Apr 072017
 

The Fixer: The Killing Kind by Jill Amy Rosenblatt on Tour April 1-18, 2017

The Fixer: The Killing Kind

by Jill Amy Rosenblatt

on Tour April 1-18, 2017

Synopsis:

The Fixer: The Killing Kind by Jill Amy Rosenblatt

Kat’s back and in over her head with crooks, cops… and killers.

Christmas is around the corner but professional “fixer” Katerina Mills isn’t feeling the holiday spirit, juggling college classes, a lovesick cop, and demanding clients.

Obnoxious hedge fund manager Simon Marcus wants his prized Porsche back from his vengeful wife. The job is hard enough until wise guy Anthony DeSucci shows up and orders her to bring the car to him.

Rock star writer, Paul Patel needs something “special” to finish his next bestseller, something that will get Katerina a “Go Straight to Jail” card if she gets caught.

And what about mysterious Thomas Gallagher? His jobs are simple and easy. Is he just a bored billionaire, or is he watching Kat’s every move, making his own plans for her?

As the jobs heat up, handsome, elusive thief Alexander Winter re-enters Kat’s life to tutor her in all things criminal. But can she trust him?

Katerina Mills is still haunted by her first assignment…and her first assignment is about to come back to haunt her…a deadly enemy who’s closer than she thinks…

MY REVIEW

4 stars

This is the first book that I have read by this author, but it won’t be the last. However, it is the 2nd in a series and would recommend not reading them out of order as I did.

Katarina Mills the fixer, works for MJM Consultants, an agency that caters to wealthy clients assisting them with requests that sometimes are not above board. Putting herself through law school and helping to provide for her mother, the money received once a job is done, the compensation is staggering. However, there are many risks involved.

The story has continuous suspense with murders, blackmail, big money, drugs, disappearances, a dirty DEA agent, and above the law antics.

I am looking forward to the sequel in this series, but plan to catch up with the 1st book, THE FIXER: THE NAKED MAN, in the meantime.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Crime
Published by: Jill Amy Rosenblatt
Publication Date: November 28, 2016
Number of Pages: 348
ISBN: 1539839443 (ISBN13: 9781539839446)
Series: Fixer – Katerina Mills Series
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

“Again?” Katerina asked as a whipping wind whistled around the parked car. “This is the fourth time.”

“There’s been a delay,” Jasmine said.

A few weeks earlier, Jasmine, MJM Consulting’s “Iron Maiden” gatekeeper, had called late at night. Thomas Gallagher, one of New York’s billionaire one percent, needed an assistant. Except he probably didn’t. Katerina Mills had already learned the first rule of a fixer. The job is never the job.

“Does he want a consultant or not?” Kat asked, her mouth overruling her mind. Careful Katerina. Don’t antagonize. You have to stay in. It’s too dangerous to be on the outside on your own. Not after the last assignment…

“Yes,” Jasmine said. “Any other questions?”

Katerina answered by clicking off the cell phone. Burrowing deeper into her coat, the heavy bangs of her short blond wig brushed her eyebrows as she focused on the apartment building diagonally across the street.

“Bad news?” came a voice behind her.

Katerina didn’t bother turning around. On the floor of the backseat, her current client, Lester Callahan, rearranged himself, kicking the back of Kat’s seat. She sighed.

“I hear you,” Lester said. “It’s tough. People are no good, you know? They give their word, it don’t mean shit.”

Katerina assumed Lester spoke from experience.

A pretty woman, swathed in a fur coat, exited the building and hustled to the corner, her hand in the air to hail a cab.

“Is that her?” Kat asked.

Rustling from the back seat. “Nope.”

Katerina crushed herself further into her coat. She didn’t want the work but she had to keep her hand in this world, to protect herself. And I need the money. But instead of a steady windfall of cash, the jobs had been few and far between. Lester needed an item retrieved; but she didn’t know what the item was. From his babbled tale of rambling half-truths, Kat pieced together a picture: Lester had dangerous connections, something had gone wrong, and he needed to disappear. He was about to board a Greyhound bus when he realized he had forgotten something.

“You know it’s not easy to get lost.”

“So you said,” Kat answered.

“Yeah, people don’t understand how big their digital footprint is, you know? Take you for instance. You’re a young girl. You on social media?”

“No.”

“Dating sites? Not that you need one.”

“No.”

Lester shifted again; Kat’s seat lurched forward. She sighed.

“You’re smart, you know. There’s a lot involved. I hired a professional to help me. Rebel One.”

“Yup,” Kat said, glossing over the sound of Lester’s voice. Am I smart or did it just work out that way? she thought, reflecting on her training by her first boss, shady lawyer and ex-lover, Philip Castle. Stay away from the computer unless it can’t be helped. Never leave a trail. Katerina realized Lester was still talking.

“It’s a stupid name but I didn’t say that. I didn’t want to hurt the kid’s feelings. Anyway, Rebel One can make you disappear. You don’t realize you do a thousand things every day and leave clues how to find you: the phone, the credit card, the bank account, your magazine subscription to Cosmo… everything.”

“I don’t read Cosmo.” My college transcript. My library card. Could I get away clean if I needed to?

They sat in silence.

“You have a family?” Kat asked.

“Yeah.”

“Yeah? And you’re just taking off?”

“It’s okay, I made arrangements, you know? I left some cash, told the wife we’d get a condo when I got settled.”

“Is that what you told your girlfriend?” Kat mumbled.

“I’m sensing judgment coming from the front seat. I don’t think you’re supposed to do that.”

“Sorry,” Kat said.

As they fell back into silence, Kat’s thoughts turned to her father, William Mills. She had plenty of judgment for him. After walking out on her mother weeks earlier and breezing through the Big Apple with his new bimbo, where was he now? Had he left a digital footprint? Could he be found?

Her father wasn’t the only one to pull a Houdini. Where was Lisa, who had brought Kat into this life as a “fixer”? Where had she vanished to? And then there was Alexander Winter. If it hadn’t been for him…

She relived the robbery in her mind; Winter taking her by the hand, leading her through the break-in to retrieve the client’s requested item. He had schooled her, protected her, and brought her home safe. Kat realized that not a day passed without her thinking of him. Except for a post-robbery “all clear” text, he had disappeared. Where is he now?

A young woman, rock star groupie attractive, wearing leopard Ugg boots and a winter-white fur coat over black pants exited the apartment building.

“Is that her?” Kat asked.

Rustling from the back seat. “Yeah, yeah, that’s her.”

Katerina shook her head. This anemic, two-bit hustler is hooked up with the jailbait leaving the building. “Let me guess. You bonded over shared interests.”

“You know, sarcasm is not attractive in a woman. It shows a lack of self-esteem.”

Said the man hiding on the floor of the back seat. “Uh-huh.”

“You got the code, the key, and the phone, right?”

“Yes,” Kat said, her heart racing like she was on the track waiting for the flag to come down. She slipped on her sunglasses, fussed over the wig hiding her long, chestnut-colored hair, and shrugged a large black bag onto her shoulder.

“Call me as soon as you’re in the apartment,” Lester said.

Katerina cracked the car door, checking for oncoming traffic. Getting out, she slammed the door and crossed the street. Punching the numbers on the keypad, she slipped into the building.

Remember, keep your head down. There are cameras everywhere. She made a mental note to change out her coat afterwards. The elevator chimed, the doors opened, and Kat ducked inside.

***

Getting out on the fifth floor, Kat stole down the hall. Apartment 512. She slipped the key out of her coat pocket, letting herself in. Taking the phone from the bag, she punched in the number. After two rings, Lester picked up.

“I’m here,” Kat said. “What am I getting?”

“Go into the bedroom,” he said.

Kat entered a room drowning in feminine pinks. “Okay, what?”

“You don’t see it?”

“Obviously not,” she said. “Is it a bill, a laptop, a deed to the apartment?”

“Go back into the living room.”

Katerina retraced her steps and froze in her tracks. A West Highland white terrier stared at her, its head cocked to one side.

Don’t bark. For the love of God and all that’s holy, do not bark.

