Guest Post: Eleanor Kuhns – DEATH IN THE GREAT DISMAL

As most of you have probably discerned by now, I’m somewhat of a fanatic when it comes to reading. Seriously, if a day goes by and I don’t read I feel as if there’s something seriously wrong. (Okay, there’s probably something wrong with the fact that I’m addicted to reading, but that’s a problem I’m not even thinking about seeking treatment for anytime soon!) My reading style can only be classified as eclectic as I enjoy reading mysteries, suspense, thrillers, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, romance, romantic-suspense, ChickLit, YA, and nonfiction. I read contemporary fiction and historical fiction without a preference for any time period. One of the many things I enjoy about reading historical fiction is that many authors will include interesting historical tidbits that pique my interest in learning more. Eleanor Kuhns writes the Will Rees Mystery series, historical fiction, and Death In the Dismal is the latest addition to this series. I’m incredibly honored to host Ms. Kuhns today. Ms. Kuhns will be providing us with some background on the history and current use of the Great Dismal Swamp. I hope you’ll enjoy learning something new about this swampland, follow the blog tour to read some great reviews, and add Death in the Great Dismal to your TBR list. Dear book people, I give you Eleanor Kuhns. Thank you, Ms. Kuhns, for taking the time to stop by and visit with us today. I look forward to learning more about the setting of your latest book.

The History of the Great Dismal

by Eleanor Kuhns

In Death in the Great Dismal, Rees and Lydia take an unusually long journey. They go south, to the Great Dismal Swamp, at the request of their friend Tobias. He and his wife Ruth are free blacks, born in Maine, but they are taken off the street and sold down south (in Death of a Dyer.) Tobias and Ruth both flee servitude but while Tobias escapes back to Maine, Ruth runs to the Great Dismal Swamp and a community of other fugitives like herself.

Now Tobias wants to rescue her. He believes he will have a better chance returning north if accompanied by White friends.

At first Rees refuses. But Lydia persuades him to agree. After the conflict between them (in A Circle of Dead Girls), the previous spring when their marriage was sorely tested, she feels they need a time away from home to mend their relationship.

But the swamp is much more challenging than either Rees or Lydia expects.

Although native peoples knew of the swamp, it was discovered by Europeans only in 1665, by William Drummond. He was the first governor of North Carolina and the large shallow lake in the swamp is named for him. George Washington visited the swamp when he was a young British Officer. He saw potential for development in this wilderness and later founded the Great Dismal Swamp Canal company, with others, with the intention of draining the swamp.

The original size of the swamp is estimated at between one million and three million acres. It is a peat bog and the water-saturated peat is very thick. Despite the difficulty of draining the water, some of the swamp has been developed. The area that is left, which spans a section of southern Virginia and reaches into North Carolina, is 112 acres. It is now a Wildlife Refuge, a habitat for over 200 species of birds, a large black bear population, deer, bobcats, snakes and turtles, and many insects. (All biting, I think. Insect repellant is a must.) There are no rocks or stones of any kind in the swamp.

This is the environment that fugitives from the surrounding plantations fled to. The runaways were called maroons. (The origin of the name is not known although one theory posits it is from the French marronage – to flee.) They found refuge on the islands of higher ground that dot the swamp. Small villages and farms were established, although most of the fields were little more than an acre in size. Sweet potatoes, corn and squash were the most common crops. Feral cattle and pigs that had escaped from their pens, as well as deer, turtles, and other animals provided meat.

Some of the villages were located on the outskirts of the swamp. As I describe in the novel, the Maroons made regular forays to the plantations to take supplies, especially those items they could not find or make within the swamp. Bands of slave takers and their dogs regularly pursued the fugitives into the swamp, both to recapture what they saw as property, as well as to stop the raids on the plantations.

Other runaways lived deep within the swamp, far away from the reach of the white world. Both men and women escaped bondage, although more men than women. Family groups were established, and children were born. Many of these Maroons did not leave the swamp until after the end of the Civil War; at that point the children and grandchildren born in the swamp had never seen a white person.

Trapped within the small village by the inhospitable ecosystem outside, Rees and Lydia are the outsiders, already distrusted because of their white skins. Within days of their arrival, there is one murder and then another. Who among these few people is a murderer and why?

Death In The Great Dismal

by Eleanor Kuhns

March 22 – April 16, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

DEATH IN THE GREAT DISMAL - EKuhns

Finding themselves in a slave community hidden within the Great Dismal Swamp, Will Rees and his wife Lydia get caught up in a dangerous murder case where no one trusts them.

September 1800, Maine. Will Rees is beseeched by Tobias, an old friend abducted by slave catchers years before, to travel south to Virginia to help transport his pregnant wife, Ruth, back north. Though he’s reluctant, Will’s wife Lydia convinces him to go . . . on the condition she accompanies them.

Upon arriving in a small community of absconded slaves hiding within the Great Dismal Swamp, Will and Lydia are met with distrust. Tensions are high and a fight breaks out between Tobias and Scipio, a philanderer with a bounty on his head known for conning men out of money. The following day Scipio is found dead – shot in the back.

Stuck within the hostile Great Dismal and with slave catchers on the prowl, Will and Lydia find themselves caught up in their most dangerous case yet.

Kuhns’ vivid portrayal of the community that developed inside the swamp captures a group of naturally cunning and vigilant people who provided a family for one another when most had none. . . the story shines for its historical backbone and atmospheric details.

Booklist

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Severn House Publishers
Publication Date: January 5th 2021
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 0727890239 (ISBN13: 9780727890238)
Series: Will Rees Mysteries #8
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

 

Author - Eleanor Kuhns

Eleanor is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime novel winner. After working as a librarian, she transitioned to a full time writer. This is number eight in the Will Rees Mystery series.

Catch Up With Eleanor Kuhns:
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Tour Participants:

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Book Spotlight: GONE ASTRAY by Terry Korth Fischer

Gone Astray by Terry Korth Fischer

About Gone Astray

Gone Astray

Mystery/Suspense

Publisher: Wild Rose Press (February 15, 2021)

Paperback: 300 pages

ISBN-10: 1509235256

ISBN-13: 978-1509235254

Digital ASIN: B08SQCWXBG

A heart attack sends detective Rory Naysmith reeling. Too young to retire, he accepts a position in small-town Winterset, Nebraska. Handed an unsolved truck hijacking case, with the assistance of a rookie, Rory sets out to prove he is still able to go toe-to-toe with younger men. When the body of a Vietnam veteran turns up, he dons his fedora and spit-shines his shoes. But before he can solve the murder, an older woman disappears, followed closely by a second hijacking. He doggedly works the cases, following a thread that ties the two crimes together. But can Rory find the mental and physical strength to up his game and bring the criminals to justice before disaster strikes and he loses his job?

Purchase Links – AmazonB&N

About Terry Korth Fischer

Terry Korth Fischer writes mystery and memoir. Her memoir, Omaha to Ogallala, was released in 2019, S&H Publishing, Inc. Her short stories have appeared in The Write Place at the Write Time, Spies & Heroes, Voices from the Plains, and numerous anthologies. Transplanted from the Midwest, Terry lives in Houston with her husband and their two guard cats. She enjoys a good mystery, the heat and humidity, and long summer days.

Author Links
Website: https://terrykorthfischer.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/terryiswriting
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TerryIsWriting
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/terrykorthfischer
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14349440.Terry_Korth_Fischer
BLOG Website: https://www.terryiswriting.com

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Book Blast: NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED by E. James Harrison

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

by E. James Harrison

February 9, 2021 Book Blast

Synopsis:

 

Five years ago, US Air Force pararescue jumper Garrett Shepherd saved a stranger’s life. Now that man, Edwin Sprague, is dead—and he’s left Garrett millions of dollars as thanks. But there’s a catch: Edwin has a task for Garrett to complete that will double his money—if he survives: Edwin wants revenge from beyond the grave, and he wants Garrett to get it for him.

Garrett agrees to give the bizarre challenge one week of his time, but he’s quickly pulled into a dangerous world of scandal, bribery, and secrets some would kill to keep hidden. He has attracted the attention of some very powerful people—people who have destroyed their enemies before and will not hesitate to do so again. With the help of a Navajo policeman and a beautiful lawyer, Garrett’s investigation leads him deep into the Navajo reservation—but uncovering the information he’s hunting for proves to be a deadly quest.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Published by: Covenant Communications
Publication Date: January 5, 2021
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781524413545
Series: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished is not a part of a series.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Edwin Sprague knew he was a dead man walking the instant he was sucker punched in his kidney and a blanket was thrown over his head.

The only question rumbling through his mind as his hands were zip-tied behind him and he was shoved into a vehicle was whether it would be a quick bullet to the head or painfully slow as they tortured him to talk. He was hoping for the bullet, but that hope evaporated when he felt a needle plunged deep into his right bicep. Within a moment, the semidarkness of the blanket turned to the complete black of unconsciousness.

When his consciousness returned, it came all jumbled and in bits and pieces, like someone channel surfing with a remote control. One second, there was a memory of him standing beside an abandoned Navajo hogan in Beclabito, Arizona, and the next, it was a vague image of two men dressed in desert camo. Then, as if someone had hit the rewind button, he was in the middle of a conversation with his wife or arguing with his son about a boat.

Water splashing on his face abruptly stopped the channel surfing and pulled him to the here and now. He was lying spread-eagled on his back on the ground with what felt like a thousand sharp rocks digging into him.

Above him, a gravelly voice said, “Wake up, old man.”

The water was splatting on his forehead and running into his eyes and trickling down the side of his face before dribbling into his ears. Edwin tried shifting his head sideways to get out of the water, but it wouldn’t move. Then he tried lifting his right hand to block the flow, but it stayed as still as if it were nailed to the ground. He tried moving his left hand and got the same result.

There was a slight chuckle, and the miniature waterfall stopped. After blinking several times and squinting against the sunlight, Edwin’s vision cleared enough for him to see a man standing above him holding a half empty water bottle. He watched as the man tipped the water bottle and a thin stream of water cascaded toward him, splashed onto his forehead, and again filled his eyes and ears. Frustrated and angry, he tried rolling onto his side, but he couldn’t move.

The man gave a quick nasally laugh and continued pouring the water.

“Come on, old man,” he taunted, “don’t just lay there; get up and make me stop. You’re supposed to be this tough old dude, but you don’t look so tough to me.” Then, pouring the water faster, he said, “You know, if you’d ask me to stop, I’d stop. How about it? You want me to stop?”

Edwin drew a breath to shout, but all that came out was a soft puff of air.

“What? I didn’t hear you. Did you say something?” the man sneered.

Then, bending over slightly but without slowing the flow of water, he said, “No, of course you didn’t say anything. You can’t. And you can’t move either, can you?” Grinding his boot heel into Edwin’s hand, he said, “How about that—does it hurt?”

Pain shot through Edwin’s hand, and he simultaneously tried moving his hand and screaming but could do neither.

“Yeah, of course it hurt.” He stopped the flow of water. “It’s the drug, old man. You can see and hear, and feel pain, but you can’t move any muscle in your body, which is too bad for you.”

Squatting down, the man grabbed Edwin’s hair and yanked his head back, then poured a few drops of water into his upturned nose. Every natural reflex told Edwin he was drowning, and his body instinctively reacted to stop the water from hitting his lungs. Edwin sneezed out a vaporized spray of snot and water directly into the man’s face.

The man reared back, wiped the watery liquid from his face, then doubled up his fist and slammed it into Edwin’s cheek.

“Stop it! You’ll kill him!” another voice shouted from somewhere above Edwin’s head.

“So what? He’s going to die anyway.”

“Yeah, but you can’t beat him to death or drown him. That’s not what they want done.”

“He blew snot on me!” the man shouted back angrily as he rose to his feet.

“I don’t care. We’re going to do exactly what we were hired to do.
Nothing more, nothing less.”

The man looked down at Edwin, drew back his foot, and kicked him in the ribs, causing Edwin’s lungs to huff out a muffled explosion of air.

Then, turning away, he asked, “Has the rest of the money been deposited into our account?”

“Not yet.”

“Somebody better hurry. I’m getting really tired of this forsaken desert. It’s as desolate and ugly as anyplace in Africa.” With that, he kicked sand onto Edwin’s face.

“Leave him alone, and come sit under this tree. We should get a call anytime now.”

Edwin followed the man’s retreating footsteps with his eyes, seething with anger but unable to lift a finger. He blinked his eyes several times to clear a particle of dirt, and for the first time since coming to, he concentrated on what little he could see.

Overhead, a few cotton puffs of clouds dotted the intense blue of the summer sky. To his right he could barely make out the outline of red sandstone cliffs. A stubby sagebrush and prickly pear cactus blocked his view to the left. Looking down, he couldn’t see anything, not even the tips of his boots. All of that was enough to tell him he was in the desert and that within a couple of hours he would be slowly roasting under the blistering rays of the sun and, if he was still alive, praying for someone to pour some water on his face. Closing his eyes, he forced his mind to concentrate on moving each finger on his right hand, then his left. When none moved, he tried wiggling his toes in his boots. Nothing.

Edwin guessed an hour had crawled by before he heard the distinct chirp of a satellite phone announcing an incoming call. Then there was a very soft, muffled conversation, too faint for him to understand, followed almost immediately by the sound of footsteps approaching. A few seconds later, a man was standing on either side.

The man who had been pouring water onto his face remained standing, holding a bottle of water in his hand. The second man squatted down, pulled his lips back in a tight smile, and said, “Mr. Sprague, it’s time for us to leave. My friend here doesn’t think we should tell you anything, but I’m a little more charitable than he is, so let me explain what is about to happen.

As you know, you’ve been drugged. Let me correct that. We’ve given you a combination of drugs since we abducted you yesterday—that’s right, yesterday. Until just a couple hours ago, you were completely unconscious.

You had to be so we could get you here without you knowing where ‘here’ is. Just as you started coming around, we injected you with a different drug, and I don’t need to explain what it’s doing to you.” Patting Edwin on the shoulder as if to console him, the man continued. “I suspect it’s a terrifying experience to be able to see and hear but not be able to move or even speak.

Don’t worry. Over the next six or eight hours, the drug’s effects will slowly wear off. You will gradually regain some of the use of your fingers, arms, feet, and legs. You’ll be nauseous, have the worst headache of your life, and generally feel worse than any day of your life, but you’ll be able to stumble around.”

Edwin tried cursing the man and silently screamed in frustration when nothing came out.

“Our client wants you to die naturally out here in the desert. You have no idea where you are, and there is no possibility you’ll find your way back to civilization before you die of thirst. You’ve already been without food and water for twenty-four hours, and in the heat of the day and cold of the desert night, I suspect someone of your age and condition will last only another day, maybe two at the most. And even if you knew where you were, you couldn’t walk for help; civilization is too far, and your muscles will be too cramped. You’re going to die out here, Mr. Sprague, and after you do, coyotes will feed on you for a while, then scatter your bones.”

The man rose to his feet, looked down at Edwin, and said, “Our client wants us to make certain you understand how ironic, yet fitting, it is that the desert you’ve been exploiting and destroying all these years will get its revenge by finally destroying you.”

Edwin shifted his gaze to the man who was holding the water bottle, who bent over and set the bottle on the ground. He picked up a fistful of red dirt with one hand and forced Edwin’s mouth open with the other.

“This is for blowing snot on me,” he said and poured the dirt into Edwin’s mouth.

Edwin reflexively blew the dirt out and began coughing and gagging.

Through spasms of coughs, he watched as the man rose to his feet, picked up the bottle, and began pouring the water out onto the ground beside Edwin’s head. When the bottle was empty, he shook the last few drops onto Edwin’s face. Then the two of them turned and disappeared from his sight.

***

Excerpt from No Good Deed Goes Unpunished by E. James Harrison.  Copyright 2021 by E. James Harrison. Reproduced with permission from Covenant Communications. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

 
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Much to his dislike, E. James Harrison is not a New York Times bestselling author. However, he is the author of four other novels, one of which was nominated for a Whitney Award (which he didn’t receive) and all of which his wife, mom, and daughters think should be best-sellers. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, he learned to type in the seventh grade on an old Smith-Corona manual typewriter and has been pecking out words ever since. He somehow managed to graduate from college with degrees emphasizing public relations and creative writing and has spent most of his professional life writing articles about such gripping subjects as internet technology or has kept veterinarians spellbound with articles about the latest advances in goat, rabbit, and hamster medicine. When he isn’t putting words on paper for himself or others, he can be found boating with his family, slaving away on the family ranch, flying an airplane, or traveling to see new things and meet new people. He and his wife, Deborah, split their time between the deserts of southern Utah and the mountains of Idaho.

 

Catch Up With E. James Harrison:
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Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for E. James Harrison. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and there will be 1 winner of one (1) physical copy of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished by E. James Harrison (US addresses ONLY). The giveaway begins on February 9, 2021 and runs through February 25, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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2021 Book 15: DEEP INTO THE DARK by P. J. Tracy

Deep Into The Dark, Detective Margaret Nolan #1, by P. J. Tracy
ISBN: 9781250754943 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250783578 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250790071 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B088ML1NXZ (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08BKL7N6K (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: January 12, 2021

Sam Easton—a true survivor—is home from Afghanistan, trying to rebuild a life in his hometown of LA. Separated from his wife, bartending and therapy sessions are what occupy his days and nights. When friend and colleague Melody Traeger is beaten by her boyfriend, she turns to Sam for help. When the boyfriend turns up dead the next day, a hard case like Sam is the perfect suspect.

But LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan, whose brother recently died serving overseas, is sympathetic to Sam’s troubles, and can’t quite see him as a killer. She’s more interested in the secrets Melody might be keeping and the developments in another murder case on the other side of town.

Set in an LA where real people live and work—not the superficial LA of Beverly Hills or the gritty underbelly of the city—Deep into the Dark features two really engaging, dynamic main characters and explores the nature of obsession, revenge, and grief.

P. J. Tracy is known for her “fast, fresh, and funny” characters (Harlan Coben) and her “sizzling” plots (People); the Monkeewrench series was her first, set in Minneapolis and co-written with her mother. Now with Deep into the Dark she’s on her own—and it’s a home run.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | AudiobooksNow | BookDepository | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Read an excerpt by clicking here.

Good day, book people. I know some of you struggled with reading during 2020, but it was a banner year for me. Although I’m a bit ahead of my reading schedule for 2021, I’ve been struggling with my reading for the past few days. This is partially due to renewed tech device issues (yes, I killed another tablet and then I had to wait for the new tablet to arrive, set it up, and transfer most of my 9700+ ebooks to said new device; apparently tablets aren’t designed to be used 15+ hours/day. Who knew?!) and a series of severe migraine headaches. As a result, it took me several days to get into Deep Into the Dark. I struggled with the first perhaps 15-20% of the book (it’s difficult to provide page numbers when I’m reading a digital review copy and only see percent read, sorry) and that took the better part of the first two days. Perhaps my inability to read it in one sitting was due to the frustration over tech device issues (I had numerous issues with one reading app and it gave me nightmares after installing the app, attempting to download some of the 4100+ titles owned via this company, then removing/reinstalling it several times before it actually worked and allowed me to download anything, whew!). Then again, it might have been due to the severe pain from the migraine headaches. I can’t say for sure what the cause was but once I made it past the 20% mark, I was hooked on this story. I needed to learn more about Sam Easton and Melody Traeger and their dark places and pasts. I needed to know more about the police investigation into the serial murders and then the murders linked to Sam and Melody. I simply needed to know more.

I’ve read all of the Monkeewrench series by P.J. Tracy and was looking forward to reading the start of this new series. Although Deep Into the Dark got off to a bit of a rocky start for me, I’m hooked. I enjoyed the twists and turns the multiple storylines took. I enjoyed the friendship and similarities between Sam and Melody in terms of their past traumas and shared current experiences. I liked Margaret Nolan and the only drawback, if any, is that I didn’t feel that I got to know her as much as I got to know Sam and Melody. All of the primary characters are realistically flawed and quite human rather than caricatures or stereotypes. The action within the story was believable and the secondary characters were just as relatable and realistic as the primary characters. Deep Into the Dark is a psychological thriller with several mystery storylines happening, and also introduces characters dealing with marital separation, marital infidelity, post-traumatic stress disorder, continued drug recovery, attempts at alcohol recovery, physical abuse, survivor guilt, and murder. Ms. Tracy provides the reader with just enough information about the twin mysteries to keep you guessing until the bitter end. I can’t reveal any more without revealing too much, but if you have read the Monkeewrench series, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Deep Into the Dark. For those of you that enjoy psychological thrillers filled with plenty of dark twists, then I suggest you grab a copy of Deep Into the Dark as well. If you’re not sure about psychological thrillers but just want something a bit out of your comfort zone to read this year, then please add Deep Into the Dark to your TBR list, it won’t disappoint. For now, I’m patiently awaiting the next release in this series and, who knows, perhaps I’ll be re-reading Deep Into the Dark while I wait.

Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer:
I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Guest Post: Bluette Matthey – TWO MURDERS TOO MANY



Good day, my bookish peeps. It’s hard to believe that it’s the second Friday in December of 2020. This year has seemed to drag on and on and on since the pandemic began in late-February. One of the many things that I’ve actually enjoyed about this year, is learning more about the authors that write the books that have provided me with hours of reading pleasure throughout this year. Today I’m pleased to welcome a new-to-me author to the blog as a guest. Bluette Matthey is the author of the Hardy Durkin Travel Mystery series as well as the recently released mystery, Two Murders Too Many. Sit back, relax, and travel along with Ms. Matthey’s character Hardy Durkin as she describes her travels as an author. Thank you, Ms. Matthey, for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by today and share with us your experiences or life as an author. 

My Life as an Author by Bluette Matthey
or
Where In The World Is Hardy Durkin?



I’ve been hooked on mysteries since third grade and traveling at least as long. My dad was forever getting us up at two or three in the morning to start off on a trip to Florida, or Canada, or to head out West from our Ohio farm. So, I decided to merge my two passions and began writing the Hardy Durkin Travel Mystery series, international mysteries, with amateur sleuth Hardy Durkin as my hunky protagonist.  

Traveling inspires me to write. It feeds the part of me that wishes it had been born in a different century. The thrill and wonderment of discovering and exploring something totally new, experiencing something so beautiful that it astounds, or beholding a thing so ancient I marvel it still exists … all resonate and beckon, drawing me on.

Instead of the London-Paris-Rome circuit (all fantastic places), I chose to use less-known locales as settings for my mysteries. My books are heavily researched for authenticity, which includes a boots-on-the-ground approach, so I get to enjoy visiting all the places I write about. I’ve had some amazing experiences, eaten wonderful regional foods, met lovely people, and taken some pretty interesting treks.  

Hardy Durkin owns an outfitter business specializing in European treks.  He is also a crack marksman, trained in signals intelligence, who speaks four languages. I’ve duplicated some of his easier hikes (I’m not as fit as he is). I hiked into the Hermitage of San Bartolomeo (11th century) near Roccamorice, Abruzzo, Italy, aware I was the only human around for miles as I trekked through the Majella National Park. Animal scat along the trail reminded me there were bears, wolves, and other beasts present. I climbed to the top of Rocca Calascio, built in the 10th century by the Romans as a watchtower and the highest fortress in the Apennines. This was for my second book, Abruzzo Intrigue.

Dalmatian Traffick took me to the Balkans, where I visited Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania. I didn’t hike to the Ostrog Monastery, but took my life, literally, in my hands and drove there. Mostly one-lane, snaking up the mountain of Ostroška Greda with the mountain wall on one side and a drop-off that increased at an alarming rate on the other, and no guard rails, anywhere. Perhaps a row of rather insignificant rocks placed beside the road, or an occasional tree, but nothing substantial to keep you from plummeting over the edge into eternity. The guide books tell you to hire a taxi, but driving in Montenegro is almost a blood sport and I opted to control my own fate, so I drove slowly and steadfastly, praying that no cars would come from the other direction.


Walking the streets of Ajaccio, Corsica, one night while working on Corsican Justice, I was drawn into a small, unremarkable bar by polyphonic singing, the a cappella music whose harmonious chords express the heart of Corsican culture. Deeply moving, other-worldly, listening to the exquisite music was a time-travel journey for my soul that spanned ages, leaving an imprint I cherish.


Black Forest Reckoning took me to Baden-Baden, Germany, where I spent half a day in the Friedrichsbad Spa, Roman baths that are a monument to Old World pampering, followed by a meal to remember at Schneider’s Weinstube. That was before spending the night at Gasthaus Zum Lowen in Staufen, where Faustus met his end when the devil came to collect his due.


Exploring the traboules of Old Lyon, France, was part of stepping back in time with the Knights Templar in Engadine Aerie. I also was a guest at the annual Engadine Skimarathon, which features prominently in Engadine Aerie. Dangerous conditions at the time prevented me from hiking into the eternal ice of the Morteratsch Glacier.  


Hardy’s next adventure takes him to the Hérault region of the South of France in Homicide Hérault where he joins forces with his old friend Alain Clotiers, a Legionnaire from Corsica.


I invite you to discover where in the world is Hardy Durkin … he can be a tough guy to keep track of.


My newest release, Two Murders Too Many, is a break from my Hardy Durkin series and is an adaptation of true and terrible events that took place in the small Midwest town of Shannon. My father was a masterful storyteller, and Two Murders Too Many wraps itself around many of my father’s tales in this small town’s history. Even small towns have an underbelly of secrets and human darkness where potential monsters dwell. 


I have also developed a travel app for the South of France, Potty PochePotty Poche is a unique travel app for Provence and the Languedoc-Roussillon written in five languages and highlighting must-see destinations for the two regions. Potty Poche can be purchased on Apple Apps and Google.

See you out and about,
Bluette Matthey

Two Murders Too Many
by Bluette Matthey
December 1-31, 2020 Tour



Synopsis:

Barn burning in a sleepy farming community is a serious enough matter, but a grisly murder or two in a small midwest town is a showstopper. Throw in a serial blackmailer who has his claws in some of the town’s leading citizens and you have one big recipe for disaster.


Charlie Simmons, newly sworn in as Shannon’s policeman, takes on the challenge of investigating this cauldron of crimes in stride, untangling one thread after another from the fabric of the town of Shannon to find the simple truth.

Book Details:
Genre:
Mystery
Published by: Blue Shutter Publishing
Publication Date: October 21st, 2020
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 978-1-941611-16-6
Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Bluette Matthey is a product of the melting pot of America’s settlers, with her ancestry rooted in the Swiss, German, and English cultures. She is a keen reader of mysteries who loves to travel and explore, especially in Europe. Bluette currently lives in Béziers, France, with her husband and band of loving cats. Other books by Bluette Matthey include the Hardy Durkin Travel Mystery series: Corsican Justice, Abruzzo Intrigue, Black Forest Reckoning, Dalmatian Traffick, and Engadine Aerie.



Catch Up With Bluette Matthey On BluetteMatthey.com, Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! Click here to view Two Murders Too Many by Bluette Matthey blog tour participants. 

Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Bluette Matthey. There will be five (5) winners for this tour. Each winner will receive an eBook of Two Murders Too Many by Bluette Matthey. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020, and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited. Click here to enter.

Book Showcase: SLIGHTLY MURDEROUS INTENT by Lida Sideris


Slightly Murderous Intent
A Southern California Mystery
by Lida Sideris
December 7 – 18, 2020 Tour



Synopsis:

There’s a shooter on the loose who keeps missing his target. But that doesn’t stop him from trying again…and again. It’s up to Corrie Locke, rookie lawyer and spunky sleuth, to find the gunman before he hits his mark, Assistant Deputy D.A. James Zachary, Corrie’s hunky and complicated frenemy.


When Corrie is stuck with more questions than answers, she enlists a team with various strengths, from weapons to cooking skills, to help her find the shooter. Her computer whiz boyfriend Michael is onboard. So is former security guard Veera. Toss in an over-the-hill informant and a couple of feuding celebrity chefs and Corrie’s got her very own A-Team. Okay, maybe it’s more like a B-Team.


Can Team Corrie hunt down the shooter before he scores a bulls-eye?



Book Details:
Genre: Traditional Mystery with some Humor
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020
Number of Pages: 280
ISBN: 9781947915930
Series: A Southern California Mystery, #4 | Each can be read as a Stand-Alone book


Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads



Read an excerpt:


The last of my patience dripped onto the concrete floor beneath my feet. My fists clenched, my jaw tightened and my stomach rumbled like the start of an avalanche. I’d officially reached the cracking point.

“Today was V-day for us. Victory with a big fat V.”

Los Angeles Senior Deputy District Attorney Bruce Beckman stood at the head of our table, arms raised high. The first two fingers of each hand formed a “V”. Meanwhile, everyone’s dinner sat in front of them. Everyone’s, that is, but mine. All I had was an empty plate and an empty stomach.

“Where’s our server?” I whispered. The beachside diner was packed. “Did they run out of food?”

Beckman dropped his pose and glared at me so fiercely, my cheeks glowed from the heat.

“Sorry,” I mumbled. What did he expect? His mac n’ cheese was half-eaten. I licked my lips.

“The case came close to swinging in the opposite direction,” Beckman continued. “We couldn’t have won today’s trial without this guy.” Beckman gestured toward the deputy D.A. sitting next to him.

I half stood and peered past the other diners.  No sign of our server. “Slacker,” I mumbled. I slammed my napkin down beside my plate.

“Have some of mine,” Michael whispered. “Please, Corrie.”

If anyone else had offered, I would’ve cleaned his plate in thirty seconds. But Michael was my oldest friend slash newest boyfriend, and I loved him dearly from his dark floppy hair to the Chuck Taylors on his feet. We sat in a crowded hipster restaurant in Santa Monica, a hop, skip, and a jump from the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Michael had barely touched his burger, waiting on my dinner with me. His stomach growled right alongside mine.

“Obviously, I picked the right man for the job,” Beckman said. “And gave him a few tips. Quite a few, actually.” He chuckled.

Weak laughter trickled around the table, followed by a groan. Did that come from me? Beckman shot me his signature scowl. I managed a shadow of an apology, and his attention returned to the man on his left.  My hunger pangs took a brief hike while I assessed the object of Beckman’s praise. Assistant Deputy D.A. James Zachary flashed a grin. He was a sight for sore eyes. Or any eyes, for that matter.

“Thanks to James,” Beckman continued, “defense counsel didn’t stand a chance.”

Cheers erupted. I clapped and wriggled around in my seat. My stomach rumblings grew even louder. That’s what happened when my last meal was breakfast.

“I’ll be back,” I whispered to Michael and shoved away my chair. We sat around a table of five. Three of us were members of the world’s oldest profession. The oldest after toolmakers, farmers, the military, and doctors. We were lawyers. I was the only lawyer unaffiliated with the D.A.’s office.

“Wait.” Michael took my hand.

Michael Parris wasn’t a lawyer, but he was the associate dean of the computer science department of a private tech college near downtown L.A.  Michael’s lips were moving but shouting voices, clanging dinner plates and background music swallowed up his next words.

“What?” I leaned in closer, sniffing a sweet combo of sandalwood and fresh laundry that made my empty insides tingle.

He wiped his mouth on a napkin and said, “Stay here. I’ll go to the kitchen. Help yourself to my burger while you wait. I promise I won’t return empty-handed.”

“No, you stay. I want to make sure they get my order right.” I touched his shoulder. “Be back soon.”

We locked stares and his hazel eyes softened. “Two minutes. If you’re not back, I’m coming after you.”

I’d insisted my table mates eat without me, figuring my meal was on its way…fifteen minutes ago. I aimed for the kitchen, wading sideways between packed tables when I bumped into our server. She tried to push past, but I blocked the way.

“I’m still waiting,” I told her.

“No, you’re not,” she said. “You got served.”

“Crispy chicken sandwich with spicy slaw and chili cheese fries, hold the onions. It’s not on our table.” I pointed my thumb over my shoulder.

“I brought all the orders out personally.”

“Not mine.”

“You wanna talk to the manager?”

“I demand to talk to the manager.”

She tipped her head and pitched it to one side. “Big Sam’s up front by the cashier.”

I moved out of her path, and she hustled past. I continued my sideways trek, filing between chairs and dodging scurrying servers. Nearly closing time and the place was still hopping. I slowed and looked back at the kitchen. Maybe I’d get somewhere if I talked to the cook. I was about to swivel around when I spotted a manager-type; a stocky guy with a shaved head and goatee, chatting up a group of wannabe diners near the bar.

I headed for him and waited behind the blonde hostess. The cash register drawer popped open with a ping. She plucked wads of bills from beneath the drawer and shoved them into a vinyl bank bag.

“Excuse me,” I said.

She jumped and turned to me, zipping up the bag and pushing it behind her. “Yeah?” Long bangs stabbed at her eyes.

I pitched my chin toward the stocky guy. “That the manager?”

“He owns the place. Big Sam Neely.” Her attention went back to the bag. She unzipped it and continued stuffing bills inside.

I navigated closer to Big Sam and leaned against a pillar, waiting for a chance to butt into the conversation. Meanwhile, a lanky dude in a dark gray hoodie and faded jeans edged his way inside. His clothes were baggy; his hood was up and over his head. Only his nose, mouth, and tinted shades were visible. Sunglasses at night weren’t unusual in L.A. I stared out at the room. A couple of diners wore shades. The guy in the hoodie flitted past me. He threw out his anchor near the hostess. My heartbeat quickened. The cash drawer still gaped open. I elbowed my way back toward him, half-expecting the guy’s hand to dart out and grab the bank bag, but he ignored the money. Instead, he eased forward and stared out toward the back of the diner. My gaze dropped to the lower left side of his jacket. The bottom edge had latched onto the large violin-shaped leaf of an ornamental ficus, exposing the top of his jeans. My heart hammered against my chest. The grip of a revolver stuck out of his pocket.

***

Excerpt from Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris. 

Copyright © 2020 by Lida Sideris. 
Reproduced with permission from Lida Sideris. All rights reserved.




Author Bio:

Lida Sideris’ first stint after law school was a newbie lawyer’s dream: working as an entertainment attorney for a movie studio…kind of like her heroine, Corrie Locke, except without the homicides. Lida was one of two national winners of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship Award for her first book. She lives in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, rescue dogs, and a flock of uppity chickens. 




To learn more about Lida, please visit her at:
www.LidaSideris.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!





Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews and giveaways!

Click here to view Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris Tour Participants.

Giveaway!!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lida Sideris. There will be three (3) winners. Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and One (1) winner will receive a copy of Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris (US only ~ choice of print or eBook). The giveaway begins on December 7, 2020, and runs through December 20, 2020. Void where prohibited.


Click here to enter.




2020 Book 419: THE RIGHT KIND OF FOOL by Sarah Loudin Thomas

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas 
ISBN: 9780764234019 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780764237843 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781493428144 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781705003466 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08M41K6MF  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B087RTM4JC  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 3, 2020 
Publisher: Bethany House Fiction

Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he’d obeyed his mother. The ripples caused by his discovery will impact the town of Beverly, West Virginia, in ways no one could have imagined.


The first person those ripples disturb is Loyal’s absentee father. When Creed Raines realized his infant son was deaf, he headed for the hills, returning only to help meet his family’s basic needs. But when Loyal, now a young teen, stumbles upon a murder it’s his father he runs to tell–shaping the words with his hands. As Creed is pulled into the investigation he discovers that what sets his son apart isn’t his inability to hear but rather his courage. Longing to reclaim the life he abandoned, Creed will have to do more than help solve a murder if he wants to win his family’s hearts again. 

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible Audiobook  |  Audiobooks  |  BookDepository  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook  

Small-town life in West Virginia has always been difficult if you’re different. Loyal Raines has a tendency to stick out in people’s minds because he’s deaf, uses sign language, and his father – Creed left the family and headed for the hills. Even though Loyal doesn’t have a relationship with his father, all he really wants is to prove to his father that he is worthy of his love and attention. When Loyal comes upon a dead body, he doesn’t go home to his mother, he climbs the mountain and turns to his father. This action will forever change the dynamics of the Raines family and the community of Beverly.


It seems hard to believe that a teenage deaf child could have such a strong impact on not only his family but an entire community, but Loyal does just that in The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas. It seems as if all of the characters in this story are searching for their rightful places within their family and the community, including Creed and Loyal Raines, teens Rebecca and Michael and their father, community leader and businessman Hadden Westfall, and others. The Right Kind of Fool is more than a coming-of-age story, or a self-discovery story, or even about the courage it takes to be different, it is also a murder mystery that gradually unfolds and touches the lives of numerous families in the community. I found this to be a delightful story and enjoyed the way Ms. Thomas artfully described the signs used by Loyal and his efforts to teach others including his father. I especially enjoyed the developing father-son relationship between Creed and Loyal, the friendship between Loyal, Rebecca, and Michael, and the rekindled romance between Creed and Delphy. There are so many layers to this story and Ms. Thomas has deftly woven them together to craft an amazing story with intriguing characters and action set during an interesting period in West Virginia history. I can’t imagine this story without any of the characters or without the hillside settings. If you enjoy reading historical fiction or stories with unlikely characters, then I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of The Right Kind of Fool to read. I’ll be purchasing a book for my 86-y.o. mother (she hasn’t returned any of the books I’ve “loaned” her so far this year, so now I buy books for her personal library!). I hope you’ll enjoy The Right Kind of Fool as much as I did. For now, I’m putting this on my to-be-re-read (TBRR) shelf!

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Showcase: LITTLE FALLS by Elizabeth Lewes


Little Falls

by Elizabeth Lewes

on Tour September 1 – October 31, 2020



Synopsis:


Little Falls by Elizabeth Lewes


She tried to forget the horrors of war–but her quiet hometown conceals a litany of new evils.

Sergeant Camille Waresch did everything she could to forget Iraq. She went home to Eastern Washington and got a quiet job. She connected with her daughter, Sophie, whom she had left as a baby. She got sober. But the ghosts of her past were never far behind.

While conducting a routine property tax inspection on an isolated ranch, Camille discovers a teenager’s tortured corpse hanging in a dilapidated outbuilding. In a flash, her combat-related PTSD resurges–and in her dreams, the hanging boy merges with a young soldier whose eerily similar death still haunts her. The case hits home when Sophie reveals that the victim was her ex-boyfriend–and as Camille investigates, she uncovers a tangled trail that leads to his jealous younger brother and her own daughter, wild, defiant, and ensnared.

The closer Camille gets to the truth, the closer she is driven to the edge. Her home is broken into. Her truck is blown up. Evidence and witnesses she remembers clearly are erased. And when Sophie disappears, Camille’s hunt for justice becomes a hunt for her child. At a remote compound where the terrifying truth is finally revealed, Camille has one last chance to save her daughter–and redeem her own shattered soul.




Praise for Little Falls:



“The tight, well-constructed plot complements the searing portrait of Camille as she deals with the guilt she feels over her daughter and her general rage at the world.”
Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review



Little Falls snaps with suspense from beginning to end. With skilled execution of setting and plot, Elizabeth Lewes shuttles the reader between continents on a thrilling journey that reveals haunting secrets. I couldn’t put this book down!”
—Margaret Mizushima, author of the award-winning Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, including Hanging Falls

“A dark, dangerous read populated by distinct, well-drawn characters. The tormented heroine is a woman on the edge and fascinating in her unpredictability. You’re rooting for her, afraid for her, but never fully confident that she won’t succumb to her multiple demons. There is a desperate sense of urgency right up until the very end.”
—P. J. Tracy, New York Times bestselling author of the Monkeewrench series


Book Details:


Genre: Mystery, Rural Noir
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: August 11th 2020
Number of Pages: 311
ISBN: 1643855069 (ISBN13: 9781643855066)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads




Read an excerpt:





I remember fragments: the color of the desert burning, the smell of the blood drying in the sun, the sound of the glass shattering under fire. Never what happened after. Rarely what happened before.

But sometimes … sometimes, I remember everything. Time slows, crystallizes. I see everything, I smell everything, I hear everything. I feel everything.

Then something… snaps. Fragments.

It just happened. Here. In the barn. Flakes of snow are melting on my jacket; they’re damp on my numb fingers. It happened when he looked up, when he turned toward me, when I saw her blood matted in his long hair, his hand on her face.

Then I fired

This is what happened before.

1



Dust: long, fat streamers of it rose from the wheels of my truck as I drove up into the hills of Jeremy Leamon’s ranch. It was dry that Friday, dry as early August in Okanogan County usually is, but Leamon’s black steers were still bent low in the parched pastures, scrounging for tufts of yellow grass under the orange morning sun. The windows in the truck were down, and I was tapping my fingernails on the window frame, but not to the beat of the honky-tonk on the radio.

An outcrop shot up out of the pasture and became a ridge. I steered the truck around it, bounced over the stones that had crumbled off, and powered through a mess of tree roots and washouts that made the steering column jerk and the axles whine. Not long after the truck stopped bucking, an outbuilding peeked out of the stand of ponderosa pines that washed down the hillside. Its corrugated steel paneling and wooden barn door had seen better days. Hell, better decades. But the thick padlock on the door was shiny and new.

Suspicious? Yeah.

The country is not that peaceful, you know. Drugs—we got plenty. Prostitution, too. And guns. Jesus Christ, do we have guns. In the years I had been inspecting properties for the County Assessor’s Office, I had seen more than my fair share out on the back roads, in the hidden valleys, and in forgotten forest clearings just like the one I found that day on the edge of Jeremy Leamon’s property. That’s why I carried my official ID in my pocket and my unofficial Glock in my right hand. Why I let the truck roll through the potholes until I turned a bend, then switched off the ignition and listened long and hard before I got out to take a look.

I remember that when my boots hit the ground, puffs of yellow dirt rose around my ankles, drifted on air heavy with the smell of sunburned pine needles: dry, hot, resinous. The smell of summer. The smell of fire.

I padded through the trees. A hundred yards in, I saw the back end of the building above me on the hill. I came up on the south side and approached the tree line, then doubled back to the north side. No sounds from the building, not even the whisper of a ventilation fan. So why lock it up, all the way out here in the hills?

My finger slipped closer to the Glock’s trigger.

Slowly, cautiously, I approached the building. There was only the one door and no windows. No way to see what the padlock was protecting. But as I rounded a corner, a gust of wind blew through the trees, and a steel panel on the side of the building swayed with it. I held my breath, waited for some sound, some shout, from inside the building. When it didn’t come, I caught the edge of the panel with the toe of my boot. It swung out easily, and daylight shot through holes where nails had once secured it to the building’s wooden skeleton.

Inside was a stall for an animal, a horse maybe. Beyond it, open space, sunlight pouring through a hole in the roof onto messy stacks of last year’s hay. The air glittered with dust and stank of decay, the funk of rot. But there was something else there too, something sweet and high and spoiled. And buzzing, buzzing that filled my ears, that vibrated my brain …

I ducked under the steel panel and clambered in, breathing shallowly. Holding my weapon at the ready, I rounded the corner of the stall, and then I saw him.

Hanging

Hanging from a loop of braided wire stretched over a wooden beam. His fingers were at his neck, but not to scratch it or run over his scant, patchy beard. They were stuck. Stuck in the noose. Stuck when he’d clawed at it, tried to pry it away, tried to make room to breathe.

I’m sure he tried.

Because he hadn’t jumped: there was no chair, no ladder. Nothing kicked away, nothing standing.

Nothing but the kid and the flies.

* * *

I don’t remember much of what happened next, but I know I went back to the truck, and I must have made a call. Because I know I watched the helicopter erupt over the rock and sweep down the hillside and land in the track I had driven down. And I can still feel the dirt from the downwash blasting my face and the icy cold steel of the stairs when I pulled them out just after the bird settled on the ground. And I remember not understanding why everyone was acting so strange, why the doctor set down her things in slow motion, and the pilot just switched off the bird and strolled to the trees to light up a smoke and why both of them were so casual, like they were going to the park. But then I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I turned around. And everything snapped into focus.

Sergeant Darren Moses. My God, you should have seen him that day, in his mirrored sunglasses and chocolate-brown uniform, his black buzz cut and those high Indian cheekbones. He was always good looking-even when we were kids—but I guess I hadn’t seen him for a while.

He asked me how I was, reached out and touched my shoulder again, looked concerned. I had on this green tank top, and the rough pads of his fingers were cool against my skin. He was standing close, almost intimately, his aftershave musky and faint. But I stood there and watched my reflection in his sunglasses and was an asshole.

“I’m glad to see the Sheriff’s Office hasn’t cleaned out the stables yet.”

Darren laughed, smiled broadly, his teeth flashing white in the sun. “You know I’m the kind of shit that sticks to the floor.”

He moved his hand away. My shoulder was suddenly cold. I smiled, tried to laugh, then grabbed another bag instead.

Darren held out his hand to take it. “You don’t have to haul our gear, Camille.”

I shrugged. “May as well. I’m here.” “Really.” “It’s not a big deal.” Darren’s smile disappeared.

“I’m sorry. I need you to stay here.”

My fingers tightened on the handle of the black Sheriff’s Office duffel. “What are you talking about?”

“I can’t let you into the crime scene.”

I shook my head. “I’ve already seen it. My fibers or whatever you’re worried about are already in there.”

“It’s procedure,” Darren said, his shoulders lifting slightly. “No exceptions, not even for old friends.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“And you’ve had a shock. Listen-Lucky’s on his way up here. He took a truck so he could stop and talk to Leamon. He can take you back into town, and I’ll drive your truck down after we’re done.”

I frowned. “What? No.”

“Camille. If you’re right and he’s…” “Hey, Moses!” someone shouted.

I spun toward the building and saw a second officer standing by the peeled-back panel of corrugated steel: Deputy Jesus Moreno. His voice tight and flat and deathly calm, he said: “You need to see this.”

Darren took the duffle from my hand and jogged over to the building. I followed. I’m not good at following orders. Never have been.

Inside the building, the two men stood side by side, their chins lifted, their eyes fixed on the corpse. Moreno was frowning, his arms crossed over his chest. He looked like a man at a museum: interested, but removed, distant. Darren looked like a man taking it personally. His jaw was clenched, his neck rigid, his thumb twitching on the safety catch of his holster.

In the corner, the medical examiner—a small woman with graying curls—busily set out her equipment on a bale of hay she’d draped with a white sheet. When she turned, she was zipping a white jumpsuit closed over a blue buttondown shirt.

“It’s just decomposition, gentlemen,” the examiner said. “Part of the natural process.”

“How long would you say?” Darren asked, still studying the corpse. “Three or four days,” I said without thinking.

Darren shot me a look and started to say something, probably to tell me I was violating his procedure, to threaten me with arrest if I didn’t get out of his crime scene. But the examiner was faster.

“Yes.” She adjusted her glasses, squinted at the body, then said slowly, like she was really thinking about it: “It’s been hot-hot enough for that much bloating-and the maggots are pretty far along. So, yes, that’s a fair assessment.”

Darren glanced from me to the examiner and back again, then opened his mouth.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me, Sergeant?” the examiner said.

For a moment, Darren was caught between irritation and manners. He was staring at me like I had strung up the kid myself, his eyes dark and intense, a vein in his neck jumping. The examiner was staring at him like he was a naughty schoolboy.

“Doctor Marguerite Fleischman, Camille Waresch,” Darren said. “Camille found the body this morning, Doc. She works for the County Assessor’s Office.”

“And?” the doctor said, looking over her wire rims at Darren.

“And she’s leaving,” he said, taking a step forward, one hand reaching toward my arm.

The examiner raised her hand to him. “Not until she answers my questions,” she said, then turned to me. “How is it you know the body’s been there for three or four days?”

I shrugged. “Just a guess.”

“Camille was a medic, Doc,” Darren said through gritted teeth. “She was in Iraq.”

I clenched my jaw, looked away. “And Afghanistan.” “I see.”

Doctor Fleischman pulled on a pair of latex gloves, snapping them against her wrists. Then she squatted and rifled through one of her bags. When she stood, she was holding a notebook and pen out to me.

“My recorder is broken. You remember how to take notes?”

We had been at it for a couple of hours when a truck pulled up outside. The engine died and one door, then another, slammed. I stood up quickly and backed toward the wall, skittish, my eyes on the big door by the road.

“I’m telling you,” a male voice said outside, his voice escalating from exasperation to anger.

“That ain’t my building. I don’t know what your problem is, but it ain’t mine.”

Leamon, Jeremy Leamon. My dad had known him. I had knocked on his front door and chatted with him about the weather that morning when I arrived at the property for the inspection.

“All right,” another man said in this sort of soothing, persuasive voice, the kind of voice you want in commercials for condoms or caramels. Lucky Phillips, it had to be. He was Darren’s partner back then. And he was an outsider, one of the few people who’d moved into the Okanogan instead of out.

“I believe you, Jeremy,” Lucky said. “But you know I’m a curious kind of guy—I just want to see if any of these keys work.”

“It ain’t mine,” Leamon growled, but there was panic in his voice.

Someone thumped the door and fiddled with the padlock, its steel loop rattling against the cleats on the door. The door jerked open, sliding to the side on the top rail. Lucky stepped into the doorway, all tall and broad in his brown uniform and flaming orange hair. And beside him, his arm clamped in one of Lucky’s big hands, was Jeremy Leamon, a man with too much denim wrinkled around his body and a halo of gray stubble on top of his head.

“What’s that then, Jeremy?” Lucky asked, still cool, still smooth.

Leamon ducked out of Lucky’s grip, his gnarled, liver-spotted hands clenched in enormous fists. But Lucky was younger and faster. He stepped forward, taking the older man’s arm and spinning him, forcing him to look into the building, to look at the body still hanging from the beam, still crawling with flies, dripping slowly onto the packed earth floor.

Leamon staggered back. “What is that?”

“What do you mean?” Lucky said in mock surprise. “You aren’t going to introduce us to your new neighbor?”

“Neighbor?” Leamon’s face went white as butcher paper, his knees wavered and shook. He shoved Lucky to one side and, bent double, ran outside, his hand clamped to his mouth as he began to retch.

* * *

Later, much later, I could still smell the decay, hear the smack of flies against the inside of the plastic body bag after Moreno finally cut the kid down and zipped him up. I was fine when they loaded him into the helicopter, fine when Darren asked me how I was for the second time that day. He said he knew I’d seen things before, but did I want someone to drive me to my place? I shook my head again, told him no. Then he climbed into the helicopter and I stowed the stairs, and I was fine until the bird disappeared over the rock, until even the sound of its rotors faded away, and I was alone again, alone in the narrow track, dust clinging to my jeans and caked in my hair.

That’s when the shaking started.

I fell to my knees and tried to not let it happen, but sometimes it just does. Sometimes the movie inside my head just won’t stop, and I see the sniper bullet blow off half that staff sergeant’s skull, see that corporal go limp on the table in the field hospital when everything went wrong, see that lieutenant’s eyes gazing blindly into the deep, blue desert sky while his blood sank into the sand. And then the mortar rounds, the streaks of fire in the night sky, the staccato burst of AK-47s in the bone-dry morning, the sudden sick rocking of an IED going off under the tires of the forward Humvee.

After some time—God knows how long—I stood up and half-stumbled, half-ran to my truck and threw myself into the cab, then tore down the mountain faster than I should have. The assessment didn’t matter; the rocks slamming against the chassis didn’t matter; the cattle scattering wildly at the reckless rumble of the truck didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was getting out.

I still don’t know how I got back that day. I just remember looking out the window of my one-bedroom apartment, my hair wet, my skin raw from the shower, watching people drive into the gravel lot below, go into the mart—my mart; felt strange to remember that, to remember that my father had bought it for me when I came home from the desert for the last time, that it was supposed to be my unwanted salvation-then leave again, a half rack of beer or a gallon of milk in hand. Across the street, my neighbor’s trees, their leaves still green, waved in the heat rising off the pavement of the two-lane road that went through my two-street town. Behind them, behind the trees, the hill rose yellow and pale, dried-out green, the dirt streaked with orange. Like it was rusting.

Numb. I was numb. That’s how it is at first. First bomb. First kill. You’re scared out of your mind, scared straight. Get shit done, accomplish the mission. And then—it gets quiet. You’re out, you’re back at base. You’re safe. And then numb. It’s like floating, and nothing can touch you, nothing can make you feel. You’re floating through the day, through the tour, through life. Then someone shoots down your balloon and it’s all pain.

Most days, I miss the desert. But what I really miss is that numb.

* * *

As the shadows were lengthening, a key turned in the front door.

I was sitting at the scuffed kitchen table, staring at the property report for Jeremy Leamon’s ranch in the black binder I’d had with me on-site that morning. My hair was dry and sticking to the sweat on my neck, so it must have been awhile since I had gotten back. I leapt to my feet-bare feet grabbed the Glock, cocked it, and held it down, but ready, my index finger hovering next to the trigger. God, I must have looked insane when the door opened and my teenage daughter walked in.

“Uh, hi,” Sophie said and dropped her backpack on the floor. “Hi,” I said without breathing.

“What’s with you?”

Sophie sauntered into the kitchen. Hastily, I slid the Glock under the county map draped over the table.

“Nothing.”

Across the narrow room, Sophie raised her eyebrows. I looked away, my jaw clenched. Be calm. Be normal.

“How was work?” I said, trying and failing. “Okay.”

Sophie opened the fridge, rummaged, smacked things around until she found the last can of soda.

“Crystal was okay?”

“Yeah, Crystal was okay.” Sophie stood up, closed the fridge, and popped open her drink.

“Roseann dropped you off?” She paused. “I asked if Roseann dropped you off.” “No,” she snapped, her back still toward me. I ground my teeth.

“She had to go to Coulee City for something,” Sophie said before I could open my mouth. “She said she wouldn’t be back until late.”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

“I got home.” Sophie hesitated, her back stiffened. “I mean, I got back okay, didn’t I?”

And that was it, really. Home. Her home was my home: the white farmhouse I had grown up in, the same place she had grown up after I left her to join the Army and then after I came back, when it was too much for me to take care of myself and take care of her too. And it had stayed that way, me in the apartment over the mart, her and my father in the old farmhouse thirty miles away. Until he died that May. After that, home was … well, not my apartment.

“Who brought you?” I asked as evenly as I could. “Who brought you back?”

“A friend.”

Sophie turned quickly and stalked past me until, like a toy tied to her with string, I sprang up and reached out to grab her. But then she stopped and the string broke. My hand snapped back.

“Who?” I insisted, my voice cracking with the strain of holding back the fury, the anxiety and fear.

“Just a friend.”

“A name. Give me a name.”

Sophie glared at me, then bent to pick up her backpack. I rushed forward and put myself in her path. Her brown eyes—flecked with gold like mine-flashed dangerously, just like her father’s had when he’d been pushed too far. Just like mine must have too.

“Jason,” Sophie said through clenched teeth. “Jason Sprague.” I stared her down. “Never heard of him.”

“You wouldn’t have,” she sneered. But then she dropped her eyes, dropped her head, and a lock of dark hair fell over her forehead.

“Granddad thought he was okay.”

She said it so quietly, almost reverently, her eyes so downcast that her long lashes fanned over her cheeks. Even I felt tears welling. But my father thought everyone was okay; he was everyone’s hero. And here’s the thing, here’s what I had learned about being a mother during those few months that Sophie and I had been the only ones left: your kid is the predator and you are the prey. They smell blood. They smell fear. And then—just then Sophie was playing with her food.

“Fine,” I said, biting off the word. “I’ll meet him next time.”

I let her push past me. She slammed the bedroom door behind her; I stomped to the kitchen, poured a glass of water, and took it to the table.

Hours later, I was still there, trying to write my report about Leamon’s ranch on my laptop when Sophie burst out of the bedroom. Her eyes were wild, and her long black hair flew behind her as she darted to the front door.

“Where are you going?” I demanded, rising from the table.

Sophie was pulling on her shoes, didn’t even glance up when she said, “To Tracy’s.”

“Why?”

“I just am,” she said dismissively, snarling in that way that burned through all my nerves.

“No.” Pulling the laces tight, her face away from me, she muttered, “Fuck
you.”

In the blink of an eye, I was standing over her, the muscles in my arms screaming against the force it took to hold back my fists. “Stop.”

Her head jerked up: trails of tears streaked down her face, smeared mascara haloed her eyes.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” she shouted.

The heat of her anguish drove me back to the kitchen counter. Fury I could deal with, but anything else, anything more … My chest tightened, my vision narrowed, darkened. Pinholed. I closed my eyes, shook my head, pushed down all the thoughts, the impulses, and the screams.

And when I opened my eyes, there was just Sophie. On the ground. Crying and tying her shoes like a child. My child. I dropped to my knees.

“What’s going on, Sophie?” I said quietly, tentatively. “Why are you, why do you need to go to Tracy’s right now? It’s late.”

“Because,” she wailed, then breathed deeply, the air shuddering in her chest. “Because Patrick is dead.”

I shook my head. “Patrick?”

“Yeah, Patrick.”

“Okay.” I nodded. “Who is Patrick?”

“A friend,” Sophie said impatiently. She scrambled to her feet, grabbed her bag.

“A friend.”

Sophie wove to push past me; I wove too, pushing back.

“Like Jason?” I said too sharply.

Sophie’s eyes flashed through her tears. “No. He’s my-he’s just a really good friend. From school.”

“From school,” I repeated, trying to keep myself in check.

Sophie rolled her eyes. “I mean, he just graduated in May.”

What?

“Patrick?” I whispered, looking past Sophie, looking over her shoulder into the distance where I could still see a male, his bloated body black and purple with pooled blood, patches of peach fuzz on his face, hanging at the end of a length of braided wire.

“Yeah, Patrick!” Sophie hitched up her backpack. Fresh tears were puddling in her eyes, her shoulders were tense. “He hasn’t been around for a couple of weeks and now—” Her shoulders rose, her voice shuddered. “And now someone found him up in the hills and he’s … he’s dead.”

My heartbeat quickened. “What do you mean in the hills? Where?” “I don’t know! Why would I know? Tracy just called me, okay?”

But I couldn’t believe the kid that morning had been Sophie’s friend, that the casualty was that close. I couldn’t believe the medical examiner would have released an identification that early, that she could even know yet who the dead boy was. And why would some kid—why would Sophie’s friend-know about it anyway?

Then everything sort of slowed down, came into focus: the tears on Sophie’s cheeks crept down to her jaw, the smell of her shampoo-green apple-filled my nostrils; the dim light from the lamp by the sofa was suddenly blinding.

“Who found him?” I asked, my voice sounding tinny and distant in my ears.

“I don’t know!” Sophie was shrieking now, her voice echoing in my brain, overloading every circuit. “How would I know?”

“How old was he?” I said urgently. “How old was Patrick?”

“It doesn’t matter; he’s dead!” She tore my fingers from her arms, even though I didn’t remember—don’t remember-grabbing her.

“Tell me.”

“Nineteen, okay?” Released, Sophie lunged for the door. “He just turned nineteen!”

Nineteen.

I had written nineteen on Doctor Fleischman’s yellow notepad that morning.

“Victim is a Caucasian male, approximately nineteen to twenty-two years of age,” she had said from her perch on the ladder. “Death likely caused by asphyxiation, likely involuntary hanging, but” —she had leaned closer, peering through a magnifying glass at the discolored skin on the kid’s chest— “what appear to be electrical burns were inflicted to the torso prior to death. Two, maybe three days prior.”

She had pulled back then and shifted her attention downward. “Other indications of torture include nails missing from digits two through four of the right hand, pre-mortem bruising and lacerations on the left side of the face, including the eye …”

Downstairs, the heavy steel door slammed.

* * *

I waited for Sophie to come back, waited while I was stretched out, rigid, on the couch, with my jeans on and my boots lined up on the floor by my feet. All the lights in the apartment were off, so I studied the ridges and valleys on the ceiling by the yellow light of the sodium streetlamp.

Around two, I heard footsteps on the gravel in the parking lot, and then the door downstairs opened. She crept up quietly; I smiled because it sounded like she’d even taken off her shoes. When her key turned in the lock of the apartment door, I threw my arm over my eyes and pretended to sleep.

Later, I crept to her door and opened it silently. Inside, the bedroom that had always been bare when it was mine was now anything but. Clothes were scattered everywhere, books were stacked in uneven piles. Sophie’s pink backpack had been slung onto the chipped wooden desk. In the middle of it all was the girly white bed my parents had bought her for Christmas one year when I couldn’t-or wouldn’t-come home. She lay on the covers, curled in the fetal position, her hair tied up in a messy bun, her hands balled up under her chin.

I walked into the room, fighting the urge to pick up the mess, and watched her in the light that seeped through the thin, frilly white curtains that had once hung at the window of the bedroom we had both spent our childhoods in. At just barely fifteen, she still looked like the child I had watched growing up during visits two or three times a week for years. Her cheeks were thinning but were still rounded; the skin on her arms peeking out from under her T-shirt was still silky and down covered. Regret surged through my body as though it were a physical force—a shock wave. I closed my eyes to keep it in.

When I opened them again, the first thing I saw were the freckles sprinkled over her nose and cheeks. She looked like her Colville father, like Oren, with her dark hair and pale brown skin and almond eyes. Only her freckles were me.

Her phone, clutched in her hand, buzzed. She stirred but didn’t wake. I glanced at the screen, then did a double-take. The phone background was of her and a boy. He was a little older than her, but sort of wholesome-looking—if you looked past their glassy eyes and flyaway hair and flushed cheeks. I thought I recognized the boy, imagined there was some resemblance there to the kid who had been hanging in Jeremy Leamon’s barn. But then the screen went dark, and I glanced back at my daughter, her rounded cheeks not so childlike, her arms more sinew than down. And I looked past the freckles and saw a lot more of me.

***



Excerpt from Little Falls by Elizabeth Lewes.  Copyright © 2020 by Elizabeth Lewes. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Lewes. 
All rights reserved.





Author Bio:


Elizabeth Lewes

Elizabeth Lewes is a veteran of the United States Navy who served during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. An analyst and linguist by training, she now practices law in Seattle. Little Falls is her debut novel.


Catch Up With Elizabeth Lewes:


ElizabethLewes.com! , Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, & Twitter!



Tour Participants:



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







Enter To Win!:


This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Elizabeth Lewes. There will be five (5) winners. Three (3) winners will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each receive Little Falls by Elizabeth Lewes (eBook). The giveaway begins on September 1, 2020, and runs through November 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.


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Guest Post: Marlene M Bell – SPENT IDENTITY



If you’re an avid reader, like me, one of the first things you probably do is check out the cover art after looking at the title, author, and then proceed to read the synopsis. I’ve got to admit to being somewhat of a cover-art snob. If the artwork doesn’t grab me right away, even if I like the author and synopsis, I may put the book on my TBR list and wait sometime before I pick it up to read. Then there are some covers that just completely turn me off due to the amateurish artwork and is doesn’t matter how good the writing may be, I can’t get beyond the cover art. I know, that’s petty and I’m working on it. Today, I’m pleased to welcome the author of Spent Identity, Marlene M. Bell, who will be discussing with this us the importance of book covers. I hope you’ll sit back and follow what she has to say, put Spent Identity on your TBR list, and follow along with the rest of the blog tour. Thank you, Ms. Bell, for spending time with us this Saturday. I now turn the blog over to you.




Why Book Covers are So Important


The key to choosing a cover is knowing your genre. Deciding on a cover doesn’t necessarily mean you can pick anything you like. It’s more what the reader who reads in your genre is expecting to see as your cover. If trying for new, groundbreaking cover art to intrigue, you may find yourself lacking in book sales. Readers want to be visually pulled into the story, but only if they can understand your story—in your genre—from your cover art.

If you can swing a professional book cover designer, I highly recommend that source versus a basic ready-made cover. Stock photos are so common and easy to slap together, but what does that say about you as an author? Stock images are ho-hum boring! I’ve seen a few photos that have worked well as long as there are interesting elements added to a standard photo. Only a few creative designers can pull that off well, however. 

I’ve personally used a husband and wife team from Australia who design all elements on their covers from start to finish. I found them after I fell in love with one of their winning covers in a contest. I was thrilled with my cover for Stolen Obsession! The extra money spent on a fully designed cover was well worth the effort. The cover for Stolen Obsession won the 2018 Independent Book Award for Best Cover in the Fiction Category and the IndieReader cover award. 

In my second book, Spent Identity, I went into a different direction to find my cover designer because my first designers were overloaded with new clients and I would have a long wait. 99 Designs is an online website for graphic designers all over the world. I found Isabel Robalo from Portugal, there. The cover for Spent Identity is simple yet portrays a feeling of foreboding that goes along in the mystery/suspense genres. The book won the 2020 Independent Press Award and has been named as a finalist in other contests currently running this year. It’s well worth your time to research many cover designers before you make your final choice. Expect to pay from $200 to $600 for top designers who create more than stock premade covers.






Spent Identity

by Marlene M. Bell

on Tour August 1-31, 2020




Synopsis:


Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell

Farm For Sale. 360-acre lot with ranch-style home. Refurbished barn. Corpse not included.



To find her missing aunt, she has to unearth the secrets of the past. But lies and deceit run through the very heart of their town…

What started out as a promising relationship with adventurer and tycoon Alec Zavos has fizzled into an uncertain future for antiquities expert Annalisse Drury. Returning to Walker Farm in Upstate New York to see her Aunt Kate should have been a welcome homecoming and distraction. Instead, she finds the childhood home she expected to inherit is for sale, without her permission. What’s worse, Kate’s ranch manager makes a gruesome discovery in the barn: the body of an unidentified man, dead by foul play.

Annalisse turns to Alec for help. She and her aunt shelter on his estate in the Catskills while the authorities canvass the scene. But when Kate herself disappears without a trace, Annalisse fears the worst: that one of the many secrets of her hometown has ensnared her family—a secret someone is willing to kill for to keep hidden.




Book Details:


Genre: Mystery
Published by: Ewephoric Publishing
Publication Date: December 11th 2019
Number of Pages: 378
ISBN: 0999539426 (ISBN13: 9780999539422)
Series: Annalisse Series #2 || This is a Stand-Alone novel but the reader may gain more about the character’s past if they pick up the first book.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads




Author Bio:


Marlene M. Bell

Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living, and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.

Her catalog venture, Ewephoric, began in 1985 out of her desire to locate personalized sheep stationery. She rarely found sheep products through catalogs and set out to design them herself. Order Ewephoric gifts online or request a catalog at TexasSheep.com.

Marlene and her husband, Gregg, reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.


Catch Up With Marlene M. Bell:


MarleneMBell.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!



Tour Participants:


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






Giveaway Image



Enter To Win!:



This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Marlene M. Bell. There will be 4 winners. Two (2) winners will each win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each win a set of autographed books, a notebook, and silver jewelry. The giveaway begins on August 1, 2020, and runs through September 2, 2020. Open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Void where prohibited.



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Book Showcase: LIES, LIES, LIES by Adele Parks



Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks
ISBN: 9780778388142 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780778360889 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780778388142 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488208638 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781094103648 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B081ZFZGMN  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07R52L4NN   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication Date: August 4, 2020


Daisy and Simon’s marriage isn’t what it seems…



After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. They’re a happy little family of three.

So what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes—Daisy’s used to it. She knows he’s just letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And their happy little family of three will never be the same again.

In Lies, Lies, Lies, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in free fall in a mesmerizing tale of marriage and secrets.




Purchase Links: #CommissionEarned   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes & Noble  |  B&N Nook Book  |  B&N Audiobook on CD  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  Harlequin  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook  |  Powell’s





Read an Excerpt


Prologue


May 1976

Simon was six years old when he first tasted beer.

He was bathed and ready for bed wearing soft pyjamas, even though it was light outside; still early. Other kids were in the street, playing on their bikes, kicking a football. He could hear them through the open window, although he couldn’t see them because the blinds were closed. His daddy didn’t like the evening light glaring on the TV screen, his mummy didn’t like the neighbours looking in; keeping the room dark was something they agreed on.

His mummy didn’t like a lot of things: wasted food, messy bedrooms, Daddy driving too fast, his sister throwing a tantrum in public. Mummy liked ‘having standards’. He didn’t know what that meant, exactly. There was a standard-bearer at Cubs; he was a big boy and got to wave the flag at the front of the parade, but his mummy didn’t have a flag, so it was unclear. What was clear was that she didn’t like him to be in the street after six o’clock. She thought it was common. He wasn’t sure what common was either, something to do with having fun. She bathed him straight after tea and made him put on pyjamas, so that he couldn’t sneak outside.

He didn’t know what his daddy didn’t like, just what he did like. His daddy was always thirsty and liked a drink. When he was thirsty he was grumpy and when he had a drink, he laughed a lot. His daddy was an accountant and like to count in lots of different ways: “a swift one’, “a cold one’, and ‘one more for the road’. Sometimes Simon though his daddy was lying when he said he was an accountant; most likely, he was a pirate or a wizard. He said to people, “Pick your poison’, which sounded like something pirates might say, and he liked to drink, “the hair of a dog’ in the morning at the weekends, which was definitely a spell. Simon asked his mummy about it once and she told him to stop being silly and never to say those silly things outside the house.

He had been playing with his Etch A Sketch, which was only two months old and was a birthday present. Having seen it advertised on TV, Simon had begged for it, but it was disappointing. Just two silly knobs making lines that went up and down, side to side. Limited. Boring. He was bored. The furniture in the room was organised so all of it was pointing at the TV which was blaring but not interesting. The news. His parents liked watching the news, but he didn’t. His father was nursing a can of the grown ups’ pop that Simon was never allowed. The pop that smelt like nothing else, fruity and dark and tempting.

“Can I have a sip?” he asked.

“Don’t be silly, Simon,” his mother interjected. “You’re far too young. Beer is for daddies.” He thought she said ‘daddies’, but she might have said ‘baddies’.

His father put the can to his lips, glared at his mother, cold. A look that said, “Shut up woman, this is man’s business.” His mother had blushed, looked away as though she couldn’t stand to watch, but she held her tongue. Perhaps she thought the bitterness wouldn’t be to his taste, that one sip would put him off. He didn’t like the taste. But he enjoyed the collusion. He didn’t know that word then, but he instinctively understood the thrill. He and his daddy drinking grown ups’ pop! His father had looked satisfied when he swallowed back the first mouthful, then pushed for a second. He looked almost proud. Simon tasted the aluminium can, the snappy biting bitter bubbles and it lit a fuse.

After that, in the mornings, Simon would sometimes get up early, before Mummy or Daddy or his little sister, and he’d dash around the house before school, tidying up. He’d open the curtains, empty the ashtrays, clear away the discarded cans. Invariably his mother went to bed before his father. Perhaps she didn’t want to have to watch him drink himself into a stupor every night, perhaps she hoped denying him an audience might take away some of the fun for him, some of the need. She never saw just how bad the place looked by the time his father staggered upstairs to bed. Simon knew it was important that she didn’t see that particular brand of chaos.

Occasionally there would be a small amount of beer left in one of the cans. Simon would slurp it back. He found he liked the flat, forbidden, taste just as much as the fizzy hit of fresh beer. He’d throw open a window, so the cigarette smoke and the secrets could drift away. When his mother came downstairs, she would smile at him and thank him for tidying up.

“You’re a good boy, Simon,” she’d say with some relief. And no idea.

When there weren’t dregs to be slugged, he sometimes opened a new can. Threw half of it down his throat before eating his breakfast. His father never kept count.

Some people say their favourite smell is freshly baked bread, others say coffee or a campfire. From a very young age, few scents could pop Simon’s nerve endings like the scent of beer.

The promise of it.



Excerpt from Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks. 
Copyright © 2020 by Adele Parks. Published by MIRA Books. 
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.





Meet The Author

Adele Parks Photo by Sekkides


Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she’s had seventeen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages, including I Invited Her In. She’s been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa. She’s lived in Italy, Botswana, and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, teenage son, and cat.




Connect to the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.



This excerpt brought to you by MIRA Books