Guest Post: Chris Patchell – THE PERFECT BROTHER

Good day, my bookish divas and divos. I’ve had the pleasure (and agony at times) to participate in a wide variety of local book clubs. I’m amazed that people join book clubs to read outside of their comfort zone but then place stipulations on what they will or will not read (myself included – I have a thing against memoirs). Some book club members refused to read books featuring child or spousal abuse, while others adamantly refused to read anything that included a pet that died. We all have our reading quirks, but I didn’t realize how prevalent the idea of “don’t harm/kill the pet” was in the reading world until I encountered it in numerous book group settings. I’m pleased to welcome back Chris Patchell, author of The Perfect Brother. Ms. Patchell will be sharing with us her perspective on “never kill the dog.” Thank you, Ms. Patchell, for taking the time to join us today, I’m eager to learn your thoughts on this widely held opinion.

Never Kill The Dog
by Chris Patchell

I was busy writing my first book when a good friend of mine who was reading some of my early drafts gave me a great piece of fiction writing advice. “Never kill the dog,” he said. “As if I would,” I responded with a slightly baffled and somewhat disconcerted grin. At the time, my husband and I had a beagle who we babied as if he was our firstborn.

I scoffed at the notion that I would harm a fictional pet, but truthfully, I had made some pretty unorthodox choices in my story so while I hid behind the pristine virtue of my good intentions, I could understand what might make him nervous about the fate of poor, faithful Molly.

Pets play a lot of different roles in fiction, as they do in our actual lives. In fiction, we are hard-wired to like a character who is kind to an animal, just as we instantly dislike other characters who mistreat or inflict harm upon a pet. How a character interacts with an animal can provide flashes of insight into their lives, like the cop living a solitary life who feeds a stray cat. Though she may have commitment issues, or be recently divorced, through her actions we can infer that she’s a little lonely and craving connection.

Pets are often depicted as having almost supernatural abilities to pick up on things that we mere mortals are unaware of. As such, they can be an effective source of ratcheting up the suspense in the story—like the dog staring out the window into the darkness growling with his hackles raised. As a reader, we immediately recognize the danger. We know that there’s someone lurking out there in the laurel hedge. Or worse, stories where the carcass of the family pet is found, and we know that the killer is sending a message.

In my latest book, The Perfect Brother, Indira Saraf is a young woman who longs to break free of her family’s expectations and assert her independence, but as much as she likes to think of herself as a lone wolf, Indira shares her condo with her beloved dog, Hazel. Throughout the story, as the stakes continue to rise and the pressure mounts on Indira, she presents a brave face to her family and friends, but it’s only when she’s alone with Hazel that she feels comfortable showing her vulnerable side. Hazel doesn’t judge. She’s there to provide comfort.

Some pets can also play the role of protector. Max, my 5-year-old Yorkie, barks like a big dog when anyone approaches the house. Woe be to the Amazon delivery person brave enough to drop a package on our doorstep, or the wayward sketchy plastic bag seen floating down the street. Max stands at the ready, fully prepared to protect his family at the slightest provocation. Now whether he could actually make good on his boisterous threats… Well… That’s another story.

The other thing I love about introducing pets into the storyline is the way you can use them to inject moments of levity into a stressful situation. There’s a delightfully uncomfortable scene in the book when a few characters stop by Indira’s place unexpectedly. Though the scene is painfully awkward, the only one who seems oblivious to Indira’s embarrassment is Hazel. She’s just happy to see more of her friends show up.

This is one way pets can amp up the humor in a story, but there are others, like the choice of an unlikely pet. Picture a straight-laced character who happens to have a foul-mouthed parrot. The opportunities are endless.

Pets are also a great way to show character development. In my book, Deception Bay, the protagonist, Austin Martell’s relationship with his mother’s cat is acrimonious, to say the least, but as the drama of the book unfolds, Austin and the cat form an unbreakable bond.

Pets can also present obstacles in the storyline, like the protector pet who scares off the antagonist, or a reason why a character has to leave a scene and return home. So unless you’re John Wick and the pet’s demise is the inciting event for an epic three-movie revenge story throw-down, like my friend Don, I would advise you to never kill the dog.

Reading books with pets in them brings me back to my childhood when I devoured stories written by James Herriot. Tales of the spoiled dog Trickie Woo, and a host of other delightful animal creatures imbued me with a love of reading.

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. I hope you enjoy reading The Perfect Brother. ♦

The Perfect Brother

by Chris Patchell

September 26 – October 21, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

THE PERFECT BROTHER by Chris Patchell book cover, featuring a blue-washed background with trees behind a house with two brightly lit windows

 

A scandalous liaison. A killer on the loose. Can a young woman save her sibling from going down for murder?

Vancouver, Canada. Software engineer Indira Saraf refuses to march to her traditionalist parents’ old-world drum. Resentful of her brother’s golden-boy acceptance but still a devoted sister, she encourages him to confess his secret affair before he ends up married to a woman he doesn’t want. So she’s horrified when his student and lover is slain and he’s arrested for the gruesome crime.

Repurposing her own AI technology to prove his innocence, the unorthodox rebel scours the dead college girl’s life for clues. But when Indira discovers another missing co-ed and the suspects pile up, she learns the hard way that her digging has drawn deadly attention…

Can she hunt down the culprit before she takes a fatal fall?

The Perfect Brother is a chilling standalone suspense thriller. If you like dogged heroines, complex family relationships, and dangerous twists, then you’ll adore USA Today bestselling author Chris Patchell’s riveting tale.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Indie Pub
Publication Date: September 27th, 2022
Number of Pages: 421
ISBN: 9781733545242 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781733545235 (eBook)
ASIN: B0B2CN9M51 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | Kobo eBook | Goodreads

Author Bio:

 

Chris Patchell Author Photo (Headshot of women, light shoulder-length hair, smiling, wearing a black top and a necklace featuring red hearts)Chris Patchell is an award-winning USA Today Bestselling Author who started writing to curb the homicidal tendencies she experienced during her daily Seattle commute. She writes gripping suspense thrillers with romantic elements set in the Pacific Northwest and believes good fiction combines a magical mix of complex characters, compelling plots, and well-crafted stories.

Over the years, she has written numerous popular books and series, including bestsellers Deadly Lies, In the Dark, and her most recent collection of small-town crime novellas, the Lacey James Series. Along the way, her writing has won several awards, including a 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Award, an IndieReader Discovery Award, and a Pacific Northwest Literary Award.

When she’s not writing, you can find Chris reading books, hanging out with her family, watching football, and struggling to keep up with her workout regime, all while shushing her incessantly yapping Yorkies. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two kids.

Connect with Chris:
www.ChrisPatchell.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @chrispatchellauthor
Instagram – @chrispatchellauthor
Twitter – @chris_patchell
Facebook – @authorchrispatchell

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Guest Post: Lis Angus – NOT YOUR CHILD

Hello, my bookish peeps. Well, we’ve made it to the beginning of another month. Given how long this pandemic seems to be dragging on, making it through another day or week, much less a month, is a major accomplishment. Today, I’m delighted to welcome, Lis Angus, author of the soon-to-be released suspense read Not Your Child. Ms. Angus will be sharing some remembrances from her childhood that started her on the path to becoming an author. Sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and let’s reminisce awhile with Ms. Angus. Thank you, Ms. Angus, for joining us today and sharing your experiences. The blog is now all yours.

The Summer I was Nine
by Lis Angus

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t both a reader and a writer.

I actually taught myself to read before I went to school. My mother, who had been a teacher herself, didn’t want to give me instructions that might make the job of my future teachers harder. But she read to me every day, and as I sat in her lap I pointed to letters and words, asking her “what’s that?” and she answered my questions. “That’s an ‘o’.” “That says ‘cat’.” I quickly figured out that every word coming out of her mouth was represented by marks on the page. Before long I was reading.

And I soon wanted to make stories of my own. I don’t remember how I learned to make the shapes of letters, but I do remember sitting at our kitchen table, a pencil clutched in my hand, composing tales along the lines of “how the rabbit got long ears,” like the fables my mother had read to me.
I was an avid reader, devouring not just storybooks but working my way through a thick volume titled Hurlbut’s Stories of the Bible. I soon moved on to more prosaic fare: the Trixie Belden, Ginny Gordon, and Nancy Drew mystery series, as well as any other books I could get my hands on.

It wasn’t until the summer I was nine that I decided to write a novel myself.

My cousin Thelma was a year older than me, and we loved each other dearly. At family reunions we were inseparable. But our parents’ farms in central Alberta were too far away from each other for quick and easy visiting. Somehow it came about that I spent most of that summer, just before I turned ten, staying at her place.

As I remember it, the weather was glorious. Long summer days stretched ahead of us, endless the way summers in childhood always were. I learned to ride a bicycle that summer, and we spent hours lying on our backs in the grass pointing out shapes in the white clouds drifting above us. And of course, we read. Thelma was as avid a reader as I was, and we devoured anything we could find in the house to read. (We came across a cache of True Confessions magazines left under a bed by one of her older sisters. The stories of illicit love were eye-opening, to me at least, though probably tame by today’s standards!)

At some point, other visitors arrived. Thelma and I were displaced from her bedroom, so adult guests could be offered appropriate hospitality.

We moved out to sleep in the hayloft, an airy space we reached by climbing a ladder from the barn below. The loft was filled with a deep layer of fresh hay, soft and fragrant, but there was a snug space below the sloping rafters that reached a peak high above. We covered the hay with old coats, thick enough to prevent sharp stems of hay from poking us in our sleep. We may have added sheets and blankets, or maybe sleeping bags, though that detail is missing from my memory.

I don’t remember just when we decided we’d each write a novel. All I know is that we spent days on end doing it. Hour after hour, lying on the coats flung across the piles of hay, writing in the notebooks we had unearthed somewhere. We gloried in our stories, discussing plot points, arguing over character names.

I have no idea now what either of our novels were about. I doubt they were anywhere near novel-length (they fit into scribbler-sized notebooks). Sadly, they’ve long since disappeared in the mist of time.

But I had no doubts: I had written a book. It gave me an appetite for being a writer, and it wasn’t long before I was a subscriber to Writers Digest and figuring out how to enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope when—full of hope—I mailed stories to Redbook and the Saturday Evening Post. I didn’t know then it would be decades before I finally had publishing success—but the goal was set that summer, when I was nine. ♦

Not Your Child

by Lis Angus

April 1-30, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Not Your Child by Lis Angus

When Ottawa psychologist and single mother Susan Koss discovers that a strange man has been following her twelve-year-old daughter Maddy, she fears he’s a predator. But it’s worse than that. The man, Daniel Kazan, believes Maddy is his granddaughter, abducted as a baby, and he’s obsessed with getting her back.

Susan insists on a DNA test to disprove Daniel’s claim, but the result is one she can’t understand or explain: it says she’s not Maddy’s mother.

Then Maddy vanishes. Susan’s convinced Daniel has taken her, but he has an alibi, and two searches of his house turn up nothing. The hunt is on—police are on full mobilization, and Susan fears the worst.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: April 18, 2022
Number of Pages: 308
ISBN: 9781509241187 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781509241194 (ebook)
ASIN: B09QRST379 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:   IndieBound.org | Amazon.com (Amazon.ca) | Amazon Kindle | AppleBooks | Barnes and Noble | B&N Nook Book | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Lis Angus

Lis Angus is a Canadian suspense writer. Early in her career, she worked with children and families in crisis; later she worked as a policy advisor, business writer and editor while raising two daughters. She now lives south of Ottawa with her husband.

Catch Up With Lis:
LisAngus.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @lisangusauthor
Instagram – lisangus459
Twitter – @lisangus1
Facebook – @lisangusauthor

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Book Showcase: TRUST ME by Kelly Irvin

Trust Me

by Kelly Irvin

February 7 – March 4, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Trust Me by Kelly Irvin

When her best friend is murdered the same way her brother was, who can she possibly trust?

A decade ago, Delaney Broward discovered her brother’s murdered body at the San Antonio art co-op he founded with friends. Her artist boyfriend, Hunter Nash, went to prison for the murder, despite his not-guilty plea.

This morning, Hunter walks out of prison a free man, having served his sentence.

This afternoon, Delaney finds her best friend dead, murdered in the same fashion as her brother.

Stay out of it or you’re next, the killer warns.

Hunter never stopped loving Delaney, though he can’t blame her for not forgiving her. He knows he’ll get his life back one day at a time, one step at a time. But he’s blindsided to realize he’s a murder suspect. Again.

When Hunter shows up on her doorstep asking her to help him find the real killer, Delaney’s head says to run away, yet her heart tells her there’s more to his story than what came out in the trial. An uneasy truce leads to their probe into a dark past that shatters Delaney’s image of her brother. She can’t stop and neither can Hunter—which lands them both in the crosshairs of a murderer growing more desperate by the hour.

In this gripping romantic suspense, Kelly Irvin plumbs the complexity of broken trust in the people we love—and in God—and whether either can be mended.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: February 8th 2022
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0785231935 (ISBN13: 9780785231936)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Christianbook.com | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

APRIL 22, 2010
SAN ANTONIO ART CO-OP
SOUTHTOWN, SAN ANTONIO

The cloying stench of pot told the same old story.

With an irritated sigh Delaney Broward quickened her pace through the warehouse-turned-art-co-op toward her brother’s studio at the far end of the cavernous hall. On his best days Corey had little sense of time. Add a joint to the mix and he lost his sense not only of time but of responsibility. It also explained why he didn’t answer his phone. When he got high and started painting, he wanted no interruptions. His lime-green VW van was parked cattywampus across two spaces in the lot that faced Alamo Street just south of downtown San Antonio. He might be physically present, but his THC-soaked mind had escaped its cell.

Marijuana served as his muse and taskmaster. Or so he’d said.

The soles of her huarache sandals clacking on the concrete floor sounded loud in Delaney’s ears. “Corey? Corey! You were supposed to pick us up at Ellie’s. Come on, dude. She’s waiting.”

No answer.

At this rate Delaney would never get to Night in Old San Antonio, affectionately known to most local folks as NIOSA. Everyone who was anyone knew it was pronounced NI-O-SA, long I and long O, the best party-slash-fundraiser during the mother of all parties where her boyfriend would be waiting for her. “Hey, bro, I’m starving. Let’s go.”

Delaney’s phone rang. She slowed and dug it from the pocket of her stonewashed jeans. Speaking of Ellie. “I’m at the co-op now. He’s here.”

Share as little info as possible.

“He’s stoned again, isn’t he? I’m sick of this.” Ellie’s shrill voice rose even higher. “I swear if he stands me up again— “

Us. Stands us up.”

“Stood us up again. That will be it. I’m done. I’m done waiting around for him. I’m done playing second fiddle to his self-destructive habits. I’m done with his starving-artist, free-spirit, pothead schtick. The man is a walking stereotype. I’m done with him, period.”

Delaney mouthed the words along with her friend. She knew the lyrics of this lovesick song by heart. The childish rejoinder “It takes one to know one” stuck in her throat. “We’ll be there in twenty. You can tell him yourself.”

Ellie would and then Corey would kiss her until she took it all back. With a final huff Ellie hung up.

The door to his studio— the largest and with the best light because the co-op was Corey’s dream child— stood open. “Seriously, Corey. Think of someone besides yourself once in a while, please.” Delaney strode through the door, ready to ream her brother up one side and down the other. “You are so selfish.”

Delaney halted. At first blush it didn’t make sense. Twisted and smashed canvases littered the floor. Along with paints, brushes, beer bottles, and Thai food take-out cartons.

Wooden easels were broken like toothpicks and scattered on top of the canvases. Someone had splattered red paint over another finished piece— a woman eating a raspa in front of a vendor’s mobile cart, the Alamo in the background.

Delaney’s hands went to her throat. The metallic scent of blood mingled with the odor of human waste gagged her. A fiery shiver started at her toes and raced like a lit fuse to her brain. Her mind took in detail after detail. That way she didn’t have to face the bigger picture staring her in the face. “Please, God, no.”

Even He couldn’t fix this.

She shot forward, stumbled, and fell to her knees. Her legs refused to work. She crawled the remainder of the distance to Corey across a floor marred by still-wet oil paint, beer, and other liquids she couldn’t bear to identify.

He sat with his back against the wall. His long legs clad in paint-splattered jeans sprawled in front of him. His feet were bare. His hands with those thin, expressive fingers lay in his lap. Deep lacerations scored his palms and fingers.

Her throat aching with the effort not to vomit, Delaney forced her gaze to move upward. His T-shirt, once white, now shone scarlet with blood. His blood. Rips in the shirt left his chest exposed, revealing stab wounds— too many to count.

Delaney opened her mouth. Scream. Just scream. Let it out.

No sound emerged.

She crawled alongside her big brother until she could lean her shoulder and head against the wall. “Corey?” she whispered.

His green eyes, fringed by thick, dark lashes that were the envy of every woman he’d ever dated, were open and startled. His skin, always pale and ethereal, had a blue tinge to it.

Delaney drowned in a tsunami of nausea. “Come on, Corey, this isn’t funny. I need you.”

Her teeth chattered. Hands shaking, she touched his throat. His skin was cold. So cold.

Too late, too late, too late. The words screamed in her head. Stop it. Just stop it. “You can’t be dead. You’re not allowed to die.”

Mom and Dad had died in a car wreck a week past her eighth birthday. Nana and Pops had taken their turns the year Delaney turned eighteen. Everybody she cared about died.

Not Corey. Delaney punched in 9–1–1.

The operator’s assurance that help was on the way did nothing to soothe Delaney. She sat cross-legged and dragged Corey’s shoulders and head into her lap. She had to warm him up. “Tell them to hurry. Tell them my brother needs help.”

“Yes, ma’am. They’re en route.”

“Tell them he’s all I’ve got.”

CHAPTER 2

TEN YEARS LATER
NASH RESIDENCE, SAN ANTONIO

Real men didn’t cry. Not even during a reunion with a beloved truck.

Swallowing hard, Hunter Nash wrapped his fingers around the keys, concentrating on the feel of the metal pressing into his skin. He cleared his throat. “Thanks, Mom. For keeping it all these years.”

His mom didn’t bother to try to hide her tears. She wiped her plump cheeks on a faded dish towel, offered him a tremulous smile, and bustled down the sidewalk that led from the house on San Antonio’s near west side where Hunter had grown up to the detached two-car garage in the back. It had housed his truck for the past eight years. Almost ten if he counted the two years it took for his case to go to trial. He had no place to go in those years when he’d allegedly been innocent until proven guilty. His friends no longer friends and his job gone, he had no need for transportation.

The door to the garage was padlocked. Mom handed him the key. “My hands are shaking. You’d better do the honors.” She stepped back. “I still can’t believe you’re here.”

“I did my time, Ma.” As a model prisoner he’d earned time off for good behavior. It was easy for a guy to behave when he spent his days and nights scared spitless.

“I know. All those nights I’ve lain in bed worrying about you in that place, whether you were safe, if you were hurt, if you were sick.” Her voice broke. “I can’t believe it’s over.”

“Me neither.”

It wasn’t over. In fact, it was just beginning, but she didn’t need to know that. His determination to prove his innocence would only worry her more. A divorced mother of four, she’d raised her kids on a teacher’s salary and an occasional child support check from the crud-for-brains ex-husband who showed up once every couple of years in an attempt to make nice with his kids. She deserved a break.

The aging manual garage door squeaked and protested when Hunter yanked on the handle. He needed to do some work around here, starting with applying some WD-40. The smell of mold and old motor oil wafted from the dark interior. Hunter slipped inside and waited for his eyes to adjust. A layer of dust covered the 2002 midnight-blue Dodge RAM 1500, but otherwise it remained in the pristine condition in which he’d left it the night he said goodbye and promised he’d be back. “My baby.”

More tears trickling down her face, Mom chuckled softly. “After you finish reintroducing yourself, come back inside. I’m making your favorite chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, pineapple coleslaw, and creamed corn. Your brother and sisters are coming over after work. Shawna’s bringing a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Melissa’s contribution is three kinds of ice cream, including rocky road. She said it seemed appropriate. I hope you haven’t lost your sense of humor. And you know Curtis. He’s all about the beer.”

The last thing Hunter wanted to do was celebrate with his sibs. Mel and Shawna had visited faithfully at first, but less as the years rolled by. Curtis never showed, even though Fabian Dominguez State Jail was only a few miles down the road from San Antonio.

Nor did Hunter want to explain why he’d sworn off alcohol. The conditions of his parole included monthly pee tests— no alcohol or drugs, but that part of his life was over anyway. It had been easy to comply in prison, obviously. Whether he could maintain his sobriety in the beer drinking capital of the country remained to be seen. He’d do AA if necessary. “Mom— “

“No buts. They’re family. They love you. You need to live life, enjoy life, make up for all you’ve missed. You haven’t even met most of your nieces and nephews. Did you know Mel is expecting another baby in August?”

“Yes, I— “

“Today we celebrate your new job and your new life.”

His bachelor of fine arts with an emphasis in drawing and painting from Southwest School of Art might once have allowed him to teach art in one of the school districts, but not anymore.

It didn’t matter. The prison chaplain had hooked him up with Pastor James. The preacher ran a faith-based community center that served at-risk youth. He’d hired Hunter to teach art to those who’d already had their first brush with the law. He figured Hunter could teach life lessons at the same time he introduced them to art as a way to channel their anger at the hand life had dealt them. Learning what happened when a guy got off track would be the lesson.

Even though Hunter hadn’t gotten off the track. He’d been shoved off it. By an eager-beaver, newbie detective; a green-as-a-Granny-Smith-apple public defender; and an assembly-line justice system.

He would get by in this world that had hung him out to dry. Especially knowing Mom had his back. She had that don’t-mess-with-me teacher look in her burnt-amber eyes. Like her sixth graders, Hunter knew better than to argue. It felt good to know she remained in his corner. When everyone else had hit the ground, scattering in opposite directions, she never budged in her belief that son number two could not be a murderer. She’d brought him up better than that.

“You’re right. Give me a few minutes.”

She patted his chest and stretched on her tiptoes to plant a kiss on his cheek. Her lips were chapped, and the wrinkles had deepened around her mouth and eyes. Her long hair had gone pure white during his years away. “Take your time, sweetheart.”

Hunter gritted his teeth. After years of looking over his shoulder, bobbing and weaving around hard-core convicts who’d as soon shank a guy in the shower as look at him, he didn’t know how to cope with nice. With sweet. With love tempered with wisdom and a hard life.

“One day at a time.” That’s what the prison chaplain had told him. “Get through the next minute, the next hour, the next day.” That’s how he did eight years at Dominguez. This couldn’t be any harder. He opened the truck’s door and slid into the driver’s seat. The faint odor of pine air freshener greeted him. And citrus.

More likely that was his imagination. Delaney’s perfume simply could not linger that long. Move on. She has. She did. To her credit Delaney held on as long as she could— until the guilty verdict. Then she was forced to move on. She couldn’t be blamed for that.

Hunter picked up the sketch pad on the passenger seat. In those days he kept one everywhere. Just in case. The first page. The second. The third. All drawings of Delaney. Sweet Laney eating a slice of watermelon at a Fourth of July celebration. Laney rocking Hunter’s newborn nephew in a hickory rocker on the front porch. Laney in a bathing suit sitting on the dock at Medina Lake. Laney with her soulful eyes, long sandy-brown hair, and air of sad vulnerability worn like a pair of old jeans that fit perfectly. That too-big nose, wide mouth, and pointed chin. Corey might have been the angelic beauty— totally unfair— but Delaney’s face had character. She had a face Hunter never ceased to want to draw and paint.

And kiss.

He turned the pages slowly, allowing the memories to have their way with him. Meeting at a party Corey had thrown when Delaney was a senior in high school. Their first date, ribs and smoked chicken with heart-stopping creamed corn, potato salad, coleslaw, and jalapeños at Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q followed by dancing at Leon Springs Dance Hall.

She had danced with the abandon of a small child. As if she didn’t care who watched. Her face glowed with perspiration. Her green eyes sparkled with happiness. His two left feet couldn’t keep up, but she didn’t mind. She twirled her peasant skirt as she flew around him, her hands in the air, her curves beckoning.

Hunter closed his eyes. Her softness enveloped him. Her sweetness surrounded him.

He needed to see her again. He needed to talk to her. Somehow he had to prove to her that she was wrong about him. Whatever it took. He laid the sketchbook aside. “Come on, dude, let’s take a ride.”

He stuck the key in the ignition and turned it.

Nothing. Not even a tick-tick-tick. He tried a second time. Nada. “I’m an idiot.” He patted the steering wheel. “Not your fault, man.”

The truck hadn’t been driven in years. The battery was dead. He might be able to jump it, but more likely he’d need a new one. Batteries cost money.

One thing at a time. He’d waited this long.

Hunter slid from the truck and eased the door closed. “I’ll be back when I get my act together.”

In the kitchen Hunter found his mom peeling potatoes. She pointed the peeler at him. “You can’t imagine how good it feels to have you home.”

“You can’t imagine how good it feels to be here.” He landed a kiss on her soft hair. She smelled of Pond’s cold cream. The same old comforting scent. Life had changed but not her. “I’m gonna take a walk. I need to blow the prison stink off.”

“Enjoy. They redid the walking trail at the lake and installed new outdoor fitness equipment.” She waved the paring knife in the air. “But don’t stay too long. You have company coming.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He pantomimed a mock salute and headed for the front door.

One thing at a time. One step at a time. That’s how he’d get his life back.

***

Excerpt from Trust Me by Kelly Irvin. Copyright © 2022 by Kelly Irvin. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin is a bestselling, award-winning author of over twenty novels and stories. A retired public relations professional, Kelly lives with her husband, Tim, in San Antonio. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats.

Visit her online at:
www.KellyIrvin.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @KellyIrvin
Instagram – @kelly_irvin
Twitter – @Kelly_TrustMe
Facebook – @Kelly.Irvin.Author

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Guest Post: Elizabeth Goddard – DEADLY TARGET

DEADLY TARGET by Elizabeth Goddard

Good morning, book people. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend and were able to get some reading in. I don’t know about you, but I’m very inquisitive about authors, their habits, and their ability to craft believable and readable stories. Yes, it is partially talent, but I think it goes beyond talent. Authors have to be imaginative and have an innate ability to craft a story that the reader can follow and then end the story with a successful completion of their goals, i.e., a HEA if writing romance, pointing out whodunit in a mystery, etc. Obviously, there’s a lot more involved in crafting a story and today I’m pleased to welcome the award-winning Elizabeth Goddard, author of the recently released Deadly Target, book two in the Rocky Mountain Courage series. Ms. Goddard is going to be sharing her insight into the use of fear in writing. Thank you, Ms. Goddard, for taking the time to stop by today and share with us. Book people, grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and let’s all enjoy what she has to say. (Psst…might I suggest you grab a copy of Deadly Target to read, as well as follow this blog tour to learn more about this author and book.)

The Strategic Use of Fear
by Elizabeth Goddard

In recent years, I’ve come to realize that I’ve always been this way. Okay, let me back up. I’ve always had a natural propensity to approach every situation with worry or fear or whatever you want to call it. For example, when I lived alone in my early twenties, the first thing I did when I walked into my apartment was to check every closet and every room. I even glanced under the bed. I’m not kidding. You might think I have issues, and maybe you’re right. But that’s just one example of the way my mind works. I’m always thinking ahead to what bad thing could possibly happen in every situation. Now . . . don’t laugh, but honestly, I think this tendency started when I learned how to play Chess as a kid. Think about it. Every move you make, you have to be strategic. You have to think ahead and try to project what could possibly happen. What could go wrong. Once you move, another piece on the chessboard could move against you and kill you in three moves or less.

I’m not saying that this is a healthy way to live, but I’ve been able to rein in my fearful mind and use it to my advantage in my stories. You might have guessed by now that suspense stories come naturally to me. Now when I’m walking down a long dark hospital hallway that’s under construction (this really happened) and my mind thinks of the peril I might be in, I know what to do next—put the experience in a novel! But seriously, when creating the fear-factors and the dangerous elements in my stories I have a lot of fun when I make a nice long list of everything that could go wrong and then put my characters in dangerous situations. I want them to be strategic (remember Chess) and fight their way out of the danger and, yes, overcome their fears—just like I’ve learned to do. Now I simply divert my overactive imagination into my suspense novels and everyone lives happily-ever-after. ♦

Deadly Target

by Elizabeth Goddard

November 1-30, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard

Criminal psychologist Erin Larson’s dreams of a successful career come to a screeching halt when she nearly loses her own life in a boating accident on Puget Sound and then learns that her mother tried to commit suicide. She leaves her job as a criminal psychologist to care for her mother in Montana. At least she is able to produce her podcast, which focuses on solving missing persons cold cases.

Nathan Campbell’s father was investigating such a case when he was shot, and now Nathan needs to enlist Erin’s help to solve the case. She’s good at what she does. The only problem? She’s his ex.

As the two dig deeper, it becomes clear that they, too, are being targeted–and that the answers to their questions are buried deep within the past Erin struggles to explain and longs to forget.

The race is on for the truth in this gripping and complex tale of suspense, intrigue, and murder from USA Today bestselling author Elizabeth Goddard.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Published by: Revell
Publication Date: November 2nd 2021
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0800737997 (ISBN13: 9780800737993)
Series: Rocky Mountain Courage #2 || This is a Stand-Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | ChristianBook.com | IndieBound.Org

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Goddard

Elizabeth Goddard is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty novels, including Present Danger and the Uncommon Justice series. Her books have sold over one million copies. She is a Carol Award winner and a Daphne du Maurier Award finalist. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, traveling to find inspiration for her next book, and serving with her husband in ministry.

For more information about Elizabeth Goddard, visit her website at:
www.ElizabethGoddard.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @ElizabethGoddard
Instagram – @elizabethgoddardauthor
Twitter – @bethgoddard
Facebook – @ElizabethGoddardAuthor

Tour Participants:

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

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Elizabeth Goddard and Revell. There will be ONE (1) winner for this tour. The winner will receive ONE (1) physical copy of both Present Danger and Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard. This giveaway is open only to residents in the US or Canada. The giveaway runs November 1 through December 5, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Spotlight: THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE by Todd M. Johnson

THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE by Todd M. Johnson blog tour banner;  book cover is blue washed featuring a Victorian gentleman in a topcoat, with a walking stick and top hot walking across a bridge, a faint map appears in the overall background; "...a mystery worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." - Award-winning author Jocelyn Green; book tour: August 2-15, 2021

The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson
ISBN: 9780764239137 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780764212369 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781493431502 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781705029749 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B0983VZ6XZ (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08LG91Y95 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Bethany House Fiction
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Historical Mystery | Suspense | Inspirational Fiction

THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE - TMJohnson

As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he’s a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door.

In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king’s regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter—-the sole proof his actions were legal—has mysteriously vanished.

Moved by the lady’s distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he’d imagined.

 

Advance Praise:

“Johnson debuts with a tense story of powerful interests teaming up to thwart a legal challenge in Georgian-era England…Johnson steeps his story in legal maneuvering, layers of intrigue, midnight chases, and even a hint of romance. While faith elements are subtle, this enthralling novel will appeal to fans of both legal thrillers and historical inspirationals.” — Publishers Weekly

“… a mystery worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This richly historical and lively paced story has all the makings of a modern classic.” — Jocelyn Green, Christy Award-winning author of Shadows of the White City

“At once atmospheric and gripping, Johnson’s latest is a luminous and refreshing new offering in inspirational historical fiction.” — Rachel McMillan, bestselling author of The London Restoration and The Mozart Code

“A fascinating glimpse into a Regency London readers seldom see.” — Roseanna M. White, bestselling author of Edwardian fiction 

Meet The Author:

Author - Todd M Johnson headshot 2021Todd M. Johnson is the author of three legal thrillers: The Deposit Slip (2012), Critical Reaction (2013), and Fatal Trust (2017), and The Barrister and the Letter of Marque (2021), his first foray into historical mystery. He has been a practicing attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter.

Connect with the Author:

BookBub | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Author Website 

Follow the Blog Tour:

Join the virtual book tour of The Barrister and the Letter of Marque, Todd M. Johnson’s highly acclaimed historical mystery, August 2-15, 2021. Over twenty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical mystery, suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with an interview, spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Regency-era novel set in London, England.

Tour Participants
Aug 02 The Readathon (Review)
Aug 02 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)
Aug 02 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)
Aug 03 Life of Literature (Review)
Aug 03 Captivated Reading (Spotlight)
Aug 04 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
Aug 04 The Green Mockingbird (Review)
Aug 05 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)
Aug 05 Reading is My Superpower (Review)
Aug 06 Among the Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 06 The Blue Stocking (Review)
Aug 07 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Aug 07 Reading with Emily (Review)
Aug 08 Storeybook Reviews (Spotlight)
Aug 08 Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)
Aug 09 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 09 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Aug 10 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Spotlight)
Aug 10 Wishful Endings (Review)
Aug 10 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Aug 11 By the Book (Interview)
Aug 11 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
Aug 12 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Review)
Aug 12 A Darn Good Read (Review)
Aug 13 Fire & Ice (Review)
Aug 14 The Lit Bitch (Spotlight)
Aug 14 The Book Diva Reads (Spotlight)
Aug 15 Vesper’s Place (Review)

This spotlight and blog tour brought to you by AustenProse

 

Guest Post: Jason Bovberg – LOSER BABY

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. I’m coming off of a week of celebrating my birthday, something I hardly ever celebrate, but turning 60 is a milestone. Needless to say, my mind was all about books and bookish items for the past few days. Hey, book diva here! I think my diva-ness is rubbing off, because my 86-y.o. mother spent more time shopping in a bookstore than I did (okay, maybe it’s genetic and I got it from her!). So back to books and authors, I’ve been thinking about both quite a bit lately. Most authors tell us that they use all of their life experiences and personal encounters as potential ideas for both plots and characters, but what about the settings? Some authors create their towns and others may use their hometowns or towns they visit for settings. Jason Bovberg, author of the newly released Loser Baby, uses his hometown for this book and today he visits and explains why. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say, follow the blog tour, and add Loser Baby to your TBR list. Thank you, Mr. Bovberg, for taking time away from your busy writing and publishing schedule to join us today.

Santa Ana Noir

by Jason Bovberg

I’ve heard it said that Santa Ana is the armpit or even the butt hole of Orange County, California. Now, hey, come on, that just isn’t nice. I grew up in and around Santa Ana (mostly around), and I can state unequivocally that—although it has some butt hole qualities—it can be a fascinating, even exciting place. And that’s a dichotomy I wanted to explore in my new book Loser Baby.

Some of my favorite works of art have a powerful sense of place—from Carl Hiaasen’s Florida-based novels, to James Lee Burke’s explorations of New Orleans, to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s recent In the Heights, to Michael Connelly’s Los Angeles crime tales, to Spike Lee’s Brooklyn-bound Do the Right Thing. In my own previous novels, the apocalyptic-horror BLOOD trilogy (consisting of Blood Red, Draw Blood, and Blood Dawn), I went for a vivid setting in my current town of Fort Collins, Colorado, laying waste to the idyllic city. I had a blast with it, and so did local readers. For Loser Baby, I decided on Santa Ana because it seemed to speak exactly to the types of characters I wanted to play with, as well as the time I wanted them to live in.

Santa Ana is the center of diversity in SoCal, dense with Latino, Asian, African American, and Native American populations. Outsiders tend to have preconceived notions of southern California—based on things such as The Real Housewives of Orange County, or Beverly Hills 90210, or The Girls Next Door—as primarily an affluent, white-bread, Republican stronghold (and that’s definitely true of places like Newport Beach). But the largest of the Orange County communities are surprisingly thriving melting pots.

In many ways, cities like Santa Ana (and Huntington Beach and Westminster and Garden Grove and Anaheim) are microcosms of the United States today. Santa Ana reflects the best and the worst of us, and everything in between. There’s a strong sense of multiculturalism, of exhilarating diversity—and yet in other ways people tend to stick to their tribal groups. There can be startling moments of community and a feeling of belonging—and yet age-old traditions of xenophobia and fear can creep into the day-to-day. There’s beauty, and there’s hate, just like the rest of America.

And that makes Santa Ana a perfect setting for a crime story involving one character’s redemption.

Here’s Loser Baby‘s opening:

Smack in the middle of Santa Ana on a Friday night, gang-funk psychedelia, the animal snarl and faint butane odor of nitrous-juiced import cars, the streets undulating and ratcheting like a grungy arcade game—rumble, whoosh, clickety-clack. The city was still new to Jasmine Frank, this sprawling expanse of damp concrete, swaying palms, salty beach sweat, and steaming antifreeze. The japchae and the spicy fish tacos and the pulsating afro grooves, the cackling Chicano rap, the cacophony of indecipherable shouts coming at her along Westminster Boulevard—yes! She got off on the staccato ghetto thrill of it all, closing her eyes, lost in the jagged rhythms, the music and the traffic, crisscrossing like a spastic radio dial. A constantly moving mobile night life.

Right from the start, I wanted to emphasize that exciting diversity, to give a taste of what it’s like to ride along those streets—and then let loose with a wild thriller of a novel that involves multiple characters, a series of edge-of-your-seat misadventures, and a crazy collection of cars and cigarettes and fast-food burgers, and bad decisions.

There’s just something about the people that inhabit Loser Baby that told me they HAD to live in Santa Ana. This is not something that occurred to me after a lot of thinking and consideration—it happened immediately and naturally. When I thought about Jasmine and Jordan, Tommy and Kayla, Mark and Lori, I KNEW they were scraping together a rough-and-tumble existence right there on those streets. But beyond the details of their day-to-day, I wanted the story to comment on that wider perspective.

There’s a lot of anger and dysfunction and violence in Loser Baby, but there’s a lot of humor too. And in the end, there’s some redemption. I hope the same will one day be said about our country.

Loser Baby

by Jason Bovberg

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg

Jasmine Frank is missing.

It’s a humid summer morning in Santa Ana, California, and her twin brother Jordan abruptly finds himself on a desperate search—fearing the worst. The party last night got way out of hand, and his brain is still chemically fried. But this is Jasmine’s story. She’s awakened far from home to her own mystery: She’s unwittingly stolen something from the most dangerous person she’s ever known. Tommy Strafe. And now Tommy is raging through the sunbaked streets, gathering illicit forces to seek brutal retribution. But all Jasmine really wants is to get out of Orange County, escape her past, and find a measure of redemption.

Loser Baby is a propulsive blast through the streets of the SoCal melting pot, a breakneck dark-comic neo-noir populated by misfits and malefactors, criminals and innocents, down-and-outers and spun-out dreamers. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush of rat-a-tat he-said-she-said narrative twists—all in service of a giddily slam-bang shock ending.


Loser Baby

by Jason Bovberg

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg

Jasmine Frank is missing.

It’s a humid summer morning in Santa Ana, California, and her twin brother Jordan abruptly finds himself on a desperate search—fearing the worst. The party last night got way out of hand, and his brain is still chemically fried. But this is Jasmine’s story. She’s awakened far from home to her own mystery: She’s unwittingly stolen something from the most dangerous person she’s ever known. Tommy Strafe. And now Tommy is raging through the sunbaked streets, gathering illicit forces to seek brutal retribution. But all Jasmine really wants is to get out of Orange County, escape her past, and find a measure of redemption.

Loser Baby is a propulsive blast through the streets of the SoCal melting pot, a breakneck dark-comic neo-noir populated by misfits and malefactors, criminals and innocents, down-and-outers and spun-out dreamers. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush of rat-a-tat he-said-she-said narrative twists—all in service of a giddily slam-bang shock ending.

Book Praise:

“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a beautiful noir novel for the 21st century! It’s a wild, frantic ride through shady Southern California, a desperate drug-fueled search for a girl who only wants to escape a sordid life.”
—Scott Phillips, author of THE ICE HARVEST and THAT LEFT TURN AT ALBUQUERQUE

Loser Baby is the real deal for hardcore crime fiction fans. This one grinds with the engine over the red line all the way. Hang on tight!”
—Eric Beetner, author of ALL THE WAY DOWN

Loser Baby is one cool book! Bovberg writes characters who get into your head and under your skin. You won’t shake this one easily: It’ll stay with you long after you read it!”
Terrill Lee Lankford, author of SHOOTERS and ANGRY MOON

“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a high-octane thriller that moves like greased lightning! The beauty of this book is its motley collection of despicable characters whom you come to love by the end. Loser Baby is Bovberg’s greatest book and one of the best of the year.”
—Gary Phillips, author of BLOOD AND ASPHALT and BIRDS OF FIRE

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Dark Highway Press
Publication Date: August 2nd 2021
Number of Pages: 322
ISBN: 9780966262988
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Jason Bovberg

Jason Bovberg is the author of the Blood trilogy—Blood Red, Draw Blood, and Blood Dawn—as well as The Naked Dame, a throwback pulp noir novel. His forthcoming books include Tessa Goes Down, a border noir, and A Small Poisonous Act, a suburban crime novel. He is editor/publisher of Dark Highway Press, which published the controversial, erotic fairy tale Santa Steps Out and the weird western anthology Skull Full of Spurs.

He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife Barb, his daughters Harper and Sophie, and his canines Rocky and Rango. You can find him online at www.jasonbovberg.com.

Catch Up With Our Author:
JasonBovberg.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – @jasonbovbergauthor
Twitter – @JasonBovberg
Facebook – @CriminalVintage

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=302343

Giveaway:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jason Bovberg. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs August 1st through September 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: AFTERMATH by Terri Blackstock

Aftermath

May 10 – June 4, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

AFTERMATH - TBlackstock

This gripping new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Terri Blackstock will leave you on the edge of your seat.

A devastating explosion.

Three best friends are at the venue just to hear their favorite band . . . but only one of them makes it out alive.

A trunk full of planted evidence.

When police stop Dustin with a warrant to search his trunk, he knows it’s just a mistake. He’s former military and owns a security firm. But he’s horrified when they find explosives, and he can’t fathom how they got there.

An attorney who will risk it all for a friend.

Criminal attorney Jamie Powell was Dustin’s best friend growing up. They haven’t spoken since he left for basic training, but she’s the first one he thinks of when he’s arrested. Jamie knows she’s putting her career on the line by defending an accused terrorist, but she’d never abandon him. Someone is framing Dustin to take the fall for shocking acts of violence . . . but why?

Praise for Aftermath:

“In Aftermath, Terri Blackstock plumbs the depth of human emotion in the face of devastating tragedy, grief, and loss. Yet, she still manages to give readers her trademark suspenseful story, sweet romance, and hope for the future. From gut wrenching scenes in a cancer patient’s hospital room to seeing the world through the eyes of a young woman with a debilitating mental health disorder, Blackstock pulls no punches about human frailties. Does the end justify the means? Romantic suspense lovers won’t want to miss Aftermath.”
—Kelly Irvin, bestselling author

“Justice may be blind but that doesn’t keep it from facing mortal danger. In Aftermath, expert storyteller Terri Blackstock ratchets up the suspense in a novel that delivers on every level. Conflicts rage and loyalties are tested to the ultimate limit. Set aside plenty of time when you pick up this book—you’ll not to want to take a break.”
—Robert Whitlow, bestselling author

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: May 11th 2021
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 0310348587 (ISBN13: 9780310348580)
Series: Aftermath is a stand-alone novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Christianbook | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Aftermath

Chapter One

Taylor Reid’s phone flashed as she snapped the selfie with her two friends, their heads touching and their backs to the stage. The shot from the third row, with the lead singer in the background and the three of them in the foreground, was perfect. No one would believe their seats were so close.

They turned around to face the band, dancing to the beat of the song they’d been listening to in the car on the way to Trudeau Hall.

Taylor quickly posted the pic, typing, “Ed Loran targets nonpoliticals for his rally with band Blue Fire. Worked on us!”

She put her phone on videotape and zoomed onto the stage.

“I don’t want it to end!” Desiree said in her ear.

“Me either!” Taylor yelled over the music.

“Maybe they’ll play again after his speech,” Mara shouted.

The song came to an end, and the crowd went crazy, begging for one more song before the band left the stage.

But an amplified voice filled the auditorium, cutting off the adulation. “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the next president of the United States, Ed Loran!”

The crowd sounded less enthusiastic as the band left the stage and Ed Loran, the Libertarian celebrity magnet, made his entrance. Taylor kept cheering and clapping, letting her enthusiasm for the band segue to him.

It happened just as the candidate took the stage. The deafening sound, like some confusing combination of gunshot and lightning bolt, a blast that blacked out the lights and knocked her to the ground. Smoke mushroomed. Screams crescendoed—shrieks of terror, wailing pain, shocking anguish . . . then sudden, gentle silence, as if she were underwater. A loud ringing in her ears filled the void.

She peered under the seats, choking for breath as dimmer lights flickered through the smoke. Even from here, she could see the fallout of whatever had happened. Blood pooling on the ground, people hunkering down as she was, feet running . . . What was happening? An explosion? A crash? She looked around and couldn’t see her friends.

She clawed her way up and looked over the seat. Smoke and fire billowed from the stage into the crowd, and heat wafted over her like some living force invading the room. Muffled, muted sounds competed with the ringing.

Get out! Now! She dropped back down and crawled under two rows of seats until she came to someone limp on the floor. She felt herself scream but couldn’t hear her own voice. Scrambling to her feet, she went to her left to get to the aisle, but her foot slipped on something wet. She grabbed the seat next to her to steady herself, then launched into the frantic crowd in the aisle. The room seemed to spin, people whizzing by, people under her, people above her, people broken and ripped and still . . . She stepped and fell, crawled and ran, tripped and kicked her way to the bottlenecked doorway, then fought her way through it.

The ringing in her ears faded as she tumbled downstairs, almost falling into the lobby below. The sound of crying, coughing, wretching, and the roaring sound of pounding feet turned up as if some divine finger had fiddled with the volume.

She set her sights on the glass doors to the outside and pushed forward, moving through people and past the security stations they’d stopped at on the way in. She made it to the door and burst out into the sunlight.

Fresh, cool air hit her like freedom, but at first her lungs rejected it like some poison meant to stop her. At the bottom of the steps, on the sidewalk, she bent over and coughed until she could breathe.

After a moment, the crowd pushed her along toward the parking garage until she remembered that her car wasn’t there. She had parked on the street, blocks away. She forced her way out of the flow of people and ran a block south. Where was it?

She turned the corner. Her car was here, on this block. Near the Atlanta Trust Bank. Wasn’t it? Or was it the next block?

Sweat slicked her skin until she found her silver Accord. There!

She ran to it and pulled her keys out of her pocket, wishing she hadn’t lost the key fob. Her hands trembled as she stuck the key into the passenger side lock and got the door open. She slipped inside on the driver’s side, locked it behind her. Instinctively, she slid down, her head hidden as if someone were coming after her.

What just happened?

One minute they’d been taking selfies and videotaping the band, and the next they were on the floor . . .

Where were Mara and Desiree? She hadn’t even looked for them! Should she go back for them?

No, that would be insane. She could smell the smoke and fire from here. They would know to come to the car when they got out.

Call the police!

She tried to steady her hands as she swiped her phone on.

“911, what is your—”

“An explosion!” she cut in, her voice hoarse. “At the Ed Loran rally at Trudeau Hall!”

“Where are you now?” the woman asked in a voice that was robotically calm.

“I got out. There’s fire . . . People are still in there. Please send ambulances!”

“Ma’am, did you see what exploded?”

“No . . . the stage area, I think. I don’t know where my friends are. Please . . . hurry!”

“We’ve already dispatched the fire department and police, ma’am.”

She heard sirens from a few blocks away and cut off the call. She raised up, looking over the dashboard for the flashing lights. She couldn’t see any, but the sirens grew louder.

She knelt on the floorboard, her knees on her floormat and her elbows on her seat, and texted Desiree.

I’m at the car. Where are you?

No answer. She switched to a recent thread with Mara and texted again.

Got out. At car waiting. Where are you?

Nothing.

She dictated a group text to both of them.

Are you all right?

They were probably running or deaf, fighting their way out like she had. She tried calling them, but Mara’s phone rang to voicemail. When Desiree’s phone did the same, she yelled, “Call me! I’m waiting at the car and I’m scared. Where are you?” She was sobbing when she ended the call.

***

Excerpt from Aftermath by Terri Blackstock. Copyright 2021 by Terri Blackstock. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Author - Terri Blackstock

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. She’s the author of If I Run, If I’m Found, and If I Live, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, Moonlighters, and the Restoration series.

Visit her at:
www.TerriBlackstock.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – #terriblackstock
Twitter – #terriblackstock
Facebook – @tblackstock

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=301365

Giveaway:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Terri Blackstock & Thomas Nelson. There will be ONE (1) winner of one (1) physical copy of Aftermath (US Addresses only). The giveaway begins on May 10, 2021 and ends on June 5, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: LOCAL WOMAN MISSING by Mary Kubica

LOCAL WOMAN MISSING - MKubicaLocal Woman Missing by Mary Kubica
ISBN: 9780778389446 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488073960 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488211690 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08PDWGPSB (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08DKZX3FX (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Park Row Books
Release Date: May 18, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Suspense | Crime Thrillers | Psychological Thriller

 
 People don’t just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

 
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Read An Excerpt:

MEREDITH

11 YEARS BEFORE

March

The text comes from a number I don’t know. It’s a 630 area code. Local. I’m in the bathroom with Leo as he soaks in the tub. He has his bath toys lined up on the edge of it and they’re taking turns swan diving into the now-lukewarm water. It used to be hot, too hot for Leo to get into. But he’s been in there for thirty minutes now playing with his octopus, his whale, his fish. He’s having a ball.

Meanwhile I’ve lost track of time. I have a client in the early stages of labor. We’re texting. Her husband wants to take her to the hospital. She thinks it’s too soon. Her contractions are six and a half minutes apart. She’s absolutely correct. It’s too soon. The hospital would just send her home, which is frustrating, not to mention a huge inconvenience for women in labor. And anyway, why labor at the hospital when you can labor in the comfort of your own home? First-time fathers always get skittish. It does their wives no good. By the time I get to them, more times than not, the woman in labor is the more calm of the two. I have to focus my attention on pacifying a nervous husband. It’s not what they’re paying me for.

I tell Leo one more minute until I shampoo his hair, and then fire off a quick text, suggesting my client have a snack to keep her energy up, herself nourished. I recommend a nap, if her body will let her. The night ahead will be long for all of us. Childbirth, especially when it comes to first-time moms, is a marathon, not a sprint.

Josh is home. He’s in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner while Delilah plays. Delilah’s due up next in the tub. By the time I leave, the bedtime ritual will be done or nearly done. I feel good about that, hating the times I leave Josh alone with so much to do.

I draw up my text and then hit Send. The reply is immediate, that all too familiar ping that comes to me at all hours of the day or night.

I glance down at the phone in my hand, expecting it’s my client with some conditioned reply. Thx.

Instead: I know what you did. I hope you die.

Beside the text is a picture of a grayish skull with large, black eye sockets and teeth. The symbol of death.

My muscles tense. My heart quickens. I feel thrown off. The small bathroom feels suddenly, overwhelmingly, oppressive. It’s steamy, moist, hot. I drop down to the toilet and have a seat on the lid. My pulse is loud, audible in my own ears. I stare at the words before me, wondering if I’ve misread. Certainly I’ve misread. Leo is asking, “Is it a minute, Mommy?” I hear his little voice, muff led by the ringing in my ears. But I’m so thrown by the cutthroat text that I can’t speak.

I glance at the phone again. I haven’t misread.

The text is not from my client in labor. It’s not from any client of mine whose name and number is stored in my phone. As far as I can tell, it’s not from anyone I know.

A wrong number, then, I think. Someone sent this to me by accident. It has to be. My first thought is to delete it, to pretend this never happened. To make it disappear. Out of sight, out of mind.

But then I think of whoever sent it just sending it again or sending something worse. I can’t imagine anything worse.

I decide to reply. I’m careful to keep it to the point, to not sound too judgy or fault-finding because maybe the intended recipient really did do something awful—stole money from a children’s cancer charity—and the text isn’t as egregious as it looks at first glance.

I text: You have the wrong number.

The response is quick.

I hope you rot in hell, Meredith.

The phone slips from my hand. I yelp. The phone lands on the navy blue bath mat, which absorbs the sound of its fall.

Meredith.

Whoever is sending these texts knows my name. The texts are meant for me.

A second later Josh knocks on the bathroom door. I spring from the toilet seat, and stretch down for the phone. The phone has fallen facedown. I turn it over. The text is still there on the screen, staring back at me.

Josh doesn’t wait to be let in. He opens the door and steps right inside. I slide the phone into the back pocket of my jeans before Josh has a chance to see.

“Hey,” he says, “how about you save some water for the fish.”

Leo complains to Josh that he is cold. “Well, let’s get you out of the bath,” Josh says, stretching down to help him out of the water.

“I need to wash him still,” I admit. Before me, Leo’s teeth chatter. There are goose bumps on his arm that I hadn’t noticed before. He is cold, and I feel suddenly guilty, though it’s mired in confusion and fear. I hadn’t been paying any attention to Leo. There is bathwater spilled all over the floor, but his hair is still bone-dry.

“You haven’t washed him?” Josh asks, and I know what he’s thinking: that in the time it took him to clear the kitchen table, wash pots and pans and wipe down the sinks, I did nothing. He isn’t angry or accusatory about it. Josh isn’t the type to get angry.

“I have a client in labor,” I say by means of explanation. “She keeps texting,” I say, telling Josh that I was just about to wash Leo. I drop to my knees beside the tub. I reach for the shampoo. In the back pocket of my jeans, the phone again pings. This time, I ignore it. I don’t want Josh to know what’s happening, not until I get a handle on it for myself.

Josh asks, “Aren’t you going to get that?” I say that it can wait. I focus on Leo, on scrubbing the shampoo onto his hair, but I’m anxious. I move too fast so that the shampoo suds get in his eye. I see it happening, but all I can think to do is wipe it from his forehead with my own soapy hands. It doesn’t help. It makes it worse.

Leo complains. Leo isn’t much of a complainer. He’s an easygoing kid. “Ow,” is all that he says, his tiny wet hands going to his eyes, though shampoo in the eye burns like hell.

“Does that sting, baby?” I ask, feeling contrite. But I’m bursting with nervous energy. There’s only one thought racing through my mind. I hope you rot in hell, Meredith.

Who would have sent that, and why? Whoever it is knows me. They know my name. They’re mad at me for something I’ve done. Mad enough to wish me dead. I don’t know anyone like that. I can’t think of anything I’ve done to upset someone enough that they’d want me dead.

I grab the wet washcloth draped over the edge of the tub. I try handing it to Leo, so that he can press it to his own eyes. But my hands shake as I do. I wind up dropping the washcloth into the bath. The tepid water rises up and splashes him in the eyes. This time he cries.

“Oh, buddy,” I say, “I’m so sorry, it slipped.”

But as I try again to grab it from the water and hand it to him, I drop the washcloth for a second time. I leave it where it is, letting Leo fish it out of the water and wipe his eyes for himself. Meanwhile Josh stands two feet behind, watching.

My phone pings again. Josh says, “Someone is really dying to talk to you.”

Dying. It’s all that I hear.

My back is to Josh, thank God. He can’t see the look on my face when he says it.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“Your client,” Josh says. I turn to him. He motions to my phone jutting out of my back pocket. “She really needs you. You should take it, Mer,” he says softly, accommodatingly, and only then do I think about my client in labor and feel guilty. What if it is her? What if her contractions are coming more quickly now and she does need me?

Josh says, “I can finish up with Leo while you get ready to go,” and I acquiesce, because I need to get out of here. I need to know if the texts coming to my phone are from my client or if they’re coming from someone else.

I rise up from the floor. I scoot past Josh in the door, brushing against him. His hand closes around my upper arm as I do, and he draws me in for a hug. “Everything okay?” he asks, and I say yes, fine, sounding too chipper even to my own ears. Everything is not okay.

“I’m just thinking about my client,” I say. “She’s had a stillbirth before, at thirty-two weeks. She never thought she’d get this far. Can you imagine that? Losing a baby at thirty-two weeks?”

Josh says no. His eyes move to Leo and he looks saddened by it. I feel guilty for the lie. It’s not this client but another who lost a baby at thirty-two weeks. When she told me about it, I was completely torn up. It took everything in me not to cry as she described for me the moment the doctor told her her baby didn’t have a heartbeat. Labor was later induced, and she had to push her dead baby out with only her mother by her side. Her husband was deployed at the time. After, she was snowed under by guilt. Was it her fault the baby died? A thousand times I held her hand and told her no. I’m not sure she ever believed me.

My lie has the desired effect. Josh stands down, and asks if I need help with anything before I leave. I say no, that I’m just going to change my clothes and go.

I step out of the bathroom. In the bedroom, I close the door. I grab my scrub bottoms and a long-sleeved T-shirt from my drawer. I lay them on the bed, but before I get dressed, I pull my phone out of my pocket. I take a deep breath and hold it in, summoning the courage to look. I wonder what waits there. More nasty threats? My heart hammers inside me. My knees shake.

I take a look. There are two messages waiting for me.

The first: Water broke. Contractions 5 min apart.

And then: Heading to hospital.—M.

I release my pent-up breath. The texts are from my client’s husband, sent from her phone. My legs nearly give in relief, and I drop down to the edge of the bed, forcing myself to breathe. I inhale long and deep. I hold it in until my lungs become uncomfortable. When I breathe out, I try and force away the tension.

But I can’t sit long because my client is advancing quickly. I need to go.

Excerpt from Local Woman Missing by Mary Kyrychenko.

Copyright © 2021 by Mary Kyrychenko. Published by Park Row Books.

All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.

 

Meet The Author

Author - Mary Kubica photo credit Sarah Jastre

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six novels, including The Good Girl, Pretty Baby, Don’t You Cry, Every Last Lie, When The Lights Go Out, and The Other Mrs. A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. Her last novel The Other Mrs. was an instant New York Times bestseller; is coming soon to Netflix; was a LibraryReads pick for February 2020; praised by the New York Times; and highly recommended by Entertainment Weekly, People, The Week, Marie Claire, Bustle, HelloGiggles, Goodreads, PopSugar, BookRiot, HuffingtonPost, First for Women, Woman’s World, and more. Mary’s novels have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller,” (Kirkus Reviews) and “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune), and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times). Local Woman Missing is her seventh novel.

Connect with the Author:  Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

  

This excerpt brought to you courtesy of Park Row Books

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

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

by E. James Harrison

February 9, 2021 Book Blast

Synopsis:

 

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

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

Book Details:

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

Read an excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So what? He’s going to die anyway.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Not yet.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

 

 

Author Bio:

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

 

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Giveaway!:

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

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Guest Post – Carrie Stuart Parks RELATIVE SILENCE



Good morning, my bookish peeps! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and that you got some reading in while enjoying your weekend activities. I am pleased to welcome today’s guest, an award-winning author and internationally known forensic artist, Carrie Stuart Parks to The Book Diva’s Reads. Many authors have to combine hours of research into an unknown area of expertise to write stories about an unknown subject, but Ms. Parks is a forensic artist that combines her unique background in that area with her writing for some wonderful scenarios. Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you Carrie Stuart Parks, author of Relative Silence




What If? and Forensic Art
by Carrie Stuart Parks



Like most authors, I start out with two simple words, what if? What if my character has her dog bring home a human skull? (The Bones Will Speak.) What if my character lies about her training as a forensic artist and stumbles upon a secret from World War Two? (Formula of Deception.) What if my character has the face of her long-dead daughter age-progressed and becomes convinced she’s actually alive? (Relative Silence.) What might set my what if questions in a different direction from most authors is that the what if usually includes forensics. Specifically forensic art. As a forensic artist myself, I know the field intimately, and I know the many applications of this skill. 

Before I go on, let me define forensic art. It’s any art used in law enforcement or legal proceedings. This includes composite drawings from witness descriptions, measuring and recording crime scenes, and doing the courtroom sketching for television or print media. Any image enhancement such as adding or removing beards and glasses, drawing video surveillance images, or age progression falls under the forensic art umbrella. Facial reconstruction, either two-dimensional (drawing) or three dimensional (clay) over a skull for identification would be considered forensic art. Even preparing charts and exhibits for court is a form of forensic art.

Because the field is so exciting and varied, I try to shine a spotlight on one particular area in each of my novels. In Relative Silence, I wanted to present child age progression. I first heard of this in 1986 at a forensic art symposium in New Orleans. Two men had sketched the face of some missing children that had led to their recovery. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, founded just a year earlier by John and Revé Walsh and other child advocates, was in its infancy. Although most of America had heard of Etan Patz (abducted in 1979) and Adam Walsh (abducted in 1981), this was the first I’d heard of a way in which I could use my art skills to help children. Thirty-three years later, I was able to write about it in my novel.

I still teach and practice forensic art, and as each case crosses my drafting table, I now look at the possibilities for a storyline. What if . . ?







Relative Silence

by Carrie Stuart Parks

on Tour July 13 – August 14, 2020


Synopsis:


Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks


A powerful family with lots of secrets. A forensic artist with his own tragedies. And a hurricane drawing bearing down on their private island.

Fifteen years ago Piper Boone’s only child died in a boating accident, and Piper’s almost perfect life came to an end too. After living through a divorce and losing her job, she retreats to Curlew Island and her childhood home—a secluded mansion for the politically powerful Boone family, who are practically American royalty.

But Piper’s desire to become a recluse is shattered when a mass shooter opens fire and kills three women at a café where Piper is having lunch. The crisis puts her family in the spotlight by dredging up rumors of the so-called Curlew Island Curse, which whispers say has taken the lives of several members of the Boone family, including Piper’s father and sister.

Forensic artist Tucker Landry also survives the shooting and is tasked with the job of sketching a portrait of the shooter with Piper. They forge a bond over their shared love of movies and tragic pasts. But when police discover a connection between the shooting and two more murders on Curlew Island, they face a more terrible lineup of suspects than they could have imagined: Piper’s family.

Unraveling the family’s true history will be the key to Piper’s survival—or her certain death.




Book Details:


Genre: Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: July 14th 2020
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0785226184 (ISBN13: 9780785226185)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads




Author Bio:


Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy, Carol, and Inspy award-winning author, an award-winning fine artist, and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity.


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Enter To Win!!:



This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Carrie Stuart Parks. There will be 1 winner of one (1) print copy of Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks. The giveaway begins on July 13, 2020 and runs through August 16, 2020. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.


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