“You didn’t tell me there was a dog in the apartment,” she whispered. What I wouldn’t give for a Snausage right now.

“Okay, good. You got it.”
“I wouldn’t say that—wait … what? I’m here for the dog? You’re leaving—and you want the dog?”

“No, no,” Lester said. “The dog has a microchip in it. I need the chip.”

“Why?”

“Because if the dog is scanned, the chip has my information. They’ll find my wife and then, you know—they find me. Digital footprint.”

Katerina blew out a mouthful of air. Still staring, the dog sat down.

“The chip is implanted by the right shoulder blade,” he said. “It’s the size of a grain of rice. It’s nothing to take it out.”

“I left my veterinary degree in my other purse.” Moron. “And what do you suggest I use for a scalpel, a Ginsu knife?”

“If you think that’s best. I’m not really attached to the animal. I don’t think she is either, truthfully. I mean, look, she doesn’t even take it with her when she goes out. I paid a shitload of money for that thing.”

Katerina clamped her eyes shut.

“I was told you agency girls are up for anything. Anything. I need the chip. Get the chip.”

Katerina clicked off the phone. She stared at the dog. It raised a paw as a greeting, then lay down on its back, baring its belly for a scratch.

Unbelievable.

***

Katerina hustled into the car, depositing the bag on the passenger seat. She revved the engine and took off.

“Did you get it?” Lester asked.

“Yup,” Katerina answered.

***

Katerina dropped Lester Callahan off at the Greyhound bus terminal. Then, she parked the car and sent a text.

Done. W. 42nd. 8th Ave. Thanks

She got out of the car and walked away. The text had gone to Luther, an entrepreneur with his own limousine service. Luther’s clients paid in cash. Luther saw nothing, heard nothing, and asked no questions. Luther had a lot of clients. He had gotten the car through Moose, a man Katerina had yet to meet. The car would disappear and turn up somewhere else: different state, different plates, different color. Five thousand of Kat’s take had already gone for payment for the service. Contacts liked to be paid up front. That was a problem; she didn’t get paid until the job was done.

Kat passed the Plaza and entered an elegant, gleaming office building. A few minutes later, she was standing in the empty, dark paneled anteroom of MJM Consultants.

“Come in, Katerina,” she heard Jasmine’s hard-edged voice call out.

With her bag slung over her shoulder, Kat entered the small, immaculate office. Jasmine, wearing her signature black Chanel and pearl teardrop earrings, glanced up from her laptop; she didn’t bat an eye at the wig on Kat’s head.

“The job is finished,” Kat said.

“The client called.”

I know. I was there. Right before he got on a bus.

“And then he called back again.”

Shit.

“You never showed him the item he wanted retrieved.”

Katerina caught the hint of a smirk on Jasmine’s lips. Is this part of the ‘probation’ test? You are not cheating me out of my money. Think fast, Katerina.

“The client never said he wanted to see the item. He just said retrieve it. I retrieved it.”

Jasmine was about to speak when Kat’s bag moved, a sliver of fur peeking through the top. The smirk vanished. “Is that a dog in that bag?”

“You’re not a pet person?” Katerina asked.

“Is that the item?”

“It’s the item that contains the item.”

Opening a desk drawer, Jasmine removed two rubber banded packets of bills. She held them out to Katerina. “Get it out of here.”

Katerina took the money, turned on her heel, and left.

Stepping out of the building into the bright, chilly day, she placed a call.

“Whatever it is, it’s gonna cost you a lot of money,” the raspy voice said through the line.

“Morning, Doc. I need something removed,” Kat said. “But the patient isn’t human.”

The raspy voice broke out into a low gutteral laugh.

***

Katerina watched over the sleeping Westie. A clean-cut man, wearing surgical gloves and a gown, used a feather touch to perform the procedure. He held up the forceps, showing Kat the tiny chip. Moving to the microwave on the counter, he placed the chip inside, closed the door, and hit a few buttons. Kat watched the plate rotate. A few sparks later, the chip was cooked.

Kat turned to Doc, perched on a stool, his frame struggling under the weight of his bulging stomach. Between wheezes, he puffed on a cigarette.

“Thanks, Doc,” she said.

“Don’t bother. You still have to pay me.”

Kat nodded. At least he’s honest. This little act of benevolent kindness is about to take another healthy bite of my take-home pay.

A woman entered the room without knocking. Dressed to the nines, she looked to be in her late sixties, a cross between a gracefully aging Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O., complete with swing coat and pillbox hat.

“Miss Kitty, this is Gertie. She provides pet relocation.”

“Charmed, I’m sure,” Gertie said with a flourish of her hand. “Now darling, time is money. You want a major city or you prefer something rural?”

Thousands of criminals in the city and I get the Dolly Levi of pet theft.

“What do you have?”

“Oh, honey, it’s carte blanche. I always have a waiting list for Westies; very popular breed. Lucky you came along. People are so careful these days. Owners almost never leave them unattended.”
“You steal to order?”

Gertie’s eyes opened wide. “Steal? I beg your pardon,” she said. “Darling, I connect pets with loving families. I provide a service. You think Social Security pays enough to live on? A girl’s gotta get by. I used to be in the garment business—before they moved everything to China—no disrespect.” She gave Kat the once-over. “I can get you a coat at cost. You’d look to die for in a Saint Laurent Chesterfield. You want a coat?”

Kat shook her head. “No thank you. Any location far away from here will be fine.” She wanted to apologize. It wasn’t judgment. Kat didn’t know why, but she never quite felt prepared for the world she found. Even after what she had seen so far, she could be surprised. Maybe I’m not up for anything. Maybe I just don’t have what it takes.

The man finished scrubbing at the sink. Drying his hands, he turned to Kat.

“How long have you been a veterinarian?” Kat asked.

The man smiled.

Oh shit. Kat turned to Gertie.

“Meet my nephew,” she said.

The family that steals together… that’s one my father missed.

“Still lots to learn, Miss Kitty,” Doc said. “Lots to learn.”

Katerina glanced over at the sleeping dog. Pulling out the packets of money, she counted out fifteen thousand, half of her cut.

A girl’s gotta get by.

She certainly does, Kat thought, watching Gertie and Doc divvy up the cash. And not for the first time, she wondered how she would get by.

Author Bio:

Jill Amy RosenblattJill Amy Rosenblatt is the author of Project Jennifer and For Better or Worse, published by Kensington Press. She has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Literature from Burlington College.

“The Fixer” mystery/suspense series is Jill’s first adventure in self-publishing. The Fixer: The Naked Man (Katerina Mills, Book 1) is available in e-book and paperback formats. The second book in the series, The Fixer: The Killing Kind, released on November 28, 2016. She is currently at work on the third book of the series, The Fixer: The Last Romanov (when she’s not watching NY Rangers hockey).

She lives on Long Island.

Catch Up with Jill Amy Rosenblatt on her Website 🔗, her Twitter 🔗, & her Facebook 🔗.

Tour Participants:



Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jill Amy Rosenblatt. There will be 5 winners of one (1) Print copy of The Fixer: The Killing Kind by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. This giveaway is open to US residents only. The giveaway begins on April 1st and runs through April 19th, 2017.

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 an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Apr 062017
 

Blu Heat: A Blu Carraway Novella

by David Burnsworth

on Tour March 27 – April 10, 2017

Synopsis:

Blu Heat: A Blu Carraway Novella by David Burnsworth

A man walks into a bar, and dies. It isn’t just any bar, it’s the Pirate’s Cove located on the Isle of Palms, a barrier island just north of the Charleston, South Carolina harbor. Ex-Marine Brack Pelton tries to stop the murder and almost dies himself. The victim, Skip Romeo, has a shady past and some interesting friends. The friend he’d planned on meeting at the bar before he got shot was lowcountry Private Investigator Blu Carraway.

Brack Pelton hates that someone shot up his bar and Blu Carraway hates that someone gunned down his friend. Both want revenge and justice. And both tend to leave a lot of collateral damage in their wake. Their team-up is inevitable. Individually, they’re each a force to be reckoned with. Together, they’re like an atomic bomb blast at ground zero. Pelton and Carraway and Charleston will never be the same.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

In my opinion, when an author can create well developed characters, nonstop action and suspense in a novella, they are truly gifted.

This is the first time reading anything by this author but am anxious to now read more, especially this series.

P.I., Blu Carraway, as the synopsis states, is meeting an old friend, however, he walks into what was a shootout with the bar’s owner, Brack Pelton and 2 unknown assailants, leaving one of them dead along with Blu’s friend. Carraway, not happy about it, ends up working with Pelton to find out what and who are behind the shooting. What they don’t know is how many more will die.

The author pulled me into this white-knuckle read from the opening sentence. Looking forward to reading this series and hoping that Carraway and Pelton will be working together again. Highly recommend!

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Number of Pages: UKN
ISBN: 9781635111866
Series: A Brack Pelton Mystery Novella, 2.5
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 Barnes & Noble 🔗 Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Isle of Palms, South Carolina

The crash of the surf pushed itself in between the beats of a forty-year-old Jimmy Buffet song streaming through the sound system of the Pirate’s Cove. Brack wiped down the old oak bar with Murphy’s oil soap, cleaning away invisible dirt. October had brought with it the end of the tourist season, although it would stay around eighty degrees for another weekend or two. No customers meant no messes to clean up, but Brack had developed a slight case of obsessive-compulsive disorder since Darcy and Mutt had moved away. Thus the need to reclean.

The early fall ocean breeze blew steady through large doors open for just that reason, something Brack never got tired of. Paige, the bar’s manager, had taken the rest of the staff out for a harbor cruise, a gift for another great summer season. Brack hadn’t been up for the day trip, deciding at the last minute to man the fort while they were out playing.

Alone with only his thoughts, he finished the last section of oak and was contemplating giving the wide ancient floor planks another coat of oil soap when a man walked in and took a seat at the bar. Aviator sunglasses, shoulder-length hair thin on top, Sam Elliot mustache. Brack pegged him at mid-forties.

Isle of Palms, South Carolina, where the bar was located, had a lot of money. And Americans enjoyed hiding their wealth behind old blue jeans and pickup trucks. This guy could be rich.

Or homeless.

Brack walked over to him. “How’re ya doing?”

“Gimme a Bud and a shot of Jack.” The man’s voice was gruff. “Can I smoke?”

“Not in here, but if you want to set up on the back deck, you can smoke all you want.”

The man nodded. It made Brack miss being able to smoke a cigar in his own bar. He got the drinks and set them in front of his customer.

The man reached into his pocket, pulled out a wrinkled twenty, and said, “Keep it. If someone asks for Skip, tell ’em where I am.”

Brack watched him scoop up both drinks and head outside, irritated that the distraction from his OCD had left the room. The wood tables called his name.

Who was he kidding? If he didn’t keep busy, he’d think about Darcy. She’d moved away from him to be with another man, and that was too much to handle.

And, because when it rained, it poured, the bar had lost Bonny, its macaw mascot and resident, just two weeks ago to old age. She’d started the business with Brack’s uncle in the seventies. And now she was gone, too.

The front door opened again and this time two men walked in. One glance at their dead eyes told Brack they were not here for the fresh salt air. Hawaiian shirts and khaki shorts couldn’t hide the vibe of death they brought with them. Brack had been in enough bad spots before to know these were not tourists looking for daiquiris.

Because Brack had vowed to always have weapons on hand, there were two pistols behind the bar, one at each end and a sawed-off shotgun in the middle. Unfortunately, he was smack dab in between two of the weapons.

The two newcomers looked around the bar, and then they spotted the guy on the back deck.

Brack inched to the closest corner. One set of dead eyes landed on him, a hand reaching behind to what had to be a gun.

Their eyes locked. Brack’s hand was twelve inches away from his own pistol.

Dead Eyes pulled his piece first and fired. Brack’s Marine training dropped him to the ground. The bullet whizzed overhead and a bottle of top-shelf vodka exploded. Glass showered down on him.

More shots fired. Brack wrapped his hand around the Colt Python, his bar manager’s weapon of choice, and felt the thumps as rounds perforated the bar over his head and smacked into the wall cabinet that held all the booze. It seemed like there were more shots than thumps.

He cocked the hammer back, took two deep breaths, and trained the sight around the corner of the bar. It settled on a shin creeping between the chairs and tables.

The Python spit fire and noise and lead. The impact of the bullet blew a crater through the shin. It was as if all the air in the room got sucked through the hole and exited out the back in a cloud of red mist.

A scream followed by two more shots and two more thumps took over all other sound.

The figure owning the useless shin crashed to the ground. With a clear shot, Brack put two center-mass rounds in the man for good measure and then ducked behind the bar again.

One on one now. Even odds. Except they weren’t even. Brack was pinned and he knew it. Two more thumps hit the bar, followed by the sound of the front door banging open and then closing with a whoosh of the air cylinder that pulled it back in.

It could be a trap, the guy just waiting for Brack to fall for it, show himself, and be blasted to Timbuktu. He stayed put a few more seconds which felt like minutes.

A faint siren wailed in the distance. The police station was only two blocks away. Brack hoped to God it was the chief.

After a count of ten more seconds, the front door opened again.

It was now or never. Brack sprang to his feet, Python in hand, sighted in the door, and didn’t fire.

A man a few inches taller than himself held up his hands. Olive skin, short-cropped hair beginning to recede in the corners of his forehead, silver cross on a chain around his neck, black jeans, black T-shirt, Doc Martens, and sunglasses, he said, “Don’t shoot.”

***

Excerpt from Blu Heat: A Blu Carraway Novella by David Burnsworth. Copyright © 2017 by David Burnsworth. Reproduced with permission from David Burnsworth. All rights reserved.

David Burnsworth

Author Bio:

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. He is the author of both the Brack Pelton and the Blu Carraway Mystery Series. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.

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

Tour Participants:

Learn more about Blu Heat: A Blu Carraway Novella and it’s author David Burnsworth on these other great sites:

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David Burnsworth and Henery Press. There will be 1 winner of 1 $15 Amazon.com gift card AND 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Blu Heat: A Blu Carraway Novella by David Burnsworth. The giveaway begins on March 26th and runs through April 12th, 2017.

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 an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Apr 052017
 

Grimm Woods

by D. Melhoff

on Tour April 1 – May 31, 2017

Synopsis:

Grimm Woods by D. Melhoff

A remote summer camp becomes a lurid crime scene when the bodies of two teenagers are found in a bloody, real-life rendering of a classic Grimm’s fairy tale. Trapped in the wilderness, the remaining counsellors must follow a trail of dark children’s fables in order to outwit a psychopath and save the dwindling survivors before falling prey to their own gruesome endings.

Drawing on the grisly, uncensored details of history’s most famous fairy tales, Grimm Woods is a heart-pounding thriller about a deranged killer who uses traditional children’s stories as tropes in elaborate murders. Set against the backdrop of modern-day Michigan, it’s a journey through the mind of a dangerous zealot and a shocking glimpse into the bedtime stories you thought you knew.

MY REVIEW

4 stars

Scott Mamer has taken a summer job, along with 13 other counselors at a remote summer camp for troubled kids with a theme of fairy tales. However, this camp turns into a nightmare as one by one the counselors are turning up dead. Who is the murderer and what is the motive?

Scott soon learns that his past has caught up with him and he is the reason for these heinous deaths.

Grisly deaths that resemble the original Grimm stories that are far from fairy tales.

A chilling read!

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Bellwoods Publishing
Publication Date: December 2016
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0992133130 (ISBN13: 9780992133139)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

July 7th, 5:44 a.m.

One hacksaw. One hammer, six boxes of nails. Twelve Mason jars, four hunting knives, two pairs of handcuffs. Fifteen gallons of gasoline divided evenly among three dented jerry cans.

It’s time.

A work glove hovered over the table where the objects were laid out side by side and began ticking the air as though marking off an invisible checklist. The chamber reeked of mildew, and the walls had no windows or electrical sockets—no lamps, no wires, no switch covers. A single red candle provided the only light, its crimson wax dripping down its shaft like blood.

