Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens

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on Tour August 18 – September 21, 2019

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is obsessed with a legendary red book. Its peculiar stories have come to life, and rumors claim that it has rewritten its own endings. Convinced that possessing this book will help him write his ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories, he takes on an unlikely partner, John Patrick Scott, known to most as a concert pianist, but a paranormal investigator and a time traveler professor to a select few.

Like Holmes and Watson trying to solve a mystery, together they explore lost worlds and their friendship is tested to the limits when they go back in time to find it. Both discover that karmic ties and unconscionable crimes have followed them like ghosts from the past, wreaking havoc on the present and possibly the future.

The historical figures are presented differently than ever before, which adds new life to some worn out tropes. My experience here with Sherlock Holmes was similar to the first time I read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King – a completely new way of imagining the Great Detective. The real star, though, is John Patrick Scott, by turns infuriating, brilliant, and endearing. 

This book will be devoured by fans of steampunk/historical/time-travel fiction. It’s a dense reading experience that requires attention and commitment, but the end result is worth it. This is an adventure that makes you think and then re-think everything you know about history. 

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: SILENT MERIDIAN reveals the alternate histories of Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Houdini, Jung and other luminaries in the secret diaries of John Patrick Scott, in an X Files for the 19th century. First Prize winner of Chanticleer Review’s Goethe Award for Turn-of-the-Century Historical Fiction and First Prize for Steampunk in the Independent Press Awards. Stay tuned for A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES; Book Two in the Time Traveler Professor series by Elizabeth Crowens.

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC
Publication Date: June 12th 2019
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781950384 (ISBN13: 9781950384044)
Series: The Time Traveler Professor #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Edinburgh, 1898

Scotland was just barely crawling its way out of the nineteenth century. I was a naïve, but ambitious student studying music at the University of Edinburgh hurrying over to meet Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who would change my life forever.

“John Patrick Scott, sir,” I said and approached Mr. Doyle, who was already seated at a back corner table of the Deacon Brodie, the pub that inspired the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I extended my hand to greet him and removed my rain-soaked hat, while my overcoat slipped out of my hands and fell on the floor by accident. It was still hard to believe that good fortune finally brought us together, but we were both nervous. “Mr. Conan Doyle, or should I call you Doctor Doyle?” I was unsure how to address him.

Doyle scrutinized me from top to bottom as he signaled the waiter. “John, call me Arthur.”

“Sir, I’m so honored that you agreed to discuss this matter. Perhaps you can enlighten me in a way that I’ve failed to comprehend.”

I wanted to ask him about my unusual turn of events straight away but he caught me off guard and was dead set on pulling me into the swift current of an unexpected conversation.

“Can I assume you believe in the transmigration of souls?” he asked.

“Until now, I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” I said, unsure as to which direction he was leading.

“Did you ever read those books about that Swiss doctor who felt his body and soul had been taken over by a Benedictine monk? That presented a curious case. He claims that he was approached by the spirit of an elderly monk before he died, and that the monk needed to rent his body to continue his spiritual mission.”

“Rent?” I choked in disbelief.

“We truly don’t take anything with us when we pass on, do we? This monk knew he was dying and therefore needed to replace his physical body with something more youthful and vital.”

“That’s incredible. It debunks the theory that you need to die and be reborn as an infant to carry on your spirit.”

Mr. Doyle had the tinge of excitement in his voice.

“John, here’s another instance. I’ve had my suspicions about a famous musician who had an obsession about a notorious and controversial mystic. You’d surmise by his overwhelming attraction to that person he might’ve been him in a previous lifetime, but facts were clear he was born three years before the mystic died. My understanding is the mystic was aware he didn’t have long in his present incarnation. Therefore he made plans for some sort of partial soul transference while he was still alive to imprint his essence upon the child. That would’ve allowed him to carry on and accomplish unfinished business, which couldn’t have been executed otherwise. Essentially he had the ability of being two places at once.”

“Sounds more like Spiritualism,” I replied.

“Honestly, John, I don’t think there are any steadfast rules when it comes to this matter. That’s what makes it so intriguing.”

I sensed he had a secret agenda.

Doyle reloaded his churchwarden pipe with fresh tobacco and continued, “This is not at all like anything you’ve ever read from H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. We’re poking holes in every treatise written on the subject — the idea of being able to reincarnate a part of yourself while you are still alive into another soul.”

Our conversation was quickly becoming like a speeding train ready to jump the tracks. Realizing this, Doyle slowed down the pace and took a deep breath. He carefully composed his next statement.

“Fiction it may seem to be but it’s not hocus pocus. Don’t you also find it strange that you somehow found yourself initiated into a mystical order on a commuter train bound from London to Edinburgh when the instigators kept on mistaking you for me? There are no accidents.”

I became silent for a moment, stalling for time as I slowly raised my glass of ale to my lips. As soon as I fished a small red book out of my coat pocket and placed it on the table in front of us Arthur eyed it intently. It had been the source of intrigue, which led me to Doyle in the first place and piqued his curiosity as much as it did mine.

“Could I have done something terrible in my youth that caused this to happen?”

“You have no recollections, John?”

“I remember so little of my childhood. I wish I could.”

“You’re a smart young man. I’m sure you’ll come up with a clever deduction.”

Mr. Doyle paused to relight his pipe. He had an unnerving look in his eye, which I vainly tried to read into, but he took me for a spin when he brought up the next topic.

“On another note, John, have you ever considered that people are capable of communicating without speech, and I’m not talking about writing letters?”

“Pardon me?”

“Imagine communicating by mere thoughts. I’ve always wanted to experiment with someone open to these concepts. God knows — my brothers at the Society for Psychical Research certainly talk enough about it. My wife, Touie, has been an unwilling subject and is not the most objective choice.”

I looked at him, somewhat perplexed. “Are you asking me to accurately guess what you’re thinking?”

“Come now. We’ll play a game. I’ll form an image in my mind, and for the next minute I will try to project it into yours. Clear your thoughts of any distractions and be as receptive as possible,” he explained.

As much as I tried, I couldn’t have been more preoccupied. Images of that fateful event flashed through my brain. My recollections revealed my rain-soaked train ticket. I kept arguing with the steward about putting me in the wrong cabin. An erroneous judgment had been made when three strangers insisted I was Arthur. We were so different in physical appearance. He was a large, athletic man with a distinguished moustache. On the other hand, I had baby smooth skin and couldn’t grow facial hair to save my life. I was nearly twenty years younger and much shorter with wild auburn hair that resembled Maestro Beethoven’s with the exception of premature strands of gray.

So why was I singled out? Was there laudanum in my brandy? Details spun like a whirlwind. I must’ve been in a drug-induced stupor but I was initiated into some secret Masonic-like society, and when it was all over those mysterious men were gone. What remained were an engraved silver ring on my finger and an ominous red book on the seat beside me.

“Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.” Arthur broke my trance and realized my thoughts had been elsewhere.

“I felt like I had.” Barely able to articulate, I tried to tame my wild mane in place. Visions faded in and out. Timelines jumped. So I gulped down another swig of ale to focus on the present.

Arthur leaned in closer. “I can see you’re still worried about that event on the train. Those men have been after me for some time. Why? It’s hard to fathom. I’ll dilly dally with notions here and there about Sherlock Holmes and his partner, Watson, who fancy themselves as detectives. Me? I’m just a simple doctor and writer with interests in Spiritualism trying to find scientific explanations for the unknown.”

“Arthur, what would anyone want with an unassuming music student like me?”

“Personally, I don’t think this was A Case of Identity,” Arthur replied with a smile.

Obviously he meant to say my dilemma was not a case of mistaken identity, not the name of one of his famous Sherlock stories. He was pleased I caught the humor of his play on words.

“Perhaps it has something to do with that book,” he said pointing to the one I brought.

“I’m concerned it’s dangerous, that it’s a curse. I wish I had never found it.” I shoved it back into my pocket and drained my glass.

* * *

One week later as I was returning home from school, my landlady, Lydia Campbell, yelled from the kitchen as I trudged my muddied shoes through the front door of her boarding house. “John, a letter from Undershaw arrived for you today! I wonder whom it could be from? You don’t know anyone from Undershaw, do you?”

Oh, yes I did. I grabbed the letter and ran upstairs so fast I nearly tripped on my muffler and fell on my face. I poured myself a glass of port to calm my nerves, doffed my wet garments and sank into my most comfortable brass-studded leather chair I affectionately named my thinking chair, where I created many a melody in my head, could think deep thoughts, and drift off to dreamland.

* * *

Dear John,

I wholeheartedly enjoyed our conversation at the Deacon Brodie and kept my promise of a prompt reply. By now, you are well aware of my passion to explore the realms of Spiritualism and related paranormal phenomena far surpasses any personal interests involved with Sherlock Holmes. Public demand for my writing, however, exerts a strain on how much I can overtly reveal to even my most trusted colleagues. Whenever I indulge in any activity, be it a simple séance, investigating a revered medium or attending a meeting of the British Society for Psychical Research, it never fails to raise the eyebrows of my wary publishers and critics. It’s God’s honest truth that I believe in many of these inexplicable accounts. Even my father painted beautiful renditions of fairies, which I trust he witnessed with his own eyes. The betterment of mankind rests on embracing such theories once they are proven to exist by the scientific community. Thus, I’ll have to continue more controversial and debatable endeavors in utmost secrecy, or at least for the time being until more evidence can be brought to light.

Since you seem to be an open-minded young man who has already experienced some effects of the preternatural, this is my proposal: At midnight every night, we should conduct a variety of remote operations with the primary purpose of communicating through means of telepathy. Since I have a tendency to travel, we’ll have to make some sort of adjustment to take into account the different time zones. Of course, you must share this secret with nobody. Besides us, only my wife will know, although she will not participate.

When you shared the account of the strange commuter train incident that was enough to convince me that you would be the perfect partner for this private undertaking. Most assuredly, there was something you did in the past in the realm of the arcane to warrant such a chain of events. That was not mere happenstance, and now since you possess that enigmatic red book, I’m sure it will affect your life in ways you’ve never imagined.

My intentions have been to perform similar trial and error enterprises with Harry Houdini, a rising star whose stage performances have been astounding audiences, but his busy schedule has made it nearly impossible to coordinate such engagements with any sort of regularity. One of these days we’ll catch up. Meanwhile, I collect whatever news comes from across the herring-pond. At one point, he and I will develop a special relationship based on mutual interests.

Regarding the two of us, however, we’ll back up our observations with letters or telegrams as often as possible as proof of results, but those must be destroyed as soon as they are read. Once again, I cannot over emphasize the importance of confidentiality. Regardless, we must keep a faithful agreement, as skill will come with practice.

If you are willing to put aside any apprehensions regarding trains, I’ll pay for you to travel down to Undershaw and visit me on weekends whenever possible. My driver can meet you in London at a pre-arranged time. You’ll stay in one of our guest bedrooms, and as long as you don’t mind the children and can tolerate what our kitchen staff provides, you’ll be well taken care of. That’ll give us the opportunity to expand our repertoire and commence further psychical experimentation with ectoplasm, spirit photography and astral projection. And bring the red book. I’d like a chance to look at it.

I’ve also desired a partner to accompany me for ghost sightings and occult investigations. For all we know with the knowledge gained, we might even break through the barriers of time. That would certainly give Bertie (H.G. Wells) a shock to the senses, proving his imagination does not merely dwell in the realm of fiction. We’ve been at odds on this topic for years.

Regarding telepathic technique, I can only suggest you conduct yourself in a way as you see fit. Personally, I don’t give credence to things like magical amulets, but if it helps to have an etheric link, use this letter you hold in your hand, as it contains my heart, soul and signature with a drop of blood, which I added to the ink. You might wish to reciprocate.

Let’s raise our glasses to honor the quest of conquering the unknown.

Arthur Conan Doyle

* * *

So, Arthur was serious when he first brought up the subject. When he and I left the pub, I really didn’t know what to think. After all, he was a famous author, and I was merely a student. What possessed him to choose me for such an engagement?

I shuffled through my schoolwork to find my pen and ink and a fresh sheet of paper. Blood, I needed blood. Ah, my razor! That would work. I fetched my shaving kit and winced as I drew a few drops. I scribbled a swift, affirmative reply with the blood-tainted ink, mailed the letter the following day and looked forward to our first otherworldly encounter.

***

Excerpt from The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Crowens

Crowens has worked in the film and television for over twenty years and as a journalist and a photographer. She’s a regular contributor of author interviews to an award-winning online speculative fiction magazine, Black Gate. Short stories of hers have been published in the Bram Stoker Awards nominated anthology, A New York State of Fright and Hell’s Heart. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime and a member of several Sherlockian societies. She is also writing a Hollywood suspense series.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
elizabethcrowens.com, Goodreads, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway!!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Elizabeth Crowens. There will be eight(8) winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card and seven (7) winners will each receive Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens (eBook). The giveaway begins on August 18, 2019 and runs through September 23, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier


cover162862-mediumFrom the Publisher: A young woman is both a bard and a warrior in this thrilling historical fantasy from the author of the Sevenwaters novels.

Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and is a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels, for Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the kingdom will be thrown into disarray. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision—and the consequences may break her heart.

I thought there would never be another author or series to equal Douglas Nicholas’ Something Red series, but I found it in this haunting and lovely tale by Juliet Marillier. There’s a little bit of everything here but mostly a quest featuring a feisty young female warrior, a prickly male counterpart, an otherworldly bard, an island of warriors, a pain-in-the-ass king-to-be, lots of faery folk, and druids.

Liobhan, Dau & Brocc are the focus of this quest story, where each is selected to be part of a top-secret mission to recover the stolen Harp of Kings. However, as you progress through the story, it becomes clear that the real quests are for each of our young heroes. Liobhan will learn that she can control her temper, Dau will learn to trust, and Brocc will learn to follow his own path.

The story is tightly woven and beautifully told. The characters fairly leap off the pages, and their stories will envelop you. Highly recommended for fantasy fans.

Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Published By: Berkley Publishing Group; Ace Sci Fi & Fantasy
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Reader Profile – Jaime Saunders


thumbnail_Jaime-Saunders_General1Jaime Saunders is the President and CEO of United Way of Greater Rochester (UWGR) with a mission to unite the good will and resources of the community so that everyone can thrive. Through the power of collective giving, UWGR raises and distributes more than $30 Million a year to serve more than 200,000 local people with preventive, evidence-informed programs through an interconnected network of human service providers, corporate supporters, local donors, volunteers and community leaders. Prior to joining United Way, Jaime served as the President and CEO of Willow Domestic Violence Center and various leadership roles at Foodlink, Center for Governmental Research, Villa of Hope and the Salvation Army.

What are you reading now?

I tend to read several books at once, right now this includes:

  • The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein who was just brought into town by Pathstone for a wonderful thought-provoking event. Dr. Rothstein makes the case of how our segregated communities in America are not de facto (by fact or chance), but de jure (by law) through a series of policies and laws throughout our history that impact our communities today.
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo. My eldest niece read it as part of her sociology class at Nazareth College last semester and knew it would be of interest to me. She was right.
  • Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt as I am trying to learn new ways of controlling my time and achieving goals. I’ll let you know how it goes.
  • Rochester’s 2034 Comprehensive Plan which is very well done and exciting to dream about our City’s 200th Birthday and how we can collectively shape our future.

Are you a fiction or non-fiction reader?

Non-fiction reader 99% of the time including articles and reports.

What book changed your life, or changed how you view the world? In what way?

  • Maus A Survivors Tale (Part I and II) by Art Spiegelman, which is a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel depicting the Holocaust. It was extremely controversial when it was published in 1991, but for me it was a way to learn more deeply as a teenager about the deep horrors possible in the world. It fueled my passion for justice, empathy for others and call to action.
  • Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor by Patricia J. William opened my thinking when I was in college. The essays on the intersections of identity – race, gender, class – within the context of law and popular culture had a profound effect on how I see the world.

Are there any other books that marked milestones in your life?

When my niece was 9 months old she ended up being admitted to the hospital for 8 weeks as they spoke about lung transplants and treatment plans to help her breathe. It was a very stressful and scary time. Our family would take shifts to be with her in the hospital. The first Harry Potter book was lying around the children’s wing and during one of those ‘shifts’ I picked it up and was hooked. Books can do that – provide a distraction, an escape and a way to get through difficult times.

Then like the rest of the world, I would wait eagerly for the next book to come out (I even took off from work the day the last book came out so I could read it without any spoilers!). I should also note that my niece graduated this year and was the commencement speaker at her High School!

What book challenged you the most when you read it?

The Blue Notebook by James Levine is a novel that is beautifully written and painfully haunting. The story follows a young girl in India who demonstrates resiliency and strength under unimaginable conditions of human trafficking. It is a poetic novel, with a strong call to action. Years later I still think about it.

Do you read with your children? What are some of their favorite books?

Absolutely. Reading was a key part of our bedtime routine. It is only recently that the kids do this more on their own than with me and I miss it! We read nearly all of the Magic Tree House books and the Harry Potter series several times. Going to the public library has been a regular activity for our house where the kids would load up on books we would read one by one.

Book or movie? Is there a movie that you think was better than the book?

Our house rule is you must read the book before we see the movie. Sometimes this means we miss seeing it in the theaters! I like to experience the book without prescribed images, and for me it makes the movie even better (usually) to see what they included, changed or left out. We just watched “The Outsiders” after my son read the book – and it still is excellent, though certainly a different experience than the book.

Does reading influence your decision-making process?

Without a doubt. That is why I am drawn to read mostly non-fiction. I like to learn how groups of people work together to accomplish something greater than they could alone. I like to learn from case studies and lessons from other communities. I usually can find a small nugget of new learning in nearly everything I read which builds and informs how I see and approach decision-making.

Are you a “finisher” or do you stop reading a book if you’re not connecting with it?

Oh I will move on to something else! There are so many things to read and such little time. When I am not connecting with material, like the home organization author and Netflix star Marie Kondo says, “if it isn’t bringing you joy, thank it and move on.”

Why do you read?

I believe reading helps build empathy and better understanding of others and our world. I am also a true work in progress and enjoy learning new skills and insights to help me to be a better person and more impactful in my work.

Write a one-sentence description of yourself as a Reader.

Stacks of nonfiction books piled high throughout the house ready to challenge and inspire.

American Red by David Marlett

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American Red by David MarlettIn American Red, as the Great American Century begins, and the modern world roars to life, Capitalists flaunt greed and seize power, Socialists and labor unions flex their violent will, and an extraordinary true story of love and sacrifice unfolds.

In his critically acclaimed debut novel, Fortunate Son, David Marlett introduced readers to a fresh take on historical fiction, the historical legal thrille, bringing alive the people and events leading to and surrounding some of the most momentous, dramatic legal trials in history. Now he returns with American Red, the story of one of the greatest domestic terrorists in American history, and the detectives, lawyers, spies, and lovers who brought him down.

The men and women of American Red are among the most fascinating in American history. When, at the dawn of the 20th century, the Idaho governor is assassinated, blame falls on “Big Bill” Haywood, the all-powerful, one-eyed boss of the Western Federation of Miners in Denver. Close by, his polio-crippled wife, Neva, struggles with her wavering faith, her love for another man, and her sister’s affair with her husband. New technologies accelerate American life, but justice lags behind. Private detectives, battling socialists and unions on behalf of wealthy capitalists, will do whatever it takes to see Haywood hanged. The scene is set for bloodshed, from Denver to Boise to San Francisco. America’s most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, leads the defense and a philandering U.S. senator leads the prosecution while the press, gunhands, and spies pour in. Among them are two idealists, Jack Garrett and Carla Capone, he a spy for the prosecution, she for the defense. Risking all, they discover truths about their employers, about themselves and each other, and what they’ll sacrifice for justice and honor-and for love.

Marlett blends history and fiction with skillful, descriptive writing and colorful details from an era that truly was still the “Wild West,” at least for the workers and their bosses. This boils down to a conflict between the haves and the have-nots – set during a time when the rich became obscenely rich and the poor were obscenely poor. Sound familiar?

There are A LOT of characters here, almost too many to track, but the main characters are ones you won’t forget, notably sly, persuasive Clarence Darrow (“America’s Lawyer”). If you enjoy courtroom dramas and fast-paced legal thrillers, you will most certainly enjoy American Red. Be aware, though, this is a long story. It requires commitment, but it will definitely keep you entertained.

On Tour July 1 – August 31, 2019

Book Details

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: July 2nd 2019
Number of Pages: 535
ISBN: 1611881781 (ISBN13: 9781611881783)
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The lawyer lobbed a verbal spear across the courtroom, piercing the young man, pinning him to the creaky witness chair and tilting the twelve jurymen forward. Their brows rose in anticipation of a gore-laden response from the witness as he clutched his bowler, his face vacant toward the wood floor beyond his shoddy boots. When the judge cleared his throat, the plaintiff’s attorney, Clarence Darrow, repeated the question. “Mr. Bullock, I know this is a strain upon you to recount that tragic day when fifteen of your brothers perished at the hands of the Stratton-”

“Your Honor! Point in question,” barked the flint-faced defense attorney representing the Stratton Independence Mine, a non-union gold operation near Cripple Creek, Colorado. On this warm summer afternoon in Denver, he and Darrow were the best dressed there, each wearing a three-button, vested suit over a white shirt and dull tie.

The robed judge gave a long blink, then peered at Darrow. With a chin waggle, his ruling on the objection was clear.

“Yes, certainly. My apologies, Your Honor,” feigned Darrow, glancing toward the plaintiff’s table where two widows sat in somber regard. Though his wheat-blonde hair and sharp, pale eyes defied his age of forty-nine, his reputation for cunning brilliance and oratory sorcery mitigated the power of his youthful appearance: it was no longer the disarming weapon it had once been. No attorney in the United States would ever presume nascence upon Clarence Darrow. Certainly not in this, his twenty-sixth trial. He continued at the witness. “Though as just a mere man, one among all …” He turned to the jury. “The emotion of this event strains even the most resolute of procedural decorum. I am, as are we all, hard-pressed to-”

“Whole strides, shall we, Mr. Darrow?” grumbled the judge.

“Yes,” Darrow said, turning once again to James Bullock who seemed locked in the block ice of tragedy, having not moved a fraction since first taking the witness seat. “Mr. Bullock, we must rally ourselves, muster our strength, and for the memory of your brothers, share with these jurymen the events of that dark day. You said the ride up from the stope, the mine floor, was a swift one, and there were the sixteen of you in the cage made to hold no more than nine-is that correct?”

“Yes, Sir,” Bullock replied, his voice a faint warble.

“Please continue,” Darrow urged.

Bullock looked up. “We kept going, right along, but it kept slipping. We’d go a ways and slip again.”

“Slipping? It was dropping?”

“Yes, Sir. Dropping down sudden like, then stopping. Cappy was yelling at us to get to the center, but there was no room. We was in tight.”

“By Cappy you mean Mr. Capone, the foreman?”

“Yes, Sir. Our shift boss that day.” The witness sucked his bottom lip. “He was in the cage ‘long with us.” He sniffed in a breath then added, “And his boy, Tony. Friend of mine. No better fella.”

“My condolences,” said Darrow. “What do you think was the aid in getting the men to the middle of the cage?”

“Keep it centered in the shaft, I reckon. We was all yelling.” Bullock took a slow breath before continuing, “Cappy was trying to keep the men quiet, but it wasn’t making much a difference. Had his arms around Tony.”

A muscle in Darrow’s cheek shuddered. “Please continue.”

“So we was slipping, going up. Then the operator, he took us up about six feet above the collar of the shaft, then back down again.”

“Which is not the usual-”

“Not rightly. No, Sir. We should’ve stopped at the collar and no more. But later they said the brakes failed on the control wheel.”

“Mr. Bullock, let’s return to what you experienced. You were near the top of the shaft, the vertical shaft that we’ve established was 1,631 feet deep, containing, at that time, about twenty feet of water in its base, below the lowest stope, correct?”

“Yes, Sir. Before they pumped that water to get to em.”

“By ‘them’ you mean the bodies of your dead companions?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Ok, you were being hoisted at over 900 feet per minute by an operator working alone on the surface-near the top of the shaft, when the platform began to slip and jump. Is that your testimony?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“That must have been terrifying.”

“Yes, Sir, it was. We’d come off a tenner too.”

“A ten-hour shift?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Darrow rounded on the jury, throwing the next question over his shoulder. “Oh, but Sir, how could it have been a ten-hour work day when the eight-hour day is now the law of this state?”

The defense lawyer’s chair squeaked as he stood. “Objection, Your Honor.”

“I’ll allow it,” barked the judge, adding, “But gentlemen …”

The witness shook his head. “The Stratton is a non-union, gold ore mine. Supposed to be non-union anyway. Superintendent said owners weren’t obliged to that socialist law.”

“Hearsay, Your-”

“Keep your seat, Counsel. You’re going to wear this jury thin.” Darrow stepped closer to the witness.

“Mr. Bullock, as I said, let’s steer clear from what you heard others say. The facts speak for themselves: you and your friends were compelled to work an illegal ten-hour shift. Let’s continue. You were near the top, but unable to get off the contraption, and it began to-”

“Yes. We’d gone shooting up, then he stopped it for a second.”

“”By ‘he,’ you mean the lift operator?”

“Yes, Sir. He stopped it but then it must have gotten beyond his control, cause we dropped sixty, seventy feet all the sudden. We were going quick. We said to each other we’re all gone. Then he raised us about ten feet and stopped us. But then, it started again, and this time it was going fast up and we went into the sheave wheel as fast as we could go.”

“To be sure we all follow, Mr. Bullock, the lift is the sole apparatus that hoisted you from the Stratton Mine, where you work?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And the sheave wheel is the giant wheel above the surface, driven by a large, thirty-year-old steam engine, run by an operator. That sheave wheel coils in the cable”he pantomimed the motion-“pulling up the 1,500-pound-load platform, or lift, carrying its limit of nine men. And it coils out the cable when the lift is lowered. But that day the lift carried sixteen men-you and fifteen others. Probably over 3,000 pounds. Twice its load limit. Correct?”

“Yes, Sir. But, to be clear, I ain’t at the Stratton no more.”

“No?” asked Darrow, pleased the man had bit the lure.

“No. Seeing how I was one of Cappy’s men. Federation. And, now ’cause this.” His voice faded.

Darrow frowned, walked a few paces toward the jury, clapped once and rubbed his hands together. “The mine owners, a thousand miles away, won’t let you work because you’re here-a member of the Western Federation of Miners, a union man giving his honest testimony. Is that right?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Again, the defense counsel came to his feet. “Your Honor, Mr. Darrow knows Mr. Bullock’s discharge wasn’t-”

The judge raised a hand, took a deep breath and cocked his head toward the seasoned attorney before him. “Swift to your point, Mr. Darrow.”

“Yes, Your Honor.” Darrow’s blue eyes returned to the witness. “Mr. Bullock, you were telling us about the sheave wheel.”

“Yes. It’s a big thing up there, out over the top of the shaft. You see it on your way up. We all think on it-if we was to not stop and slam right up into it-which we did that day. We all knew it’d happen. I crouched to save myself from the hard blow I knew was coming. I seen a piece of timber about one foot wide there underside the sheave, and soon as we rammed, I grabbed hold and held myself up there, and pretty soon the cage dropped from below me, and I began to holler for a ladder to get down.”

“Must have been distressing, up there, holding fast to a timber, dangling 1,631 feet over an open shaft, watching your fifteen brothers fall.”

Bullock choked back tears. “Yes, Sir. That’s what I saw.” He paused. When he resumed, his tone was empty, as if the voice of his shadow. “I heard em. Heard em go. They was screaming. They knew their end had come. I heard em till I heard em no more.”

Excerpt from American Red by David Marlett. Copyright 2019 by David Marlett. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

David Marlett

David Marlett is an award-winning storyteller and writer of historical fiction, primarily historical legal thrillers bringing alive the fascinating people and events leading to major historical trials. His first such novel, Fortunate Son, became a national bestseller in 2014, rising to #2 in all historical fiction and #3 in all literature and fiction on Amazon. The late Vincent Bugliosi — #1 New York Times bestselling author of Helter Skelter — said David is “a masterful writer of historical fact and detail, of adventure, peril and courtroom drama.” Just released is American Red which follows the extraordinary true story of a set of radical lovers, lawyers, killers, and spies who launched the Great American Century. Visit www.AmericanRedBook.com. He is currently writing his next historical legal thriller, Angeles Los, which continues some of the lead characters from American Red. Angeles Los is based on the true story at the 1910 intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of America” kingdom. In addition, David is a professor at Pepperdine Law School, was the managing editor of OMNI Magazine, and guest-lectures on story design. He is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, the father of four, and lives in Manhattan Beach, California. For more, visit www.DavidMarlett.com.

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Ghost: 13 Haunting Tales to Tell by Blaise Hemingway and Jesse Reffsin


9781452171289A finger against the inside of a mirror. A wood where the trees look back. A basement door blocked by a brick wall so thick, it stifles the screams from below. This original collection of chilling poems and tales contains the only true ghost stories in existence (as the book itself will tell you). Accompanied by striking illustrations and building to a truly spine-tingling conclusion, this haunting book will consume the imagination and keep readers of every age up long past their bedtimes.

This collection of ghost stories will most certainly send chills up and down your spine. I had to read it in chunks because it gave me the creeps. The stories cover typical ghost story situations, but the format itself is very clever, with an unexpected 13th story. While most of the stories will frighten you, I was especially repulsed by The Widow in Black, and am actually shivering while writing this and remembering the story!

The format of the book is fabulous. A tactile cover features dimensional footprints leading up to a slippery ghost-like figure. Opening the book, you are treated to very 1960s-ish, dark, blotchy, and suggestive illustrations enhancing the text. The introduction features two boys sneaking out of their camp (of course) to trek across a marsh (what else) to hear ghost stories from Old Man Blackwood (who else). The stories he tells vary from narrative to verse and all are shivery masterpieces.

A little research uncovered the origins of this book in a kickstarter campaign by Illustratus, a design studio owned by Jeff and Kit Turley. The illustrations were done by Chris Sasaki, who designs for Pixar Studios and has worked on Monsters University and Inside Out. The original stories and poems were written by Jesse Reffsin and Blaise Hemingway. No matter how this book ended up published, it is just plain beautiful. Creepy, but beautiful. Get your hands on a copy, lower the lights, and prepare to be spooked!

Publication Date: August 2019
Published By: Chronicle Books

 

A Bolt From the Blue by Lise McClendon AND Fire & Rain by Katy Munger

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More international intrigue, murder, and romance for the Bennett Sisters overseas in the newest entry to the bestselling women’s fiction and suspense series. The next to youngest Bennett Sister, Francie Bennett (Blame it on Paris) is a hard-charging attorney whose boyfriend Dylan Hardy invites her to join him in Paris to help with a client. When Axelle Fourcier left Paris behind after the student riots of 1968, she vowed never to go back. She made a life for herself in America as a professor.

But now a beloved aunt, age 104, has died and left her an inheritance to be shared with a cousin she never met. A fabulous Belle Epoque apartment in Paris filled with pop art from the ’50s and ’60s is just the start of Axelle’s discoveries in Paris. Wrangling with her slick cousin for the proceeds is distasteful but oh so French. Then the apartment is broken into, a friend is murdered, and Axelle’s fears that the French state is once again conspiring against her seem very plausible.

Francie tries to deal with her cranky client, her own new relationship, and her boyfriend’s nine-year-old daughter, as the estate problems spin out of control. Intrigue, romance, Paris and the Dordogne, and a soupçon of murder, wrapped in the legal and art world of France bring more than a few ‘Bolts from the Blue’ to the Bennett Sisters.

Book Details:

  • Book Title:  A Bolt From the Blue by Lise McClendon
  • Category:  Adult Fiction, 243 pages
  • Genre:  Mystery, women’s fiction, suspense
  • Publisher:  Thalia Press
  • Release date:   August 1, 2019
  • Tour dates: Aug 1 to 23, 2019
  • Content Rating: PG-13 (No sex scenes but some language, mostly mild)

Buy the Book:
Amazon.com 
Amazon.ca ~ Apple books
Kobo ebooks ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:
Lise McClendon writes fiction from her home in Montana. She is the author of numerous novels, short stories, and articles. In 1997 she wrote and directed the short film, The Hoodoo Artist, featured at the Telluride Indiefest. She has served on the national boards of directors for Mystery Writers of America and International Association of Crime Writers/North America. She is on the faculty of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference.

Her books, written under her own name and as Rory Tate and Grier Lake, are full of the fascinating lives of women. The choices that women sometimes make are a quagmire of directions and misdirections, sending women into careers, love affairs, children (or no children), travels, and hobbies. And, in the case of her novels, into suspense, crime, secrets, and love.

Connect with the author:    Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  ~  Instagram

Casey Jones is back with a new adventure that takes her from four-foot strippers to forty-something bikers—and a head-on collision with too many ex-boyfriends to count. When a routine bodyguarding case turns deadly and Casey loses one of her oldest friends, tracking the killers and a missing stripper — who may or may not be in on the murder — turns out to be a wild ride that takes her from the flatlands of eastern North Carolina to its most exclusive mountain enclaves.Fans of Casey Jones will recognize their favorites in the cast of colorful supporting characters who answer Casey’s “all hands on deck!” call. If you’ve been missing your kick-ass Casey and craving Krispy Kremes, you’ll find all that you have missed in this seventh installment of a long and beloved female P.I. series.

Book Details:
  • Book Title:  Fire and Rain (A Casey Jones Mystery) by Katy Munger
  • Category:   Adult fiction, 260 pages
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Publisher:  Thalia Press
  • Release date:   August 2019
  • Tour dates: Aug 1 to 23, 2019
  • Content Rating: PG-13

Buy the Book:
Amazon.com
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Katy Munger is a North Carolina-based mystery author who has written under several different pseudonyms. She is the author of the Dead Detective series, writing as Katy Munger (Angel Among Us and Angel of Darkness) and as Chaz McGee (Desolate Angel and Angel Interrupted); the Casey Jones crime fiction series writing as Katy Munger; and the Hubbert & Lil mystery series, writing as Gallagher Gray. She has also been a book reviewer for the Washington Post and served as North Carolina’s 2016 Piedmont Laureate.

Connect with the author:    Website 

 

Between Worlds by Kevin Crossley-Holland


cover157690-mediumAncient, rich, and strange, these magical and eerie tales from across Britain and Ireland have been passed down from generation to generation.

A handsome, cocky young man is swept up by a dark horseman and cast into a life-or-death adventure. A pair of green children emerge from a remote hollow and struggle to adapt to a strange new land. A dauntless farm girl finds that her fearlessness earns her a surprising reward.

Dark but often funny, lyrical yet earthy, the folktales presented here have influenced our landscape and culture. This definitive collection of forty-eight stories, retold by master storyteller and poet Kevin Crossley-Holland, opens a doorway to a lost world and shows the enduring power of language and imagination.

No one tells folk and fairy tales as well as Kevin Crossley Holland. His knowledge of the folklore, fairytales, and general lore of the U.K. region would probably only be surpassed by Katherine Briggs and she’s been gone for almost 30 years.

Crossley Holland tells some new stories, and puts a shine on old ones, all wrapped up in his trademark lyrical and saucy text. Storytellers will especially love this.

Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Published By: Candlewick Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler


cover159074-mediumWhosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.

But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?

Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave. That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.

Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.

But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.

The Lady of the Lake is the true hero in this cinematic twist on the tale of King Arthur created by Thomas Wheeler and legendary artist, producer, and director Frank Miller (300, Batman: The Dark Night Returns, Sin City).

Look out for the original Netflix series starring Katherine Langford streaming everywhere Spring 2020!

I don’t think I’ve been as excited about an Arthurian book since Mists of Avalon!

Cursed gives a whole new take on the old legends of King Arthur and focuses on Nimue, the Lady of the Lake or, in some versions, Merlin’s lover. We first see Nimue as a child, living in a nurturing environment still following the old ways of the Druid. The first chapter is a violent introduction to the unconscionable acts of cleansing and conversion carried out by Christian priests and monks in the Dark Ages. The violence is startling, made especially so by the immediate change in tone in the second chapter as the storyline fills itself in, then pushes forward with Nimue as warrior and defender of the old ways.

All the expected characters appear, but in clever and fascinating new ways. The narrative itself moves fast and holds you tightly as you read page after page, oblivious to time because you just have to know what happens next. Complemented by magnificent illustrations, the story wraps around you until you can’t think of anything else. Arthur fans will devour this, but so will Game of Thrones fans missing that world. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Bridge of Little Jeremy by Indrajit Garai


img_0936Every once in awhile, a story comes along that is impossible to categorize. The Bridge of Little Jeremy is such a story. We learn right away that Jeremy suffers from a heart condition, but that he is well-cared for by his mother and his faithful canine companion Leon. We also learn that Jeremy is an artist who sells his paintings to help pay the bills. The story begins as a simple account of Jeremy’s life inside the Paris apartment he shares with his mother, and his adventures when she’s at work. We follow Jeremy as he explores parts of the apartment, leading to an amazing discovery in an underground vault, which becomes the catalyst that drives the story forward.

This treasure might save Jeremy’s mother from going to jail for non-payment of inheritance taxes, but first he has to find out more about it and the man responsible for it. This journey takes Jeremy all over Paris, where he uses his artist eye to uncover beauty everywhere he looks. Perhaps the most entertaining relationship in the book is that between Jeremy and Leon, his constant canine companion. Leon takes on human characteristics here, which are both comical and unbelievable. It is easy to get caught up in Jeremy’s journey, which makes the ending heart-wrenching.

This is Indrajit Garai’s third novel, and features lovely descriptions but sometimes awkward dialog (quite possibly due to translation issues from French to English). This did not affect my enjoyment of the story. Garai paints a picture of Paris with words that dramatically illustrates how Jeremy sees his world. Being an artist, he sees detail and he sees beauty where others might not. Garai develops an interesting relationship between Jeremy and his artist mentor Paulo that is touching, lending a new depth to the story as Jeremy works to help his mother pay her taxes.

If you are looking for a book that will make you think about how you see things and how you react to everything around you, give this one a try.

Old Bones by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles


cover169220-mediumDCI Bill Slider’s out of favor in the force—for accusing a senior Met officer of covering up an underage sex ring. As punishment, he’s given a cold case to keep him busy: some old bones to rake through, found buried in a back garden, from a murder that happened two decades ago, and with most of the principal players already dead.

“You can’t upset anyone looking into old bones.”

Surely Bill Slider can’t unearth anything new or shocking with these tired old bones?

As an avid reader of mystery and suspense novels, it’s rare for me to be completely surprised by a twist at the end. Let me just say, the twist at the end of this book is superb! Unexpected, Did-Not-See-That-Coming ending.

This is a very British police procedural, full of slang and language relatively unfamiliar to this American reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning new vernacular speech because it was paired with engaging characters and a clever, twisty plot. In addition to all that, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles writes extremely well, equally skilled at description, dialog, and plot. Overall, this is one of the better British police procedural books I’ve read in a good long time. Recommended.

Advance Praise

‘For detection fans demanding quality and heart as well as ingenious plots. – Daily Mail

‘Harrod-Eagles writes terrific crime novels, meshing fully realized characters with multilevel plot lines. – Library Journal

‘A truly outstanding series. – Booklist

‘Harrod-Eagles is never less than expert in presenting suspects. – Kirkus Reviews

Publication Date: August 16, 2019
Published By: Black Thorn
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy