Dec 072017
 

Strong to the Bone by Jon Land Banner

Strong to the Bone

by Jon Land

on Tour December 4, 2017 – January 31, 2018

Synopsis:

STRONG TO THE BONE by Jon Land

1944: Texas Ranger Jim Strong investigates a triple murder inside a Nazi POW camp in Texas.

The Present: His daughter, fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, finds herself pursuing the killer her father never caught in the most personal case of her career a conspiracy stretching from that Nazi POW camp to a modern-day neo-Nazi gang.

A sinister movement has emerged from the shadows of history, determined to undermine the American way of life. Its leader, Armand Fisker, has an army at his disposal, a deadly bio-weapon, and a reputation for being unbeatable. But he s never taken on the likes of Caitlin Strong and her outlaw lover, Cort Wesley Masters.

To prevent an unspeakable cataclysm, Caitlin and Cort Wesley must win a war the world thought was over.

**Read my review HERE and enter the giveaway**

Strong to the Bone is another fine effort by Jon Land, who manages to mix character development with gripping, page-turning plots. This is his best novel yet.”
StrandMagazine

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0765384647 (ISBN13: 9780765384645)
Series: Caitlin Strong Novels (Volume 9)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗| Macmillan 🔗

**Q&A with Jon Land**

Welcome!

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

Definitely from current events. I call myself a sponge in that I’m not only always looking for obvious fodder for my thrillers, but also for the less than obvious. For example, STRONG TO THE BONE features, as a Maguffin, a groundbreaking discovery of a new anti-rejection drug that could change the lives of transplant patients. That sprang directly from an article in the New York Times about the developmental progress of such drugs. That’s the equivalent of the light bulb going on and then burning even brighter once I figure out how to weaponize this potentially life-changing discovery because, hey, I write high-stakes thrillers, right? Outside of setting scenes in places I’ve visited, I never draw on my own personal experiences because, truth be told, almost all of mine are mundane or boring.

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

I start at the beginning and let the story takes me where it needs to and let my characters do their share of the heavy lifting. Knowing too much of a book before you start lends the final product a formulaic feel, whereas spontaneity implies that if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, the reader can’t possibly know. I like to let my stories develop organically from the inside out. In STRONG TO THE BONE again, for instance, the villain doesn’t have a nefarious plot to wreak havoc on mankind when the book opens—that plot develops in the course of the story because of something that happens in the course of the story.

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

I find inspiration in real people or situations, mostly to build villains more than good guys but almost never from those I know personally, because then it doesn’t feel like fiction anymore. In STRONG TO THE BONE, the evil Davey Skoll is a thinly disguised version of Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical tycoon prone to jacking up prices astronomically on commonly-used drugs. And the neo-Nazi villain Skoll hooks up with, Armand Fisker, is based on a story I once read of towns in California and elsewhere that are actually controlled and run by lawless biker gangs.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I write in two shifts, each 2-3 hours; say, from 12-3 in the afternoon and then in the evening maybe from 10-midnight. I’ve always been a late night person, so sometimes I work even later. The key is to always feel like the writing is fresh, kind of like when you’re a runner and want to push yourself just hard enough. I have two idiosyncrasies that have become kind of staples. The first is that I always try to leave off in the middle of something so I have a running start the next day when I pick up the work. The second is I’ll have some books set aside by my favorite authors to read to get into the proper mindset before I start writing. Nothing gets me in the right frame of mind better than that!

Tell us why we should read this book.

Oh, lots of reasons! It’s got all the hallmarks—action, suspense, a great puzzle, history—that all the Caitlin Strong books have. But it’s also the most personal of any title in the series. That’s because instead of just tracking a random bad guy, this time out Caitlin finds herself on the trail of the man who sexually assaulted her eighteen years before and has now resurfaced. So at long last she gets to finally slay the dragon. But that gives her cause for concern because she’s not sure she really wants to catch him. What if that costs Caitlin her edge? What if this horrible experience from her past is the primary driver of who she is, her very sensibility? So what happens after she slays the dragon.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Lee Child, James Lee Burke, James Rollins, Steve Berry, David Morrell, Stephen King, James Hall, Brad Meltzer, Stephen Hunter, John Hart—the list goes on and on!

What are you reading now?

I’m finishing GONE DARK by James Hall, in the middle of G-MAN by Stephen Hunter, and have just started THE MIDNIGHT LINE by Lee Child.

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

I’m just starting STRONG AS STEEL, the next in the Caitlin Strong series which will be published in December of 2018. All I can tell you, because it’s all that I know, is that involves skeletal bones being uncovered in the Texas desert where something else was also dug up out of the ground. Something with the potential to be world changing, maybe in more ways than one. Check back with me in a couple months and I might be able to tell you more!

Fun questions:

Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Anyone who gets the movie made!

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

I love working out at the gym and following Brown University football for which I serve as vice president of the Brown Football Association.

Favorite meal?

Nothing beat a great steak, although a great lobster comes close!

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

Author Bio:

Jon Land

Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of 43 books, including eight titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense), Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller, and Strong Light of Day which won the 2016 International Book Award for Best Thriller-Adventure, the 2015 Books and Author Award for Best Mystery Thriller, and the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Mystery. Strong Cold Dead became the fourth title in the series in a row to win the International Book Award in 2017 and about which Booklist said, “Thrillers don’t get any better than this,” in a starred review. Land has also teamed with multiple New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham on a new sci-fi series, the first of which, The Rising, was published by Forge in January of 2017. He is a 1979 graduate of Brown University and lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Austin, Texas

What the hell?

Caitlin Strong and Cort Wesley Masters had just emerged from Esther’s Follie’s on East 6th Steet, when they saw the stream of people hurrying down the road, gazes universally cocked back behind them. Sirens blared off in the distance and a steady chorus of honking horns seemed to be coming from an adjoining block just past the street affectionately known as “Dirty Sixth,” Austin’s version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

“Couldn’t tell you,” Cort Wesley said, even as he sized up the scene. “But I got a feeling we’re gonna know before much longer.”

* * *

Caitlin was in town to speak at a national law enforcement conference focusing on homegrown terrorism, and both her sessions at the Convention Center had been jam-packed. She felt kind of guilty her presentations had lacked the audio-visual touches many of the others had featured. But the audiences hadn’t seem to mind, filling a sectioned-off ballroom to the gills to hear of her direct experiences, in contrast to theoretical dissertations by experts. Audiences comprised of cops a lot like her, looking to bring something back home they could actually use. She’d focused to a great extent on her most recent battle with ISIS right here in Texas, and an al-Qaeda cell a few years before that, stressing how much things had changed in the interim and how much more they were likely to.

Cort Wesley had driven up from San Antonio to meet her for a rare night out that had begun with dinner at Ancho’s inside the Omni Hotel and then a stop at Antone’s nightclub to see the Rats, a band headed by a Texas Ranger tech expert known as Young Roger. From there, they’d walked to Esther’s Follies to take in the famed Texas-centric improve show there, a first for both of them that was every bit as funny and entertaining as advertised, even with a gun-toting woman both Caitlin and Cort Wesley realized was based on her.

Fortunately, no one else in the audience made that connection and they managed to slip out ahead of the rest of the crowd. Once outside, though, they were greeted by a flood of pedestrians pouring up the street from an area of congestion a few blocks down, just past 8th Street.

“What you figure, Ranger?”

“That maybe we better go have ourselves a look.”

CHAPTER 2

Austin, Texas

Caitlin practically collided with a young man holding a wad of napkins against his bleeding nose at the intersection with East 7th Street.

“What’s going on?” she asked him, pulling back her blazer to show her Texas Ranger badge.

The young man looked from it back to her, swallowing some blood and hacking it up onto the street. “University of Texas graduation party took over all of Stubb’s Barbecue,” he said, pointing in the restaurant’s direction. “Guess you could say it got out of hand. Bunch of fraternities going at it.” He looked at the badge pinned to her chest again. “Are you really a Texas Ranger?”

“You need to get to an emergency room,” Caitlin told him, and pressed on with Cort Wesley by her side.

“Kid was no older than Dylan,” he noted, mentioning his oldest son who was still on a yearlong leave from Brown University.

“How many fraternities does the University of Texas at Austin have anyway, Cort Wesley?”

“A whole bunch.”

“Yeah,” she nodded, continuing on toward the swell of bodies and flashing lights, “it sure looks that way.”

Stubb’s was well known for its barbecue offerings and, just as much, its status as a concert venue. The interior was modest in size, as Caitlin recalled, two floors with the bottom level normally reserved for private parties and the upstairs generally packed with patrons both old and new. The rear of the main building, and several adjoining ones, featured a flattened dirt lot fronted by several performance stages where upwards of two thousand people could enjoy live music in the company of three sprawling outdoor bars.

That meant this graduation party gone bad may have featured at least a comparable number of students and probably even more, many of whom remained in the street, milling about as altercations continued to flare, while first responders struggled futilely to disperse the crowd. Young men and women still swigging bottles of beer, while pushing and shoving each other. The sound of glass breaking rose over the loudening din of the approaching sirens, the whole scene glowing amid the colors splashed from the revolving lights of the Austin police cars already on the scene.

A fire engine leading a rescue wagon screeched to a halt just ahead of Cort Wesley and Caitlin, at the intersection with 7th Street, beyond which had become impassable.

“Dylan could even be here, for all I know,” Cort Wesley said, picking up his earlier train of thought.

“He doesn’t go to UT.”

“But there’s girls and trouble, two things he excels at the most.”

This as fights continued breaking out one after another, splinters of violence on the verge of erupting into an all-out brawl going on under the spill of the LED streetlights rising over Stubb’s.

Caitlin pictured swirling lines of already drunk patrons being refused admittance due to capacity issues. Standing in line full of alcohol on a steamy night, expectations of a celebratory evening dashed, was a recipe for just what she was viewing now. In her mind, she saw fights breaking out between rival UT fraternities mostly in the outdoor performance area, before spilling out into the street, fueled by simmering tempers now on high heat.

“You see any good we can be here?” Cort Wesley asked her.

Caitlin was about to say no, when she spotted an anxious Austin patrol cop doing his best to break up fights that had spread as far as 7th Street. She and Cort Wesley sifted through the crowd and made their way toward him, Caitlin advancing alone when they drew close.

“Anything I can do to help,” she said, reading the Austin policeman’s nametag, “Officer Hilton?”

Hilton leaned up against an ornate light pole that looked like gnarled wrought iron for support. He was breathing hard, his face scraped and bruised. He noted the Texas Ranger badge and seemed to match her face to whatever media reports he’d remembered her from.

“Not unless you got enough Moses in you to part the Red Sea out there, Ranger.”

“What brought you boys out here? Detail work?” Caitlin asked, trying to account for his presence on scene so quickly, ahead of the sirens screaming through the night.

Hilton shook his head. “An anonymous nine-one-one call about a sexual assault taking place inside the club, the downstairs lounge.”

“And you didn’t go inside?”

Hilton turned his gaze on the street, his breathing picking up again. “Through that? My partner tried and ended up getting his skull cracked open by a bottle. I damn near got killed fighting to reach him. Managed to get him in the back of our squad car and called for a rescue,” he said, casting his gaze toward the fire engine and ambulance that were going nowhere. “Think maybe I better carry him to the hospital myself.”

“What about the girl?”

“What girl?”

“Sexual assault victim inside the club.”

Hilton frowned. “Most of them turn out to be false alarms anyway.”

“Do they now?”

Caitlin’s tone left him sneering at her. “Look, Ranger, you want to shoot up the street to get inside that shithole, be my guest. I’m not leaving my partner.”

“Thanks for giving me permission,” she said, and steered back for Cort Wesley.

“That looked like it went well,” he noted, pushing a frat boy who’d ventured too close out of the way, after stripping the empty beer bottle he was holding by the neck from his grasp.

“Sexual assault victim might still be inside, Cort Wesley.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah.”

“Got any ideas, Ranger?”

Caitlin eyed the fire engine stranded where East 7th Street met Red River Avenue. “Just one.”

CHAPTER 3

Austin, Texas

Four firemen were gathered behind the truck in a tight cluster, speaking with the two paramedics from the rescue wagon.

“I’m a Texas Ranger,” Caitlin announced, approaching them with jacket peeled back to reveal her badge, “and I’m commandeering your truck.”

