Guest Post: Cara Putnam – LETHAL INTENT

Good day, book people! I hope you’re having a good bookish January so far and that your reading is on goal for the year. If you’re seeking something new to read, then I hope you’ll add Lethal Intent by Cara Putnam to your 2021 TBR list. This romantic legal thriller might be just what you’ve been looking for and didn’t know it. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Putnam for visiting with us today and sharing her insight into character versus plot. Please see what she has to say, follow the blog tour to read some great reviews for her latest release, Lethal Intent, and enter the tour-wide giveaway. But for now, sit back, relax, and let’s visit with Ms. Cara Putnam.

 

 

Character or Plot? Which comes first?

 

There is a perennial debate among authors. Which comes first the characters or the plot?

As an attorney, my answer is a classic it depends.

In some of my books, the character is what drives the creation of the story. I know I want to write a book with the Monuments Men. Or I want my next series to feature strong heroines who are all attorneys, but in different ways.

Other times, the spark of the idea is a story or headline that I’ve seen or read. An event that happened somewhere else and I twist it into a new what if: what if the mom didn’t really kill her daughters in front of her husband on her birthday? What if he really did it, but set her up to take the fall? This was the idea spark for Imperfect Justice.

With Lethal Intent, the key question for the hero Brandon Lancaster had been established in fore-shadowing in other books. He had started a group foster home for sibling groups, and it was in danger of folding. What I didn’t anticipate was that between the idea and writing the book, the federal law governing these types of homes changed… completely. This created a whole new level of complexity as I was writing because though the law had changed in 2018, the regulations for how it would be applied in the state of Virginia were still unfinalized as late as July 2020 – and the final version of the book was turned in during May.

This is where having a great network of writing friends can help. My friend Tricia Goyer connected me with a man who ran a similar home in Arkansas. You can imagine my relief when his approach to the law mirrored what I had reasoned was the only way Brandon could handle the conundrum.

Each book is a little different. And even when you think the characters are driving the plot, some times life intervenes and changes the balance as you’re writing. Which do you think is more important to a good novel?

 

 

Lethal Intent

by Cara Putman

January 11 – February 5, 2021 Tour

 

Synopsis:

 

LETHAL INTENT - CPutnamIf they expected silence, they hired the wrong woman.

Caroline Bragg’s life has never been better. She and Brandon Lancaster are taking their relationship to the next level, and she has a new dream job as legal counsel for Praecursoria—a research lab that is making waves with its cutting-edge genetic therapies. The company’s leukemia treatments even promise to save desperately sick kids—kids like eleven-year-old Bethany, a critically ill foster child at Brandon’s foster home.

When Caroline’s enthusiastic boss wants to enroll Bethany in experimental trials prematurely, Caroline objects, putting her at odds with her colleagues. They claim the only goal at Praecursoria is to save lives. But does someone have another agenda?

Brandon faces his own crisis. As laws governing foster homes shift, he’s on the brink of losing the group home he’s worked so hard to build. When Caroline learns he’s a Praecursoria investor, it becomes legally impossible to confide in him. Will the secrets she keeps become a wedge that separates them forever? And can she save Bethany from the very treatments designed to heal her?

This latest romantic legal thriller by bestseller Cara Putman shines a light on the shadowy world of scientific secrets and corporate vendettas—and the ethical dilemmas that plague the place where science and commerce meet.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0785233318 (ISBN13: 9780785233312)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | ChristianBook.com | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Author - Cara Putnam

Cara Putman is the author of more than twenty-five legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense novels. She has won or been a finalist for honors including the ACFW Book of the Year and the Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Cara graduated high school at sixteen, college at twenty, completed her law degree at twenty-seven, and recently received her MBA. She is a practicing attorney, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at a Big Ten business school, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.

 

Visit Cara Putman:
CaraPutman.com
Goodreads: caraputman
BookBub: @CPutman
Instagram: caracputman
Twitter: @Cara_Putman
Facebook: Cara.Putman

 

 

Lethal Intent Tour Participants:

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


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Enter To Win!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cara Putman. There will be three (3) winners of one (1) physical copy of Lethal Intent by Cara Putman (US ONLY). The giveaway begins on January 11, 2021 and runs through February 7, 2021. Void where prohibited.

 

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Guest Post: Cara Reinard – SWEET WATER

sweet-wate-by-cara-reinard-coverGood day, my bookish people and welcome to 2021! It’s a new day, a new year, and I’m starting off with a new blog company. Please bear with me as I learn how to use WordPress (recently transferred over from Blogger).

I’m incredibly pleased to be starting off the year with a visit by Cara Reinard, author of the newly released crime thriller Sweet Water. I hope you’ll help me welcome Ms. Reinard to The Book Diva’s Reads as she shares with us where her idea for this novel came from. Thank you, Ms. Reinard for stopping by and sharing with us today. The blog is yours.

Where did the idea for Sweet Water come from?

For me, plot ideas for stories come from everywhere and nowhere—an article read online, a conversation had with an interesting person, or something much more random; a moment where I’m rinsing shampoo out of my hair and suddenly a plot jumps into my head (why do life’s most profound thoughts happen in the shower??).

For Sweet Water, the idea started with a short story that I recently published in an anthology of short stories, poems and essays titled Into the Woods. The collection was published through a Mindful Writers group led by authors, Kathie Shoop and Larry Schardt. My story featured two college-aged kids who messed around with narcotics in a wooded area outside of Manhattan, but only one of them left the woods alive. It was a story that stuck with me long after the anthology was published.

Short story here: https://www.amazon.com/Into-Woods-Stories-Mindful-Writers-ebook/dp/B07CZMJQDY

I started thinking about affluent wooded areas closer to where I live in the Pittsburgh area that might be appropriate for a similar premise, and played around with a chapter or two basing the story in my favorite tree-lined suburb, Sewickley. Like a lot of writing projects, I started on a whim and before I knew it I had fifty or so pages and the start of a full-length novel that I really wanted to finish.

I’d also just read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. She does a beautiful job weaving her setting, Shaker Heights, Ohio, into her novel. I wanted to do something similar with my story. As I started writing Sweet Water the setting began to take on a life of its own, especially as I researched Sewickley and learned more about the executives who once owned estates there, most notably, B.F. Jones, a steel tycoon whose party home I used as inspiration for the residence of my main character. The home still stands today. I’m friends with the family of the previous owner, and have been inside the house which helped me create the immersive atmosphere I was striving for. Sewickley is the Native American translation for sweet water, and with all the water references in the book, it made for a perfect title as well.

sweet-wate-by-cara-reinard-cover

Sweet Water

by Cara Reinard

January 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

 

What did her son do in the woods last night? Does a mother really want to know?

It’s what Sarah Ellsworth dreamed of. Marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Martin. Living in a historic mansion in Pennsylvania’s most exclusive borough. And Finn, a teenage son with so much promise. Until…A call for help in the middle of the night leads Sarah and Martin to the woods, where they find Finn, injured, dazed, and weeping near his girlfriend’s dead body. Convinced he’s innocent, Sarah and Martin agree to protect their son at any cost and not report the crime.

But there are things Sarah finds hard to reconcile: a cover-up by Martin’s family that’s so unnervingly cold-blooded. Finn’s lies to the authorities are too comfortable, too proficient, not to arouse her suspicions. Even the secrets of the old house she lives in seem to be connected to the incident. As each troubling event unfolds, Sarah must decide how far she’ll go to save her perfect life.

Sweet Water Reviews:

“An unsparing account of ‘rich people problems’ that goes on forever, like all the best nightmares.” —Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thriller, Crime Fiction
Published by: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: January 1st 2021
Number of Pages: 364
ISBN: 1542024935 (ISBN13: 978-1542024938)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Author - Cara Reinard

Cara Reinard is an author of women’s fiction and domestic. She currently lives north of Pittsburgh with her husband, two children, and Bernese mountain dog.

For more information, visit:
www.carareinard.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @CaraReinard
Twitter – @carareinard
Instagram – @carareinard
Facebook – Cara Reinard, Author

 

Tour Participants:

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Enter To Win!!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cara Reinard. There will be two (2) winners each receiving one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on January 1, 2021 and runs through February 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: A MURDER IS FOREVER by Rob Bates

A Murder is Forever

by Rob Bates

December 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021 Tour



Synopsis:

Max Rosen always said the diamond business isn’t about sorting the gems, it’s about sorting the people. His daughter Mimi is about to learn that some people, like some diamonds, can be seriously flawed.

After Mimi’s diamond-dealer cousin Yosef is murdered–seemingly for his $4 million pink diamond–Mimi finds herself in the middle of a massive conspiracy, where she doesn’t know who to trust, or what to believe. Now she must find out the truth about both the diamond and her cousin, before whoever killed Yosef, gets her.

“[A] sprightly debut …. Bates, who has more than 25 years as a journalist covering the diamond business, easily slips in loads of fascinating information on diamonds and Jewish culture without losing sight of the mystery plot. Readers will look forward to Mimi’s further adventures.” – Publishers Weekly


Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Camel Press
Publication Date: October 13th, 2020
Number of Pages: 281
ISBN: 1603812229 (ISBN13: 9781603812221)
Series: The Diamond District Mystery Series
Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

A MURDER IS FOREVER

By Rob Bates

 

CHAPTER ONE

As Mimi Rosen exited the subway and looked out on the Diamond District, she remembered the words of her therapist: “This won’t last forever.”

She sure hoped so. She had been working on Forty-Seventh Street for two months and was already pretty tired of it.

To outsiders, “The Diamond District” sounded glamorous, like a street awash in glitter. To Mimi, who had spent her life around New York, Forty-Seventh Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues was a crowded, dirty eyesore of a block. The sidewalk was covered not with glitz, but with newspaper boxes, cigarettes, stacks of garbage bags, and, of course, lots of people.

Dozens of jewelry stores lined the street, all vying for attention, with red neon signs proclaiming “we buy gold” or “50 percent off.” Their windows boasted the requisite rows of glittery rings, and Mimi would sometimes see tourists ogling them, their eyes wide. She hated how the stores crammed so many gems in each display, until they all ran together like a mess of kids’ toys. For all its feints toward elegance, Forty-Seventh Street came off as the world’s sparkliest flea market.

Mimi knew the real action in the Diamond District was hidden from pedestrians, because it took place upstairs. There, in the nondescript grey and brown buildings that stood over the stores, billions in gems were bought, sold, traded, stored, cut, appraised, lost, found, and argued over. The upstairs wholesalers comprised the heart of the U.S. gem business; if someone bought a diamond anywhere in America, it had likely passed through Forty-Seventh Street.

Mimi’s father Max had spent his entire life as part of the small tight-knit diamond dealer community. It was a business based on who you knew—and even more, who you trusted. “This business isn’t about sorting the diamonds,” Max always said. “It’s about sorting the people.” Mimi would marvel how traders would seal million-dollar deals on handshakes, without a contract or lawyer in sight.

It helped that Forty-Seventh Street was comprised mostly of family businesses, owned by people from a narrow range of ethnic groups. Most—like Mimi’s father—were Orthodox, or religious, Jews. (“We’re the only people crazy enough to be in this industry,” as Max put it.) The Street was also home to a considerable contingent of Hasidic Jews, who were even more religious and identifiable by their black top hats and long flowing overcoats. Mimi once joked that Forty-Seventh Street was so diverse, it ran the gamut from Orthodox to ultra-Orthodox.

Now Mimi, while decidedly secular, was part of it all. Working for her father’s diamond company was not something she wanted to do, not something she ever dreamed she would do. Yet, here she was.

She had little choice. She had not worked full-time since being laid off from her editing job a year ago. She was already in debt from her divorce, which had cost more than her wedding, and netted little alimony. “That’s what happens when you divorce a lawyer,” said her shrink.

Six months after she lost her job, Mimi first asked her father for money. He happily lent it to her, though he added he wasn’t exactly Rockefeller. It was after her third request—accompanied, like the others, by heartfelt vows to pay him back—that he asked her to be the bookkeeper at his company. “I know you hate borrowing from me,” he told her. “This way, it isn’t charity. Besides, it’ll be nice having you around.”

Mimi protested she could barely keep track of her own finances. Her father reminded her that she got an A in accounting in high school. Which apparently qualified her to do the books at Max Rosen Diamond Company.

“We have new software, it makes it easy,” Max said. “Your mother, may she rest in peace, did it for years.”

Mimi put him off. She had a profession, and it wasn’t her mother’s.

Mimi was a journalist. She had worked at a newspaper for nine years, and a website for five. She was addicted to the thrill of the chase, the pump of adrenaline when she uncovered a hot story or piece of previously hidden info. There is no better sound to a reporter’s ears than someone sputtering, “How did you find that out?”

“It’s the perfect job for you,” her father once said. “You’re a professional nosy person.”

She loved journalism for a deeper reason, which she rarely admitted to her cynical reporter friends: She wanted to make a difference. As a girl, she was haunted by the stories they told in religious school, how Jews were killed in concentration camps while the world turned its head. Growing up, she devoured All the President’s Men and idolized pioneering female muckrakers like Nellie Bly.

Being a journalist was the only thing Mimi ever wanted to do, the only thing she knew how to do. She longed to do it again.

Which is why, she told her therapist, she would tell her father no.

Dr. Asner said she understood, in that soft melancholy coo common to all therapists. Then she crept forward on her chair.

“Maybe you should take your father up on this. He’s really throwing you a lifeline. You keep telling me how bad the editorial job market is.” She squinted and her glasses inched up her nose. “Sometimes people adjust their dreams. Put them on hold.”

Mimi felt the blood drain from her face. In her darker moments—and she had quite a few after her layoff—she had considered leaving journalism and doing something else, though she had no idea what that would be. Mimi always believed that giving up her lifelong passion would be tantamount to surrender.

Dr. Asner must have sensed her reaction, because she quickly backtracked.

“You can continue to look for a journalism job,” she said. “Who knows? Maybe working in the Diamond District will give you something to write about. Besides,”— here, her voice gained an edge—”you need the money.” That was driven home at the end of the forty-five minutes, when Dr. Asner announced that she couldn’t see Mimi for any more sessions, since Mimi hadn’t paid her for the last three.

By that point, Mimi didn’t know whether to argue, burst into tears, or wave a white flag and admit the world had won.

It was a cold February morning as Mimi walked down Forty-Seventh Street to her father’s office, following an hour-plus commute from New Jersey that included a car, a bus, and a subway. With her piercing hazel eyes, glossy brown hair, and closely set features, Mimi was frequently told she was pretty, though she never quite believed it. She had just gotten her hair cut short to commemorate her thirty-eighth birthday, hoping for a more “mature” look. She had always been self-conscious about her height; she was five foot four and tried to walk taller. She was wearing a navy dress that she’d snagged for a good price on eBay; it was professional enough to please her father, who wanted everyone to look nice in the office, without being so nice that she was wasting one of her few good outfits. She was bundled up with multiple layers and a heavy coat—to protect against the winter chill, as well as the madness around her.

Even though it was before 9 AM, Forty-Seventh Street was, as usual, packed, and Mimi gritted her teeth as she bobbed and weaved through the endless crowd. She sidestepped the store workers grabbing a smoke, covering her mouth so she wouldn’t get cancer. She swerved around the stern-looking guard unloading the armored car, with the gun conspicuously dangling from his belt. And she dodged the “hawker” trying to lure her into a jewelry store, who every day asked if she had gold to sell, even though every day she told him no.

Finally, Mimi reached her father’s building, 460 Fifth, the most popular address on “The Street.” After a few minutes standing and tapping her foot on the security line, she handed her driver’s license to the security guard and called out, “Rosen Diamonds.”

“Miss,” growled the guard with the oversized forehead who’d seen her three days a week for the past two months, “you should get a building ID. It’ll save you time in the morning.”

“It’s okay. I won’t be working here for long,” she chirped, though she wasn’t quite sure of that.

Next stop, the elevator bank. Mimi had an irrational fear of elevators; she was always worried she would die in one. She particularly hated these elevators, which were extremely narrow and perpetually packed. She envied those for whom a subway was their sole exposure to a cramped unpleasant space.

As the car rose, one occupant asked a Hasidic dealer how he was finding things.

“All you can do is put on your shoes. The rest is up to the man upstairs.”

Only in the diamond business. Mimi’s last job was thirty blocks away, yet in a different universe.

At each floor, dealers pushed and rushed like they were escaping a fire. When the elevator reached her floor, Mimi too elbowed her way to freedom.

As she walked to her father’s office, she marveled how the building, so fancy and impressive when she was a kid, had sunk into disrepair. The carpets were frayed, the paint was peeling, and the bathroom rarely contained more than one functioning toilet. If management properly maintained the building, they’d charge Midtown Manhattan rents, which small dealers like her father couldn’t afford. The neglect suited everyone.

She spied a new handwritten sign, “No large minyans, by order of the fire department.” Mimi produced a deep sigh. She had long ago left her religious background behind. Somehow, she was now working in a building where they warn against praying in the halls. She was going backward.

Perhaps the dealer in the elevator was right. You could only put on your shoes and do your best. She grabbed her pocketbook strap, threw her head back, and was just about at her father’s office when she heard the yelling.

“I’m so tired of waiting, Yosef! It’s not fair!”

Max’s receptionist, Channah, was arguing with her boyfriend, Yosef, a small-time, perpetually unsuccessfully diamond dealer. Making it more awkward: Yosef was Mimi’s cousin.

Channah and Yosef had dated for nearly eighteen months without getting married—an eternity in Channah’s community. Still, whenever Channah complained, Mimi remembered how her ex-husband only popped the question after three years and two ultimatums.

“Give me more time,” Yosef stuttered, as he tended to do when nervous. “I want to be successful in the business.”

“When’s that going to happen? The year three thousand?”

The argument shifted to Yiddish, which Mimi didn’t understand, though they were yelling so fiercely she didn’t need to. Finally, tall, skinny Yosef stormed out of the office, his black hat and suit set off by his red face. He was walking so fast he didn’t notice his cousin Mimi standing against the wall. Given the circumstances, she didn’t stop him to say hello. She watched his back grow smaller as he stomped and grunted down the hall.

Mimi gave Channah time to cool down. After a minute checking in vain for responses to her latest freelance pitch—editors weren’t even bothering to reject her anymore—she rang the doorbell. She flashed a half-smile at the security camera stationed over the door, and Channah buzzed her in. Mimi hopped into the “man trap,” the small square space between security doors that was a standard feature of diamond offices. She let the first door slam behind her, heard the second buzz, pulled the metal handle on the inner door, and said hello to Channah, perched at her standard spot at the reception desk.

Channah had long dark curly hair, which she constantly twirled; a round, expressive face, dotted with black freckles; and a voluptuous figure that even her modest religious clothing couldn’t hide.

“Did you hear us argue?” she asked Mimi.

“No,” she sputtered. “I mean—”

Channah smiled and pointed to the video monitor on her desk. “I could see you on the camera.” Her shoulders slouched. “It was the same stupid argument we always have. Even I’m bored by it.”

“Hang in there. We’ll talk at lunch.” Mimi and Channah shared a quick hug, and Mimi walked back to the office.

She was greeted by her father’s smile and a peck on the cheek. If anything made this job worthwhile, it was that grin. Plus the money.

“How are things this morning?”

“Baruch Hashem,” Max replied. Max said “thank God” all the time, even during his wife’s sickness, when he really didn’t seem all that thankful.

Sure enough, he added, “We’re having a crisis.”

Mimi almost rolled her eyes. It was always a crisis in the office. When Mimi was young, the family joke was that business was either “terrible” or “worse than terrible.”

Lately, her dad seemed more agitated than normal. As he spoke, he puttered in a circle and his hands clutched a pack of Tums. That usually didn’t come out until noon.

“I can’t find the two-carat pear shape.” He threw his arms up and his forehead exploded into a sea of worry lines. “It’s not here, it’s not there. It’s nowhere.”

Max Rosen was dressed, as usual, in a white button-down shirt and brown wool slacks, with a jeweler’s loupe dangling on a rope from his neck. His glasses sat off-kilter on his nose, and two shocks of white hair jutted from his skull like wings. When he was excited about something, like this missing diamond, the veins in his neck popped and the bobby-pinned yarmulke seemed to flap on his head.

Mimi stifled a laugh. That was the crisis? Diamonds always got lost in the office. As kids, Mimi and her two sisters used to come in on weekends and be paid one dollar for every stone they found on the floor. “They travel,” Max would say.

It was no surprise that things went missing in that vortex of an office. Every desk was submerged under a huge stack of books, magazines, and papers. The most pressing were placed on the seat near her father’s desk, what he called his “in-chair.”

When Mimi’s mother worked there, she kept a lid on the chaos. After her death, Max hired a few bookkeepers, none of whom lasted; two years later, the job had somehow fallen to Mimi.

Eventually, Channah found the two-carat pear shape, snug in its parcel papers, right next to the bathroom keys. The only logical explanation was that Max was examining it while on the toilet.

Max sheepishly returned to his desk. Mimi loved watching her father at work. She was fascinated by how he joked with friends, took grief from clients, and kept track of five things at once. It felt exotic and forbidden, like observing an animal in its natural habitat.

For the most part, they got along, which was no small thing. Over the years, there had been tense moments as he struggled to accept that she was no longer religious. Lately, he rarely brought the topic up, and she didn’t want him to. Her split from her non-Jewish ex probably helped.

On occasion, the old strains resurfaced, in subtle ways. Max’s desk was covered with photos—mostly of Mimi’s mom and her religious sisters and their religious broods. One time when Max was at lunch, Mimi tiptoed over to glance at them, and—not incidentally—check how many were of her. It made her feel silly, yet she couldn’t help herself. She was a professional nosy person.

She got her answer: out of about twenty photos, Mimi was in three, an old family photo and two pics from her sisters’ weddings. That was less than expected. She tried not to take it personally. She had no kids and her marriage was a bust. What was there to show off?

Mimi spent most of the morning deciphering her father’s books—a task made more difficult by his aging computer system, which regularly stalled and crashed. Her father’s “new” software was actually fifteen years old.

Sometimes she wished he gave her more substantial tasks to do. While her father would never say it, he didn’t consider the diamond industry a place for women, as it had always been male-dominated—even though, ironically, it catered mostly to females. That was fine with Mimi. She didn’t want to devote her life to a rock.

At 1 PM, Channah and Mimi headed for Kosher Gourmet, their usual lunch spot. Mimi always joked, “I don’t know if it’s kosher, but it’s not gourmet.”

In the two months Mimi had worked for her father, she and Channah had become fast friends, bonding over their shared love of mystery novels, crossword puzzles, and sarcastic senses of humor.

Channah was not Mimi’s typical friend. She was twenty-three and her parents were strictly religious, even more than Mimi’s. She commuted to Forty-Seventh Street every day on a charter bus from Borough Park, a frum enclave in Brooklyn. The Diamond District was her main exposure to the wider world. She reminded Mimi of her younger, more religious self, under her parents’ thrall yet curious what else was out there.

Mimi was not Channah’s typical friend either. During their lunches, Channah quizzed her on the taste of non-Kosher food (it didn’t taste any different, Mimi told her); sex (“When the time comes,” Mimi said, “you’ll figure it out”); and popular culture (“Can you explain,” Channah once asked, “why Kim Kardashian is famous?” Mimi just said no.) Today, as usual, they talked about Yosef. 

“I don’t get it.” Channah wrapped sesame noodles around her white plastic fork. “I love him. He loves me. Why not get married?”

Mimi took a sip from her Styrofoam cup filled with warm tap water. She preferred bottled water but couldn’t afford it. “Have you thought of giving Yosef an ultimatum? Tell him if he doesn’t marry you by a certain date, that’s it.”

“Yosef wouldn’t take that seriously.” Channah turned her eyes to her tray.

“Why not?”

“Cause I’ve done that already. Three times! I backed down every time.” Her fork toyed with her food. “I believe it is beshert that Yosef and I will end up together. I’ve thought so since I first met him at your father’s office, and he smiled at me. What choice do I have?” Her elbow nudged her tray across the table.

“I understand why he’s waiting. He wants to be a steady provider. That’s a good thing, right?”

Actually, Mimi found it sexist. She didn’t say that, because she found many things in Channah’s world sexist.

“He just needs to sell that pink,” Channah said, spearing a dark brown cube of chicken.

Mimi took a quick sip of water. “That pink” was an awkward subject.

One month ago, Yosef had bought a three-point-two carat pink diamond. It was the biggest purchase of his career, the kind of high-risk move that could make or break his business. Max was overjoyed. “Do you know how rare pink diamonds are?” he exclaimed. “And it’s a three-carater! Sounds like a great buy!”

That was, until Yosef proudly presented it to his uncle Max, who inspected it under his favorite lamp, muttered “very nice,” and quickly handed it back.

It was only after Yosef left that Max dismissed his nephew’s score as a strop, a dog of a diamond, the kind of unsellable item that gathered dust in a safe.

“It has so many pepper spots,” Max lamented. “The color’s not strong at all. No one will buy that thing.”

“Maybe he got it for a good price,” Mimi said.

“I’m sure whoever sold it to him said it was the bargain of the century. Anytime someone offers me a metziah, that’s a sign they can’t sell the stone. There’s a saying, ‘your metziah is my strop.'” His face sagged. “I wish he talked to me first. That stone is worthless. I don’t have the heart to tell him.”

When Channah brought up the big pink at lunch, Mimi didn’t want to dwell on the subject. “What’s happening with that?” she asked, as casually as possible.

“Didn’t you hear?” Channah jerked forward. “It got the highest grade possible on its USGR cert.”

“You’ll have to translate.” Mimi tuned out most diamond talk.

“Cert is short for certificate, meaning grading report. The USGR is the U.S. Academy for Gemological Research, the best lab in the industry.”

Mimi just stared.

“That stone’s worth four million dollars.”

That Mimi understood. “Wow.” A lot of money for a dog of a diamond.

“Four point one million, to be exact.” Channah laughed. “Don’t want to leave that point one out!” 

“I thought that stone was—”

“Ugly?” Channah chuckled. “Me too! I don’t understand how it got that grade. I guess it doesn’t matter. As your father says, ‘today the paper is worth more than the diamond.'” She slurped some diet soda.

“Is Yosef going to get four million dollars?”

“Who knows? He isn’t exactly an expert in selling such a stone. Your father convinced him to post it on one of the online trading networks. Someone called him about it yesterday.”

“That’s great!”

“Hopefully. If anyone could screw this up, Yosef could.” Channah’s mouth curled downward. “I keep checking my phone to see if there’s any news.” She flipped over her iPhone, saw nothing, and flipped it back. “The way I figure, if he sells that stone, he’ll have to marry me. Unless he comes up with some new excuse. He wouldn’t do that, right? Not after all this time. Would he?”

Mimi struggled to keep herself in check. She was dying to shake Channah and scream that if Yosef wasn’t giving her what she wanted, it was time to move on. She didn’t. Yosef was her cousin. Mimi was in no position to critique someone else’s love life. She always told people hers was “on hold.” It was basically non-existent.

Plus, she remembered how, weeks before her wedding, her friends warned her that her fiancé had a wandering eye. That just strengthened her resolve to marry him, even though in retrospect, they were right. “With situations like that,” her therapist said later, “I always recommend not to say anything. Just be a supportive friend.”

Mimi waited until Channah stopped speaking. She touched her hand. “I’m sure it will work out,” she said.

***

Excerpt from A Murder is Forever by Rob Bates. Copyright © 2020 by Rob Bates. Reproduced with permission from Rob Bates. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Rob Bates has written about the diamond industry for over 25 years. He is currently the news director of JCK, the leading publication in the jewelry industry, which just celebrated its 150th anniversary. He has won 12 editorial awards and been quoted as an industry authority in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and on National Public Radio. He is also a comedy writer and performer, whose work has appeared on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment, comedycentral.com, and McSweeneys. He has also written for Time Out New York, New York Newsday, and Fastcompany.com. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and son.


Catch Up With Rob Bates:


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! Click here to view A Murder Is Forever by Rob Bates tour participants. 

Enter To Win!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Rob Bates. There will be one (1) winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and there will be three (3) winners of one (1) Physical OR eBook (WINNER’s Choice!!) edition of A Murder Is Forever by Rob Bates (US and Canada ONLY). The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020 and runs through February 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

Click here to enter using the Rafflecopter form.


Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Guest Post: Connie di Marco – THE MADNESS OF MERCURY

Monday greetings, book people. I’ve learned over the years that some authors base their characters on real people (often composites of family and friends), and others may simply read a news article about some event and think “hmm, that might make for a good story.” Connie di Marco is one of the few authors that created a character and then found out that her character bore a striking resemblance to a real person. Learn more about this and her book, The Madness of Mercury, as Ms. di Marco visits with us today. Thank you, Ms. di Marco, for joining us today and giving us some insight into your character. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

THE REAL ASK ZODIA by Connie di Marco


Julia Bonatti, my crime-solving astrological sleuth in the Zodiac Mysteries, writes an advice column, AskZodia, for her hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle. Julia’s column stretches reality quite a bit because how many big-city newspapers would have space for a ‘Dear Abby’ type of feature?  

Julia enjoys the work, but sometimes really struggles with some of the letters to Zodia. Some are sad, some are heartbreaking and some are just plain worrying. And Julia worries a lot about what she’s sending out into the universe in her column. Here’s one example:  

Dear Zodia ~
My birthday is September 13, 1974 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I’ve been married for 26 years. I’m very unhappy and confused. I care about my husband, he’s a good person, but to be honest, I’m bored. Bored with him and with married life. I’ve been thinking about telling him I want a divorce, but I’m really afraid what this will do to him. Please tell me what to do.
~ Growing Older

Dear Growing Older ~
Your sign off name says a lot. You’re afraid life is passing you by and soon it will be too late for adventure. What you’re not telling me, and I know because Neptune is opposing your Sun sign, and over the last year or so, opposed your Venus, is that you are attracted to someone else. Here’s the thing about Neptune transits: they can lend a great aura of mystery or fantasy. Much if not most of this is not real. Think very carefully about your choices because, in time, you may regret leaving your marriage.  
Wishing you well ~
~ Zodia

And here’s another:

Dear Zodia ~
I’m at my wit’s end. My mother’s new boyfriend is a complete creep.  He makes me very uncomfortable whenever he’s in our house. I don’t want to be alone with him, and so far I haven’t been, but I’m afraid to be in the same room with him when my mother’s not there. I’ve tried to talk to her about this, but she thinks I’m imagining things and trying to make her life difficult. I don’t know what to do. What should I do?  
My birthday is May 6, 2004 in Berkeley at 3:20 p.m.
~ Creeped Out

Dear Creeped Out ~
Trust your instincts, no matter what anyone says. Unfortunately, there are bad people in the world, predators, and some of them date women with young children for that very reason. By all means, speak out about your concerns. Your transits show a Pluto aspect to your Moon, this may indicate the difficulties between you and your mother right now, but no matter what astrology can tell you, always trust your instincts.
~ Zodia

But here’s the odd thing — I never ever wondered if there was a real AskZodia. I no longer live in San Francisco but manage to visit a few times a year, so I don’t often get to read the Chronicle. But one day at a street fair, I glanced at a newspaper and spotted the Chronicle’s Astro column. I was stunned! Why hadn’t I discovered this before? There is a REAL AskZodia! His name is Christopher Renstrom, not Julia Bonatti and he’s a famous astrologer, a real one, unlike Julia! 


I’d be willing to bet Christopher would have no problem responding to AskZodia questions. After all, he has a terrific new book out — The Cosmic Calendar: Using Astrology to Get in Sync with Your Best Life. So I’m sure he’d offer some great advice and solve all of these AskZodia problems.  

If you’d like some real-life astrology, check out Christopher’s website [http://rulingplanets.com], follow him on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/christopher.renstrom], and Twitter @rulingplanets [https://twitter.com/rulingplanets/]. You won’t regret it! 
 
And if you’d like to enjoy a good astrological murder mystery, don’t miss Julia’s first adventure in The Madness of Mercury!  



The Madness of Mercury

by Connie di Marco

December 1-31, 2020 Tour



Synopsis:


San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti’s life is turned upside down when she becomes a target of the Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The Reverend, a recently-arrived cult preacher, is determined to drive sin from the city, but his gospel of love and compassion doesn’t extend to those he considers an “abomination unto the Lord.” Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, has put her at the top of the Reverend’s list. While the powerful Mercury-ruled preacher woos local dignitaries, his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence not just Julia, but anyone who stands in his way.

Driven out of her apartment in the midst of a disastrous Mercury retrograde period, she takes shelter with a client who’s caring for two elderly aunts. One aunt appears stricken with dementia and the other has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. To add to the confusion, a young man claiming to be a long-lost nephew arrives. The longer he stays, the more dangerous things become. One aunt slides deeper into psychosis while the other disappears. Is this young man truly a member of the family? Can astrology confirm that? Julia’s not sure, but one thing she does know is that Mercury wasn’t merely the messenger of the gods – he was a trickster and a liar as well.

Book Details

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: October 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 268
ISBN: 0578752654 (ISBN13: 9780578752655)
Series: Zodiac Mystery #1
Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads


Author Bio:

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series was re-released in October 2020.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.


Catch Up With Connie di Marco:  ConniediMarco.com, Goodreads, BookBub, 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 The Madness Of Mercury by Connie di Marco blog tour participants.

Enter To Win!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Connie di Marco. There will be two (2) winners each receiving one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

Click here to enter the giveaway.


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.




Guest Post: Sage Webb – Author of THE VENTURI EFFECT

Welcome to November, book people! I don’t know about you, but it seems as if it has been about a decade since the last November. Fortunately, we have books to take us away from reality, even if it is just for a little while. Do you enjoy being an armchair adventurer with your reading? If so, you’re going to love today’s guest. Please help me welcome the acclaimed Sage Webb as she discusses her bucket list and armchair bookish adventures. I hope you’ll add The Venturi Effect to your TBR list and follow along with the tour. Thank you, Ms. Webb, for taking time away from your writing and traveling to visit with us today. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.


Bookish Adventures and Bucket Lists

by Sage Webb

When I pick up a new book, I’m looking for an adventure of sorts. Sometimes I want to take a classic armchair adventure: perhaps paddle a kayak around Madagascar (that’s on my TBR shelf right now). Or maybe I’m looking for a more human adventure at that moment: a dive into fallibility, if you will (I do love me some The Sun Also Rises). But it’s definitely a feeling of adventure—in some form—I’m seeking when I pick up my next read. 


When I write, I hope to give my readers a dash of adventure, too. In my new legal thriller The Venturi Effect, that adventure takes the form of a stormy sailing passage to St. Kitts as a burned-out criminal-defense attorney tries to find evidence to support her client/old flame, who has found himself caught up in criminal charges and a courtroom battle. 


But what about “real” adventures? For me, I try not to leave things on my “bucket list” too long. If there’s an experience I want to have, I try to make it happen. I don’t always succeed, and my interest in an endeavor may fade before I get there. But generally, I try to keep moving through the items that make it onto the list. One trip, however, has lingered on my bucket list for a while. It involves more time and financial resources and logistical planning than many other things I’ve done, so it may remain in bucket-list status a little longer yet, but in the near future I want very much to complete what is called the Great Loop, a 6,000-mile waterway journey from Galveston, along the Gulf Coast, around Florida, up the East Coast, through the Erie Canal, into and through the Great Lakes, to Chicago, and ultimately down the Mississippi and proximate river systems to New Orleans and back to Galveston. Oh, and I want to do it alone . . . on a jetski. It’ll take a few months, a lot of sun protection, and some time away from paying gigs, but I have to make it happen. It has just worked its way too deep into my heart and demands to be done. 

 

On the book front, I’ve read numerous Great Loop guides and accounts, and I’ve collected and reviewed a number of works on long-distance jetskiing. I’ve got much of the gear already, since I live on a sailboat and spend a lot of time on the water, and I’m familiar with boating on the Gulf Coast, in Florida, and on the Great Lakes. My husband says he’ll support me, though he wants no part of spending close to three months on a jetski. 


Will I write about it if I do it? Definitely. Writing helps me distill things, so no matter what, if I do it, this adventure will end up in my journal, on my blog, and in long notes back to my friends and family. Beyond that, well, I think it would end up in a book somewhere along the way, too.



The Venturi Effect
by Sage Webb
on Tour November 1 – December 31, 2020




Synopsis:

After fleeing the crush of a partnership at a large Chicago criminal-defense firm and the humiliation of a professional breakdown, Devlin Winters just wants to be left alone with a couple sundowners on the deck of her dilapidated mahogany trawler on Galveston Bay. But when an old flame shows up on the boardwalk with a mysterious little boy in tow and an indictment on his heels, fate has other plans, and Devlin finds herself thrust onto a sailboat bound for St. Kitts and staring down her demons in the courtroom, as she squares off against an obsessed prosecutor with a secret of his own.



Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thriller
Published by: Stoneman House Press, LLC
Publication Date: November 15th, 2020
Number of Pages: 329
ISBN: 9781733737944 (Ebook: 9781733737951)
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Sage Webb practiced criminal defense for over a decade before turning to fiction. She is the author of two novels and the recipient of numerous literary awards in the U.S. and the U.K., including second place in the Hackney Literary Awards. Her short stories have appeared in Texas anthologies and literary reviews. In 2020, Michigan’s Mackinac State Historic Parks named her an artist in residence. She belongs to International Thriller Writers and PEN America, and lives with her husband, a ship’s cat, and a boat dog on a sailboat in Galveston Bay. 


You can find Sage at:
www.sagewebb.com, Goodreads, 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 The Venturi Effect by Sage Webb Tour Participants.

Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Sage Webb. There will be Fourteen (14) winners for this tour. Seven (7) winners will each receive a $15 Amazon.com Gift Card and Seven (7) winners will each receive a physical copy of The Venturi Effect by Sage Webb (US addresses only). The giveaway begins on November 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.



Book Blast: ON THE RUN by Traci Hunter Abramson

On the Run

by Traci Hunter Abramson

October 27, 2020 Book Blast

Synopsis:

As one of the top investigative journalists in the nation, Elle Jameson has a knack for uncovering the truth. So when a promising lead points to corruption on a German military base, Elle anticipates a straightforward assignment. But then she stumbles upon a deadly conspiracy beyond anything she’s faced before, and her scrutiny does not go unnoticed. She knows too much, and she can’t be allowed to live. With no idea where to turn for help, she does the only thing she can: she runs.

The guardians, an elite team of undercover agents, have one job: safeguard those under their protection. As a new guardian, Nolan has just received his first solo assignment to help a young woman who just survived an assassination attempt. Within minutes of making contact with the beautiful journalist, however, their location is discovered. Thus begins a game of cat and mouse spanning the globe as the two work to stay ahead of a determined assassin. Nolan fights to buy Elle time to complete her investigation, and what she discovers is a plot that threatens the very fabric of America. In a desperate race against evil, Nolan and Elle are the only ones who can prevent global catastrophe.


Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Published by: Covenant Communications

Publication Date: October 2020

Number of Pages: 296

ISBN: 9781524412487

Series: Guardian #4

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Read an excerpt:

Elle weaved her way through the Saturday crowd at the street market, listening to the various conversations flowing around her. Since arriving in Germany three weeks ago, she had looked forward to exploring the local scenery and visiting the cities near her new assignment. If only today she had time to enjoy the environment . . . and the shops.

A brisk wind whipped through Elle’s long, blonde hair. A few autumn leaves drifted onto the sidewalk. She tugged her overcoat tighter around her, then stuffed her hands in her pockets to protect them against the chill, not bothering to put her gloves on.

She passed various customers, picking up on snippets of their conversations.

Two women discussed what kind of fish to buy for dinner, and an older couple looked over a variety of apples at the fruit stand. At the neighboring booth, a handful of tourists chatted in English as they debated whether some glassware would make it safely home to Canada.

Elle wished she could worry about such trivialities, but she doubted that would happen anytime soon.

Something was wrong with the latest reports on the new drone project. She was sure of it.

When her uncle had sent her undercover as an army lieutenant, she had expected to find some evidence of misappropriation of funds or missing supplies, but uncovering a possible unauthorized access to highly sensitive material lifted her investigative senses to a new level. This wasn’t a story to be written. If her suspicions were right, this was espionage.

For three weeks now, she had set aside her true identity of investigative journalist and had acted under her alias of Lieutenant Elaina Martin to send her suspicions up the chain of command. Unfortunately, no one wanted to listen to a lowly lieutenant in a sea of colonels, especially when that lieutenant was a bean counter. She really needed to talk to her uncle about promoting her the next time he sent her undercover as an officer. Of course, no one would believe she was a colonel at twenty-seven, so she supposed her age was going to handicap her for a while longer.

Her assignment to Germany was supposed to be her opportunity to take a break from high-profile cases for a while, a chance to rest and recover from nearly six months of undercover work in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, her first day on the job, she had stumbled across an anomaly that, despite weeks of research, she still couldn’t explain.

When she tried to discuss the problem with her commanding officer, she had been told the program supervisor had everything under control. Colonel Doyle’s assurances didn’t change the facts. Someone without clearance had accessed the developmental software for the new unmanned aircraft prototype, a prototype that could fly undetected by radar. She didn’t need to be an aeronautical engineer to know that the software in the wrong hands could be deadly.

With no one in her unit taking her concerns seriously, she had reached out to the only person she’d known outside her unit whom she could trust with classified information: her sister Abby.

If Abby couldn’t figure out what was going on, Elle didn’t know who could.

The woman had a knack for seeing what other people missed. Elle should know.

Had it not been for Abby, the theft of weapons at Edwards Air Force Base would have put Elle before a court martial instead of the corporal who had tried to frame her.

The incident had opened Elle’s eyes to what she really wanted to do with her life. Abby had spent her years since college protecting their country by keeping secrets, and Elle wanted to protect their freedoms by revealing the secrets that, when kept, could create their own kind of danger, so she’d been working as an investigative journalist ever since.

Elle reached the designated café and stepped inside. Most of the round tables were occupied, the seats positioned so the customers could look out the wide window and watch the world go by. Deeper inside the restaurant, Abby waited for her at a table in the far corner.

Elle weaved her way past several waiters until she reached her sister. When Abby stood, Elle gave her a hug. “Abby, thanks for meeting me.”

“You said it was important. From what you sent me, I think it is.”

Elle sat beside Abby, then reached into her oversized purse to retrieve a file folder. “I brought you documentation.”

Abby took the folder and opened it in front of her. “What am I looking at?”

“The download logs for the new drone software.”

“And?”

Elle scooted her chair closer and pointed at the area of concern. “According to command, this software is still in the final testing stage. The only people who should be accessing the files are the programmers.”

She tapped on a list of the approved personnel. “Kamile Frost, Dennis Cleveland, and Lance Finney are all listed over here.”

“Then who is this?” Abby asked, pointing to the three access codes used during the night shift.

“That’s what I want to know. Whoever it is only downloads the updates after everyone else is gone for the day.”

“Talk about suspicious.”

“I thought so too.”

A waiter approached with a carafe of water, slices of lemon floating inside.

He filled both of their glasses. “Have you had time to look over the menu?”

Elle opened hers, quickly narrowing the options to what she could eat without triggering her allergies to citrus, tomatoes, and pork. After they both gave their orders and the waiter left, Elle pulled a water bottle from her purse and took a sip.

“I see you still come prepared.”

“Yeah. It’s such a pain that so many restaurants serve their water with lemon.”

Elle didn’t know how Abby had escaped all the food allergies in the family, while Elle appeared to have received a double dose.

Abby sipped her water and tapped her finger on the file folder. “I assume you brought your concerns to the attention of your CO.”

“Colonel Doyle didn’t seem the least bit interested in my concerns.”

“Did he have an explanation?”

“No. He just said the program manager would have said something if there were a problem. Apparently, everyone up the chain of command agrees with Colonel Doyle because no one seems concerned that a top-secret program might have been jeopardized,” Elle said.

“And no one told you who else is accessing it?”

“No. I thought with your resources, you could figure it out.”

“That’s easy enough. When I get back to the office, I’ll look up the access code and see who it belongs to.” Abby lifted her glass and took another long swallow. “I can’t guarantee I can tell you the name.”

“I realize you can’t share classified information, but you would at least be able to tell if this person is cleared on the project.”

“I can do that,” Abby said. “I’m not sure I’ll find anything beyond what the project supervisor would have noticed.”

“Maybe not, but after what happened at Edwards, I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

“The theft of those weapons wasn’t your fault. Adams created such a good paper trail, no one could have been expected to know it wasn’t real.”

“The auditor did.”

“An auditor who has thirty years of experience and was specifically looking for potential thefts,” Abby countered. “Besides, if it was something you should have caught in your ordinary course of business, he wouldn’t have made a point of clearing you.”

“But I sensed something wasn’t right. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.”

“Which is why we’re sitting here now.”

Elle shrugged. “I’m sorry if I seem paranoid.”

“Not paranoid. Cautious,” Abby corrected. “There’s a difference.”

“Whatever you call it, I appreciate your help.” Elle took another sip from her water bottle.

Abby cleared her throat. “How have you liked being stationed here in Germany?”

“It’s been good. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to practice speaking German much since so many people here speak English, but the language has come back faster than I’d expected.”

“I figured it would. You were speaking like a native when we lived here as kids.” Abby cleared her throat again and tugged at her scarf.

“So were you. I never realized how much we learned while Dad was stationed in Stuttgart.”

Abby opened her mouth to respond but, instead, coughed several times.

She reached for her water glass and took a swallow.

Elle leaned forward in her seat. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Sorry, I have this tickle in my throat,” Abby said, promptly coughing again. “Must be the change in the weather. I got a cold last fall too.”

“I’ve been wondering how anyone survives the winters here.”

“You’re about to find out . . .” Abby’s words trailed off into another fit of coughs, then her face turned red, a panicked expression dominating her features.

“Abby!” Elle pushed out of her chair and circled to pat her sister on the back.

Even though Abby hadn’t eaten anything, her hands went to her throat as though she were choking.

The waiter was at their side in an instant and pulled Abby out of her chair to start the Heimlich maneuver.

“She hasn’t eaten anything. I think she’s having an allergic reaction.” Elle fumbled through her purse for her EpiPen. She flipped off the safety cap, pressed the tip to Abby’s thigh, and pushed the button to trigger the injection.

Almost immediately, Abby took a gasping breath.

“Here.” The waiter thrust a glass of water toward Abby. “Take a sip.”

“No.” Elle pushed the glass away and knelt beside Abby’s chair. “Are you okay?”

Abby opened her mouth to speak only to begin another coughing fit.

Elle turned to the waiter. “Something’s wrong. Call an ambulance.”

A waitress approached, her phone in hand. “I already called. The ambulance will be here any minute.”

The waiter picked up the carafe from the table and refilled Abby’s glass. As soon as there was a break in the coughing, he offered the glass of water again.

“Are you sure you don’t want to give her something to drink?”

“Not until we figure out what caused this.”

Again, Abby tried to take a deep breath, but this time, her body trembled before being taken over by a seizure.

“Help me move her onto the floor.” Elle gripped Abby under her arms while the waiter helped ease her onto the carpet. Elle moved the closest chairs out of the way and knelt beside Abby.

“I’ll check on the ambulance,” the waiter said.

Elle sensed rather than saw the waiter head for the door. Helpless to do anything but wait, Elle fought for calm. “Hang on, Abby. Help is on the way.”

The words were barely out of her mouth before two ambulance attendants rushed through the door. Elle stood to give them room to work.

“What happened?” the paramedic asked in German.

“I don’t know,” Elle said, automatically responding in his language. “She started coughing and acting like she couldn’t breathe. I injected her with my EpiPen, and she got better for a few seconds. Then it started again. She started her seizure about a minute ago.”

Both paramedics knelt beside Abby, evaluating her.

“Does she have any known allergies?”

“No, and she was fine when I got here,” Elle said. “When she couldn’t breathe, the EpiPen was the only thing I could think of.”

Abby’s face paled, and her body stilled.

“I’ve lost her pulse,” one paramedic said.

Elle stepped back and watched the paramedics begin CPR and start Abby on oxygen. Adrenaline still pumping through her, Elle lowered herself into her chair. Minutes stretched out, the paramedics continuing the CPR, trading places every few minutes. They spoke with someone on the phone, the voices blurring with the background noise of the crowd who had been cleared out of the restaurant.

Tears flowed freely down Elle’s cheeks. She stood with her arms tightly folded, unable to do anything but watch and pray. She didn’t know how much time had passed when one paramedic tapped the other on the shoulder and shook his head. The paramedic not working on Abby sat beside Elle to confirm that the unbelievable had become the inevitable.

The one performing CPR gave one more chest compression and leaned back on his heels. His eyes lifted to meet Elle’s. “I’m sorry.”

“No.” The word escaped in a whisper. It couldn’t be. Elle stared at her sister’s lifeless body, waiting for any sign that she had misunderstood. Her heartbeat echoed in her head as though beating inside a deep tunnel.

“I’m so sorry.” The second paramedic put his hand on Elle’s arm.

Grief crashed over her, new tears forming. Her sister was gone. She was really gone.

“Can I get you something to drink? Maybe a glass of water?”

Elle shook her head, and her gaze swept over the table. Her water glass wasn’t there. Why that detail mattered at such a time, Elle didn’t know. A quick scan of the table revealed her glass wasn’t the only thing missing. Abby’s glass, the water carafe, and the file outlining Elle’s suspicions were also missing.

Elle swiped at her tears. “What happened to the waiter who met you at the door?”

“No one met us when we arrived,” the paramedic said.

Suspicions cut through her grief and bloomed with a sense of panic. Her file was coded in a way that it wouldn’t jeopardize national security, but if the people behind the suspicious activity got ahold of it, they would know exactly where the evidence was that could identify them.

Elle swallowed hard and forced herself to push aside her emotions and look at Abby’s lifeless body. The only thing her sister had ingested since her arrival was the water their waiter had served them, water Elle herself would have drunk had it not contained lemon slices. She stood and took a step toward the door.

“I have to go.”

“But we need more information from you.”

“Her name is Abigail Bender, and I think she was poisoned.”

***

Excerpt from On the Run by Traci Hunter Abramson.  
Copyright © 2020 by Traci Hunter Abramson. 
Reproduced with permission from Traci Hunter Abramson. 
All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years, eventually resigning in order to raise her family. She credits the CIA with giving her a wealth of ideas as well as the skills needed to survive her children’s teenage years. She has gone on to write more than twenty bestselling novels that have consistently been nominated as Whitney Award finalists and seven-time Whitney Award winner. When she’s not writing, Traci enjoys spending time with her husband and five children, preferably on a nice quiet beach somewhere. She also enjoys sports, travel, writing, and coaching high school swimming.


Catch Up With Traci Hunter Abramson:

www.TraciAbramson.com, Goodreads, BookBub, 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 the On The Run by Traci Hunter Abramson Participants.



Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Traci Hunter Abramson. There will be TWO winners.  ONE winner will receive (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and ONE winner will receive one (1) physical copy of On the Run by Traci Hunter Abramson (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on October 27, 2020, and runs through November 5, 2020. Void where prohibited.


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Book Showcase: SAVING GRACE by D.M. Barr

SAVING GRACE by D.M. Barr

Saving Grace

A Psychological Thriller

by D.M. Barr

on Tour October 12 – November 13, 2020



Synopsis:

SAVING GRACE by D.M. Barr

Grace Pierrepoint Rendell, the only child of an ailing billionaire, has been treated for paranoia since childhood. When she secretly quits her meds, she begins to suspect that once her father passes, her husband will murder her for her inheritance. Realizing that no one will believe the ravings of a supposed psychotic, she devises a creative way to save herself – she will write herself out of danger, authoring a novel with the heroine in exactly the same circumstances, thus subtly exposing her husband’s scheme to the world. She hires acclaimed author Lynn Andrews to help edit her literary insurance policy, but when Lynn is murdered, Grace is discovered standing over the bloody remains. The clock is ticking: can she write and publish her manuscript before she is strapped into a straitjacket, accused of homicide, or lowered six feet under?

With a cast of secondary characters whose challenges mirror Grace’s own, Saving Grace is, at its core, an allegory for the struggle of the marginalized to be heard and live life on their own terms.


“A psychological thriller with more than enough twists, turns, and misdirection to keep even the most jaded reader turning pages all night long.”

–Lori Robbins, author of the Silver Falchion Award-winning novel, Lesson Plan for Murder



Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Domestic Suspense

Published by: Black Rose Writing

Publication Date: October 15th, 2020

Number of Pages: 255

ISBN: 978-1684335565

Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Black Rose Writing | Goodreads


Read an excerpt:


One felony was all it took to convince Andrea Lin she was better suited to committing crime on paper than in person. As renowned mystery author Lynn Andrews, she understood conflict equaled good drama. Like her readers, she should have expected the hiccups, even relished them. What she hadn’t counted on was the accompanying agita, especially while sitting in her Bergen County kitchen, far from the action at the Bitcoin Teller Machine.

Her one job had been to place a single phone call when the money hit and tell the hacker to lift the encryption on Grace’s computer. Trouble was, her dozen calls remained unanswered until a few minutes ago, throwing their meticulous plan off schedule.

Andrea stroked the blue-gray Nebulung purring on her lap and tried to ignore the churning in her stomach. “Denver, the next time I consider helping a sibling with some crazy scheme, you have my permission to use my leg as a scratching post until I come to my senses. Agreed?”

Denver looked up, his green eyes filled with innocence, and answered with a single meow before leaping onto the table toward her plate of shortbread cookies.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” She sipped her tea, willing the sugar to sweeten the acrid taste in her mouth. The phone interrupted her meditation. No doubt a check-in from her brother, the extorter-in-chief.

“I figured you’d have called by now. Everything on track?” Joe’s strained voice conveyed his own jangled nerves. They’d agreed to be vague when communicating. In these days of Siri and Alexa, anyone could be listening.

“Finally. Took forever to get through to our friend, but she said she’d take care of ‘our project’ as soon as her meetings wrapped up. From here on out though, I’m sticking to fiction. Real-life intrigue is too stressful.”

Andrea missed Joe’s response, instead perplexed by her cats’ sudden change of behavior. Denver had tilted his head and leapt from the table; Vail and Aspen sat frozen, ears perked, staring toward the foyer. Then she heard it too, the sound of papers shuffling in the living room. She leaned forward, muscles taut, hackles raised, ready to pounce. “Joe, hold on a sec. I think someone’s in the house. I’ll call you back later.”

***

“Wait, what? Andrea??” Silence. The connection was dead.

After twenty minutes of weaving in and out of rush-hour traffic to travel one mile, Joe “Hack” Hackford pulled up outside his sister’s Ridgewood home. Adrenaline pumping on overdrive, he jumped from his car and sprinted toward the house. Door wide open—not an encouraging sign. He steeled his nerves and hastened inside. The living room looked like a hurricane’s aftermath, with furniture overturned and papers littering the carpets and floor.

“Andrea? Are you here?” He rushed into the kitchen, which lacked any signs of their celebratory dinner—no spaghetti boiling on the stove, no cake rising in the oven. Only the door to the backyard ajar and a shriek emanating from the next room, piercing the eerie silence. Hair stiffening at the back of his neck, he raced into the dining room where a redheaded woman stood frozen, staring across the room.

“Who the hell are you?” he growled.

The stranger remained wide-eyed and unresponsive. He followed her gaze to the floor, where he witnessed the unthinkable. His beloved sister lay in the corner, surrounded by a pool of blood, a kitchen knife stuck in her chest. Her eyes remained fixed on the ceiling. A trio of feline guards circled her lifeless body.

Hack’s knees turned to jelly, and he grabbed onto a chair for support, forcing back the remains of the snack he’d consumed only minutes earlier. Once the initial shock waned, he reverted his attention back to the intruder. At second glance, she did look somewhat familiar, though the woman he’d met a few weeks back—the missing heiress whose computer they’d just hacked—was brunette. Had she uncovered their con? With a bolt of fury, he reached forward and pulled the wig from her head. A thousand questions zigzagged in his brain, but only one forced its way past his lips:

“Oh my God. Grace. Oh my God. What the hell have you done?”

***


Excerpt from Saving Grace by D.M. Barr.  Copyright © 2020 by D.M. Barr. Reproduced with permission from D.M. Barr. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Author D.M. Barr

By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire.

My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations, and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy.

The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings or offed anyone at my local diet clinic. And I haven’t run away from home in fear that my husband was planning to off me.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t wanted to…

Catch Up With Our Author On:

www.DMBarr.com, Goodreads, BookBub, 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 Saving Grace by D.M. Barr Participants.

Enter To Win!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for D.M. Barr. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on October 12, 2020, and runs through November 15, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: James McCrone – EMERGENCY POWERS


Good day, book people. I’ve been getting lost in books for most of 2020, often re-reading a number of my favorite authors of fiction. Strangely enough, I’ve even found myself re-reading a number of nonfiction books as well, mostly true crime, biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. I find it fascinating to discover what people gravitate towards with regards to their reading habits. Do authors of romance novels only read romance? Are they inspired by true-life romance stories? Do political thriller authors only read other political thrillers or about real-life politics? James McCrone, the author of Emergency Powers, has stopped by today and graciously offered to share with us what helps him from blurring the lines between fiction and reality. You’ll be amazed at what he has to say. Thank you, Mr. McCrone, for taking time away from your busy schedule to spend a few minutes with us today. I turn the blog over to you.

Blurred Lines – Separating Fiction from Reality


Recently in an interview, I was asked: How do you keep your written world from encroaching on your life?

I have the opposite problem. As I’ve written elsewhere, I often find myself sailing too close to the wind. My political thrillers have a ripped-from-the-headlines urgency, but it’s not because I troll the newspapers for material. Rather, as I tell my story I try to think like the bad guys—”what would they do?” And “what needs to happen for them to succeed?” And of course, how would my protagonist counter them?

In many ways, my writing ends up anticipating the headlines, and it’s dismaying how close I come to real events. My recurring character is FBI Agent Imogen Trager, a Poli-Sci Ph.D. turned agent—”as tough as she is smart”—and in my debut thriller, Faithless Elector, the center of the conflict were a group of Electors who had switched their votes. (It came out in March of 2016, before the major parties had even held their conventions.) In Dark Network (2017), the conspirators try to gain a toehold by undermining the Justice Department and the Attorney General. 

In the novel that debuted this month, Emergency Powers, I have the conspirators working hard to get a pliant Attorney General installed. There are also an increasing number of “acting” officials, rather than those approved by the Senate; the OPM (Office of Management and Personnel) has been subsumed.

I need for the real world to stop intruding on my written world!

I don’t write about real people or real situations. It’s just that some real people start acting like characters in my books. I think this is because I do let real problems inform my approach to a story and the plot. And through exhaustive research, I ask—What’s possible in this situation? What’s plausible? Who would make the decision, and why? What would the antagonists do to cover their tracks? Or to deflect attention? How would they muddy the water? 

How would they try to get away with murder?

And, of course, I ask myself what every writer must ask: what does the bad guy/villain WANT? What will s/he do to get it? 

I remember an interview with Jon Stewart, the former Daily Show host. He was asked about the political nature of his show, and he said something like, “Yes, it’s political, but my job is to FIND THE FUNNY…” or, for writers like me, the job is to FIND THE STORY.

Mysteries and suspense-thrillers are compelling stories about characters forced into action by circumstance—of character revealed through action. Answering the questions above and getting the details right makes for verisimilitude. Sometimes too much!

I should say a quick word about a related matter. There are no real people in my books. I think that if you use someone real—or a thinly disguised version of him/her—you run the very real risk of turning the novel you’re writing into a partisan rant, a screed. 

*That’s what social media is for. 🙂 

So I have a very real problem keeping the fictional and the real world separate because each informs the other—fictional needs beget events that somehow come to pass. Some days I think I should focus on stock market investing!


Emergency Powers

by James McCrone

on Tour October 1-31, 2020



Synopsis:

The accidental president is no accident. The investigation that was FBI Agent Imogen Trager’s undoing may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to tighten a puppet president’s grip on power.


Emergency Powers will delight mystery and thriller fans (“Great for fans of Brad Meltzer, David Baldacci.” –Publishers Weekly) And politics junkies will enjoy the ripped-from-the-headlines urgency. But it’s about more than the headlines. And darker. A story of corruption and redemption, achieved at enormous personal cost, featuring FBI Agent Imogen Trager: “a memorable protagonist—as tough as she is smart.” (Kirkus Review) Indeed, “Three tough female characters steal the show: FBI agents Vega, Sartain, and Trager. Overall, the power dynamics of these women…are something special.” (T. LIEBERMAN, Independent Book Review)


As the story begins, Imogen is haunted—and sidelined—by a case she couldn’t solve. When the president dies in office, she knows that the conspiracy she chased down a blind alley still has life in it—and she needs to get back in the hunt. As bodies pile up and leads go cold, the main target from that old case reaches out to her. He’s still at large, and now he needs protection. Imogen doesn’t trust him, and it’s not only because he’s offering intel that sounds too good to be true. He’s already tried to kill her once.


Set in D.C., Seattle and small town America, Emergency Powers is a story of corruption and redemption, achieved at enormous personal cost.

“A high-stakes political thriller that feels so chillingly true, you pray it’s not”—TOM STRAW, seven-time NYT bestselling author, as Richard Castle


“RECOMMENDED” – Kate Robinson, US Review of Books


“Compelling, heart-pounding and thoroughly intriguing…”— STEPHEN MACK JONES, August Snow, Lives Laid Away


“Keen portraits of true patriotism—and the courage that drives it.” — ART TAYLOR, The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74



Book Details:

Genre: Suspense-Thriller

Published by: James McCrone

Publication Date: October 1, 2020

Number of Pages: 300

ISBN: 9780999137727 (9780999137734)

Series: An Imogen Trager Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org |  Goodreads

Author Bio:

James McCrone has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Washington, in Seattle. He’s a member of Crime Writers of America (NY Chapter), Sisters in Crime (DE-Valley Chapter), Int’l Assoc. of Crime Writers, Philadelphia Dramatists Center, and Int’l Thriller Writers.

He’s the author of Faithless Elector and Dark Network, the first two Imogen Trager “Noirpolitik” suspense-thrillers about a stolen presidency. The third Imogen Trager thriller, Emergency Powers released in October 2020. His short story, “Numbers Don’t Lie” appears in the anthology Low Down Dirty Vote, Vol. 2 (M. Berry, ed.), out on July 4, 2020.

A Pacific Northwest native, he now lives in Philadelphia with his wife and three adult children.

James’s work explores characters pitted against forces larger than themselves. Both on and off the page, he’s fascinated with politics and issues of social responsibility and justice.


Catch Up With James McCrone:

JamesMcCrone.com, Chosen Words Blog, Goodreads, BookBub, 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 Emergency Powers by James McCrone Tour Participants


Giveaway!!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for James McCrone. There will be 4 winners. Two winners will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and Two winners will each win Emergency Powers by James McCrone (Print ~ US and Canada addresses only). The giveaway begins on October 1, 2020, and runs through November 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.


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