Guest Author: Howard Michael Gould – PAY OR PLAY

Pay or Play by Howard Michael Gould Banner

Good day, book people. I hope the beginning of 2022 has been good to you all and that you’ve been able to get some reading time in over the holiday season. As a reader, I’m always fascinated by the paths taken by authors. How did they begin writing? How did they develop their characters? What sparked their creativity? I’m pleased to welcome the incredibly accomplished and multi-award winning writer, Howard Michael Gould to the blog. Mr. Gould will be providing us a glimpse into his character, Waldo, in what might loosely be termed his “finding Waldo” moments. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to share with us, follow along with the blog tour, and put Pay or Play, the latest Waldo addition on your TBR list. Without further adieu I give you Mr. Howard Michael Gould.

Waldo: from Screen to Page and Back
by Howard Michael Gould

It’s hard to become a crime novelist by accident, but that’s kind of what happened to me. And I’m glad as hell that it did.

I moved to Hollywood in my 20s and worked in television comedy for a decade, then movies for a decade, then in my third decade did a little of both. Twenty-five years in, several producers in a row suddenly had the idea to hire me to write one crime comedy or another—a movie here, a pilot there—and I was surprised how much I enjoyed the blend.

I particularly liked the idea of doing a private eye TV series with some laughs, like Moonlighting or Monk. But because my TV credits were in comedy rather than drama, I’d need a unique pitch, so I found myself looking for a “high concept” idea—some angle or character gimmick that would make mine, unlike any other detective, though not goofy or corny, and sustainable enough to hold my own interest for several seasons.

Around that time, my daughter showed me a video called The Story of Stuff, about how society is burning through the planet’s resources in service of a planned consumerism which is simultaneously making us miserable. I was mesmerized. Out of this came my series lead, Charlie Waldo.

Waldo lives in a different kind of misery, punishing himself for a fatal mistake during his otherwise stellar LAPD career. In response, he’s vowed never to cause harm to anyone or anything again, not even the planet. So he’s moved to a tiny cabin in the woods on a mountain outside of Los Angeles, where he lives as a hermit, a pathological environmentalist, and even a minimalist—with a strict vow never to own more than One Hundred Things.

In my original network pitch, his ex-girlfriend Lorena, a PI herself, tracks him down three years into his isolation and lures him into helping her on a case, triggering a partnership between once and future lovers with clashing approaches to life: he the ascetic, she the up-from-poverty materialist who’d never give up her Mercedes or her D&G stilettos.

I pitched it to a top TV producer, who loved it, and we took it to a couple of networks. At one, the executives actually applauded at the end of the pitch—this had never happened in my whole career—but called three days later to pass because their network did policemen, not private eyes. So I put poor Waldo on the sad pile with dozens of other abandoned nifty ideas. That’s life in Hollywood, where—unless you’re a writer for hire who goes from series to series, helping other writers execute their ideas (a plenty noble path, but not for me, temperamentally)—lots and lots of your best stuff goes to waste.

About a year and a half later, I got an intriguing email from my favorite movie producer. This was during the post-2008 financial crash, with Hollywood in a tailspin and forced to reinvent itself. The producer had a new venture with two partners and some independent funding, and the trio wanted to hire me to write an indie movie. They expressed particular interest in my writing some sort of detective movie with comedy if I happened to have an idea lying around.

I pulled Waldo off the dead pile.

Since I’d conceived him as a case-of-the-week detective, I now had to come up with a movie-sized story, and landed on a sensational Hollywood murder: a larger-than-life, British-born thespian named Alastair Pinch, a belligerent alcoholic, may or may not have killed his wife in their locked mansion during a blackout drunk. A second great role. And setting it in L.A., which I knew so well, would set eco-maniacal Waldo in contrast with the most materialistic town in the world.

It turned out to be the hardest script I’d ever written—subject for another essay—but when I was done, the producer thought it was the best I’d ever written. Instantly, it seemed, Owen Wilson wanted to play Waldo, and a hot indie director came aboard, too, a very smart guy in love with the project. I started doing some rewrites to accommodate their ideas, standard for the business.

(Meanwhile, I’d gotten a new sitcom on the air, my primary job for the next three years. The Waldo rewriting would be early-morning and weekend work.)

Once I got the script where the director wanted it, the actor’s agent got cold feet: people weren’t really making detective movies anymore—big studios were only interested in bigger movies, and indie financers were only interested in smaller, less commercial movies—i.e., awards-bait—and the agent didn’t want a project with Owen attached to seek financing and possibly fail. Goodbye, Owen. Oh, and goodbye director, too.

Next, the producers attached a more famous director, and we wasted a year or two rewriting to make him happy before he decided that what he really wanted was to chase bigger money jobs.

Then Jim Carrey wanted to do it. We had a delightful meeting. He had ideas. I did more rewrites.

Somewhere in this period, my sitcom concluded its run, affording me the time and financial freedom to try something more ambitious and creatively gratifying. Meanwhile, through all the rewrites, I’d fallen in love with Waldo and hated the idea that he’d end up back on that dead projects pile. Which is when it hit me: maybe Owen Wilson’s agent was right, maybe there weren’t a lot of detective movies anymore…but there sure were a lot of detective novels. What if I got back the rights, and tried to reverse-adapt my Waldo screenplay into a book?

Of course, I’d never written fiction as an adult and had no reason to think I’d be any good at it.

But write it I did. And damned if getting it published wasn’t the first thing that ever came easily. I wrote a sequel, and that sold, too. And now a third, called Pay or Play.

To my great surprise, I’ve found the career shift very satisfying. The writing itself is painful and difficult, and I take longer on each book than most authors I meet in the category (subject for yet another essay), but unlike Hollywood—where the goal is to attract the interest of someone who’ll attract the interest of someone more important, who’ll attract the interest of someone more important, who’ll actually attract someone with money to say they want to make your project, while each of those someones has creative input and you hope that you can hang on and make all the someones happy while still steering something you’re proud of to a screen—now the only goal is to write a book I’m proud of.♦

 

P.S.: The movie finally got made, too. It’s called Last Looks, same as the first book in the series. Charlie Hunnam—exactly the right actor, in the end—plays the eco-maniacal, ascetic detective, and Mel Gibson plays the belligerent alcoholic star. They’re both brilliant, and it’s coming out in a couple of weeks. I hope you’ll look for it.♦♦

Pay or Play

by Howard Michael Gould

January 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Pay or Play by Howard Michael Gould

Blackmail, sexual harassment, murder . . .
and a missing dog: eccentric, eco-obsessed LA private eye Charlie Waldo is on the case in this quirky, fast-paced mystery.

Paying a harsh self-imposed penance for a terrible misstep on a case, former LAPD superstar detective Charlie Waldo lives a life of punishing minimalism deep within the woods, making a near religion of his commitment to owning no more than One Hundred Things.

At least, he’s trying to. His PI girlfriend Lorena keeps drawing him back to civilization – even though every time he compromises on his principles, something goes wrong.

And unfortunately for Waldo, all roads lead straight back to LA. When old adversary Don Q strongarms him into investigating the seemingly mundane death of a vagrant, Lorena agrees he can work under her PI license on one condition: he help with a high-maintenance celebrity client, wildly popular courtroom TV star Judge Ida Mudge, whose new mega-deal makes her a perfect target for blackmail.

Reopening the coldest of cases, a decades-old fraternity death, Waldo begins to wonder if the judge is, in fact, a murderer – and if he’ll stay alive long enough to find out.

Pay or Play is the third in the Charlie Waldo series, following Last Looks and Below the Line. Last Looks was turned into a major motion picture, starring Charlie Hunnam as the offbeat private investigator.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Private Detective
Published by: Severn House Publishers Limited
Publication Date: December 7th 2021
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 0727850857 (ISBN13: 9780727850850)
Series: Charlie Waldo, #3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Howard Michael Gould

Howard Michael Gould graduated from Amherst College and spent five years working on Madison Avenue, winning three Clios and numerous other awards.

In television, he was executive producer and head writer of CYBILL when it won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series, and held the same positions on THE JEFF FOXWORTHY SHOW and INSTANT MOM. Other TV credits include FM and HOME IMPROVEMENT. He wrote and directed the feature film THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY LEFAY, starring Tim Allen, Elisha Cuthbert, Andie MacDowell and Jenna Elfman. Other feature credits include MR. 3000 and SHREK THE THIRD.

His play DIVA premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and La Jolla Playhouse, and was subsequently published by Samuel French and performed around the country.

He is the author of three mystery novels featuring the minimalist detective Charlie Waldo: LAST LOOKS (2018) and BELOW THE LINE (2019), both nominated for Shamus Awards by the Private Eye Writers of America, and PAY OR PLAY (2021). The feature film version of LAST LOOKS, starring Charlie Hunnam and Mel Gibson and directed by Tim Kirkby, will premiere February, 2022; Gould also wrote the screenplay.

Catch Up With Howard Michael Gould:
HowardMichaelGould.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – @howardmichaelgould
Twitter – @HowardMGould
Facebook – @HowardMGould

 

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Guest Post: C. Matthew Smith – TWENTYMILE

Twentymile by C. Matthew Smith Banner

Good day book people. I hope you’re reading to head into the weekend with plenty of reading choices. If you’re looking for some ideas and are into police procedurals or thrillers, then I may have the perfect book for you. Please help me welcome, C. Matthew Smith, author of Twentymile. This exciting new book takes us into the Investigative Services Branch (ISB) of the National Park Service (yes, it’s a thing). So sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and let’s learn a bit more about the ISB and its role in Twentymile. Thank you, Mr. Smith for joining us today and giving us a glimpse into this little known law enforcement branch.

Introducing the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch to the World of Fiction
By C. Matthew Smith

In 2018, I was writing down the first pages in what eventually would grow into my debut novel, Twentymile. I had a germ of an idea: a Good Guy on the run from Bad Guys in a challenging outdoor environment. I vaguely knew I wanted the story to deal with themes of land use and ownership (among others), and I gravitated toward setting the novel on what we term “public land”–a national or state park or wilderness area. In the early going, I toyed with a number of scenarios, including a wildlife biologist who encounters poachers after endangered species. Or a park ranger coming upon some similarly unsavory characters.

And then, in October 2018, Outside Magazine published an article entitled “The F.B.I. of the National Park Service.” In it, I learned of a little-known department within the NPS apparatus called the Investigative Services Branch. This small group of law enforcement agents investigates the most serious crimes committed on NPS land–everything from homicides to sexual assault to theft of antiquities. Strangely, while this felt to me like fertile ground for fiction, my research found no prior novels featuring the ISB.

It was a lightning bolt. I read and re-read the article several times. After some brief research, I sent an e-mail to a public inquiries address for the ISB and, to my surprise, received a very kind reply from Christopher Smith (no relation), the ISB’s Special Agent in Charge of Operations. Yes, he’d be willing to talk. Since then, SACO Smith has been generous with his time, speaking with me on multiple occasions. He’s rightly proud of the work his plucky organization does, and he took pains to ensure I understood the realities of working as an ISB special agent.

What I learned from him provided me with the makings of a compelling protagonist. Consider the following: There are just under three-dozen special agents, spread over several regions, responsible for more than eighty million acres from Hawaii to the U.S. Virgin Islands. As a consequence, ISB special agents typically work cases solo, not with a partner, marshaling what assistance they can from local law enforcement resources. They’re frequently on the road, living out of their SUVs and motels. They process crime scenes deep in the wilderness when necessary and investigate a wide variety of offenses, from financial crimes to murder. They are independent, tough-minded jacks of all trades who spend the majority of their time with only themselves.

What kind of individual chooses this life?

There could be many answers, of course. But for Tsula Walker, the protagonist of Twentymile, I settled on the following: She’s flinty, steady in demeanor, and capable of protecting herself. A woman confident in her own analytical skills and professional judgment. And someone who, for reasons I won’t spoil here, is predisposed to extended periods alone. That, I decided, is a main character I’d follow anywhere.

I hope you, dear reader, will follow her, too. She’s on one hell of a journey.

Having written the first novel featuring the ISB, I feel a certain pressure to “get it right.” To capture its essence. The needs of fiction may sometimes require taking liberties with certain details, but thanks to my research and the willingness of ISB leadership to answer my many questions, I hope Tsula accurately embodies the spirit of this spunky group of law enforcement professionals. ♦

Twentymile

by C. Matthew Smith

November 15 – December 10, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Twentymile by C. Matthew Smith

When wildlife biologist Alex Lowe is found dead inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it looks on the surface like a suicide. But Tsula Walker, Special Agent with the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch and a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, isn’t so sure.

Tsula’s investigation will lead her deep into the park and face-to-face with a group of lethal men on a mission to reclaim a historic homestead. The encounter will irretrievably alter the lives of all involved and leave Tsula fighting for survival – not only from those who would do her harm, but from a looming winter storm that could prove just as deadly.

A finely crafted literary thriller, Twentymile delivers a propulsive story of long-held grievances, new hopes, and the contentious history of the land at its heart.

Praise for Twentymile:

“[A] striking debut . . . a highly enjoyable read suited best to those who like their thrillers to simmer for awhile before erupting in a blizzard of action and unpredictability . . .” Kashif Hussain, Best Thriller Books.

“C. Matthew Smith’s original, intelligent novel delivers unforgettable characters and an irresistible, page-turning pace while grappling with deeply fascinating issues of land and heritage and what and who is native…Twentymile is an accomplished first novel from a talented and fully-formed writer.” James A. McLaughlin, Edgar Award-winning author of Bearskin

Twentymile is packed with everything I love: A strong, female character; a wilderness setting; gripping storytelling; masterful writing. Smith captures powerfully and deeply the effects of the past and what we do to one another and ourselves for the sake of ownership and possession, for what we wrongfully and rightfully believe is ours. I loved every word. A beautiful and brutal and extraordinary debut.” Diane Les Becquets, bestselling author of Breaking Wild and The Last Woman in the Forest

Book Details:

Genre: Procedural, Thriller
Published by: Latah Books
Publication Date: November 19, 2021
Number of Pages: 325
ISBN: 9781736012765 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781736012772 (eBook)
ASIN: B09GRLTYDG (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Goodreads | Kobo eBook | Latah Books

 

Author Bio:

C. Matthew Smith

C. Matthew Smith is an attorney and writer whose short stories have appeared in and are forthcoming from numerous outlets, including Mystery Tribune, Mystery Weekly, Close to the Bone, and Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir Vol. 3 (Down & Out Books). He’s a member of Sisters in Crime and the Atlanta Writers Club.

Catch Up With C. Matthew Smith:
www.cmattsmithwrites.com
Twitter – @cmattwrite
Facebook

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Book Showcase: FAN CLUB by Erin Mayer

FAN CLUB by Erin MayerFan Club by Erin Mayer
ISBN: 9780778311591 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780369706102 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488212543 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781665104791 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B094Q6D9C8 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08QSDDSJQ (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA Books
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Thriller | Psychological Suspense

In this raucous psychological thriller, a millennial office worker finds relief from her crippling ennui in the embrace of a cliquey fan club, until she discovers the group of women is bound together by something darker than devotion.

Day after day our narrator, a gloomy millennial, searches for meaning beyond her vacuous job at a women’s lifestyle website—entering text into a computer system while she watches their beauty editor unwrap box after box of perfectly packaged bits of happiness. Then, one night at a dive bar, she hears a message in the newest single by child-actor-turned-international-pop-star Adriana Argento, and she is struck. Soon she loses herself to the online fandom, a community whose members feverishly track Adriana’s every move.

When a colleague notices the extent of her obsession, she’s invited to join an enigmatic group of adult Adriana superfans who call themselves the Ivies and worship her music in witchy, candlelit listening parties. As the narrator becomes more entrenched in the group, she gets closer to uncovering the sinister secrets that bind them together—while simultaneously losing her grip on reality.

With caustic wit and hypnotic writing, this unsparingly critical thrill ride through millennial life examines all that is wrong in our celebrity-obsessed internet age, and how easy it is to lose yourself in it.

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

I’m outside for a cumulative ten minutes each day before work. Five to walk from my apartment building to the subway, another five to go from the subway to the anemic obelisk that houses my office. I try to breathe as deeply as I can in those minutes, because I never know how long it will be until I take fresh air into my lungs again. Not that the city air is all that fresh, tinged with the sharp stench of old garbage, pollution’s metallic swirl. But it beats the stale oxygen of the office, already filtered through distant respiratory systems. Sometimes, during slow moments at my desk, I inhale and try to imagine those other nostrils and lungs that have already processed this same air. I’m not sure how it works in reality, any knowledge I once had of the intricacies of breathing having been long ago discarded by more useful information, but the image comforts me. Usually, I picture a middle-aged man with greying temples, a fringe of visible nose hair, and a coffee stain on the collar of his baby blue button-down. He looks nothing and everything like my father. An every-father, if you will.

My office is populated by dyed-blonde or pierced brunette women in their mid-to-late twenties and early thirties. The occasional man, just a touch older than most of the women, but still young enough to give off the faint impression that he DJs at Meatpacking nightclubs for extra cash on the weekends.

We are the new corporate Americans, the offspring of the grey-templed men. We wear tastefully ripped jeans and cozy sweaters to the office instead of blazers and trousers. Display a tattoo here and there—our supervisors don’t mind; in fact, they have the most ink. We eat yogurt for breakfast, work through lunch, leave the office at six if we’re lucky, arriving home with just enough time to order dinner from an app and watch two or three hours of Netflix before collapsing into bed from exhaustion we haven’t earned. Exhaustion that lives in the brain, not the body, and cannot be relieved by a mere eight hours of sleep.

Nobody understands exactly what it is we do here, and neither do we. I push through revolving glass door, run my wallet over the card reader, which beeps as my ID scans through the stiff leather, and half-wave in the direction of the uniformed security guard behind the desk, whose face my eyes never quite reach so I can’t tell you what he looks like. He’s just one of the many set-pieces staging the scene of my days.

The elevator ride to the eleventh floor is long enough to skim one-third of a longform article on my phone. I barely register what it’s about, something loosely political, or who is standing next to me in the cramped elevator.

When the doors slide open on eleven, we both get off.

In the dim eleventh-floor lobby, a humming neon light shaping the company logo assaults my sleep-swollen eyes like the prick of a dozen tiny needles. Today, a small section has burned out, creating a skip in the letter w. Below the logo is a tufted cerulean velvet couch where guests wait to be welcomed. To the left there’s a mirrored wall reflecting the vestibule; people sometimes pause there to take photos on the way to and from the office, usually on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend. I see the photos later while scrolling through my various feeds at home in bed. They hit me one after another like shots of tequila: See ya Tuesday! *margarita emoji* Peace out for the long weekend! *palm tree emoji* Byeeeeee! *peace sign emoji.*

She steps in front of me, my elevator companion. Black Rag & Bone ankle boots gleaming, blade-tipped pixie cut grazing her ears. Her neck piercing taunts me, those winking silver balls on either side of her spine. She’s Lexi O’ Connell, the website’s senior editor. She walks ahead with her head angled down, thumb working her phone’s keyboard, and doesn’t look up as she shoves the interior door open, palm to the glass.

I trip over the back of one clunky winter boot with the other as I speed up, considering whether to call out for her attention. It’s what a good web producer, one who is eager to move on from the endless drudgery of copy-pasting and resizing and into the slightly more thrilling drudgery of writing and rewriting, would do.

By the time I regain my footing, I come face-to-face with the smear of her handprint as the door glides shut in front of me.

Monday.

I work at a website.

It’s like most other websites; we publish content, mostly articles: news stories, essays, interviews, glossed over with the polished opalescent sheen of commercialized feminism. The occasional quiz, video, or photoshoot rounds out our offerings. This is how websites work in the age of ad revenue: Each provides a slightly varied selection of mindless entertainment, news updates, and watered-down hot takes about everything from climate change to plus size fashion, hawking their wares on the digital marketplace, leaving The Reader to wander drunkenly through the bazaar, wielding her cursor like an Amex. You can find everything you’d want to read in one place online, dozens of times over. The algorithms have erased choice. Search engines and social media platforms, they know what you want before you do.

As a web producer, my job is to input article text into the website’s proprietary content management system, or CMS. I’m a digitized high school janitor; I clean up the small messes, the litter that misses the rim of the garbage can. I make sure the links are working and the images are high resolution. When anything bigger comes up, it goes to an editor or IT. I’m an expert in nothing, a master of the minuscule fixes.

There are five of us who produce for the entire website, each handling about 20 articles a day. We sit at a long grey table on display at the very center of the open office, surrounded on all sides by editors and writers.

The web producers’ bullpen, Lexi calls it.

The light fixture above the table buzzes loudly like a nest of bees is trapped inside the fluorescent tubing. I drop my bag on the floor and take a seat, shedding my coat like a layer of skin. My chair faces the beauty editor’s desk, the cruelest seat in the house. All day long, I watch Charlotte Miller receive package after package stuffed with pastel tissue paper. Inside those packages: lipstick, foundation, perfume, happiness. A thousand simulacrums of Christmas morning spread across the two-hundred and sixty-one workdays of the year. She has piled the trappings of Brooklyn hipsterdom on top of her blonde, big-toothed, prettiness. Wire-frame glasses, a tattoo of a constellation on her inner left forearm, a rose gold nose ring. She seems Texan, but she’s actually from some wholesome upper Midwestern state, I can never remember which one. Right now, she applies red lipstick from a warm golden tube in the flat gleam of the golden mirror next to her monitor. Everything about her is color-coordinated.

I open my laptop. The screen blinks twice and prompts me for my password. I type it in, and the CMS appears, open to where I left it when I signed off the previous evening. Our CMS is called LIZZIE. There’s a rumor that it was named after Lizzie Borden, christened during the pre-launch party when the tech team pounded too many shots after they finished coding. As in, “Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks.” Lizzie Borden rebranded in the 21st century as a symbol of righteous feminine anger. LIZZIE, my best friend, my closest confidant. She’s an equally comforting and infuriating presence, constant in her bland attention. She gazes at me, always emotionless, saying nothing as she watches me teeter on the edge, fighting tears or trying not to doze at my desk or simply staring, in search of answers she cannot provide.

My eyes droop in their sockets as I scan the articles that were submitted before I arrived this morning. The whites threaten to turn liquid and splash onto my keyboard, pool between the keys and jiggle like eggs minus the yolks. Thinking of this causes a tiny laugh to slip out from between my clenched lips. Charlotte slides the cap onto her lipstick, glares at me over the lip of the mirror.

“Morning.”

That’s Tom, the only male web producer, who sits across and slightly left of me, keeping my view of Charlotte’s towering wonderland of boxes and bags clear. He’s four years older than me, twenty-eight, but the plush chipmunk curve of his cheeks makes him appear much younger, like he’s about to graduate high school. He’s cute, though, in the way of a movie star who always gets cast as the geek in teen comedies. Definitely hot but dress him down in an argyle sweater and glasses and he could be a Hollywood nerd. I’ve always wanted to ask him why he works here, doing this. There isn’t really a web producer archetype. We’re all different, a true island of misfit toys.

But if there is a type, Tom doesn’t fit it. He seems smart and driven. He’s consistently the only person who attends company book club meetings having read that month’s selection from cover to cover. I’ve never asked him why he works here because we don’t talk much. No one in our office talks much. Not out loud, anyway. We communicate through a private Morse code, fingers dancing on keys, expressions scanned and evaluated from a distance.

Sometimes I think about flirting with Tom, for something to do, but he wears a wedding ring. Not that I care about his wife; it’s more the fear of rebuff and rejection, of hearing the low-voiced Sorry, I’m married, that stops me. He usually sails in a few minutes after I do, smelling like his bodega coffee and the egg sandwich he carefully unwraps and eats at his desk. He nods in my direction. Morning is the only word we’ve exchanged the entire time I’ve worked here, which is coming up on a year in January. It’s not even a greeting, merely a statement of fact. It is morning and we’re both here. Again.

Three hundred and sixty-five days lost to the hum and twitch and click. I can’t seem to remember how I got here. It all feels like a dream. The mundane kind, full of banal details, but something slightly off about it all. I don’t remember applying for the job, or interviewing. One day, an offer letter appeared in my inbox and I signed.

And here I am. Day after day, I wait for someone to need me. I open articles. I tweak the formatting, check the links, correct the occasional typo that catches my eye. It isn’t really my job to copy edit, or even to read closely, but sometimes I notice things, grammatical errors or awkward phrasing, and I then can’t not notice them; I have to put them right or else they nag like a papercut on the soft webbing connecting two fingers. The brain wants to be useful. It craves activity, even after almost three hundred and sixty-five days of operating at its lowest frequency.

I open emails. I download attachments. I insert numbers into spreadsheets. I email those spreadsheets to Lexi and my direct boss, Ashley, who manages the homepage.

None of it ever seems to add up to anything.

Excerpt from Fan Club by Erin Mayer. Copyright © 2021 by Erin Mayer. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet The Author

Erin Mayer

Erin Mayer is a freelance writer and editor based in Maine. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Man Repeller, Literary Hub, and others. She was previously an associate fashion and beauty editor at Bustle.com.

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

This excerpt brought to you by MIRA Books

Guest Post: Lindsay Marcott – MRS. ROCHESTER’S GHOST

Good day, book people. Do you have a favorite classic? One of my favorite classics is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve loved this book since I read it for the first time many, many years ago in junior high school (aka middle school). Since my love affair began with Jane Eyre, I’ve become invested in all things Jane Eyre, i.e., movie and television adaptations, book adaptations, book retellings, books influenced by, etc. Needless to say, I was very excited when I heard about Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott. I’m beyond excited to welcome none other than Lindsay Marcott today as she discusses with us a modern take on Jane Eyre. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say and will add Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost to your TBR list, if it isn’t already there. Thank you, Ms. Marcott, for stopping by, the blog is now yours.

Jane Eyre for the Modern Age

by Lindsay Marcott

What is it about Jane Eyre that has made it a blockbuster for over a hundred and seventy years? The breathtaking writing, yes. The gripping plot: part Gothic romance, part coming-of-age story. The swooning romance between a rich man and a poor orphan, and the shock of the mad wife secreted in an attic.

But I think most of all it’s the voice of Jane herself: a young woman with an extraordinary sense of her own worth and independence. A voice that was revolutionary in 1847 when Charlotte Brontë published it. At the time, women had little say outside family and home. Their career opportunities outside of marriage were limited to underpaid servants and schoolteachers. Female characters in early Victorian novels were usually portrayed as either sugary too-good-to-be-true angels or fallen women seeking repentance.

Jane is neither. She’s constricted by the society she lives in—she needs to keep a stifling job as a governess or else starve to death—but she makes it clear she’d rather starve than sacrifice her will or stifle her intelligence. As a child, she has a temper and a will, even though she’s punished harshly for it. Later, when her employer, Mr. Rochester, grills her, she responds with strong opinions and engages in spirited debates. And when he tempts her to go live in sin with him in Europe, she escapes through the only means available to her—by running off to the surrounding moors, though it probably means she will die in those wilds. And she will not return to him until she learns he has fundamentally changed, and she can now love him passionately and physically without compromising her true self.

I believe it’s this will and independence of Jane’s that keep modern readers coming back for more (not to mention that throbbing romance!), and these are the same elements that inspire continual adaptations of the story. I had long dreamed of creating modern versions of these characters, because they so thrilled and delighted me and taught me life lessons over many years of my rereading the book. A nervy dream, yes. But also one that presented huge challenges: there are so many elements of the book that just won’t fly in an updated story.

For example: a current-day Jane would not be able to keep her curiosity under wraps about all the strange and spooky things going on in Mr. Rochester’s house. She wouldn’t just accept vague explanations or agree to his request to simply not ask about them. She would be itching to find out more.

Also a sexual relationship outside of marriage is no longer a taboo for most women of today. Jane wouldn’t have to flee that temptation. And of course a modern Mr. Rochester would be able to divorce a mad wife, though no doubt having to pay a heavy alimony for her future care. So that’s no longer even an obstacle.

But lies are always a problem in a relationship. Especially big lies.

A secret bigamist is a pretty big lie.

Being a secret murderer would be an even bigger one.

It was thinking about this that gave me the idea of adapting the book as a modern thriller. One in which Rochester does not have a stashed-away wife—instead he’s suspected of murdering a famous wife who has now disappeared. Jane would have to surreptitiously seek out the truth about him–guilty or not?–before she could give in to falling in love. And when spooky things happened, she would need to confront those as well. She would be risking an enormous amount. Losing the love of her life. And maybe also losing her life.

And so I set about writing a thriller, adding startling new twists, putting in jumps and shivers. The result is Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost. It was a joy to write, and I certainly hope it’s an equal joy to read.


 

Mrs. Rochester's GhostMrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott
ISBN: 9781542026383 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781542026390 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781713561422 (audiobook)
ISBN: 9781713561415 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08DFSR14S (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B08L9LPFZP (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: August 1, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Fiction | Mystery | Thriller | Retelling

 In a modern and twisty retelling of Jane Eyre, a young woman must question everything she thinks she knows about love, loyalty, and murder.

Jane has lost everything: job, mother, relationship, even her home. A friend calls to offer an unusual deal—a cottage above the crashing surf of Big Sur on the estate of his employer, Evan Rochester. In return, Jane will tutor his teenage daughter. She accepts.

But nothing is quite as it seems at the Rochester estate. Though he’s been accused of murdering his glamorous and troubled wife, Evan Rochester insists she drowned herself. Jane is skeptical, but she still finds herself falling for the brilliant and secretive entrepreneur and growing close to his daughter.

And yet her deepening feelings for Evan can’t disguise dark suspicions aroused when a ghostly presence repeatedly appears in the night’s mist and fog. Jane embarks on an intense search for answers and uncovers evidence that soon puts Evan’s innocence into question. She’s determined to discover what really happened that fateful night, but what will the truth cost her?

 

Read An Excerpt:

The fog streamed in white scarves and pennants, with a bright half moon playing hide-and-seek among them. I walked briskly down the asphalt drive, Pilot racing figure eights around me. We cut across switchbacks toward the highway. I kept to the gravel shoulder as the grade descended.

A pair of headlights glowered in the mist, then swept swiftly by.

The highway continued to dip. Pilot romped ahead and disappeared from my sight around a curve.

“Pilot!” I heard him barking but couldn’t see him. I quickened my steps.

I found myself in the middle of a dense cloud. Fog gathered in the depression in the road.

“Pilot?” I yelled again. “Where are you?”

Excited yapping. But he was a ghost dog.

The roar of a motorcycle echoed from around the far side of the bend. Through the blanketing cloud, I caught a glimpse of the poodle trotting onto the road.

“Pilot, get back here!” I screamed.

The motorcycle’s headlamp glowed dimly as it appeared on the near side of the bend. Pilot barked with sudden frenzy. The headlamp veered crazily. Pilot darted off the road into the underbrush. A sickening sound of tires skidding out of control on gravel. A shout.

With horror, I watched motorcycle and rider slam down onto the gravel shoulder.

I ran toward the rider. He was sprawled crookedly next to the bike, but his limbs, encased in black leather and jeans, were moving stiffly. Alive, at least. With a groan, he hoisted himself up onto his elbows.

“Are you okay?” I shined my flashlight on him. He whipped his head. “What the hell are you?”

“Just a person,” I said quickly.

He yanked his goggles down. “For Chrissake. I meant who are you? What are you doing here?”

“Taking a walk.”

“What kind of lunatic goes out for a walk in this kind of fog?”