“You’re what?” one of the fireman managed. “No, absolutely not!”

The siren began blaring and lights started flashing, courtesy of Cort Wesley who’d climbed up behind the wheel.

“Sorry,” Caitlin said, raising her voice above the din, “can’t hear you!”

* * *

The crowd that filled the street in front of Stubb’s Barbecue saw and heard the fire truck coming and began pelting it with bottles, as it edged forward through the congested street that smelled of sweat and beer. What looked like steam hung in the stagnant air overhead, either an illusion or the actual product of so many superheated bodies congealed in such tight quarters. The sound of glass braking crackled through Caitlin’s ears, as bottle after bottle smashed against the truck’s frame.

The crowd clustered tighter around the fire engine, cutting off Cort Wesley’s way backward or on toward Stubb’s. The students, their fervor and aggression bred by alcohol, never noticed Caitlin’s presence atop the truck until she finally figured out the workings of the truck’s deck gun and squeezed the nozzle.

The force of the water bursting out of the barrel nearly knocked her backward off the truck. But she managed to right and then repositioned herself, as she doused the tight cluster of students between the truck and the restaurant entrance with the gun’s powerful stream.

A wave of people tried to fight the flow and ended up getting blown off their feet, thrown into other students who then scrambled to avoid the fire engine’s surge forward ahead of its deafening horn. Caitlin continued to clear a path for Cort Wesley, sweeping the deck gun in light motions from side to side, the five hundred gallon tank still plenty full when the club entrance drew within clear view.

She felt the fire engine’s front wheels mount the sidewalk and twist heavily to the right. The front fender grazed the building and took out a plate glass window the rioting had somehow spared. Caitlin saw a gap in the crowd open all the way to the entrance and leaped down from the truck to take advantage of it, before it closed up again.

She purposely didn’t draw her gun and entered Stubb’s to the sight of bloodied bouncers and staff herding the last of the patrons out of the restaurant. Outside, the steady blare of sirens told her the Austin police had arrived in force. Little they could do to disperse a crowd this large and unruly in rapid fashion, though, much less reach the entrance to lend their efforts to Caitlin’s in locating the sexual assault victim.

She threaded her way through the ground floor of Stubb’s to the stairs leading down to the private lounge area. The air felt like it was being blasted out of a steam oven, roiled with coagulated body heat untouched by the restaurant’s air conditioning that left Caitlin with the sense she was descending to hell.

Reaching the windowless sub-level floor, she swept her eyes about and thought she heard a whimpering come from a nest of couches, where a male figure hovered over the frame of a woman, lying half on and half off a sectional couch.

“Sir, put your hands in the air and turn around slowly!” Caitlin ordered, drawing her SIG-Sauer nine-millimeter pistol. “Don’t make me tell you twice!”

He started to turn, without raising his hands, and Caitlin fired when she glimpsed something shiny in his grasp. Impact to the shoulder twisted the man around and spilled him over the sectional couch, Caitlin holding her SIG at the ready as she approached his victim.

She heard the whimpering again, making her think more of the sound a dog makes, and followed it toward a tight cluster of connected couch sections, their cushions all stained wet and smelling thickly of beer. Drawing closer while still keeping a sharp eye on the man she’d shot, Caitlin spotted a big smart phone lying just out of his grasp, recognizing it as the object she’d wrongly taken for a gun. Then Caitlin spied a young woman of college age pinned between a pair of couch sections, covering her exposed breasts with her arms, her torn blouse hanging off her and jeans unbuttoned and unzipped just short of her hips.

Drawing closer, Caitlin saw the young woman’s assailant, the man she’d just shot in all likelihood, must’ve yanked them down so violently that he’d split the zipper and torn off the snap or button.

“Ma’am?” she called softly.

The young woman tightened herself into a ball and retreated deeper into the darkness between the couch sections, not seeming to hear her.

“Ma’am,” Caitlin said louder, hovering over the coed while continuing to check on the man she’d shot, his eyes drifting in and out of consciousness, his shirt wet with blood in the shoulder area from the gunshot wound.

Caitlin only wished it was her own attacker lying there, from all those years before when she’d been a coed herself at the Lone Star College campus in West Houston. Some memories suppressed easily, others were like a toothache that came and went. That one was more like a cavity that had been filled, forgotten until the filling broke off and raw nerve pain flared.

Caitlin pushed the couch sections aside and knelt by the young woman, pistol tucked low by her hip so as not to frighten her further.

“I’m a Texas Ranger, ma’am,” she said, in as soothing a voice as she could manage. “I need to get you out of here, and I need you to help me. I need to know if you can walk.”

The young woman finally looked at her, nodded. Her left cheek was swollen badly and one of her arms hung limply from its socket. Caitlin looked back at the downed form of the man she’d already shot once, half hoping he gave her a reason to shoot him again.

“What’s your name? Mine’s Caitlin.”

“Kelly Ann,” the young woman said, her voice dry and cracking.

Caitlin helped her to her feet. “Well, Kelly Ann, I know things feel real bad right now, but trust me when I tell you this is bad as they’re going to get.”

Kelly Ann’s features perked up slightly, her eyes flashing back to life. She tried to take a deep breath, but stopped halfway though.

Caitlin held her around the shoulders in one arm, SIG clutched in her free hand while her eyes stayed peeled on the downed man’s stirring form. “I’m going to stay with you the whole way until we get you some help,” she promised.

The building suddenly felt like a Fun House Hall of Mirrors. Everything distorted, perspective and sense of place lost. Even the stairs climbing back to the ground floor felt different, only the musty smell of sweat mixed with stale perfume and body spray telling her they were the same.

Caitlin wanted to tell Kelly Ann it would be all right, that it would get better, that it would all go away in time. But that would be a lie, so she said nothing at all. Almost to the door, she gazed toward a loose assemblages of frat boys wearing hoodies displaying their letters as they chugged from liquor bottles stripped from the shelves behind the main bar on the first floor. How different were they from the one who’d hurt her, hurt Kelly Ann?

Caitlin wanted to shoot the bottles out of their hands, but kept leading Kelly Ann on instead, out into the night and the vapor spray from the deck gun now being wielded by Cort Wesley to keep their route clear.

“’Bout time!” he shouted down, scampering across the truck’s top to retake his place behind the wheel.

Caitlin was already inside the cab, Kelly Ann clinging tight to her.

“Where to, Ranger?”

“Seton Medical Center, Cort Wesley.”

Before he got going, Caitlin noticed Officer Hilton and several other Austin cops pushing their way through the crowd toward the entrance to Stubb’s.

“Don’t worry, Officer, I got the victim out safe and sound,” she yelled down to him, only half-sarcastically. “But I left a man with a bullet in his shoulder down there for you to take care of.”

“Come again?”

“I’d hurry, if I were you. He’s losing blood.”

***

Excerpt from Strong to the Bone by Jon Land. Copyright © 2017 by Jon Land. Reproduced with permission from Jon Land. All rights reserved.

Tour Participants:

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

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Nov 292017
 

A Pound of Flesh

by Alex Gray

on Tour November 6 – December 6, 2017

Synopsis:

A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray

In the depths of a freezing winter, Glasgow finds itself at the mercy of not one, but two serial killers

This is Detective Inspector Lorimer’s worst nightmare and beyond anything he’s faced in his many years on the force. Can he find a link between the brutal slaying of prostitutes in the back streets of the city and the methodical killing of several unconnected businessmen?

When the latest victim turns out to be a prominent Scottish politician, the media’s spotlight is shone on Lorimer’s investigation. Psychologist and criminal profiler Solly Brightman is called in to help solve the cases, but his help may be futile as they realize that someone on the inside is leaking confidential police information. Meanwhile two killers haunt the snowy streets and Lorimer must act fast, before they strike again…

Check out my review HERE and enter the giveaway

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Detective
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: November 7th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659227 (ISBN13: 9780062659224)
Series: DCI Lorimer #9
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

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 fourteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Connect with Alex Gray on her Website 🔗 & Twitter 🔗.

GUEST POST

This was the 5th book that I have read in this series so I asked Ms. Gray what are 10 facts about DCI Lorimer that I may not know.

Ten little known facts about DCI Lorimer

Did you know …?

1. Lorimer never intended to be a police officer ~ he had hoped to pursue an academic career as an Art historian.

2. He has no brothers or sisters.

3. Both of Lorimer’s parents died before he left High School; his father of cancer, his mother of a brain aneurysm.

4. Lorimer enjoys watching soccer though his sport as a youngster was rugby.

5. Before he met up with Solomon Brightman, Lorimer was very skeptical about criminal profiling.

6. He is kept pretty busy as you can imagine but did you realize he often forgets to have a regular haircut?

7. Lorimer’s birthday is February 7th which makes his star sign Aquarius. He has several traits typical of that sign eg humanitarianism, fighting for causes, being a good listener and a highly intellectual person that likes helping others.

8. Everyone has a weakness and Lorimer’s is that he suffers from claustrophobia.

9. So far Lorimer and Maggie have not visited Australia (unlike me) but it is high on his wish list, particularly to see the fabulous bird life.

10. His preferred brand of whisky is an Islay single malt named Bunnahabhain.

Read an excerpt:

It wasn’t always easy to see the moon or the stars. This city’s sodium glow rose like yellow fog from its streets, blotting out any chance of star gazing. But she knew it was there. That cold white face dominated her thoughts tonight and she shivered as though it already saw her flesh naked and exposed to its unblinking watchfulness. Perhaps it was because she was trying to be seen that she felt such awareness. The red jersey pencil skirt folded over to create a too-short mini, those agonisingly high-heeled sandals cutting into her bare toes; spread across the bed back in the hotel they had seemed the garb of an adventuress.

Now, revealed in the glare of the street lamp on this corner she felt a sense of…what? Shame? Perhaps. Self-consciousness, certainly. But such feelings must be overcome if her plan was to work.

She had already overcome the blank indifference of the girls down in Waterloo Street, their body language both defiant and compelling. Her hips shifted, one slender foot thrust forwards, as she remembered how they had stood, languidly chewing gum, waiting for their punters. Their desperation drove them to return night after night, the price of a wrap of drugs equating to an hour with some stranger.

Her own need was just as strong, fuelled by a passion that would not be spent until she had fulfilled her desire. It was warm in this Glasgow summer’s night and her black nylon blouse clung to her back, making her uncomfortably aware of her own flesh. The thin cotton coat she’d worn to conceal these trashy clothes as she’d tapped her way across the marble foyer of the hotel was now folded into the black bag at her feet, along with her more sober court shoes. When it was over she would slip them on and return the way she had come, hair clipped in a businesslike pleat. She smiled thinly. Being a woman had some advantages; the facility for disguise was just one of them. Her carefully made-up face was stripped of colour in the unforgiving lamplight, leaving only an impression of dark eyes, darker hair tossed back to reveal a long, determined mouth. She recalled what Tracey- Anne, one of the girls at the drop-in centre, had told her: I get through it by pretending to be someone else for a few hours, then I can be myself again.

Tracey-Anne was lucky, though. After tonight she could never again be the person that she used to be. Glancing at the elegant façades around the square, the dark-haired woman suddenly saw these city streets through different eyes: the shadows seemed blacker, the corners harbouring ill intent. Her chin tilted upwards, defying those inner demons tempting her to turn back.

After tonight things would change for ever. When the car slowed down at the kerb her heart quickened in a moment of anticipation that astonished her. She had expected the thrill of fear, not this rush of excitement sweeping through her blood.

The man behind the wheel had bent his head and she could see his eyes flicking over her hungrily, appraising his choice. He gave a brief nod as if to say he was pleased with his first instinct to stop. Her lip-glossed mouth drawn up in a smile, she stepped forward, willing him to reach across and open the window, ask her price. For a moment he seemed to hesitate and she could see tiny beads of sweat on his upper lip, glistening in the light. Then the door of the big car swung open noiselessly and she lowered herself inside, swinging her legs neatly together to show as much thigh as she could. But the gestures were still ladylike, almost reserved, as if she knew that would quicken his senses.