The hand picked up a piece of paper from the table and slipped it into a blank envelope. Below, a beetle scuttled across the floorboards. The insect—its gangly antennae tuned to some foul frequency in the gloom—raced past the sole of a giant boot just as a drop of liquid fell through the air and struck it dead center, engulfing its body in a hot, gelatinous blob that filled its orifices and burned it from the inside out. Another droplet tumbled from the candle, plopping onto the envelope this time, and then a brass stamp came down and pressed the wax into a hardened seal.

Drawing in heavier, raspier breaths, the figure held the envelope up to a corkboard that was bolted to the wall. More than a dozen pictures of young men and women were tacked to the panel by their throats and foreheads, smiling in the shadows.

The figure pinned the envelope to the board and stepped back to take in the room again.

The table and the switchblade.

The book of matches.

The iron rods, the hatchet, the .22 Smith & Wesson.

The smiling faces.

Now, the figure mused, watching the photographs flicker in the bloodred light. Who’s the nicest, Who’s the worst, who wants to hear a story first?

Author Bio:

D. MelhoffD. Melhoff was born in a prairie ghost town that few people have heard of and even fewer have visited. While most of his stories are for adults, he also enjoys terrifying younger audiences from time to time, as seen in his series of twisted picture books for children. He credits King, Poe, Hitchcock, Harris, Stoker, and his second-grade school teacher, Mrs. Lake, for turning him to horror.

Interview

What is the truth about Grimm stories and what they have offered as a source of inspiration for your thriller story?
First off, let me say that I am by no means a Brothers Grimm scholar. When I started this book, I only knew that there’s more to fairy tales than the Disney versions I’d heard as a child. If you want a comprehensive look at the original stories, I suggest checking out the works of professor Jack Zipes. He’s the real expert on the subject.

That said, I did learn a lot throughout my research. While I may have known that fairy tales weren’t originally intended for children, I didn’t know how gory many of them were. A lot of people are familiar with the dark details from the famous tales — Cinderella’s eyes pecked out by birds, the evil queen in Snow White getting burned to death by hot-iron shoes, Sleeping Beauty getting impregnated while she’s asleep — but when you dig into the lesser-known stories, you’ll find even more gruesome plot lines, many of them resulting in unhappy endings.

The more I read, the more I realized I’d hit the horror jackpot. I decided that the novel would take place at a modern-day summer camp, but the villain would use the gory endings of original fairy tales to punish people for immoral behavior. I still think it’s one of the most high-concept ideas I’ve had to date, if I don’t say so myself.

Despite of what is commonly known, the real Grimm stories are heavily loaded with gore. How did you build Grimm Woods and what is more important for the story: the thrill and unexpected or the gore?
The thrill is more important than the gore. In fact, many of the murders are implied or alluded to and not described in detail. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of blood, guts, and shock value, but suspense is more crucial.

Which are the features of a reader of thrillers?
Thriller readers want the same things as other readers: suspense, humor, tension, surprise, intrigue, etc. While a few of these are more prominent in thrillers, I think a dose of all of them makes a story more real and believable.

Which senses of your reader do you want to exploit most?
I think it’s important to give readers a sense of helplessness. If you’ve put your characters in situations that readers themselves wouldn’t know how to get out of, you’re on the right track.

What terrifies a thriller writer and how can he/she protect against it?
I once heard a writer say the thing they were most afraid of was losing their mind, which always stuck with me. I’ll steal that answer.

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Apr 042017
 

The Outsider

by Anthony Franze

on Tour March 21 – April 21, 2017

Synopsis:

The Outsider by Anthony Franze

A young law clerk finds himself caught in the crosshairs of a serial killer in this breathtaking thriller set in the high-pressure world of the Supreme Court, from renowned lawyer Anthony Franze.

Things aren’t going well for Grayson Hernandez. He just graduated from a fourth-tier law school, he’s drowning in student debt, and the only job he can find is as a messenger. The position stings the most because it’s at the Supreme Court, where Gray is forced to watch the best and the brightest―the elite group of lawyers who serve as the justices’ law clerks—from the outside.

When Gray intervenes in a violent mugging, he lands in the good graces of the victim: the Chief Justice of the United States. Gray soon finds himself the newest—and unlikeliest—law clerk at the Supreme Court. It’s another world: highbrow debates over justice and the law in the inner sanctum of the nation’s highest court; upscale dinners with his new friends; attention from Lauren Hart, the brilliant and beautiful co-clerk he can’t stop thinking about.

But just as Gray begins to adapt to his new life, the FBI approaches him with unsettling news. The Feds think there’s a killer connected to the Supreme Court. And they want Gray to be their eyes and ears inside One First Street. Little does Gray know that the FBI will soon set its sights on him.

Racing against the clock in a world cloaked in secrecy, Gray must uncover the truth before the murderer strikes again in this thrilling high-stakes story of power and revenge by Washington, D.C. lawyer-turned-author Anthony Franze.

Stellar Reviews:

“THE OUTSIDER is as authentic and suspenseful as any John Grisham novel—and I like Grisham a lot.” —JAMES PATTERSON, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Crafty and clever! Franze’s insider knowledge of the Supreme Court sets this twisty legal thriller apart. The sympathetic plight of the outsider hero, Grayson Hernandez, will keep you glued to the pages; the explosive plot will leave you breathless.” —LISA GARDNER, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thriller
Published by: St. Martin’s Press | Minotaur Books
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250071666 (ISBN13: 9781250071668)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

When her computer pinged, Amanda Hill ignored it. This late at night, she shouldn’t have, but she did.

All her energy was focused on tomorrow’s closing argument. Her office was dark, save the sharp cone of light from the desk lamp. She’d waited for everyone to leave so she could run through her final words to the jury. So she could practice as she’d done a thousand times, pacing her office in front of imaginary jurors, explaining away the evidence against the latest criminal mastermind she’d been appointed to represent. This one had left prints and DNA, and vivid images of the robbery had been captured by surveillance cameras.

She glanced out her window into the night. Normal people were home tucking in their children, watching a little TV before hitting the sack. Her little girl deserved better. She should call to check in, but she needed to get the closing done. Amanda’s mother was watching Isabelle, and her mom would call if she needed anything.

There was another ping. Then another. Irritated, Amanda reached for the mouse and clicked to her email. The subject line grabbed her attention:

URGENT MESSAGE ABOUT YOUR MOTHER AND ISABELLE!

Amanda opened the email. Strange, there was no name in the sender field. And the message had only a link. Was this one of those phishing scams?

She almost deleted it, but the subject line caught her eye again. Her seven year old’s name.

Her cursor hovered over the link— then she clicked. A video appeared on the screen. The footage was shaky, filmed on a smartphone. The scene was dark, but for a flashlight beam hitting a dirty floor. Then a whisper: “You have thirty minutes to get here or they die.”

A chill slithered down Amanda’s back. This was a joke, right? A sick joke? She moved the mouse to shut down the video, but the flashlight ray crawled up a grimy wall and stopped on two figures. Amanda’s heart jumped into her throat. It was her mother and Isabelle. Bound, gagged, weeping.

“Dupont Underground,” the voice hissed. “Thirty minutes. If you call the police, we’ll know. And they’ll die.”

The camera zoomed in on Isabelle’s tear-streaked face. Amanda’s computer began buzzing and flashing, consumed by a tornado virus.

Amanda drove erratically from her downtown office to Dupont Circle. She kept one eye on the road, the other on her smartphone that guided her to the only address she could find for “Dupont Underground,” the abandoned street trolley line that ran under Washington, D.C.

Her mind raced. Why was this happening? It didn’t make sense. It couldn’t be a kidnapping for ransom. She had no money— she was a public defender, for Christ’s sake. A disgruntled client? No, this was too well organized. Too sophisticated. Common criminals, Amanda knew from her years representing them, were uneducated bumblers, not the type to plan out anything in their lives, much less something like this.

She checked the phone. She had only fifteen minutes. The GPS said she’d be there in five. She tried to calm herself, control her breathing. She should call the police. But the warning played in her head: We’ll know. And they’ll die.

She pulled over on New Hampshire Avenue. The GPS said this was the place, but she saw no entrance to any underground. It was a business district. Law firms and lobby shops locked up for the night. She looked around, panicked and confused. There was nothing but a patch of construction across the street. Work on a manhole or sewer line. Or trolley entrance. Amanda leapt from her car and ran to the construction area. A four-foot-tall rectangular plywood structure jutted up from the sidewalk. It had a door on top, like a storm cellar. The padlock latch had been pried open, the wood splintered. Amanda swung open the door and peered down into the gloom.

She shouldn’t go down there. But she heard a noise. A muffled scream? Amanda pointed her phone’s flashlight into the chasm. A metal ladder disappeared into the darkness. She steeled herself, then climbed into the opening, the only light the weak bulb on her phone. When she reached the bottom, she stood quietly, looking down the long tunnel, listening. She heard the noise again and began running toward it.

That’s when she heard the footsteps behind her. She ran faster, her breaths coming in rasps, the footfalls from behind keeping pace. She wanted to turn and fight. She was a god-damned fighter. “Amanda Hill, The Bitch of Fifth Street,” she’d heard the defendants call her around the courthouse. But the image of Isabelle and her mother’s faces, their desperation, drew her on.

The footsteps grew closer. She needed to suppress the fear, to find her family.

The blow to the head came without warning and slammed her to the ground. There was the sound of a boot stomping on plastic and the flashlight on her phone went out. The figure grabbed a fistful of her hair and dragged her to a small room off the tunnel. She was gasping for air now.

A lantern clicked on. Amanda heard the scurrying of tiny feet. She saw the two masses in the shadows and felt violently ill: her mother and Isabelle. Soiled rags stuffed in their mouths, hands and feet bound. Next to them the silhouette of someone spray-painting on the wall.

Amanda sat up quickly, and a piercing pain shot through her skull. She averted her eyes, hoping it was all a nightmare. But a voice cut through the whimpering of her family.

“Look at them!” Amanda lifted her gaze. She forced a smile, feigned a look of optimism, then mouthed a message to her daughter: It’s okay. Everything’s going to be okay.

It was a lie, of course. A godforsaken lie.

CHAPTER 1

Grayson Hernandez walked up to the lectern in the well of the U.S. Supreme Court. He wasn’t intimidated by the marble columns that encased the room or the elevated mahogany bench where The Nine had been known to skewer even the most experienced advocates. He calmly pulled the lever on the side of the lectern to adjust its height, a move he’d learned watching the assistant solicitor generals showing off. He stood up straight and didn’t look down at any notes; the best lawyers didn’t use notes. And he began his oral argument.

“Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the court—” He was immediately interrupted, not uncommon since the justices on average asked more than one hundred questions in the half hour of oral argument allotted to each side. But the voice, which rang though the chamber, wasn’t from a justice of the highest court in the land.

“I’ve told you before, Gray, you can’t be in here.” The beam of a flashlight cut across the empty courtroom. Gray held up a hand to shield his eyes. He smiled at the Supreme Court Police officer making his nightly rounds.

“Someday, counselor,” the officer said. “But for now you might wanna focus on getting the nightlies delivered.” The officer swung the ray of light to Gray’s messenger cart filled with the evening’s mail.

Gray waved at the officer, and returned to his cart. The wheel squeaked as he rolled it out of the courtroom and into the marble hallway.

In Chief Justice Douglas’s chambers, two law clerks were sitting in the reception area, fifteen feet apart, tossing a football between them. They seemed punchy, wired after a long day at the office, talking about one of the court’s cases.

“A high school has no right to punish a kid for things he says off school grounds. The court needs to finally say so,” one of the clerks said. He was a stocky blond guy. Gray thought his name was Mike. Mike spiraled the ball to the other clerk who looked kind of like a young JFK.

“You’re high if you think the chief is going to side with the student,” JFK said, catching the ball with a loud snap. “You upload a violent rap song on YouTube saying your math teacher is sexually harassing students, you’re gonna get suspended.”

“Even if it’s true?” Mike said. The Supreme Court had thirty-six law clerks, four per justice. It was an internship like no other, promising young lawyers not only a ticket to any legal job in the country, but also the chance to leave their fingerprints on the most important legal questions of the day. The current clerks were all in their late twenties, the same age as Gray, but that’s where the similarities ended. Like the two throwing the ball, almost all were white, from affluent backgrounds. Gray didn’t think there were any Mexican Americans in the clerk pool, and certainly none who grew up in gritty Hamilton Heights, D.C. They’d all gone to Harvard or Yale or institutions that, unlike Gray’s law school, had ivy instead of graffiti on their walls. And they certainly weren’t delivering mail.

Gray nodded hello as he lifted the stacks of certiorari petitions out of his cart and dropped them in the metal in-boxes for the chief ’s clerks.

Mike looked at Gray. “No, not more petitions, I’m begging you.” Gray smiled, but didn’t engage. His boss in the marshal’s office had a rule when it came to the justices and their law clerks: Speak only when necessary.

The ball whizzed across the reception area again. “Is it printed yet?” JFK asked. “I wanna get out of here.” He looked over to the printer, which was humming and spitting out paper. Gray worked tw night shifts a week, and there usually were no less than a dozen clerks still in the office. Theirs was a one-year gig, but they worked as if the justices wanted to squeeze five years out of them.

“It won’t take long,” Mike said. “It’s a short memo, and I just want someone who’s a disagreeable ass to point out any soft spots before I turn it into the chief.”

“You’re wasting your time. He’s never gonna side with the student, he—”

“This case is no different than Tinker v. Des Moines Schools,” Mike countered. “The court said disruptive speech at school could be punished, but not speech made off school grounds. Off-campus speech, including posting something on YouTube, should be covered by the First Amendment just like everything else. It’s none of the school’s business.”

JFK gave a dismissive grunt. “A rap expert from Greenwich, Connecticut, I love it.”

Mike threw the ball hard at his co-clerk. “Hey,” JFK said, shaking off the sting after reeling in the throw. “I’m just saying, the Tinker case was decided in the late sixties. You can’t apply it in the digital world. You’re in an ivory tower if you think the chief will blindly follow Tinker.”

Gray pretended not to listen, but he lingered, enjoying the intellectual banter.

The ball flew by again. “Ivory tower?” Mike said. “Fine, let’s ask an everyman.” He pointed the football at Gray. “Hey, Greg, can we ask you something?”

Mike had once asked Gray his name, a regular man of the people.

“It’s Gray.”

“Sorry. Gray. We have a question: Do you think if a high school student is off campus and posts something offensive on social media a school can punish him for it?”

JFK chimed in: “It’s not just posting something offensive. It’s a profanity-laden rap that accuses a teacher of sexually harassing students and threatens to ‘put a cap’ in the guy.”

Gray pondered the question as he retrieved mail from the outboxes. “I agree with what Murderous Malcolm said about the case.” The clerks shot each other a look. That morning the New York Times ran a story about the case, in which a famous rapper was interviewed and defended the student’s right to free speech. Every morning the Supreme Court’s library sent around an email aggregating news stories relating to the court. Gray was probably the only person at One First Street who read them all.

Gray continued. “I think the First Amendment allows a kid who saw a wrong happening to write a poem about it over a beat.” Gray wheeled the cart toward the door. “And if the chief justice disagrees, you might mention all the violence in those operas he loves so much.”

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Mike said, spiking the ball, then doing a ridiculous touchdown dance. He strutted over to Gray and gave him a high five.

For a moment, it felt like Gray was a clerk himself, an equal weighing in on the most important school-speech case in decades.

“Hey, Gray,” JFK said. Gray turned, ready to continue his defense of the First Amendment.

“I’ve got some books that need to be delivered to the library.”

When Gray arrived at the gym two hours later, his dad already had his hands wrapped and was hitting the heavy bag. There was a large sweat stain on his shirt. “You’re late,” he called out.

“I told you, I have the night shift on Sundays,” Gray said. His dad didn’t respond, just pounded the bag. He wasn’t going to get any sympathy from Manny Hernandez about the night shift. This was his father’s one night off from the pizza shop. Since his dad’s cancer went into remission, they’d been meeting every Sunday night at the old boxing club in Adams Morgan. Gray would have preferred that they spent these times together somewhere other than a smelly gym, but it made his father happy to see him back in the gloves. It was these moments that Gray was reminded that he probably wasn’t the man his father had dreamed he’d become. With his books and big dreams, Gray was his mother’s boy.
Gray punched the bag, the hits vibrating through him, his thoughts venturing to his earlier encounter with the law clerks. He threw his weight into his right.

Let’s ask an everyman.

Then his left.

I’ve got some books that need to be delivered to the library.

Gray continued to pummel the bag, his heart pounding, sweat dripping from his brow.

“Somethin’ wrong?” His father came and stood behind the bag, holding it in place as Gray kept going at it. “Talk to me.”

“It’s nothing,” Gray finally said, catching his breath, wiping his forehead with his arm. “Just work stuff.”

“I thought it was going well. You’ve loved that building since you were a little kid. And now you’re working there, helping the justices.”

“I don’t think delivering the mail is exactly helping the justices, Dad.”

“It’s a foot in the door. Once they get to know you, see how smart you are . . .”

Things didn’t work that way, but Gray wasn’t in the mood to argue.

“It’ll happen, son,” his father added. “You just gotta pay your dues, Grayson.”

“I know, Dad, I know.”

CHAPTER 2

At seven the next morning, Gray sat at his cubicle, tired and his muscles aching from the workout the night before. He started his day, as always, slugging down a large coffee while reading SCOTUSblog, a website that covered the court. It was the first day of the new term, and the pundits predicted it would be an exciting year with several landmark cases.

Gray turned when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Shelby, one of the marshal’s aides. A mistake he’d made after a night of drinking with the other aides. She made a point of saying she’d never been with “a guy like him,” which he assumed meant a poor kid from a sketchy side of D.C. She worked part-time while finishing her senior year at Georgetown.

“Martin wants to see you,” she said. Gray looked across the expansive cube farm. He could see Martin Melnick, their supervisor, through the glass walls of his small interior office in the back. He was eating something wrapped in foil. A breakfast burrito, maybe. Shelby’s expression summed up her assessment of Martin: Ick. Martin was in his late thirties, ancient by aide-pool standards. Overweight with bad teeth, he was the antithesis of the bright young things who worked at the high court, the butt of many jokes. He was never particularly nice to Gray; the opposite, actually. But Martin was good at his job and didn’t deserve the ridicule, so Gray kind of rooted for him in all of his slobbiness. Before Gray made his way over to Martin, Shelby said, “Who’s that?” She pointed to a photo pinned to Gray’s cubicle. It was of a boxer in the ring, bruised and battered, arms in the air, standing over his opponent who was out cold.

“My dad, back in the day. He was a fighter in Mexico.” Gray had pinned it up his first day on the job. His own Facebook motivational meme.

Shelby squeezed Gray’s bicep. “I see where you get—”

“I’ve gotta get over to Martin,” Gray said, politely extracting himself.

Martin’s office didn’t help his image. Stacks of papers everywhere. Post-it notes all over the place. He glanced up at Gray and handed him an envelope.

“We got a rush delivery for E.R.D.’s chambers.” E.R.D. were the initials for Edgar R. Douglas, the chief justice. In his month on the job, Gray had learned that the Supreme Court was obsessed with abbreviations and acronyms.

“Oral arguments start at ten, so get this to his clerk ASAP. His name’s on the envelope.”

Gray fast-walked up to the main floor, shuttling through the impressive Great Hall that was lined with marble columns and busts of past chief justices. He nodded at the officer manning the bronze latticework door and made his way to the chief justice’s chambers. The chief ’s secretary, a tough old bird named Olga Romanov, flicked him a glance.

“I have a delivery for Keir Landon.” “The clerks are getting breakfast,” she said in her clipped Eastern European accent.

“Do you know where?”

“Breakfast. Where do you think?” Gray forced a smile, then headed back downstairs to the court’s cafeteria. He marched past the assembly line of trays and the public seating area and into the private room reserved for the law clerks. A group of four were sitting at the long table.

Gray cleared his throat when they didn’t look up. When that didn’t work: “Excuse me. I have a delivery for Keir Landon.”

The guy from last night who looked like JFK popped his head up. He walked over to Gray and plucked the envelope from his hand.

“What’s up, Greg?” Mike said from the group. Before Gray could correct him again on the name, Gray’s phone pinged. A text from Martin, another rush delivery.

Gray hurried out, tapping a text to Martin as he paced quickly through the cafeteria. He didn’t look up until he bumped into someone. A tiny woman in her seventies. It was only when the elderly woman’s food tray hit the floor that Gray recognized her: Justice Rose Fitzgerald Yorke. She looked different without the black robe. Always weird seeing the teacher out of school. Yorke was one of the most beloved members of the court. Gray had read that when Yorke graduated from Harvard in the fifties, the only woman and number one in her class, none of the white-shoe law firms would hire a woman as a lawyer. A few had offered to make her a secretary. Maybe that explained why she ate in the public cafeteria rather than the justices’ private dining room, or why she organized the office birthday celebrations for every single employee at the court. She knew what it was like to be an outsider. She brought what some would derisively call empathy to her jurisprudence.

Justice Yorke bent over to pick up her spilled plate and silverware.

“Justice Yorke, I’m so sorry. Please, let me clean this up.” Gray lightly put a hand on the elderly justice’s arm.

“It’s no problem, young man, I can clean up after myself.”

“No, really, it’s my fault. Please.”

The manager of the cafeteria was standing there now looking annoyed. He gestured for Justice Yorke to come with him to get a new plate. The manager shot Gray a hard look as he spirited the justice away.

So there he was on the first Monday in October— the opening day of the term—on hands and knees wiping up the floor, the clerks passing by on their way back to chambers.

You just gotta pay your dues, Grayson.

CHAPTER 3

At the end of his shift, Gray headed down to the court’s garage to get his bike. In the elevator down, he contemplated his dinner options. He wasn’t sure if he could take another night of ramen or SpaghettiOs. Maybe he’d go to the pizza shop. Or to his parents’ apartment. Mom could always be counted on for a good meal, and he could bring some laundry. The elevator doors spread open to a field of gray concrete. The bike rack was empty but for his beat-up Schwinn. As he unlocked the chain, he heard a commotion. In the back, behind one of the support beams.

Gray stepped toward the sound. Next to an SUV parked in a reserved spot he saw two men, one had fallen on the ground, the other standing over him. The guy must have slipped. Was he hurt? There was something about how he didn’t try to get up and the stance of the other man that didn’t seem quite right.

“Everything okay?” Gray said. The man who was standing whirled his head around. That’s when Gray noticed the ski mask.

Before Gray could process the situation, the assailant had kicked the man on the ground and charged Gray.

Gray’s father had taught him that when someone is coming at you, in the boxing ring or on the street, time slows. Nature’s way to give you a chance to evade the predator. And that was how Gray dodged the blade that lashed in a wide arc, grazing his abdomen. A panic washed over Gray. And when the attacker came at him again, it wasn’t one of Dad’s bob-and-weaves that saved him, but a crude kick— more Jason Statham than Cassius Clay— that connected to Ski Mask’s chest. The guy slammed into a car, but he didn’t go down. He roared forward at Gray again. Gray did a bull-fighter’s move and pushed the attacker past him, but felt a bite in his side. Ski Mask then jammed something into the small of Gray’s back. He felt a jolt of electricity burning into him— a shockwave up his spine— causing him to spasm and gasp for air. Gray went black for a moment, and then was flat on the cold concrete.

Gray watched as Ski Mask turned his attention to the other man who was on his feet now. It was only then that Gray got a good look at the victim: Chief Justice Douglas. The chief had scurried behind a car and was frantically thumbing a key fob, his panic button. The elevator dinged and Gray heard the slap of dress shoes on concrete, the court’s police.

Still on the ground, Gray shifted his eyes toward the man in the ski mask, but he was gone. Gray’s vision blurred. He heard yelling. Then things went dark.

CHAPTER 4

Gray awoke to the scent of disinfectant and the presence of a crowd in the small hospital room. He must’ve been given painkillers because it was like watching a sitcom, one of those Latino family comedies written by white guys from Harvard. There was Mom, hovering over him, wiping his brow, pushing the giant plastic jug of hospital water at him. Dad, looking tired and too thin, wearing a flour-stained apron, staring at the old box television mounted from the ceiling. And big sis, Miranda, wrangling Gray’s seven-year-old nephew, Emilio.

When they noticed his eyes open, they called for a doctor, and soon an intern was checking Gray’s pupils with a penlight.

Gray never got into drugs, but as he sat back in the relaxed haze, he was starting to understand the fascination. And for the next hour, or maybe it was longer, his family kept talking to him— asking about the garage attack— and he gave woozy responses. God knows what he said.

Sometime later, Gray’s attention turned to a familiar voice at the doorway.

“Always gotta be the hero.” One of his oldest friends, Samantha. When they were in elementary school, Gray had intervened to save Sam from a schoolyard bully, only to have the kid then pummel Gray until Sam put an end to it by giving the kid the worst wedgie Gray had ever seen. Sam still gave him shit for it.

As Sam hugged everyone hello, Gray’s father shadowboxed and said, “He used the moves I taught him.”

Gray didn’t have the heart to tell him that most of the credit went to Jason Statham.

Sam came to his bedside and punched him in the arm.

“What was that for?”

“For being so stupid. You’re lucky to be alive.”

“That’s what I said to him,” Mom said. The room grew loud again with his family talking over one another. Gray watched as his nephew reenacted Gray’s confrontation with the mugger. He was feeling the pull of sleep, more drugs they’d put in the IV, and closed his eyes. He was just about to drift off when the room went suddenly quiet, a rarity at any Hernandez gathering.

His eyes popped open at another voice. “I owe you a thank you.”

There was a tall man standing at his bedside. He wore a sports jacket, shirt open at the collar. It took Gray a moment to realize it wasn’t the drugs, it was really him. Chief Justice Douglas. “It was nothing,” was all Gray managed in response. “No, if you hadn’t arrived when you did, then . . .” the chief’s voice trailed off.

Gray introduced the chief justice to his family. He noticed the chief hold Sam’s gaze a beat longer than comfortable when they shook hands. Sam had that effect on men, and Gray supposed Supreme Court justices were not immune to her beauty. To Gray, she was still the flat-chested tomboy he used to play dodgeball and video games with.

After the introductions, the chief pulled up a chair next to Gray’s bed. It was awkward to talk because the room was compact and his family wasn’t too subtle about the gawking.

“Someone at the court told me you’re a lawyer?” the chief said.

“Top of his class,” Gray’s mother said.

“Mom, please.” Gray felt his face flush.

The chief justice smiled. “The doctors said you’ll be out of commission for a few days.”

“That’s what they said, but I don’t think it’ll be more than a day. I’m already feeling—” He stopped when he saw the hard look his mother was giving him.

“It’s always wise to listen to your mother,” the chief said with a dry chuckle.

His mom nodded, giving a satisfied smile.

“But do me a favor, would you?” the chief continued.

“Of course.”

“When you get back to work, come by my chambers.” Before Gray could respond, the chief added, “You’re not gonna be a messenger boy anymore.”

CHAPTER 5

“Nothing? They found nothing?”

Special Agent Emma Milstein asked. Her partner, Scott Cartwright, stood in front of Milstein’s desk in the FBI field office, staring into an open file. Cartwright wore his usual navy suit, white shirt, plain tie clamped around his thick neck.

Cartwright shook his head. “A guy with a knife strolls into the Supreme Court, attacks a justice, and not one camera catches him, no one knows how he got in or out, nothing?”

“Nada,” Cartwright said.

“What about the kid? What’s his name again?” Cartwright flipped a page in the file.

“Hernandez. Grayson Hernandez. The Supreme Court’s squad interviewed him. Been on the job there for about a month, well liked. They’re confident it was just wrong place, wrong time.”

“Criminal record?”

“No, he’s a lawyer, actually.”

“A lawyer? I thought he was a messenger?”

“Yeah, works in the marshal’s office. Times are tough in the law business, I guess,” Cartwright said.

“I guess so. Our guys agree with the Supreme Court’s police? We’re sure Hernandez is clean?”

Cartwright walked over and put the open file in front of Milstein. “We don’t think he was involved in the attack. He got into some trouble as a kid— joyriding in a stolen car with some friends. But that’s like jaywalking in Hamilton Heights.”

“He grew up in Hamilton Heights? Don’t they call that area ‘Afghanistan’?” Milstein looked down at the file, studying the photo of Grayson Hernandez. He was a good-looking kid. Late-twenties. Striking blue eyes, unusual for a Hispanic. He had a scar that ran from the corner of his left eye to his ear. Jagged, no plastic surgery. “Yeah, he’s a regular local boy makes good,” Cartwright said, heavy on the sarcasm.

“Any criminal associates?”

“He was childhood friends with a real charmer, Arturo Alvarez, who’s just out of prison and already at war with a rival sect. But it appears that Hernandez left the Heights and never looked back. The report says no contact with Alvarez in years.”

Milstein read through the rest of the file. “Does the press know he was there when the chief was attacked? I don’t need reporters sniffing around. If they find out there’s a connection to Dupont Underground they’ll—”

“They don’t know anything,” Cartwright interrupted. “The court released a statement about the mugging, but no details. They’re pretty tight-lipped up there.”

“What’s the Supreme Court’s police chief saying?”

“Aaron Dowell? He’s saying we should mind our own fucking business. They’re in charge of protecting the chief.”

“Yeah, they’re doing a great job.” Cartwright said nothing. “When can we talk to the chief justice?” Milstein asked. “They’re still stonewalling. I don’t think they’re taking the connection to Dupont seriously.”

“You told them we think it’s the same perp?”

“Of course I did. I’m working on it, Em.”

“Work harder.” Milstein let out a loud, frustrated breath.

“You want me to get you a snack or something?” Cartwright said. “When my kids get a little cranky, I bring them some Goldfish crackers and it—”

“Any luck on getting the wires?” Milstein said, ignoring him. Cartwright made a sound of disbelief. “Neal says you’re crazy if you think you’ll get a bug anywhere near that building.” As usual, Neal Wyatt, the assistant director in charge of the field office, was being too cautious, playing politics.

“Cowards.”

“You need to tread lightly. This is the Supreme Court.”

“The Franklin Theater fire was on July fifth. The Dupont Underground murders on August fifth. Now the attack on the chief October fifth. And we now know it’s the same perp. What’s it gonna take to get the Supreme Court’s squad to take this seriously?”

Cartwright shook his head. “Hopefully not another victim on November fifth.”

Anthony Franze

Author Bio:

ANTHONY FRANZE is a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice of a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm, and a critically acclaimed thriller writer with novels set in the nation’s highest court. Franze has been a commentator on legal and Supreme Court issues for The New Republic, Bloomberg, National Law Journal, and other major media outlets. He is a board member and a Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization.

Franze lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family.

Q & A with Anthony Franze

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I think most writers draw from their personal experiences. Whether it’s an article I read in a newspaper or magazine, some unique place I visited, or something one of my kids said, I’m always on the lookout for material. For instance, in my last novel, The Advocate’s Daughter, the main character’s seven-year-old son likes to tell dumb jokes. I stole many from my son. In my new book, The Outsider, the main character is a Supreme Court law clerk, so I tried to have the law clerks discuss real-world cutting-edge legal issues.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I outline the entire story, though a “loose” outline that points me in the right direction, but gives me room to modify as I go. Authors endlessly debate the virtues of outlining versus writing organically by the seat of the pants (the great “plotters versus pantsers” debate). I’m in the whatever-gets-you-in-the-chair-and-writing school of thought.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I write late at night, 3 to 4 nights a week if I can manage it. I don’t wait for “inspiration,” I just get words on the page. I edit on the subway to and from the office, and on more than one occasion I’ve missed my stop because I get so wrapped up in it.

What are you reading now?
I just finished Anatomy of Innocence, an anthology where thriller writers tell the stories of real people who’d spent years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. It’s a really powerful book that shows the personal costs of a flawed justice system.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m working on my next book, a domestic thriller. But I’ve learned the hard way, since the story and titles often change, not to talk too much about works in progress until the book is done.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast as the main character?
Probably George Clooney since he looks so much like me. (I’m kidding!!)

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
It’s sad but between my law practice and writing, I don’t have time for much else. I love spending time with my wife and kids.

Favorite meal?
Spaghetti with meatballs—because it reminds me of my mother. She died right before my first book was published, and I know she would’ve loved seeing my longtime dream come true.

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

Catch Up with Anthony on his Website 🔗 & Facebook 🔗.

Tour Participants:



Giveaway!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Anthony Franze. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 19th and runs through April 22nd, 2017.

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Apr 012017
 

Giacomo Giammatteo

His name may sound familiar to you since I have reviewed some of his books, and maybe you have too, which I thoroughly enjoyed. MURDER TAKES TIME, A BULLET FOR CARLOS, MURDER HAS CONSEQUENCES and OLD WOUNDS. He is a master story teller, IMO.

After reading his first book, Giacomo and I have kept in contact. I was devastated upon hearing what he had endured, while I was on my LOA, and is still dealing with, the residuals of his heart attacks and strokes. Even with all that, he continues to write and keep his animal sanctuary going. He is an inspiration!!!! So who better to showcase in my Author Of The Month feature!!!!!

When he told me about his plight and the book he wrote, WHISKERS & BEAR, to help with the costs for the animals, I had to help. I ask, even beg, please purchase this book, my review is below. If you are an animal lover, you truly will enjoy this book and if you aren’t, I’m sure you know someone who would enjoy it. I am offering a $20. GC, either Amazon or B&N, whichever the winner prefers. Just a suggestion….if you enter the giveaway, please consider purchasing WHISKERS & BEAR. Thank you.

And a little secret….today his is birthday…if you get a chance stop by any of his sites and wish him a Happy Birthday!

WHISKERS & BEAR will be touring with Providence Book Promotions next month. Follow the tour and you may have a chance to win an eBook copy.

Whiskers and Bear
by Giacomo Giammatteo
on Tour May 1 – 14, 2017

Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo

Book Details

Genre: Non-Fiction, Animals

Published by: Inferno Publishing Company

Publication Date: April 2017

Number of Pages: 150

ISBN:

Purchase Links: Whiskers and Bear on Amazon Whiskers and Bear on Barnes & Noble Whiskers and Bear on Kobo Whiskers and Bear on Goodreads

Synopsis:

Whiskers and Bear were two of the best dogs in the world. They didn’t always listen or even try to listen, but they were loyal to a fault, and they were the best of friends. They hunted all of their food, and they protected our animal sanctuary with no regard for their own safety.

Whiskers and Bear Book Launch

Out of all the books I’ve written (almost thirty), this one is closest to my heart. For twenty-four years, my wife and I have run an animal sanctuary, providing homes for dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even a wild boar. I don’t know how many animals we’ve had through the years in total, but at one time, we had as many as fifty-five.

A Plea For Help


I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

I think most of us are familiar with domesticated animals and/or are animal lovers. Having had dogs the majority of my life, they become a part of one’s family. But do we really know about these animals?

In WHISKERS & BEAR, the reader will learn the true nature of these 2 dogs. Their intelligence, habits, instincts, friendships, stubbornness, loyalty and love.

WHISKERS & BEAR are 2 loved dogs that are members of a Texan sanctuary that author Giacomo Giammatteo and his wife, Mikki, are the owners of and that care for their over 40+ 4-legged menagerie.

A quick read but so compelling and touching. It will make you laugh, shake your head and even shed a tear.

This book was written to help defray costs of the sanctuary since the author has become disabled due to extensive medical issues. When reading this book, it is evident how this couple love all of their animals. Even though he is slowly progressing, the care of his animals is what he is most concerned about.

Please find it in your heart to purchase a copy. All proceeds will go directly to the upkeep and care of these 40+ members of their family!

Read an excerpt:

Another Grave

I climbed up onto the tractor, a Kubota 4630, with a six-foot bucket on the front. It was a powerful machine, and we’d put it through the hoops more than a few times. What I mean is that my wife Mikki and I had dug a lot of graves.

I tied an old cloth diaper around my forehead and draped the end of it over the top of my bald head. There wasn’t much better than a cotton cloth for keeping sweat out of your eyes, or the sun from burning your head. I turned the key and revved the engine. After letting it idle a moment, I lifted the bucket and drove toward the south side of the property where Mikki was waiting for me. She’d already gotten a few blankets and a clean sheet. For this one, she’d brought a pillow, too.

I reached up and wiped my eyes. I was getting damn tired of burying things.

An old white pickup crept down the gravel driveway, coming to a stop near the fence.

A neighbor leaned out and hollered. “What’s goin’ on?”

I wished he’d have kept going.

“Nothin’,” I said, but not loud enough for him to hear.

The door opened, and he stepped out and walked over to the fence, using his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he peered over the top rail.

“What are you doin’?”

I could see there was no getting away from it. I muttered my answer a few times so my voice wouldn’t crack when I yelled.

“Diggin’ a grave,” I hollered back.

“A grave? Which one died?”

Which one? That’s what it had come to for most of the neighbors and relatives and friends. Which one died. As if it didn’t matter. As if having forty-five animals made it easier to deal with when one of them died.

He came in through the side gate and headed in my direction. He walked slowly, which gave me time to compose myself. It’s never easy to bury a friend, but this one…this one was special.

Mikki walked over to me. “He’s just trying to help.”

I nodded.

I don’t need his help, I thought, but the fact of the matter was I could probably use it.

It hadn’t rained in weeks, and the damn Texas ground was as hard as concrete. Even if the tractor did cut through, it could only go so deep; we’d have hand work to do at the bottom.

Our neighbor was about twenty feet away. He took off his hat and swiped at his forehead. It was a scorcher today and had been for a month or so.

“Who was it?” he asked.

I couldn’t say, but I managed to gesture toward Mikki. She lifted the corner of the blanket so he could see.

“Oh shit!” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks,” I said.

He unbuttoned his shirt and grabbed a shovel I had leaning against a small oak tree. “Might as well get this done.”

I nodded again. He was right, of course, but I was in no hurry to put another friend in the ground. I cranked the engine up a little higher, shoved the tractor into low gear, and positioned the bucket for the first scoop of dirt. The bucket hit the ground with a metallic thud. It didn’t do much more than break the surface.

“Whew!” the neighbor said. “Going to be a long day.”

“That’s for sure.”

“How long have they been with you?” he asked.

They. I thought about what he said. I would have laughed if not for the circumstances. Everyone referred to the two of them as one. They or them. Bear and Whiskers. Whiskers and Bear. It was a cold day in July if anyone mentioned one without the other.

I handed him my bottle of water; he looked thirsty.

“They’ve been with us a long time. A damn long time.”

***

Excerpt from Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo. Copyright © 2017 by Giacomo Giammatteo. Reproduced with permission from Giacomo Giammatteo. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

Visit Giacomo on his Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, Facebook 🔗 and Goodreads 🔗 pages!

So How About Helping Out?


Skip the cup of coffee you were thinking of, or the pack of smokes, or glass of wine, and pick up a copy of Whiskers and Bear. I’d bet you’ll not only love reading about their exploits, but you’ll feel better about yourself for helping out. Even if you don’t read it—give it to someone who will.
And when you’re finished reading, don’t forget to leave a review.

Back to the Sales Pitch


Now, I know you want to hurry up and read it, so here you go. You can buy it now from your favorite retailerAmazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, or Google. And if you want a print version, you can get that from Amazon or B&N, or, you can ask your bookstore to order it.

Giacomo Giammatteo will be back on April 8th….Don’t miss the 2nd installment for Author Of The Month

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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 an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.