“Maybe the same kind of lunatic who drives way too fast in it.”

“You call that fast? Christ.” He gingerly gathered himself into a sitting position, then flexed his feet in the heavy boots experimentally. He took off his helmet and shook out a head of rough black curls. A week’s tangle of rough salt-and-pepper beard nearly obscured a wide mouth. The prominent nose might be called stately on a more good-natured face. “What the hell was that creature in the middle of the road?”

“A dog.”

“A dog?”

“A standard poodle. Unclipped.”

He put the helmet back on, then pulled a cell phone from his jacket and squinted at the screen. “Nothing,” he muttered.

“The reception’s kind of iffy around here.”

He flung out an arm. “Help me up, okay?”

I approached him tentatively. He was over six feet and powerfully built. About twice my weight, I guessed. “I’m not sure I can pull you.”

“Yeah, you probably can’t. Stoop down a little.”

God, he’s rude. I did, and he draped his arm around my shoulder, transferring his weight. My knees buckled a little but didn’t give. He began to stand, crumpled slightly, then got his balance and pulled himself up straight.

I suddenly became aware of his intense physicality. The power of his arm and shoulder against my body, the taut spring of the muscles in his chest. As if he sensed what I was feeling, he shook off my support and stood on his own feet.

“At least you can put weight on your feet,” I said. “That’s a good sign.”

“Are you a medical professional?”

“No.”

“Then your opinion doesn’t count for much at the moment.”

Go to hell, was on the tip of my tongue. But the fog’s chill was making me sniffle. It seemed absurd to attempt a stinging retort with a dripping nose. I swiped it surreptitiously with the sleeve of my jacket.

He walked, limping slightly, to the Harley. “This thing’s supposed to take a corner. That’s the main reason I bought it!” He gave the seat a savage kick. Then he hopped on his nonkicking boot and shook a fist as if in defiance of some bully of a god who particularly had it in for him.

I laughed.

He whirled on me. My laughter froze. The look of fury on his face sent a thrill of alarm through me. I edged backward; I felt at that moment he could murder me without compunction and leave my corpse to be devoured by coyotes and bobcats.

But then, to my astonishment, he grinned. “You’re right. I look like an ass.”

Pilot suddenly came crashing out of the underbrush.

“Is that your mutt?”

“Yes. Though, actually, not mine. He’s a recent addition at the place I’m staying.”

He stared at me, a thought dawning. I forced myself to stare back: deep-set eyes, dark as ink. I was about to introduce myself, but he yanked the goggles back over his eyes and stooped to the handlebar of the bike. “Help me get this up. Grab the other bar. You pull and I’ll push.”

“It’s too heavy.”

“I’ll do the heavy lifting. Just do what you can.”

Obstinately, I didn’t move.

“Please,” he added. He made the word sound like an obscenity.

I took a grudging step forward and grabbed hold of the handlebar with both hands. I tugged it toward me as he lifted his side with a grunt. The bike slowly rose upright.

“Hold it steady,” he said.

It felt like it weighed several tons—it took every ounce of my strength to keep my side up as he straddled the seat. He grasped both bars. Engaged the clutch, cursing in pain as he stomped on the pedal. He glanced at me briefly.

And then, sending up a heavy spray of gravel, the Harley roared off into the enveloping fog.

“You’re welcome, Mr. Rochester!” I shouted into the deepening gloom.

Excerpt from Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott. Copyright © 2021 by Lindsay Marcott. Published by Thomas & Mercer. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Lindsay Marcott_(c) Kenneth LockerLindsay Marcott is the author of The Producer’s Daughter and six previous novels written as Lindsay Maracotta. Her books have been translated into eleven languages and adapted for cable. She also wrote for the Emmy-nominated HBO series The Hitchhiker and co-produced a number of films. She lives on the coast of California. You can contact the author on her website at https://www.lindsaymarcott.com/.

Connect with the author at:
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Website

Giveaway

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway for one (1) Amazon gift card and one (1) digital copy of Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott. This contest is being run by PitchLit Publicity Services. The winner will be selected and contacted by PitchLit at the end of the contest period. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: PRIMORDIAL by David L. Sobel

PRIMORDIAL Virtual Book Tour Banner, Red background with white torn paper listing all of the virtual book tour stops between June 14 through June 18; book cover, white background, with blood droplets beside the tips of opened surgical forceps, PRIMORDIAL is in large red letters across the forceps, David L. Sobel, MD, JD is also in red below the forceps.

Primordial by David Sobel
ISBN: 9781736303504 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781736303511 (ebook)
ASIN: B08Q7Z9MZF (Kindle edition)
Release Date: December 7, 2020
Genre: Fiction | Thriller | Medical Thriller

Primordial by David Sobel, is a Crichton-like thriller that centers on the plights of two scientists separated by decades and borders but united in their obsessive quest for the physical location of the soul. Jonas, a hospital attorney, begins to suspect that someone is targeting patients in his NYC hospital. With the help of two residents, his search for answers will bring him face to face with a killer.

Thought-provoking, both scientifically and ethically, Primordial is a story that spans decades of medical and legal mystery, history and suspense. It will transport readers to a Nazi medical laboratory in World War II, then back to present day New York City where an unlikely trio, Jonas the experienced hospital lawyer, “Early” the quirky urology resident, and Rachel, the wickedly smart neurosurgery resident, struggle to piece together a series of unexplained killings. Debut author Dr. Sobel weaves his medical expertise and extensive historical research in a twisted tangle of secrets that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Read an excerpt:

Rudolph “Rudy” Walla was sweating.

He stood, perfectly still, within the one-meter square sentry post that was positioned just inside the back gate of the Seelentor concentration camp. The post was a tiny glass and wood structure with a small external cut-out that housed a potbelly stove. The stove, on this bitter February night, poured molten heat into the structure. Rudy’s breath, exhaled in the long drawl of the bored and tired, condensed on the front pane of glass, obscuring his view. He was just able to discern the shadowy outline of the SS-Schutze—the private—who had occupied the post before Rudy came looking for a reprieve from the cold. He smiled at the thought of a sentry post with a frosted view and of the private, hunched and angry, pacing in the cold. Not much to see anyway, he thought to himself, returning to his slow, metered breathing. Rudy was in a corner of Poland—forgotten, miserable, stoic, and sweating. God, was he sweating.

Rudy’s wool uniform, the severe black of the SS, was plastered to his body. Each movement was a sticky uncomfortableness. The commander of the camp had called the sentry post the Aufrechten Sarg—the “upright coffin.” And, as horrible as the coffin was, it beat the blistering cold that was just on the other side of the glass. It was early morning. Dawn was approaching and the sun was just tickling the sky, turning the black into a bruised dark blue. The earth felt as if every ounce of heat had been stolen away. A brittle and broken, icicle-white wasteland. His sanctuary was a stifling coffin. Rudy thought of Ishmael and the white whale. And, not uncommon on a lonely, sleepless night, he thought of the hand of fate that had steered him all the way from his childhood in Berlin to this tiny box in this foreign land.

Excerpt from Primordial by David Sobel. Copyright © by David Sobel. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet The Author

Author - David Sobel MD JD

David Sobel, M.D./J.D. is a board-certified practicing urologist who specializes in sexual medicine and is a faculty member at the University of Colorado. He has over 21 years of experience and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. Prior to becoming a physician, he was a corporate lawyer with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in NYC. Dr. Sobel is also a founder of Emmi Solutions, a company that creates education modules that assist patients with their medical care. He lives in Denver with his wife and two children.

Connect with the Author:

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Guest Post: Eleanor Kuhns – DEATH IN THE GREAT DISMAL

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

The History of the Great Dismal

by Eleanor Kuhns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Death In The Great Dismal

by Eleanor Kuhns

March 22 – April 16, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

DEATH IN THE GREAT DISMAL - EKuhns

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

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

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

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

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

Booklist

Book Details:

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

Author Bio:

 

Author - Eleanor Kuhns

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

Catch Up With Eleanor Kuhns:
Website
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BookBub
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Facebook

 

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Eleanor Kuhns. There will be 5 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on March 22, 2021 and runs through April 18, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: Emilya Naymark – HIDE IN PLACE

Hello, book people and welcome to the almost end of the week! (Hey, we have to celebrate what we can, when we can.) I’m constantly searching for new-to-me authors and adding new-to-me titles to my TBR list then lamenting the fact that I never seem to find the time to get to read all of the books I want. (Yes, I know that if I actually stopped re-re-reading books I might actually have time to read all of these new-to-me books, but that’s a whole other discussion.) Since I began this blog, I’ve realized all of the hard work and research that goes into writing. Authors have to choose the setting for the books, the characters and their names, the action, when the characters will speak, etc. As readers, we presume it’s all done effortlessly, but if you read a book that’s set in a familiar location and the author makes a mistake in describing an area, you quickly realize that it isn’t as effortless as it appears. I’m pleased to welcome Emilya Naymark, author of Hide In Place to the blog today. Ms. Naymark will be discussing with us today the importance of setting or location for a story. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Naymark and I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say. Thank you, Ms. Naymark for taking the time to join us today.

Location, Location, Location

A story’s setting is so important that it’s often thought of as yet another character. Location has moods and atmosphere, it can be benign or antagonistic, and it, more than any other aspect of a novel, offers escapism.

When deciding where to set my debut crime novel, I had no doubts—it would take place in the Hudson Valley of New York, my new home. I moved to the Hudson Valley in 2013, and I immediately became enamored of its mountains, rivers, lakes and endless hiking opportunities. The Appalachian Trail runs through forests mere miles from my house. There is a tremendous amount of history here too, with West Point a short drive north and a restaurant still in operation which had served, briefly, as Major John André’s prison before his execution.

The land is picturesque here year-round, but winter offers a particularly stark beauty, and when I began writing I knew right away my characters had to face their demons in the middle of a snowstorm.

However, writing is a way for an author to practice escapism as well, and when I thought of my NYPD detective character, Laney Bird, working, I imagined her at the opposite end of the spectrum—on a sun-blistered boardwalk in New York’s Brighton Beach. Not only did I enjoy transporting myself to the beach and “Little Odessa”, as Brighton Beach is known, but the setting made absolute sense for Laney’s job. As an undercover detective, she works a RICO (racketeering) case against the Russian mob. And where better to do this than at the bull’s eye epicenter of Russian mafia in New York (if not the entire USA)?

The novel swings back and forth between Laney’s past, working her case in sun-drenched Brighton and her horrifying present in an icebound Hudson Valley.

These settings have psychological connotations as well—the seemingly cloudless, warm past, tinged with a nostalgic glow over its boardwalks, sand, and ethnic foods, and the harsh, cold, isolated present. Memories for characters in books, as for real people leading real lives, are not the most accurate recorders of reality, and so the environment steps in as a metaphor. Maybe Laney’s time working the racketeering case seems hotter, sunnier, merrier, because back then she thought she had everything she ever wanted.

And maybe her life in February-frigid Sylvan seems colder and more nightmarish because of all the things she believes she’s lost.

 

Hide In Place

by Emilya Naymark

March 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

HIDE IN PLACE - ENaymark

She left the NYPD in the firestorm of a high-profile case gone horribly wrong. Three years later, the ghosts of her past roar back to terrifying life.

When NYPD undercover cop Laney Bird’s cover is blown in a racketeering case against the Russian mob, she flees the city with her troubled son, Alfie. Now, three years later, she’s found the perfect haven in Sylvan, a charming town in upstate New York. But then the unthinkable happens: her boy vanishes.

Local law enforcement dismisses the thirteen-year-old as a runaway, but Laney knows better. Alfie would never abandon his special routines and the sanctuary of their home. Could he have been kidnapped–or worse? As a February snowstorm rips through the region, Laney is forced to launch her own investigation, using every trick she learned in her years undercover.

As she digs deeper into the disappearance, Laney learns that Alfie and a friend had been meeting with an older man who himself vanished, but not before leaving a corpse in his garage. With dawning horror, Laney discovers that the man was a confidential informant from a high-profile case she had handled in the past. Although he had never known her real identity, he knows it now. Which means several other enemies do, too. Time is running out, and as Laney’s search for her son grows more desperate, everything depends on how good a detective she really is–badge or no.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: February 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 278
ISBN: 1643856375 (ISBN13: 9781643856377)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Author - Emilya Naymark

Emilya Naymark’s short stories appear in Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, 1+30: THE BEST OF MY STORY, and in the upcoming Harper Collins anthology A Stranger Comes to Town.

She has a degree in fine art, and her artworks have been published in numerous magazines and books, earning her a reputation as a creator of dark, psychological pieces.

When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of thrillers and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.

Catch Up With Emilya Naymark:
www.EmilyaNaymark.com/author/
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Emilya Naymark. There will be THREE winners. ONE winner will receive (1) physical copy of Hide In Place by Emilya Naymark (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on March 1, 2021 and runs through April 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: Sid Meltzer – UNWITTING ACCOMPLICE

 
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Good day, book people. We live in a world filled with things that interrupt our daily lives, whether it’s the constant news cycle on television, premium TV channels, movie channels, sports channels, reality TV, YouTube, as well as social media. It’s no wonder that we often find ourselves sitting in our favorite chair or lounging on our couches and engrossed in what’s playing on the television screen or on our cellphones, tablets, or computers. It’s relatively easy to get distracted from what we might want or need to do, (which for me is reading and writing reviews). Add in work and family obligations and it’s truly amazing that we ever get anything done. I guess that also applies to authors, especially when they might be dealing with “writer’s block.” I’m pleased to welcome Sid Meltzer, author of Unwitting Accomplice, who will be sharing us with how he deals with “writer’s block.” I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say and will follow the blog tour to learn more about this author and Unwitting Accomplice. Thank you, Mr. Meltzer for sharing with us today. The blog is now yours.

What’s on TV? Or, my half-century long case of writer’s block.

You’ve no doubt heard about the dreaded condition writers face at one time or another. When they’re simply unable to do their job, and put off sitting down at their keyboard day after day. Coming up with one lame excuse after another. Or when they finally do sit down, they find themselves staring at an empty page (all right, screen) unable to come up with anything worth reading.

Welcome to my world, friends.

For all of my adult life, I always knew I had a novel in me. And friends and kinfolk have often told me something along the lines of, “You know, Sid, you should write that down. There’s a book there, I bet.”

But I didn’t. Or couldn’t. Or wouldn’t.

People who study this condition say writer’s block could be due to factors such as being too hard on oneself, or fear of being compared to famous writers of famous books. It could also be due to lack of external motivation, like not getting attention and praise. Or lack of internal motivation, like a desire to tell one’s story.

To be fair to myself, some of my half-century old block was due to outside pressures. I worked many years as a copywriter, a job that sucked out all my mental energy. I had a wife and kids who needed a full-time husband and father. I had things to do and places to see.

To be honest with myself though, some of it was entirely internal. Who would want to read what I have to say? What would I write about? Who am I kidding? I can’t write worth a damn. What’s on TV?

Whatever the cause, there are cures – like talking it out with other writers, or psychotherapy, or better time management — proven to relieve writer’s block for many writers. For me, though, the cure was getting fired for the last time.

I was let go from my last copywriting job just as I turned 65 (entirely coincidental, I assure you) and started collecting social security. In other words, I enjoyed a little financial freedom that I never had before. Which meant I no longer had to write for lawyers, clients, and focus groups to earn my keep, and was now free to write for myself.

It took a few false starts, and a lot of on-the-job-training, but I eventually had a book that an agent believed in, and then a publisher believed in, and I hope you believe in as well. Unwitting Accomplice– – an epic fifty years in the making.

I may be guilty of procrastination in the first degree. But there’s no reason you should be. I hope you start reading, and enjoying, Unwitting Accomplice without delay.

Now, where did I put that remote?

 

Unwitting Accomplice

by Sid Meltzer

March 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:UNWITTING ACCOMPLICE - SMeltzer

 

How can a homicide be prevented when it’s still only in some stranger’s head?

Kim Barbieri, a tough, street-smart New York City crime reporter unfazed by male egos and mangled bodies, is sent an anonymous note with a sinister message:

I intend to commit a murder

She doesn’t know who the killer is.

She doesn’t know who his victim will be.

She doesn’t know where, when and how he will strike.

But there is one thing she does know: If she doesn’t learn to think like a killer, someone’s going to get away with murder.

Kudos for Unwitting Accomplice:

“The tension builds page after page, chapter after chapter, between the psycho driven to kill and the reporter determined to stop him—ending with a surprise twist I just didn’t see coming. And I’m a thriller writer!” ~ Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of Gates of Fire and A Man at Arms

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Rogue Phoenix Press
Publication Date: December 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 313
ISBN: 978-1-62420-579-8
Series: A Kim Barbieri Thriller
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Author - Sid Meltzer

Sid Meltzer took a couple of worthwhile detours on his way to becoming a crime fiction writer.

He started out as a NYS Supreme Court Probation Officer, a job that helped him see things from a criminal’s point of view— and let him peer into their minds’ many dark alleys.

Working with ethically-challenged rascals prepared him well for the caliber of people he met in his next career— advertising. That is where he learned how to craft stories that draw readers in and keep them engaged.

Unwitting Accomplice is his debut novel.

Catch Up With Sid Meltzer:
Goodreads
Instagram – @sidmeltzer
Twitter – @sid_meltzer

 

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Jonette Blake – THE WIDOW CATCHER

THE WIDOW CATCHER Banner

 

Greetings, book people. I was thinking the other day that it is truly amazing that we readers have so many books to choose from with new books added daily. Someone has to think up the main plot, create the characters, decide on the locations, create the dialogue, etc. The fact that some authors do this year after year and book after book is beyond amazing to me. This reader is incredibly grateful to authors for taking the time to create these wonderful characters and scenes that keep me enthralled and turning the page to read more. Today I’m pleased to welcome Jonette Blake, author of The Widow Catcher. Ms. Blake is a gifted and prolific writer, and she’ll be sharing with us how she came up with the idea for crafting The Widow Catcher. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say and you’ll add The Widow Catcher to your TBR list. Thank you, Ms. Blake for joining us. The blog is now yours.

Author’s Choice

The year I worked in a bank.

When the time came for me and my husband to make the sea change from the city, we selected Batemans Bay because we’d holidayed there and loved the place. It sat right between mountains to the west and coastline to the east. We’d travelled down one weekend to look at houses and bought one that weekend, meanwhile I stayed working in my job in the city with a financial regulator, applying for jobs in my new home town, as well as sending out lots of query letters to every business. I ended up getting a job in a small bank.

I’m always up for new skills to learn, and this new job utilized my financial experience plus previous customer service experience. However, I’d come from a job in an office and I’d wanted a job in an office, not a job as a frontline worker wearing a uniform, going to lunch on a roster, and having to hold on going to the toilet until the customers left or there was someone to provide cover on the teller section. It wasn’t my favorite job in the world. But I was moving to a new town and this job allowed me to meet a lot of the local people. Never had I thought it would provide inspiration and a backdrop to my murder mystery novel.

I would like to say that exciting things happened in the bank, but that wouldn’t be true. The most exciting thing was when the little old ladies came in each week to bring us baked goods. It was boring. There were long periods of nothing to do followed by a rush of customers, many of them looking for change from the ATM that only handed out 50 dollar notes.

I learned that seventy per cent of the permanent population in Batemans Bay was retirees, and that most of our customers were elderly and they came to our bank because we helped them with their daily banking, sending money to family members, paying bills, helping them figure out the ATM. One of the most common things I heard from customers was “how can you work with all this money and not steal it?” Well, that was easy. Because bank theft came with a maximum 20 year prison sentence and $200,000 fine. Not to mention that I’d never get another job with that kind of criminal record. Besides, the small amount of cash we held wasn’t enough to live a life of luxury. But, my writer mind did kick in and plant the idea of a devious character who betrays the trust of these elderly banking customers by killing them for their money, and nobody notices because these were old people who could have died at any moment anyway.

I hadn’t published any books at this stage, I was still writing them and pitching them to publishers and agents. But I was doing more writing than ever, because one of my motivations to leave the city was to gain more time to write. At the time though, I never thought I would ever use my experience in the banking or financial industry in a book. Who would want to read about a boring bureaucrat? A lot of thrillers and mysteries were written by ex-police, ex-military, private investigators, criminologists and their characters were also from these same industries solving crimes and catching killers. Cozy mysteries typically had a meddling woman who solved crimes, but I wanted something in between – someone who wasn’t a specialist in the criminal field, and someone who didn’t think of herself as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher.

That’s how the idea formed about a small town killer targeting little old ladies and all the clues led to the bank and it featured an anti-heroine character. I wrote the first draft to The Widow Catcher and set it aside. I still wasn’t sure how a bank teller as a protagonist would be taken by readers. Delia Frost didn’t wear military boots or carry a gun or do anything badass. She was a middle-aged empty-nester facing her own change of life and self-confidence dramas. Then I started reading about mysteries with modern twists to them, and the one that stuck with me was the criminal podcaster who solved a murder of someone she’d interviewed. I realized that I could make my character someone from the real world with modern day issues and murders going on around her.

So this is how the year I worked in a bank provided the perfect backdrop for The Widow Catcher. I hope you enjoy reading about Delia Frost, and I hope you can stick around for more stories because I believe Delia can still grow as a person in her mid-life years.

 

The Widow Catcher

by Jonette Blake

February 1-28, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Widow Catcher by Jonette Blake

Delia Frost loves her job at the bank. She loves her customers, most of whom are elderly. She doesn’t love the idea of quitting her job to travel around Australia in a motor home with her husband who is recovering from a heart attack. And she can’t bring herself to tell him that she doesn’t want to go.

Days before she quits her job, she is invited to a book club meeting, run by a local celebrity. This seems like a beacon of hope, one last chance to do something for herself before she leaves it all behind.

But this isn’t a random invitation.

Delia has been carefully selected by a serial killer to play her part in the murders of elderly widows.

​Finding herself caught in a web of blackmail and murder, Delia is now keen to leave this town behind. But the killer doesn’t want to let her go.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Jonette Blake
Publication Date: August 27th 2020
Number of Pages: 260
ISBN: 9798675198726
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Jonette Blake

Jonette Blake writes supernatural thrillers and suspense thrillers. She is the author of over ten books and dozens of short stories, writing as D L Richardson.

She was born in Ireland and grew up in Australia. She lived through the 80s and music is still a big part of her life. When she is not writing, she plays her piano and guitar, listens to music, reads, and enjoys the beach.

​She has held jobs in administration, sales and marketing, has worked in HR, payroll, and as a bank teller. Her latest novel The Widow Catcher is based on the coastal town she lives in and her own bank teller experience.

Her books are standalone titles.

Catch Up With Jonette On:
www.JonetteBlake.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jonette Blake. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2021 and runs through March 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 by Lisa Unger



Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
ISBN: 9780778310150 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488069079 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488210273 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781799935414 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B087QM8SRM   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B082Q4Q1MZ   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication Date: October 6, 2020



From master of suspense Lisa Unger comes a riveting thriller about a chance encounter that unravels a stunning web of lies and deceit.

Everyone has a secret… Now she knows yours.

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Expertly plotted and reminiscent of the timeless classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a gripping thriller about the delicate facades we create around our lives. 






Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Apple Books  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  Google Play  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook  |  Target  |  Walmart




Read an Excerpt **Mild Profanity Alert**


Chapter Two

Anne

It had been a mistake from the beginning and Anne certainly knew that. You don’t sleep with your boss. It’s really one of the things mothers should teach their daughters. Chew your food carefully. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t fuck your direct supervisor no matter how hot, rich, or charming he may happen to be. Not that Anne’s mother had taught her a single useful thing.

Anyway, here she was. Again. Taking it from behind, over the couch in her boss’s corner office with those expansive city views. The world was a field of lights spread wide around them. She tried to enjoy it. But, as was often the case, she just kind of floated above herself. She made all the right noises, though. She knew how to fake it.

“Oh my god, Anne. You’re so hot.”

He pressed himself in deep, moaning.

When he’d first come on to her, she thought he was kidding – or not thinking clearly. They’d flown together to DC to take an important client who was considering leaving the investment firm out to dinner.  In the cab on the way back to the hotel — while Hugh was on the phone with his wife, he put his hand on Anne’s leg. He wasn’t even looking at Anne when he did it, so for a moment she wondered if it was just absent-mindedness. He was like that sometimes, a little loopy. Overly affectionate, familiar. Forgetful.

His hand moved up her thigh. Anne sat very still. Like a prey animal. Hugh ended the call and she expected him to jerk his hand back. 

Oh! I’m so sorry, Anne, she thought he’d say, aghast at his careless behavior.

But no. His hand moved higher.

 “Am I misreading signals?” he said, voice low.  

Stop. What most people would be thinking: Poor Anne! Afraid for her job, she submits to this predator.

What Anne was thinking: How can I use this to my advantage? She really had been just trying to do her job well, sort of. But it seemed that Pop was right, as he had been about so many things. If you weren’t running a game, someone was running one on you.

Had she subconsciously been putting out signals? Possibly. Yes. Maybe Pop was right about that, too. You don’t get to stop being what you are, even when you try.

They made out like prom dates in the cab, comported themselves appropriately as they walked through the lobby of the Ritz. He pressed against her at the door to her hotel room. She was glad she was wearing sexy underwear, had shaved her legs. 

She’d given Hugh – with his salt and pepper hair, sinewy muscles, flat abs — the ride of his life that night.  And many nights since. He liked her on top. He was a considerate lover, always asking: Is this good? Are you okay? Confessional: Kate and I – we’ve been married a long time. We both have – appetites. She couldn’t care less about his marriage.

Anne didn’t actually believe in the things other people seemed to value so highly. Fidelity – really? Were you supposed to just want one person your whole life? Marriage. Was there ever anything more set up to fail, to disappoint, to erode? Come on. They were animals. Every last one of them rutting, feral beasts. Men. Women. All of society was held together by gossamer thin, totally arbitrary laws and mores that were always shifting and changing no matter how people clung. They were all just barely in line.

Anne neither expected nor encouraged Hugh to fall in love. In fact, she spoke very little. She listened, made all the right affirming noises. If he noticed that she had told him almost nothing about herself, it didn’t come up. But fall in love with Anne he did. And things were getting complicated.

Now, finished and holding her around the waist, Hugh was crying a little. His body weight was pinning her down. He often got emotional after they made love. She didn’t mind him most of the time. But the whole crying thing — it was such a turn off. She pushed against him and he let her up. She tugged down her skirt, and he pulled her into an embrace. 

She held him for a while, then wiped his eyes, kissed his tears away. Because she knew that’s what he wanted. She had a special gift for that, knowing what people wanted — really wanted deep down – and giving them that thing for a while. And that was why Hugh – why anyone – fell in love. Because he loved getting the thing he wanted, even if he didn’t know what that was.

When he moved away finally, she stared at her ghostly reflection in the dark window, wiped at her smeared lipstick.

“I’m going to leave her,” Hugh said. He flung himself on one of the plush sofas. He was long and elegant; his clothes impeccable, bespoke, made from the finest fabrics. Tonight, his silk tie was loose, pressed cotton shirt was wilted, black wool suit pants still looking crisp. Garments, all garments – even just his tennis whites — hung beautifully on his fit body.

She smiled, moved to sit beside him. He kissed her, salty and sweet. 

“It’s time. I can’t do this anymore,” he went on.

This wasn’t the first time he’d said this. Last time, when she’d tried to discourage him, he’d held her wrists too hard when she tried to leave. There had been something bright and hard in his eyes – desperation. She didn’t want him to get clingy tonight. Emotional.

“Okay,” she said, running her fingers through his hair. “Yeah.”

Because that’s what he wanted to hear, needed to hear. If you didn’t give people what they wanted, they became angry. Or they pulled away. And then the game was harder or lost altogether.

“We’ll go away,” he said, tracing a finger along her jaw. Because of course they’d both lose their jobs. Hugh’s wife Kate owned and ran the investment firm, had inherited the company from her legendary father. Her brothers were on the board. They’d never liked Hugh (this was one of his favorite pillow talk tirades, how Kate’s brothers didn’t respect him). “We’ll take a long trip abroad and figure out what comes next. Clean slate for both of us. Would you like that?”

“Of course,” she said. “That would be wonderful.”

Anne liked her job; when she’d applied and interviewed, she honestly wanted to work at the firm. Numbers made a kind of sense to her, investment a kind of union of logic and magic. Client work was a bit of a game, wasn’t it – convincing people to part with their cash on the promise that you could make them more? She also respected and admired her boss – her lover’s wife — Kate. A powerful, intelligent woman. 

Maybe Anne should have thought about all of that before she submitted to Hugh’s advances. He wasn’t the power player; she’d miscalculated, or not run the numbers at all. She made mistakes like that sometimes, let the game run her. Pop thought it was a form of self-sabotage. Sometimes, sweetie, I think your heart’s not quite in it. Maybe he was right.

“Ugh,” said Hugh, pulling away, glancing at his watch. “I’m late. I have to change and meet Kate at the fundraiser.”

She rose and walked the expanse of his office, got his tux from the closet, and lay it across the back of the couch. Another stunning item, heavy and silken. She ran her fingers lovingly along the lapel. He rose, and she helped him dress, hanging his other clothes, putting them back in the closet. She did his tie. In his heart, he was a little boy. He wanted to be attended to, cared for. Maybe everyone wanted that.

“You look wonderful,” she said, kissing him. “Have fun tonight.”

He looked at her long, eyes filling again.

“Soon,” he said. “This charade can end.”

She put a gentle hand to his cheek, smiled as sweetly as she could muster and started to move from the room.

“Anne,” he said, grabbing for her hand. “I love you.”

She’d never said it back. She’d said things like “me, too” or she’d send him the heart-eyed emoji in response to a text, sometimes she just blew him a kiss. He hadn’t seemed to notice, or his pride was too enormous to ask her why she never said it, or if she loved him. But mainly, she thought it was because Hugh only saw and heard what he wanted to.

She unlaced her fingers and blew him a kiss. “Goodnight, Hugh.”

His phone rang, and he watched her as he answered. 

“I’m coming, darling,” he said, averting his eyes, moving away. “Just had to finish up with a client.”

She left him, his voice following her down the hall.

In her office, she gathered her things, a strange knot in the pit of her stomach. She sensed that her luck was about to run out here. She couldn’t say why. Just a feeling that things were unsustainable – that it wasn’t going to be as easy to leave Kate as he thought, that on some level he didn’t really want to, that once things reached critical mass, she’d be out of a job. Of course, it wouldn’t be a total loss. She’d make sure of that.  

There was a loneliness, a hollow feeling that took hold at the end. She wished she could call Pop, that he could talk her through. Instead her phone pinged. The message there annoyed her.

This is wrong, it said. I don’t want to do this anymore.

Just stay the course, she wrote back. It’s too late to back out now.

Funny how that worked. At the critical moment, she had to give the advice she needed herself. The student becomes the teacher. No doubt, Pop would be pleased.

Anne glanced at the phone. The little dots pulsed, then disappeared. The girl, younger, greener, would do what she was told. She always had. So far.

Anne looked at her watch, imbued with a bit of energy. If she hustled, she could just make it. 


Excerpt from Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger. 
Copyright © 2020 by Lisa Unger. Published by Park Row Books. 
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.





Meet The Author


Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including Confessions on the 7:45 (Oct. 2020). With millions of readers worldwide and books published in twenty-six languages, Unger is widely regarded as a master of suspense. Her critically acclaimed books have been voted “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon, IndieBound, and others. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Travel+Leisure. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.



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




This excerpt brought to you by Park Row Books