The Mind’s Eye by Perry Prete

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Nicole Baker is a quiet girl – the type of person who is seldom noticed by anyone. That is until one day she discovers she has the unique ability to see images move on photographs. At first, she uses her ability to entertain friends at parties and work. Then senior detective Paul Hammond learns of her ability and enlists her help in a case of unsolved murders that he has not been able to make any headway on.

​Carl Kadner, a rookie reporter with the local paper is investigating the murders as well. And he learns what it takes to be the kind of reporter he wants to be when he puts himself in danger for the sake of the story. It is only when Carl, Nicole and Detective Hammond pool their resources that things start making sense.

Perry Prete draws on 30 years of experience as a paramedic to deliver a story that reads like a crossover episode of Criminal Minds and Charmed. The story opens with a punch-to-the-gut abduction, which sets the tone for the rest of the fast-paced action. The characters are introduced, the plot set, and the action set in motion at a rapid pace. At first, I was a little put off by the super-masculine direction of the story (the description of Hammond waking up was a little over the top), but Prete has done a very good job of blending the testosterone-laden world of the homicide cop with the touchy-feely-fuzzy world of the girl who sees photos move. Once Nicole is introduced, the story takes on a really interesting, yin-yang direction as detection meets telepathy.

Prete skillfully writes both description and dialog, which is often unusual in these types of books where the author is usually skilled in one but not both. He’s got an unusual storyline here which, while pretty gruesome in parts, holds your interest. He develops Nicole’s gift powerfully, and by the end I was flashing back to Stephen King’s Firestarter. It would be interesting to see these characters become part of a series, book or television.    Recommended for fans who don’t mind in-your-face description of gruesome crime and appreciate good writing.

Book Details:
Book Title: The Mind’s Eye by Perry Prete
Category: Adult Fiction; 243 pages
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Sands Press
Release date: March 7, 2018
Tour dates: Sept 3 to 21, 2018
Content Rating: R (Violence towards women based on real life events, language, graphic violence)

To read reviews please visit Perry Prete’s page on iRead Book Tours.

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Meet the Author:

Perry Prete is a Canadian crime writer and paramedic. His first novel, All Good Things, introduced us to Ethan Tennant, a City of Ottawa paramedic who looks at crimes from the medical perspective.

Perry continues to work full-time as a paramedic and uses his thirty plus years of life changing and sometimes dramatic experiences to bring realism to his gripping medical novels. His other works include, The Things That Matter Most and All Good Things.

He is also a business owner, specializing in the pre-hospital care field. His company sells medical equipment across North America, primarily to EMS agencies.

A native of Sudbury, Ontario, Perry, graduated from Fanshawe College in London but now lives and works in Brockville, Ontario.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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A Fatal Obsession by James Hayman

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A Fatal Obession by James Hayman

“James Hayman’s edgy, ingenious novels rival the best of Lisa Gardner, Jeffery Deaver, and Kathy Reichs. A Fatal Obsession is his finest to date: a ferocious live-wire thriller starring two of the most appealing cops in contemporary fiction.” —A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

Zoe McCabe is a beautiful young actress on the verge of stardom who has been basking in the standing ovations and rave reviews she’s been getting from critics and fans alike for her portrayal of Desdemona in an off-Broadway production of Othello. As she takes her final bows, Zoe has no idea that, seated in the audience, a man has been studying her night after night, performance after performance. A man whose carefully crafted plans are for the young actress to take a starring role in a far deadlier production he has created just for her.

Portland, Maine detectives Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage are settling into the new rhythm of their relationship when McCabe gets a late night call from his brother Bobby that Zoe, McCabe’s favorite niece and Bobby’s daughter, has suddenly disappeared. The NYPD is certain Zoe’s abduction is the work of the man the tabloids have dubbed “The Star Struck Strangler,” a killer who has been kidnapping, abusing and finally strangling one beautiful young performer after another. Bobby begs McCabe to return to the New York City crime beat he’d left behind so many years ago, to work his old connections, and to help find Zoe before her time runs out. The stakes for McCabe and Savage have never been higher. Or more personal. And suddenly the race is on to stop a vicious attacker, before the McCabe family is torn apart beyond repair.

There’s a lot of action packed into this relatively short novel, which creates a heady tension as Hayman moves the story forward. The plot is as old as time – beautiful girl is abducted by crazy obsessed man, older hero rescues her – but in Hayman’s hands, the characters come alive and the suspense and terror are real.

At the heart of the plot is the nature of obsession, the need to possess and to hold power over another person. Hayman does a skillful job of exploring the roots of obsessive behavior which explodes into something uncontrollable and dark. His treatment of the “relationship” between abductor and abductee is sometimes uncomfortable and done in a way that humanizes the bad guy, which some readers may find objectionable.

Recommended for fans of modern suspense.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: Aug. 21, 2018

Number of Pages: 432

ISBN: 9780062876676

Series: McCabe and Savage Thrillers #6

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

The worst thing about the rage was its randomness. Tyler Bradshaw never knew what might trigger one. A tone of voice. A look. An innocent or perhaps a not so innocent remark. Tonight he could feel it starting to build just seconds after he’d begun walking down the center aisle of the small McArthur/Weinstein Community Theater on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Having attended all eleven previous performances in this limited-run production of Othello, Tyler knew exactly where he wanted to sit for tonight’s finale. The same seat he’d occupied for every performance so far. The same seat he was going to sit in tonight no matter what. A12. On the aisle. Front row. Right-hand side. By far the best seat in the house in terms of offering him the most intimate view of the death of Zoe McCabe, the young actress cast in the role of Desdemona.

This would be Tyler’s last chance to watch the woman he wanted so desperately, the woman who’d been haunting his dreams for months, meet death at the hands of Randall Carter, the well known black actor who was playing Othello the Moor. And if all went according to plan, this closing night would become opening night for a much more intimate relationship.

But Tyler had taken only a few steps down the aisle when he was stopped short by the sight of some son of a bitch sitting in his seat. The theater was practically empty, and some asshole had actually had the nerve to plant his butt in the seat Tyler claimed as his own. He stood for a few seconds watching the guy as the anger grew. Some skinny twerp with a shaved head and black-framed hipster glasses leaning over and talking to the woman next to him as if unaware of his transgression. Tyler barely managed to suppress an urge to run down the nearly empty aisle to the first row, pull the guy up by his ears and kick the shit out of him right then and there.

Take it easy, Tyler told himself. Don’t start a fight. Don’t cause a scene. Don’t get your ass thrown out of here. Do that and you’ll miss Zoe’s final death scene, and you really don’t want to do that. Still, when something he so desperately wanted was denied him, when something he considered rightfully his was withheld or taken away, Tyler found it nearly impossible to suppress the anger filling his brain. But he knew he had to try. Taking a deep breath, he managed to walk at a measured pace the rest of the way down the aisle. He stopped and stood directly in front of the guy in A12. He looked down. “Sorry, buddy,” he said in a voice filled with no more than a hint of threat, “you and your girlfriend are gonna have to move. This seat’s taken.”

“I beg your pardon,” the guy said in what Tyler thought was a condescending tone. Tyler hated it when people condescended to him. New York was full of them. It was one of the reasons he really didn’t like spending time in the city even though he’d been born here. Even though he still kept an apartment here. Even though he’d worked three years at his uncle’s fancy Wall Street law firm. That job had gone down the crapper the day Tyler totally lost it when one of the other associates had condescended to him. Told Tyler in front of like ten other people that the only reason the firm had hired Tyler was because his uncle happened to be managing partner. Tyler reacted by slugging the guy right then and there in front of six other lawyers. Knocked the bastard flat on his ass. Then followed up with a kick to the gut. A deliciously satisfying kick even though it marked the end of his legal career. The only reason Tyler hadn’t been charged with assault was that his uncle convinced the other guy his own career would go much better if he simply forgot about the whole thing. Tyler still got pissed off when he thought about that asshole.

“You heard me,” Tyler said to the guy who’d taken his seat, making sure he kept his voice quiet and controlled. “You’re sitting in my seat. This has been my seat for the last two weeks. The entire run. And it will continue to be my seat for tonight. That means it’s time for you to tell me how sorry you are and get up and move.”

Condescension changed to huffiness. “I don’t know who you think you are but there’s no reserved seating in this theater. We took these seats first. That means they’re ours. There’s plenty of empty seats all over the place. Just take one of those and leave us the hell alone.”

“This is my seat and you are going to have to move.”

For exactly twenty-three seconds the guy said nothing. Tyler knew it was twenty-three without having to consult his watch. It was this brain thing he’d had ever since the so-called accident. He always knew precisely to the second what time it was and precisely how much time was passing. Just as he knew how many steps it would take to get from one place to another without having to think about it. It hadn’t always been that way. Just since his old man had tossed him headfirst into the shallow end of the swimming pool at their country place when he was fourteen and he’d bashed his head against the concrete. That’s when the rage problems started as well.

For the entire time, the guy just sat where he was and looked up at Tyler. Maybe he was debating whether to challenge someone who, at six foot three and two hundred and twenty pounds, was way the hell bigger than he was.

Tyler was getting closer to hoisting the guy out of the seat and tossing his skinny little ass out into the aisle. Which would have ruined everything. Thankfully, one second before he would have done just that, the guy’s wife or girlfriend or whatever she was, broke the impasse.

“Come on, Richard,” she said. “Let’s move. I don’t like being this close to the stage anyway.”

“I oughtta call the police,” said Richard.

“Call whoever the fuck you want, Richard. Just get your ass out of my seat.”

“Richard. Please,” said the woman. “This guy’s unhinged.”

“Yeah, Richard, I’m unhinged,” said Tyler, putting as much menace in his voice as he could.

“And if you want to know the truth, I’m getting more fucking unhinged by the second.”

The woman rose, took Richard’s hand and pulled. “Please,” she said.

The guy finally stood. No doubt relieved not to have to confront someone as big and angry-looking as Tyler. But, Tyler figured, also ashamed that he lacked the cojones to stand up to the bully who’d shamed him in front of his girlfriend. A lot of people responded to Tyler that way. He usually enjoyed it when they did. He especially liked it when people backed down and did exactly what he told them to. Which was most of the time. Most people were too chicken-shit to stand up for themselves.

Tonight was no different. The guy named Richard picked up a canvas messenger bag from the floor and let the woman lead him across to the other side of the small auditorium, where they found seats a couple of rows back. Tyler watched them go. Neither looked back at him. Neither noticed the small, satisfied smile he threw at them. Confrontations that ended like this and the adrenaline rush that came with them always made him feel better.

Before sitting down, Tyler unzipped his backpack, pulled a pair of latex gloves from the package he’d put in there, and put them on. Then he took out a packet of antibacterial wet wipes and used three of them to wipe down the seat, the backrest and the arms before easing his large frame down into seat A12. His seat. That done, he closed his eyes and focused on breathing deeply in and out. Pictured the rage that had come from the confrontation slowly dripping out of him, drop by drop, like water from a leaky faucet. That’s what Dr. Steinman, the therapist he started seeing a year after the swimming pool incident, had taught him to do when he felt this way. He watched the drops falling . . . exactly one drop per second . . . and knew without counting that one hundred and forty-four drops had fallen before he’d totally emptied himself of the anger and felt calm enough to open his eyes.

Tyler had another twenty-one minutes and twelve seconds to wait before scheduled curtain time. Maybe even more minutes and seconds before the curtain actually went up, because they never seemed to get the timing right. To pass the time he popped a couple of sticks of Juicy Fruit gum in his mouth and started chewing. Then he pulled a week-old copy of the New York Daily News from his backpack and unfolded it. He stared for what had to be the hundredth time at the banner headline, the big black letters seeming to leap out at him from the front page. StarStruck Strangler Strikes Again. He wondered if that was just one headline or if that was the nickname they were going to give the killer. He wondered if the name would stick. Tyler thought about it. Star-Struck Strangler wasn’t nearly as interesting as, say, Son of Sam. Though it was, he supposed, equally alliterative. Both had multiple S’s, which had always been one of Tyler’s favorite letters. He repeated the headline to himself. Star-Struck Strangler Strikes Again. Four ST words in a row. Tyler preferred S words when they were followed by L’s. Words like slasher. Slimy. Sleazy. Slippery. Slinky. Slick. Slutty. Yes, SL words were much better than ST words. His favorite SL word, slithy, wasn’t a real word at all. Just something made up by Lewis Carroll. ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe. Wonderful creepy-crawly sounds.

Beneath the headline that dominated the front page was a subhead set in slightly smaller black type. It read, Missing Ballerina Found Murdered on Beach. No alliteration there unless you counted the M’s in Missing and Murdered and the B’s in Ballerina and Beach, and Tyler didn’t think that really counted. Tucked next to the headline and subhead was a color photo of an attractive young blonde, her hair pulled back in a bun, smiling at the camera. A happy smile, he thought, for a woman who’d turned up dead over a week ago. Tyler flipped open the tabloid and read full the story once again:

Friday, October 2, 2015. The body of 21-year-old Sarah Jacobs, a dancer with the New York City Ballet who had been reported missing two weeks earlier on September 15, was discovered late last night lying in a shallow, sandy grave on a stretch of beach in Sherwood Island State Park., The beach is located on the Long Island Sound in the affluent suburb of Westport, Connecticut.

Investigators say Ms. Jacobs’s body was discovered at approximately six a.m. by Westport resident Edward Todd. Todd told police he was walking his dog on the beach as he does every morning, when the dog raced ahead and started sniffing at something in the sand. When Mr. Todd was close enough to see it was the remains of a human body, he immediately dialed 911 on his mobile phone and informed Westport police, who arrived moments later. After identifying the body, Westport detectives notified the NYPD, which had been searching for Ms. Jacobs since her disappearance.

The victim, Sarah Jacobs, was a well-regarded dancer who was considered a rising star with the New York City Ballet. According to police sources, the victim’s body, when found, was wearing a black leotard and black ballet slippers, an outfit identical to the one she wore on stage during her last performance at Lincoln Center on September 12, three days prior to her disappearance. Her hair was also arranged identically to the way it had been during the performance.

Ms. Jacobs was the daughter of prominent Broadway producer Frederick Jacobs and Chelsea art dealer Marjorie Hanscomb Jacobs. Both parents refused to comment on the discovery of their daughter’s body. André Komar, the company’s ballet master, told reporters, “Sarah was an exceptionally gifted young dancer with a bright future ahead of her. All of us who knew and worked with her here at the New York City Ballet are grieving along with her parents. This is a real tragedy and we will all miss her enormously.”

Assistant New York City Medical Examiner Dr. Peter Weisman told reporters the apparent cause of death was strangulation. He also said the body was badly bruised and there were clear signs that Ms. Jacobs had been sexually assaulted prior to death. Her body is scheduled to be autopsied by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine, among other things, time of death and if strangulation was indeed the cause.

The victim has been the subject of an intense New York Police Department manhunt ever since her disappearance. She was last seen leaving a private party at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan on the evening of September 15th. Her father told reporters she left the party early after complaining of feeling “queasy” and said that she was going to take a cab home to her Greenwich Village apartment.

Ms. Jacobs is the third young member of New York’s performing arts community to have disappeared from Manhattan since the beginning of the year. The body of an earlier victim, Ronda Wingfield, 28, an actress who appeared frequently in musical productions in Manhattan and elsewhere, was discovered last May 19th in a wooded section of Manhattan’s Highbridge Park.

A third performer, actress Marzena Wolski, who also lived in Manhattan and who, for the last two years, had a starring role in the TV crime drama Malicious, was reported missing September 28th. Police have reportedly found no clues as to Ms. Wolski’s whereabouts.

When asked if police believed the three kidnappings and two confirmed deaths were the work of a serial killer, the NYPD’s chief of detectives, Charles Pryor, told reporters, “While we can’t be absolutely sure at this point in the investigation, given the obvious similarities in the choice of victims, all of whom performed on television or on stage, as well as similarities in the cause and manner of death of the two victims found so far, we are fairly certain that that is the case.” Pryor added, “There are currently no suspects but we are hopeful that the discovery of Ms. Jacobs’s remains will provide some relevant leads.”

Tyler reread the article a couple of times even though he already knew it pretty much by heart, as he did just about everything else that had been published about the kidnappings and murders. He then turned back and examined the front-page photo of Sarah Jacobs. With her long, narrow face, Sarah wasn’t really all that pretty. At least not compared to Zoe McCabe. For Tyler Bradshaw, there was no one who could compare to Zoe.

Tyler finally returned the paper to his backpack, relaxed in his seat and waited patiently until the curtain rose, and Roderigo and Iago entered a bare-bones version of a sixteenth-century Venetian street. Tyler watched the beginning of the play with minimal interest. It wasn’t Iago or Roderigo he’d come for. Tyler’s only reason to sit through this part of the play over and over again was to make sure he got the right seat to feel the closeness of the woman he so desperately wanted. His gaze never strayed from her from the moment she first came on stage in Act I, Scene III, until she was finally done to death in Act V, Scene II, bloodlessly smothered by the actor who played the title role. When the play got to that point, Tyler whispered Desdemona’s last words to himself, doing his best to mimic the way Zoe spoke them.

That death’s unnatural that kills for loving.

Alas, why gnaw you so your nether lip?

Tyler sometimes practiced gnawing his nether lip when Zoe said the lines. She was right. It didn’t seem natural. Still, the most famous writer who ever lived had written it that way.

Some bloody passion shakes your very frame:

These are portents; but yet I hope, I hope

They do not point on me. . . .

A guiltless death I die.

Oh yes, my love, he whispered to himself, a guiltless death you die. But not too soon I hope. For I’m quite sure I want you with me for a much longer time than the Star-Struck Strangler had allowed either of the others.

And then, when it came time, he mouthed the famous lines spoken by the Moor.

When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,

Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,

Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak

Of one that loved not wisely, but too well . . .

Tyler had fixated on these words since he’d watched the first performance two weeks ago, for he believed they precisely defined who he was. They were his lines because he believed that he too was one who loved not wisely but too well.

When the play finally ended and the curtain fell two hours, twenty-seven minutes and thirty seconds later, it was the third longest of the twelve performances he had attended. It irritated Tyler that the actors couldn’t do a better job of getting the timing right. Yes, in one performance, the actor playing Iago had even screwed up one of his lines and Othello had to ad-lib filler dialogue until Iago got his brain back on track. But that was the only time they had an excuse.

He let the irritation go when Zoe and the rest of the cast stepped in front of the curtain to take their bows. He stood with the audience and applauded as loudly as, if not more so than, anyone else in the theater. Took the overchewed ball of gum from his mouth and whistled loudly.

Of course, Tyler’s applause was only for Zoe. His gaze fixed only on her. Her dark and penetrating eyes. Her glorious smile. The slender perfection of her figure. At last, when the curtain calls were finally finished and the actors gone from the stage, Tyler slung his pack around one shoulder and walked out, once again practically the last to leave the theater. For the first time, his mind was finally and truly made up. He could wait no longer. He pulled a crushable Aussie outback hat from his backpack and put it on. Kind of goofy-looking, but what with all the damned surveillance cameras on the streets these days, the wide brim did a good job of hiding his face. And on a cold, drizzly night like this, it wouldn’t even attract much attention. Tyler left the theater by a side exit, crossed the street and stood in the shadows of a darkened computer repair shop, waiting for Zoe to emerge from the stage door dressed in her own street clothes.

When she finally walked out, she wasn’t alone. She was with Randall Carter, the big black dude who played Othello. They stood together on the sidewalk talking. Tyler felt rage once again building as they talked. Especially when Carter leaned down and kissed Zoe on the lips. Nothing passionate. Nothing sexy. But still. The woman Tyler considered his own kissing some hotshot Hollywood bastard? A black hotshot Hollywood bastard no less, which made it even harder to take. Tyler could barely keep his rage from roaring back, barely restrain himself from rushing across the street and kicking the shit out of Carter. While he stood there seething, a black Lincoln SUV pulled up. Randall Carter got in. Zoe waved. The car drove off. Zoe pulled up the hood on her rain jacket and started walking by herself along the street. Tyler watched and waited until she was a little ahead before following.

***

Excerpt from A Fatal Obsession by James Hayman. Copyright © 2018 by James Hayman. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

James Hayman
JAMES HAYMAN, formerly creative director at one of New York’s largest advertising agencies, is the author of the acclaimed McCabe and Savage Thriller series: The Cutting, The Chill of Night, Darkness First, The Girl in the Glass, The Girl on The Bridge, and A Fatal Obsession.

Catch Up With James Hayman On:
jameshaymanthrillers.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

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Comforts of Home by Susan Hill


comfortsComforts of Home by Susan Hill

It’s often difficult to accurately review a book that is part of a series when you haven’t read the earlier entries, and some of that is in play here. There are references to prior occurrences in the lives of the characters, but the core “mysteries” are stand-alone.

The storylines specific to this book were interesting but somewhat unimaginative. In one, the recuperating DCI, Simon Serrailler,  investigates a mysterious murder on a remote Scottish island, while his brother-in-law handles a series of arsons back home in Lafferton, and his sister contemplates a new direction for her career. Happening alongside these storylines are three more: a mother’s crusade to force the police to re-open the investigation into her daughter’s five-year-old disappearance; the travails of the DCI’s elderly father, who returns to Lafferton from a self-exile to France; and the angsty story of the DCI’s nephew who is trying to decide what to do with his life.

Sound like a lot of stories going on? It is, and that’s my issue with this book. There is way too much going on, and the “mysteries” are tied up too neatly, too quickly, and with little imagination. This is a shame, because the author writes quite well. Her descriptions of the Scottish island are wonderfully evocative, and she handles the DCI’s injury with sensitivity and insight. If I could edit this book, I would completely remove the storylines for Richard, Sam, and Cat and concentrate on the murder of Sandy on Taransay and the intertwined stories of Kimberley Still and the arsons. That would move this book from a 3 to a least a 4, maybe a 5 for me. However, I realize fans of the series will shout me down on that, because I sense that the back stories of each character are somewhat beloved. Recommended for fans of the series.

Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Publisher: Overlook Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Tail of the Dragon by Connie DiMarco

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Tail of the Dragon by Connie di MarcoSan 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. Two attorneys and a paralegal have received death threats and the only common denominator between all three is a case long settled — the highly publicized 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 listen — they can’t believe 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?

DiMarco has a winning series here with Julia and her astrology skills. The characters are appealing, the story quick and clever, and the conclusion unexpected. The San Francisco setting put me in mind of the Kate Carlisle “Brooklyn Wainwright” series and Juliet Blackwell’s “Lily Ivory” series, but only because of the location. Julia Bonatti is all DiMarco’s and she’s a winner. For fans of modern cozy mysteries.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Midnight Ink

Publication Date: August 8th 2018

Number of Pages: 336

ISBN: 0738751065 (ISBN13: 9780738751061)

Series: Zodiac Mystery #3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The doorbell rang. I hurried down the stairs to the front door. I hesitated as I saw a woman’s figure through the glass. Maggie. It was Maggie. I threw the door open and we hugged. Michael’s sister and I got along famously from the first time we met. Maggie probably understands better than anyone how I feel and even though we don’t stay in touch as much as we used to, every time we meet it’s as though no time has elapsed at all. I stepped back and took a good look at her. She wasn’t smiling. “Maggie? What is it?”

“Can I come in?”

“Of course. Yes.” She was quiet as we climbed the stairs. She headed straight for the kitchen and sat down at the table. I joined her. “What’s wrong?”

“Something’s come up.”

“About . . .”

“Yes,” she didn’t have to say it. I knew she meant Michael.

“What’s happened?” Part of me hoped against hope that we might find an answer some day, another part of me just wanted the sadness and unknowingness to go away.

“Let me try to tell you in some kind of order.” She took a deep breath. “Do you remember the elderly man who used to live across the street from Michael’s old apartment?”

I nodded. I did remember. Michael’s apartment at 45th and Taraval was just a few blocks from my old place in the Sunset District. “Michael and I used to see him when he walked his dog. And then . . .” I shrugged, “there was a time when we didn’t see him as much.”

“Well, I think what happened was his son took the dog because it became too much for the old guy. But the dad didn’t want to leave his home so the family arranged some care and a companion for him.” I waited, not sure what Maggie’s story had to do with Michael. “Apparently, the old man was always taking pictures. He wasn’t any kind of a real photographer, but he liked to do that. He was always fooling around with his camera.”

“Yes, I remember now. He’d even take pictures of the flowers in his yard.”

“He died a couple of weeks ago. And his son and his daughter-in-law are putting the house up for sale. They’ve been there every day, moving stuff out and selling a few things to the neighbors. The thing is . . . they found a box of photos. The father didn’t like digital cameras, he had an old camera that he used and then he’d . . .

“Maggie . . .” I couldn’t imagine where she was going with this story.

“They found a photo of Michael. On the street. Just as that car hit him.”

I gasped and covered my mouth. My heart was racing wildly. “He saw. He saw who hit Michael?”

“He must have. He must have tried to take a picture of what happened from his window.”

“Why didn’t he ever say anything?”

Maggie shook her head. “I don’t know. I really don’t. Maybe he didn’t want to get involved. Maybe he was afraid he’d have to testify.”

As much as I dreaded looking at anything Maggie had described, I still needed to see the photo. “Do you have it with you?”

“I don’t. The old man’s son and his wife knew what it was. They didn’t know Michael, but they knew there had been a hit and run in the neighborhood and that someone had died, so they turned it over to the police.”

“Have you seen it?”

“Yes, they showed it to me and my mother. She’s hysterical right now.” Celia, Michael’s mother had refused to speak to me since his death. She wasn’t on firm ground to begin with but after the accident, in her convoluted logic, she blamed me for her loss. If he hadn’t been in such a hurry to meet me, he would have been more careful. He wouldn’t have been killed.

“I can imagine.” I didn’t envy Maggie the emotional turmoil she must be dealing with.

“I told you before, Julia, she’s made a shrine of Michael’s room and I’m so worried about her. She never wants to go out or do anything. Once in a while I manage to drag her to a restaurant for brunch or something, but even her old friends have given up calling her.”

“What can they tell from the photo?”

“Not much, it’s not digital and it’s old. He had an old Nikon, I think, so they can’t see very much. Michael is lying on his side on the street and . . .” Maggie’s voice shook, “and you can just see the edge of the car. It’s dark or black and there’s a bit of a bumper and the corner of the right rear tire. The police think the driver must have panicked and took off. The old guy might have been looking out his window when it happened and snapped it really quick. They’re going to try to get as much information from it as they can, but they don’t really hold out much hope.”

“Who’s in charge of this?”

“Actually, a retired detective has volunteered to work on it. The case has never been closed, but this is the first thing they’ve had to go on at all. I can get you the name of the detective in charge, and maybe he’ll give you more information. I’ll find out and let him know you might want to talk to him.”

“Thanks, Maggie.” My heart sank. In all this time, no witnesses to the accident had come forward. One woman at the end of the block remembered a dark vehicle traveling fast, but couldn’t swear it had anything at all to do with the car that hit Michael. “We shouldn’t get our hopes up.”

“I want some answers, Julia!” Maggie’s voice had risen. “And I’m sure you do too. It’s not right. What this has done to our family, to me, to you. All our lives have been changed because of this. I want to see someone pay for what they did.”

I nodded. “I do too. It won’t change anything. It won’t bring him back. But you’re right. We’ve all gone through so much . . .”

“I have to go.” Maggie stood suddenly and I realized she hadn’t even taken her coat off. “I’m staying at my Mom’s for a little while. I’m so worried about her. I don’t like the thought of her being all alone in that big house.”

“Okay. Stay in touch and let me know what you find out?”

“I will.” Maggie leaned toward me and I put my arms around her, holding her tight. I felt her chest rise, a quiet sob. “I’m sorry to arrive on your doorstep like this, but I had to tell you face to face.”

“I’m glad you did, Maggie. I’m glad you did. And maybe we’ll learn more.”

Maggie pulled away. I could see tears forming in her eyes as she rushed down the stairs.

***

Excerpt from Tail of the Dragon by Connie di Marco. Copyright © 2018 by Connie di Marco. Reproduced with permission from Connie di Marco. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Connie di Marco

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. Tail of the Dragon, third in the series, will be released on August 8, 2018.

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.

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The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths


strangerIn The Stranger Diaries, Elly Griffiths moves beyond her series characters and delivers a clever, well-plotted, and gripping murder mystery with a hint of ghost story. This is truly Griffiths at her best, with well-developed and engaging characters, some of whom beg to become part of a new series (I’m looking at you, Harbinder Kaur!)

In truth, I’ve found the last couple Ruth Galloway books stale and prosaic, with the focus shifted from Ruth’s work as a forensic anthropologist and Nelson’s work as a detective taking a backseat to what has become a boring love triangle. In The Stranger Diaries, Griffiths appears to be flexing her writing muscles and experimenting with different forms. The juxtaposition of the present day action with the story of The Stranger is smooth and flowed in a way that the stories complemented each other, and delivered hints of Wilkie Collins.

Not many authors take a chance on writing new characters when they have an established series, so I admire Griffiths for taking a break from beloved characters and trying new ones on for size. She has successfully delivered a stand-alone story that had me reading deep into the night just to find out the killer’s identity. I haven’t been so engrossed in a Griffith’s book since I ran out on to the salt marsh with Ruth as she raced away from Erik in The Crossing Places. Well done!

Publication Date: March 5, 2019 (although ebook versions abound on Wattpad and other platforms)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Death & Taxes by Mark Zaslove


168847FA-E652-4038-8542-646D239AD36EEmmy Award-Winning Writer Mark Zaslove Turns Up The Heat in His Debut Novel, DEATH AND TAXES, A Crime Thriller Featuring Badass IRS Agent, Mark Douglas, and His Indiosyncratic Band of Revenuers…

The first in a series, Death and Taxes takes readers on a roller coaster ride of gripping suspense combined with hilarious moments of camaraderie and deep caring.
Mix one badass IRS agent with a gang of murderous drug traffickers. Add an assortment of quirky but lovable characters, and you’ve got the makings of a gripping thriller.  This debut novel features Mark Douglas, an ex-Marine turned IRS agent, who, along with auditing the weird and the profane, also spearheads weekend raids with his gang of government-sanctioned revenuers, merrily gathering back taxes in the form of cash, money order, or more often than not, the debtor’s most prized possessions.

Things turn ugly when Mark’s much-loved boss and dear friend Lila is killed over what she finds in a routine set of 1040 forms. Mark follows a trail dotted with plutonium-enriched cows; a Saudi sheik with jewel-encrusted body parts; a doddering, drug sniffing, gun-swallowing dog named The Cabbage; a billionaire Texan with a fetish for spicy barbecue sauce and even spicier women; and an FBI field agent whose nickname is “Tightass.” All of this leads to more and bloodier murders – and greater danger for Mark.

With the help of his IRS pals – Harry Salt, a 30-year vet with a quantum physical ability to drink more than humanly possible; Wooly Bob, who’s egg-bald on top with shaved eyebrows to match; and Miguel, an inexperienced newbie with a company-issued bullhorn and a penchant for getting kicked in the crotch – Mark hunts down the eunuch hit man Juju Klondike and the cunning Mongolian mob smuggling weapons-grade plutonium into the United States. Under the watchful eye of the FBI, Mark and his scruffy gang enlist the power of the IRS data bank to track the criminals and lure them to a perilous rendezvous where everyone’s life is on the line. In the world of DEATH AND TAXES, only the honest and brave can survive.

This crazy stew of the A-Team meets the Expendables meets Archer will surely appeal to readers who like their murder mysteries on steroids.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Zaslove, author of DEATH AND TAXES, is a writer/director/producer of both live-action and animated movies and television. He creates content for all major studios, including Disney, Universal, Paramount, and Warner Bros. A two-time Emmy Award winner for writing/producing, and a recipient of the Humanities Prize (for writing about uplifting human values in television and movies), he also writes short fiction and has served as a senior editor on various magazines. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, he lives with his teenage son in Los Angeles.

Body in the Ballroom by RJ Koreto

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The Body In The Ballroom by R.J. Koreto Banner

President Teddy Roosevelt’s daring daughter, Alice, leaps into action to exonerate a friend accused of poisoning a man just about everyone hated.

Alice Roosevelt, the brilliant, danger-loving daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, has already risked an assassin’s bullet to solve one murder. She never expected to have to sleuth another, but she’d never pass up the opportunity, either. Anything to stave off boredom.

And such an opportunity presents itself when Alice is invited to a lavish ball. The high-society guests are in high spirits as they imbibe the finest wines. But one man, detested by nearly all the partygoers, quaffs a decidedly deadlier cocktail. An African-American mechanic, who also happens to be a good friend of former Rough Rider-turned-Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair, is suspected of the murder-by-poison, but Alice is sure he’s innocent and is back on the scene to clear his name.

From downtown betting parlors to uptown mansions, Alice and Agent St. Clair uncover forbidden romances and a financial deal that just might change the world. But neither Alice nor her would-be protector may survive the case at hand in The Body in the Ballroom, R. J. Koreto’s gripping second Alice Roosevelt mystery.

Alice Roosevelt and Joseph St. Clair are back in another romp of a mystery through the high society of New York in the early 20th century. Alice is as mischievous as ever and St. Clair his irascible self. This is shaping up to be a fun series. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery

Published by: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: June 12th 2018

Number of Pages: 304

ISBN: 1683315774 (ISBN13: 9781683315773)

Series: Alice Roosevelt Mystery #2

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

President Roosevelt and I were just finishing out talk when A moment later, the office door opened, and Mr. Wilkie, the Secret Service director, walked in. I stood to greet him.

“St. Clair. Glad to see you’re back. Very pleased with the way it went in St. Louis.” He turned to the president. “Have you spoken to him yet, sir?”

“Yes, and he’s agreed.” Wilkie looked relieved, too.

“Very good then. If you’re done, sir, I’ll take St. Clair to her. My understanding is that arrangements have been made for Miss Roosevelt to leave tomorrow afternoon.”

“Exactly. We’re all done then. St. Clair, thanks again. And I’ll be up in the near future, so I expect to see you again soon.” We shook hands, and I followed Mr. Wilkie out the door.

“Is she smoking on the roof again, sir?” I asked. That’s what happened the first time I met Alice in the White House.

He grimaced. “No. My understanding is that she is in the basement indulging a new hobby of hers. But you’ll see.” He led me downstairs, and that’s when I heard the unmistakable sounds of gunfire. Mr. Wilkie didn’t seem worried, however. “Miss Roosevelt somehow got hold of a pistol and has set up her own private firing range in a storage room. We launched an investigation to figure out how Miss Roosevelt obtained such a weapon but were unable to reach a formal conclusion, I’m sorry to say.”

No wonder they wanted me back.

And just as when Mr. Wilkie had sent me to get Alice off the roof, he once again cleaned his glasses on his handkerchief, shook my hand, wished me luck, and departed.

I heard one more shot, and that was it. She was probably reloading. The sound came from behind a double door at the end of the hallway. I carefully opened it, and she didn’t notice at first.

I watched her concentrating on the pistol, her tongue firmly between her teeth as she carefully focused on reloading. It was an old Smith & Wesson single-action, and she was damn lucky she hadn’t blown her own foot off. She was shooting at a mattress propped against the far wall, and from the wide scattering of holes, it was clear her marksmanship needed a lot of practice.

“A little more patience, Miss Alice. You’re jerking the trigger; that’s why you keep shooting wild. And that gun’s too big for you.”

It was a pleasure to see the look of shock and joy on her face. She just dropped the gun onto a box and practically skipped to me, giving me a girlish hug. “Mr. St. Clair, I have missed you.” She looked up. “And I know you have missed me. They say you’re back on duty with me. We’re heading to New York tomorrow, and we’ll have breakfast together like we used to and walk to the East Side through Central Park and visit your sister Mariah.”

I couldn’t do anything but laugh. “We’ll do all that, Miss Alice. But I’m on probation from your aunt, so we have to behave ourselves. You have to behave yourself.”

“I always behave.” She waved her hand to show that the discussion had ended. “Now there must be a trick to loading revolvers because it takes me forever.”

“I’ll teach you. Someday.” I made sure the revolver was unloaded and stuck it in my belt. Then I scooped up the cartridges and dumped them in my pocket.

“Hey, that’s my revolver,” said Alice. “It took me a lot of work to get it.”

“You’re not bringing it to New York, that’s for sure, Miss Alice.”

She pouted. “I thought you’d relax a little after being in St. Louis.”

“And I thought you’d grow up a little being in Washington. You want to walk into the Caledonia like a Wild West showgirl? Anyway, don’t you have some parties to go to up there?”

“Oh, very well. But promise me you’ll take me to a proper shooting range in New York and teach me how to load and fire your New Service revolver.”

“We’ll see. Meanwhile, if you don’t upset your family or Mr. Wilkie between now and our departure tomorrow, I’ll buy you a beer on the train.” That made her happy.

We walked upstairs as she filled me in on White House gossip.

“Oh, and I heard you were in a fast draw in St. Louis and gunned down four men.” She looked up at me curiously.

“A little exaggeration,” I said. I hadn’t killed anyone in St. Louis, hadn’t even fired my revolver, except for target practice.

“You didn’t kill anyone?” she asked, a little disappointed.

“No. No one.”

But then her face lit up. “Because your reputation proceeded you, and they knew there was no chance of outdrawing you.”

“That must be it,” I said.

“But look on the bright side,” she said, still full of cheer. “New York is a much bigger city. Maybe you’ll get a chance to shoot someone there.”

***

Excerpt from The Body in the Ballroom by R.J. Koreto. Copyright © 2018 by R.J. Koreto. Reproduced with permission from R.J. Koreto. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

R.J. Koreto

R.J. Koreto has been fascinated by turn-of-the-century New York ever since listening to his grandfather’s stories as a boy.

In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. He’s a graduate of Vassar College, and like Alice Roosevelt, he was born and raised in New York.

He is the author of the Lady Frances Ffolkes and Alice Roosevelt mysteries. He has been published in both Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He also published a book on practice management for financial professionals.

With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto On:
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for R.J. Koreto. There will be 3 winners of three (3) Amazon.com Gift Cards. The giveaway begins on July 1, 2018 and runs through August 1, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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In the Grip of It by Sheena Kamal

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In the Grip Of It by Sheena Kamal

On a surveillance assignment for a child custody case, PI-in-training Nora Watts finds herself ensconced in a small farming community on a beautiful hippie island in the Pacific Northwest, a place with a reputation for being welcoming to outsiders. But when she arrives there, she discovers her welcome quickly wears thin. Perhaps too quickly.

Salt Spring Island, with a history as a refuge for African Americans fleeing the bonds of slavery, is not a place of refuge for her—and, she suspects, may not be for the people who live there, either.

As she investigates, nothing about this remote community seems to add up. It gets personal as Nora confronts her own complicated feelings toward her estranged daughter and becomes increasingly concerned about the child she’s been tasked to surveil. She discovers that small, idyllic communities can hide very big secrets.

More of a novella than a full-length novel, In the Grip of It touches on a number of interesting and tension-bearing plot devices. There’s the custody angle, where one parent has made choices that affect the other parent’s ability to see his child; this one is blended with the cult angle, where the custodial parent has joined a “community” that is causing the visitation issues. Kamal also touches on integrated “haven” communities, alternative drug therapy, and even veganism. Everything, however, comes back to relationships, and Kamal does a good job of introducing a number of those throughout the mere 90 pages of this story.  The primary characters here, Nora and Leo, are smart and likable, but the story isn’t long enough to really get to know them. While I enjoyed In the Grip of It, I was left wanting more and really hoping the author will produce a full-length novel featuring Nora Watts.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: May 15th 2018

Number of Pages: 96

ISBN: 0062879324 (ISBN13: 9780062879325)

Series: Nora Watts #1.5

Grab Your Copy of In the Grip Of It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Last week a man came into our PI office, looked around the shabby interior, frowned, and said, “I must have gotten the address wrong.”

“Depends,” I replied. “What are you looking for?”

“An investigator.”

“Nope, you’re in the right place,” I said, looking at his nice suit, shiny shoes, and expensive watch.

“Are you sure? Maybe I should come back later.”

He was clearly trying to make a graceful exit. Before the man could leave, I got up from behind my desk and opened the door to Leo Krushnik’s office. “Leo, there’s someone here to see you.”

“Well,” said the man, who was hesitating behind me, “I’m not really sure that this is the right fit for me.” He was trying to be diplomatic about the condition of our office and what it might say about his own level of desperation that he was here, but we weren’t about to let a potential client go without a fight. His level of desperation was no match for ours.

Leo Krushnik, the head of our little operation, walked around his desk and beamed at the man. “We’re the right fit for anybody,” he said, grasping the man’s hand and giving it a firm shake. “We prefer to keep our overhead low so that we can offer competitive rates to people who need our services, regardless of their personal incomes. Please, have a seat.”

The man sat, a little overwhelmed by Leo’s charm, which is considerable. That day Leo was dressed in linen pants and a simple cotton shirt, as a nod to the heat wave the city was experiencing. He could pull off this look as easily as he pulled off the lie about our rates. We keep our overhead low because this dump on Hastings Street, in the derelict Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, is all we can afford, but clients didn’t need to know that. And even I could admit that the “competitive rates” line sounded good—even true—coming from Leo.

“How can I help you?” Leo asked.

“My name is Ken Barnes, and I’m concerned about my son, Trevor. My ex-wife Cheyenne moved to Salt Spring last year with Trevor and I think she’s gotten into some kind of trouble there. She won’t bring him back to Vancouver and visitation has been difficult.”

Leo frowned. “Because they’re on an island?” Salt Spring wouldn’t be easy to ferry to and from on a regular basis.

“Yes, but that’s not the only reason. She keeps putting off my visits and it’s been difficult to arrange for Trevor to come into Vancouver. I think . . . I think she’s in some kind of cult, to be honest. They call it a commune, but you know those stories about Bountiful?”

“Yes,” said Leo. Everyone knew the stories about Bountiful, British Columbia, where fundamentalist polygamous communities live and proliferate seemingly freely.

“Well, I think it’s something like that. Cheyenne wants to be in some kind of crazy sex cult, sure. She’s not my wife anymore and I really don’t care what she does. But I’m fighting for custody of Trevor. I want him out of there.”

“And you need some ammo.” Leo looks up from his pad, where he’s been taking notes. “You’ve come to the right place, Ken. We’ve done surveillance work for many child-custody cases.” Another lie, but Ken didn’t notice. We’d only done a handful of those, but “many” is relative. “You understand that this won’t be cheap? We’ll have to get out to the island and spend some time gathering information.”

“That’s fine. There’s nothing I won’t pay to get my son out of there. Cheyenne, she . . . well, she struggled with depression and anxiety for years and she let a lot of toxic people into her life who fed on her struggles. It was like a sick downward spiral. When she started doing yoga and got certified as a teacher, I thought she’d changed. But I’m not sure anymore. I know this sounds terrible—I know it does—but I don’t trust her judgment about the people she lets into her life. Especially men.”

“She married you,” Leo said.

“I know, but this is the thing: it’s not about me and her anymore. We’re done. This is about Trevor—and me doing my part as a father, making sure he’s safe. That he has a good life. I just want results.”

“We can’t guarantee results.” This is the first time I’d spoken since the initial exchange. Ken Barnes’s startled gaze meets mine. He’d clearly forgotten I was there, which was not unusual. “Maybe it is a sex cult, maybe it isn’t. All we can do is take a look and document what we find.”

“I know that nothing is certain, but I know my son deserves a healthy, normal life. Whatever they’re doing on that island is not normal. It just isn’t. It’s one step away from homeschooling, and who’s to say they’re not making him do hard labor?”

What is normal, anyway? I didn’t ask Barnes for clarification. I just kept silent as Leo agreed to take his money in exchange for the work. Before he let Barnes go, he pulled him aside. “Nora’s right, Ken, about any sort of guarantee. But what I can say is that if there’s something to find, chances are we will get a sense of it.”

In the next few days, I started the file on Cheyenne Barnes and looked through the information Ken had provided us. “Cheyenne scrubbed her social-media profiles last year,” he explained to me, over the phone. “I thought she was punishing me by erasing the memories and keeping me away from what’s happening with my son, but now that I think about it, there’s something fishy about this whole thing.” So he kept saying.

Cheyenne is smiling in all the photos, and in every single one there is something wistful about her, a faraway look in her eyes. Something that suggests a romantic nature. She’s an instructor for hot yoga, which I thought was stretching for attractive people but later discovered is actually sweaty stretching. Who knew. She’d gone to Salt Spring Island two years ago to work at a yoga retreat and, according to Ken, never came back. She met a man there, a fellow yoga enthusiast, and rebuffed all of Ken’s attempts at reconciliation.
There is very little to be found on Cheyenne Barnes’s new man. He has no social-media profiles of his own, but I did find a picture of him on the Spring Love website. Some people are so attractive it’s almost surreal, and Vikram Sharma is one of them.

***

Excerpt from In the Grip Of It by Sheena Kamal. Copyright © 2018 by Sheena Kamal. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Sheena Kamal

SHEENA KAMAL holds an HBA in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and was awarded a TD Canada Trust scholarship for community leadership and activism around the issue of homelessness. Her debut novel, The Lost Ones was inspired by this and by Kamal’s most recent work as a researcher into crime and investigative journalism for the film and television industry.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
sheenakamal.com, Goodreads, & Facebook!

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Sheena Kamal and WitnessImpulse. There will be 10 winners of one (1) print copy of Sheena Kamal’s THE LOST ONES. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2018 and runs through July 1, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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Interview with Ruth Ware


westawayA few weeks ago, I reviewed The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ruth Ware’s newest which just hit the streets. The folks over at Goodreads just posted an interview with Ware in which she talks about Mrs. Westaway. Check it out:

British author Ruth Ware keeps good company. Her mystery and thriller novels have been compared to Golden Age crime writers like Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, and Dorothy L. Sayers. Her previous novels—The Woman in Cabin 10, In a Dark, Dark Wood, and The Lying Game—riff on classic mystery templates, with women who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Read more….

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

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37756654Read, remember, think.” These three words capture the very basic premise of Kate Morton’s newest story, and are especially important to two of our protagonists – Elodie the archivist and Lucy the Reader/Teacher/Collector/Thinker. The reading, remembering, and thinking these two do throughout this enchanting story are the Yin to the Yang of Birdie, the Clockmaker’s Daughter who narrates much of the story.

Morton is especially adept at time slip stories that feature multiple voices which, in less capable hands, can muddle the storytelling. Here she spins the tale of a fateful summer month in 1862 which touched multiple lives over the next 150 years, eventually coming to light at the hands of a 21st century archivist enchanted by a photo of an enigmatic beauty and a sketch of a house that she knows from a childhood story. That archivist, Elodie, is one of several narrators. Others include Birdie, the titular “Clockmaker’s Daughter” who truly is the heart of the story; Lucy, witness to the tragic events of 1862; Juliet, a journalist and young mother widowed during World War II; Leonard, a soldier haunted by war who first gives voice to Birdie; and Ada, a fiery young girl who will not give in to bullying. Morton swirls all of these voices together into a whirlpool of laughter, love, deception, and betrayal all centering on the house, Birchwood Manor.

It is Birchwood Manor that gathers the multiple story strands, beginning with the fateful summer of 1862 when artist Edward Radcliffe assembled a group of artists known as The Magenta Brotherhood to spend a glorious month creating art at the remote manor house.    In attendance is Radcliffe’s muse and model, with whom he intends to run away to America and marry. Over the course of a few hours, all their plans unravel, leaving one woman dead and another disappeared. The events of that day carry forward through generations, until Elodie discovers the photo of Birdie/Lily and Edward’s sketchbook, leading her to reveal the story.

Morton has a knack for bringing her characters to life, developing them in such a way that the reader laughs, cries, sighs, and grumbles through the story, feeling the feelings as deeply as the characters themselves. All of Morton’s books contains characters and stories like that, and she succeeds again here, building a story that you will remember for a long time.

My only complaint here, and it’s a small one, happens midway through, when we get to a jarring, climactic scene with Ada which is never fully resolved or explained, at least not to my satisfaction. Despite this one issue, I found The Clockmaker’s Daughter to be just as lovely as Morton’s earlier work and highly recommend it.

Publication Date: September 9, 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy