Book Blast: BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES by Yvonne Ventresca


Black Flowers, White Lies


by Yvonne Ventresca


March 6, 2018 Book Blast




Synopsis:



Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca


“I raced through Black Flowers, White Lies in a single sitting. What a twisty thrill-ride!”

~April Henry, New York Times-bestselling author of Girl, Stolen

LIES CAN COME BACK TO HAUNT YOU.


 Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a connection that transcends the grave. Since her mother disapproves, she keeps her visits to the cemetery where he’s buried secret. But when Ella learns that her mother may have lied about how Dad died sixteen years ago, it’s clear she’s not the only one with secrets. New facts point to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not a car accident as Mom always claimed.
 
When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger, as he did once before, or if someone’s playing unsettling tricks on her. But as the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, she finds herself terrified about who—or what—might harm her.
 
Soon the evidence points to someone new: Ella herself. What if, like Dad, she’s suffering from a mental breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers—no matter how disturbing the truth might be.



NOW IN PAPERBACK!



Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca is a 2017 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Winner!




Book Details:



Genre: Young Adult Thriller

Published by: Sky Pony Press

Publication Date: Paperback March 6, 2018 (Hardcover Oct 2016)

Number of Pages: 280

ISBN: 1510725962 (ISBN13: 9781510725966)

Grab Your copy of Black Flowers, White Lies on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, & Add it to your Goodreads list!






Read an excerpt:




Chapter One, Beautiful Boy:


 

I approach Dad’s tombstone with trepidation, then breathe a sigh of relief. No mysterious flowers wilt at his grave as I had feared. Last August, someone left fresh orange lilies for him throughout the month. I never figured out who. Then, in September, the flowers stopped appearing as suddenly as they started. I always wondered, with an odd mixture of anxiety and hope, if I would run into the other mourner— someone else who honored my father. But I never did.

 Usually, the ritual of navigating the same cemetery rows, visiting Thomas Darren Benton, and putting a small rock on his headstone calms me. Now, the heat is relentless and sweat trickles down my back as I search for the perfect pebble. It needs to be a nice, roundish one. Despite the lilies left last summer, Dad wasn’t a bouquet kind of guy.

 I know this even though I never met him. He died before I was born, so I have no memories of him, only stories from Mom that I’ve heard so many times it feels like I was actually there. I see him beam during his graduation from veterinary school and feel his hand pat Mom’s pregnant belly. I hear him pick my name from the baby book: Ariella, meaning lion, although Mom insists they nickname me Ella. I smell the damp on his clothes from the night he rescued Oscar the kitten from a storm drain and brought him home to stay. These recollections have been cobbled together into my own version of Dad for the last fifteen years.

 Today the sky is gray and foreboding, but the occasional burst of wind does nothing to cool me. I finally find just the right rock nestled in a patch of grass and rub off the dirt with my fingers. My friend Jana taught me the tradition of leaving a stone as a way to mark my visits with something more permanent, more enduring than flowers.

 I’m the only person who comes to his grave somewhat regularly, other than last summer’s unknown mourner. I don’t think Mom’s been here since her engagement to Stanley, a non-reading, self-absorbed, stubby man. With the wedding only days away, Stanley’s settled into our apartment, but each awkward conversation we have leaves me yearning for the father who painted my room a cheerful yellow, who created a mini-library of animal books to read to his future daughter.

 I hesitate before Beloved Husband and Father, rolling the pebble between my fingers, then place it in line with the last one, making it the eighth in a row. I let my hand linger against the cool granite. Next week is Dad’s birthday, August 8. That number has been lucky for me since I was eight years old, when I could have died, but because of Dad’s warning, I didn’t.

The air gusts, whipping strands of hair across my face and scattering the pebbles to the ground. My skin prickles at the eerie timing before I realize that the wind has been stormy on and off throughout the day. Still, it spooks me because nothing has disturbed my markers in months. Until now. It’s almost like Dad is giving me another sign.
 
 

The cemetery turns out to be more peaceful than home. I’m lounging across my bed checking my phone with Oscar purring beside me when—bang—Mom pounds on the adjacent wall. Oscar scampers to the top of my bookcase, his favorite spot in times of trouble.
 

The room next to mine serves as Mom’s office, and since my soon-to-be-stepbrother is expected to arrive later tonight, she’s fixing it up. Loudly.
 

I give up on coaxing Oscar down and move to the doorway. “What are you doing?”
 

“Look.” She points with the hammer at two new pictures of the Manhattan skyline where a framed print of The Cat in the Hat used to be. Besides changing the wall decorations, she also cleared out the closet and moved her many piles of papers from the desk. “Do you think Blake will like it?”
 

I have no idea what Blake will like. The only photo I’ve even seen of him is one that Stanley keeps on his nightstand. It’s a faded picture of a young blond boy at the beach, smiling up at him.
 

“The room looks nice,” I say. “But it’s not like he’s living here forever.” Blake would only be staying with us for a few weeks until he moved into his dorm at NYU.
 

“I know. But I want this to feel like home for him.”
 

She certainly cares a lot about this guy we’ve never met. The filing cabinet, the now-spotless desk, and the fax machine are the sole remnants of her office.
 

“After we find your dress today, I need to buy some blue sheets and maybe some towels, too,” she says. “Are you ready to go?”
 

“Sure.” I sigh quietly.
 
 

Our apartment building is directly across from the Hoboken PATH station. After a short train ride to the Newport Mall, I remember for the hundredth time why I hate shopping with Mom. Every dress she pulls off the rack is revolting. But the wedding is only days away. We need to find something suitable that won’t forever embarrass me when I see the photos in years to come.
 

“How about this?” Mom holds up a mauve paisley thing with puffy sleeves, her eyes shiny with hope. “This color will look so flattering on you.”
 

“Maybe.” I don’t want to hurt her feelings, so I purposely drift away to shop on my own. And then I see it: a pale yellow dress, strapless, with a flouncy skirt and sequins around the middle. The dress sparkles when I hold it against me. I can’t wait to try it on.
 

Mom will hate it. She’ll want me to look conservative for the small group of friends and family at her wedding. My strategy is to show her other dresses she’ll hate even more. I find a black mini she’ll say isn’t long enough and a floral sundress she’ll think is too casual.
 

When I get to the dressing room, Mom and three hideous pink dresses await.
 

I try on the minidress first, which she predictably declares too short. Luckily, the mauve one bunches at my waist. She likes the sundress, but not for the wedding.
 

I put on a blush-colored one.
 

“It’s not bad,” she says. “What do you think?”
 

“Too much lace. It’s like wearing a tablecloth.”
 

She nods in agreement.
 

Finally, I try on the yellow one and giggle with delight. I come out, posture perfect, feeling like a princess. “Isn’t it beautiful?”


 

Mom frowns. “Strapless? You’d need something over it.”
 

I twirl. “I have that silver sweater at home.”
 

“Let’s see the rose-colored one.”
 

“Fiiine.”
 

In the dressing room, I breathe deeply as I put on the last dress.
 

Her face lights up when I step out. “Ella! It’s so pretty! It brings a glow to your cheeks. And it’s perfect with your coloring.”
 

She calls it my coloring because I inherited Dad’s brown hair and brown eyes instead of her fairness.
 

“The rose is all right,” I say. “But don’t you think the ruffles look too childish for a sophomore?”
 

“Honey. It’s perfect for an almost-sophomore. And it’s appropriate. The yellow one might be nice for a dance, but for the wedding . . .”
 

I close the curtain and put on my shorts and favorite T-shirt, the one with the tabby cat that says Rescued is my favorite breed. It’s her wedding, I remind myself. She should get to choose. I should be mature.
 

I walk out and hand her the ruffled dress.
 

“Thank you. It means a lot to me,” Mom says. “I’ll pay for this and go to the bedding department. Want to meet at the food court in an hour?”
 

“Sure.”
 

I shake off my annoyance and detour into the accessories section, where my friend Grace had seen a cute wallet with kittens on it that she thought I’d like. I’m sifting through the clearance items when this guy approaches me, holding a bunch of ties. Whoa. He’s tall and blond, and his white polo shirt shows off his tan.
 

“Excuse me,” Beautiful Boy says. “I’m trying to decide between these?” His voice lilts into a question. His smile is friendly, his eyes deep brown and intense. “I suck at this kind of thing.” He somehow manages to look model-perfect and sheepish at the same time. “Would you mind helping me pick one?”
 

I blink for a minute, staring at his face instead of the ties. My delayed response verges on awkward. “Okay,” I say. “What are you wearing it with?”
 

“A gray suit.”
 

I’m conscious of his eyes on me as I study the ones he’s chosen. It makes it hard to think. None of the ties have any yellow, my favorite color. Maybe it’s the dress shopping with Mom, but I point to the gray one with rose-colored diamond shapes. “I like this.”
 

“Thanks.”
 

I wish I could prolong our interaction somehow so that I can learn more about him. He lingers a too-short moment, then gives me another smile before he turns away.
 

I can’t help feeling like something momentous has transpired. I’m a believer in karma and fate and the mysterious workings of the universe. As I watch Beautiful Boy walk away, I hope that meeting him again is meant to be.
 

***


Excerpt from Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca.  Copyright © 2018 by Yvonne Ventresca. Reproduced with permission from Sky Pony Press. All rights reserved.







Author Bio:



Yvonne Ventresca

Whether the topic is psychological manipulation, ghostly encounters, or surviving a deadly outbreak, Yvonne Ventresca enjoys the thrill of writing about frightening situations. BuzzFeed listed her latest novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES at the top of their YA “must read” list for fall 2016, and this psychological thriller received an IPPY Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction in 2017.

Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC (Sky Pony Press, 2014), won a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Yvonne’s other credits include several short stories selected for anthologies, as well as two nonfiction books. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, SCBWI, The Authors Guild, and International Thriller Writers.

Besides writing, she loves a good ghost story, and as a third-degree black belt, she studies Isshinryu karate in a haunted dojo. You can learn more about Yvonne and her books at YvonneVentresca.com, where she also features helpful resources for teen writers.



Catch Up With Ms Ventresca on yvonneventresca.com, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, & Facebook!





Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!




Giveaway:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Yvonne Ventresca. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift card. The giveaway begins on March 6, 2018, and runs through March 13, 2018. Void where prohibited.


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Book Blast: A MOTHER’S LIE by Jo Crow

A Mother’s Lie

by Jo Crow

Book Blast on December 5, 2017



Synopsis:


A Mother's Lie by Jo Crow

When her child’s life is at stake, a mother will do anything to save him.


Clara McNair is running out of time to save her son, James. When the two-year-old is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, only an experimental treatment can save his life. She desperately needs money to pay for the surgery, but she’ll have to travel back to the site of her darkest memories to get it.

Clara has escaped the demons of her youth—or so she thinks. It’s been ten years since the mysterious disappearance of her parents. Widely suspected of murdering her mother and father, Clara fled west to start a new life. Now, a documentary film crew is offering cold, hard cash—enough to pay for James’s treatment—in exchange for the sordid secrets of her past.

With no other choice but to delve into a long-ago tragedy, Clara must unravel the lies surrounding that terrible night. Facing hostile gossip, Clara is fighting to clear her name and learn the truth about what really happened. But how far will she go into the dark to save her son—and herself?



Book Details:


Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published by: Relay Publishing
Publication Date: November 29th 2017
Number of Pages: 310
ISBN: 978-1979295420
Purchase Links: Goodreads 


Read an excerpt:



Chapter One

Dense red clay was pushing between the teeth. Pond mist drifted across the manicured lawns, wisping through the dark eye sockets. Parts of the cranium were shaded a vile yellow-brown where decomposing leaves clung to its surface like bile expressed from a liver. The jawbone was separated from the skull, its curved row of teeth pointing skyward to greet the rising sun.

Two feet away, closer to the oak tree, other bones were piled haphazardly: a pelvis, high iliac crests and subpubic angle. A femur, caked with dirt, jammed into his empty skull. Sunlight decorated the brittle bones in long, lazy strips and darkened hairline fractures till they blended with the shed behind them.

It was peaceful here, mostly. The pond no longer bubbled, its aerator decayed by time; weed-clogged flowerbeds no longer bloomed—hands that once worked the land long ago dismissed. Fog blanketed the area, as if drawn by silence. Once, a startled shriek woke the morning doves and set them all into flight.

It was the first time in ten years the mammoth magnificence of the Blue Ridge Mountains had scrutinized these bones; the first song in a decade the morning doves chorused to them from their high perch.

A clatter split apart the dawn; the skull toppled over as it was struck with another bone.

In a clearing, tucked safely behind the McNair estate, someone was whistling as they worked at the earth. The notes were disjointed and haphazard, like they were an afterthought. They pierced the stillness and, overhead, one of the morning doves spooked and took flight, rustling leaves as it rose through the mist.

A shovel struck the wet ground, digging up clay and mulch, tossing it onto the growing mound to their left. The whistling stopped, mid note, and a contemplative hum took its place.

Light glinted on the silvery band in the exposed clay—the digger pocketed it—the shovel struck the ground again; this time, it clinked as it hit something solid.

Bone.

A hand dusted off decayed vegetative matter and wrested the bone from its tomb. Launching it into the air, it flew in a smooth arc, and crashed into the skull like a bowling pin, scattering the remains across the grass. With a grunt of satisfaction, the digger rose and started to refill the hole from the clay mound.

When it was filled and smoothed, and the sod was replaced over the disrupted ground, the digger lifted the shovel and strolled into the woods, one hand tucked in a pocket as they whistled a cheery tune lost to the morning fog.

***

Excerpt from A Mother’s Lie by Jo Crow.  Copyright © 2017 by Jo Crow. Reproduced with permission from Jo Crow. All rights reserved.





More About Jo Crow:


Jo Crow

Jo Crow gave ten years of her life to the corporate world of finance, rising to be one of the youngest VPs around. She carved writing time into her commute to the city, but never shared her stories, assuming they were too dark for any publishing house. But when a nosy publishing exec read the initial pages of her latest story over her shoulder, his albeit unsolicited advice made her think twice.

A month later, she took the leap, quit her job, and sat down for weeks with pen to paper. The words for her first manuscript just flew from her. Now she spends her days reading and writing, dreaming up new ideas for domestic noir fans, and drawing from her own experiences in the cut-throat commercial sector.

Not one to look back, Jo is all in, and can’t wait for her next book to begin.

Catch Up With Our Author On: Facebook !




Tour Participants:


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Giveaway:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jo Crow. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card AND 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of A Mother’s Lie by Jo Crow. The giveaway begins on December 5 and runs through December 11, 2017.


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Book Blast: JOHNNY BIG EARS, THE FEEL-GOOD FRIEND by John Paul Padilla

Johnny Big-Ears, The Feel-Good Friend

by John Paul Padilla
October 3, 2017 Book Blast


October is National Bullying Prevention Month! Join the Campaign with this Amazing Book!


Johnny Big-Ears, the Feel-Good Friend by John Paul Padilla

Book Details


Genre: Children

Published by: Padilla Goldworks


Publication Date: March 20, 2012


Number of Pages: 40


ISBN: 0979889847 (ISBN13: 9780979889844)


Purchase Links:   Johnny Big-Ears, The Feel-Good Friend on Amazon Johnny Big-Ears, The Feel-Good Friend on Barnes & Noble Johnny Big-Ears, The Feel-Good Friend on Goodreads



Synopsis:



Johnny BIG-EARS is just like every other five-year-old child, but when he starts his first day of kindergarten, children begin to tease him because of his enormously large ears. Follow Johnny as he faces the challenges that being different presents. How will Johnny react to being teased? Find out why Johnny turns out to be a winner in this endearing, thoughtful book that addresses typical childhood bullying and offers children advice on how to deal with teasing. Whether you’re a parent or an educator, now you will be able to encourage your kids or students through this special book and help motivate all young kids to start feeling good about themselves no matter who they are, or what they look like!


Excerpt:



Author Bio:


John Paul Padilla

John Paul Padilla was born on December 11, in Los Angeles, California. He is a multi-award winning author that includes Mom’s Choice Award. He is also a public speaker and advocate against bullying. He is currently residing in the Central Valley of California. John Paul is an ex-model and has danced for fifteen years with a dance academy. He has written lyrical, verses that were recorded by Nashville artists. He has previously published Wings to Cross an Ocean, an inspirational poetry book that encourages personal growth and happiness for adults. John Paul was inspired to write his first anti-bullying book, Johnny Big Ears, the Feel Good Friend, based on his own childhood experiences with teasing and bullying. He has also written Johnny Big-Ears, Meets His New Neighbor Suzy, for little girls, who get teased because of their weight. Both of his books are now out in Spanish. Most recently, Johnny Big-Ears won the Grand prize for best overall, Best Book Cover in the 2017 IndieBRAG First Annual Book Cover Contest.



Visit John Paul’s website: Website or catch up with Johnny Big-Ears on Twitter & Facebook!


Tour Host Participants:

Stop by the other hosts for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!





Giveaway:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for John Paul Padilla. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card AND 5 winners of one (1) print copy of Johnny Big-Ears, The Feel-Good Friend by John Paul Padilla, Continental US Mailing Addresses only. The giveaway begins on October 3 and runs through October 10, 2017.


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Book Blast: ICED by Avery Daniels

ICED: A Resort to Murder Mystery

Avery Daniels

June 20, 2017 Book Blast



Synopsis:


Iced by Avery Daniels

Julienne has her ideal job as an event planner at a prestigious resort. During a luncheon event she coordinated, a renowned celebrity pastor is killed next to the buffet. All eyes turn to her as the suspect. If she wants to stay out of jail or even keep her job, Julienne needs all the help she can get to solve the crime.

She has her work cut out for her with a vengeful high school rival now reporter, the public demanding she be fired, plus family who know what’s best for her, and a boyfriend who doesn’t understand her. She turns to friends and a new ally to uncover who wanted to put the pastor on ice.

Julienne goes undercover and investigates a local swingers group as she follows the trail of clues before they go cold. Can she gather enough suspects and motives to convince the police to her widen their investigation? Can she do it before the killer sets his murderous sights on her? Will her personal life ever be as simple as unveiling a murderer?




Book Details:


Genre: Amateur Sleuth
Published by: Blazing Sword Publishing, Ltd
Publication Date: May 31st 2017
Number of Pages: 296
ASIN: B071LFD6JV
Series: A Resort to Murder Mystery, 1
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Kindle Unlimited  | Goodreads 


Read an excerpt:




Today everything in my life changed.

I’m the events coordinator and membership manager, in training that is, at a five star resort in Colorado. Some days, like today, it feels like I was sacrificed to some sadistic little idol somewhere. Coordination of conferences and meetings of all sizes in the resort’s convention center facility was part of my training. But this particular event, a Leadership Luncheon that brought together the town’s community leaders to network, was a challenge from the first minutes this morning.

“Julienne, this event must be executed with precision and perfection.” Those are the favorite words of my boss, Chad. This particular event is a daylong exercise in patience.

Every job has its great parts and it’s not so great. Today encompassed one of the more unpleasant aspects of my job. Occasionally, okay usually, the hardest part of my job is the customer relations and today was particularly difficult. Some customers just can’t be satisfied and some events are riddled with issues.

We were only serving a modest seventy-five attendees, but I had already been assailed with special requests and numerous complaints. Picky doesn’t begin to cover it.

“How hard would it be to setup for a video presentation with a large screen and surround sound?”

“There are windows. It’s too distracting, people will be watching the hotel guests walking around.”

“Can we change the setup of room C from an L configuration to a U shape? But only for that one session, then move it back.”

“Can we get the Lobster for the buffet flown in that morning? Scallops are out….Can we have the scallops after all?”

“Music piped in during the breaks?”

“No music piped in at all.”

“Red tablecloths with white napkins.”

“Royal blue tablecloths with white napkins.”

“White tablecloths with yellow napkins.”

“Candles on mirrors for lunch centerpieces.”

“Fresh flowers for centerpieces.”

The changes continued even after the event started.

The Convention Center, with its classic European décor had a small lobby area with a few potted trees and plants on column stands. The rest extended down a hallway with two large areas on each side that could be divided into smaller rooms via partitions that extend from the walls as needed. The space could be up to eight small rooms, four on each side, or any combination from one to four rooms per side of the hallway.

The hallway was wide with several half-circle console tables including marble tops holding large dried floral arrangements and a few elegant chairs. The walls displayed large paintings of the Italian countryside and vineyards with carved gold gilt frames.

I was in a partitioned room overseeing the set up of the lunch buffet. The Italian Renaissance architecture was accentuated with interior details and décor that created a European elegance, all lit with the warm glow of a massive amber glass chandelier.

The room was a rectangle with the entrance from the hallway to one end and the door to the catering staging area at the opposite end. The buffet table was along the wall next to the staging door so wait staff could easy restock food items. The six-person round tables covered in rich golden linens were scattered strategically throughout the room to allow easy traffic flow. The thick carpet felt plush and cloud-like under foot.

I was surveying the buffet table with a critical eye. The five foot long ice sculpture of a swordfish occupied the center of the table and looked as though it was caught in mid leap, frolicking in a wave and ready to dive back into an unseen ocean. My stomach growled as the succulent smells of seafood teased my nose. The attendees would be returning to this room for their lunch and keynote speaker shortly.

“Brad, where are the crab leg metal crackers and little forks? Can you grab a few dozen and bring them right away?” Brad, slim and serious, had joined the team only two months ago and was picking up extra hours at every opportunity. He had asked to work this event as soon as I blocked out the time on the schedule. This would give him a good paycheck. He was lanky and took off with an easy loping stride to the staging area through the back door.

The door to the staging area had barely closed when I felt a hand grab hold of my derriere with an iron hard grip.

“This is more like it honey. I haven’t had any fun today.”

I whirled around and stumbled back. “Don’t touch the staff. That includes me Pastor Tom.” I practically shouted. Pastor Tom Drake was well known around town, and getting national attention lately with his mega church. He was included in the luncheon due to his influence, but he was just Pastor Tom since he was a local guy who started his church and radio ministry from his garage.

I had contended with bad behavior before, but never this grabby. I think I was going to have a bruise left from his vicious hand.

“You’re not being very fri…friendly.” I noticed his eyes were droopy and then I caught a whiff of the scotch he must have gotten at the Gilded Hornet pub next to the convention center building.

I decided to alert security we needed a person to monitor the rest of the event and turned to go. His iron hand grabbed hold of my arm and yanked me to him. Without a thought I took my knee to his groin and enjoyed watching his mouth form an “O” as his breath whooshed out. I broke free and backed away. I wasn’t turning my back on him again.

“I will see you fired for that you bitch.” He whispered with a jagged voice.

He couldn’t do that, at least I was pretty sure he couldn’t. I guess I’d find out. I rubbed my still smarting arm where he grabbed it. Brad would be back or the event participants would start to wander in so he couldn’t do much more, but I didn’t want to stay and find out. I backed out the door to the hallway toward the lobby and took my cell phone from my pants pocket.

“Hey Ron, we have a person under the influence at the luncheon in Convention Center. Can you spare someone for the afternoon?”

“I’ll make sure somebody’s there immediately Julienne. How bad is this guy?”

“Well, I’ll probably have a black-and-blue handprint on my arm and …my backside.” I took a deep breath.

“Son of a … I’ll be right there. You stay away from him.” Like I would go near that Neanderthal again, pastor or not.

The other participants were starting to exit the smaller break out session rooms and meander to the banquet room and bathrooms. The noise level began to creep upward from multiple conversations competing to be heard.

There was a loud crash of metal from the banquet room and a participant jerked open the door and froze in place. “Oh sh…” The participant’s mouth gaped and his eyes were large circles.

I ran over to the open door and saw Pastor Tom impaled through the chest with the sharp end of the Swordfish ice sculpture, from his back right through to the front. His head was forward against his chest. Blood, running down the swordfish tip that jutted from his chest, dripping to the carpet. Drip, drip, drip in a macabre but surreal scene.

***

Excerpt from Iced by Avery Daniels.  Copyright © 2017 by Avery Daniels. Reproduced with permission from Avery Daniels. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:


Avery Daniels

Avery Daniels was born and raised in Colorado, graduated from college with a degree in business administration and has worked in fortune 500 companies and Department of Defense her entire life. Her most eventful job was apartment management for 352 units. She still resides in Colorado with two brother black cats as her spirited companions. She volunteers for a cat shelter, enjoys scrapbooking and card making, photography, and painting in watercolor and acrylic. She inherited a love for reading from her mother and grandmother and grew up talking about books at the dinner table.


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Website , Goodreads , Twitter , & Facebook !




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Catch This Awesome Giveaway!


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Avery Daniels. There will be 1 winner of a $15 Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Iced by Avery Daniels. The giveaway begins on June 18 and runs through June 26, 2017.


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Book Blast: AZRAEL by M.T. Ellis

Azrael by M.T. Ellis Book Blast


Azrael

by M.T. Ellis

May 9, 2017 Book Blast



Azrael by M.T. Ellis

Synopsis:



Emily thought her ordeal was over after she escaped a brutal kidnapping. She’s wrong. He’s coming for her again.


The body Detective Rose is looking at bears a striking resemblance to Emily, a woman who survived a horrific, sexually motivated abduction five years ago. Her fear is confirmed when Emily goes missing again. When another woman, Grace, is abducted, Detective Rose finds herself doubting the instincts that tell her the disappearance is the result of intimate partner violence. She connects the cases and recruits Grace’s partner, Ethan, to help in the search. Together they must find Grace and Emily before it’s too late.





Book Details:


Genre: Crime, Thriller
Published by: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 30th 2017
Number of Pages: 345
ISBN: 0648043800 (ISBN13: 9780648043805)
Purchase Links: Amazon Goodreads



Read an excerpt:

[Mild profanity alert.]

Prologue


“I think I must have scared the shit out of her,” Azrael joked to himself as he opened the van door and smelt the stench coming from the dark brown stain on the back of the girl’s jeans. He laughed, even though he couldn’t be sure if she had defecated from fear or because she lost control of her bowels from his accidental overuse of the stun gun. He’d only needed to hit the woman for a second or two to disable her, but his nerves got the better of him, and he kept shocking her for a good thirty seconds, just to be sure. He could smell burning flesh as he picked up the woman and dumped her in the van. This was his first abduction, and so far the plan was working.

Azrael looked at his victim lying face down on the floor of his white Toyota HiAce. Conveniently, the commercial van had no back seats, and all of the windows were painted white when it was manufactured. As long as the police didn’t pull him over, and she didn’t wake up, no one would be able to see the sprawled petite twenty-something brunette. He wondered whether, when he bought this van five years ago, he had subconsciously known he would end up using it for this type of adventure.

He had picked up the girl from the university grounds around the corner from his house. It was luck, really. He’d been driving past and saw the woman walking by herself, and since there was no one around, Azrael went in for the kill, so to speak.

There had been no traffic nearby when he drove past the woman the first time, or when he doubled back. He stopped and asked her for directions. She leaned into the window to answer him, and a short squeak came out of her mouth as she was hit on the side of the neck with the stun gun. The woman silently convulsed and then dropped to the ground, whimpering in the fetal position and twitching occasionally. Azrael whistled as he casually got out, walked around, and opened the side door. “In you go, love,” he said as he picked her up and dumped her onto the floor of the van.

He drove around town, looking for a place to take her. He couldn’t take her to his one-bedroom apartment. If the neighbours didn’t see him carry her in, they’d certainly notice when he took her out again. He’d have to cut her up so she’d fit in the wheelie bin outside, but the bins were only collected on Mondays, and since it was Tuesday she’d have to sit around for a week. At the very least, he was sure the seventy-year-old woman who lived in the apartment next to him would be nosey enough to rummage through garbage to find out where an offensive smell was coming from.

Azrael decided to take his victim out to The Common, thousands of acres of City Council-owned bushland about an hour from his apartment. Burnt-out cars were regularly found dumped there. Kids often stole them to go bush-bashing, setting them on fire when they were done. By the time he got there it was nearly 7:00 p.m. Luckily it was spring, so the weather was warm enough for him to wear shorts, a t-shirt, and dirty old Converse sneakers. Springtime also meant the sun went down at about six, so it was dark by the time he got there. The moon was full, so Azrael had no problems seeing where he was going when he turned his lights off. As he drove through the bushland he was happy to note there were no cars on fire tonight. This meant there would be no unexpected interruptions from the local fire brigade.

He settled on a location a few kilometres into the property, where he figured he’d be most hidden. He shut off the van and listened. All he could hear were cicadas clicking outside his window and some muffled whimpers from the back of the van. Ooh, she’s awake, Azrael thought excitedly. He stepped out of the van and looked back towards the clearing he had just driven through. The van was concealed well enough by the dense scrub. He leaned back into the driver’s door to grab the map from the dash and to turn on the light above the rear-view mirror. We are here, he thought as he pointed at the middle of the map. If we go by foot into the bush a few hundred metres, no one will find her.

Azrael walked around the front of the van to the passenger door and pulled out a small backpack that was stuffed underneath the seat. He had been planning this for weeks and had hidden the bag, which contained a hunting knife, zip ties, blue latex gloves, and various other items he might need on his adventure. He took out three zip ties and looped them together to make a chain. He would put an outer ring around each of his victim’s wrists and tighten them to make handcuffs. Azrael put on the latex gloves and zipped up the backpack then shut the driver’s door and pulled the bag onto his back.


As he opened the side door, the woman started to stir. He quickly dragged her towards him by the leg and turned her over onto her stomach. He pulled both of her arms behind her as he attached the makeshift handcuffs.

“Let go of me,” the woman shrieked once she realised what was happening.

“You didn’t have to shit yourself, madam,” he said in his husky voice. “I’m not that scary.”

“W-who, who are you?” she stammered. “What do you want from me?”

“Never mind who I am. You and I are going to have some fun out here tonight,” he said playfully as he dragged the woman by her upper arm out of the van and onto the ground. She landed with a thud. She screamed as he yanked her up onto her feet. “Stand up and start walking. Don’t bother screaming — no one can hear you.”

About ten minutes later, Azrael had pushed her, kicking and screaming, farther into the bushes. Once they had reached a suitable location, he kicked the woman’s feet out from underneath her. She crumpled in a heap on the ground and sobbed, “Please don’t hurt me.” He unhooked one arm of his backpack, twisted the bag around in front of him, and took out the hunting knife. The blade was about thirty centimetres long, and when the woman saw the moonlight gleaming on it, she lost it and started shrieking hysterically.

Azrael became impatient with her screaming and yelled, “Shut up,” before kicking her in the face. The woman stopped screaming, and he could see her right eye already starting to swell. She lay with tears silently streaming down her face. He slid the backpack off his arm and dumped it onto the ground beside her, then bent down and pushed the girl onto her back, crushing her hands, which were still bound behind her. He took the knife and held it to the girl’s throat, putting just enough pressure on it to make a small cut. “Are you going to behave yourself?” he asked as he watched blood trickle in a thin red line just below her ear.

When she didn’t answer, Azrael knelt down beside her and slowly used the knife to cut her white singlet. She shivered as he cut each strap just above her shoulder and again as he made a single long slash down the right side of the singlet. He pulled the top out from underneath her, scrunched it up, and put it to his nose. He breathed in the scent of her berry body wash and became aroused. He crawled over her until he was straddling her upper thighs. He was still holding the knife in his right hand but didn’t have any trouble using it to steady himself as he put his hands down on the ground on either side of her shoulders to keep his balance. He leaned in to rub his face on her chest and let his lips rest between her breasts. She recoiled from his touch, and he could feel the friction from his five o’clock shadow scratching at her skin like razors. Suddenly, he turned his head to the right a little and bit down on her breast, just above where her lacy white bra was covering her nipple. He twisted his head and tore away a small chunk of flesh. She let out a blood-curdling scream and started to buck fiercely beneath him.

He sat up and looked down at the bite-sized hole in the woman’s breast. He followed the blood trail down her stomach, onto his groin, and up the front of his shirt. He started to chew on the chunk of tissue, savouring the taste. Just as he moved his knife hand towards his face, so he could wipe away the blood dripping from his mouth with the back of his hand, the girl bucked her hips up and knocked him off sideways. She raised her right leg up to her chest and kicked him in the stomach, which forced him off her. The shock of the woman’s defence made Azrael gasp. It rammed the piece of flesh he had bitten off towards the back of his throat, and he started to choke.

He dropped the knife, lay on his side, and clutched at his neck. The woman used this second of freedom to clamber to her feet and run away through the trees. By the time she had taken her first step, Azrael had coughed hard enough to dislodge the flesh from his throat and spat it onto the ground. He grunted as he got to his feet and gave chase.

*

He’s coming. Emily found it impossible to avoid branches whipping her in the face as she ran with her hands still cable-tied behind her. She had only been running for a few seconds before she could hear her attacker’s breaths behind her. Run! He can’t catch you, she thought urgently. Fear gripped her, and she moved faster than she had ever run before. There was a sharp sting in her wrists as he grabbed the centre of the zip-tie chain that was holding her arms together and yanked her backwards. She was pulled into the air, and just as she thought her shoulders would pop out of their sockets, the middle zip tie snapped. Her arms flew out to her sides just in time for her to land with a thump on her back. Her attacker tripped, fell forward on top of her, and knocked the wind out of her. They both lay for a second, his head near her feet, gasping for breath.

“Gotcha, you little bitch,” he said breathlessly.

His weight crushed the air out of her lungs. Pain seared through her limbs, one by one, as he pressed down on them while he turned his body around until he straddled her again. Then his strong hands were on her throat. She could feel his wild eyes burn into her soul as he started to squeeze the life out of her. She coughed and choked as she struggled underneath him. Emily scratched desperately at his hands. He wouldn’t let go. She reached out in search of anything that could help her and found a rock the size of her hand. She stretched out her arm and tried to grab it with her fingertips but couldn’t get it into her grasp. She had just started to feel light-headed from the lack of oxygen from the short, quick breaths she took when her attacker readjusted his grip. Come on, you can’t die out here. Not like this, she thought as she tried once more to pick up the rock.

Emily stretched her whole body as far as it could go and rolled the rock towards herself with her fingertips. She eventually got it close enough to pick up. She grabbed the rock in her right hand and beat him repeatedly in the temple. She felt her attacker’s warm blood trickle down her arm as he lost consciousness. His full weight fell on top of her as she strained to get out from underneath him. Emily grunted as she pushed him off her and slowly got to her feet. She stood there for a few seconds, bent over with her hands resting on her knees, and tried to catch her breath. In between gasps, she saw her attacker start to stir. Emily stood up immediately and started to run through the dark bushes.

*

Azrael woke to a pounding inside his head. The left side of his face felt hot and swollen. When he touched his temple, he could feel the warm blood oozing through his gloved fingers. Shit, he thought as he started to get up.

Where’d the little bitch get to? He was dizzy as he got to his feet and had to stand still for nearly a minute to get his bearings. Once the nausea subsided, he looked around in the moonlight to find the girl’s trail. He noticed some flattened and broken branches on a bush in front of him and figured she must have damaged them as she took off. He started to follow the trail.

*

Emily wandered hysterically. She ran into bushes and tripped over roots for what seemed like hours. She eventually collapsed, exhausted; she couldn’t stop sobbing. Once on the ground, she thought, Slow, deep breaths. Calm down, he can’t find you. You are going to be okay. She looked around for a bush or a fallen tree to hide behind until daylight, when she hoped she’d be able to find her way out of the maze of trees and scrub.

She crawled on her hands and knees for another ten minutes and then unexpectedly heard something in the distance. Her heart fluttered as she tried to keep down the rising panic. She kept low to the ground as she crept slowly towards the noises and hid behind a cluster of bushes.

While keeping concealed, she poked her head out from behind a bush and listened intently. She heard laughter and the sound of empty beer cans clinking as they were thrown to the ground. Her stomach lurched as she saw a group of teenagers in the shadows. She crept over to some bushes nearer to them to get a better look. There must be six of them, four boys and two girls, standing around an old red V8 Commodore. Judging by the smashed rear quarter glass, it was stolen. She peeked through the scrub and saw two more later model Commodores sitting back a few hundred metres. Suddenly a fireball erupted around the stolen car, and they all started running towards the getaway cars. Shit, they’re leaving! I have to get their attention, she thought as she ran out of the bushes, directly towards the group. “Help me!” she shrieked. “Help me, I’ve been abducted, let me come with you!”

She was a horrid sight: blood poured from cuts to her face, neck, and chest. Bruises had formed on her eye, cheek, and wrists. She was wearing only her stained jeans and bra, with no shoes, and was covered in dirt and clotting blood. Her wrists still had zip ties around them, and her hair was full of leaves and clumps of dirt. The teenagers didn’t hear her, and by the time she had gotten to the burning car, they were in their getaway cars with the engines running. She ran towards the closest Commodore. The driver had just turned on its headlights, and it started to turn away from the burning car.

Suddenly, the Commodore’s headlights swept back in her direction. The car stopped as if it was trying to figure out whether what it was seeing was real. It slowly started moving towards her. The car stopped about ten metres away, and a blonde guy with a southern cross tattoo down one leg got out of the passenger side and came over to her. “Are you okay? Who are you?” the boy asked. He could not have been more than seventeen.

“Please take me with you, he’s coming!” Emily screamed as she limped towards him. “Please.”

The boy looked frightened as he stared wildly around. He focused back on her and said, “Quick, get in the car!”

*

“Fuck!” Azrael yelled. Exhausted from running, he stopped and gathered his wits. I’m never going to find her, he thought after searching for what seemed like an eternity. He looked down at the torn and bloodied latex gloves on his hands and thought, Fuck this shit, I’m out of here. He turned around and headed back towards the van.

As Azrael got to the van, he saw an orange glow from the top of some trees a few kilometres away. Great, the Firies will be here soon. Just what I need. About twenty minutes later, as he pulled onto the main road after leaving the gates, Azrael saw three fire trucks with sirens and lights blaring turn off into The Common.




Excerpt from Azrael by M.T. Ellis.  Copyright © 2017 by M.T. Ellis. Reproduced with permission from M.T. Ellis. All rights reserved.




Author Bio:


M.T. Ellis

M.T. Ellis is a Brisbane-based author. She got kicked out of high school in year 11 for non-attendance. She then went on to attempt a Business Management degree at University, but dropped out half-way through. Despite these failures, she managed to get a job and is currently driving boats for a living.
Her dogs, Opal and Zeus, occupy a lot of her time. She would write books about their adventures if she thought people were even half as interested in them as she is.
M.T. Ellis is currently working on the second novel in her Detective Allira Rose series.


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Pistols and Petticoats

175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction

by Erika Janik

March 2nd 2017 Book Blast




Synopsis:



Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik

A lively exploration of the struggles faced by women in law enforcement and mystery fiction for the past 175 years


In 1910, Alice Wells took the oath to join the all-male Los Angeles Police Department. She wore no uniform, carried no weapon, and kept her badge stuffed in her pocketbook. She wasn’t the first or only policewoman, but she became the movement’s most visible voice.

Police work from its very beginning was considered a male domain, far too dangerous and rough for a respectable woman to even contemplate doing, much less take on as a profession. A policewoman worked outside the home, walking dangerous city streets late at night to confront burglars, drunks, scam artists, and prostitutes. To solve crimes, she observed, collected evidence, and used reason and logic—traits typically associated with men. And most controversially of all, she had a purpose separate from her husband, children, and home. Women who donned the badge faced harassment and discrimination. It would take more than seventy years for women to enter the force as full-fledged officers.

Yet within the covers of popular fiction, women not only wrote mysteries but also created female characters that handily solved crimes. Smart, independent, and courageous, these nineteenth- and early twentieth-century female sleuths (including a healthy number created by male writers) set the stage for Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski, Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, as well as TV detectives such as Prime Suspect‘s Jane Tennison and Law and Order‘s Olivia Benson. The authors were not amateurs dabbling in detection but professional writers who helped define the genre and competed with men, often to greater success.

Pistols and Petticoats tells the story of women’s very early place in crime fiction and their public crusade to transform policing. Whether real or fictional, investigating women were nearly always at odds with society. Most women refused to let that stop them, paving the way to a modern professional life for women on the force and in popular culture.



Book Details:


Genre: Mystery, NonFiction, History
Published by: Beacon Press
Publication Date: February 28th 2017 (1st Published April 26th 2016)
Number of Pages: 248
ISBN: 0807039381 (ISBN13: 9780807039380)
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 


Read an excerpt:



With high heels clicking across the hardwood floors, the diminutive woman from Chicago strode into the headquarters of the New York City police. It was 1922. Few respectable women would enter such a place alone, let alone one wearing a fashionable Paris gown, a feathered hat atop her brown bob, glistening pearls, and lace stockings.

But Alice Clement was no ordinary woman.

Unaware of—or simply not caring about—the commotion her presence caused, Clement walked straight into the office of Commissioner Carleton Simon and announced, “I’ve come to take Stella Myers back to Chicago.”

The commissioner gasped, “She’s desperate!”

Stella Myers was no ordinary crook. The dark-haired thief had outwitted policemen and eluded capture in several states.

Unfazed by Simon’s shocked expression, the well-dressed woman withdrew a set of handcuffs, ankle bracelets, and a “wicked looking gun” from her handbag.

“I’ve come prepared.”

Holding up her handcuffs, Clement stated calmly, “These go on her and we don’t sleep until I’ve locked her up in Chicago.” True to her word, Clement delivered Myers to her Chicago cell.

Alice Clement was hailed as Chicago’s “female Sherlock Holmes,” known for her skills in detection as well as for clearing the city of fortune-tellers, capturing shoplifters, foiling pickpockets, and rescuing girls from the clutches of prostitution. Her uncanny ability to remember faces and her flair for masquerade—”a different disguise every day”—allowed her to rack up one thousand arrests in a single year. She was bold and sassy, unafraid to take on any masher, con artist, or scalawag from the city’s underworld.

Her headline-grabbing arrests and head-turning wardrobe made Clement seem like a character straight from Central Casting. But Alice Clement was not only real; she was also a detective sergeant first grade of the Chicago Police Department.

Clement entered the police force in 1913, riding the wave of media sensation that greeted the hiring of ten policewomen in Chicago. Born in Milwaukee to German immigrant parents in 1878, Clement was unafraid to stand up for herself. She advocated for women’s rights and the repeal of Prohibition. She sued her first husband, Leonard Clement, for divorce on the grounds of desertion and intemperance at a time when women rarely initiated—or won—such dissolutions. Four years later, she married barber Albert L. Faubel in a secret ceremony performed by a female pastor.

It’s not clear why the then thirty-five-year-old, five-foot-three Clement decided to join the force, but she relished the job. She made dramatic arrests—made all the more so by her flamboyant dress— and became the darling of reporters seeking sensational tales of corruption and vice for the morning papers. Dark-haired and attractive, Clement seemed to confound reporters, who couldn’t believe she was old enough to have a daughter much less, a few years later, a granddaughter. “Grandmother Good Detective” read one headline.

She burnished her reputation in a high-profile crusade to root out fortune-tellers preying on the naive. Donning a different disguise every day, Clement had her fortune told more than five hundred times as she gathered evidence to shut down the trade. “Hats are the most important,” she explained, describing her method. “Large and small, light and dark and of vivid hue, floppy brimmed and tailored, there is nothing that alters a woman’s appearance more than a change in headgear.”

Clement also had no truck with flirts. When a man attempted to seduce her at a movie theater, she threatened to arrest him. He thought she was joking and continued his flirtations, but hers was no idle threat. Clement pulled out her blackjack and clubbed him over the head before yanking him out of the theater and dragging him down the street to the station house. When he appeared in court a few days later, the man confessed that he had been cured of flirting. Not every case went Clement’s way, though. The jury acquitted the man, winning the applause of the judge who was no great fan of Clement or her theatrics.

One person who did manage to outwit Clement was her own daughter, Ruth. Preventing hasty marriages fell under Clement’s duties, and she tracked down lovelorn young couples before they could reach the minister. The Chicago Daily Tribune called her the “Nemesis of elopers” for her success and familiarity with everyone involved in the business of matrimony in Chicago. None of this deterred twenty-year-old Ruth Clement, however, who hoped to marry Navy man Charles C. Marrow, even though her mother insisted they couldn’t be married until Marrow finished his time in service in Florida. Ruth did not want to wait, and when Marrow came to visit, the two tied the knot at a minister’s home without telling Clement. When Clement discovered a Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Marrow registered at the Chicago hotel supposedly housing Marrow alone, she was furious and threatened to arrest her new son-in-law for flouting her wishes. Her anger cooled, however, and Clement soon welcomed the newlyweds into her home.

Between arrests and undercover operations, Clement wrote, produced, and starred in a movie called Dregs of the City, in 1920. She hoped her movie would “deliver a moral message to the world” and “warn young girls of the pitfalls of a great city.” In the film, Clement portrayed herself as a master detective charged with finding a young rural girl who, at the urging of a Chicago huckster, had fled the farm for the city lights and gotten lost in “one of the more unhallowed of the south side cabarets.” The girl’s father came to Clement anegged her to rescue his innocent daughter from the “dregs” of the film’s title. Clement wasn’t the only officer-turned-actor in the film. Chicago police chiefs James L. Mooney and John J. Garrity also had starring roles. Together, the threesome battered “down doors with axes and interrupt[ed] the cogitations of countless devotees of hashish, bhang and opium.” The Chicago Daily Tribune praised Garrity’s acting and his onscreen uniform for its “faultless cut.”

The film created a sensation, particularly after Chicago’s movie censor board, which fell under the oversight of the police department, condemned the movie as immoral. “The picture shall never be shown in Chicago. It’s not even interesting,” read the ruling. “Many of the actors are hams and it doesn’t get anywhere.” Despite several appeals, Clement was unable to convince the censors to allow Dregs of the City to be shown within city limits. She remained undeterred by the decision. “They think they’ve given me a black eye, but they haven’t. I’ll show it anyway,” she declared as she left the hearing, tossing the bouquet of roses she’d been given against the window.

When the cruise ship Eastland rolled over in the Chicago River on July 24, 1915, Clement splashed into the water to assist in the rescue of the pleasure boaters, presumably, given her record, wearing heels and a designer gown. More than eight hundred people would die that day, the greatest maritime disaster in Great Lakes history. For her services in the Eastland disaster, Clement received a gold “coroner’s star” from the Cook County coroner in a quiet ceremony in January of 1916.

Clement’s exploits and personality certainly drew attention, but any woman would: a female crime fighter made for good copy and eye-catching photos. Unaccustomed to seeing women wielding any kind of authority, the public found female officers an entertaining—and sometimes ridiculous—curiosity.


Excerpt from Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction by Erika Janik.  Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Beacon Press. Reproduced with permission from Beacon Press. All rights reserved.




Readers Are Loving Pistols and Petticoats!



Check out this awesome article in Time Magazine!

“Erika Janik does a fine job tracing the history of women in police work while at the same time describing the role of females in crime fiction. The outcome, with a memorable gallery of characters, is a rich look at the ways in which fact and fiction overlap, reflecting the society surrounding them. A treat for fans of the mystery—and who isn’t?” ~  Katherine Hall Page, Agatha Award–winning author of The Body in the Belfry and The Body in the Snowdrift

“A fascinating mix of the history of early policewomen and their role in crime fiction—positions that were then, and, to some extent even now, in conflict with societal expectations.” ~ Library Journal

“An entertaining history of women’s daring, defiant life choices.” ~ Kirkus Reviews


Author Bio:



author

Erika Janik is an award-winning writer, historian, and the executive producer of Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio. She’s the author of five previous books, including Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.


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Book Blast: REVEALING NICOLA by Sam Cheever

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Revealing Nicola

by Sam Cheever

February 21, 2017 Book Blast



Revealing Nicola by Sam Cheever

Synopsis:



She has to overcome a lifetime of secrets…the shock of discovery.

He must protect a treasure that has turned passion to hate…reason to incoherence.

Poisoned by danger, intrigue, lust, and greed…their very survival is in the balance.

Can they endure the conspiracy and find love? And if they do…will it be enough?




Book Details:


Genre:Romantic Suspense, Thriller
Published by: Electric Prose Publications
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Number of Pages: 183
ISBN: 978-1-63587-971-1
Series: La Fortuna DeVitis #1
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | iTunes  | Goodreads 


Read an excerpt:



A coughing sound engaged Franco’s training and he had her on the ground beneath him before the second shot was fired.

The roast chicken exploded, sending shredded meat across the table and raining over them.

Nici’s eyes were wide with fear. “What?”

“Stay down. Don’t move.”

He crawled off her, reaching for his piece as he positioned himself between the car and the table. From the trajectory of the shots, Franco figured the shooter had gone high, probably sitting in a tree to the south of their position. If Nic stayed down on the ground between the table and the Jeep she should be out of his range. But he had no intention of leaving her there.

He needed to get her into the car and out of that park as fast as he could.

Another shot sighed past, hitting the side of the car. Behind him, Nic yelped and he was afraid she’d been hit. “You all right?”

“Other than peeing myself? I’m just dandy. You need to get down, Franco. You’re going to get shot.”

He couldn’t help smiling as his gaze slid slowly along the perimeter. “I’m the bodyguard, remember? I’m the one who’s supposed to get shot.”

“Don’t even joke about that.”

There! A dark form shifted between the branches of a tree, seventy-five yards away. Franco dived to the ground as three rounds peppered the table, spewing food in a messy arc around them. “Damn! This guy’s good.”

“Well yeah, I can see he’s really pissed off at that potato salad.”

Franco barked out a laugh. “Keep it down back there. I’m trying to concentrate.”

“Well can you hurry? I really do have to pee and I’m thinking you don’t want me to squat right here.”

The words were light but her voice quavered with fear. He nodded. “You’re right. Let’s quit screwing around with these jerks. When I say ‘go’, I want you to roll over to the car and slide underneath it. Move as quickly as you can to the other side and climb in. Keep your head down.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll be right behind you.”

“Okay.”

Franco lifted his head so he could see the guy in the tree. He hadn’t moved. He scanned the roads around the park and saw they were empty. Then he checked his magazine and found it half full. Hopefully it would be enough because his spare ammo was in the canvas bag in the back of the Jeep. He’d beat himself up for his carelessness later. At the moment he had bigger problems.

The SUV he’d seen driving past had pulled into position on the opposite side of the park, pinning them in.

“Franco?”

He slid back down, assessing his options. “No good. They’ve got the other side of the car covered now.”

She sighed so long and hard he glanced her way. She was glaring at him. “I told you I needed my gun.”

He shook his head, thinking fast. There had to be some way… Franco shoved at the picnic table but it was bolted down. Too bad, he thought, it would have made a good shield while they climbed into the car. His gaze caught on the trash can beside the table. It was metal, hopefully filled with a nice depth of neutralizing trash. It wasn’t much but it was the best chance they had. “Okay, new plan. I’m going to lay down cover fire while you climb into the Jeep on this side. Lie down on the floor in the back.”

“Then how are you going to get in?”

“I’m going to use that trash can as a shield.”

Silence met his statement. “While shooting, opening the car door, and driving away?”

“I didn’t say it was a good plan.”

“Here’s a better one. Give me the gun. I’ll provide cover while you grab the can and we can both use it to get into the car.”

“Not a chance.”

“Dammit, Franco! What’s the point in my having all this self-defense training if nobody will let me use it?”

“That’s a last ditch plan.”

“This is about as last ditch as it gets, homey.”

He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I just gained new respect for your brother. If I was him I’d have introduced you to the nuclear wedgie at an early age.”

“Give me the gun, Franco.”

He would have liked to blow a hole in her plan. Unfortunately it was better than his. Dammit! “Okay. But try not to shoot me with it.”

She took the gun, ejected the mag like an expert, checked the rounds and slammed it back home. Then she sat up and slid across the grass to the table, peering over it. “That’s the shooter up there?”

“Yeah. You won’t be able to hit him but…”

Nic settled the muzzle of the gun onto the table and closed one eye.

“You shouldn’t close your eye…”

“Shut up, this works for me.”

“Okay, whatever, shoot the bad guy in the tree. Not the good guy sprinting toward the can. Got it?”

“Shoot the mouthy bodynapper with the can and gain myself some peace and quiet. Got it.”

“Lord help me.”

“Just go already, before these guys get restless.”

Right on cue, the Jeep jerked under a fresh round of bullets from the SUV. Franco glanced over the hood and saw that they were on the move. “The SUV’s coming on. We’ve got to do this now.”

“That’s what I said,” Nic murmured. She fired into the tree and Franco took off running.

Several more rounds sizzled through the air as he threw himself to the ground behind the can, some of them heading for him.

The can jerked under a couple of rounds, one of which went in high and passed straight through. There was a yelp behind him. Panic flared. “Nic?”

“I’m fine. He just stomped on my last nerve.”

Franco grabbed the can and hunkered behind it as a fresh round of bullets slammed through the air toward the shooter in the tree. There was a yelp and a rifle pinwheeled through the air to the ground, followed by the darkly clad shooter.

“Well, damn.”

“Lose the can, Martin. Here come the bad guys.”

She opened the door and threw herself inside as the SUV barreled toward them, a gun sticking out of the front passenger side window. Franco flung himself into the Jeep, trying to keep low as he clambered into the driver’s seat, and turned the key, gunning it forward as soon as the engine caught. Bullets continued to ping off the metal sides and back. A back window shattered and glass sprayed over them.

Franco headed for a copse of massive evergreens, figuring the guys in the SUV would have a harder time hitting them with a bunch of trees around. They slipped under the drooping branches and the shower of bullets stopped as they barreled across a thick carpet of dried needles. The sharp tang of evergreen filled the car as he took a turn on two wheels and headed toward the back of the park, keeping sight of the SUV driving alongside the thicket. The big car was managing to stay even with them and the occasional tree trunk exploded under a wayward bullet.

Nici’s head popped up.

“Stay down.”

“Hit the street, there’s a delivery truck backing out of that driveway there.”

She was right. If they could tuck in behind the truck…

“Hold on!” He jerked the wheel hard right and the passenger side door squealed as it scraped along a row of trunks with prickly branches. They emerged from the evergreen copse and hit a sidewalk, heading straight for a hydrant.

“Franco!”

He jumped as she squealed. “Stop that! You scared the crap out of me.” He jerked the wheel and the car missed the hydrant by inches, heading for a fat gray squirrel holding an acorn, its shiny brown eyes wide.

“Franco!”

“Oh for god sakes!” He jerked the wheel again, barely missing the stupid rodent, and they dropped with a bang of tortured suspension into the street just as the boxy white truck started toward the intersection. Franco tucked the Jeep in on the opposite side of it, blocking them from the SUV’s view, and took the first turn into a large subdivision as the truck lumbered on down the street.

A few quick turns later brought them out of the subdivision and Franco headed for the highway, the SUV nowhere in sight.


Excerpt from Revealing Nicola by Sam Cheever.  
Copyright © 2017 by Sam Cheever. 
Reproduced with permission from Sam Cheever. 
All rights reserved.




Author Bio:


Sam Cheever

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.


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Book Blast: WAR HAWK by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

War Hawk

by James Rollins & Grant Blackwood

January 10, 2017 Book Blast

on Tour February 13 – 28, 2017




Synopsis:

War Hawk by James Rollins

Former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his war dog Kane are thrust into a global conspiracy in this second Sigma Force spinoff adventure from #1 New York Times bestselling author James Rollins and Grant Blackwood.

Tucker Wayne’s past and present collide when a former army colleague comes to him for help. She’s on the run from brutal assassins hunting her and her son. To keep them safe, Tucker must discover who killed a brilliant young idealist-a crime that leads back to the most powerful figures in the U.S. government.

From the haunted swamplands of the deep South to the beachheads of a savage civil war in Trinidad, Tucker and his beloved war dog, Kane, must work together to discover the truth behind a mystery that dates back to World War II, involving the genius of a young code-breaker, Alan Turing…

They will be forced to break the law, expose national secrets, and risk everything to stop a madman determined to control the future of modern warfare for his own diabolical ends. But can Tucker and Kane withstand a force so indomitable that it threatens our future?


Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date:December 27th 2016 (first published April 19th 2016)
Number of Pages: 544
ISBN: 0062135295 (ISBN13: 9780062135292)
Series: Tucker Wayne #2
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 



Read an excerpt:


Prologue


Spring 1940

Buckinghamshire, England

Few in the Abwehr’s military intelligence knew his true name or even his intent here on British soil. The spy went by the code name Geist, the German word for ghost, and for him failure was not an option.

He lay on his stomach in a muddy ditch, with ice-encrusted cattails stabbing at his face. He ignored the midnight cold, the frigid gusts of breezes, the ache of his frozen joints. Instead, he concentrated on the view through the binoculars fixed to his face.

He and his assigned team lay alongside the banks of a small lake. A hundred yards off, on the opposite shore, a row of stately rural mansions sat dark, brightened here and there by the rare sliver of yellow light peeking through blackout curtains. Still, he spotted rolls of barbed wire mounted atop the garden walls of one particular estate.

Bletchley Park.

The place also went by a code name:  Station X.

The seemingly nondescript country house masked an operation run by British intelligence, a joint effort by MI6 and the Government Code and Cypher School. In a series of wooden huts set up on those idyllic acres, the Allied forces had gathered the greatest mathematicians and cryptographers from around the globe, including one man, Alan Turing, who was decades ahead of his peers. Station X’s goal was to break the German military’s Enigma code, using tools built by the geniuses here. The group had already succeeded in building an electromechanical decrypting device called The Bombe, and rumors abounded about a new project already under way, to build Colossus, the world’s first programmable electric computer.

But destroying such devices was not his goal this night.

Hidden upon those grounds was a prize beyond anything his superiors could imagine:  a breakthrough that held the potential to change the very fate of the world.

And I will possess it—or die trying.

Geist felt his heart quicken.

To his left, his second in command, Lieutenant Hoffman, pulled the collar of his jacket tighter around his neck as an icy rain began to fall. He shifted, cursing his complaint. “Gott verlassenen Land.

Geist kept his binoculars in place as he scolded the head of the commandos. “Silence. If anyone hears you speaking German, we’ll be stuck here for the rest of the war.”

Geist knew a firm hand was needed with the eight-man team under his charge. The members had been handpicked by the Abwehr not only for their superb martial skills but for their grasp of English. Whatever the British might lack in military presence out here in the rural regions, they made up for by a vigilant citizenry.

“Truck!” Hoffman rasped.

Geist glanced over his shoulder to the road passing through the woods behind him. A lorry trundled along, its headlights muted by blackout slits.

“Hold your breath,” Geist hissed.

He wasn’t about to let their presence catch the attention of the passing driver. He and the others kept their faces pressed low until the sound of the truck’s puttering engine faded away.

“Clear,” Hoffman said.

Geist checked his watch and searched again with his binoculars.

What is taking them so long?

Everything depended on clockwork timing. He and his team had offloaded from a U-boat five days ago onto a lonely beach. Afterward, the group had split into teams of two or three and worked their way across the countryside, ready with papers identifying them as day laborers and farmhands. Once they reached the target area, they had regrouped at a nearby hunting shack, where a cache of weapons awaited them, left by sleeper agents who had prepped the way in advance for Geist’s team.

Only one last detail remained.

A wink of light caught his attention from the grounds neighboring the Bletchley Park estate. It shuttered off once, then back on again—then finally darkness returned.

It was the signal he had been waiting for.

Geist rolled up to an elbow. “Time to move out.”

Hoffman’s team gathered their weapons:  assault rifles and noise-suppressed pistols. The largest commando—a true bull of a man named Kraus—hauled up an MG42 heavy machine gun, capable of firing twelve hundred rounds per minute.

Geist studied the black-streaked faces around him. They had trained for three months within a life-sized mock-up of Bletchley Park. By now, they could all walk those grounds blindfolded. The only unknown variable was the level of on-site defense. The research campus was secured by both soldiers and guards in civilian clothes.

Geist went over the plan one last time. “Once inside the estate, torch your assigned buildings. Cause as much panic and confusion as possible. In that chaos, Hoffman and I will attempt to secure the package. If shooting starts, take down anything that moves. Is that understood?”

Each man nodded his head.

With everyone prepared—ready to die if need be—the group set off and followed the contour of the lake, sticking to the mist-shrouded forest. Geist led them past the neighboring estates. Most of these old homes were shuttered, awaiting the summer months. Soon servants and staff would be arriving to prepare the country homes for the leisure season, but that was still a couple of weeks away.

It was one of the many reasons this narrow window of opportunity had been chosen by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence. And there was one other time-critical element.

“Access to the bunker should be just up ahead,” Geist whispered back to Hoffman. “Ready the men.”

The British government—aware that Adolf Hitler would soon launch an air war against this island nation—had begun constructing underground bunkers for its critical installations, including Bletchley Park. The bunker at Station X was only half completed, offering a brief break in the secure perimeter around the estate.

Geist intended to take advantage of that weakness this night.

He led his team toward a country house that neighbored Bletchley Park. It was a red-brick Tudor with yellow shutters. He approached the stacked-stone fence that surrounded the grounds and waved his team to flatten against it.

“Where are we going?” Hoffman whispered. “I thought we were going through some bunker.”

“We are.” Only Geist had been given this last piece of intelligence.

He crouched low and hurried toward the gate, which he found unlocked. The winking signal earlier had confirmed that all was in readiness here.

Geist pushed open the gate, slipped through, and led his team across the lawn to the home’s glass-enclosed conservatory. He found another unlocked door there, hurried inside with his men, and crossed to the kitchen. The all-white cabinetry glowed in the moonlight streaming through the windows.

Wasting no time, he stepped to a door beside the pantry. He opened it and turned on his flashlight, revealing a set of stairs. At the bottom, he found a stone-floored cellar; the walls were white-painted brick, the exposed ceiling a maze of water pipes running through the floor joists. The cellar spanned the width of the house.

He led his team past stacks of boxes and furniture draped in dusty sheets to the cellar’s eastern wall. As directed, he pulled away a rug to reveal a hole that had been recently dug through the floor. Another bit of handiwork from Canaris’s sleeper agents.

Geist shone his flashlight down the hole, revealing water flowing below.

“What is it?” Hoffman asked.

“Old sewer pipe. It connects all the estates circling the lake.”

“Including Bletchley Park,” Hoffman realized with a nod.

“And its partially completed bunker,” Geist confirmed. “It’ll be a tight squeeze, but we’ll only need to cross a hundred meters to reach the construction site of that underground bomb shelter and climb back up.”

According to the latest intelligence, those new foundations of the bunker were mostly unguarded and should offer them immediate access into the very heart of the estate’s grounds.

“The Brits won’t know what hit them,” Hoffman said with a mean grin.

Geist again led the way, slipping feetfirst through the hole and dropping with a splash into the ankle-deep dank water. He kept one hand on the moldy wall and headed along the old stone pipe. It was only a meter and a half wide, so he had to keep his back bowed, holding his breath against the stink.

After a handful of steps, he clicked off his flashlight and aimed for the distant glow of moonlight. He moved more slowly along the curving pipe, keeping his sloshing to a minimum, not wanting to alert any guards who might be canvassing the bunker’s construction site. Hoffman’s teammates followed his example.

At last, he reached that moonlit hole in the pipe’s roof. A temporary grate covered the newly excavated access point to the old sewer. He fingered the chain and padlock that secured the grate in place.

Unexpected but not a problem.

Hoffman noted his attention and passed him a set of bolt cutters. With great care, Geist snapped through the lock’s hasp and freed the chain. He shared a glance with the lieutenant, confirming everyone was ready—then pushed the grate open and pulled himself up through the hole.

He found himself crouched atop the raw concrete foundations of the future bunker. The skeletal structure of walls, conduits, and plumbing surrounded him. Scaffolding and ladders led up toward the open grounds of the estate above. He hurried to one side, ducking under a scaffold, out of direct view. One by one the remaining eight commandoes joined him.

Geist took a moment to orient himself. He should be within forty meters of their target:  Hut 8. It was one of several green-planked structures built on these grounds. Each had its own purpose, but his team’s goal was the research section overseen by the mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing.

He gestured for the men to huddle together.

“Remember, no shooting unless you’re intercepted. Toss those incendiaries into Huts 4 and 6. Let the fire do the work for us. With any luck, the distraction will create enough confusion to cover our escape.”

Hoffman pointed to two of his men. “Schwab, you take your team to Hut 4. Faber, you and your men have Hut 6. Kraus, you trail us. Be ready to use that machine gun of yours if there is any trouble.”

The lieutenant’s men nodded in agreement, then scaled the ladders and disappeared out of the open pit of the bunker. Geist followed on their heels with Hoffman and Kraus trailing him.

Staying low, he headed north until he reached Hut 8 and flattened against the wooden siding. The door should be around the next corner. He waited a breath, making sure no alarm had been raised.

He counted down in his head until finally shouts arose to the east and west. “Fire, fire, fire!

Upon that signal, he slid around the corner and climbed a set of plank steps to reach the door into Hut 8. He turned the knob as the night grew brighter, flickering with fresh flames.

As more shouts rose, he pushed through the doorway and into a small room. The center was dominated by two trestle tables covered in stacks of punch cards. The whitewashed walls were plastered with propaganda posters warning about ever-present Nazi eyes and ears.

With his pistol raised, he and Hoffman rushed across and burst through the far doorway into the next room. Seated at a long table, two women sorted through more piles of punch cards. The woman to the right was already looking up. She spun in her chair, reaching for a red panic button on the wall.

Hoffmann shot her twice in the side. The suppressed gunfire was no louder than a couple of firm coughs.

Geist took out the second woman with a single round through her throat. She toppled backward, her face still frozen in an expression of surprise.

They must have been Wrens—members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service—who were assisting in the work being conducted here.

Geist hurried to the first woman, searched her pockets, and came up with a thumb-sized brass key. On the second woman, he found a second key, this one iron.

With his prizes in hand, he hurried back to the main room.

From outside, there arose the wonk-wonk-wonk of an alarm klaxon.

So far our subterfuge seems to be—

The rattling blasts of a submachine gun cut off this last thought. More gunfire followed. Hoffman cursed.

“We’ve been discovered,” the lieutenant warned.

Geist refused to give up. He crossed to a waist-high safe along one wall. As expected, it was secured by two keyed locks, top and bottom, and a combination dial in the center.

“Need to hurry, sir,” Hoffmann rasped next to him. “Sounds like we got a lot of foot traffic outside.”

Geist pointed to the door. “Kraus, clear a path for us back to the bunker.”

The large soldier nodded, hefted up his heavy weapon, and vanished out the door. As Geist inserted his two keys, Kraus’s MG42 opened up outside, roaring into the night.

Geist focused on the task at hand, turning one key, then the other, getting a satisfying thunk-thunk in return. He moved his hand to the combination lock. This was truly the test of the Abwehr’s reach.

He spun the dial:  nine…twenty-nine…four.

He took a breath, let it out, and depressed the lever.

The safe door swung open.

Thank God.

A quick search inside revealed only one item:  a brown accordion folder wrapped in red rubber bands. He read the name stenciled on the outside.

The ARES Project

He knew Ares was the Greek god of war, which was appropriate, considering the contents. But that connotation only hinted at the true nature of the work found inside. The acronym—ARES—stood for something far more earth-shattering, something powerful enough to rewrite history. He grabbed the folder with trembling hands, knowing the terrifying wonders it held, and stuffed the prize into his jacket.

His second in command, Hoffman, stepped over to the hut’s door, cracked it open, and yelled outside. “Kraus!”

“Komm!” Kraus answered in German, forsaking any need for further subterfuge. “Get out here before they regroup!”

Geist joined Hoffman at the door, pulled the pin on an incendiary grenade, and tossed it back into the center of the room. Both men lunged outside as it exploded behind them, blowing out the windows with gouts of flames

To their left, a pair of British soldiers sprinted around the corner of the hut. Kraus cut them down with his machine gun, but more soldiers followed, taking cover and returning fire, forcing Geist’s team away from the excavated bunker—away from their only escape route.

As they retreated deeper into the grounds, smoke billowed more thickly, accompanied by the acrid stench of burning wood.

Another set of figures burst through the pall. Kraus came close to carving them in half with his weapon, but at the last moment, he halted, recognizing his fellow commandos. It was Schwab’s team.

“What about Faber and the others?” Hoffman asked.

Schwab shook his head. “Saw them killed.”

That left only the six of them.

Geist quickly improvised. “We’ll make for the motor pool.”

He led the way at a dead run. The team tossed incendiaries as they went, adding to the confusion, strafing down alleyways, dropping anything that moved.

Finally they reached a row of small sheds. Fifty meters beyond, the main gate came into view. It looked like a dozen soldiers crouched behind concrete barriers, guns up, looking for targets. Spotlights panned the area.

Before being seen, Geist directed his group into a neighboring Quonset hut, where three canvas-sided lorries were parked.

“We need that gate cleared,” Geist said, looking at Hoffman and his men, knowing what he was asking of them. For any chance of escape, many of them would likely die in the attempt.

The lieutenant stared him down. “We’ll get it done.”

Geist clapped Hoffman on the shoulder, thanking him.

The lieutenant set out with his remaining four men.

Geist crossed and climbed into one of the lorries, where he found the keys in the ignition. He started the engine, warming it up, then hopped back out again. He crossed to the remaining two trucks and popped their hoods.

In the distance, Kraus’s machine gun began a lethal chattering, accompanied by the rattle of assault rifles and the overlapping crump of exploding grenades.

Finally, a faint call reached him.

Klar, klar, klar!” Hoffman shouted.

Geist hurried back to the idling lorry, climbed inside, and put the truck into gear—but not before tossing two grenades into each of the open engine compartments of the remaining lorries. As he rolled out and hit the accelerator, the grenades exploded behind him.

He raced to the main gate and braked hard. British soldiers lay dead; the spotlights shot out. Hoffman rolled the gate open, limping on a bloody leg. Supported by a teammate, Kraus hobbled his way into the back of the lorry. Hoffman joined him up front, climbing into the passenger seat and slamming the door angrily.

“Lost Schwab and Braatz.” Hoffman waved ahead. “Go, go.”

With no time to mourn, Geist gunned the engine and raced down the country road. He kept one eye on the side mirror, watching for any sign of pursuit. Taking a maze of turns, he tried to further confound their escape route. Finally, he steered the lorry down a narrow dirt tract lined by overgrown English oaks. At the end was a large barn, its roof half collapsed. To the left was a burned-out farmhouse.

Geist parked beneath some overhanging boughs and shut off the engine. “We should see to everyone’s injuries,” he said. “We’ve lost enough good men.”

“Everybody out,” Hoffman ordered, rapping a knuckle on the back of the compartment.

After they all climbed free, Geist surveyed the damage. “You’ll all get the Knight’s Cross for your bravery tonight. We should—”

A harsh shout cut him off, barked in German. “Halt! Hände hoch!

A dozen men, bristling with weapons, emerged from the foliage and from behind the barn.

“Nobody move!” the voice called again, revealing a tall American with a Tommy gun in hand.

Geist recognized the impossibility of their team’s situation and lifted his arms. Hoffman and his last two men followed his example, dropping their weapons and raising their hands.

It was over.

As the Americans frisked Hoffman and the others, a lone figure stepped from the darkened barn door and approached Geist. He pointed a .45-caliber pistol at Geist’s chest.

“Tie him up,” he ordered one of his men.

As his wrists were efficiently bound in rope, his captor spoke in a rich southern twang. “Colonel Ernie Duncan, 101st Airborne. You speak English?”

“Yes.”

“Whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?”

Schweinhund,” Geist answered with a sneer.

“Son, I’m pretty sure that isn’t your name. I’ll assume that slur is intended for me. So then let’s just call you Fritz. You and I are going to have a talk. Whether it’s pleasant or ugly is up to you.”

The American colonel called to one of his men. “Lieutenant Ross, put those other three men into the back of their truck and get them ready for transport. Say good-bye to your team, Fritz.”

Geist turned to face his men and shouted, “Für das Vaterland!

Das Vaterland!” Hoffman and the others repeated in unison.

The American soldiers herded the commandos into the back of the lorry, while Colonel Duncan marched Geist over to the barn. Once inside, he closed the doors and waved to encompass the piles of hay and manure.

“Sorry for our meager accommodations, Fritz.”

Geist turned to face him and broke into a smile. “Damned good to see you, too, Duncan.”

“And you, my friend. How’d it go? Find what you were looking for?”

“It’s in my jacket. For whatever’s it worth, those Germans fight like the devil. Bletchley’s burning. But they should be up and running again in a week.”

“Good to know.” Duncan used a razor blade to free his bound wrists. “How do you want to play this from here?”

“I’ve got a small Mauser hidden in a crotch holster.” Geist stood up and rubbed his wrists, then unwound his scarf and folded it into a thick square. He reached into the front of his pants and withdrew the Mauser.

Geist glanced behind him. “Where’s the back door?”

Duncan pointed. “By those old horse stalls. Nobody’ll be back behind the barn to see you escape. But you’ll have to make it look convincing, you know. Really smack me good. Remember, we Americans are tough.”

“Duncan, I’m not keen on this idea.”

“Necessities of war, buddy. You can buy me a case of scotch when we get back to the States.”

Geist shook the colonel’s hand.

Duncan dropped his .45 to the ground and smiled. “Oh look, you’ve disarmed me.”

“We Germans are crafty that way.”

Next Duncan ripped open the front of his fatigue blouse, popping buttons off onto the straw-covered floor. “And there’s been a struggle.”

“Okay, Duncan, enough. Turn your head. I’ll rap you behind the ear. When you wake up, you’ll have a knot the size of a golf ball and a raging headache, but you asked for it.”

“Right.” He clasped Geist by the forearm. “Watch yourself out there. It’s a long way back to DC.”

As Duncan turned his head away, a flicker of guilt passed through Geist. Still, he knew what needed to be done.

Geist pressed the wadded scarf to the Mauser’s barrel and jammed it against Duncan’s ear.

The colonel shifted slightly. “Hey, what are you—”

He pulled the trigger. With the sound of a sharp slap, the bullet tore through Duncan’s skull, snapping his friend’s head back as the body toppled forward to the ground.

Geist stared down. “So sorry, my friend. As you said before, necessities of war. If it makes you feel any better, you’ve just changed the world.”

He pocketed the pistol, walked to the barn’s back door, and disappeared into the misty night, becoming at last…a true ghost.

FIRST



Ghost Hunt

1

October 10, 6:39 p.m. MDTBitterroot Mountains, Montana


All this trouble from a single damned nail…

Tucker Wayne tossed the flat tire into the back of his rental. The Jeep Grand Cherokee sat parked on the shoulder of a lonely stretch of road in the forested mountains of southwest Montana. These millions of acres of pines, glacier-cut canyons, and rugged peaks formed the largest expanse of pristine wilderness in the Lower 48.

He stretched a kink out of his back and searched down the winding stretch of blacktop, bracketed on both sides by sloping hills and dense stands of lodgepole pines.

Just my luck. Here in the middle of nowhere, I pick up a nail.

It seemed impossible that this great beast of an SUV could be brought low by a simple sliver of iron shorter than his pinkie. It was a reminder of how modern technological progress could still be ground to a halt by a single bit of antiquated hardware like a roofing nail.

He slammed the rear cargo hatch and whistled sharply. His companion on this cross-country journey pulled his long furry nose out of a huckleberry bush at the edge of the forest and glanced back at Tucker. Eyes the color of dark caramel looked plainly disappointed that this roadside pit stop had come to an end.

“Sorry, buddy. But we’ve got a long way to go if we hope to reach Yellowstone.”

Kane shook his heavy coat of black and tan fur, his thick tail flagging as he turned, readily accepting this reality. The two of them had been partners going back to his years with the U.S. Army Rangers, surviving multiple deployments across Afghanistan together. Upon leaving the service, Tucker took Kane with him—not exactly with the army’s permission, but that matter had been settled in the recent past.

The two were now an inseparable team, on their own, seeking new roads, new paths. Together.

Tucker opened the front passenger door and Kane hopped inside, his lean muscular seventy pounds fitting snugly into the seat. He was a Belgian Malinois, a breed of compact shepherd commonly used by the military and law enforcement. Known for their fierce loyalty and sharp intelligence, the breed was also well respected for their nimbleness and raw power in a battlefield environment.

But there was no one like Kane.

Tucker closed the door but lingered long enough to scratch his partner through the open window. His fingers discovered old scars under the fur, reminding Tucker of his own wounds:  some easy to see, others just as well hidden.

“Let’s keep going,” he whispered before the ghosts of his past caught up with him.

He climbed behind the wheel and soon had them flying through the hills of the Bitterroot National Forest. Kane kept his head stuck out the passenger side, his tongue lolling, his nose taking in every scent. Tucker grinned, finding the tension melting from his shoulders as it always did when he was moving.

For the moment, he was between jobs—and he intended to keep it that way for as long as possible. He only took the occasional security position when his finances required it. After his last job—when he had been hired by Sigma Force, a covert branch of the military’s research-and-development department—his bank accounts continued to remain flush.

Taking advantage of the downtime, he and Kane had spent the last couple of days hiking the Lost Trail Pass, following in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and now they were moving onto Yellowstone National Park. He had timed this trip to the popular park to reach it in the late fall, to avoid the crush of the high season, preferring the company of Kane to anyone on two legs.

Around a bend in the dark road, a pool of fluorescent lights revealed a roadside gas station. The sign at the entrance read

Fort Edwin Gas and Grocery. He checked his fuel gauge.

Almost empty.

He flipped on his turn signal and swung into the small station. His motel was three miles farther up the road. His plan had been to take a fast shower, collect his bags, and continue straight toward Yellowstone, taking advantage of the empty roads at night.

Now he had a snag in those plans. He needed to replace the flat tire as soon as possible. Hopefully someone at the gas station knew the closest place to get that done in these remote hills.

He pulled next to one of the pumps and climbed out. Kane hopped through the window on the other side. Together they headed for the station.

Tucker pulled open the glass door, setting a brass bell to tinkling. The shop was laid out in the usual fashion:  rows of snacks and food staples, backed up by a tall stand of coolers along the back wall. The air smelled of floor wax and microwaved sandwiches.

“Good evening, good evening,” a male voice greeted him, his voice rising and falling in a familiar singsong manner.

Tucker immediately recognized the accent as Dari Persian. From his years in the deserts of Afghanistan, he was familiar with the various dialects of that desert country. Despite the friendliness of the tone, Tucker’s belly tightened in a knot of old dread. Men with that very same accent had tried to kill him more times than he could count. Worse still, they had succeeded in butchering Kane’s littermate.

He flashed to the bounding joy of his lost partner, the unique bond they had shared. It took all of his effort to force that memory back into that knot of old pain, grief, and guilt.

“Good evening,” the man behind the counter repeated, smiling, oblivious to the tension along Tucker’s spine. The proprietor’s face was nut brown, his teeth perfectly white. He was mostly bald, save for a monk’s fringe of gray hair. His eyes twinkled as though Tucker was a friend he hadn’t seen in years.

Having met hundreds of Afghan villagers in his time, Tucker knew the man’s demeanor was genuine. Still, he found it hard to step inside.

The man’s brow formed one concerned crinkle at his obvious hesitation. “Welcome,” he offered again, waving an arm to encourage him.

“Thanks,” Tucker finally managed to reply. He kept one hand on Kane’s flank. “Okay if I bring my dog in?”

“Yes, of course. All are welcome.”

Tucker took a deep breath and crossed past the front shelves, neatly stocked with packets of beef jerky, Slim Jims, and corn chips. He stepped to the counter, noting he was the only one in the place.

“You have a beautiful dog,” the man said. “Is he a shepherd?”

“A Belgian Malinois…a type of shepherd. Name’s Kane.”

“And I am Aasif Qazi, owner of this fine establishment.”

The proprietor stretched a hand across the counter. Tucker took it, finding the man’s grip firm, the palm slightly calloused from hard labor.

“You’re from Kabul,” Tucker said.

The man’s eyebrows rose high. “How did you know?”

“Your accent. I spent some time in Afghanistan.”

“Recently, I am guessing.”

Not so recently, Tucker thought, but some days it felt like yesterday. “And you?” he asked.

“I came to the States as a boy. My parents wisely chose to emigrate when the Russians invaded back in the seventies. I met my wife in New York.” He raised his voice. “Lila, come say hello.”

From an office in the back, a petite, gray-haired Afghani woman peeked out and smiled. “Hello. Nice to meet you.”

“So how did you both end up here?”

“You mean in the middle of nowhere?” Aasif’s grin widened. “Lila and I got tired of the city. We wanted something that was exact opposite.”

“Looks like you succeeded.” Tucker glanced around the empty shop and the dark forest beyond the windows.

“We love it here. And it’s normally not this deserted. We’re between seasons at the moment. The summer crowds have left, and the skiers have yet to arrive. But we still have our regulars.”

Proving this, a diesel engine roared outside, and a white, rust-stained pickup truck pulled between the pumps, fishtailing slightly as it came to a stop.

Tucker turned back at Aasif. “Seems like business is picking—”

The man’s eyes had narrowed, his jaw clenched. The army had handpicked Tucker as a dog handler because of his unusually high empathy scores. Such sensitivity allowed him to bond more readily and deeply with his partner—and to read people. Still, it took no skill at all to tell Aasif was scared.

Aasif waved to his wife. “Lila, go back in the office.”

She obeyed, but not before casting a frightened glance toward her husband.

Tucker moved closer to the windows, trailed by Kane. He quickly assessed the situation, noting one odd detail:  duct tape covered the truck’s license plate.

Definitely trouble.

No one with good intentions blacked out his license plate.

Tucker took a deep breath. The air suddenly felt heavier, crackling with electricity. He knew it was only a figment of his own spiking adrenaline. Still, he knew a storm was brewing. Kane reacted to his mood, the hackles rising along the shepherd’s back, accompanied by a low growl.

Two men in flannel shirts and baseball caps hopped out of the cab; a third jumped down from the truck’s bed. The driver of the truck sported a dirty red goatee and wore a green baseball cap emblazoned with
I’d rather be doin’ your wife.

Great…not only are these yokels trouble, they have a terrible sense of humor.

Without turning, he asked, “Aasif, do you have security cameras?”

“They’re broken. We haven’t been able to fix them.”

He sighed loudly. Not good.

The trio strutted toward the station entrance. Each man carried a wooden baseball bat.

“Call the sheriff. If you can trust him.”

“He’s a decent man.”

“Then call him.”

“Tucker, perhaps it is best if you do not —”

“Make the call, Aasif.”

Tucker headed to the door with Kane and pushed outside before the others could enter. Given the odds, he would need room to maneuver.

Tucker stopped the trio at the curb. “Evening, fellas.”

“Hey,” replied Mr. Goatee, making a move to slip past him.

Tucker stepped to block him. “Store’s closed.”

“Bull,” said one of the others and pointed his bat. “Look, Shane, I can see that raghead from here.”

“Then you can also see he’s on the phone,” Tucker said. “He’s calling the sheriff.”

“That idiot?” Shane said. “We’ll be long gone before he pulls his head outta his ass and gets here.”

Tucker let his grin turn dark. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that.”

He silently signaled Kane, pointing an index finger down—then tightening a fist. The command clear: threaten.

Kane lowered his head, bared his teeth, and let out a menacing growl. Still, the shepherd remained at his side. Kane wouldn’t move unless given another command or if this confrontation became physical.

Shane took a step back. “That mutt comes at me and I’ll bash his brains in.”

If this mutt comes at you, you’ll never know what hit you.

Tucker raised his hands. “Listen, guys, I get it. It’s Friday night, time to blow off some steam. All I’m asking is you find some other way of doing it. The people inside are just trying to make a living. Just like you and me.”

Shane snorted. “Like us? Them towelheads ain’t nothing like us. We’re Americans.”

“So are they.”

“I lost buddies in Iraq—”

“We all have.”

“What the hell do you know about it?” asked the third man.

“Enough to know the difference between these store owners and the kind of people you’re talking about.”

Tucker remembered his own reaction upon first entering the shop and felt a twinge of guilt.

Shane lifted his bat and aimed the end at Tucker’s face. “Get outta our way or you’ll regret siding with the enemy.”

Tucker knew the talking part of this encounter was over.

Proving this, Shane jabbed Tucker in the chest with the bat.

So be it.

Tucker’s left hand snapped out and grabbed the bat. He gave it a jerk, pulling Shane off balance toward him.

He whispered a command to his partner: “grab and drop.”

*     *     *


Kane hears those words—and reacts. He recognizes the threat in his target:  the rasp of menace in his breath, the fury that has turned his sweat bitter. Tense muscles explode as the order is given. Kane is already moving before the last word is spoken, anticipating the other’s need, knowing what he must do.

He leaps upward, his jaws wide.

Teeth find flesh.

Blood swells over his tongue.

*     *     *


With satisfaction, Tucker watched Kane latch on to Shane’s forearm. Upon landing on his paws, the shepherd twisted and threw the combatant to the ground. The bat clattered across the concrete.

Shane screamed, froth flecking his words. “Get him off, get him off!”

One of the man’s friends charged forward, his bat swinging down toward Kane. Anticipating this, Tucker dove low and took the hit with his own body. Expertly blunting the blow by turning his back at an angle, he reached up and wrapped his forearm around the bat. He pinned it in place—then side kicked. His heel slammed into the man’s kneecap, triggering a muffled pop.

The man hollered, released the bat, and staggered backward.

Tucker swung his captured weapon toward the third attacker. “It’s over. Drop it.”

The last man glared, but he let the bat fall—

—then reached into his jacket and lashed out with his arm again.

Tucker’s mind barely had time to register the glint of a knife blade. He backpedaled, dodging the first slash. His heel struck the curb behind him, and he went down, crashing into a row of empty propane tanks and losing the bat.

Grinning cruelly, the man loomed over Tucker and brandished his knife. “Time to teach you a lesson about—”

Tucker reached over his shoulder and grabbed a loose propane tank as it rolled along the sidewalk behind him. He swung it low, cutting the man’s legs out from under him. With a pained cry of surprise, the attacker crashed to the ground.

Tucker rolled to him, snatched the man’s wrist, and bent it backward until a bone snapped. The knife fell free. Tucker retrieved the blade as the man curled into a ball, groaning and clutching his hand. His left ankle was also cocked sideways, plainly broken.

Lesson over.

He stood up and walked over to Shane, whose lips were compressed in fear and agony. Kane still held him pinned down, clamped on to the man’s bloody arm, his teeth sunk to bone.

“Release,” Tucker ordered.

The shepherd obeyed but stayed close, baring his bloody fangs at Shane. Tucker backed his partner up with the knife.

Sirens echoed through the forest, growing steadily louder.

Tucker felt his belly tighten. Though he’d acted in self-defense, he was in the middle of nowhere awaiting a sheriff who could arrest them if the whim struck him. Flashing lights appeared through the trees, and a cruiser swung fast into the parking lot and pulled to a stop twenty feet away.

Tucker raised his hands and tossed the knife aside.

He didn’t want anyone making a mistake here.

“Sit,” he told Kane. “Be happy.”

The dog dropped to his haunches, wagging his tail, his head cocked to the side quizzically.

Aasif joined him outside and must have noticed his tension. “Sheriff Walton is a fair man, Tucker.”

“If you say so.”

In the end, Aasif proved a good judge of character. It helped that the sheriff knew the trio on the ground and held them in no high opinion. These boys been raising hell for a year now, the sheriff eventually explained. So far, nobody’s had the sand to press charges against them.

Sheriff Walton took down their statements and noted the truck’s blacked-out license plate with a sad shake of his head. “I believe that would be your third strike, Shane. And from what I hear, redheads are very popular at the state pen this year.”

Shane lowered his head and groaned.

After another two cruisers arrived and the men were hauled away, Tucker faced the sheriff. “Do I need to stick around?”

“Do you want to?”

“Not especially.”

“Didn’t think so. I’ve got your details. I doubt you’ll need to testify, but if you do—”

“I’ll come back.”

“Good.” Walton passed him a card. Tucker expected it to have the local sheriff’s department’s contact information on it, but instead it was emblazoned with the image of a car with a smashed fender. “My brother owns a body-repair shop in Wisdom, next town down the highway. I’ll make sure he gets that flat tire of yours fixed at cost.”

Tucker took the card happily. “Thanks.”

With matters settled, Tucker was soon back on the road with Kane. He held out the card toward the shepherd as he sped toward his motel. “See, Kane. Who says no good deed goes unpunished?”

Unfortunately, he spoke too soon. As he turned into his motel and parked before the door to his room, his headlight shone upon an impossible sight.

Sitting on the bench before his cabin was a woman—a ghost out of his past. Only this figment wasn’t outfitted in desert khaki or in the blues of her dress uniform. Instead, she wore jeans and a light-blue blouse with an open wool cardigan.

Tucker’s heart missed several beats. He sat behind the wheel, engine idling, struggling to understand how she could be here, how she had found him.

Her name was Jane Sabatello. It had been over six years since he’d last set eyes on her. He found his gaze sweeping over her every feature, each triggering distinct memories, blurring past and present: the softness of her full lips, the shine of moonlight that turned her blond hair silver, the joy in her eyes each morning.

Tucker had never married, but Jane was as close as he’d come.

And now here she was, waiting for him—and she wasn’t alone.

A child sat at her side, a young boy tucked close to her hip.

For the briefest of moments, he wondered if the boy—

No, she would have told me.

He finally cut off the engine and stepped out of the vehicle. She stood up as she recognized him in turn.

“Jane?” he murmured.

She rushed to him and wrapped him in a hug, clinging to him for a long thirty seconds before pulling back. She searched his face, her eyes moist. Under the glare of the Cherokee’s headlamps, he noted a dark bruise under one cheekbone, poorly obscured by a smear of cosmetic concealer.

Even less hidden was the panic and raw fear in her face.

She kept one hand firmly on his arm, her fingers tight with desperation. “Tucker, I need your help.”

Before he could speak, she glanced to the boy.

“Someone’s trying to kill us.”


 

 

Our Authors’ Bios:

James RollinsJAMES ROLLINS is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers, translated into more than forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the “top crowd pleasers” (New York Times) and one of the “hottest summer reads” (People magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets–and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.


Catch Up with James Rollins on his Website , Twitter , & Facebook .


GRANT BLACKWOODIn addition to his New York Times bestselling collaborations with Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy, GRANT BLACKWOOD is the author of three novels featuring Briggs Tanner: The End of Enemies, The Wall of Night, and An Echo of War. A U. S. Navy veteran, Grant spent three years as an Operations Specialist and a Pilot Rescue Swimmer. He lives in Colorado.


Catch Up with Grant Blackwood on his Website , Twitter , & Facebook 



January 10th Book Blast Participants:




Tour Participants:

Stop by to join in on the tour you can participate or just check out the awesome reviews & giveaways! 







Giveaway:


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for James Rollins and William Morrow. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of War Hawk by James Rollins. The giveaway begins on January 9th and runs through January 17th, 2017.


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Book Blast: CHILD’S PLAY by Merry Jones

Child's Play by Merry Jones


Child’s Play


Merry Jones


January 3 Book Blast


February 1-28, 2017 Tour





Synopsis:


Child's Play by Merry Jones

Since her husband’s murder two years earlier, life hasn’t been easy for Elle Harrison. Now, at the start of a new school year, the second grade teacher is determined to move on. She’s selling her house and delving into new experiences―like learning trapeze.


Just before the first day of school, Elle learns that a former student, Ty Evans, has been released from juvenile detention where he served time for killing his abusive father. Within days of his release, Elle’s school principal, who’d tormented Ty as a child, is brutally murdered. So is a teacher at the school. And Ty’s former girlfriend. All the victims have links to Ty.

Ty’s younger brother, Seth, is in Elle’s class. When Seth shows up at school beaten and bruised, Elle reports the abuse, and authorities remove Seth and his older sister, Katie, from their home. Is Ty the abuser?

Ty seeks Elle out, confiding that she’s the only adult he’s ever trusted. She tries to be open-minded, even wonders if he’s been wrongly condemned. But when she’s assaulted in the night, she suspects that Ty is her attacker. Is he a serial killer? Is she his next intended victim?

Before Elle discovers the truth, she’s caught in a deadly trap that challenges her deepest convictions about guilt and innocence, childhood and family. Pushed to her limits, she’s forced to face her fears and apply new skills in a deadly fight to survive.




Book Details:


Genre: Thriller, Suspsense
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date:  January 3rd 2017
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 1608091910 (ISBN13: 9781608091911)
Series: Elle Harrison Thriller #3 (Each can be read as a Stand Alone Novel)
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 


Read an excerpt:



I was the first one there.

The parking lot was empty, except for Stan’s pickup truck. Stan was the custodian, tall, hair thinning, face pock-marked from long ago acne. He moved silently, popped out of closets and appeared in corners, prowled the halls armed with a mop or a broom. In fourteen years, I couldn’t remember a single time when he’d looked me in the eye.

Wait—fourteen years? I’d been there that long? Faces of kids I’d taught swirled through my head. The oldest of them would now be, what? Twenty-one? Oh man. Soon I’d be one of those old school marms teaching the kids of my former students, a permanent fixture of the school like the faded picture of George Washington mounted outside the principal’s office. Hell, in a few months, I’d be forty. A middle-aged childless widow who taught second grade over and over again, year after year, repeating the cycle like a hamster on its wheel. Which reminded me: I had to pick up new hamsters. Tragically, last year’s hadn’t made it through the summer.

I told myself to stop dawdling. I had a classroom to organize, cubbies to decorate. On Monday, just three days from now, twenty-three glowing faces would show up for the first day of school, and I had to be ready. I climbed out of the car, pulled a box of supplies from the trunk, started for the building. And stopped.

My heart did triple time, as if responding to danger. But there was no danger. What alarmed me, what sent my heart racing was the school itself. But why? Did it look different? Had the windows been replaced, or the doors? Nothing looked new, but something seemed altered. Off balance. The place didn’t look like an elementary school. It looked like a giant factory. A prison.

God, no. It didn’t look like any of those things. The school was the same as it had always been, just a big brick building. It seemed cold and stark simply because it was unadorned by throngs of children. Except for wifi, Logan Elementary hadn’t changed in fifty years, unless you counted several new layers of soot on the bricks.

I stood in the parking lot, observing the school, seeing it fresh. I’d never paid much attention to it before. When it was filled with students, the building itself became all but invisible, just a structure, a backdrop. But now, empty, it was unable to hide behind the children, the smells of sunshine and peanut butter sandwiches, the sounds of chatter and small shoes pounding Stanley’s waxed tiles. The building stood exposed. I watched it, felt it watching me back. Threatening.

Seriously, what was wrong with me? The school was neither watching nor threatening me. It was a benign pile of bricks and steel. I was wasting time, needed to go in and get to work. But I didn’t take a single step. Go on, I told myself. What was I afraid of? Empty halls, vacant rooms? Blank walls? For a long moment, I stood motionless, eyes fixed on the façade. The carved letters: Logan School. The heavy double doors. The dark windows. Maybe I’d wait a while before going inside. Becky would arrive soon, after she picked up her classroom aquarium.

Other teachers would show up, too. I could go in with them, blend safely into their commotion. I hefted the box, turned back to the car. But no, what was I doing? I didn’t want to wait. I’d come early so I could get work done without interruption or distraction before the others arrived. The school wasn’t daring me, nor was I sensing some impending tragedy. I was just jittery about starting a new year.

I turned around again, faced its faded brown bricks. I steeled my shoulders, took a breath and started across the parking lot. With a reverberating metallic clank, the main doors flew open. Reflexively, I stepped back, half expecting a burst of flames or gunfire. Instead, Stan emerged. For the first time in fourteen years, I was glad to see him. Stan surveyed the parking lot, hitched up his pants. Looked in my direction. He didn’t wave or nod a greeting, didn’t follow social conventions. Even so, his presence grounded me, felt familiar.

I took a breath, reminded myself that the school was just a school. That I was prone to mental wandering and embellishing. And that children would stream into my classroom in just three days, whether I was ready or not.



Merry JonesAuthor Bio:

Merry Jones is the author of some twenty critically acclaimed books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has been translated into seven languages. Her previous Elle Harrison novels have been The Trouble With Charlie and Elective Procedures. Jones lives with her husband in Philadelphia.

Catch Up with Merry online:


Website ,  Twitter , & Facebook 

January 3, 2017 BLAST Participants:






Tour Participants:

Next Month Merry will be touring with her new book Child’s Play. The following sites, and more, will be hosting reviews, interviews, guest posts, and MORE Giveaways! Drop by to learn more about Merry and her great new book!






Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for  Merry Jones. There will be 2 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Child’s Play by Merry Jones. The giveaway begins on January 3rd and runs through January 9th, 2016.


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Book Blast: THE EMPTY ROOM by Sarah J. Clemens












Mystery / Romance



Date Published: July 23, 2016






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Rain soaked and dreary, it was a 1901 abandoned Victorian that Dean and Elizabeth hoped would fulfill their dreams, even if the town of Eastbrook, Maine was trapped under a blanket of fog. The first neighbor they meet in town dashes those dreams when he raises a bizarre question: what happened to the last person who lived in their house? Under mounting pressure from the residents of Eastbrook to stop questioning the past, Dean and Elizabeth are driven deeper into the history of the house, and the town. When they discover what happened in Eastbrook, keeping the secret could save their lives, but uncovering the truth might be worth the risk.





A gripping psychological mystery, The Empty Room takes readers on a cat-and-mouse game where some secrets are better off hidden.












Excerpt




A knock pounded loudly on the door for a second time and Elizabeth involuntarily let out a small shriek. She frantically put her hand over her mouth, but the sound had already escaped and there was little doubt that Mrs. Jacobs had heard. 




“Well.” Dean sighed, as he stood up from the crouched position he’d been holding beside the window. “Now we answer the door because you apparently have Tourette’s.” 




As Elizabeth slowly stood up beside him, a third round of loud pounding ensued. Elizabeth jumped at the sudden noise and hit her head against Dean’s lower lip. His head jolted back from the force and he winced. 




“Oh my God.” She leapt forward toward him. “Are you OK?”




Dean reached up his hand and clenched his jaw, pulling it from left to right. He pointed toward the door. “Great, first I get physically abused, now I’m going to get emotionally abused. And I still have no underwear.”




He finally came to the door and put his hand on the doorknob. He looked back at Elizabeth. “Just for the record, you are the worst covert ops partner ever.” With a specific intent in mind, he quickly turned the doorknob and ripped open the door as fast as he could. A startled Mrs. Jacobs stumbled backwards.




“You almost scared me to death,” she asserted, quickly brushing her dress to remove the imaginary wrinkles that had not formed from the unexpected greeting.




He stepped outside and grabbed Elizabeth by the wrist to pull her out of the house with him. “Well, follow-through has always been my problem. Look, we were just headed out the door and into town so we’re going to have to finish this later.” He reached for the doorknob and slammed the door behind him. 




But Mrs. Jacobs did not move. Other than the slight falter when he opened the door, she held her stance and stared at the closed door. Dean had a feeling it was not the first or the last time she had ever had a door closed in her face. With their backs to the old woman, the couple took several steps toward the edge of the porch.  




“You live next door, right? We’ll stop by. Oh, the fun we’ll have.” Still holding on to Elizabeth’s wrist, he pulled her past Mrs. Jacobs and down the steps.




“Where are we going?” Elizabeth whispered.




Mrs. Jacobs turned to face them. Her hands clasped in a folded position in front of her. 




“We’re going to see if we can find out what happened in that room, what happened in that house. Someone here knows. Everyone in this town can’t be as bad as Mrs. HaWiggins back there,” he whispered back.








 About the Author







Sarah J. Clemens is the author of the debut mystery novel, The Empty Room. She started writing The Empty Room in 2008 and formed her own imprint in 2016 called Off the Page Publishing. She started out her professional career working as a news assistant for her local newspaper before finding a passion for the law and pursued an education in criminal justice. In addition to writing fiction, she is also a legal assistant with an Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Human Services. Sarah was born in California and now lives and works in Boise, Idaho. She has the same sarcastic sense of humor as the characters in her books, and she has an unparalleled love for animals.





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