shot glasses get refilled from the same bottle.

“Not on your life, Dolly,” he said.

Pelton came over, grinned at the young woman, and said, “What’ll it be, Ms. Harmony?”

If Pelton’s wife caught him doing anything more than casual flirting, she’d string him up by his testicles. Especially if it was with Harmony. Or her cohort, Tess Ray. Which reminded Crome, when there was one, the other wasn’t far behind.

Tess pulled out the stool on the other side of Crome and sat. “Sorry I’m late. There was another double homicide in North Charleston.”

Shorter than Harmony, with shoulder length blonde hair that fell in layers, Tess wore dark-rimmed glasses, a business dress with no sleeves, and medium heels.

She’d been the second woman from the night before. Two women to one man, a bottle of vodka, and all he had to show for it was a nasty headache, a stiff back from the couch he’d crashed on alone, and a pissed off girlfriend. Must be his lucky day.

Crome opened his mouth to say “howdy” but got cut off before he could start.

“It would be nice if your partner was around,” Harmony said.

“You guys make good copy. Maybe you all could give us something besides gang violence to report on.”

Harmony and Tess were eager-beaver news correspondents who’d recently gone independent.

Tess asked, “So when is Blu due back in town? Soon, right?”

Every damn woman who’d ever laid eyes on Blu Carraway fell in love with the bastard.

Again, Crome opened his mouth to speak, and again got interrupted. This time by the other local lady killer, Pelton’s dog, Shelby.

At the sight of the chow-collie mix, Harmony and Tess both slid off their stools and swarmed the mutt. The damned canine seemed to be eating it all up, dancing around between them, his wagging tail high in the air.

The song ended, and in the lull before the next one began, Crome checked his iPhone, the one that felt like an old-fashioned pair of handcuffs restraining him from freedom. The one that came with the business of running a private investigation firm. The one that his partner had made him take.

He’d missed a call.

The number wasn’t familiar, but whoever had called left a voicemail. He listened.

It sounded like Maureen. “Mick? I’m in trouble. Please help—”

A man’s voice cut her off. “Listen Crome, it’s payback time. You took from me so I’m taking from you. I’ll be in touch.”

His phone showed a text message. He tapped to open it up and stared at a picture of a scared Maureen with a gun to her head.

Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” started playing, blowing a hole through the world.

Excerpt from Bad Time To Be In It by David Burnsworth. Copyright © 2018 by David Burnsworth. Reproduced with permission from David Burnsworth. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from Bad Time To Be In It by David Burnsworth. Copyright © 2018 by David Burnsworth. Reproduced with permission from David Burnsworth. All rights reserved.

 

David Burnsworth

Author Bio:

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Bad Time To Be In It (July 2018, Henery Press) will be his sixth. Having lived on Charleston’s Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.

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

 

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 David Burnsworth. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and 4 winners of one (1) print OR eBook copy of David Burnsworth’s Bad Time To Be In It. The giveaway begins on July 9, 2018 and runs through August 11, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

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

Jul 062018
 

Dangerous Secrets by Susan Hunter Banner

Dangerous Secrets

by Susan Hunter

on Tour July 2 – 13, 2018

 

Synopsis:

Dangerous Secrets by Susan Hunter

A week that starts out with a woman’s dead body in the living room is not going to end well. Writer Leah Nash learns this truth when her friend Miguel arrives home on a Sunday night, only to discover that his weekend renter has failed to checkout—at least in the usual sense of the word. By Wednesday, Miguel’s uncle is arrested for murder.

The victim is the owner of SweetMeets, a website for sugar daddies in search of college-age sugar babies. Police investigators uncover an eye-witness who saw Miguel’s uncle at the scene. They find his fingerprints on the murder weapon, and they dig up a connection to the victim that he was anxious to keep buried.

But Miguel’s uncle isn’t the only resident of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin with something to hide. As Leah and Miguel hunt for the real killer, they’re faced with half-truths and outright lies from local citizens desperate to keep their own secrets under wraps. In her most complex investigation to date, Leah must use all the smarts—and smart-assery—she has to find the killer’s true identity. When she does, everything comes together in a tense climax that tests her courage and reveals that she’s been keeping a few things secret from herself.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Himmel River Press
Publication Date: November 2017
Number of Pages: 362
ISBN: 1979009821 (ISBN13: 9781979009829)
Series: Leah Nash Mysteries #4 (Each is a Stand Alone Mystery)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

The late-afternoon sun shone with a fierce light that set the autumn reds and yellows of the leaves on fire. I had passed the construction and congestion around Madison, and I was almost home on that almost perfect October day. I rolled down the car windows, turned up the music, and sang my heart out to Adele, Aretha, and yes, it’s true, the Backstreet Boys. Don’t judge.

I was eager to get back to my small-town home—Himmel, Wisconsin, after a pretty grueling two weeks in Michigan. I had been thrust into the role of primary caregiver for my Aunt Nancy, after she took a tumble from the stage during an energetic dance number in her local theater group’s production of Grease. Normally, her husband, or my mother, or her daughter would have stepped in. But Uncle Jeff was on a fishing trip at some remote camp in Canada, and Aunt Nancy refused to ruin it for him. My mother was on a cruise, and my cousin Rowena was giving birth in Texas.

Enter me, Leah Nash, devoted niece, former reporter, current true crime writer, and unlikely home health care aide. I love my Aunt Nancy, but, sadly, I don’t have a big reserve of tender-loving care to draw from. And Aunt Nancy, it turns out, doesn’t have a big reserve of patience for forced immobility, cabin fever, and a steady diet of grilled cheese, Honey Nut Cheerios, and spaghetti. When I tried to vary the menu one night by making Cornish game hens, a favorite of Aunt Nancy’s, it just underscored my domestic deficiencies. They were in the oven a little long—well, maybe, a lot long. After I served them, Aunt Nancy started calling me “Baby Jane,” and asking me where her parakeet was.

When Uncle Jeff finally got home, both she and I were relieved. I flew out the door on a flurry of hugs, kisses, thanks, and don’t-mention-its almost before he set his suitcase down. My tour of duty in the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was over. Himmel may not be a metropolis, but at least we don’t have wolves in our backyard. And bears. I don’t even want to talk about the bears.

The thought of sleeping in my own bed, in my own apartment, made me giddy as I neared home. If I had known it was the last time I’d feel unfettered joy for quite some time, I would’ve reveled in it more.

* * *

“Leah! When you get back?”

“Hi, Mrs. Schimelman, just now. I’m starving, so you’re my first stop. What’s good today?”

Clara Schimelman owns the Elite Café and Bakery just a short distance from my apartment. She’s a friendly, gray-haired woman in her late sixties. Her large, comfortable frame is testament to the delicate pastries and delicious sandwiches she serves. The Elite, with its rickety old tables, squeaky wooden floor, and uncomfortable small chairs, is a Himmel favorite.

“Is all good,” she said with justifiable complacency. “I make you döner kebap. Is a new menu item I bring back from Berlin. Pita bread, roasted turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, chili flakes, garlic-yogurt sauce. It’s the bomb.” Mrs. Schimelman, a fixture in town for more than 30 years, still retains a strong German accent, but she loves her American slang—though she generally runs a few years behind.

“Sounds perfect,” I said. “So, what’s been going on?” I asked, as she turned to assemble the sandwich.

Over her shoulder she answered, “You haven’t talked to no one?”

“No. Most of the time I couldn’t get a signal on my phone, and my aunt’s internet connection was so slow, I couldn’t stand it. I texted a couple of times with Coop and Miguel, but that’s about it. Why, did something happen?”

At that moment, the bell over the door tinkled and a frazzled looking mother with three rambunctious little boys came through the door.v“Coffee, just a really dark, really big cup of coffee, please, Mrs. Schimelman. Boys, one cookie choice. And don’t forget please and thank you.”

“Hey, Lanette, how are you?”

Lanette Howard is my mother’s across-the-street neighbor.

“Leah, hi. Sorry, did we just barge in on your order? Dylan, don’t lick the display case. Marcus, stop pinching Arlo.” As she spoke, she deftly separated two of her children and swiped at the remains of Dylan’s tongue print on the front of the case. “I’m so sorry, Mrs. Schimelman. If you have a cloth and some spray, I’ll wipe that off. And please, go ahead, get Leah’s order.”

“No, that’s OK, you go ahead. I’ll just take a look at the paper and catch up.” A copy of the Himmel Times Weekly sat on the counter, and I grabbed it and moved to a nearby table.

“Thank you. It’s probably better for everyone if we get out as quick as possible. How’s your aunt doing? And when’s your mother due back?” The boys, having made their selections, were vibrating with anticipation as Mrs. Schimelman reached into the display case with practiced hand and scooped up their choices in thin, white bakery tissue paper. There was a moment of buyer’s remorse while one changed his order, and the other wailed because his brother was “copying.” Lanette sighed and said, “I know, sugar is a bad idea, but I had to have a coffee and I couldn’t bring them into this divine bakery and not let them have a cookie.”

“Hey, you’ll get no argument from me. Aunt Nancy is doing pretty well. Mom will be back Tuesday or Wednesday. I can’t remember which. Anything going on in the old neighborhood?”

She looked surprised for a second and said, “In the neighborhood? No, but—Marcus, that’s it. Hand over the cookie. You may be able to get it after dinner, if you can ride home without picking at your little brother. I’m sorry, Leah, I have to get these monsters out of here.” She managed to pay Mrs. Schimelman, grab her coffee, and wrangle her crew out the door without spilling, dropping, or losing anything—or anyone. I stand in awe of Lanette’s multitasking skills.

I half-expected Mrs. Schimelman to share her views on parenting with me after they left. She’s as generous with her opinions as she is with her portions, but she was busying herself slicing turkey and getting out condiments. I opened the paper and scanned the headlines. Trick or treat hours had been set by the city council; a car had fallen into a sinkhole on Maple Street; a potbellied pig was used to assault a man in a domestic dispute; and Mrs. Hanson’s first grade class had participated in a trip to the zoo in Madison. A busy week, indeed.

I turned to the inside pages and checked the obituaries. It’s an old habit I can’t seem to break. My first assignment at my first newspaper, which happened to be the Himmel Times Weekly, was to write the obituaries. I’d envisioned covering police news, or at least a lively city council meeting—not dull, dead people stuff. When I had balked, my boss brought me up short.

“Every obituary is the story of a person’s life. It’s their final story. It’s something their families keep, and reread, and pass on. It’s a marker for their memories. It’s not a throwaway job. You need to do it right, and you need to can the attitude. Understand?”

I did. Ever since then, I’ve never been able to put aside a newspaper without at least scanning the obituaries as a small way of paying respect to all those life stories. As I looked through them, one notice surprised me. I put the paper aside and saw that my sandwich was ready.

“Mrs. Schimelman, what happened to Duane Stanton? It says he died suddenly. Heart attack?”

“Oh, ja. Terrible that was. No heart attack. He fell from that bird-watching place. Watching birds. It’s crazy.” She shook her head.

“That’s awful. He was a quirky guy, but I got a kick out of him. What do I owe you?”

“$4.50. And I give you pumpkin walnut cookie for free. Welcome home.”

* * *

I pulled into the parking lot behind my apartment and was just hauling my suitcase out, when a familiar voice called to me.

“Leah, what are you doing here?”

“I live here, Courtnee, remember?”

“I thought you were fishing in Canada with your grandma.”

It was typical of Courtnee Fensterman, a self-absorbed blonde who never really pays attention to anything that doesn’t center on her, to mash half-heard information into her own particular version of fake news.

“I was in Michigan taking care of my aunt.” I yanked the suitcase out and shut the door. Then I pulled the handle up, ready to head inside the back door to my loft.

“Aren’t you even going to ask me what I’m doing here on a Saturday?” Her pretty but vapid face had taken on a frown, and her blue eyes held reproach. I noticed then that she had a cardboard box in her arms.

“OK, I’ll bite. What are you doing here?”

“Well.” She paused and shifted the box, then handed it to me. “Could you hold this for a minute? It’s really heavy.”

Reflexively, I grabbed it, looked down and saw that it appeared to contain the vast make-up collection Courtnee kept in her desk drawer, along with some framed photos, at least half of the pens owned by the Himmel Times Weekly, and several boxes of Junior Mints.

“What are you doing, moving out?”

“Duh. Yes. Keep up, Leah.”

“Wait, what?” Courtnee leaving had long been my dream when I still worked at the Times. It seemed unfair that it should happen after I left.

“Rebecca is just so mean. I’m not, like, her personal slave. ‘Courtnee, you’re late! Courtnee, this message makes no sense. Courtnee, you can’t close the office to get your hair highlighted. Courtnee, the conference room isn’t your personal party place!’ Like anything is ever a party around here. My mom said I shouldn’t have to take that kind of thing. So, I finally quit.”

I wasn’t shocked that Mrs. Fensterman seemed to share Courtnee’s view that slavery on the job consisted of performing duties in a timely, accurate and professional manner. She had to develop her skewed vision somewhere. But it did surprise me that her mother had encouraged her to leave a paying position. It’s not like Courtnee’s job skills would open the door to many careers.

“Wait, wait, wait. You quit your job? What are you going to do?”

She tilted her head and rolled her eyes the way she does when she thinks I’ve said something especially lame.

“I’m already doing it. I’m a secretary or something in the Public Safety department at Himmel Tech. My Uncle Lou got me the job. Rebecca didn’t even give me a goodbye party or a gift or anything. And then she calls me today and says to come and get the rest of my stuff because the new girl needs the drawer space or something. Like, I’ve been busy, right? You’d think getting married might make her feel happy and be a little nice. But no. She’s still a biatch.”

I felt a fleeting frisson of sympathy for Himmel Technical College, but I was more interested in the last bit of information Courtnee had dropped in. I handed the box back to her, then leaned my face in close so she’d have to focus on me. I had to see if this was real news, or fake. “Courtnee, are you saying Rebecca is married? Who to?”

Rebecca Hartfield and I had clashed at our first meeting, and things had gone downhill from there. She was dispatched by A-H Media, the hedge fund that had bought the Himmel Times a year or so ago, to bring their latest purchase into line. Which, as far as I could see, meant squeezing every drop of profit out of the paper until A-H Media shut it down or sold its dried, dead husk. There’s a reason I refer to it as Ass-Hat Media.

“Well, Coop, of course. They got married last week.”

***

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

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!

 

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 Susan Hunter. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on July 2, 2018 and runs through July 14th, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Jul 032018
 

The Body In The Ballroom by R.J. Koreto Banner

The Body in the Ballroom

by R.J. Koreto

on Tour July 1-31, 2018

Synopsis:

The Body in the Ballroom by R.J. Koreto

President Teddy Roosevelt’s daring daughter, Alice, leaps into action to exonerate a friend accused of poisoning a man just about everyone hated.

Alice Roosevelt, the brilliant, danger-loving daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, has already risked an assassin’s bullet to solve one murder. She never expected to have to sleuth another, but she’d never pass up the opportunity, either. Anything to stave off boredom.

And such an opportunity presents itself when Alice is invited to a lavish ball. The high-society guests are in high spirits as they imbibe the finest wines. But one man, detested by nearly all the partygoers, quaffs a decidedly deadlier cocktail. An African-American mechanic, who also happens to be a good friend of former Rough Rider-turned-Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair, is suspected of the murder-by-poison, but Alice is sure he’s innocent and is back on the scene to clear his name.

From downtown betting parlors to uptown mansions, Alice and Agent St. Clair uncover forbidden romances and a financial deal that just might change the world. But neither Alice nor her would-be protector may survive the case at hand in The Body in the Ballroom, R. J. Koreto’s gripping second Alice Roosevelt mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 12th 2018
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 1683315774 (ISBN13: 9781683315773)
Series: Alice Roosevelt Mystery #2
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Author Bio:

R.J. Koreto

R.J. Koreto has been fascinated by turn-of-the-century New York ever since listening to his grandfather’s stories as a boy.

In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. He’s a graduate of Vassar College, and like Alice Roosevelt, he was born and raised in New York.

He is the author of the Lady Frances Ffolkes and Alice Roosevelt mysteries. He has been published in both Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He also published a book on practice management for financial professionals.

With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

 

Q&A with R.J. Koreto

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

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

Both! This book uses real-life characters in fictional situations and even some fictional characters are based on actual historical figures. Immigration and race—very much in the news today—was also a huge issue 100 years ago. I hoped to bring some perspective to the discussions by showing Irish, Jewish and African-American New Yorkers trying to find their place in a changing America at the turn of the century.

But it’s not all serious! I have the 18-year-old Alice Roosevelt throwing some jealous hissy fits when her bodyguard, ex-Rough Rider Joseph St. Clair, starts showing an interest in a woman journalist. Alice would never admit to an attraction for the handsome cowboy, who just sees her as a little sister anyway, but that doesn’t mean she wants another woman to have him. I have a friend who had a very jealous girlfriend many years ago, so those scenes practically wrote themselves.

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 basics of “whodunit” from the beginning. I know who committed the murder even as I write the first paragraph. It’s like erecting a scaffold, and then putting in the bricks one by one. If you don’t have a plan, you find yourself going in directions that take you nowhere.

The tricky part is adding all the people who could have done it, to keep the reader puzzled.

But I try to remain flexible, too. Sometimes when they’re down on paper, plotlines are less interesting than they were in my head, while other possibilities present themselves.

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

I’ve long been a journalist, and the character of society reporter Felicia Meadows was based on some journalists I’ve known over the years. The newspaper business has long been male-dominated, even many years after my book takes place, and women were often pushed into what were considered appropriate topics for women, like society gossip and fashion. So I had a lot of fun creating Miss Meadows, imaging how tough and bright she’d have to be to make it in those times as she tries to get herself a frontpage story.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I usually write evening and weekends, and I don’t like it if it’s too quiet. Music or TV in the background is necessary. And soda, with lots of ice. I drink way too much diet Coke.

Tell us why we should read this book.

It really comes down to relationships. This may be too much of a blanket statement, but I think it’s largely true that although readers like a clever plot and a relatable theme, they really want engaging characters who play off his each other well. I have the 30-year-old Wyoming-native Joseph St. Clair, whose formal schooling ended at 14, and who has been a cowboy, deputy sheriff, Rough Rider, and now Secret Service agent guarding Alice Roosevelt. She, meanwhile, is only 18, born to great wealth and privilege in New York City. One reviewer commented that the two of them are continually fascinated with each other, as they try to understand each other’s way of looking at the world, and that’s the relationship that keeps the reader interested.

My model was Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin. They are utterly different and struggle to understand each other, but you can’t imagine them without each other. They can hardly function without each other.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Such a wide range. I used to read a lot of science fiction, especially Isaac Asimov, who was capable of such breathtaking visions.

Among classic mystery stories, I like Rex Stout for his witty dialog and rich characterization; Agatha Christie for her brilliant plotting skills; and Georges Simenon, who could set a scene like nobody else.

What are you reading now?

I just finished “City of Lies,” by Victoria Thompson, an author who excels at portraying strong, independent women in historical periods. I’ve been a fan of her older “Gaslight Mystery” series and this new series is off to a terrific start. She has long been an inspiration to me.

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

I’m very excited about my next project, which is the most ambitious book I’ve tried writing. In Victorian England, young police constable Alan Heath, in a rural village, comes across the brutally murdered body of the Earl’s daughter, a young woman he’s known his whole life. On and off for over 30 years Heath tries to solve the murder in a career that takes him to London and India and the battlefields of World War I. Only on the eve of his retirement, as a high-ranking detective at Scotland Yard in the 1920s, does Heath finally pull it all together. Over the years, we see him change, England change, and the Earl’s family decline in the war’s aftermath, as if the unsolved murder has cursed them.

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

That’s always a tough one! Emma Watson, who played Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, might make a good Alice. She doesn’t really resemble Alice but I think she could do a great job with Alice’s imperious tone.

For Agent St. Clair, a young Paul Newman would’ve been great. St. Clair provides a lot of humor in the book, and Newman could do comedy very well.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
In addition to writing, my wife and I like taking our Yellow Labrador Retriever, Rose, for long walks.

Favorite meal?
My wife makes a winter dish of pan-fried porkchops with apples. With a cold beer on the side, there’s nothing better.

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

 

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

 

Read an excerpt:

President Roosevelt and I were just finishing out talk when A moment later, the office door opened, and Mr. Wilkie, the Secret Service director, walked in. I stood to greet him.

“St. Clair. Glad to see you’re back. Very pleased with the way it went in St. Louis.” He turned to the president. “Have you spoken to him yet, sir?”

“Yes, and he’s agreed.” Wilkie looked relieved, too.

“Very good then. If you’re done, sir, I’ll take St. Clair to her. My understanding is that arrangements have been made for Miss Roosevelt to leave tomorrow afternoon.”

“Exactly. We’re all done then. St. Clair, thanks again. And I’ll be up in the near future, so I expect to see you again soon.” We shook hands, and I followed Mr. Wilkie out the door.

“Is she smoking on the roof again, sir?” I asked. That’s what happened the first time I met Alice in the White House.

He grimaced. “No. My understanding is that she is in the basement indulging a new hobby of hers. But you’ll see.” He led me downstairs, and that’s when I heard the unmistakable sounds of gunfire. Mr. Wilkie didn’t seem worried, however. “Miss Roosevelt somehow got hold of a pistol and has set up her own private firing range in a storage room. We launched an investigation to figure out how Miss Roosevelt obtained such a weapon but were unable to reach a formal conclusion, I’m sorry to say.”

No wonder they wanted me back.

And just as when Mr. Wilkie had sent me to get Alice off the roof, he once again cleaned his glasses on his handkerchief, shook my hand, wished me luck, and departed.

I heard one more shot, and that was it. She was probably reloading. The sound came from behind a double door at the end of the hallway. I carefully opened it, and she didn’t notice at first.

I watched her concentrating on the pistol, her tongue firmly between her teeth as she carefully focused on reloading. It was an old Smith & Wesson single-action, and she was damn lucky she hadn’t blown her own foot off. She was shooting at a mattress propped against the far wall, and from the wide scattering of holes, it was clear her marksmanship needed a lot of practice.

“A little more patience, Miss Alice. You’re jerking the trigger; that’s why you keep shooting wild. And that gun’s too big for you.”

It was a pleasure to see the look of shock and joy on her face. She just dropped the gun onto a box and practically skipped to me, giving me a girlish hug. “Mr. St. Clair, I have missed you.” She looked up. “And I know you have missed me. They say you’re back on duty with me. We’re heading to New York tomorrow, and we’ll have breakfast together like we used to and walk to the East Side through Central Park and visit your sister Mariah.”

I couldn’t do anything but laugh. “We’ll do all that, Miss Alice. But I’m on probation from your aunt, so we have to behave ourselves. You have to behave yourself.”

“I always behave.” She waved her hand to show that the discussion had ended. “Now there must be a trick to loading revolvers because it takes me forever.”

“I’ll teach you. Someday.” I made sure the revolver was unloaded and stuck it in my belt. Then I scooped up the cartridges and dumped them in my pocket.

“Hey, that’s my revolver,” said Alice. “It took me a lot of work to get it.”

“You’re not bringing it to New York, that’s for sure, Miss Alice.”

She pouted. “I thought you’d relax a little after being in St. Louis.”

“And I thought you’d grow up a little being in Washington. You want to walk into the Caledonia like a Wild West showgirl? Anyway, don’t you have some parties to go to up there?”

“Oh, very well. But promise me you’ll take me to a proper shooting range in New York and teach me how to load and fire your New Service revolver.”

“We’ll see. Meanwhile, if you don’t upset your family or Mr. Wilkie between now and our departure tomorrow, I’ll buy you a beer on the train.” That made her happy.

We walked upstairs as she filled me in on White House gossip.

“Oh, and I heard you were in a fast draw in St. Louis and gunned down four men.” She looked up at me curiously.

“A little exaggeration,” I said. I hadn’t killed anyone in St. Louis, hadn’t even fired my revolver, except for target practice.

“You didn’t kill anyone?” she asked, a little disappointed.

“No. No one.”

But then her face lit up. “Because your reputation proceeded you, and they knew there was no chance of outdrawing you.”

“That must be it,” I said.

“But look on the bright side,” she said, still full of cheer. “New York is a much bigger city. Maybe you’ll get a chance to shoot someone there.”

***

Excerpt from The Body in the Ballroom by R.J. Koreto. Copyright © 2018 by R.J. Koreto. Reproduced with permission from R.J. Koreto. 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 R.J. Koreto. There will be 3 winners of three (3) Amazon.com Gift Cards. The giveaway begins on July 1, 2018 and runs through August 1, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours