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:

Click here to view the The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens Participants

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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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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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.

Guest Post – Brian VanDongen


OBSERVATIONS FROM THE PLAYGROUND – Brian VanDongen, author of Play To Live

As a recreation professional, one of the (many) hats I wear is that of a youth sports league administrator. For eight Saturdays in the fall and the spring at one of the parks in town, there is the youth soccer league. There are leagues for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders, and 3rd to 5th graders.

Right next to the soccer fields is a playground. When the soccer games end, the children line up for the post-game handshake, eat their orange slices, then make a dash to playground.

The playground is a modern take on the old school jungle gym.It has climbing structures, cargo nets, and floating boards (a series of ropes with platforms to walk across). The playground was recently installed and Im glad its popular with the children.

One day after the soccer games were over, I decided to walk over to the new playground to see it in action.

I noticed a younger child trying to walk across the floating boards. Step by step, he intently assessed how to reach for the next pole, how to balance his weight on the board, and how to step toward the next board. He did this all by himself, without parental guidance (that is often more harmful than it is helpful).

During this time playing, he learned to assess risk. Some questions that were probably going through his mind as he attempted to traverse the floating boards: Where is the best place for me to balance, while still reaching for the next board?,” “Is this surface stable?and Do I feel safe?

By not having specific direction on how to complete the floating boards, he was able to assess and manage risk on his own. This activity is not dangerous; it was a safe place to partake in risky play. There is a difference between risky play and dangerous play.

Assessing and managing risk is almost a daily part of adult life. There is no better place to learn how to manage risk than as a child on a playground or partaking in risky play. Little does he know that his play as a young child will help him in his adult life.

If you enjoyed the spotlight of Brian’s book, Play to Live, and his guest post above and you live in Rochester NY, check out Play ROCs on July 13.

Reader Profile – Jessica Lewis


Jessica Lewis headshot1Jessica Lewis is the Communications Specialist for ROC the Future and Principal Publicist & Owner of LáLew Public Relations. She is a 2018 ATHENA Award Young Professional finalist and a Woman to Watch for the Democrat & Chronicle Newspaper. Jessica is a successful entrepreneur, owning the fastest growing, Black-owned public relations firm in Rochester, New York. Jessica is also the host of Ujamaa Rising, a television show that features Black-owned businesses and real-life stories of entrepreneurs. Jessica received her Bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College in Social Studies Education grades 7-12 and a Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum from the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education at the University of Rochester. Jessica holds membership in the Rochester Association of Black Journalists, the Democrat & Chronicle Young Professionals Advisory Council and the Theta Omega Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

What are you reading now?
I just started reading the Autobiography of Assata Shakur.

Are you a fiction or non-fiction reader?
I like both.

What book would you love to see made into a movie? Who would play the lead role?
I would love the Autobiography of Assata Shakur to be made into a movie. I’m only on the 3rd chapter and am fascinated by her life story. It’s striking how her experiences as a child living in NYC in the 50s and 60s attending a predominantly white school mirrors the experience I had in the 90’s.

What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy DeGruy and Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi.

What book changed your life, or changed how you view the world? In what way?
I would say Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy DeGruy and Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi. Those two books opened my mind to a new perspective on race relations in America. I was educated in predominantly white institutions all my life. In school we learned about slavery, then jumped to the Civil Rights Movement, only learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and maybe a few others. We never delved deep into what actually happened during slavery and the ramifications of slavery such as laws enacted by the federal government which instituted racist policies that still have an effect today. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome dives deep into these issues and Stamped from the Beginning gives insight into how racist ideas spread from Europe to American and how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society. The book also talks about the role of media and how media perpetuates stereotypes only further influencing the minds of the American people (exacerbating bias) which then effects behavior and subsequent actions.

Does reading influence your decision-making process?
Yes, it does because I’ve been enlightened by several books that I’ve read and now am not ignorant to certain things like before.

Are you a “finisher” or do stop reading a book if you’re not connecting with it?
I think I’m a stopper. If a book is uninteresting I’ll just put it down.

Why do you read?
I read to learn and to open my eyes to things I did not have knowledge about.

The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
I would say Becoming by Michelle Obama, Outliers and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.

Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?
No, but now I’m more intentional about reading the Preface and Foreword.

Would you rather be your favorite author or your favorite character?
I’d like to be my favorite author because I’d like to be skilled enough to tell a story in a way that’s compelling and interesting.

If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?
I would get a tattoo of my favorite passage or scripture. Maybe in a nice script font.

End of the Year Micro-Reviews


woman in lakeWoman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

Cornick is fast becoming my go-to author for suspenseful, fascinating time-slip stories, and she delivers another one with The Woman in the Lake. Moving between present time and the 18th century, Cornick tells the intertwined stories of Isabella, Constance, and Fenella, all bound together by a gorgeous and deadly golden gown. Each woman struggles with her place in the world, complicated by aggressive, violent, and manipulative men who, in turn, cause the women to take drastic measures to survive. The story is well-paced, with lovely description and dialog, and characters who attract and repel the reader equally. My favorite among them is Constance, the insignificant lady’s maid who turns out to have more brains and balls than any of her “betters.” Consider this a one-sitting story – you won’t be able to put it down.

Publication date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: Harlequin-Graydon House
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

loch nessThe Loch Ness Papers by Paige Shelton

I stumbled on Paige Shelton’s first book in the Scottish Bookshop series purely by accident. I was looking for authors like Kate Carlisle and Shelton’s name came up. I was hooked from the first page and have devoured each entry in the series. In book 4, we find main character Delaney working hard to manage her upcoming wedding to Tom, including introducing her Kansas family to her Edinburgh family. While tracking down a reverend to officiate at the wedding, Delaney meets yet another interesting person. This time, it’s Norval Fraser and he draws her deep into a mystery involving the Loch Ness Monster, a missing father, and a murdered nephew. As usual, Delaney and all her Edinburgh friends are charming, the story is fun and engaging, and there are interesting developments in the personal lives of the characters. I’m beginning to think, though, that it’s time to let go of the books talking to Delaney. In the first book, the convention worked well, but here it felt kind of forced. Delaney is interesting enough on her own.

Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

ghost manuscriptThe Ghost Manuscript by Kris Frieswick

Fans of stories about King Arthur will appreciate this interesting treatment of the Arthurian legend and the people obsessed with it, but The Ghost Manuscript will also appeal to readers who just enjoy a good mystery. The characters are appealing and the story is by turns riveting and engrossing, mostly due to the author’s skillful switching between the more cerebral puzzle-solving and the physical activity of dealing with bad guys while actively searching for treasure. The big shocker about Arthur’s origins was somewhat similarly treated in an early Elly Griffith’s “Ruth Galloway” book, but the tribal involvement here makes this wholly original. Plus the female protagonist is a librarian. Kind of.

Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

salt windsOrphan of Salt Winds by Elizabeth Brooks

Oddly enough, it looks like this was published earlier this year as Call of the Curlew, and reviews generally echo my reading experience. Brooks delivers a solid, shivering, atmospheric piece centering on an old tragedy. She uses the common alternating time convention, switching between 1939 and the present day as she tells the story of Virginia and how she came to Salt Winds. The characters are vividly drawn and the story clever and suspenseful. This stands with the best of Kate Morton and M.J. Rose. Well done.

Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Tin House Books
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome


The Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome

For tour guide Emily Ryder, the turning point came on that fatal early morning when her beloved mentor met an untimely death. It’s labeled as an accident and Trooper Dave Roberts is more interested in Emily than in any suspicions over Chris Cooper’s death. For Emily, if Chris hadn’t been the Village Planner and the only man standing in the way of the development of an apartment and entertainment complex in their quaint village of Lydfield, Connecticut, she might have believed it was an accident, but too many pieces didn’t fit.

As Emily heads across the pond for a prescheduled tour of Lydfield’s sister village, Lydfield-in-the-Moor, she discovers that the murderer may be closer than she thought.

Shelly Frome has delivered a fun and quirky murder mystery full of appealing characters and a clever plot. Frome is a skilled writer who delivers crisp dialog and lovely descriptions which help move the plot along. I sometimes hesitate to read novels written by academics because they tend to be so literary. (I readily admit that I am a blue-collar reader…) At the end of the day, I just like a good story with suspenseful action and characters that don’t make me want to throw the book at the wall, and I got that here. I started The Secluded Village Murders around 6 pm on a Friday night and finished it around midnight. Then I opened up my Libby app and started looking for more books by Shelly Frome.

If you are a fan of M.C. Beaton, Joan Hess, and Carolyn Hart, you will enjoy Shelly Frome. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Published by: BQB Publishing

Publication Date: September 1st 2018

Number of Pages: 339

ISBN: 1945448202 (ISBN13: 9781945448201)

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

Read an excerpt:

Picking up speed, she passed the rows of Victorian houses with their pilastered front porches and attached shutters in homage to last century’s Colonial Revival. She’d grown up here, always lived here except for college and her transatlantic jaunts. But at this moment, her village might as well be a scattering of old photos.

Before she knew it, the rain was beating down harder, her wiper blades barely able to keep up. Among the nagging questions flitting through her mind was how could Miranda Shaw have suddenly gotten wind of her leaking roof? Or did somebody just put her up to it, to get Chris rushing pell- mell in the rain so he would…

Emily eased her foot off the pedal, barely able to see through the downpour. She switched the wipers on high and kept her eyes on the road, intent on avoiding an accident.

Minutes later, she pulled into Miranda Shaw’s place at a slow but steady crawl. As she reached the circular drive, straining her eyes through the thwacking blades, she peered up two stories above the stone archway.

There she caught sight of the familiar gangly figure climbing higher toward the peak of an eight-sided turret. At a point where the grayish-blue slate, copper flashing, and a mullioned window merged, the figure suddenly became a shuddering blur.

Emily honked her horn, blasting as loud as she could. But it was too late. The figure flopped over and slid down the turret, glanced off the aluminum ladder and toppled like a broken doll.

***

Excerpt from The Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome. Copyright © 2018 by Shelly Frome. Reproduced with permission from Shelly Frome. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Shelly Frome

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He is also a features writer for Gannett Media. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, and Murder Run. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. Moon Games is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Shelly Frome. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on November 1, 2018 and runs through November 16, 2018. Void where prohibited

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In the Grip of It by Sheena Kamal

1

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.

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June Micro-Reviews


8B37192E-A543-4504-B64D-0471320DBA07Dark Tide Rising by Anne Perry – Anne Perry has delivered yet another well-plotted mystery featuring Inspector Monk and his band of Thames River Police. If you are a fan of the Monk series, this will not disappoint. If you haven’t read Monk, the nice thing about Perry’s series is that you can pick it up in the middle and stillunderstand what’s happening. Then, you will go back and read them all. Recommended.

Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

 

 

9BEAF73C-CF38-4127-BDB2-B31BFAF6986CFlorida by Lauren Groff – Lauren Groff has delivered a collection of absolutely gorgeous prose in the form of short stories all tied to Florida. Strung through with common threads of family, women, and children, each story is an exquisite vignette showcasing the often ugly underbelly of life in the Sunshine State. From children abandoned on a deserted island, to a temporarily failed scholar-turned-homeless, to a common character who seems to be Groff herself, these stories resonate and amplify the real possibility that your life, no matter how idyllic, can be fucked up at any time by circumstance and chance.

I met Groff at a literary event shortly after Trump was elected, and boy was she pissed. I sense much of that anger in these stories and have to assume writing these was somewhat of a catharsis for her. We often produce our best work while under stress, and I think that’s happened here. This one should appear on all the “Best of 2018” lists because it’s that good. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Penguin
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

7005C9A4-1EA8-4651-AF3F-0E5FF3F73EC0The Deepest Grave by Jeri Westerson – Ellis Peters set the standard for medieval mysteries with the Cadfael series, but Jeri Westerson’s Crispin Guest more than matches up with the intrepid monk. Westerson has delivered a tightly plotted mystery with just enough human drama and a didn’t-see-it-coming plot twist at the end that had me sitting up and taking notice that this is an author to watch. The protagonist, Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight now turned “Tracker” (the medieval version of a PI), is a flawed but dignified, smart, and decent man who uses his deductive powers to solve crimes for money. His relationships are complicated to be sure, but Westerson writes Guest as the Good Guy who will always put the greater good above his own needs and desires. I look forward to more of Crispin Guest. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: August 1, 2018
Publisher: Severn House
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy