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VBT – Tail of the Dragon

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Tail of the Dragon
by Connie di Marco

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GENRE: Mystery

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BLURB:

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought murder would be part of her practice, but now, Julia’s former boss and current client has asked for help. He has serious problems at his law firm. Three people have received death threats and the only common denominator between them is a case long settled — the infamous Bank of San Francisco fire. Julia’s convinced a woman is behind the threats, perhaps even the widow of the man who died in that same fire, but no one wants to believe that astrology could provide a clue. Before Julia can help her client, two lawyers are dead and her own life is threatened. Can she unmask the killer before he (or she) takes another life?

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EXCERPT

I followed the curve from Sutro Heights down to the Great Highway. Here, the road runs parallel to Ocean Beach. Sheets of sand had blown across the highway and formed dunes every so often high enough to block the ocean view. Waves crashed against the concrete abutment sending salt water spray across my windshield. I turned east on Ulloa away from the roiling Pacific and spotted Sarah Larkin’s address on the opposite side of the street. The wind off the ocean picked up, blowing east. Particles of dust and beach sand hit my face as I climbed out of the car. Keeping my head down for protection, I hurried across the street.

I climbed the long stairway to the front doors where a sign indicated 3102-3104. At least here, in the shelter of the entryway, there was respite from the wind. I pressed the buzzer to the door on the right. After a moment, a woman called out. “Who is it?”

“Hi. My name is Julia Bonatti. I’ve come from Meyers Dade & Schultz.”

The door was quickly yanked open by a woman in her late forties. Her face was round and slightly puffy. She wore no makeup and was dressed in a nondescript brown jumper over a black sweatshirt. Her long hair, streaked with gray, was combed back behind her ears.

She peered at me. “For God’s sake. What now? I told him I didn’t want anything from him or his damn law firm.” Her eyes were thin puffy slits.

“I . . . I’d just like to talk to you about your brother. I was hoping maybe you could help us in finding his murderer.”

“His murderer . . . I’d give his murderer a prize if I knew who he was,” she sneered. She looked me up and down and finally decided she’d talk to me even if it was only because I offered a sounding board for her bitterness. “Come on in,” she said resignedly.

“I gather you and your brother weren’t close, but I am sorry for your loss.”

“Don’t be. Wasn’t a loss. Believe me. I haven’t talked to Jack for years. Since my son died.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.” A familiar pain flickered in my chest. My loss seemed small in comparison.

“Nicky was sixteen when he died. He had a drug problem. He got mixed up with the wrong kids and they were into some heavy stuff. I was sure if he had one more chance . . . a good chance, he might make it.” Her voice trailed off. “I begged Jack for the money. I never asked him for a thing in my life. Never. But I begged for that.”

“He refused?”

“Said he didn’t see why he should pay for rehab or counseling. The other places hadn’t done Nick any good, so what difference did it make?” She looked at me, her eyes betraying a deep well of pain. “Jack never really loved anyone in his life. How could he possibly understand what it’s like to love a child? I didn’t have anyone else to ask. My husband was killed in a car accident when Nick was seven. Our parents are dead, and Jack had plenty of money. Big, successful lawyer . . . but he didn’t give a damn about me or Nick. Yeah, I hated him. I still hate his guts. I don’t care if he’s dead, I only wish he had suffered more.”

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Tail of the Dragon, third in the series, will be released on August 8, 2018. You can visit her at conniedimarco.com, at Facebook.com/Connie di Marco Author or Twitter @askzodia.

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

Tail of the Dragon

Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Zodiac-Mystery-Connie-Marco/dp/0738751065/

Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tail-of-the-dragon-connie-di-marco/1127149243

IndieBound:
https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780738751061

Mysterious Galaxy:
https://www.mystgalaxy.com/book/9780738751061

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Connie di Marco will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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VBT – Last Puffs

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About the Author

Harley Mazuk

Harley Mazuk was born in Cleveland, the last year that the Indians won the World Series. He majored in English literature at Hiram College in Ohio, and Elphinstone College, Bombay, India. Harley worked as a record salesman (vinyl) and later served the U.S. Government in Information Technology and in communications, where he honed his writing style as an editor and content provider for official web sites.

Retired now, he likes to write pulp fiction, mostly private eye stories, several of which have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. His first full length novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder, was released in 2017, and his newest, Last Puffs, just came out in January 2018.

Harley’s other passions are his wife Anastasia, their two children, reading, running, Italian cars, California wine and peace.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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About the Book

Last Puffs

Title: LAST PUFFS
Author: Harley Mazuk
Publisher: New Pulp Press
Pages: 293
Genre: Mystery/Crime/Private Eye

BOOK BLURB

Frank Swiver and his college pal, Max Rabinowitz, both fall in love with Amanda Zingaro, courageous Republican guerilla, in the Spanish civil war. But the local fascists murder her and her father.

Eleven years later in San Francisco in 1949, Frank, traumatized by the violence in Spain, has become a pacifist and makes a marginal living as a private eye. Max who lost an eye in Spain but owes his life to Frank, has pledged Frank eternal loyalty. He’s a loyal communist party member and successful criminal attorney.

Frank takes on a case for Joan Spring, half-Chinese wife of a wealthy banker. Joan seduces Frank to ensure his loyalty. But Frank busts up a prostitution/white slavery ring at the Lotus House a brothel in Chinatown, where Joan was keeping refugees from Nanking prisoners.

Then Max sees a woman working in a Fresno cigar factory, who is a dead ringer for Amanda, and brings in Frank, who learns it is Amanda. She has tracked the fascists who killed her father and left her for dead from her village in Spain to California. Amanda wants Frank to help her take revenge. And by the way, she says the ten-year-old boy with her is Frank’s son.

Joan Spring turns out to be a Red Chinese secret agent, and she’s drawn a line through Max’s name with a pencil. Can Frank save Max again? Can he help Amanda avenge her father when he’s sworn off violence? Can he protect her from her target’s daughter, the sadistic Veronica Rios-Ortega? Join Frank Swiver in the swift-moving story, Last Puffs.

Praise

.5 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read – Easy and Fun

February 10, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition| Verified Purchase

Frank Swiver is a detective. Murder investigations are his specialty. He likes wine, loose women and fast cars. Not necessarily in that order. Swiver inhabits an earlier world that is archaic and, without doubt, politically incorrect by today’s standards. Harley Mazuk recreates in Swiver a character from another era whose story is fun and entertaining. Mazuk has an impressive knowledge of wines and cars which permeate his narrative. As to his knowledge of women, I am not competent to judge. I do know that the geography and time period portrayed is well researched. There are many twists and turns to the plot as well as an injection of espionage that keeps the reader guessing. Fans of old fashion detective novels will enjoy this book. I know, I did.

— Amazon Reviewer

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Book Excerpt:

Aragón, Spain, March 1938

There’d been a dusting of fresh snow in the high ground during the night, and the captain wanted our squad, which was nine men, to relieve an outpost on the crest of a hill, just up above the tree line. Max Rabinowitz took point, and I followed, climbing steadily. It was a cold, quiet morning, and we talked between ourselves about the ’38 baseball season, and whether we’d be back in the States to see any games.

“I would like to see Hank Greenberg and the Tigers play DiMaggio and the Yanks,” said Max. Max was dark-haired and rangy, and I always thought he looked a bit like Cary Grant, though now after a year in the field, there was nothing suave nor dapper in his appearance.

“How about Ted Williams?” I said. “We’ve already seen DiMaggio play in San Francisco with the Seals.”

“We saw Williams play with the Padres. Besides, he isn’t in the big leagues yet,” said Max.

“Yeah, but the Red Sox signed him.” I walked along just off Max’s shoulder. I was about the same height as Max, six feet, six-one, a little thinner, and looked at least as scruffy that morning. I wore a burgundy scarf around my head and ears, under a dirty and battered grey fedora. I scanned the virgin snow ahead of us with heavy-lidded eyes. The wind was faint, just enough to pick up a feathery wisp of snow in spots and spin it around.  

“He’s only about 19. I think they’ll keep him down on the farm for ’38.”

“I would like to see Bob Feller pitch to your boy Greenberg,” I told Max.

Smitty came up between us. “Feller throws 100 miles an hour, and he strikes out more than one per inning.”

“They say,” said Max, “he walks almost one an inning,”

“Keeps ‘em loose up there,” said Smitty, who was from Cleveland. “Hundred mile an hour heat and nobody knows where it’s going.”

As the three of us stepped out of the cover of the tree line, Smitty kind of hopped up on one leg and threw his arms out. I wondered what sort of a weird little dance that was; then I heard the automatic weapons fire coming down at us off the hill. It was a mechanical chatter, rather than gunpowder explosions, and the wind had blown the sound around the hills so that the bullets cut Smitty down before it had reached us. Branches near us started to snap off and tumble earthwards. Max hit the snow on his belly and rolled downhill to his right to get to cover behind a rock. I motioned for the others to get back into the trees, and dove into a low spot in the ground.

When we could look up, we saw that the fascists had overrun the outpost we’d been climbing up to the ridge to relieve, and the firing was coming from there. We returned fire. I heard cries in Spanish from behind me, a curse in a low voice, then a high-pitched prayer.

A potato-masher grenade came flipping end-over-end down the hill toward me. It seemed like slow motion. It hit a rock and bounced up. I could say a Hail Mary in about four seconds flat in those days, and I said one then. The grenade sailed over my head; I heard it explode, and felt a shower of dirt on my back. In front of me, Max was popping up and firing one round with his Springfield, then dropping behind the rock. I popped up and fired when he dropped down. I thought we were doing pretty well taking turns, but grenades kept arcing over our heads and bullets pinged into Max’s rock and raked the dirt beside me. Max tried lobbing one of his grenades towards the machine gun, but his throw was uphill, and he didn’t have an arm like DiMaggio.

After a few minutes of this, I tried to aim and squeeze the trigger instead of popping off quick shots. Then I didn’t hear anyone behind us firing anymore. I looked around and saw Rocco and Pete sprawled in the grass. I called to a couple of the others.

“Comrades…anyone…sound off.” Nada.

“Frank, this is bad,” Max yelled to me.

“I’d rather be facing Feller’s fastballs,” I told him. “Maybe it’s time for us to dust.” Then we heard an airplane motor. It grew louder, and the first plane, a Heinkel, zoomed over the ridge seconds later. Max had risen to his feet and was scrambling down the slope. He looked back over his shoulder at the plane just as a cannon shot from the aircraft hit the rock he’d been behind. The explosion flipped Max in mid-air and tossed him towards me. The ground under him ripped up and clods of dirt flew towards us.

The scene faded to black, but for how long, I don’t know. When I opened my eyes, I was facing the sky but I smelled the forest floor, earth and leaves. Truffles, perhaps? Max was on top of me, limp, and it was quiet. No planes, no shooting. “Max,” I said, “we gotta get up. Get off me.” I felt my voice in my head, but couldn’t hear it in my ears. Max didn’t get up. I rolled him over next to me, and saw that his hat was gone.  The top of his head and the right side of his face were a collage of blood and dirt. I shook him, and he gasped for breath, earth falling out of his nostrils. He was still alive.

“Frank, Frank. I can’t see. I can’t see.” It didn’t sound like Max, but there was no one else there.

“Easy, Max.” I tried to rinse some of the dirt, debris and blood off Max’s head with my canteen, then I ripped open a compress from my pack and put it over his forehead and eyes. I wrapped more dressing around his head to keep the bandage in place “Hold this on your face, man. Don’t try to open your eyes.” I was afraid his right eyeball was going to fall out. “Hold it tight.” Using the slope, I maneuvered him across my shoulder, head down in front of me, and struggled to my feet. I took off at a trot along the tree line.

Our lines were behind us to the east but it looked like the whole damned fascist army was charging down from the outpost, headed that way, so I ran south. It was downhill and my momentum carried us. The going was easy, but I felt panic building in my gut so I tried to slow down. I slid on the snow, fell on my butt, and slammed into a tree and dropped Max.

“Frank, where are you? Am I dyin’?”

“I got you, Max. You caught some shrapnel in the head from that plane. Say an act of contrition or something.”

“I’m a Jew, you idiot.”

“Say it anyway.” I lifted the gauze off his forehead and looked under it. His wound didn’t appear to be deep, but the right eye was very bad, all blood and pulp, and the bone around it may have been shattered. “Press on this, Max.” I pressed the bandage back against his face and put his hand on it.  

I hoisted him over my shoulder again, and stepped off, forcing myself to keep my pace steady and not too fast. We went on till the sun was high in the sky. I didn’t fall again, but my ankles were burning, and my toes were pinched in my boots from going downhill. I stopped twice, and opened our bota. I washed my mouth out with the wine, a rustic red from Calatayud, then I cradled Max’s head and opened his mouth. I squirted the wine in, squeezing the leather skin, the way I’d squeezed the trigger of my rifle. Max coughed. He seemed only half-conscious.

I carried Max down the hill and to the south, parallel to our lines, until we were deep in some woods. I was scared and it wasn’t easy, but I would have done anything for Max. We had been roommates and run around together at Berkeley. We fell out of touch when he went to law school, and I started drinking, trying to forget Cicilia. When Max re-connected with me in ’36, he tried to help me sober up and get back on my feet. I’d come around for a while, but always, I’d slip back into the abyss.

Max was a red, even back in our student days. I hadn’t been serious about my politics then. One evening to keep me from drowning my demons, Max took me to a meeting about the Spanish Civil War and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Before the night was over, we’d signed up to fight in Spain. Max didn’t have to. I think he did it to save me. Now I was going to save him.

When the sun dropped behind the hills, the woods quickly grew dark. There was a smell of pines, and the footing was better—no snow or ice on the ground, which was hard and covered with dry pine needles. Under the background din of war, the roar of artillery and airplanes, I heard water down to my left. I turned towards it and a few minutes later, came to a stream, probably flowing south to the Ebro. It wasn’t night yet, but it was so dark under the tall trees, I would have walked into the stream without seeing it if not for the sound of the water rushing over the rocks. I put Max down on his back, head and shoulders downhill toward the stream. The blood had dried; the gauze was stuck to his head. I scooped up water with my hat and poured it on his face. The icy cold shocked him into consciousness—and panic and pain.

“Morphine, Frank,” he moaned. “Gimme the morphine.” But I had used our morphine one night weeks ago on guard duty on a cold hillside. We did have a flask of Cardenal Mendoza Spanish Brandy, and I gave him some, then I drank. I rinsed his wound good and put a new bandage on it using Max’s kit this time. My legs felt weak and started to shake with cold or exhaustion. I don’t know if I could have stood up then if the Generalissimo had come down the hill waving his pistoles. We were down low, and there were some bare shrubs and young trees sheltering us on the uphill slope. I fought my exhaustion and tried to keep watch as long as I could. I had another swallow of brandy and pulled close to Max. My eyes closed, and I fell asleep.

 

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VBT – Abuse of Discretion

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About the Author

Pamela Samuels Young has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. She set giant-sized goals and used her talent, tenacity and positive outlook to accomplish them. Pamela consequently achieved success in both the corporate arena and literary world simultaneously.

An author, attorney and motivational speaker, Pamela spent fifteen years as Managing Counsel for Toyota, specializing in labor and employment law. While still practicing law, Pamela began moonlighting as a mystery writer because of the absence of women and people of color depicted in the legal thrillers she read. She is now an award-winning author of multiple legal thrillers, including Anybody’s Daughter, which won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction, and her new release, Abuse of Discretion, a shocking look at the juvenile justice system in the context of a troubling teen sexting case.

Prior to her legal career, spent several years as a television news writer and associate producer. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and earned a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University and a law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. She is a frequent speaker on the topics of teen sexting, child sex trafficking, self-empowerment and fiction writing.

Pamela Samuels Young

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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About the Book

Title: ABUSE OF DISCRETION
Author: Pamela Samuels Young
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing
Pages: 352
Genre: Mystery

Abuse of Discretion

BOOK BLURB:

A Kid’s Curiosity … A Parent’s Nightmare

The award-winning author of “Anybody’s Daughter” is back with an addictive courtroom drama that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile criminal justice system.

Graylin Alexander is a model fourteen-year-old. When his adolescent curiosity gets the best of him, Graylin finds himself embroiled in a sexting scandal that threatens to ruin his life. Jenny Ungerman, the attorney hired to defend Graylin, is smart, confident and committed. She isn’t thrilled, however, when ex-prosecutor Angela Evans joins Graylin’s defense team. The two women instantly butt heads. Can they put aside their differences long enough to ensure Graylin gets justice?

Unbeknownst to Angela, her boyfriend Dre is wrestling with his own drama. Someone from his past wants him dead. For Dre, his response is simple—kill or be killed.

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Book Excerpt

Graylin

“What’s the matter, Mrs. Singletary? Why do I have to go to the principal’s office?”

I’m walking side-by-side down the hallway with my second-period teacher. Students are huddled together staring and pointing at us like we’re zoo animals. When a teacher at Marcus Preparatory Academy escorts you to the principal’s office, it’s a big deal. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I’m a good student. I never get in trouble.

Mrs. Singletary won’t answer my questions or even look at me. I hope she knows she’s only making me more nervous.

“Mrs. Singletary, please tell me what’s wrong?”

“Just follow me. You’ll find out in a minute.”

I’m about to ask her another question when it hits me. Something happened to my mama!

My mama has been on and off drugs for as long as I can remember. I haven’t seen her in months and I don’t even know where she lives. No one does. I act like it doesn’t bother me, but it does. I’ve prayed to God a million times to get her off drugs. Even though my granny says God answers prayers, He hasn’t answered mine, so I stopped asking.

I jump in front of my teacher, forcing her to stop. “Was there a death in my family, Mrs. Singletary? Did something happen to my mama?”

“No, there wasn’t a death.”

She swerves around me and keeps going. I have to take giant steps to keep up with her.

Once we’re inside the main office, Mrs. Singletary points at a wooden chair outside Principal Keller’s office. “Have a seat and don’t move.”

She goes into the principal’s office and closes the door. My head begins to throb like somebody’s banging on it from the inside. I close my eyes and try to calm down. I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s probably just—Oh snap! The picture!

I slide down in the chair and pull my iPhone from my right pocket. My hands are trembling so bad I have to concentrate to keep from dropping it. I open the photos app and delete the last picture on my camera roll. If anyone saw that picture, I’d be screwed.

Loud voices seep through the closed door. I lean forward, straining to hear. It almost sounds like Mrs. Singletary and Principal Keller are arguing.

“It’s only an allegation. We don’t even know if it’s true.”

“I don’t care. We have to follow protocol.”

“Can’t you at least check his phone first?”

“I’m not putting myself in the middle of this mess. I’ve already made the call.”

The call? I can’t believe Principal Keller called my dad without even giving me a chance to defend myself. How’d she even find out about the picture?  

The door swings open and I almost jump out of my skin. The principal crooks her finger at me. “Come in here, son.”

Trudging into her office, I sit down on a red cloth chair that’s way more comfortable than the hard one outside. My heart is beating so fast it feels like it might jump out of my chest.

The only time I’ve ever been in Principal Keller’s office was the day my dad enrolled me in school. Mrs. Singletary is standing in front of the principal’s desk with her arms folded. I hope she’s going to stay here with me, but a second later, she walks out and closes the door.

Principal Keller sits on the edge of her desk, looking down at me. “Graylin, do you have any inappropriate pictures on your cell phone?”

“Huh?” I try to keep a straight face. “No, ma’am.”

“It’s been brought to my attention that you have an inappropriate picture—a naked picture—of Kennedy Carlyle on your phone. Is that true?”

“No…uh…No, ma’am.” Thank God I deleted it!

“This is a very serious matter, young man. So, I need you to tell me the truth.”

“No, ma’am.” I shake my head so hard my cheeks vibrate. “I don’t have anything like that on my phone.”

“I pray to God you’re telling me the truth.”

I don’t want to ask this next question, but I have to know. “Um, so you called my dad?”

“Yes, I did. He’s on his way down here now.”

I hug myself and start rocking back and forth. Even though I deleted the picture, my dad is still going to kill me for having to leave work in the middle of the day.

“I also made another call.”

At first I’m confused. Then I realize Mrs. Keller must’ve called my granny too. At least she’ll keep my dad from going ballistic.

“So you called my granny?”

“No.” The principal’s cheeks puff up like she’s about to blow something away. “I called the police.”

VBT – Penchant for Vengeance

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About the Book

Title: Penchant for Vengeance
Author: Robert Downs
Genre: Mystery

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Charlottesville, Virginia, Police Detective Luke McGinty has a closet filled with demons, along with a few skeletons; a steady job, but no steady partner or girlfriend; and is still married to his wife Sallie, even though she’s been dead for three years. Then his detective work takes a turn for the worse when a body is discovered at the downtown mall. One dead body isn’t enough, though, and another one turns up. When ties to a cold murder case in another county present themselves, Luke realizes that, if he doesn’t tread carefully, he could end up short more than just a few answers…

Author Bio

Robert Downs LCC

Robert Downs aspired to be a writer before he realized how difficult the writing process was. Fortunately, he’d already fallen in love with the craft, otherwise his stories might never have seen print. Originally from West Virginia, he has lived in Virginia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and now resides in California. When he’s not writing, Downs can be found reviewing, blogging, or smiling. To find out more about his latest projects, or to reach out to him on the Internet, visit the author’s website: www.RobertDowns.net. PENCHANT FOR VENGEANCE is his fifth novel.

Links

Author website http://www.RobertDowns.net

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RobertDownsBooks

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4821934.Robert_Downs

Giveaway

Giveaway for 2 paperbacks and 2 eBook copies of “Penchant for Vengeance” during the book tour.

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Book Excerpts

Excerpt #1

Traffic was light—Charlottesville, Virginia, despite being a college town, had a curfew—the morning was dark, and a light mist filled the air, adding drops of water to my bright yellow 1974 Camaro. I took the back roads, rather than using US 250 to reach the downtown mall, with Regal Cinema located near the center, off Main Street. I reached the scene in less than ten minutes, including parking, without using a siren, or running a single red light. The body, however, wasn’t nearly as successful as I was.

“Can’t you guys pick a more reasonable hour?” I asked. “Crime should wait until at least nine o’clock.”

“Why don’t you get your butt out of bed like everyone else?” a cop said.

The man didn’t look familiar, nor did his crew cut, wide shoulders, and pressed uniform. His face lacked wrinkles, and his scowl provided more menace than a rabbit with a semi-automatic weapon.

“I did. I’m here, aren’t I?”

I’d flashed my shield to get in, and now I wanted to flash my nine-millimeter. The early hour meant a yawn preceded one hand wrapped around the thick neck of my competition. I preferred reasonable solutions since reasonableness was all I had left. “What do we know?” I asked.

“We know you don’t belong here,” Nelson Rivers said.

Like his name implied, he preferred headlocks to handshakes and shaved heads over full-haired ones. He and I had respectfully disagreed on multiple occasions, so often I couldn’t remember the last time we’d ever agreed on anything other than the day of the week. He had hands the size of pencil sharpeners, and he pushed more buttons than he allowed pushed in return. What he needed was a little less mouth and a lot more action.

I ignored his comment. Ignorance was a hard emotion to pin down, but it seemed to rear its ugly head quicker than the other ones. And crime scenes brought out a special kind of ignorance. I had a few emotions left in my system, despite the hour, and I wanted to save them for the victim, who appeared about my age.

Excerpt #2

The body was bent like a pretzel. Wounds that were possibly from a knife or a whip slathered the body from the neck to the pubic region, deep enough to resemble tattoos. Some were spaced closely enough to disfigure the top half of the body, rendering an exact age nearly impossible. A crime of passion entered the forefront of my mind, and it clung to the roof of my mouth. The victim probably knew his killer intimately, or was, at the very least, an acquaintance.

The wounds stood out for me: a multitude of lacerations that made me unable to look away. When I scanned below the belt, I noticed the mutilated genitalia, rendering the man much less of one. I didn’t like the look of the scene, with the body splayed at an obscene angle, dropped right outside the glass front doors of Regal Cinema to render two of the doors nearly impassable. It resembled something. I just wasn’t sure what. I’d probably blocked it out of my mind, being that I frequented this particular cinema and watched more movies than I cared to admit.

I hoped it never came back, the thought I had blocked. It always did in the end. That was what hurt the most: Movies exacerbated the oddities of life.

Killers were usually born not made, but sometimes, it was the other way around.

The victim’s hands were positioned above his head, forming a triangle, as if he prayed in death to some higher power. Positioned that way by the killer, his hands rubbed up against each other, his head tilted slightly upward. The wounds to the victim’s hands told me he had put up a struggle, knowing that death was inevitable, yet he had wanted to live all the way to the end. But it wasn’t enough. It often never was.

The lack of blood told me the victim wasn’t killed here, and other than a nude body covered in wounds and dried blood, like strokes from a brush, with his hands pointed toward the sky, there were no other obvious signatures. His head was shaved with only a small area of stubble on his chin. His height and weight fell in the average region, his eyes were black, and his lips formed a permanent grimace. He had defensive wounds on both his wrists and the back of his hands, and his skin was as white as a first-floor apartment.

“Who’s the victim?” I asked.

“Victim’s name is unknown, until we run some tests,” the ME said. “Other than being male, and probably between thirty-five and forty years old, I’m out of guesses.”

Addie Ferguson, the ME, had a knack for guessing ages, along with her serious attention to detail. A short woman, with a few extra pounds she could never seem to get rid of, she preferred ankle-length skirts, black boots, and blue blouses.

“Have we got a time of death?”

Cover Reveal – CIRCUMVENT

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About the Author

 S.K. Derban

Born in the United States, S.K. Derban moved to London within the first three months, and remained in England until the age of five. Her mother was involved with the London Royal Ballet Company, and a great fan of the arts. Even after returning to the United States, S.K. Derban’s life was filled with a love of the theatre and a passion for British murder mysteries.

Her personal travel and missionary adventures also help to transport readers virtually across the globe. S.K. Derban has smuggled Bibles into China, and has been to Israel on seven missionary trips. When writing, she relies on all aspects of her life, from a strong faith in the Lord, to her unique combination of professional experience. The many personal adventures of S.K. Derban are readily apparent as they shine through into her characters. Circumvent is the third mystery novel for writer S.K. Derban.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

About the Book

Title: CIRCUMVENT
Author: S.K. Derban
Publisher: Touchpoint Press
Genre: Mystery

BOOK BLURB

Imagine living in a quaint, beach front cottage on the Hawaiian island of Maui. You have an amazing job, combined with the pleasure of working from home. Lunch breaks become a daily picnic on the sand. Dessert is always included because of your marriage to a famous pastry chef. Life could not be any better. Or so it seems… When French born, Nikki Sabine Moueix travels to Hawaii for a special work assignment, her job of writing an article about a famous Swiss pastry chef generates more than a magazine piece. They fall in love, get married, and Nikki becomes Mrs. Ruggiero Delémont.

When another assignment calls for Nikki to spend three weeks in France, Ruggiero’s schedule prevents him from joining her. She travels alone, advancing straight into danger. After a threatening confrontation, Nikki wakes up in a French hospital with no knowledge of her past. When she fails to check in, Ruggiero panics and pushes for an immediate investigation. But as he closes in, Nikki’s new found friend moves her to another city. It becomes a game of hide and seek with Nikki as the prize.

CIRCUMVENT allows readers to form a bond with Nikki as they yearn for her to remember. They will cheer for Ruggiero and his relentless determination to locate his beloved wife. This is a story about two people who never lose their faith in God, and find amazing friends to help them along the way.

Not An Ordinary Woman

 

Book Excerpt

When the plane leveled at a cruising altitude, Nikki reclined her seat back and reopened her novel. Her seat mate appeared to be napping, and Peter Safin was busy preparing his work area. Nikki’s curiosity flourished when she realized her reclining position provided a clear view of his laptop screen. But, as his fingers danced along the keyboard nothing on the illuminated display made sense. She was reading a combination of letters and numbers that appeared to be some sort of code. Maybe he’s a spy, Nikki amused herself in thought. A Russian spy. No, wait! Her mind raced. Maybe he’s a mole, or even a double agent.

Nikki almost laughed aloud as she refocused on the book within her hands. It was the latest spy novel, written by one of her favorite authors. Maybe I should switch to romance.

VBT – Snakes Can’t Run

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Snakes Can’t Run
by Ed Lin

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GENRE:   FICTION/Mystery & Thriller

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BLURB:

Set in New York City in 1976, Snakes Can’t Run finds NYPD detective Robert Chow still haunted by the horrors of his past and relegated to tedious undercover work. When the bodies of two undocumented Chinese men are found under the Brooklyn Bridge underpass, Chow is drawn into the case. Most of the officers in his precinct are concerned with a terrorist group targeting the police, but Chow’s investigation puts him on the trail of a ring of ruthless human smugglers who call themselves the snakeheads. As Chow gets closer to solving the murder, dangerous truths about his own family’s past begin to emerge. Steeped in retro urban attitude, and ripe with commentary on minorities’ roles in American society, this gritty procedural will appeal to fans of George Pelecanos and S.J. Rozan.

BookCover_Snakes Can't Run Jacket

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EXCERPT

The mind is a funny thing. After I got on the wagon and fell in love with a girl, I started seeing my father out in the streets. I didn’t literally see his ghost walking around, but I’d see his nose in profile on another guy’s face. Sometimes I’d be walking behind someone who had his slouchy shuffle, his spotted ears, or the back of the head that looked like an elderly porcupine with spikes gone soft and white.

One time, a hand reached out to my shoulder and touched me exactly where he used to touch me from his chair after dinner to ask me to get him a beer from the fridge.

Of course it wasn’t my father. It was an older guy who wanted to know if I was the guy whose pictures used to be in all the Chinese newspapers. The man was almost completely bald and had two light brown spots on the top right of his head that looked like an imprint from a woman’s high-heeled shoe.

He called me the Sheriff of Chinatown. I tried to get away from him as soon as possible, but he was one of those people who liked to say good-bye and then ask another question just when you’re about to part. The guy ended up grabbing both of my hands twice before I was able to make the corner and get away. I checked that my wallet was still in my pocket, though, just in case he had been working me with a partner. I guess he was genuinely glad to meet me.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Ed Lin Author Photo

Ed Lin, a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards and is an all-around standup kinda guy. His books include Waylaid and This Is a Bust, both published by Kaya Press in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Snakes Can’t Run and One Red Bastard, which both continue the story of Robert Chow set in This Is a Bust, were published by Minotaur Books. His latest book, Ghost Month, a Taipei-based mystery, was published by Soho Crime in July 2014. Lin lives in Brooklyn with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung, and son.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/robertchow
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ed-Lin-80513225734
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edlinforpresident/
Website: http://www.edlinforpresident.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/112827.Ed_Lin

Buy Links: https://www.harpercollins.com/cr-123754/ed-lin-1

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Ed Lin will be awarding a limited edition print copy of the book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a limited edition print copy of the book – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book trailer

Thanks for being my guest. Tell us about you as a person.
I am a punk-rock kid. I grew up listening to Husker Du, Black Flag and other bands whose very names would not be appropriate to print on a family-oriented site. Apart from the music, I really love the attitude about it, that maybe you don’t know how to play your instrument or sing, but if you really want to be a band and make music, you’ve got no excuses. Later on, I had that same attitude when I wanted to write my first book. I dedicated myself to sitting down at that keyboard nearly every night for half a year to bang out a first draft.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t need the whole day, but it would be great to split a pizza with Dashiell Hammett. He was a man of such integrity and a great writer to boot. I wonder what toppings he’d like. Maybe he’d eat it with a knife and fork.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Snakes Can’t Run is the sequel to This Is a Bust, and is a continuation of the New York Chinatown mystery series set in the 70s. The cop narrator, Robert Chow, is on the hunt for snakeheads, human traffickers. He’s not going to like what he finds.

What is your writing process?
I listen to music, but nonvocal stuff. Surf and drag music is great because it’s so energetic. Instrumental jazz is awesome, too, and I’m a big supporter of WBGO in Newark–that station plays all the good stuff and it’s as close as any Internet connection.

Tell us about your main character:
Robert Chow is a Chinese American guy who fell in with the wrong crowd early on. He was drafted to serve in Vietnam and although he returned physically well, Chow still has PTSD. In the first book he had to solve himself to save his life. Now he’s able to help others.

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
This is an answer loaded with landmines–I am friends with many Asian American actors who could very well play the lead. Can I demur and say that I would love for Mahershala Ali to play Chow’s African American partner? Ali has a quiet gravity that he showed in Moonlight and also a bit of playfulness embedded in his House of Cards character.

What are you working on next?
I write a mystery series set in Taipei for Soho Crime. So far, they’ve published Ghost Month and Incensed. I’m now on the third.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
Don’t be a hypocrite–talk about the books and writers that you love, who maybe aren’t so well-known.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
I really love this book The Secret Origins of the Bible by Tim Callahan. It details all these stories that have their origins in ancient Mesopotamia that didn’t become apparent until excavations and translations were made in the 20th century. It’s part mystery, part history, part fable and part faith. A great book.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I play bass, but not well. Oh, actually, I’m pretty good at Street Fighter II, the old arcade game. If we’re ever near a Street Fighter II cabinet, please challenge me!

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
I’d want to be able to help young children see logic. I have a four-year-old who just doesn’t understand when I try to explain things to him!

List 5 things on your bucket list.

In no order: See those Incan walls; make it down to New Orleans for the Ponderosa Stomp; get a TV with 1080p display capability that still has an s-video port (I still have a laserdisc player); finish Panzer Dragoon Saga; organize the storage cage.

Where can readers find you on the web?
http://www.edlinforpresident.com

Any final thoughts?
Don’t consider this my final message. I’ll always be back. Have a great day, guys!

Book Blast – A Tangled Web

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About the Author

Mike Martin

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a longtime freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home.

A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web is the newest book in the series.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

About the Book

A Tangled Web

Title: A TANGLED WEB
Author: Mike Martin
Publisher: Booklocker
Pages: 338
Genre: Mystery

BOOK BLURB

Life is good for Sgt. Wind­flower in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. But something’s missing from the Mountie’s life. Actually, a lot of things go missing, including a little girl and supplies from the new factory. It’s Windflower’s job to unravel the tangled web of murder, deceit and an accidental kidnapping that threatens to engulf this sleepy little town and destroy those closest to him. But there’s always good food, good friends and the love of a great woman to make everything better in the end.

 

Find out more about when this book will be released at

Mike’s Facebook Page

 

Book Excerpt

“Life doesn’t get much better than this,” said Winston Windflower. The Mountie looked over at his collie, Lady, who wagged her tail at the sound of his voice. If dogs could smile, she smiled back. His world was almost perfect. He had the love of a great woman and a good job as a Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling one of the lowest crime regions in the country. Plus, the weather had been mild so far, at least for Newfoundland in early December, and that meant no snowstorms with forced overnighters at the detachment. Life was very good indeed.

He had good friends, including Lady, who was amongst the best of them. And he had a child on the way. His wife, Sheila Hillier, was pregnant and at the clinic for her three-month checkup. He was waiting to hear how both Sheila and the baby were doing. His Auntie Marie had told him the baby was a girl, and if anyone knew about these things, it was his Auntie. She was a dream weaver, an interpreter of not just dreams but of messages from the spirit world. Windflower had recently spent a week with her and his Uncle Frank, another dream weaver, to learn more about the dream world.

Interpreting dreams was part of his family’s tradition. But it was an imperfect tool that gave information, not always answers. Perhaps the most important thing he learned was that dreams do not predict the future. Instead, as his Auntie told him, “Dreams tell us about our past, what has already happened. They also point to actions we should take if we want to get the right result in the future and to the signs all around us that we need to follow.”

Windflower was contemplating that piece of wisdom when he noticed a very distraught woman get out of her car outside the RCMP detachment in Grand Bank. She ran towards the front door. He walked out to meet her, but the administrative assistant, Betsy Molloy, beat him to it.

“There, there now, Molly. What’s goin’ on?” asked Betsy as she put her arms around the other woman and guided her to a seat in the reception area.

“It’s Sarah, she’s gone,” said the other woman between sobs. “I told her to stay close by the house where I could see her. I went out back to put the wash on the line. When I came in, she was gone.”

“Okay, Mrs. Quinlan,” said Windflower as he knelt down beside the two women. “How old is Sarah?” He didn’t really need to know how old the girl was. He wanted to help the mother calm down so she could give them as much information as possible.

“She’s going to be six next month,” said Molly Quinlan. “She’s growing up so fast. But she’s still such a little girl. And now I’ve lost her. Brent is going to kill me.” She started sobbing again.

“What was she wearing so that we can help find her?” asked Windflower, trying to get information but also trying to help Molly Quinlan feel useful.

The woman stopped crying and said her daughter was wearing jeans and a favourite t-shirt. “It was pink and had sparkles. She said it made her feel like she was a princess. And she had her light blue jacket on with a hood.”

Windflower smiled. “I’m sure she’ll show up soon. But let’s go over to where you last saw her, and we’ll start looking. She can’t have gone far. Leave your car here, and come with me. I’ll drive you over.” The woman smiled weakly at Windflower through her tears and allowed him to take her arm and guide her to his Jeep outside the door.

He returned inside to give directions to Betsy. “Get Constable Smithson in here. I’ll call Frost and get him to come in from his rounds.”

Betsy nodded her agreement, and Windflower went outside to drive Molly Quinlan home.

Meanwhile, it turns out, Sarah Quinlan was fine, perfectly fine. She had wandered a little way from home in the centre of town. She was going to go down to the nearby brook to feed the ducks. She knew better than to go into the water, but she couldn’t see any reason why she couldn’t just look. She’d done it before, and nobody seemed to mind. As long as she didn’t stay away too long, everything was okay.

Sarah had that great fearless attitude of a child who grew up in a small and very safe community. She knew most of her neighbours, and they all watched out for her. She also had the natural curiosity of little children, especially when she saw something new. The truck parked on the roadway above the brook was new, so Sarah went to take a closer look. Even better, the back door of the truck was open, and there was a ramp leading inside. This was certainly worth a closer inspection.

Sarah Quinlan was having fun exploring the back of the large truck when she heard a loud, rumbling noise. She didn’t know it, but the driver had started the engine. It was so loud, and Sarah was so frightened by it, she froze. The next thing she remembered was everything going almost completely black and the back door of the truck slamming shut. She cried out, but by then it was too late. Seconds later she, the truck and the unsuspecting driver were barrelling out of town and onto the highway.

Windflower drove Molly Quinlan to her house and got her to show him where Sarah had been playing. Together they walked through the house to see if the little girl had come home and hidden there. But no such luck. While they were searching the house, they were joined by two of Quinlan’s neighbours who took over Molly’s care and made her a cup of tea. Soon afterwards Constable Harry Frost arrived from his highway patrol.

Windflower gave him a quick update and directed him to go to one end of town to start the search. He would begin the house-to-house search through the neighbourhood when Smithson showed up.

He first checked out back and looked in the storage shed, a favourite hiding place of every little kid and probably where Windflower himself would have taken refuge. But Sarah was not there. As he went to the front of the house, Constable Rick Smithson showed up.

“Afternoon, Boss,” said Smithson. “Any sign of her yet?”

Windflower shook his head. “Frost is doing the big circle search. You and I will start the door-to-door. Ask them if they saw the girl this afternoon. I’ll start from here. You go down to the brook, and work your way up.”

Smithson returned to his cruiser and sped off. Windflower wasn’t worried. Yet. But he knew that the first few hours were crucial in finding a missing child. If they didn’t, then it was almost always something more serious. Not time to panic, but no time to waste. He walked up to the first door and knocked.

 

Bloodline Of Darkness – TWU Review

(Courtesy of TWU)

In a nutshell, if you have a taste for the demonic and trippy goings on, then this book is for you.

C. A. Milson introduced readers to Alex in The Chosen: Rise of the Darkness. At the end of that book, (previously reviewed on TWU), A lot of people were dead and Alex was left standing as a survivor to demons running wild. Alex had come into his powers and all was right with the world. Or was it?

The Chosen: Bloodline of Darkness starts with Alex living his life…or so he thinks. He’s minding his own business one moment and the next he is thrown into terrible visions and nightmares, each more horrific than the next. We’re talking blood, fire, dismemberment, you get the idea.
Alex is constantly being tortured by these episodes, to the point that he can’t tell what is real and what isn’t. Are these phantasmagoria his imagination, or is he really experiencing these things?

As we are jerked along Alex’s wild ride, we too, become confused. Is Alex imagining all this? Has he really forgotten what happened to him and that he is the Chosen? When I say we get jerked along, I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense. We become as unsettled as Alex and that is what makes this a suspenseful read. There were times when Alex had “woken up” from his latest nightmare, that I was holding my breath, wondering if this time he was in his here and now, or about to find out he was still in a land of what the hell?

Alex meets a few souls on his adventure this time out – Nanomi, an enigmatic figure who acts as his guide; there is the return of Tanzac, the demon from The Chosen: Rise of the Darkness (you didn’t really think he was going to go away now, did you?); Tara, Alex’s neighbor, and…Alex’s alter ego. To say more about who surfaces in this book edges into spoiler territory.

C. A. Milson has again crafted a good story. It moves quickly and keeps your interest. It ends with a revelation setting the stage for a third book in this series. I’m hoping Mr. Milson has that third volume in the works.

Purchase on Amazon Kindle.

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