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THE MADNESS OF MERCURY by Connie di Marco | #Showcase #Interview #Giveaway

The Madness Of Mercury by Connie di Marco Banner

 

 

The Madness of Mercury

by Connie di Marco

December 1-31, 2020 Tour

Synopsis:

The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti’s life is turned upside down when she becomes a target of the Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The Reverend, a recently-arrived cult preacher, is determined to drive sin from the city, but his gospel of love and compassion doesn’t extend to those he considers an “abomination unto the Lord.” Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, has put her at the top of the Reverend’s list. While the powerful Mercury-ruled preacher woos local dignitaries, his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence not just Julia, but anyone who stands in his way.

Driven out of her apartment in the midst of a disastrous Mercury retrograde period, she takes shelter with a client who’s caring for two elderly aunts. One aunt appears stricken with dementia and the other has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. To add to the confusion, a young man claiming to be a long-lost nephew arrives. The longer he stays, the more dangerous things become. One aunt slides deeper into psychosis while the other disappears. Is this young man truly a member of the family? Can astrology confirm that? Julia’s not sure, but one thing she does know is that Mercury wasn’t merely the messenger of the gods – he was a trickster and a liar as well.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: October 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 268
ISBN: 0578752654 (ISBN13: 9780578752655)
Series: Zodiac Mystery #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Connie di Marco

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series will be re-released in October 2020.

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 Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Q&A with Connie di Marco

What was the inspiration for this book?

The initial inspiration for this story was the history of Jim Jones and the People’s Temple in San Francisco. I was living in the city at the time of Jones’ fame and was horrified when news of the mass murders in the jungle and the shooting of a California Congressman and others broke.
But it was the mythology of Mercury that made this story come together. Mercury was a messenger of the gods, but he also represented much darker concepts. He ruled over crossroads, he escorted the dead on their final journey, and on top of all that, he was a liar and a trickster. Jones was a silver-tongued preacher, undoubtedly with a powerful Mercury in his chart, powerful enough to convince others to follow him and give up autonomy over their own lives. He used his ‘Mercury gifts’ to control others. My evil preacher, the Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle, is just as evil but perhaps a little less mad.

What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?

Oddly enough, while writing the Zodiac series and waiting and hoping my agent would be able to sell these books, I was offered a three-book deal from Penguin to write a cozy series. It was about the last thing I ever expected. So there I was, an unpublished writer, faced with completing three books for one of the biggest publishers. Could I produce something acceptable? Hopefully, something much more than acceptable? I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. I had signed a contract. Fear is a great motivator, so convincing myself that I could actually do this was probably my biggest challenge and a great learning experience.

What do you absolutely need while writing?

I need absolute focus, complete quiet, no music and best of all no interruptions. I think that’s why I’ve always written at night. The house is quiet, the phone stops ringing, there’s no place I need to go. Sometimes all of that is impossible, but I do my best to achieve it. I think we write best when we can step into our stories completely and feel like our characters are real people. After all, we live with them for such a long time while we write.

Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?

With my first series, the Soup Lovers’ Mysteries, I was under a contract that required submitting each finished manuscript every eight months. I had to stick to a routine. I’d write from about 9 PM to 11 or midnight, as long as my brain would work. On weekends, I’d put in anywhere from three to six hours of writing.

Now that I’m not under such a tight schedule, I have a lot more freedom. The truth of the matter is that in the process of writing a book, I’m haunted. The story nags me and takes over my brain until I reach the end of my first draft. Once that first draft is finished, I breathe a little easier. There’s still a lot of work to do, but by then I feel I have something solid to work with.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

I think Jack, Lucky’s grandfather in the Soup Lovers’ series, pops into my mind first. Jack’s a loving but eccentric elderly man, a Navy vet, who suffers from episodes of PTSD. Jack tells time by the bells and only Lucky can interpret. He calls the walls the bulkhead and the floors, the deck. Without thinking of it consciously, I created an amalgam of my dear dad and my ex-father-in-law. So, Jack’s still my favorite in that series.

In the Zodiac Mysteries, I’ve had a lot of fun creating unusual characters, like Zora, the cranky psychic, and Nikolai, the Russian past-life regression hypnotist. I love them all, but if I have to pick just one, I’d say Kuan Lee. Kuan is an old friend of Gloria, Julia’s grandmother. He lives in the first floor apartment of Gloria’s house and practices Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Julia considers him family. He’s always there to give her good advice, to help her see problems or crimes from a different perspective and Julia’s grateful for his advice. He’s a Yoda figure who can shift the paradigm of the story.

Who is your least favorite character from your book and why?

Least favorite character in Madness? Okay, I’ve got it. It’s Gudrun, the companion of the elderly ladies on Telegraph Hill. She’s a larger than life woman, surly, taciturn, who speaks with a German accent and tries to control the household. She’s been hired to look after the elderly aunts, but in reality, she’s committed to the forces of darkness. I can’t say much more about Gudrun, it would be a spoiler.
I love all my characters, especially the bad ones! I think you have to get into the head of villains as much as sleuths. And with certain exceptions, I’ve made the killer or killers sympathetic characters. The exploration of what would cause someone to take a human life is one of the more fascinating things about crime writing – whether a thriller or a culinary cozy. Even the bad guys have reasons for what they do.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?

I like to use locations that I know personally, particularly locations that could be threatening or chilling at the right time of day or night. I try to imagine how they would work in a crime story. Chrissy Field, an old military installation, now updated as a beautiful park with modern facilities, would be a good place to find a body at night in the fog. In the next book in the series, the murderer attempts to use the currents under the Golden Gate Bridge to dispose of bodies. Most physical addresses in the books don’t really exist, but Julia’s apartment does. It’s real. I know because I used to live there.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I just hope my readers will be entertained and enjoy the stories. And best of all, want to come back for more.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born in Boston. I grew up there and went to school there. I majored in biology in college and worked as a lab technician until I realized I didn’t want to spend my life in a lab, so I changed my major to English lit, the quickest way to escape college. My real love was always acting. As a kid, I worked with Boston Children’s Theatre and then years later, on the west coast, returned to that professionally. I’ve always held a day job, but I’ve spent years working in TV for the most part. One day, I was on a set, chatting with one of the assistant directors about stories and films and I realized I was creatively bored. That’s when I decided to try to write a mystery – just one, that was my goal. And look what happened! Here I am, still writing.

What’s next that we can look forward to?

Next up is Book 2 in the series, All Signs Point to Murder. Because these first three books are being re-released by my new publisher, they’ll be coming out very quickly. All Signs will be released on December 1st. Book 3, Tail of the Dragon should be out about a month after that.

Then a novella, Enter a Wizard, Stage Left, will be released in e-book format. That story is set before the series actually begins and the action of the story takes place at a theater production of an Agatha Christie play and of course, there’s a murder! Then finally, Book 4, Serpent’s Doom, will be out. Book 5 is finished but needs a bit more work and I guess then I’ll start thinking about Book 6.

Catch Up With Connie di Marco:

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

 

Read an excerpt:

“Thank God you’re there.” Gale sounded very shaky.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m at the Mystic Eye. Something very strange just happened. I heard a knock at the back door. I thought it might be you.”

“Are you alone?”

“Yes. I closed up and sent Cheryl home. When I opened the door . . . oh God, Julia. Someone left a dead cat on the doorstep.”

I cringed. “I’ll be right there.”

“I’m sorry. You don’t need to come. I wrapped it up and put it in plastic in the dumpster. It looked like its neck had been broken.”

“Don’t argue. I’ll be there in twenty minutes. Less than that.”

I drove the length of California Street as fast as I could, slowing at each red light. Once I was sure no other cars were crossing I ran through several intersections. When I reached the Eye the shop was closed but the display lights were on in the front windows. I pulled down the alleyway and parked next to Gale’s car. I tapped on the door. “Gale, it’s me.” She opened the door immediately. The storeroom was dark. A stack of empty boxes and packing materials stood against the wall. Inside, the only light was a small desk lamp in the office.

Gale is tall and self-assured with a regal bearing. Tonight she was completely shaken. She hugged her arms, more from fright than from cold. “I feel bad now that I’ve called you. I was just so freaked out. I recognized the cat, it was the little gray one that hangs out behind the apartment building next door. I think it’s a stray. Everyone around here feeds it, even the restaurant people, and it’s such a friendly little thing. Some sick bastard probably gave it some food and then snapped its neck. God, I think I’m going to be sick.”

“Shouldn’t you call the cops?”

“And tell them what? I found a dead cat? Please. Like they’d listen. Even if they thought someone had killed it, what could they do?”

“It shows a pattern of harassment. Might be worth making a report.”

She sighed. “Yeah. You’re probably right. I just wasn’t thinking straight. I was so upset.” She collapsed in the chair behind her desk.

I shrugged out of my coat. “Why are you here so late?”

“We just got a huge shipment of books and supplies in. Cheryl’s been working late every night so I sent her home. I had just finished stacking the boxes in the storeroom.” Gale shivered involuntarily. “Look, let’s get out of here. Have you eaten? Why don’t we go up the block and grab some food? Actually a drink sounds even better.”

“Okay.”

“Get your coat. We can leave the cars here and walk. I’ll just get my purse.”

I headed to the front door and checked that the locks were all in place. The drapes separating the display windows from the shop were drawn for privacy. Gale left the desk lamp on in the office and walked out to the front counter. As she reached under the counter for her purse, we heard glass breaking. Then I saw a flash of flame through the doorway to the back storeroom. I screamed. The empty boxes and packing materials had caught fire in an explosive flash. The smoke alarm started to ring, filling the shop with earsplitting sound. Using my coat like a blanket, I dropped it over the center of the flaming pile. It wasn’t going to be enough, but I had to do something before the entire storeroom went up, if not the building.

***

Excerpt from The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco. Copyright 2020 by Connie di Marco. Reproduced with permission from Connie di Marco. 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 Connie di Marco. There will be two (2) winners each receiving one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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THIRD DEGREE by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara, & Charles Salzberg | #Showcase #Giveaway

Third Degree

by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara, & Charles Salzberg

on Tour October 1 – November 30, 2020

Synopsis:

Third Degree by Ross Klavan, Tim O'Mara, & Charles Salzberg

”Cut Loose All Those Who Drag You Down”:

A crooked reporter who fronts for the mob and who’s been married eight times gets a visit from his oldest friend, a disgraced and defrocked shrink. The man is in deep trouble and it’s clear somebody is going to pay with his life.

”Beaned”:

After smuggling cigarettes, maple syrup, and coffee, Aggie discovers a much more sinister plot to exploit what some consider a precious commodity: the trafficking of under-aged children for the purposes of sex.

”The Fifth Column”:

Months after America’s entry into World War II, a young reporter uncovers that the recently disbanded German-American Bund might still be active and is planning a number of dangerous actions on American soil.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: October 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-1-64396-162-0
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt from ”The Fifth Column” by Charles Salzberg:

I met with the managing editor, Bob Sheldon, and then he handed me over to Jack Sanders, the chief of the metro desk. Both nice guys. Both came from the same mold that gave us Dave Barrett and Bob Doering, my Litchfield bosses. I walked out of there thinking I’d done pretty good. As much as I hated to admit it, I think they were impressed with my having gradu- ated from Yale. “We don’t get many Ivy Leaguers wanting to work here,” the managing editor said. “I’d be happy to be the first,” I replied. And that was true.

That afternoon, it was the Herald Tribune’s turn and I didn’t think went quite as well. I could tell they were looking for someone a little older, a little more experienced. And I was sure my nerves showed, not especially what you want when you’re trying to impress someone and convince them you’re the right man for the job.

That morning, as I was leaving for my interviews, my aunt asked what I’d like for dinner. “I’m sure you could use a home- cooked meal,” she said, then started to probe me for my favor- ite foods.
“No, no, no,” I said. “I’m taking you out for dinner…”

“I appreciate it, Jakey, but you really don’t have to do that.” “Are you kidding? I want to do it. And believe it or not, they actually pay me for what I do at the paper. So, I’ve got money burning a hole in my pocket and what better way to spend it than taking my favorite aunt out to dinner. Just think about where you’d like to go. And do not, under any circumstances, make it one of the local luncheonettes. If I report back to my mom that that’s where I took you, she’d disown me.”

“You choose, Jakey. After all, you’re the guest.”

I got back to my aunt’s around 3:30. She was out, so I decided to catch a quick nap. I was beat, having been up before five that morning, meaning I got maybe three fitful hours of sleep. And even the excitement of being back in the big city didn’t keep my eyelids from drooping. And I had no trouble falling asleep, despite the sound of traffic outside the window.

I was awakened by the sound of Aunt Sonia unlocking the door. I looked at the clock. It was 5:30 p.m. I got up, straightened myself out, and staggered into the living room just as she was headed to the kitchen carrying two large paper bags filled with groceries.
“Remember,” I said, “we’re going out for dinner.”

“Are you sure, Jakey,” she said as I followed close at her heels into the kitchen.

“One-hundred percent sure. Here, let me help you put those things away.” She smiled. “You won’t know where to put them,” she said as she placed both bags down on the kitchen table.

“You think with all the time I spent here as a kid I don’t know where the milk, eggs, bread, flour, and everything else goes? And even if I didn’t, I’m a reporter, remember? I think I can figure it out.”

“I’m sorry, Jakey. I guess I can’t get the little kid out of my mind. I’ll put this bag away, you put away the other.”

“So, what’s new around here, Aunt Sonia?” I asked as I ferried eggs and milk to the icebox.

“New?”

“I mean, it’s not the same old Yorkville, is it?”

“I’m not sure what you mean, Jakey.”

“You do read the papers, don’t you? We’re at war with Germany, Italy, and Japan. This is Yorkville. It’s crawling with German-Americans, right?”

“Oh, that.”

“Yes, that.”

“I really don’t see much of a difference,” she said, stowing away the last of the groceries in the cabinet next to the stove. I got the feeling this was a subject she was not interested in dis- cussing, which made it all the more appealing to me. Maybe that accounts for my going into journalism.

“There’s got to be a little tension, doesn’t there? I mean, wasn’t there that big Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden a few years ago?”
“I don’t really pay much attention to the news, Jakey. Of course, I read everything your mother sends me that you wrote. But the news, well, it’s very upsetting.” She shook her head back and forth slowly.

“That’s putting it mildly,” I said as I pulled out a chair and sat down at the kitchen table.

“Have you decided where we’re going?” Aunt Sonia said. I could see she was still uncomfortable talking about anything having to do with the war. And then it hit me. Her son, my cousin Bobby, who was several years older than me, pushing thirty, in fact, recently enlisted and was now somewhere in Eu- rope. No wonder she was reluctant to talk about it.

“I thought the Heidelberg might be fun. I remember you taking me there as a kid. It was like one big party. I remember someone was at the piano playing these songs I’d never heard before. And this very strange music…”

She smiled. “Oom-pah music. And you were so cute. You got up and started swaying back and forth.”

My face got warm. “I don’t remember anything of the sort,” I said, embarrassed at the thought of doing something so attention-grabbing.

“You can ask your mother if you don’t believe me. But just let me change and freshen up and we’ll get going.”

***

Excerpt from ”Third Degree” by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara and Charles Salzberg. Copyright 2020 by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara and Charles Salzberg. Reproduced with permission from Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara and Charles Salzberg. All rights reserved.

 

Read an excerpt from ”Cut Loose All Those Who Drag You Down” by Ross Klavan:

There are people who don’t like to hear that I’ve been married eight times, but for myself, I don’t trust anyone who’s only been married once.

Ex-Doctor Solly had only gone to the altar a single time, but he made up for it by having an obsession with hookers and by sleeping with at least three of his patients, which is a very bad thing to do especially for a shrink, hence the “ex” in ex-doctor. Women either can’t get enough of him or they immediately sense they’re standing beside Satan and they take off. But Ex-Doctor Solly has been married this one time and that was to the last woman that I’d married and why she agreed to that, frankly, to this day, I’ve never figured out.

They’d even had a kid together. She’d never wanted kids, not with me. And Ex-Doctor Solly? To him, having a child sort of balanced out with finding a tumor who wanted toys. Maybe she had the kid to get at me. Maybe she married him to get at me. Maybe it had nothing to do with me. But here’s Ex-Doctor Solly, heaving for breath with his skinny ass in my chair and graced by the holy light of Netflix flashing across his face.

“Jesus, gimme a fucking drink already, what are you waiting for, the Messiah?”

“I only have some…”

“Fine. Wait. Hold on, wait a minute.” What’s left of my Denver edible pops open his saucer eyes; he’s turning it round and round and round. “Where’d you get this?”

“Tanya brought it back for me from…”

“Good, great, OK, easy to get more,” as the rest of the cookie is crushed into his
mouth, mercilessly, fingertips pushing, shoving. It all disappears. “ButIstill- needadrinkgivemeanythingyouhave,” he says.

“I can’t understand you, schmuck, your mouth’s so full that…”

“A DRINK!” like he’s chewing on stinging bees, forcing a swallow. “Dick! What kind of friend are you, don’t you see? This is as bad as it gets.”

I come back with his drink, fit it into his hand, and Ex-Doctor Solly then slumps and slouches and leans forward, and if he could have X-rayed the floor, he would have.

“It’s bad, Dick, really, really bad,” he says. “Not bad like all those bads before. This is, like, bad whether we say so or not.”

“I’m not lending you money.”

“Dick. I’ve killed someone.”

“You’ve…”

“NO! Wait! Did I say ‘killed someone?’ Don’t listen to me, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m in a manic state…”

A small plastic box of meds makes rattling sounds in his hand, and he pops two of
something, I don’t know what. Swallows with the scotch, leans back, and blows a breath like he’s doing his own, personal nor’easter. Let me also tell you this: he’s looking worse than lousy. Even worse now that he’s actually stepped into the room. Everything’s settled on him, all of it, settled on him like in his mind he’s sliding awake and open-eyed into the back of an empty hearse—and a cheap one at that.

“It’s not exactly that I killed someone,” Ex-Doctor Solly says. “It’s that I was around someone who was killed. I was with somebody who died. Some people think I’m responsible for this death. Even if I’m not, they’re gonna make me responsible. Do you see what I’m getting at?”

“No,” I say.

“Do you have any more dope?”

In the kitchen, I stare at my one surviving edible lying peacefully in the drawer, and I now hide that away after a weak moment, which means I was toying with the stupid idea of playing “good host.”

I call to Ex-Doctor Solly, “Nothing left, I’ll get you another drink.”

By the time I’m back to the ex-doctor, he’s shivering enough to make the ice in his scotch glass clatter.

“You’re not gonna puke, are you?”

“Probably later,” he says. “I’m mixing scotch with THC and two anti-anxiety medications. OK. I’m all right for…” he looks at his watch, takes his own pulse, nods professionally, and finishes, “…maybe the next three hours and 17 minutes. That’s my educated guess.”

***

Excerpt from ”Third Degree” by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara and Charles Salzberg. Copyright 2020 by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara and Charles Salzberg. Reproduced with permission from Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara and Charles Salzberg. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Ross Klavan

Ross Klavan

Ross Klavan has published two other noir novellas with Down and Out: “I Take Care Of Myself In Dreamland” and “Thumpgun Hitched” both in collections with Charles Salzberg and Tim O’Mara. His darkly comic novel “Schmuck” was published by Greenpoint Press in 2014. Klavan’s screenplay for the film Tigerland was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and was directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Colin Farrell. He’s written screenplays for InterMedia, Walden Media, Miramax, Paramount, A&E and TNT. As a performer, Klavan’s voice has been heard in dozens of feature films including “Revolutionary Road,” “Sometimes in April,” “Casino,” “In and Out,” and “You Can Count On Me” as well as in numerous TV and radio commercials. In other lives, he was a reporter and anchorman for WINS Radio, RKO Network and LBC (London, England) and a member of the NYC alternative art group Four Walls. He lives in New York City.

Catch Up With Ross Klavan On: Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Charles Salzberg

Charles Salzberg

Charles Salzberg, a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer, has been nominated for two Shamus Awards, for Swann’s Last Song and Second Story Man. He is the author of 5 Henry Swann novels, Devil in the Hole, called one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine, Second Story Man, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award, and his novellas Twist of Fate and The Maybrick Affair, appeared in Triple Shot and Three Strikes. His short stories have appeared in Long Island Noir (Akashic), Mystery Tribune and the crime anthology Down to the River (edited by Tim O’Mara). He is a Founding Member of New York Writers Workshop and is on the board of MWA-NY, and PrisonWrites.

Catch Up With Charles Salzberg On:

CharlesSalzberg.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Tim O'Mara

Tim O’Mara

Tim O’Mara is the Barry-nominated (he didn’t win) author of the Raymond Donne mystery novels. He’s also the editor of the short crime story anthology Down to the River, published by Down & Out Books. Along with Smoked and Jammed, Beaned completes the Aggie Trilogy.

Catch Up With Tim O’Mara On: TimOMara.net, Goodreads, BookBub, 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 Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara and Charles Salzberg. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on October 1, 2020 and runs through December 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

EYE FOR EYE TRILOGY by J.K. Franko | #Reviews #Giveaway

Eye for Eye Trilogy

by JK Franko

October 19 – December 31, 2020 Tour

Eye for Eye Trilogy by JK Franko

 

If you like smart, fast-paced thrillers with unexpected twists, then you’ll love J.K. Franko’s Eye for Eye Trilogy!

 

“REALISTIC & CHILLING!” – Mystery Thriller Week

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THE TRILOGY

5 stars

This Trilogy was phenomenal!! High octane reads!!! Both thrilling and chilling!! Outstanding!!!!

The research was extensive, whereas the reader will learn many things, at least I did. Lies, secrets, betrayals, friendships, and murder fill the pages. Don’t let the 400 pages deter you from picking up these books because it was so captivating that the pages were turning at warp speed.

An exceptional ingenious story!!! I can honestly say that these books are in the Top 10 of my all-time reads!!!!

These books should be both on the NYT Best Sellers list and/or made into a series or movie!!!! Remember his name because I am sure, you will be hearing more about him!!!

Not only do I highly recommend it, but I also suggest you put your life on hold and devour it!!!!! But then, you may not have a choice because you won’t want to miss what happens next!!

BRAVO Mr. Franko!!! BRAVO!!!!!!

MY THOUGHTS ON EACH INDIVIDUAL BOOK BELOW

 

 

 

Eye for Eye

“NEW TWIST ON STRANGERS ON A TRAIN”
~ THE SUNDAY TIMES

Roy and Susie are on a skiing holiday, trying to take a break from the constant reminders of their daughter, tragically killed by a careless driver. Out of the blue they meet Deb and Tom, another couple with a tragic past and a shocking proposal to put things right.

As the bodies accumulate, secrets are revealed and alliances crumble. Ultimate survival depends on following the rules for a perfect murder. And the first rule is… leave no singing bones.

My Thoughts On Eye For Eye

5 stars

The story starts 30 years ago in 1980 when an eleven-year-old Joan saw something shocking while she was at camp and was running to tell the adults because she knew what she saw was sinful. But she never did because a tragic and fatal accident interfered. Or was it more than just an accident?

The story then proceeds to 2018 where the reader is introduced to a married couple, Susie Font and Roy Cruise. From the outside, they have everything, the perfect marriage, wealth, and notoriety to all of their accomplishments. Or should I say had? All of that meant nothing after they lost their only child, sixteen-year-old Camilla in a fatal car accident. The other driver, Liam Bareto, hit her head on because of texting. He fell into a coma with severe injuries but the doctors thought he would survive. During this time, Susie became a shell of a person and Roy tried everything to help her through this dark time. Then a few months later, Liam also died. His mother believed it was not due to his injuries but to something more sinister.

Should life’s bad choices be an eye for an eye or should one believe in the justice system? And if there is no justice, should there be revenge? And if this route is taken, make sure there are no singing bones!

An exceptional read. With most books, the jaw-dropping usually happens at the end of the story. However, this book had multiple jaw-dropping moments throughout. There were stories within stories, each interwoven with precision. The writing fluid and sharp.

Highly, HIGHLY, recommend!!!!

 

 

The Trial of Joe Harlan Junior

A college Halloween party. A night of fun, dress-up, and laughter. But for Kristy Wise, it quickly became a night of horror.

Now, Joe Harlan Junior, entrepreneur and son of a prominent senator, is at risk of losing everything as he stands accused of a crime he insists he did not commit.

Yet the facts are undisputed: Kristy was drugged, and she did have sex with Joe.

But was it consensual?

Read the story. Listen to the testimony. Is everything that happens next justified?

YOU decide.

My Thoughts on The Trial of
Joe Harlan Junior

5 stars

This is how and when it all began. The outcome of this case set everything in motion that caused upstanding individuals to take justice, and revenge, into their own hands and become murderers.

This was a quick read. The majority was the transcript of the court proceedings and the outcome. I did feel that I was in that jury box but I’m still not sure what my verdict would have been. But then I might not have seen the silent, instantaneous reaction that the defendant gave to the victim. Would that have changed my decision?

 

Tooth for Tooth

What would YOU do?

What would you do if you got away with murder? Would you stop there? Could you?

Susie and Roy thought that they committed the perfect crime.

Their planning was meticulous. Their execution flawless.

But, there is always a loose end, isn’t there? Always a singing bone.

Now, while enemies multiply and suspicions abound, their perfect world begins to crumble.

The hunters have become the hunted.

MY Thoughts on Tooth For Tooth

5 stars

More bodies are piling up at the hands of Roy Cruise and Susie Font in the name of revenge.

In Tooth For Tooth the who, how, and why of the murders in Eye For Eye are revealed and the details are shocking and will totally surprise you. And even more jolting is that one young victim joins in the fray of vengeance.

But have this successful husband and wife, turned murderers, committed one murder too many to put themselves in the crossfire?

Tune in to Book 3, Life For Life.

Another thrilling and chilling read in this Trilogy!!!!

 

 

Life for Life

What would YOU do if someone threatened your family?

Roy Cruise and his pregnant wife Susie barely survived an assassination attempt in their own home. The police now have them under surveillance. Meanwhile, Kristy Wise is a loose cannon—she knows too much and is trying to “set things right.”

What goes around comes around. And in this case, Roy and Susie may have pushed things too far. There are too many dead bodies. Too many foes plotting against them.

Roy and Susie must outwit the police and neutralize their enemies once and for all. If not, their days of retribution may end behind bars… or six feet under.

 

My Thoughts on Life For Life

5 stars

The drama continues and like I mentioned in my review for Eye For Eye, more jaw-dropping moments. More truths are revealed and more bodies are piling up. But is it true what they say about Karma?

In Life For Life it may have just caught up with Roy Cruise as he has to make a horrendous decision. And on the tails of that, he is charged with the murder of Joe Harlan Junior. Is there a “singing bone” that will cost him his freedom?

As much as I wanted to see how this ended, as I was getting to the last few chapters in the book, I also didn’t want it to end. I was invested in these characters.

And if you heard a scream, it was me, more books are on the horizon and I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!

 

Eye for Eye Trilogy Details:

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Legal
Published by: Talion Publishing
Publication Date: October 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 1050
ASIN: B08KSCHTRX
Series: Talion Trilogy #1
Find out more or get your copy:

Amazon & Goodreads

 

 

Read an excerpt from Eye for Eye:

When I try to piece together how this whole mess began, a part of me thinks it may have started over thirty years ago. At least the seeds were planted that far back, in the early 1980s. What happened then, at that summer camp in Texas, set the stage for everything that was to come.

Odd, how something so remote in time and geography continues to impact me here, today.

Sometimes I try to imagine her, how she felt—that eleven year-old girl—as she ran, stumbling and tripping through the woods that night. I try to put myself in her shoes. When I do, I wonder if she was frightened.

Did she understand the consequences of what she’d gotten herself into? I imagine it felt otherworldly to her, like a dream. But not a good dream. No, one of the bad ones—the ones that make your heart machine-gun as you try to outrun some dark thing that’s chasing you. But the faster you try to run, the slower you go, your legs feeling leaden, clumsy, useless.

Panic sets in. Tears of frustration form. Fear takes hold and won’t let go. You open your mouth to scream but realize, to your horror, that you’re paralyzed. It’s not that you can’t scream; you can’t even breathe. Not a dream—a nightmare.

Then again, all that may simply be my imagination. It could just be me projecting what I might have felt onto Joan. Maybe she wasn’t scared at all.

True, it was dark out. The night smelled of rain, but there was no lightning, only the far-off rumble of thunder hinting at a distant storm. There were no trail lights, no visibility but for the moon peeking out intermittently from behind a patchwork of clouds. But, Joan had been down this trail before. She was running toward the main cabin.

She had been at Camp Willow for almost two full weeks. She had been up and down that trail at least ten times a day, every day. Of course, that was during the day, and always with her buddy, or a camp counselor (the children called them troop leaders). Joan had never been on the trail at night. And never alone.

Maybe I imagine Joan was scared because, as an adult, I believe that she should have been. I would have been terrified.

***

Excerpt from Eye For Eye by JK Franko. Copyright © 2019 by JK Franko. Reproduced with permission from JK Franko. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

JK Franko

J.K. FRANKO was born and raised in Texas. His Cuban-American parents agreed there were only three acceptable options for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect. After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name) and spent many years climbing the big law firm ladder. After ten years, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He went back to school where he got an MBA and pursued a Ph.D. He left law for corporate America, with long stints in Europe and Asia.

His passion was always to be a writer. After publishing a number of non-fiction works, thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight abandoned fictional works over the course of eighteen years, EYE FOR EYE became his first published novel.

J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in Florida.

Catch Up With JK Franko On:
jkfranko.com, Goodreads, Instagram, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

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Enter To Win!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for JK Franko. There will be Six (6) winners for this tour. Two (2) winners will each receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card; Two (2) winners will each receive 1 print edition of Eye for Eye, book 1 of the Talion series, by JK Franko (US and Canada Only); and Two (2) winners will each receive 1 ebook edition of Eye for Eye, book 1 of the Talion series, by JK Franko. The giveaway begins on October 19, 2020 and runs through December 21, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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  • INSIDE PASSAGE by Burt Weissbourd | #Showcase #Interview #Giveaway

    Inside Passage

    Book 1 of the Corey Logan Trilogy

    by Burt Weissbourd

    November 1-30, 2020 Tour

    Synopsis:

    Inside Passage by Burt Weissbourd

    Corey Logan was set up. She knows Nick Season’s terrible secret. Coming home from prison, all Corey wants is to be with her son. To get him back, she needs to make a good impression on the psychiatrist evaluating her. Dr. Abe Stein doesn’t believe she was framed — until his well-heeled mother falls for the charming state attorney general candidate, Nick Season. As the dogs of war are unleashed, Corey and her son run for their lives — taking her boat up the Pacific Northwest’s remote Inside Passage.

    “A stunning, fast paced thriller that took me on an intense ride and kept me on the edge of myseat the entire way through … If you love beautifully executed thrillers that will play with your mind as well as your heart, this is the book for you.” ~ Midwest Book Review

    Corey Logan Trilogy by Burt Weissbourd

    Inside Passage is the first in Weissbourd’s haunting, heart-stirring Corey Logan Trilogy.

    Click here to find out more about the Corey Logan Trilogy.

    Book Details:

    Genre: Crime Thriller
    Published by: Blue City Press
    Publication Date: October 20th 2020
    Number of Pages: 290
    ISBN: 1733438246 (ISBN13: 9781733438247)
    Series:A Corey Logan Thriller, #1 || STAND ALONE MYSTERY
    Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

    Author Bio:

    Burt Weissbourd

    Burt Weissbourd is a novelist, screenwriter and producer of feature films. He was born in 1949 and graduated cum laude from Yale University, with honors in psychology. During his student years, he volunteered at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and taught English to college students in Thailand. After he graduated, he wrote, directed, and produced educational films for Gilbert Altschul Productions. He began a finance program at the Northwestern University Graduate School of Business, but left to start his own film production company in Los Angeles. He managed that company from 1977 until 1986, producing films including Ghost Story starring Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Patricia Neal, and Raggedy Man starring Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard, which The New York Times called “a movie of sweet, low-keyed charm.” In 1987, he founded an investment business, which he still runs. Burt’s novels include the thrillers Danger in Plain Sight, The Corey Logan Trilogy (Inside Passage, Teaser and Minos), and In Velvet, a thriller set in Yellowstone National Park.

    Q&A with Burt Weissbourd

    What was the inspiration for this book?

    Writing a woman who was very capable in the wilderness, on the water, in rough neighborhoods in the city, but not very self-aware, I wanted to write about how becoming more insightful would help her realize her capacity.

    She’s a fisherwoman in Alaska, strong and capable in that wild water. She comes out of prison and has to get an evaluation by a psychiatrist in order to get her son back, and that relationship is the beginning of her path to becoming more introspective.

    What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?

    The biggest challenge so far has not been the writing, but in marketing the books. The Corey Logan Trilogy were originally published by a small, capable publishing company run by a bright publisher. He got me started, listened to me about what the books should look like, He encouraged many, many book readings and signings in LA, NYC, Chicago, Boston, Bozeman MT, Yellowstone General Stores, Seattle, and so on. He supported me to interview more than 50 people—well-known movie people, prominent Seattleites, bookstore owners, other writers, TV personalities, accomplished Seattle architects, newspaper writers, and so on for his channel on blog talk radio. I liked him; I still like him. There was one problem for me—he wasn’t selling enough books.

    Of course, anyone who knew publishing, knew that it was always possible that even if you had a great product, your publisher might not be able to sell that type of book. So, I decided to take the next, final step. I would control the final product, and for better or worse, I would decide how to sell it. So here I am, selling my new book, Danger in Plain Sight, then recovering and republishing all four of my earlier books. It’s too early to predict the outcome, but I’m hugely happy that I’m making the decisions and that my success will not depend on someone else’s product nor a hesitant or unconvinced publisher. I couldn’t be happier about the process so far, and as they say, “let the chips fall where they may.” I’m responsible. I’ll take the blame, or I’ll lead the celebration for the outcome.
    What do you absolutely need while writing?
    Free time and lack of distractions.

    Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?

    I try to write every day. I prefer a character-driven approach to writing. As a producer in Hollywood developing a screenplay, I always looked for stories with strong, complex characters and a “rich stew”—that is to say a situation with conflict, emotional intensity, and the potential to evolve in unexpected ways. That is exactly how I approach the books that I write. While some authors choose to map out their plots before all else, I choose to craft complex, unexpected characters first. From there, I write sequentially, allowing my characters to take the lead.

    The most surprising and most satisfying part of writing for me has been how characters take over when you’re writing really well and go down unexpected paths to unintended, often more complex, more satisfying outcomes than you anticipated.

    The most rewarding part of the entire writing process for me has been learning to write, rewrite, then rewrite again until I know that I’ve written precisely what I hoped for and found exactly the emotional complexity I was reaching for. And that all begins with clear, emotionally and mentally developed characters.

    Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

    My two favorite characters in Inside Passage are my protagonists, Corey and Abe. Corey is a strong woman who’s coped with painful, debilitating hardship. After serving 22 months for drug smuggling, a crime she didn’t commit, Corey Logan is finally released from a Federal Correctional Institution. All she wants now is to get her teenaged son out of foster care and make a home for the two of them in Seattle. But there’ll be a Psychiatric Evaluation first, with some shrink named Dr. Abe Stein, and assuming she gets by him, there’s the threat of Nick Season, the candidate for State Attorney General who set her up, tried to have her killed in prison, and now, more than ever, wants her out of the picture. Her problem—she can neither prove nor say what she knows, for fear of losing her son forever.

    Corey is very able in the world, but she doesn’t do well with her feelings. She doesn’t talk about her inner life. In fact, she really doesn’t see insight as the first and essential step to solving problems. She’s never had a wonderful relationship with a partner. She’s not able to sort through and understand her emotional life. She’s not able to see how to make decisions that might dramatically change the reality she’s stuck in. But everything changes for her when she meets Dr. Abe Stein. The last man that Corey could ever imagine having a relationship with is Abe Stein. He’s distracted. He sideswipes cars. He sets fires in ash trays or in waste baskets, where he carelessly throws lit matches from his pipe. He’s uneasy on her boat because he can’t swim. He misjudges her at the start, not believing that she was framed. While it is Dr. Stein whose work with Corey liberates her, it is Corey who brings Abe back to life.

    Who is your least favorite character from your book and why?

    I don’t think I have a least favorite character in this book. Even the villains, though horrifying and unlikeable, become understandable. I strive to deepen the emotional lives of all my characters to their fullest extent, so much so that I enjoy writing all my characters, protagonists and antagonists alike.

    Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?

    I’ve been a fly fisherman for many years, and I’ve been fishing up the Inside Passage. Much of those descriptions of that area are from my own experiences.

    Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

    Thank you, and I truly hope you enjoy the book.

    Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

    I came to Hollywood in 1977 to produce feature films. I was 28 years old. I didn’t know anyone in the movie business, but I’d stumbled onto a timely idea — I was going to work with, and most importantly, back screenwriters. That is to say, stand behind their work — and I say this with hindsight — protect them from being rewritten, include them in the process of choosing a director, casting the picture, all of the decisions that go into making a feature film.

    Early in my producing career, I had the privilege of working with author Ross Macdonald, a legend in crime fiction, on his only screenplay. Working with him, I began to see how characters could drive plot.

    I left Hollywood in 1987 — the golden age was over, and I wanted to write. With hindsight, the best screenplays I’d worked on never got made. Nevertheless, it was a great experience. As a producer developing a screenplay, you learn to look for stories with strong, complex characters and a “rich stew” — that is to say a situation with conflict, emotional intensity, and the potential to evolve in unexpected ways. That is exactly how I approach the books that I write. I learned how to do that as a producer working on screenplays.

    What’s next that we can look forward to?

    My next book, In Velvet, a wildlife thriller set in Yellowstone National Park, will be released in February of 2021.

    I’m also finishing a book, ROUGH JUSTICE, I started years ago. It’s also a thriller, with a wide canvas going from Hollywood in the 80s and 90s to Seattle, Chicago, Paris, Vancouver Island, and then Laos. When I finish this, I intend to write the sequel to my novel DANGER IN PLAIN SIGHT when main characters Cash and Callie are together.

    Catch Up With Burt Weissbourd:
    BurtWeissbourd.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

     

    Read an excerpt:

    “Wouldn’t you like to get married in your own backyard?”

    “Of course I would. You know that,” she snapped. “But I can’t.”

    “Why not? Because Nick Season says you can’t. You have the right to live the life you want to live. Don’t give it up for that son of a bitch. Hell no. You don’t have to do that.” Abe leaned closer. There it was, those laser-like light blue eyes. “It won’t be easy, but together, we can figure out what to do. You and I can do this. We have to.”

    “My God, what are you thinking? This isn’t like psycho-therapy.” She held his eyes. “We can’t ‘figure it out’ or ‘work on it.’ It’s not a head game. We have no evidence. Nothing. Nick’s a foolproof liar and a stone-cold killer. And he’s going to be Washington’s state attorney general.”

    “And he has to be stopped.” Abe looked into their fire. “It’s not just about what you’d have to give up … think about what he’ll do if he ever finds out that you and Billy are alive. And though you might be okay for a year, or even two, eventually, he’ll start to wonder. And then to worry. It’s who he is. You’ve told me that. And then he’ll never stop checking. He’ll have me followed. Every year, he’ll run your prints, and Billy’s, through some Canadian database. And that’s just the beginning … unless we stop him.”

    “And how do you propose to do that?”

    Abe’s bushy brows furrowed in a “V” until they almost touched. “I understand the problem now.” They touched. Corey had never seen that. Very cool. He meant business. He turned to her, full face. “To begin, I’ll comb my hair and look this devil in his shiny black eyes.”

    What? What was that? Corey was dumbstruck. Eventually, she softly mouthed, “What?” And louder, before he could answer, “Aren’t you afraid of him?”

    “He’s very frightening, and I’m painfully aware of what’s at stake. And of course I see how very dangerous he is and yes, that scares me.” He scowled. “But I have other feelings that are even stronger than my fear.”

    “What does that mean?”

    “What I’m afraid of, what keeps me up at night, is losing you. Nick wants to kill the person I love most in the world. That makes him my archenemy, my nemesis. What I feel for Nick is inexhaustible rage.” He tapped his pipe against the log, emptying it into the sand, then he carefully set it down. When he looked up, his expression had turned fierce. Abe took both of her hands. “Nick Season be damned!”

    “You’re being crazy.” She had never seen Abe like this.

    “No, I’m telling you how I feel. I want to marry you Corey. I want to live with you and Billy in Seattle. I want to go to parent night at Billy’s school. I want to take you guys to dinner at Tulio and for pizza at Via Tribunali. I want to fish at your favorite spots near Bainbridge —”

    “He’ll kill us all.” And Abe was really scaring her.

    “I have to keep that from happening.”

    “This isn’t a storybook. Nick isn’t like anyone you know. And this isn’t an insight kind of deal. Look what happened the last time you tried to help. They almost got Billy, and I had to kill someone. Look what almost happened last night. This time you and Billy and I, we could all die. Do you understand that?”

    “Yes, I do. But I won’t let that happen.”

    “Won’t let that happen?”

    “No, I won’t.”

    “How?”

    “I’m working on that. “

    “Working on it? How? You’re going to comb your hair? Look this devil in his shiny black eyes? What is that about?”

    Abe considered her question. “It’s a way of starting.”

    Corey put her head in her hands. She didn’t know what to say.

    ***

    Excerpt from Inside Passage by Burt Weissbourd. Copyright 2020 by Burt Weissbourd. Reproduced with permission from Burt Weissbourd. All rights reserved.

     

     

     

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    Enter To Win!:

    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Burt Weissbourd. There will be 5 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on November 1, 2020 and runs through December 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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    WINTER WITNESS by Tina deBellegarde | #Showcase #Interview #Giveaway

    Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde Banner

     

     

    Winter Witness

    by Tina deBellegarde

    on Tour November 1-30, 2020

    Synopsis:

    Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde

    When a beloved nun is murdered in a sleepy Catskill Mountain town, a grieving young widow finds herself at the center of the turmoil. Bianca St. Denis is searching for a job and seeking acceptance in her new home of Batavia-on-Hudson. Agatha Miller, the nun’s closest friend and the ailing local historian everyone loves to hate, shares her painful personal history and long-buried village secrets with Bianca. Armed with this knowledge, Bianca unravels the mysteries surrounding the death while dealing with the suspicions of her eccentric neighbors.

    However, Bianca’s meddling complicates the sheriff’s investigation as well as his marriage. Can Sheriff Mike Riley escape his painful past in a town where murder and infighting over a new casino vie for his attention?

    Danger stalks Bianca as she gets closer to the truth. Can the sheriff solve the mystery before the killer strikes again? Can the town heal its wounds once the truth has been uncovered?

    Book Details:

    Genre: Traditional Mystery
    Published by: Level Best Books
    Publication Date: September 29, 2020
    Number of Pages: 282
    ISBN: 978-1-947915-76-3
    Series: Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery, #1
    Purchase Links: Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads | Oblong Books and Music

     

    Author Bio:

    Tina deBellegarde

    Tina deBellegarde lives in Catskill, New York with her husband Denis and their cat Shelby. Winter Witness is the first book in the Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series. Tina also writes short stories and flash fiction. When she isn’t writing, she is helping Denis tend their beehives, harvest shiitake mushrooms, and cultivate their vegetable garden. She travels to Japan regularly to visit her son, Alessandro. Tina did her graduate studies in history. She is a former exporter, paralegal, teacher, and library clerk.

    Q&A with Tina deBellegarde

    What was the inspiration for this book?

    I moved to the Catskill Mountain region a few years back. And after a few weeks taking beautiful walks like my protagonist Bianca St. Denis does in Winter Witness I realized that there were so many places to stage a murder! I love murder mysteries and I love well-developed characters. In my new home in the Hudson Valley I had found a setting that I could be immersed in for long periods of time, as well as interesting neighbors itching to be developed into characters for my fictitious village of Batavia-on-Hudson.

    What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?

    By far the biggest challenge has been finding a way to balance work, family obligations and my writing. Before I was contracted for Winter Witness, or had any of my short stories published, I found it hard to believe my writing deserved a space. That it was okay to take time away from other important sections of my life and to give writing it’s equal share. Publication was very validating and helped me bridge that difficulty.

    What do you absolutely need while writing?

    A cup of coffee and some jazz music! It’s not absolutely true…but I prefer it that way. In fact, I have specific music I associate with certain pieces of writing. For example, Winter Witness was written while listening to Cannonball Adderley’s album Somethin’ Else. Once I started those tracks, I was immersed in my village and my story, and the writing flowed. Book 2 of the Batavia-on-Hudson series, tentatively entitled Dead Man’s Leap, is being written while listening to Workin’ by the Miles Davis Quintet.

    Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?

    I try to have a writing routine. Coffee in the morning with my husband. or some reading, some exercise and then my writing. I will write for a few hours and then move on to other demands. Nowadays, those demands are mostly promotion related, but it would normally be errands and chores. I find that as long as I am writing on a regular basis, the ideas keep flowing. Sometimes I have to shelve ideas for later because they are flowing so well. That’s one of the reasons I find reading is so important. It’s when I break from my routine that ideas get stifled. The regular writing engenders more ideas and more writing.

    Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

    Besides Bianca my protagonist, whom I know so well because I spend so much time with her, I’d have to say Lester Quirke. He’s a near centenarian. He’s a not-so-retired lawyer and owns the Bait and Tackle shop by the lake. He is fun. He is also wise and has so much insight, but he doesn’t take himself very seriously either. He’s the kind of friend everyone should have.

    Who is your least favorite character from your book and why?

    Before I decided to kill off Sister Elaine on the first page of the book, when she was scheduled to be killed later, I realized that she was the least flawed character and as a result, the least interesting. She was delightful, sweet, generous, perfect to a fault. Someone you could always count on. On the surface the most likable but the least interesting to write.

    Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?

    This wasn’t meant to be the first in the series. I had sketched out about five concepts and this one was scheduled to fall around book four. But when I analyzed the situation, this story was the most clearly imagined in my mind and therefore my strongest at that time. So I decided to develop it first. I had wanted to wait because I wanted the victim to be someone we knew more intimately before the murder. I wanted the reader to feel the impact as much as possible. In the long run, I am happy about my decision, but I still have the same desires for my writing. I don’t want my victims to go without leaving an impact.

    Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

    Keep on reading! I’ve got six stories planned out so far. I’ll keep writing if you’ll keep reading.

    Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

    I spent 17 years as a middle school foreign language teacher. Before that I was a paralegal, and before that I worked for an exporter, which necessitated trips to Paris and Morocco. I thought that was pretty wonderful at 21. (An aside to my former students: See what knowing a foreign language can do?) Most recently I worked at the Catskill Public Library which I have always said was The Best Job Ever.
    I recently did my graduate studies in history… just because.

    I have a son Alessandro who lives in Kyoto, Japan, just like Bianca’s son does. He has made an interesting life for himself there, and it has given me the opportunity to visit several times. What an amazing place. I’m in love with it! I still have family in Italy and try to get back as often as possible. Other than Italy and Japan, one of my favorite trips was a 750-kilometer bicycle trip across the north of Spain on the Camino de Santiago.

    What’s next that we can look forward to?

    I am working on Dead Man’s Leap, Book 2 of the Batavia-on-Hudson series. It will be released September 2021. It’s a story about renunciation, letting go and moving forward. I’ve really enjoyed the process of working out this book.

    Book 3, tentatively entitled Zen Fall, will release in 2022. This book has Bianca traveling to Kyoto, Japan. I can’t wait to get back there and do the research. Pay attention to my social media for my photos. Kyoto is a beautiful city.

    I’m also stealing some time to work on a collection of Japanese themed interrelated stories, as well as a novella-in-flash.

    And of course, I’m on a fabulous virtual book tour now with Partners in Crime. Check out my website for the schedule of upcoming stops. And sign up for my newsletter so you can stay up to date!

    Catch Up With Tina deBellegarde:
    tinadebellegarde.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

     

    Read an excerpt:

    CHAPTER ONE

    Thursday, December 15

    She could have been sleeping, were it not for the gaping gash in the back of her head and the bloody stone next to her limp body.

    Sheriff Mike Riley stood alone on the shore of the near-frozen lake. At his feet, Sister Elaine Fisher lay face down, ice crystals forming around her body where it met the shoreline. The murmuring water of the nearby stream imparted a peacefulness at odds with the scene. In the waning winter light, he paused ankle deep in the snow illuminated by the beat of red strobe lights.

    Murder seemed so extreme. The villagers would be baffled. Murder didn’t happen in sleepy Batavia-on-Hudson. An occasional stolen bicycle, some were paid off the books, but that was hardly worth mentioning. Lately, there had been a handful of amateur burglaries. Murder was another story altogether.

    But there was no denying it. Elaine’s body was there before him, lifeless on a cushion of snow at the edge of the lake.

    Sheriff Riley ran his chapped hands through his salt and pepper hair. A knowing person might have noticed that he used this motion to disguise a quick brush at his cheek, to eliminate the one tear that slipped through.

    He feared this day, the day his lazy job would bring him face to face once again with the ugly underbelly he knew existed even in a quiet place like Batavia-on-Hudson. Mike Riley wasn’t afraid of death. He was afraid of the transformation a village like this was bound to go through after an act of murder.

    He cried for Elaine; though he barely knew her. But also, he cried for the village that died with her that morning. A place where children still wandered freely. A village that didn’t lock doors, and trusted everyone, even the ones they gossiped about. Now, inevitably, the villagers would be guarded around each other, never quite sure anymore if someone could be trusted.

    He thought he could already hear the locks snapping shut in cars and homes as word of the murder got out. Mothers yanking children indoors, hand-in-hand lovers escaping the once-romantic shadows of the wooded pathways, and old ladies turning into shut-ins instead of walking their dogs across the windy bluff.

    Sheriff Riley steeled himself not just to confront the damaged body of the first murder victim of Batavia in over seventy years, but to confront the worried faces of mothers, the defeated faces of fathers and the vulnerable faces of the elderly.

    He squatted in the slush, wincing as his bad knee rebelled, and laid his hands on Elaine’s rough canvas jacket, two-sizes too big—one of her thrift shop purchases, no doubt. As reverently as was possible in the muddy snow, Mike Riley turned over her body to examine the face of a changing village.

    Sister Elaine had no one left, she had no known siblings and of course, no spouse or children. Only Agatha Miller, her childhood companion, could have been considered next of kin. How Elaine had tolerated her grumpy old friend was a mystery to everyone.

    The sheriff knew that Elaine’s death would rock the community. Even a relative outsider like Mike understood that Elaine had been an anchor in Batavia. Her kindness had given the village heart, and her compassion had given it soul. No one would be prepared for this.

    Mike knew from experience that preparation for death eases the grief. You start getting ready emotionally and psychologically. You make arrangements. You imagine your life without someone. But Mike also knew that when the time comes it still slaps you in the face, cold and bracing. And you realize you were only fooling yourself. Then somehow, in short order, work becomes demanding, bills need to be paid and something on the radio steals a chuckle right out of your throat. For a brief second you realize that there are moments of respite from your grief and perhaps someday those moments will expand and you may be able to experience joy once again.

    But for now, Elaine’s death will be a shock. No one had prepared for her death, let alone her murder.

    ***

    Excerpt from Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde. Copyright 2020 by Tina deBellegarde. Reproduced with permission from Tina deBellegarde. All rights reserved.

     

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    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Tina deBellegarde. There will be 6 winners. Two (2) winners will each win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card; two (2) winners will each win one (1) physical copy of Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde (U.S. addresses only); and two (2) winners will each win one (1) eBook copy of Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde The giveaway begins on November 1, 2020 and runs through December 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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    BIRD IN HAND by Nikki Stern | #Showcase #Giveaway

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    Bird in Hand

    by Nikki Stern

    on Tour November 1-14, 2020

    Synopsis:

    Bird in Hand by Nikki Stern

    When the body of popular local guide Arley Fitchett washes up onto Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Lieutenant Sam Tate, just two months at her new job, is charged with investigating his death. She learns the dead man was searching for a carving he believed had been hidden in the area by pirates in 1718. He’s not the only one. Several others shared Fitchett’s obsession with the bird with the sapphire eye. But which one of them is the murderer—or the next victim? And how long does Sam have to catch a killer before her own past catches up with her?

    The book… allows Tate to more fully come into herown as a formidable character on whose shoulders future procedurals could confidentially be placed.~ Kirkus Reviews

    Bird in Hand will have prior Sam fans and newcomers thoroughly engrossed, all the way to the unexpected end.~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

    Even better than the first…leaving this reader eager for a third.~Teri Case, author of the award-winning TIGER DRIVE

    Book Details:

    Genre: Mystery
    Published by: Ruthenia Press
    Publication Date: September 3, 2020
    Number of Pages: 289
    ISBN: 0999548743 (ISBN-13: 978-0999548745)
    Series: Sam Tate Mystery, #2
    Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

    Read an excerpt:

    “Lieutenant,” he called out. “Sorry to bring you out on such a soggy night.” He suppressed an involuntary shiver.

    “Duty calls, Deputy. You did the right thing.” She looked around. “Where’s the person who called it in?”

    McCready cleared his throat. “I’m guessing he took off.”

    She understood the young deputy’s discomfort. Poaching was a serious offense. On the other hand, the watermen who flouted the law were friends and neighbors to people with whom she worked.

    “Never mind. Let’s see what he found. Grab your flashlight.”

    Sam pulled a handheld marine searchlight out of the trunk of her cruiser.

    “You got anything specific we can use as a starting point?” she asked.

    “Dispatch said the caller mentioned sand. The shoreline is mostly rocky around here, but maybe there’s a sliver of open space right up at the point.”

    Sam pulled out her phone and pulled up Google Maps. “I see it,” she said. “We’ve got to pass between these trees and the water to get to it.”

    “Careful, then,” McCready said. “We’ll probably run into some pretty slippery going what with the mist and all.”

    They headed towards a copse of trees adjacent to the manicured lawn. Dawn hadn’t shown itself. Absent any other illumination, they relied on their beams as they picked their way over the uneven surface.

    “This is probably about the only piece of land left undeveloped around here,” McCready observed. “You wouldn’t believe how much building has gone on just in the last fifteen years.” He stumbled. “Shit! Sorry, Lieutenant.”

    “Nothing I haven’t heard before, Deputy.”

    They came upon a slip of sand about a hundred feet long and perhaps fifteen feet wide.

    There it was, a body, face up, the left arm extended over the head as if to ward off a blow. The right arm rested on the chest as if in benediction. Both hands were blackened.

    She set her searchlight down and crouched by the corpse. The beam coming from McCready’s flashlight wavered.

    “You okay, Pat?” she asked.

    She heard him swallow. The light steadied. “Yeah, it’s just that, damn, that’s Arley Fitchett.”

    “You know him?” Sam asked.

    “Everybody knows Arley Fitchett.”

    ***

    Excerpt from Bird in Hand by Nikki Stern. Copyright 2020 by Nikki Stern. Reproduced with permission from Nikki Stern. All rights reserved.

     

     

    Author Bio:

    Nikki Stern

    Nikki is the author of five books, all of which have earned critical praise. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, and Humanist Magazine as well as in three anthologies. She collaborated on a series of interactive murder mystery musicals that make up the Café Noir series, published by Samuel French.

    Catch Up With Nikki Stern:
    NikkiStern.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

     

     

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    Giveaway:

    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nikki Stern. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on November 1, 2020 and runs through November 16, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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    SAVING GRACE by D.M. Barr | #Showcase #Interview #Giveaway

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    Saving Grace

    A Psychological Thriller

    by D.M. Barr

    on Tour October 12 – November 13, 2020

    Synopsis:

    Saving Grace by D.M. Barr

    Grace Pierrepoint Rendell, the only child of an ailing billionaire, has been treated for paranoia since childhood. When she secretly quits her meds, she begins to suspect that once her father passes, her husband will murder her for her inheritance. Realizing that no one will believe the ravings of a supposed psychotic, she devises a creative way to save herself – she will write herself out of danger, authoring a novel with the heroine in exactly the same circumstances, thus subtly exposing her husband’s scheme to the world. She hires acclaimed author Lynn Andrews to help edit her literary insurance policy, but when Lynn is murdered, Grace is discovered standing over the bloody remains. The clock is ticking: can she write and publish her manuscript before she is strapped into a straitjacket, accused of homicide, or lowered six feet under?

    With a cast of secondary characters whose challenges mirror Grace’s own, Saving Grace is, at it’s core, an allegory for the struggle of the marginalized to be heard and live life on their own terms.

    “A psychological thriller with more than enough twists, turns, and misdirection to keep even the most jaded reader turning pages all night long.”

    –Lori Robbins, author of the Silver Falchion Award-winning novel, Lesson Plan for Murder

    Book Details:

    Genre: Psychological Thriller, Domestic Suspense
    Published by: Black Rose Writing
    Publication Date: October 15th 2020
    Number of Pages: 255
    ISBN: 978-1684335565
    Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BlackRose Writing | Goodreads

     

    Author Bio:

    D.M. Barr

    By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire.

    My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy.

    The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings or offed anyone at my local diet clinic. And I haven’t run away from home in fear that my husband was planning to off me.

    But that’s not to say that I haven’t wanted to…

    Q&A with D.M. Barr

    What was the inspiration for this book?

    My husband started asking about my inheritance. My father lives in Florida and is still alive. I wondered, what if…?

    What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?

    The writing is simple compared to finding and audience and getting reviews, even from your friends.

    What do you absolutely need while writing?

    Silence. I can’t write if there’s noise. If someone starts speaking to me while I’m in “the zone,” I just tune them out. I’ve found I can write at any hour, in any room—as long as it’s quiet.

    Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?

    When I’m in writing mode, as opposed to revision mode or marketing mode, I force myself to write 1,000 words a day. I try to write them in the morning but if I don’t finish, the rule is to finish sometime that day. It doesn’t matter if they suck (the first draft always does); I just need to get them onto the page so I know what I’m dealing with and I can revise later. Sometimes, you don’t know until the story’s completely out exactly what story you have!

    Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

    My favorite character is an ex-Hasid named Zev. He’s sarcastic and irreverent, just like me, and adds some badly needed comic relief to the book.

    Who is your least favorite character from your book and why?

    Not too fond of Grace’s sons, since they take her for granted, following Eliot’s lead. In fact, I’m really not too fond of Eliot either.

    Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?

    The original iteration of the book had Grace and Hack’s stories running concurrently. Hack felt responsible for his parents’ death and to make it up to their memory, he was helping Kenzie set up a LBGTQ shelter in his family’s home, where he was the only one still living.

    Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

    When you read the metaphors, if you think they are a little odd, remember that Grace’s entire experience of life has been from books.

    Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

    Wife, mother, member of several writing organizations in NY and the Hudson Valley. Rescuer of shelter dogs and competitive trivia player when there isn’t a pandemic around. I am a former magazine writer/editor who ran my own travel content/marketing company for years before ever daring to write fiction. As the daughter of owners of a major Manhattan travel agency, I was fortunate enough to travel the world, and have enjoyed stints as a travel writer as well as other travel-related careers. I’ve also worked in real estate and mortgage origination.

    What’s next that we can look forward to?

    My next book is a rom-com. I hope to be submitting it to publishers in October and hopefully, you’ll see it on the shelves in 2021.

    Catch Up With Our Author On:
    www.DMBarr.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

    Read an excerpt:

    One felony was all it took to convince Andrea Lin she was better suited to committing crime on paper than in person. As renowned mystery author Lynn Andrews, she understood conflict equaled good drama. Like her readers, she should have expected the hiccups, even relished them. What she hadn’t counted on was the accompanying agita, especially while sitting in her Bergen County kitchen, far from the action at the Bitcoin Teller Machine.

    Her one job had been to place a single phone call when the money hit and tell the hacker to lift the encryption on Grace’s computer. Trouble was, her dozen calls remained unanswered until a few minutes ago, throwing their meticulous plan off schedule.

    Andrea stroked the blue-gray Nebulung purring on her lap and tried to ignore the churning in her stomach. “Denver, the next time I consider helping a sibling with some crazy scheme, you have my permission to use my leg as a scratching post until I come to my senses. Agreed?”

    Denver looked up, his green eyes filled with innocence, and answered with a single meow before leaping onto the table toward her plate of shortbread cookies.

    “I’ll take that as a yes.” She sipped her tea, willing the sugar to sweeten the acrid taste in her mouth. The phone interrupted her meditation. No doubt a check-in from her brother, the extorter-in-chief.

    “I figured you’d have called by now. Everything on track?” Joe’s strained voice conveyed his own jangled nerves. They’d agreed to be vague when communicating. In these days of Siri and Alexa, anyone could be listening.

    “Finally. Took forever to get through to our friend, but she said she’d take care of ‘our project’ as soon as her meetings wrapped up. From here on out though, I’m sticking to fiction. Real-life intrigue is too stressful.”

    Andrea missed Joe’s response, instead perplexed by her cats’ sudden change of behavior. Denver had tilted his head and leapt from the table; Vail and Aspen sat frozen, ears perked, staring toward the foyer. Then she heard it too, the sound of papers shuffling in the living room. She leaned forward, muscles taut, hackles raised, ready to pounce. “Joe, hold on a sec. I think someone’s in the house. I’ll call you back later.”

    ***

    “Wait, what? Andrea??” Silence. The connection was dead.

    After twenty minutes of weaving in and out of rush-hour traffic to travel one mile, Joe “Hack” Hackford pulled up outside his sister’s Ridgewood home. Adrenaline pumping on overdrive, he jumped from his car and sprinted toward the house. Door wide open—not an encouraging sign. He steeled his nerves and hastened inside. The living room looked like a hurricane’s aftermath, with furniture overturned and papers littering the carpets and floor.

    “Andrea? Are you here?” He rushed into the kitchen, which lacked any signs of their celebratory dinner—no spaghetti boiling on the stove, no cake rising in the oven. Only the door to the backyard ajar and a shriek emanating from the next room, piercing the eerie silence. Hair stiffening at the back of his neck, he raced into the dining room where a redheaded woman stood frozen, staring across the room.

    “Who the hell are you?” he growled.

    The stranger remained wide-eyed and unresponsive. He followed her gaze to the floor, where he witnessed the unthinkable. His beloved sister lay in the corner, surrounded by a pool of blood, a kitchen knife stuck in her chest. Her eyes remained fixed on the ceiling. A trio of feline guards circled her lifeless body.

    Hack’s knees turned to jelly, and he grabbed onto a chair for support, forcing back the remains of the snack he’d consumed only minutes earlier. Once the initial shock waned, he reverted his attention back to the intruder. At second glance, she did look somewhat familiar, though the woman he’d met a few weeks back—the missing heiress whose computer they’d just hacked—was brunette. Had she uncovered their con? With a bolt of fury, he reached forward and pulled the wig from her head. A thousand questions zigzagged in his brain, but only one forced its way past his lips:

    “Oh my God. Grace. Oh my God. What the hell have you done?”

    ***

    Excerpt from Saving Grace by D.M. Barr. Copyright 2020 by D.M. Barr. Reproduced with permission from D.M. Barr. All rights reserved.

     

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    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for D.M. Barr. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on October 12, 2020 and runs through November 15, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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    ON THE RUN by Traci Hunter Abramson | #BookBlast #Giveaway

    On the Run

    by Traci Hunter Abramson

    October 27, 2020 Book Blast

    Synopsis:

    On the Run by Traci Hunter Abramson

    As one of the top investigative journalists in the nation, Elle Jameson has a knack for uncovering the truth. So when a promising lead points to corruption on a German military base, Elle anticipates a straightforward assignment. But then she stumbles upon a deadly conspiracy beyond anything she’s faced before, and her scrutiny does not go unnoticed. She knows too much, and she can’t be allowed to live. With no idea where to turn for help, she does the only thing she can: she runs.

    The guardians, an elite team of undercover agents, have one job: safeguard those under their protection. As a new guardian, Nolan has just received his first solo assignment to help a young woman who just survived an assassination attempt. Within minutes of making contact with the beautiful journalist, however, their location is discovered. Thus begins a game of cat and mouse spanning the globe as the two work to stay ahead of a determined assassin. Nolan fights to buy Elle time to complete her investigation, and what she discovers is a plot that threatens the very fabric of America. In a desperate race against evil, Nolan and Elle are the only ones who can prevent global catastrophe.

    Book Details:

    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Published by: Covenant Communications
    Publication Date: October 2020
    Number of Pages: 296
    ISBN: 9781524412487
    Series:Guardian #4
    Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

    Read an excerpt:

    Elle weaved her way through the Saturday crowd at the street market, listening to the various conversations flowing around her. Since arriving in Germany three weeks ago, she had looked forward to exploring the local scenery and visiting the cities near her new assignment. If only today she had time to enjoy the environment . . . and the shops.

    A brisk wind whipped through Elle’s long, blonde hair. A few autumn leaves drifted onto the sidewalk. She tugged her overcoat tighter around her, then stuffed her hands in her pockets to protect them against the chill, not bothering to put her gloves on.

    She passed various customers, picking up on snippets of their conversations.

    Two women discussed what kind of fish to buy for dinner, and an older couple looked over a variety of apples at the fruit stand. At the neighboring booth, a handful of tourists chatted in English as they debated whether some glassware would make it safely home to Canada.

    Elle wished she could worry about such trivialities, but she doubted that would happen anytime soon.

    Something was wrong with the latest reports on the new drone project. She was sure of it.

    When her uncle had sent her undercover as an army lieutenant, she had expected to find some evidence of misappropriation of funds or missing supplies, but uncovering a possible unauthorized access to highly sensitive material lifted her investigative senses to a new level. This wasn’t a story to be written. If her suspicions were right, this was espionage.

    For three weeks now, she had set aside her true identity of investigative journalist and had acted under her alias of Lieutenant Elaina Martin to send her suspicions up the chain of command. Unfortunately, no one wanted to listen to a lowly lieutenant in a sea of colonels, especially when that lieutenant was a bean counter. She really needed to talk to her uncle about promoting her the next time he sent her undercover as an officer. Of course, no one would believe she was a colonel at twenty-seven, so she supposed her age was going to handicap her for a while longer.

    Her assignment to Germany was supposed to be her opportunity to take a break from high-profile cases for a while, a chance to rest and recover from nearly six months of undercover work in the Middle East.

    Unfortunately, her first day on the job, she had stumbled across an anomaly that, despite weeks of research, she still couldn’t explain.

    When she tried to discuss the problem with her commanding officer, she had been told the program supervisor had everything under control. Colonel Doyle’s assurances didn’t change the facts. Someone without clearance had accessed the developmental software for the new unmanned aircraft prototype, a prototype that could fly undetected by radar. She didn’t need to be an aeronautical engineer to know that the software in the wrong hands could be deadly.

    With no one in her unit taking her concerns seriously, she had reached out to the only person she’d known outside her unit whom she could trust with classified information: her sister Abby.

    If Abby couldn’t figure out what was going on, Elle didn’t know who could.

    The woman had a knack for seeing what other people missed. Elle should know.

    Had it not been for Abby, the theft of weapons at Edwards Air Force Base would have put Elle before a court martial instead of the corporal who had tried to frame her.

    The incident had opened Elle’s eyes to what she really wanted to do with her life. Abby had spent her years since college protecting their country by keeping secrets, and Elle wanted to protect their freedoms by revealing the secrets that, when kept, could create their own kind of danger, so she’d been working as an investigative journalist ever since.

    Elle reached the designated café and stepped inside. Most of the round tables were occupied, the seats positioned so the customers could look out the wide window and watch the world go by. Deeper inside the restaurant, Abby waited for her at a table in the far corner.

    Elle weaved her way past several waiters until she reached her sister. When Abby stood, Elle gave her a hug. “Abby, thanks for meeting me.”

    “You said it was important. From what you sent me, I think it is.”

    Elle sat beside Abby, then reached into her oversized purse to retrieve a file folder. “I brought you documentation.”

    Abby took the folder and opened it in front of her. “What am I looking at?”

    “The download logs for the new drone software.”

    “And?”

    Elle scooted her chair closer and pointed at the area of concern. “According to command, this software is still in the final testing stage. The only people who should be accessing the files are the programmers.”

    She tapped on a list of the approved personnel. “Kamile Frost, Dennis Cleveland, and Lance Finney are all listed over here.”

    “Then who is this?” Abby asked, pointing to the three access codes used during the night shift.

    “That’s what I want to know. Whoever it is only downloads the updates after everyone else is gone for the day.”

    “Talk about suspicious.”

    “I thought so too.”

    A waiter approached with a carafe of water, slices of lemon floating inside.

    He filled both of their glasses. “Have you had time to look over the menu?”

    Elle opened hers, quickly narrowing the options to what she could eat without triggering her allergies to citrus, tomatoes, and pork. After they both gave their orders and the waiter left, Elle pulled a water bottle from her purse and took a sip.

    “I see you still come prepared.”

    “Yeah. It’s such a pain that so many restaurants serve their water with lemon.”

    Elle didn’t know how Abby had escaped all the food allergies in the family, while Elle appeared to have received a double dose.

    Abby sipped her water and tapped her finger on the file folder. “I assume you brought your concerns to the attention of your CO.”

    “Colonel Doyle didn’t seem the least bit interested in my concerns.”

    “Did he have an explanation?”

    “No. He just said the program manager would have said something if there were a problem. Apparently, everyone up the chain of command agrees with Colonel Doyle because no one seems concerned that a top-secret program might have been jeopardized,” Elle said.

    “And no one told you who else is accessing it?”

    “No. I thought with your resources, you could figure it out.”

    “That’s easy enough. When I get back to the office, I’ll look up the access code and see who it belongs to.” Abby lifted her glass and took another long swallow. “I can’t guarantee I can tell you the name.”

    “I realize you can’t share classified information, but you would at least be able to tell if this person is cleared on the project.”

    “I can do that,” Abby said. “I’m not sure I’ll find anything beyond what the project supervisor would have noticed.”

    “Maybe not, but after what happened at Edwards, I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

    “The theft of those weapons wasn’t your fault. Adams created such a good paper trail, no one could have been expected to know it wasn’t real.”

    “The auditor did.”

    “An auditor who has thirty years of experience and was specifically looking for potential thefts,” Abby countered. “Besides, if it was something you should have caught in your ordinary course of business, he wouldn’t have made a point of clearing you.”

    “But I sensed something wasn’t right. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.”

    “Which is why we’re sitting here now.”

    Elle shrugged. “I’m sorry if I seem paranoid.”

    “Not paranoid. Cautious,” Abby corrected. “There’s a difference.”

    “Whatever you call it, I appreciate your help.” Elle took another sip from her water bottle.

    Abby cleared her throat. “How have you liked being stationed here in Germany?”

    “It’s been good. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to practice speaking German much since so many people here speak English, but the language has come back faster than I’d expected.”

    “I figured it would. You were speaking like a native when we lived here as kids.” Abby cleared her throat again and tugged at her scarf.

    “So were you. I never realized how much we learned while Dad was stationed in Stuttgart.”

    Abby opened her mouth to respond but, instead, coughed several times.

    She reached for her water glass and took a swallow.

    Elle leaned forward in her seat. “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah. Sorry, I have this tickle in my throat,” Abby said, promptly coughing again. “Must be the change in the weather. I got a cold last fall too.”

    “I’ve been wondering how anyone survives the winters here.”

    “You’re about to find out . . .” Abby’s words trailed off into another fit of coughs, then her face turned red, a panicked expression dominating her features.

    “Abby!” Elle pushed out of her chair and circled to pat her sister on the back.

    Even though Abby hadn’t eaten anything, her hands went to her throat as though she were choking.

    The waiter was at their side in an instant and pulled Abby out of her chair to start the Heimlich maneuver.

    “She hasn’t eaten anything. I think she’s having an allergic reaction.” Elle fumbled through her purse for her EpiPen. She flipped off the safety cap, pressed the tip to Abby’s thigh, and pushed the button to trigger the injection.

    Almost immediately, Abby took a gasping breath.

    “Here.” The waiter thrust a glass of water toward Abby. “Take a sip.”

    “No.” Elle pushed the glass away and knelt beside Abby’s chair. “Are you okay?”

    Abby opened her mouth to speak only to begin another coughing fit.

    Elle turned to the waiter. “Something’s wrong. Call an ambulance.”

    A waitress approached, her phone in hand. “I already called. The ambulance will be here any minute.”

    The waiter picked up the carafe from the table and refilled Abby’s glass. As soon as there was a break in the coughing, he offered the glass of water again.

    “Are you sure you don’t want to give her something to drink?”

    “Not until we figure out what caused this.”

    Again, Abby tried to take a deep breath, but this time, her body trembled before being taken over by a seizure.

    “Help me move her onto the floor.” Elle gripped Abby under her arms while the waiter helped ease her onto the carpet. Elle moved the closest chairs out of the way and knelt beside Abby.

    “I’ll check on the ambulance,” the waiter said.

    Elle sensed rather than saw the waiter head for the door. Helpless to do anything but wait, Elle fought for calm. “Hang on, Abby. Help is on the way.”

    The words were barely out of her mouth before two ambulance attendants rushed through the door. Elle stood to give them room to work.

    “What happened?” the paramedic asked in German.

    “I don’t know,” Elle said, automatically responding in his language. “She started coughing and acting like she couldn’t breathe. I injected her with my EpiPen, and she got better for a few seconds. Then it started again. She started her seizure about a minute ago.”

    Both paramedics knelt beside Abby, evaluating her.

    “Does she have any known allergies?”

    “No, and she was fine when I got here,” Elle said. “When she couldn’t breathe, the EpiPen was the only thing I could think of.”

    Abby’s face paled, and her body stilled.

    “I’ve lost her pulse,” one paramedic said.

    Elle stepped back and watched the paramedics begin CPR and start Abby on oxygen. Adrenaline still pumping through her, Elle lowered herself into her chair. Minutes stretched out, the paramedics continuing the CPR, trading places every few minutes. They spoke with someone on the phone, the voices blurring with the background noise of the crowd who had been cleared out of the restaurant.

    Tears flowed freely down Elle’s cheeks. She stood with her arms tightly folded, unable to do anything but watch and pray. She didn’t know how much time had passed when one paramedic tapped the other on the shoulder and shook his head. The paramedic not working on Abby sat beside Elle to confirm that the unbelievable had become the inevitable.

    The one performing CPR gave one more chest compression and leaned back on his heels. His eyes lifted to meet Elle’s. “I’m sorry.”

    “No.” The word escaped in a whisper. It couldn’t be. Elle stared at her sister’s lifeless body, waiting for any sign that she had misunderstood. Her heartbeat echoed in her head as though beating inside a deep tunnel.

    “I’m so sorry.” The second paramedic put his hand on Elle’s arm.

    Grief crashed over her, new tears forming. Her sister was gone. She was really gone.

    “Can I get you something to drink? Maybe a glass of water?”

    Elle shook her head, and her gaze swept over the table. Her water glass wasn’t there. Why that detail mattered at such a time, Elle didn’t know. A quick scan of the table revealed her glass wasn’t the only thing missing. Abby’s glass, the water carafe, and the file outlining Elle’s suspicions were also missing.

    Elle swiped at her tears. “What happened to the waiter who met you at the door?”

    “No one met us when we arrived,” the paramedic said.

    Suspicions cut through her grief and bloomed with a sense of panic. Her file was coded in a way that it wouldn’t jeopardize national security, but if the people behind the suspicious activity got ahold of it, they would know exactly where the evidence was that could identify them.

    Elle swallowed hard and forced herself to push aside her emotions and look at Abby’s lifeless body. The only thing her sister had ingested since her arrival was the water their waiter had served them, water Elle herself would have drunk had it not contained lemon slices. She stood and took a step toward the door.

    “I have to go.”

    “But we need more information from you.”

    “Her name is Abigail Bender, and I think she was poisoned.”

    ***

    Excerpt from On the Run by Traci Hunter Abramson. Copyright 2020 by Traci Hunter Abramson. Reproduced with permission from Traci Hunter Abramson. All rights reserved.

     

     

    Author Bio:

    Traci Hunter Abramson

    Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years, eventually resigning in order to raise her family. She credits the CIA with giving her a wealth of ideas as well as the skills needed to survive her children’s teenage years. She has gone on to write more than twenty bestselling novels that have consistently been nominated as Whitney Award finalists and seven-time Whitney Award winner. When she’s not writing, Traci enjoys spending time with her husband and five children, preferably on a nice quiet beach somewhere. She also enjoys sports, travel, writing, and coaching high school swimming.

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