‘How much?’ he asked. And she told him, one shoulder moving insouciantly as if to declare that she wasn’t bothered whether he could afford her or not: someone else would pay that price if he wouldn’t. She glanced at him briefly, catching sight of the tip of his tongue flicking at his lips like a nervous lizard, then he made a gruff noise of assent, looking at her again, as though to be sure of his purchase, before accelerating into the night.

***

Excerpt from A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Tour Participants:

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

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winner of one (1) eBook copy of Alex Gray’s SLEEP LIKE THE DEAD. The giveaway begins on November 6 and runs through December 10, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Nov 272017
 

Countdown

by Carey Baldwin

on Tour November 27 – December 31, 2017

Synopsis:

Countdown by Carey Baldwin

The next pulse-pounding Cassidy and Spenser thriller from USA Today bestselling author Carey Baldwin!

Don’t believe everything you see.

Special Agent Atticus Spenser and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Caitlin Cassidy are in Tahiti enjoying a much-needed break from the FBI when they spot newlyweds taking fun photos on the beach. But as the groom carries his bride deeper into the waves, Spense is positive he sees a flash of terror cross her face. All his instincts scream that this woman is in danger. Yet moments later, it’s the groom who has nearly drowned… and the bride has vanished, leaving a bloody wedding dress floating in her wake.

The authorities aren’t sure who to believe—the groom, who insists his wife tried to murder him… or her twin, who claims her sister must have acted in self-defense. Intrigued, Spense and Caity agree to help investigate. But when they discover that the missing bride is the daughter of a notorious confidence man, they begin to suspect that all is not what it seems. Now they’ll need to separate victim from villain, fact from fiction, truth from lie, to determine if there’s really a killer on the loose… or if it’s all one big con.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

This is the 5th in a series but read easily as a stand alone.

Special Agent Atticus Spenser and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Caitlin Cassidy are in Tahiti, where, in a week, they will be married in an intimate ceremony with their mothers and 2 friends. While walking the beach to find the perfect location for their vows, they come across another newly married couple and their photographer. The couple runs into the surf as part of the ceremony, however, they are swimming further out and it appears a struggle is taking place and then a gunshot!!! Spense, being an FBI agent, snaps into action with Cassidy following, also an FBI consultant. Was it the bride or groom that shot the other? And why, especially since they just exchanged vows?

Even though Spenser has no jurisdiction, the local police ask that they help in solving this case since one of the people have gone missing.

Thus begins the countdown to find the missing person and the reason why.

I don’t want to divulge any more of the plot so as not to spoil it for other readers, but let me tell you this, the title says it all! A fast paced story that captivated me from the first few pages to the very last word. The characters and settings came to life, and was easy to imagine, due to the writer’s descriptions.

For me, this was what I call “a transported read”. I was so engrossed that I was not aware of my surroundings. I was totally enmeshed in the story. And with the clock ticking down, I tried reading faster to find out the truth. The continuous suspense throughout the book, with so many twists and turns, was galvanizing!! The unexpected ending blindsided me!

This was one heart stopping read!! Highly recommend, but with a warning, be prepared you, will not be able to put it down!

And check out my review of STOLEN


Enter the giveaway below.


Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: November 28th 2017
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0062495631 (ISBN13: 9780062495631)
Series: Cassidy & Spenser #5
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗


Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Six Months Earlier

Late Morning

Riverbend, Texas

For the second time since Rose Parker entered her target’s backyard, the Ruger LCP nearly slipped from her sweat-slicked shaky grip.

Damn nerves.

Careful to maintain her hold on the pistol, she halted, wiped her palms on her jeans, one at a time, and then resumed forward progress. Papa hadn’t raised her to be a weak-willed helpless woman. If only he were here to give her a steadying slap—because she was going to take care of Tommy Preston or die trying.

Scratch that.

Dying wasn’t an option.

Then there would be no one left to get the job done.

Suddenly, the pulse in her ears seemed loud enough to burst her eardrums.

You don’t have to do this.

She checked out her toes. Dust obscured the newness of the two-sizes-too-big men’s Nikes that had arrived in the mail yesterday.

Yes, you do.

A bitter taste worked its way up the back of her throat. She spat onto the ground and instantly regretted it. Could they get DNA from dirt-spit? Better keep her saliva to herself from here on out, just to be on the safe side. She wasn’t worried about shoe prints though. If documented as evidence, these would only mislead the cops—something that was easy to do, and a skill she’d mastered at a too-young age.

She pulled her shoulders high and tilted her face up. The rays of the white, west Texas sun had blanched the color from the heavens, changing them into a transparent film. Sweat trickling down her forehead stung when it reached her eyes. Longing to shuck out of every stitch of clothing on her body, she unbuttoned the top of her blouse. Weird how claustrophobia could hit you out in the open like this, but the soaring temperatures and the sheer, heat-wrinkled sky made her feel as though she were trapped in a giant earthen bowl covered by Saran Wrap.
Gulping hot air to prove there really was oxygen to be had, she shaded her eyes. Her Ray-Bans would be nice to have right about now, but she had no purse to dump them in, and when it came time to set that bastard in her sights she couldn’t afford to have glasses slipping down her nose. Even on a good day at the shooting range with no pressure on her, she wasn’t a great marksman. So under circumstances like these, any distraction would add an unnecessary layer of risk.

Up ahead, a column of dust lifted off the ground, stretched vertically, and then spun itself into a dust devil.

Willing her heartbeat to slow and her mind to still, she curled her finger a hair’s breadth away from the Ruger’s trigger.

Settle down.

To kill a man she needed her head level and her blood as frosty as that mug of beer she’d been wishing for even though it was not yet noon.

You can take care of your own self, girl. Don’t let anybody tell you different.

She had to give Papa his due about one thing—he’d set no stock in the notion that a woman was less than. Sis claimed that had just been his excuse to be harder on them than he would’ve been on any son. But Rose disagreed—yet one more example of how she and Sis didn’t always see eye-to-eye. The way she looked at it, Papa had done them a favor by teaching them to live by their wits. Sure, they’d paid a high price for the lesson, and yes, she’d promised herself she wouldn’t carry on the Parker family’s vocation once Papa was gone, but at least life with him had prepared her to outsmart any trouble that came her way. So, no, it didn’t matter if she couldn’t match Tommy’s physical strength—she had a gun.

***

Excerpt from Countdown by Carey Baldwin. Copyright © 2017 by Carey Baldwin. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

More About Carey Baldwin:

Carey Baldwin

CAREY BALDWIN is a mild-mannered doctor by day and an award-winning author of edgy suspense by night. She holds two doctoral degrees, one in medicine and one in psychology. A USA Today bestselling author, she loves reading and writing stories that keep you off balance and on the edge of your seat. Carey lives in the southwestern United States with her amazing family. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and chasing wildflowers.

Carey loves to hear from readers so please visit her website (www.CareyBaldwin.com;), her Facebook page (facebook.com/CareyBaldwinAuthor), or her Twitter feed (twitter.com/CareyBaldwin)!

Tour Participants:

Stop by these great hosts for reviews, and giveaways!

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Carey Baldwin and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winners of one (1) physical copy of Carey Baldwin’s 4th Cassidy & Spenser Thriller, Stolen. The giveaway begins on November 27 and runs through January 1, 2018. It is open to US residents only.

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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.

Nov 212017
 

Down to No Good

by Earl Javorsky

on Tour October 30, 2017 – January 6, 2018

Synopsis:

Down to No Good by Earl Javorsky

Private investigator Charlie Miner, freshly revived from his own murder, gets a call from Homicide Detective Dave Putnam. Self-styled “psychic to the stars” Tamara Gale has given crucial information about three murders, and the brass thinks it makes the Department look bad. Dave wants Charlie to help figure out the angle, since he has first-hand experience with the inexplicable. Trouble is, Charlie, just weeks after his full-death experience, once again has severe cognitive problems and may get them both killed.

Read my review and enter the giveaway HERE

Earl Javorsky’s DOWN TO NO GOOD is wildly original, wildly energetic, wildly funny – it’s just straight up wild, and I mean that in the best possible way.
– Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE

It’s a shame you missed Down Solo:

“Earl Javorsky’s bold and unusual Down Solo blends the mysterious and the supernatural boldly and successfully. The novel is strong and haunting, a wonderful debut.”
– T. Jefferson Parker, New York Times bestselling author of Full Measure and The Famous and the Dead

“Awesome”
– James Frey, New York Times bestselling author

“Don’t miss Earl Javorsky’s Down Solo. It’s kick-ass, man. Excellent writing. This guy is the real deal.”
– Dan Fante, author of the memoir Fante and the novel Point Doom

“Javorksy’s writing reminded me of the Carl Hiaasen novels I’d read sprawled out on the deck on one sunny Florida vacation. Perfect entertainment, with the right amount of action to keep me alert (and to keep me from snoozing myself into a sunburned state). But there’s also a deeper layer in Down Solo, which left me thinking past the final page.”
– Bibliosmiles

“Javorsky’s dark and gritty prose is leavened with just enough humor to make Down Solo a compelling story that will take readers to the outer limits of noir.”
– San Diego City Beat

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 1611882532 (ISBN13: 9781611882537)
Series: This is the sequel to DOWN SOLO.
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗| Goodreads 🔗

Author Bio:

Earl Javorsky

Daniel Earl Javorsky was born in Berlin and immigrated to the US. He has been, among other things, a delivery boy, musician, product rep in the chemical entertainment industry, university music teacher, software salesman, copy editor, proofreader, and author of two previous novels, Down Solo and Trust Me.

He is the black sheep of a family of high artistic achievers.

INTERVIEW

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I am not a topical writer except to the extent that our national policy toward drug addiction is not only ineffective but also harmful in a number of ways—Down to No Good is a PI mystery, but it also serves as an allegory for the current addiction crisis and the failed and failing War on Drugs.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the storyline brings you?
I start with a character and put him in a situation. My rendering of the character determines how he’ll react to a given circumstance, whether he resolves a problem or makes it worse. At some point, I have to decide where its all going and set the trajectory in that general direction.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Yes. In Down to No Good, my principal character, Charlie Miner, is entirely an invention, but his partner is based on a friend of mine—a fine writer who was a cop for over thirty years. I even—with his permission, use his real name. In Trust Me, the last book I had published, the villain is based on a sex predator in the Los Angeles recovery community.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I am idiosyncratically devoid of routine.

Tell us why we should read this book.
Charlie Miner is a unique character, and I’m proud of his creation. He is a damaged person groping toward wellness while he stumbles through a murder investigation.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Kem Nunn, James Lee Burke, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, Iain Pears, T. Jefferson Parker, and so many more.

What are you reading now?
A Simple Plan by Scott Smith. So far, it’s a perfect balance of characterization, description, and forward movement.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m working on a collaboration with an interesting writer who submitted a book to me for editing (my day job). I told her it wasn’t ready and returned her check, then gave her some books on writing and some reading suggestions. She then asked me to ghostwrite her book. We’re working on building a foundation for the project. After that (or during, I don’t know), I’ll be working on two new books that I already have sketched out.

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

Colin Farrell as Charlie Miner, in a heartbeat. Katherine Moennig (from Ray Donovan) as Z.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I play a lot of basketball. I’ve surfed since I was a kid and still love it, but it’s damn crowded.

Favorite meal?
The chicken salad with orange currants, onions, mini-peppers, cherry tomatoes, basil, feta cheese, and a balsamic reduction/olive oil dressing my wife and I eat almost every day for lunch.

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

Catch Up With Our Author On: earljavorsky.com 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Read an excerpt:

I wake up looking down at my body, naked on a gurney at the morgue.

No.

That’s a memory.

This has happened to me before.

I was riding my bike, working a case, high as a meteorite that doesn’t yet know it’s about to crash and burn, still happily tooling along in space, at night, wrapped in a warm blanket of summer air, Jack Daniels, and a smidgen of heroin. Some creep shot me in the temple, and I woke up hovering above my own corpse.

This time is different.

Not a gurney. Not the morgue.

A bed. My body, eyes closed, on a bed. I’ve got a bird’s-eye view, hovering like a kite, still tethered, but barely, by an invisible string.

Let’s get clear on my condition. I don’t know what it is, but I know what it is not. I am not a vampire, or a zombie, or a ghost. I’m not a thousand years old, I have no superpowers, and I’ve never been a hero. What I do have is a broken life, a broken family, and, so far, an inexplicable inoculation against dying. And a daughter I would die for—or, in this case, return to life for.

The tether reels me in. I descend toward the body, a mirror image to it, my arms at my sides, my feet slightly apart. Three bullet holes in my face—and one in my gut—are going to need some repair. At contact, I am absorbed and no longer looking down at myself but looking up at the ceiling.

I stretch my fingers, curl them into fists, and stretch them again.

“Jesus holy fucking Christ!”

I know that voice.

I turn my head. It’s awkward, after the lightness of floating, to be in the body, to know its heaviness and vulnerability. There’s a man sitting in a chair next to the bed. He’s a cop, and the first thing I think is: He knows my secret. Now he really knows it. But it’s okay, because he’s also my friend and I trust him. I have to.

“Hey, Dave, how’s it going?” My voice sounds artificial—a forced process of pushing air, modulating vibrations with my vocal cords, shaping syllables with my mouth and tongue. I make my lips grin.

Dave sits there like a stuffed panda in his rumpled white shirt and cheap black sports coat. There’s blood on his clothes. It’s in his fingernails—my blood, dried and caked on his hands. His right hand is clasped around a Heineken, which he finally tilts to his mouth and drains.

I force the body up and into a sitting position, feet on the floor. I flex my fingers a few more times, roll my shoulders, and look at Dave. For a moment, I close my eyes and leave the body, just as an experiment, and roam around the room. From over Dave’s shoulder I watch it slump back into the pillows like a marionette whose strings have been cut. Dave stands and moves toward the bed, but I slip back into the body and work my mouth and tell him it’s okay.

I sit back up and ask Dave, “Why am I naked?”

“Because you were shot full of holes and clinically dead. I brought you back to my place and cleaned you up. I took off your clothes to see how many more bullets there might be in you. Your things are right over there.” He points to a chair in the corner.

“You’re taking this pretty well.”

He shrugs. “I feel like I’m in a bad movie, but hey . . .”

“I appreciate your bringing me here.”

“I knew if I called the paramedics you’d have been sliced and diced at the coroner’s.”

“How long have I been here?”

Dave looks at his watch. “It’s noon. Call it thirty-six hours.”

“What day is it? And date?”

“Wednesday. Last day in August.”

I stand and walk to the chair to get dressed. Roaming—moving freely out of the body—is easier than this, but I’ll adjust. I have before. The gorilla-suit quality of living in the body becomes commonplace, the intentional management of operating the system, beating the heart, making the blood run in the veins, the conscious act of breathing: all of it becomes second nature.

It’s almost like being alive.

***

Excerpt from Down to No Good by Earl Javorsky. Copyright © 2017 by Earl Javorsky. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

Tour Participants:

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

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Earl Javorsky and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and 2 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Down Solo by Earl Javorsky. The giveaway begins on October 30 and runs through January 8, 2018.

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Nov 172017
 

Act of Betrayal

by Matthew Dunn

on Tour October 23 – November 30, 2017

Synopsis:

ACT OF BETRAYAL by Matthew Dunn

In this riveting entry in the celebrated thriller series, former intelligence operative Will Cochrane—a “ruthless yet noble” (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram) man from whom “Bond and Bourne could learn a thing or two” (Madison County Herald)—comes out of hiding to expose a conspiracy involving a past assassination that reaches to the highest echelons of the U.S. government.

Three years ago, intelligence officer Will Cochrane was brought in by a Delta Force colonel to assassinate a terrorist financier in Berlin. After the job, the commander vanished, and hasn’t been heard from since. The details don’t quite add up, and one of the CIA agents who was involved has been investigating the mission. He reaches out to Will for help, but before they can connect, the CIA man is poisoned.

Will is determined to uncover the truth about Berlin, even if it means putting himself in the crosshairs. Framed for multiple murders, the skilled former spy has gone deep underground to evade his enemies and the feds. But honor and loyalty to his old colleague thrust him into danger once again.

When Marsha Gage at the FBI discovers that Cochrane—one of America’s Most Wanted—has resurfaced, she immediately launches a manhunt, and she won’t stop until she brings the former CIA/MI6 operative in.

With time running out, Cochrane will use all of his training and formidable skills to outmaneuver the FBI and uncover a shocking conspiracy that will rock the foundations of our nation . . . if he can stay alive.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: October 24th 2017
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 0062427229 (ISBN13: 9780062427229)
Series: Spycatcher #7
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

IT WAS PAST midnight as wind and rain pounded the exterior of the tiny bookstore in Chicago. The store was closed and its owner was sitting at his desk checking the week’s receipts. The task wouldn’t take long—his store specialized in rare works that he sourced from around the world. He had some loyal customers, but they were few. This week seven people had made purchases.

The only light in the room came from his green desk lamp, old-fashioned in design to match the ambience of the shop. Aside from some electronic devices on his desk and recessed lights that cast a discreet yellow glow when turned on, the place looked like it could have been a purveyor of fine works established and un- changed since the eighteenth century. He’d constructed it that way: dark maple bookshelves; many of the books leather bound, all of them hardcover; two armchairs for customers to sit in when perusing potential acquisitions; an urn for his more discerning patrons who valued his loose-leaf tea collection; and a cage for his two lovebirds.

He was an old-fashioned guy at heart.

And though he could have done with more cash coming in, he’d deliberately established a business and identity that drew little attention. He playacted a shy man, his trimmed beard intended to put up barriers between him and others, his shoulders artificially stooped during the day as if he were ashamed of his six-foot-four physique, his cropped blond-and-gray hair functional because he had no woman in his life to impress, and his unneeded glasses covering one green eye, one blue. He was always in a smart three-piece suit because the attire was good at hiding his athletic frame and scars. Customers thought he was Edward Pope, a gentleman scholar from the South. They’d probably estimate his age was late forties. They’d be wrong about that and most other things. He’d led a hard life and was forty-five.

His name wasn’t Edward Pope.

It was Will Cochrane.

The assassin. The one Sapper and Kane were terrified of.

He wasn’t from the Deep South. He was raised in Virginia and earned a double first-class degree at England’s Cambridge University. And he’d been a bookseller for only under a year.

But he had to be Pope. In the eyes of the world, Will was a murderer. He’d killed people as a special forces French Foreign Legionnaire and assassinated targets in French intelligence black operations. He had been the West’s prime joint operative with the CIA and Britain’s MI6 for fourteen years, until he went crazy and killed a lot of cops and civilians in the States before throwing himself off the Brooklyn Bridge and dying.

His death was essential. He was America’s Most Wanted. He wasn’t what some thought of him—a psychopath. But he was a former special operative and killer. Had been all his adult life. It started when he was seventeen and walked in on four criminals suffocating his mother and about to kill his sister. His mother died; sister didn’t, because he grabbed his mother’s carving knife and ended the criminals’ lives before fleeing to the Legion. He wished he didn’t know how many people he’d killed since. It would be a lie. He knew every victim. Their souls lingered around him, taunting him, reminding him of who he was.

All 263 souls.

But the souls of the people they say he killed in the States didn’t hassle him.

Because he didn’t kill them. He never killed innocents, only those who needed to be killed.

But in the eyes of the law, that’s not the case and that’s why he had to fake his death and reinvent himself. A year ago, his situation was desperate, despite all of his training and covert operations experience in hostile countries. He’d received only one bit of help, but it was significant. Russia’s most formidable intelligence officer, code name Antaeus—now, thanks to Will, a defector living in the States—had cleverly managed to get $300,000 into Will’s pocket. Will didn’t know exactly why he’d done it. After all, Will had accidentally killed his family with a car bomb when in fact he’d intended only to kill the spy. But he suspected he knew why the Russian had become his benefactor: Antaeus wanted his generosity to plunge the knife that was Will’s guilt deeper.

Regardless of Antaeus’s motives, the cash helped set up Will’s new life.

Will’s family and close acquaintances were all dead. He’d be given the needle if cops found out who he was. The West he’d served with unflinching duty had hung him out to dry. He thought of himself as a scavenging dog, kicked out of its owner’s backyard and left to fend for itself. He was resigned to that, every day expecting the Feds to rush into his store and put a bullet in his skull. That’s what they’d do. No attempt to arrest. No negotiations. Execution only. Will wouldn’t blame them. They knew he’d cause carnage if given the slightest of chances.

He finished his accounts, took a swig of Assam tea, and frowned as he heard the female lovebird make an unusual sound. Like her male companion, she resembled a small parrot, her plumage green and yellow, face and beak red, large eyes pure white with black pupils. He’d taken the birds off the hands of an old lady who frequented his store. Her son, a merchant marine officer, had brought them back from exotic climes, though she couldn’t remember where because she was suffering from dementia. And she could no longer look after them, particularly now that the male had broken his wing. Will hated seeing animals in cages. But the female wouldn’t leave the male’s side. And for the time being, the male had to be kept in the cage until he was fully recuperated. Then Will would release them to a large aviary or the wild.

Their previous owner couldn’t remember their names, so Will called the male Ebb and the female Flo. Flo was now agitated, hopping about as opposed to what she usually did, which was nestling her face against that of her lover. Will opened the cage, knowing Flo wouldn’t go anywhere while Ebb was there. The former special operative bowed his head. Ebb was all wrong, flopping on the base of the cage, his good wing twitching, his broken one immobile. Will knew he was dying and there was nothing he could do about it. What goes through a bird’s brain? He didn’t know. And he didn’t know whether lovebirds were in fact lifelong lovers or if that was a myth. But Will knew how he felt. He had to give Flo closure, let her be free, not allow her to think there was hope that Ebb would return to her. Gently he lifted Ebb. His body was warm but now limp. He carried him to the store’s backyard. Flo followed him. Will had hoped she would.

Will looked at Flo, who was perched close by on the branch of a tree. She was watching. It seemed she and Will didn’t know what to do.

“I have to let you know this is the end,” Will said to her. Actually, he was saying it to himself.

He snapped Ebb’s neck and buried him.

Flo looked at him before flying into the darkness. As tears ran down his face, he wondered if she hated him. Or maybe she understood. Of course, he’d never know.

He returned to his desk and stared at the birdcage. After brushing soil off his fingers, he looked at his laptop and saw he had a new e-mail. Nobody sent him mail apart from spammers.

But this one was different. And shocking. It was from CIA officer Unwin Fox, the man who, alongside Will, had been one of those involved in the Berlin operation. Aside from Colonel Haden, Will didn’t know who the other people on the small team were.

His heart was beating fast as he read the mail. Its tone was desperate. There was no way Fox could know that Will was alive. Something was terribly wrong. Fox wanted to meet. Tomorrow. In Washington, D.C.

In all probability it was a trap. Lure Will out, then bam! Swooped on by cops. But then again, Will knew what happened in Berlin. The law didn’t. This would have been far too implausible a tactic to entrap him.

What to do?

He looked at the lovebirds’ empty cage. The door was open. He glanced at the entrance to his store.

What to fucking do?

He opened the drawer in his desk, pulled out his handgun, grabbed his bag containing all he needed if he ever had to run, and left.

He knew he’d never return.

***

Excerpt from Act of Betrayal by Matthew Dunn. Copyright © 2017 by Matthew Dunn. Reproduced with permission from William Morrow. All rights reserved.

Matthew Dunn

Author Bio:

As an MI6 field officer, Matthew Dunn recruited and ran agents, coordinated and participated in special operations, and acted in deep-cover roles throughout the world. He operated in environments where, if captured, he would have been executed. Dunn was trained in all aspects of intelligence collection, deep-cover deployments, small-arms, explosives, military unarmed combat, surveillance, and infiltration. Medals are never awarded to modern MI6 officers, but Dunn was the recipient of a rare personal commendation from the secretary of state for work he did on one mission, which was deemed so significant that it directly influenced the success of a major international incident. During his time in MI6, Matthew conducted approximately seventy missions. All of them were successful. He currently lives in England, where he is at work on his next novel.

Learn More About Matthew Dunn On harpercollins.com!

Tour Participants:

Stop by these great hosts for reviews, and giveaways!

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Matthew Dunn and William Morrow. There will be 5 winners of one (1) print copy of ACT OF BETRAYAL by Matthew Dunn. This giveaway is open to US & Canada addresses only. The giveaway begins on October 23 and runs through November 30, 2017.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours