May 092018
 

Keep the Midnight Out

by Alex Gray

on Tour May 7 – June 8, 2018

Synopsis:

Keep the Midnight by Alex Gray

When the body of a red-haired young man is washed up on the shore of the beautiful Isle of Mull, Detective Superintendent Lorimer’s tranquil holiday away from the gritty streets of Glasgow is rudely interrupted. The body has been bound with twine in a ghoulishly unnatural position and strongly reminds Lorimer of another murder: a twenty year old Glasgow case that he failed to solve as a newly fledged detective constable and which has haunted him ever since.

As local cop DI Stevie Crozier takes charge of the island murder investigation, Lorimer tries to avoid stepping on her toes. But as the similarities between the young man’s death and his cold case grow more obvious, Lorimer realises that there could be a serial killer on the loose after all these years.

As the action switches dramatically between the Mull murder and the Glasgow cold case twenty years earlier, Lorimer tries desperately to catch a cold-hearted killer. Has someone got away with murder for decades?

MY REVIEW

5 stars

This is the 7th book I have read in this series. I thought that maybe with this book, having read 7 of them, that I would be able to figure out the mystery. Did I?

DCI Bill Lorimer and his wife Maggie are on vacation at the Island of Mull. However, it is interrupted when he comes across a body washed ashore. Not only is it unsettling but the body is reminiscent of a case he worked on 20 years ago that was never solved, nor the victim identified. Lorimer doesn’t believe in coincidences but could these 2 cases be connected in some way? And then, another murder takes place on this peaceful island.

I very much enjoy this author’s writing style. She weaves and interweaves subplots that take the reader on an exciting journey. It’s the type of read that transports the reader into the story. The characters believable. The suspense non-stop right up to the last page, which had this reader saying ” just one more Chapter” and realized I had read 10 more.

Did I figure out the mystery? NO, not this time! I kept going back and forth as to who the murderer might be right up to the last few pages.

I love how Ms. Gray’s detailed and descriptive words, of both the dialects and settings, that I have the sense that I have visited Scotland with each book. Because of this, I hope to make it a reality someday.

Another thrilling read by Ms. Gray! I can’t wait for the next book in this series!

Check out my reviews for other books in this series! THE RIVERMAN, PITCH BLACK, GLASGOW KISS, FIVE WAYS TO KILL A MAN, THE SWEDISH GIRL and THE SILENT GAMES

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: May 8th 2018
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780062659286
Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel, #12 (Stand Alone)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble; | HarperCollins | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

They called it ‘the splash’; though the boat that crept silently, oars dipping lightly in and out of the water creating myriad bubbles of phosphorescence, made little sound at all. It was vital to keep quiet; the time for frightening the fish would not come until the net was properly laid across the mouth of the burn. After that the oars would be raised high and brought down with force, driving the sea trout from their shadowy lairs straight into the trap. It was illegal, of course, had been for decades, but that did not stop more intrepid poachers sneaking in at dead of night and lying in wait for the fish.

Unfair, unsporting, the fishery bodies claimed, though most folk here, on the island of Mull, recognised the thrill of rowing under the stars and risking some wrath from the law enforcers.

Ewan Angus Munro glanced back over his shoulder to see his son playing out the last of the splash net; the ancient cork floats now in a perfect arc across this narrow neck of water.

Young Ewan looked towards his father and nodded; the first part of the deed was done and now all that remained was to ensure that the fish would be scared out from their hiding places by the sudden noise of oars thrashing on the surface so that they would rush towards the net.

The old man turned the boat with an expertise that came from many years of practice, then headed back towards the shallow channel. He raised the oars, resting them in the rowlocks, water dripping like molten rain from their blades. The small craft was allowed to drift a little before Ewan Angus turned to his son again, the eye contact and nod a definite signal to begin the second stage of their night’s work.

Young Ewan Angus stood, legs apart, perfectly balanced in the centre of the boat, one oar raised high above his shoulder as the older man watched him, eyes full of approval. The boy had been given more than just his father’s names: his flair for the splash, too, had been passed down from father to son.

Across the marshy strand full of bog cotton and sweet-smelling myrtle sat a small white cottage. A swift glance showed him that there was no light on anywhere; the holiday folk were doubtless sound asleep, oblivious to the small drama being played out yards from their front door.

The sound of the splash seemed magnified as it disrupted the stillness, echoing over the bay. The young man heaved the oar again and again, each whack making his body stiffen with fear and a sort of bravado. If they were caught they’d lose both the net and the boat, a heavy price to pay for a night of fun and a good catch of sea trout, fish that fetched a decent price at the back doors of the best hotel kitchens.

Several times the boat was rowed up and down, followed by a series of splashes until the old man raised his callused hand to call a halt. Now it was time to wait and see if the fish had indeed been scared witless enough to swim towards their doom.

Once more the old man rowed along the line of corks, his son lifting the net to see if anything lingered below.

‘A beauty,’ the boy whispered, raising the net to reveal a good-sized sea trout struggling in the brown mesh.

‘Ten pounder at least!’ he went on, freeing the huge fish where its gills had caught and hurling it into a wooden box below his feet.

‘Be-wheesht and get the net up,’ his father hissed, though the grin on his face showed how pleased he was with their first catch of the night. The old man bent towards the struggling fish, his fist around the priest, a wooden club that had been in the family for generations. One swift blow and the fish lay lifeless in the box, its silvery scales gleaming in the night.

One by one, others joined the fated sea trout as the two men made their laborious way along the edge of the net.

‘My, a grand haul, the night, Faither,’ Young Ewan Angus exclaimed, his voice still hushed for fear of any sound carrying over the water.

‘Aye, no’ bad,’ his father agreed, a contented smile on his face. One of the middling fish would be wrapped in layers of bracken and left in the porch of Calum Mhor, the police sergeant. A wee thank you for turning his continual blind eye to the nocturnal activities taking place down the road from Craignure. Mrs Calum had guests staying and she’d be fair pleased to serve them a fresh sea trout for their dinner. It was universally acknowledged here on the island that the pink fish was far superior in flavour to the coarser salmon, particularly those that had been farmed.

‘My, here’s a big one!’

The young man staggered as he tried to haul in the final part of the splash net. ‘I can hardly lift it!’ he exclaimed.

‘Must be caught on a rock,’ the old man grumbled, his mouth twisting in a moue of disgust. If they had to tear the net to release it then it would take hours of work to mend, but the operation depended on being in and out of these waters as quickly as they could manage. Hanging about was not an option in case the Men from the Revenue had decided on a little night-time excursion of their own.

Suddenly the young man bent down in the boat, hands gripping the gunwales as he peered into the depths below.

His brow furrowed at the rounded mass swaying beneath the surface, rags of bladderwrack shifting back and forwards with the motion of the waves. Then, as his eyes focused on the ascending shape, Ewan Angus Munro saw pale tendrils that had once been fingers of flesh and one thin arm floating upwards.

He screamed, and covered his mouth as the sickness rose in his throat, then stumbled backwards. The boy flung out his arms, desperate to grasp hold of something solid to break his fall but all he felt under his hands were the wet bodies of slithering fish.

‘What the . ⁠. ⁠. ⁠?’ Ewan Angus turned, an oath dying on his lips as the boat rocked violently, small waves dashing over the bow.

Wordlessly, his son pointed to the waters below. Then, as the old man peered over the side of the boat, he saw the body rising to the surface, its passage out to sea impeded by their net.

***

Excerpt from Keep the Midnight Out by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2018 by Alex Gray. Reprinted by permission of Witness Impulse, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Alex Gray

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.

Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.

A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Catch Up With Alex Gray On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, & Twitter 🔗!

 

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 Alex Gray and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winners of one (1) print copy of Alex Gray’s THE SILENT GAMES. The giveaway begins on May 7, 2018 and runs through June 10, 2018.
Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

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

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

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

May 082018
 

Dangerous Mistakes Tour Banner

Dangerous Mistakes

by Susan Hunter

on Tour May 7 – 18, 2018

 

Synopsis:

Dangerous Mistakes by Susan Hunter

A clever killer. A smart reporter. An unexpected twist.

Small-town reporter Leah Nash investigates a murder no one else believes happened—until a second death signals the killer’s first mistake. Nothing is as it seems, and the twisting trail she follows pits Leah against her police lieutenant best friend, her new boss, and even her mother. Still, the smart and smart-ass Leah can’t back down. If she’s right, she can save someone she loves. If she’s wrong, the next victim could be her.

Independent, intrepid and irrepressible Leah Nash can’t resist a good story, especially not one that ends in murder. Sharp dialogue, plots that move and storylines full of unexpected turns make this series a fan favorite.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Himmel River Press
Publication Date: November 2015
Number of Pages: 370
ISBN: 1519208588 (ISBN13: 9781519208583)
Series: Leah Nash Mysteries #2 (Each is a Stand Alone Mystery)

Click to check out Dangerous Mistakes on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Goodreads!!

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

“All of us are dying.”

“Well, yes, I guess I can’t argue with that, Betty,” I said to the slight, white-haired woman seated behind my desk in the newsroom. I had come barreling in to pick up a new notebook, late for my next assignment.

“Oops, sorry, if I could just get into that center desk drawer there.” I gently rolled her away from the desk, edged my drawer out a couple of inches, and stuck my arm into the depths until I felt cardboard. I tweezered out the spiral-bound notebook between two fingers.

“All of us. Dying. It’s not right.”

I slipped the notebook into my purse and moved to scoot Betty back into position, mentally cursing our receptionist Courtnee for sending her back to the newsroom. Again. Betty Meier was a retired nurse in her 80s. Years ago, during my first stint at the Himmel Times Weekly, she often stopped by to drop off an ad for a garage sale, or a press release for the Sunshine Girls bazaar, or to put in a notice for one of the many other groups to which she belonged. But now she suffered from Alzheimer’s, and when she came to the office, it was because she’d wandered away from home. This was the third time in the past two months that she’d ended up here. As I reached round her to slide the chair, she grabbed my arm, clamping on with almost desperate strength.

Startled, I looked down into her upturned face. The spark of life in her faded blue eyes caught me by surprise. I swallowed the placating answer I’d been about to give.

“No, Betty, it’s not right. It doesn’t matter how old we are. No one wants to go into that good night.” I pulled up the visitor’s chair and sat down so we were eye level.

“No, no, no! It’s us. Everyone is dying. Where’s Max? I want to talk to Max.” The bright light had gone out as quickly as it had come, and her eyes took on a cloudy cast again. Her fingers released their grip, and her voice became querulous.

“Max isn’t here anymore, Betty.” Max, the former owner of the Himmel Times Weekly, wasn’t just gone, he was dead. How and why he died was something I didn’t like to talk about, but never really stopped thinking about.

Just then a harried-looking woman in her early 40s burst through the door.

“Mom! I’ve been looking all over for you. Sweetheart, what are you doing here?” She knelt down and patted her mother’s arm. In an aside, she said to me, “I’m sorry, Leah. The caregiver didn’t show up. Mom’s next door neighbor went over, but then her dog got hit by a car, and she had to leave. I rushed out of work. It was only 10 minutes, but when I got there Mom was gone.”

“Don’t worry about it, Deborah. It’s OK.”

“Sometimes she seems fine, you know? The other day, out of nowhere, she said, ‘How was work, Debbie?’ It almost broke my heart. She hadn’t initiated a conversation in weeks, and then for a second, there she was. My mom. And just as quickly she was gone, and there was a confused old lady who didn’t know who I was.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, awkwardly and inadequately. Two things I specialize in, awkward and inadequate. “She keeps saying all her friends are dying.”

She nodded. “I took her to a funeral a month or so ago. I knew she’d want to be there, but I shouldn’t have. She’s been upset ever since.” She turned to her mother again. “Mom, let’s go home. Tandy’s coming over tonight, and we’ll have dinner and watch some family movies. That’ll be nice, won’t it?” She slid her arm under her mother’s and helped her up. As they left, she turned to me. “Leah, again, I’m so sorry. I know we can’t go on like this. It isn’t safe for her.”

“It’s not easy,” I said, though in truth, and thank God, I knew nothing about the pain of the parent-to-child reversal Deborah was experiencing. My mother–maddening, bossy, loving, funny woman that she is–still has full control of all her faculties, and would happily take charge of mine if I’d let her.

I followed Deborah out the door on a run, but I was already 15 minutes late for an interview with the incoming principal at Himmel High School.

* * *

“Really, Courtnee? Betty Meier sitting in the newsroom? At my desk? Why did you take her back there?”

It was nearly five when I got back to the office, and I was a little on the pissy side. Make that a lot. My interview with the principal didn’t go well. He was unhappy because I was late and even madder when I left early. I had to, or I’d have missed shooting a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new McDonald’s franchise. That’s the kind of cutting-edge journalism we do here at the Himmel Times. On the way back to the office, the iced tea I’d bought at the drive-through tipped over, and half of it ran into my purse. In fairness, I couldn’t blame Courtnee for that, but I think that fairness is far overrated.

Looking up from her Facebook account, Courtnee gave a shrug.

“I’m a receptionist, Leah. It’s my job to receive. So, I received her into the newsroom. You were gone, and Miguel is out, and Rebecca wasn’t here, and like always, I had to take care of things myself. She likes sitting at your desk.”

Miguel Santos is the other full-time reporter, and Rebecca Hartfield is the publisher and micromanager at the Times.

“The next time she comes in, if there is a next time, ‘receive’ her in reception. Sit her down—out here—and call her daughter. OK?”

“Okaayy.” She gave a flip of her silky blonde hair and turned to read the text that had just pinged on her phone. At the same time a loud static-filled squawk came from the scanner in the newsroom. I couldn’t make out the words, but I didn’t need to, because Rebecca was already out of her office to translate. She’s a cool blonde—calm, measured, methodical. And, oddly, not that crazy about me.

“Good, you’re still here. There’s a working fire at 529 Halston. A residence. I need you to cover it.”

“But I’ve got a Parks Committee meeting. Miguel is—”

“He’s still in Milwaukee. You can do a phone follow-up on the meeting. Is there a problem?”

“No. Nothing,” I muttered. I grabbed the camera and headed out.

* * *

My name is Leah Nash, and in the exciting, competitive, high-adrenalin carnival that is journalism, I operate the merry-go-round. I’m a reporter for a small-town weekly in Himmel, Wisconsin. It’s where I started 11 years ago, and it’s where I landed 18 months ago, after a series of bad career decisions. I had an exit strategy, but it hadn’t come together quite yet.

The fire assignment was no big deal. Except it was. Though I wasn’t about to confide my darkest fears to Rebecca, who, as far as I can tell, has the empathy and emotional range of a Popsicle. The truth is, I’m afraid of fires—to the point of hyperventilating and quaking in my shoes. Have been since I was 10 years old. I never willingly cover one. But sometimes I have no choice.

My hands were sweaty on the wheel, and I was repeating “breathe in, breathe out” in a frenzied mantra as I pulled up. Smoke billowed from the back of a small two-story house. Here and there yellow flames shot red-tipped tongues out the windows. Gray ash snowflakes floated through the air as firefighters wrangled hoses, flooding the fire into submission. Still, I sat in my car, unable to open the door and move closer to the burning house. Hard as I tried not to let it, my mind hurtled back to another fire, a long time ago. I squeezed my eyes tight to shut out the images. A second later they popped back open in surprise at the sharp rapping near my ears. I rolled down the window so that David Cooper could lean in.

“Hey, Coop.”

“Hey. What are you doing here? Where’s Miguel?”

“Rebecca sent him out of town. So, it’s me.” I struggled to put on an air of professionalism as I opened the door and hauled out my camera bag. Coop is my oldest friend and a lieutenant with the Himmel Police Department.

“So, what’s the story? Anyone hurt? What are the damages? Do they know how it started?” I fired off questions, determined not to let him know how hard it was to force myself to walk closer toward the heat of the fire, to hear the snap and pop as it ate through dry wood, the crash as a section of roof gave way.

I didn’t fool him. Coop doesn’t say much. But he sees a lot. Which I find quite irritating when it’s me he’s looking at.

“Al Porter’s over by the ladder truck. He thinks it’s just about under control. I’ll point him in your direction when he gets off the phone. No sense you going over there and getting in the way.”

I try not to let my weaknesses show. If anyone sees what hurts or scares you, it makes you vulnerable. And, in my experience, that’s not a good thing.

I shook my head. “I’m going over to talk to him.”

He looked at me, but didn’t say anything.

“Look, I’m fine.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Don’t patronize me. I hate it when you patronize me.”

“I’m not. Just saying it’s wet and slippery and crowded over there. Call Al over here, and you’d be out of the way. Suit yourself.”

“I will.”

“Oh, I know.”

We could have gone on like 10-year-olds forever—at least I could have—but the fire chief walked up just then.

“Leah.” He nodded and paused to wipe a rivulet of sweat running down the side of his face, smearing ash across his cheek. He had pulled off his yellow helmet, and I could see that his gray hair was wet and curling in wisps. Pushing 60, and about 30 pounds over fighting weight, Al isn’t going to be September in anyone’s Fire Fighters Calendar. But he knows how to run a crew, keep them safe, and put out the fire, and no one is in any hurry to tell him to hang up his turnout gear.

“You’re a little late to the party. But Matt McGreevy got some good shots and video too.”

I could’ve kissed Al and Matt both, but I played it casual. “Oh? Sure, that’d be great. Whose house is it?”

“Old gal by the name of Betty Meier.”

Al picked up on the shock I felt right away.

“It’s OK, Leah. You know her? She wasn’t home. Nobody was. Well, except for one pretty mad cat, but we got her out all right. The old lady was at her daughter’s, the neighbor said. I guess she’s got some dementia issues. Might have left on the gas burner on the stove. But don’t print that,” he hastened to add. “We’re gonna have the state fire marshal in.”

A loud whoosh of water hit the house just then, spraying the charred remains. No flames were visible, but I knew that didn’t mean the fire was out. Some of the crew would be on the scene for a couple of hours to make sure the blaze didn’t start up again.

“She’s wandered away a few times and come to the paper, asking for Max. I talked to her daughter today. I think she’s probably going to move her to a nursing home.” Poor Betty. Losing all her friends, her memories, and tonight it could have been her life. It’s true. Old age isn’t for sissies.

“Yeah. I’d say it’s past time for that. Fire can move so damn fast. People don’t realize how—” He stopped. Looked at me. Looked embarrassed. I helped him roll on past a subject I didn’t want to delve into either.

“For sure. So, who called it in? What’s the damage estimate?” I went through the standard reporter’s litany of who, what, when, where, why questions, and when I had all the information Al could give me at the moment, I asked Matt to email me his photos and video.

Then I packed it in and went back to the office to post a few pictures and a news brief on the Times website. I stopped by the front desk and checked the spike on the corner of Courtnee’s desk for messages. At 6:30 p.m. she was long gone.

I pulled off the notes for me and gave them a quick glance. Nothing looked urgent, so I stuffed them in my purse to read later. In the newsroom, I didn’t bother to flip on the light, just turned on my desk lamp and used the blue glow of the computer screen. It was kind of nice there in the semi-dark. There was no jangle of Courtnee’s unanswered phones in reception, no tap-tap-tap of other keyboards, no repeated clunking of cans of soda coming out of the Coke machine.

Before I started writing, I texted Coop and Miguel to see if they wanted to meet up for a beer and a burger at McClain’s, then I filed a quick story. I uploaded two of the photos Matt had sent to my iPhone and a short video clip. When I finished, I leaned back for a long, satisfying yawn and stretch, my chair tilted and my arms reaching as far back as possible. I was right at that almost orgasmic point of satisfaction, when every muscle was extended and just on the edge of relaxing, when the light clicked on.

“Leah.”

I all but tumbled out of my chair.

“Rebecca! Geez, how about some warning when you creep in on little cat feet?”

“Did you get the story?” Her eyes, the color of a blue-tinged icicle, blinked behind her black-framed glasses.

“Already written. Nobody hurt. Betty, the woman who owns the house, wasn’t there. Property’s totaled though.”

“Photos?”

“Yep.”

“All right, good. Pull the commission story from the front page and run with the fire above the fold—if the pictures are any good. Are they?”

“Matt McGreevy took them. They’re great. It was really nice of him to share them, especially since you fired him last month.”

“I did not fire him. Stringers aren’t employees. They’re independent contractors. Why didn’t you take the photos?”

I flashed back to my near panic attack at the fire, my dithering around the edge trying to get my nerves under control. The shaming fear that had gripped me. “I got there too late. Matt rolled out with the fire department—he does their videography. And he’s a good guy, so he shared them, even though you ‘not’ fired him.”

“I don’t cut costs for fun. It has to be done. That’s my job.” She spoke slowly, as though explaining something to a small child.

I gave in to the urge to get a rise out of her. “I thought you went to journalism school. Not bean counting academy.”

“I was hired to get the Times in better financial shape, and that requires the counting of some beans. It might be easier if you didn’t take every decision as a personal affront.”

Something in her voice made me look up from putting away my stuff. She had taken off her glasses and was rubbing the bridge of her nose. Her shoulders had sagged a little, and for a minute I saw her as a woman with a tough job, who didn’t have the luxury of casual banter with her staff or after-work drinks at McClain’s. Her role was to be the bad guy, the nay-sayer, the buzz-killer. That had to be pretty lonely. She was only 36, just a few years older than me.

“Rebecca, would you like to—”

She cut me off before I could invite her to stop by McClain’s with me. “Don’t forget to turn your mileage in tomorrow. It’s the cutoff, and you won’t get paid this month if you don’t get it in. I’ve already told Courtnee that.”

As part of the general cutbacks and reassignments in Rebecca’s lean and mean vision for the Times, Courtnee had been assigned the task of processing mileage and expense reports. It had proven to be one of the more effective cost-saving measures, because half the time Courtnee didn’t finish the reports in time for us to get paid for the month, which she always insisted was our fault. The other half of the time, she screwed them up, and they didn’t get processed correctly until the following month. I suspected there was some method to Rebecca’s madness in giving the job to Courtnee, in that to some degree, expenses were always deferred.

“Right.” I gathered my things and left before saying something I’d regret. Working at the Times wasn’t exactly a step up the career ladder, but when Max was here it was fun. I missed the camaraderie, the kidding around, the messy, lively, frustrating, fulfilling business of putting out a paper. When Rebecca first started, I thought we might be friends. She’s near my age, she’s from Wisconsin like me, and she’d even worked at the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan, like I had, though at a different time. It just seemed like we’d have a lot in common. Instead, Rebecca sucked the happy right out of the air. If it weren’t for Miguel, I might have done something stupid like I did at the Miami Star Register. Namely, leaving one job without having another waiting. I wanted to play it smart this time. But she was making it awfully hard.

***

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

 

Author Bio:

Susan Hunter

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

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

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

 

Catch Up With Susan Hunter On:
leahnashmysteries.com, Goodreads, Twitter – @LeahNashMystery, & Facebook – leahnashmysteries!

 

Tour Participants:

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

 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Hunter. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 7 and runs through March 18, 2018. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

May 032018
 

The Victim of the System by Steve Hadden Tour Banner

The Victim of the System

by Steve Hadden

on Tour May 1-31, 2018

 

Synopsis:

The Victim of the System by Steve Hadden

Twenty-two years ago, Ike Rossi’s life was shattered when his parents were murdered in cold blood. He surrendered his football scholarship and returned home to find their killer and raise his nine-year-old sister. Now, the crime of a local ten-year-old genius, Jack Cole, threatens to unearth old wounds rather than provide the closure Ike desperately wants.

When Ike meets Jack inside the Pittsburgh courthouse, he doesn’t see a murderer but instead a boy who has been victimized by a system that has left them both without justice. Despite knowing the case will resurrect the painful demons of his parents’ unsolved murders, Ike agrees to clear Jack’s name. The court of public opinion and the district attorney have an airtight case. Worse, taking Jack’s side thrusts Ike into the crosshairs of the most powerful family in Pittsburgh, the Falzones.

Now, with only days before the trial, Ike confronts the Falzones’ crumbling empire to find the shocking evidence that could save Jack. At the same time, he races to decipher a series of cryptic clues from Jack’s dead father that could hold the key to his son’s freedom. But each step closer to the truth draws them further into danger, and as three fractured families collide, Ike is forced to choose between saving Jack-and saving himself.

The Victim of the System is an intriguing and entertaining thriller about the justice system, closure and the abyss between them.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Telemachus Press
Publication Date: April 3rd 2018
Number of Pages: 330
ISBN: 9781948046039
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Jack Cole knew they were coming for him next. He waited in the dense shrubs with a vengeful patience. He reminded himself he was here for a reason-one that justified the action. He fought back the dark sensation that this was wrong. Thou shalt not kill had been drilled into him at Saint John’s. But this was the only way to end it-to be safe.

His hand shook as he gripped the heavy rifle and took aim at the front door of the mansion across the private cul-de-sac. He settled the jitter with the thought that this man had killed his dad.

He leaned back against the tree and braced for the kick. Then, through the bushes, he saw a sliver of light widen as the front door opened. He dropped his head and took aim through the scope. He’d been watching the lawyer’s house for days.

The thick door swung open and his target stepped out, closing the door behind him. Jack hesitated when he came face-to-face with him through the scope. Still, he steadied the heavy rifle and squeezed the trigger.

The blast slammed his back against the thick tree. The kick felt stronger than it had when he’d fired it on his first hunting trip with his father, just two months ago. As he scrambled to regain his balance, he saw his prey-the man responsible for destroying what was left of his family-fall against the front door of the red brick home, his white shirt splattered with blood and his face paralyzed in shock. Blood smeared as the man grabbed at the door, apparently reaching for someone inside. Finally, the attorney collapsed with his contorted body wrapped around his large legal briefcase.

Jack stood and froze, shocked by the carnage he’d unleashed. When the door swung open and a panicked woman rushed out, he came to his senses.

In seconds, Jack secured and covered the rifle and began his escape. Halfway down the cul-de-sac, he was sure someone had called 911. As he calmly pulled the red wagon his father had given him on his ninth birthday, he heard the police cars responding. They raced through the expensive suburban homes toward 1119 Blackbird Court.

The two cars turned onto the cul-de-sac and slowed when the patrolmen passed a mom and her children standing in their driveway, gaping at the terrifying scene. At the deep end of the cul-de-sac, the police cars screeched to a stop. Their doors sprang open and two officers swept the area with their guns drawn. The other two rushed to the porch. The woman cradled the man’s body, screaming wildly. Blood coated the porch and covered the woman’s face and arms.

Jack fought the urge to run and wandered out of the cul-de-sac. Two other police cars and an ambulance raced past. Over his shoulder, he saw the paramedics rush to the porch. Then Jack turned the corner and lost sight of what he’d done-and he began to cry.

Six Months Later

CHAPTER 2

Ike Rossi hated this place. Not because something had happened here. Instead, it was something that hadn’t. It represented failure. A rotting failure that he placed firmly on his own shoulders. While it had been twenty-two years, the wound was as raw as it was on that dreadful day he’d tried to forget for most of his adult life. Now, after years of dead ends, he was here once again to close that wound.
He waited on the hard bench in the massive lobby of the Allegheny County Courthouse flanked by murals of Peace, Justice, and Industry. Despite their ominous presence, he ignored them. He’d never found any of those here.

As nine a.m. approached, the lobby swelled with people making their way to their destinies. Their voices and the clicks of their best shoes echoed through the massive honeycomb of thick stone archways as they wound up the network of stairs leading to the courtrooms on the floors above. Nameless faces all carried their tags: anger, sadness, fear, and arrogance. Those who were above it all, those who feared the system, and those who just saw money. While he’d always heard it was the best system on earth, he was painfully convinced that justice deserved better.

Three benches down, Ike’s eyes locked on a small boy who was crying and leaning into a woman’s side as she tried desperately to comfort him. When he recognized Jack Cole from the flood of news reports over the last six months, he didn’t feel the prickly disdain that had roiled in his gut as he watched the initial reports on TV. At first, he’d condemned the ten-year-old boy as another killer-one who took the life of someone’s parent. But as the case unfolded he’d discovered the boy had lost his father. The constant wound Ike kept hidden in his soul opened a little wider. He knew what it was like to lose a parent.

According to the reports, Jack Cole’s father had committed suicide as a result of a nasty divorce from Brenda Falzone Cole, the estranged daughter of one of the richest families in the country. Jack, a genius ten-year-old, had shot and killed his mother’s family law attorney-not exactly what Ike expected from a kid. When he was finally identified in video from a neighbor’s security camera and questioned, he shocked investigators by admitting the act.

Claiming he didn’t have a choice under Pennsylvania law, the prosecutor was trying the boy as an adult. Jack faced a murder charge. Due to his young age, both sides wanted to fast-track the trial. It was scheduled to start next Monday, just a week away.

The boy looked up and caught Ike’s gaze. Despite his best efforts, Ike couldn’t look away. Tears streamed down Jack’s face, but at the same time, his eyes begged for help. A mix of fear and generosity accumulated deep in Ike’s chest. He knew the boy sought the same help he’d sought for himself years ago, but the prospect of exhuming that pain warned him to stay away.

Still, yielding to a magnetic force that had no regard for his own protection, Ike stood, smiled, and walked to the boy, ignoring the condemning stares from the people eyeing Jack. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a small Rubik’s Cube he carried to amuse distressed kids on long flights to distant oil provinces.

He stopped in front of the pair and asked the woman, “May I?” while he showed her the toy. The dried streaks down her cheeks told him she shared the boy’s pain. He recognized her from the news reports but didn’t want to remind her that millions of people were now witness to her custody battle with Jack’s mother’s family-and the progression of her devastating pretrial defeats at the hands of the district attorney.

“Oh, that’s so kind of you,” she said, nodding gently.

Ike gave Jack the toy and sat beside him. Jack’s smallish build and timid posture made it hard to believe he was ten-and he’d killed someone.

Jack sniffled and wiped his nose with the back of his arm.

“Here, honey,” the woman said as she handed him a Kleenex. Jack wiped his nose and immediately began twisting the cube, ignoring Ike.

“I’m Lauren Bottaro,” the woman said. “This is Jack. I’m his aunt.”

Ike reached out. “Ike Rossi.”

Her eyes flamed with familiarity. She seemed stunned. “You’re Ike Rossi?”

Jack handed the cube back to Ike. “Done!”

Ike wasn’t sure what startled him more, the look on Lauren’s face or the fact that Jack had solved the cube in less than a minute. “That’s great, Jack.” Ike offered Jack a high-five, but Jack awkwardly hesitated. Finally, he slapped it and Ike returned the toy. The tears were gone, replaced by a proud smile. Ike looked back at Lauren, who’d apparently caught herself staring at him.

She seemed to regain some composure, and a serious expression swept across her face.

“Mr. Rossi, can I ask what you do, now?”

Ike hesitated, hearing more than just that question in her voice.

He looked up and saw Mac Machowski, grinning.

“I’ll tell you what he does.”

Ike could have kissed Mac for the timely rescue.

Mac counted on his thick gnarled fingers. “He fixes things that can’t be fixed. He keeps fat cats from getting kidnapped-or killed if they do-and he’s the best damn investigator I’ve ever seen.”

Ike noticed Jack had stopped playing with the Rubik’s Cube and was listening intently to Mac, along with Lauren.

Ike smiled. “Mac, I’d like you to meet Lauren and Jack.”

Mac tipped the bill of his Pirates cap to Lauren. “Ma’am.” Then, extending his meaty paw, he knelt painfully and came face-to-face with Jack. “Nice to meet you, young man.”

Jack nervously looked away but reached for Mac’s hand and shook it.

“Jack. What do you say?” Lauren said.

Jack faced Mac. “Nice to meet you, sir.”

Mac’s joints creaked as he reached to the floor and pushed himself up. “You ready there, partner?” he said to Ike. “We gotta catch him before he leaves the courthouse at nine.”

As Ike stood, Lauren rose with him. “So you’re a detective?”

Ike threw a nod toward Mac. “He is-a retired homicide detective. I’m a private security and investigative services consultant in the oil and gas business.”

Lauren tipped her head back, as if enlightened. “That makes sense now.”

“What makes sense?” Ike said.

“I saw your name written on my brother’s day planner.”

The claim jolted Ike. “My name?”

Lauren nodded again. “Did you speak to him?”

“No, I’ve never talked to your brother.” Ike was sure investigators would have checked the planner, but he’d never been questioned.

Jack reached up and tugged on Ike’s forearm. “Can you help me?”

Those eyes were begging again.

Lauren gently pulled Jack’s hand from Ike’s arm. “I’m sorry,” she said. “He’s been through a lot.”

Jack kept his eyes, now wet again, locked on Ike. “My dad wouldn’t do that to me. He wouldn’t kill himself.”

Ike was frozen by Jack’s stare. It was as innocent as any ten-year-old’s. A primal desire to protect Jack stirred in Ike’s heart. He didn’t want to believe the kid-but he did.

Lauren hugged Jack. “It’s okay, honey.” She looked back at Ike and Mac. “We have no right to ask you th-“

A thick, towering woman with dark brown hair and a stone-cold stare wedged into the space between Mac and Lauren. She studied Mac, then Ike. “What’s going on here, Lauren?”

Ike immediately recognized her from the news reports. Jenna Price represented Jack. For the last two months she’d been billed as a hopeless underdog, and the string of losses so far-other than prevailing at the bail hearing-supported that label. A basketball player-turned-lawyer, she was battling a DA who so far showed little mercy. She worked with her father in their tiny firm, and every talking head said she didn’t stand a chance.

Lauren said, “Jenna, this is Ike Rossi and Mac … I’m sorry?”

“Machowski,” Mac said as he shook Jenna’s hand.

Jenna gripped Ike’s hand and held it as she spoke. “My dad said you were the greatest quarterback ever to come out of western Pennsylvania.”

Ike always had one answer to that comment to quell any further discussion of his accolades. “That was a long time ago.”

“What are you doing now?” she asked.

Jack leaned around Lauren and nearly shouted, “He’s a detective. He can help us!”

Lauren hugged him tight again. “Shhh.”

“A detective?” Jenna said.

“A private security and investigative services consultant.”

Jenna nodded and held her gaze but said nothing.

“We gotta go now,” Mac said, looking at his watch.

Ike stepped back from Jenna. “Stay strong, Counselor.” He nodded to Lauren. “Ms. Bottaro.” Then Ike offered a handshake to Jack.

Jack sheepishly held out the Rubik’s Cube for Ike. Immediately, Ike felt Jack’s awkwardness.

“You keep that, Jack.” Ike raised his hand for another high-five. Jack took the cue this time and slapped it. “Ladies,” he said, turning with Mac and walking down the hall.

As they reached the stairs at the end of the corridor, Ike glanced over his shoulder. He could see Jack edging around the two women to keep his eyes on Ike, with the Rubik’s Cube clutched in his hand. Ike turned back to the stairs.

“You okay?” Mac said. Ike nodded and started up the stairs to meet a man he despised. A man who might finally deliver the key to his parents’ murder.

***

Excerpt from The Victim of the System by Steve Hadden. Copyright © 2018 by Steve Hadden. Reproduced with permission from Steve Hadden. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Steve Hadden

 

Steve Hadden was born in Columbus, Ohio but spent much of his childhood in North Severna Park, Maryland. Building a short-wave radio with his father (an electrical engineer), frequent trips to the US Naval Academy, and the gift of a chemistry set, sparked his interest in chemistry and mathematics at an early age. At the end of elementary school, Steve’s family moved to Columbus, Indiana where he developed his love for basketball and where his favorite book was Stranger Than Science by Frank Edwards. Two years later, Steve moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where his junior high school creative writing teacher sparked his interest in writing. Steve attended North Allegheny High School and fell in love with Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic.

He attended Penn State, graduated with a degree in chemical engineering, and began a career in the oil and gas business, where he’s worked in engineering, management, and advisory roles. He’s traveled to intriguing places around the world and met fascinating people. His experience in the oil and gas business ultimately led to the idea for his first thriller, The Sunset Conspiracy. His interest in biology and science formed the foundation for his next four thrillers, Genetic Imperfections and The Swimming Monkeys Trilogy. He returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh with his latest thriller, The Victim of the System, a story with a mind-bending scientific twist.

Steve now lives in the foothills of the Cascades outside of Seattle. When he’s not working on his next intriguing thriller, Steve is hiking the trails with his wife and two Labrador retrievers, playing guitar or piano, reading great books, listening to music and consulting on business matters.

 

Visit Steve Hadden at stevehadden.com, Goodreads, & Facebook!

 

Tour Participants:

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


 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Steve Hadden. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card. The giveaway begins on May 1 and runs through June 2, 2018.

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DISCLAIMER

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

May 012018
 

Hiding

by Jenny Morton Potts

on Tour May 1-31, 2018

Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts

Synopsis:

 

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?

 

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

This was the first book that I read by this author, but I am sure it won’t be the last.

The story alternates between 2 families, one in Scotland, the other North Carolina with the time frames of 2007 and 2021.

At first, I was a bit confused as to how and what was going on and how these 2 families could be connected. But the author’s writing style and the narrative kept me glued to the pages. There was an underlying intrigue that I had to know how it was all going to come together. So glad I did!

Caveat: This will be a very vague review because I don’t want to give anything away!

Keller Baye, has had a very unfortunate childhood, which with every waking hour is planning for revenge after watching his father be put to death in a North Carolina jail. Rebecca Brown also had a difficult childhood. At the age of 4, her and her 2 siblings, lost their parents in a horrific car accident, and who now live with their paternal grandparents in Scotland. As Rebecca gets older, she wants to know more of what happened that fateful day. How are these 2 families connected?

This book has it all. Secrets, betrayals, vengeance, revenge, stalking, lies, and love, both irrational and unconditional.

The author’s writing style I very much enjoyed. She weaves and interweaves these 2 families in an intricate narrative that kept me turning the pages.

Definitely recommend!

 

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published by: Cahoots Publishing
Publication Date: February 2018
Number of Pages: 323
ISBN: 1976862817 (ISBN13: 9781976862816)
Check out Hiding on Amazon | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 2

Death Row
June 2021

There was a walk now. They passed doors, like random choices. They all looked the same, all the colour of pale nicotine. But some of those doors were in the business of living and some were not. As you walked past them, you could feel hope slipping away. Which door? Which one? It was like a game the devil might play as you entered hell. Eventually the passengers reached the end of their journey and were shown into another room which was similar in size to the last but with what looked like a window on one side. The window was dark for the moment, with a black blind pulled down and opposite, there was a gallery with seating. The seating was slightly raked, like a theatre. They were here for a performance.

‘That’s 11.30 gone now,’ someone said from the far end.

‘Show must go on.’ Keller mumbled.

There was a crackle and then an audio test from the speaker in the corner. Keller imagined that President Descher had arranged a televised viewing and that all over the State the people could see and hear this: factory workers, grandmothers, schoolchildren, stopping what they’re doing and watching. From the audio speaker, Keller recognised words from the phonetic alphabet, then the date, today, June 23rd 2021, the location, the prisoner’s name and number HCI 72259-931 and the time scheduled for execution.

Keller knew that the duration for the poison to act was ten minutes maximum and that the ratio to be injected was set against the inmate’s weight and height.

Somewhere behind him, Keller could hear mumbling about the victims’ families and an officer explained that they were seated separately, in another viewing room. He imagined that the families’ room was crowded, since eight victims had lost their lives that day.

At 11.45 am, the time was announced once more on the speaker and the blind was pulled up manually, revealing the execution chamber. Keller had forgotten who was seated directly next to him now, but whoever it was flinched.

The prisoner was already strapped onto the gurney. There was a sheet over his body but you could see where the constraint buckles jutted up into the clean white cotton. His left arm was exposed however and the intravenous tube was already in. He was clean shaven. Keller had never seen him without a beard. He could almost pretend he did not know him.

Three Harfield guards came into the chamber now. They did not look at the window, which to them was a mirror. Who would want to see themselves doing what they were about to do, even if it was their duty. The three guards were each handed a syringe. The content of one of the syringes was deadly and the other two contained a harmless fluid. The guards would never know who among them administered the lethal injection.

The condemned man’s chest began to rise and fall. He blinked rapidly and his Adam’s apple bulged in his throat, as he struggled to find an impossible place between dignity and the screaming of his nerves to stay alive.

Keller murmured, ‘There is nothing to do now but die.’

A man in the chamber who had been out of their view, moved into sight. He was dressed in a plain dark suit. He identified himself as Warden James and held up a chart. His hand was steady enough, his white knuckles though suggested a very tight grip on that chart.

Keller stared down at the inmate who seemed to be staring back, though Keller knew that the glass was one way and that all the condemned could see was a reflection of his own final scene. All the same, their eyes met.

Warden James turned to the prisoner. ‘Is there anything you would like to say or read before we administer this lethal injection?’

‘Yes.’

Keller frowned down at the neighboring lap. It was the redhead next to him, the PhD student, twisting that engagement ring. The girl who more than likely had it all, the girl who could not cope without her cell, was barely coping at all. Keller could feel her trembling against the length of his torso and the anger in his veins burned. The young woman held her hand up to her mouth and whispered into it, ‘God, dear God.’

The Warden lowered his eyes to Prisoner HCI 72259-931 on the gurney and blinked several times. He said to the inmate, ‘Go ahead, what do you want to say.’

‘I would like to ask a question.’

‘What is your question?’

‘I would like to ask a question and have it answered.’

Warden James looked around the room at the other officials.

‘Go ahead and ask your question.’

‘Not until you tell me that I will have an answer.’

Keller smiled and nudged the redhead. ‘You see? Make the most of every goddamned moment.’

The young woman was on the edge of her seat and on the edge of tears.

In the chamber, the suits and uniforms huddled and muttered amongst themselves and the Warden came free of the pack once more.

‘We shall try to answer your question. And cannot commit beyond that. I ask you therefore again, is there anything you would like to say?’

The inmate tried to lift his head but the strap across his brow was held tight. He cleared his throat and said in that thick Carolina accent that Keller thought he’d forgotten but which now reignited in his memory and ripped through his heart.

‘I want to know if my son can see me.’

***

Excerpt from Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts. Copyright © 2018 by Jenny Morton Potts. Reproduced with permission from Jenny Morton Potts. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Jenny Morton Potts

Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realised she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family.

She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Catch Up With Jenny Morton Potts On: Website, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Tour Participants:

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Join In on this terrific GIVEAWAY!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jenny Morton Potts. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card. The giveaway begins on May 1 and runs through June 2, 2018.

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER

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

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

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

Apr 252018
 

Dead Air by Cliff Protzman Tour Banner

Dead Air

by Cliff Protzman

on Tour April 1-30, 2018

 

Synopsis:

Dead Air by Cliff Protzman

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

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

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

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

 

Book Details:

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

 

Author Bio:

Cliff Protzman

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

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

 

Q&A with Cliff Protzman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us why we should read this book.

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

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

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

Who are some of your favorite authors?

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

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

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

What are you reading now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite leisure activity?

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

 

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

 

Read an excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“John, what’s the problem?”

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

***

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

 

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