Book Review: Fortunate Son by David Marlett

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banner Fortunate Son

Book Details

Genre: Historical Fiction

Published by: The Story plant

Publication Date: February 25, 2014

Number of Pages: 350

ISBN: 978-1-61188-159-2 / 978-1-61188-077-9
 / 978-1-61188-078-6

Purchase Links:

Synopsis

Fortunate SonMeet James Annesley, son of 18th Century Ireland. Though you may have never heard his name before, his story has already touched you in profound ways. Now, for the first time, novelist David Marlett brings that incredible story to life.

Stretching from the dirty streets of Ireland to the endless possibilities of Colonial America, from drama on the high seas with the Royal Navy to a life-and-death race across England and up the Scottish Highlands, from the prospect of a hangman’s noose to a fate decided in the halls of justice, FORTUNATE SON is a powerful, relentless epic. Here nobility, duels, love, courage, revenge, honor, and treachery among family, friends and ancient enemies abound. And at its center is the most momentous trial in Irish history – the trial of Annesley v. Anglesea from which our modern “attorney/client privilege” was forged, and our concept of a “jury of ones peers” was put to the test.

Carefully researched, vividly evoked, and lovingly brought to the page, FORTUNATE SON is an unforgettable work of fiction based on fact, one that will resonate deep within you long after you finish it.

Review

The trouble with historical novels is that the reader never knows where history ends and fiction begins. There are several instances where I thought the story forged, or the turn of events strange. At the same time there were unexpected revelations, especially at the end, where the saying “truth is stranger than fiction” were definitely true.

It took me a while to get into the story as it was a slow start, and at times my attention sagged as some parts were less interesting, when I felt like the story was dragged out in too much detail.

However! I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author brought all characters to life. He did a superb job in character development and portraying relationships of that time between classes and depicted life in 18th century Britain, including the Colonies.

The dialects used in telling the story drew me in. I liked the use of Gaelic, but was sometimes annoyed when the meaning of it wasn’t clear. What I really like about this type of novel is that it brings to life a part of history that I previously knew little about in a way that I can relate to and stays with me. Will be interesting to see what the next book will bring!

Read an excerpt

Lord Arthur Annesley, the Sixth Earl of Anglesea, was slopped. He had been sitting alone at his oak table in the dark back corner of the Brazen Head Tavern since half-past ten that morning. Now, nearly five in the evening, he could hear fresh rain blowing across Dublin’s Merchant’s Quay, tapping the tavern’s windows, dripping heavy in pools along Bridge Street. He was floating, his white wig askew, his fat fingers tracing the blood groove of his gold-hilted rapier lying on the table. “He’s mine, he is,” he muttered to no one. “B’god, James is mine! So he is. She’ll never take him to England.” He glanced up with his one eye, the other having been long ago shot out by his wife’s cuckolding suitor. “My son’s mine,” he boomed. “Damn you all!” A violent cough overtook him until finally he lowered his chin, rivulets of perspiration trickling down his brow.

“‘Tis well known, me lord, James is yer son,” the tavern keeper offered. “Would ye like another?”

“Ney!” Arthur shook his head, muttering, “No more boys.”

“Ach nay, me lord—would ye like another pint?”

“Ha! Ney, Keane. Best be on m’way.” He stood shakily, steadying himself on the dark wall, sheathing his rapier.

“Well den, g’night sire,” the keeper said, gesturing with his bar towel.

Arthur tapped the wrinkles from his blue, Italian cocked hat. “Keane?”

“Aye, m’lord?”

“What be the cure….” He stumbled sideways, trying to buckle his sword sash. “What be the cure for a hangover? I’ll wager you don’t know.”

“Sleep, most likely,” Keane answered, moving across the small room, delivering a dram to a large man sitting alone. “What do ye think, sir?” he asked the man.

“I have no reckon,” the man muttered, his Scottish brogue rumbling low. “Leave me be.”

“I suppose a pinch o’ snuff might do ye, Lord Anglesea,” Keane guessed, wiping his hands on his apron.

“Ney, goddamn you, Keane!” His words a lather of grumbled mush, his arm a terrier in a fox hole, fumbling through the twisted coat sleeve. He spun, shoving his hand through. “I knew you didn’t know, you damn thievin’ Irishman. ‘Tis t’ drink again!” He staggered backward to the door. “That be the cure, b’god!”

“Aye, me lord,” said Keane. “So I’ve heard.” Now the Scotsman was standing too.

“T’ drink again!” Arthur bellowed, throwing his arms up. “T’ drink again, ‘tis all you need!” Turning, he careened through the doorway, along the rickety boardwalks, lurching into the muck of Bridge Street. “‘Tis all I need!”

A large hackney coach pulled by six horses was crossing the Father Matthew Bridge, gaining speed in the pelting rain. The horses snorted against the driver’s whip as he yelled from the box, his cloak flailing in the wet wind. “Up with ye curs! Now! Up! Up!” Again and again he cracked the long leather across their backs. The loud roar and stirring commotion of the coach and six easily cleared traffic from the bridge, opening a wide swath up Bridge Street beyond, like a plow cleaving mud. When the horses reached the quay on the far side of the River Liffey they were pulling so hard and running at such a blaze that all four wheels left the ground before crashing back to earth to spin in the slurry sludge. Galloping past the Brazen Head Tavern, with nostrils flared and eyes mad wide, they would not and could not stop for anything in their path.

Against the whir of voices the ale had loosed in his head, Arthur heard charging hooves, people shouting, and through the stinging rain, he saw a maniacal blur rushing him. But he couldn’t move. A black surging wall, yet he stood, stammering something about God. Finally one step toward the side, but it wasn’t enough—the violent impact threw him back and down. Twenty-four hooves thundered over him, snapping his right leg like straw, driving it into the thick mud. Another hoof trampled his gut, his ribs shattering. Instant fire. Then the coach hit him, the splinter bar catching his chin, the front axle crushing his larynx, cracking spine, whipping his head into the path of the rear wheels which slammed over him, mashing his face into the filth and black ooze.

His one eye fluttered open, stinging, but he couldn’t breathe. To one side he saw muddy boots and spurs—some standing, others moving away. His bloody mouth sagged, convulsing for air. He felt warmth trickle from his ears. Life abandoning him. Then, between the clamoring shouts and splashes, he heard the massive bells of Christ Church Cathedral begin their solemn peel, announcing the time. He stopped moving, and there in the shadows of his mind he saw James, no more than five, standing on a rocky hill, laughing, the sea air tousling his auburn hair. Suddenly James sprinted off, through an emerald field, clambered over a low stone fence, then raced on, away, toward a man who was waiting, watching—a man Lord Arthur Annesley, the Earl of Anglesea had never been.

 

Author Bio

David Marlett is an attorney, artist, and self-trained historian who grew up in a storytelling Texas family.

David MarlettHe attended Texas Tech University where he earned multiple degrees in finance, economics and accounting. Subsequently, he earned his law degree from The University of Texas School of Law.

He is also a photo artist and an expert on crowd funding. David occupies a unique place in popular fiction, as his novels focus on some of history’s most famous trials.

Vincent Bugliosi, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Helter Skelter called Fortunate Son, “”A masterful blend of historical fact and detail of adventure and peril and courtroom drama.”

His second novel, AMERICAN RED, about the legendary murder trial of deadly, one-eyed union boss “Big Bill” Haywood is due to be published in late 2014.

Where to find David Marlett: Website, Twitter, Facebook.

 Other Tour Participants

February 25, 2014 – CMash Loves to Read

February 25, 2014 – Bless Their Hearts Mom

February 25, 2014 – Tales of a Book Addict

February 25, 2014 – Dive Under the Cover

February 25, 2014 – The Nook Users Book Club

February 25, 2014 – Bags, Books & Bon Jovi

February 27, 2014 – Writers and Authors

March 07, 2014 – OmniMystery

March 09, 2014 – CelticLady Reviews

March 26, 2014 – A Blue Million Books

March 27, 2014 – Bless Their Hearts Mom

March 28, 2014 – The Opinionated Me

April 03, 2014 – The Book Connection

April 11, 2014 – OmniMystery

April 13, 2014 – The Nook Users Book Club

April 15, 2014 – Hotchpotch

April 16, 2014 – Views from the Countryside

April 17, 2014 – Deal Sharing Aunt

April 24, 2014 – Beauty in Ruins

May 04, 2014 – Bags, Books & Bon Jovi

May 06, 2014 – Reviews by Molly

The Story Plant

The Story Plant was founded in 2008 by two long-term industry professionals, Lou Aronica and Peter Miller. From the start, the company has been dedicated to publishing quality fiction and to developing authors. In 2013, The Story Plant was acquired by Studio Digital CT, LLC, a limited liability company headed by Lou Aronica. With this, Mitchell Maxwell came on board to add his unparalleled blend of creativity, passion, and business acumen.

The Story Plant has an absolute dedication to its authors. Both Aronica and Maxwell are novelists as well, and they understand the desires, needs, and insecurities of writers at the most personal level. We want The Story Plant to be a good home for those who write for us, and we want it to be a place where readers can be assured that everyone involved in bringing these books to them cares deeply about what they’re doing.

Disclaimer

Every (e)book received for review on the tours of The Story Plant is given in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

PICT Review: Confession by Carey Baldwin

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Confession

by Carey Baldwin

on Tour April 2014

Confession-Carey-Baldwin-cover

Book Details

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Suspense

Series: Blood Secrets # 2

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: March 11, 2014

Number of Pages: 384

ISBN: 9780062314109 / 0062314106

Purchase Links:

Synopsis

They say the Santa Fe Saint comes to save your soul—by taking your life.

Newly minted psychiatrist Faith Clancy gets the shock of her life when her first patient confesses to the grisly Saint murders. By law she’s compelled to notify the authorities, but is her patient really The Saint? Or will she contribute to more death by turning the wrong man over to the police?

Faith is going to need all her wits and the help of a powerful adversary, Luke Jericho, if she’s to unravel the truth. But she doesn’t realize she’s about to become an unwitting pawn in a serial killer’s diabolical game: For once he’s finished with Faith, she’ll become his next victim.

 

Review

To be a scourge upon the earth was a fine destiny, and he had the ambition and the will to live up to his name. He was glad to have a purpose. He was glad to own his name.

The story starts with a first person account of a harrowing murder and throughout the book more of the murder’s mind is revealed, but not his identity. So who is he really? And what is the significance of that one murder?

A confession isn’t proof a man’s guilty.

Even though Dante confesses to being the Santa Fe Saint serial killer, there are two people who don’t believe it’s true. His estranged brother Luke and his psychiatrist. Together they are on a quest to proof his innocence. But with all the knowledge of her profession, does dr. Faith Clancy really know him? And Luke who is so keen  to restore family ties, does he really know what he is trying to accomplish here?

Even though it is second in a series it is a perfect stand alone. Characters are very well developed, the reader gets a close-up look in the mind of a killer, a deranged, unstable man Dante, a guilt-ridden brother Luke, and of course the psychiatrist hung up with her own personal issues. The author has created an interesting cast and puts the reader time and again on the wrong track. Beware if you think you have it all figured out…

Confession is a riveting psychological thriller, very well-written, with many twists and turns, multi-layered with a good dose of creepiness from start to finish, full of suspense and intrigue, a good shot of romance, following a gripping pace, with an unexpected ending. What more does a lover of suspense and psychological thriller want, right?!

Read an excerpt

PrologueSaint Catherine’s School for BoysNear Santa Fe, New MexicoTen years ago—Friday, August 15, 11:00 P.M.I’M NOT afraid of going to hell. Not one damn bit.We’re deep in the woods, miles from the boys’ dormitory, and my thighs are burning because I walked all this way with Sister Bernadette on my back. Now I’ve got her laid out on the soggy ground underneath a hulking ponderosa pine. A bright rim of moonlight encircles her face. Black robes flow around her, engulfing her small body and blending with the night. Her face, floating on top of all that darkness, reminds me of a ghost-head in a haunted house—but she’s not dead.Not yet.My cheek stings where Sister scratched me. I wipe the spot with my sleeve and sniff the air soaked with rotting moss, sickly-sweet pine sap and fresh piss. I pissed myself when I clubbed her on the head with that croquet mallet. Ironic, since my pissing problem is why I picked Sister Bernadette in the first place. She ought to have left that alone.

I hear a gurgling noise.

Good.

Sister Bernadette is starting to come around.

This is what I’ve been waiting for.

With her rosary wound tightly around my forearm, the grooves of the carved sandalwood beads cutting deep into the flesh of my wrist, I squat down on rubber legs, shove my hands under her armpits and drag her into a sitting position against the fat tree trunk. Her head slumps forward, but I yank her by the hair until her face tilts up, and her cloudy eyes open to meet mine. Her lips are moving. Syllables form within the bubbles coming out of her mouth. I press my stinging cheek against her cold, sticky one.

Like a lover, she whispers in my ear, “God is merciful.”

The nuns have got one fucked-up idea of mercy.

“Repent.” She’s gasping. “Heaven…”

“I’m too far gone for heaven.”

The God I know is just and fierce and is never going to let a creep like me through the pearly gates because I say a few Hail Marys. “God metes out justice, and that’s how I know I will not be going to heaven.”

To prove my point, I draw back, pull out my pocketknife, and press the silver blade against her throat. Tonight, I am more than a shadow. A shadow can’t feel the weight of the knife in his palm. A shadow can’t shiver in anticipation. A shadow is not to be feared, but I am not a shadow. Not in this moment.

She moves her lips some more, but this time, no sound comes out. I can see in her eyes what she wants to say to me. Don’t do it. You’ll go to hell.

I twist the knife so that the tip bites into the sweet hollow of her throat. “I’m not afraid of going to hell.”

It’s the idea of purgatory that makes my teeth hurt and my stomach cramp and my shit go to water. I mean what if my heart isn’t black enough to guarantee me a passage straight to hell? What if God slams down his gavel and says, Son, you’re a sinner, but I have to take your family situation into account. That’s a mitigating circumstance.

A single drop of blood drips off my blade like a tear.

“What if God sends me to purgatory?” My words taste like puke on my tongue. “I’d rather dangle over a fiery pit for eternity than spend a single day of the afterlife in a place like this one.”

I watch a spider crawl across her face.

My thoughts crawl around my brain like that spider.

You could make a pretty good case, I think, that St. Catherine’s School for Boys is earth’s version of purgatory. I mean, it’s a place where you don’t exist. A place where no one curses you, but no one loves you either. Sure, back home, your father hits you and calls you a bastard, but you are a bastard, so its okay he calls you one. Behind me, I hear the sound of rustling leaves and cast a glance over my shoulder.

Do it! You want to get into hell, don’t you?

I turn back to sister and flick the spider off her cheek.

The spider disappears, but I’m still here.

At St. Catherine’s no one notices you enough to knock you around. Every day is the same as the one that came before it, and the one that’s coming after. At St. Catherine’s you wait and wait for your turn to leave, only guess what, you dumb-ass bastard, your turn is never going to come, because you, my friend, are in purgatory, and you can’t get out until you repent.

Sister Bernadette lets out another gurgle.

I spit right in her face.

I won’t repent, and I can’t bear to spend eternity in purgatory, which is I why I came up with a plan. A plan that’ll rocket me straight past purgatory, directly to hell.

Sister Bernadette is the first page of my blueprint. I have the book to guide me the rest of the way. For her sake, not mine, I make the sign of the cross.

She’s not moving, but her eyes are open, and I hear her breathing. I want her to know she is going to die. “You are going to help me get into hell. In return, I will help you get into heaven.”

I shake my arm and loosen the rosary. The strand slithers down my wrist. One bead after another drops into my open palm, electrifying my skin at the point of contact. My blood zings through me, like a high-voltage current. I am not a shadow.

A branch snaps, making my hands shake with the need to hurry.

What are you waiting for my friend?

Is Sister Bernadette afraid?

She has to be. Hungry for her fear, I squeeze my thighs together, and then I push my face close and look deep in her eyes.

“The blood of the lamb will wash away your sins.” She gasps, and her eyes roll back. “Repent.”

My heart slams shut.

I begin the prayers.

Chapter One

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Present Day—Saturday, July 20, 1:00 P.M.

Man, she’s something.

Luke Jericho halted mid-stride, and the sophisticated chatter around him dimmed to an indistinct buzz. Customers jamming the art gallery had turned the air hot, and the aromas of perfume and perspiration clashed. His gaze sketched the cut muscles of the woman’s shoulders before swerving to the tantalizing V of her low-back dress. There, slick fabric met soft skin just in time to hide the thong she must be wearing. His fingers found the cold silk knot of his tie and worked it loose. He let his glance dot down the line of her spine, then swoop over the arc of her ass. It was the shimmer of Mediterranean-blue satin, illuminated beneath art lights, that had first drawn his eye, her seductive shape that had pulled him up short, but it was her stance—her pose—that had his blood expanding like hot mercury under glass.

Head tilted, front foot cocked back on its stiletto, the woman studied one of Luke’s favorite pieces—his brother Dante’s mixed-media. A piece Luke had hand-selected and quietly inserted into this show of local artists in the hopes a positive response might bolster his brother’s beleaguered self-esteem.

The woman couldn’t take her eyes off the piece, and he couldn’t take his eyes off the woman. Her right arm floated, as if she were battling the urge to reach out and touch the multi-textured painting. Though her back was to him, he could picture her face, pensive, enraptured. Her lips would be parted and sensual. He savored the swell of her bottom beneath the blue dress. Given the way the fabric clung to her curves, he’d obviously guessed right about the thong. She smoothed the satin with her hand, and he rubbed the back of his neck with his palm. Ha. Any minute now she’d turn and ruin his fantasy with what was sure to turn out to be the most ordinary mug in the room.

And then she did turn, and damned if her mug wasn’t ordinary at all, but she didn’t appear enraptured. Inquisitive eyes, with a distinct undercurrent of melancholy, searched the room and found him. Then, delicate brows raised high, her mouth firmed into a hard line—even thinned, her blood-red lips were temptation itself—she jerked to a rigid posture and marched, yeah, marched, straight at him.

Hot ass. Great mouth. Damn lot of nerve.

“I could feel your stare,” she said.

“Kind of full of yourself, honey.”

A flush of scarlet flared across her chest, leading his attention to her lovely, natural breasts, mostly, but not entirely, concealed by a classic neckline. With effort, he raised his eyes to meet hers. Green. Skin, porcelain. Hair, fiery—like her cheeks—and flowing. She looked like a mermaid. Not the soft kind, the kind with teeth.

“I don’t like to be ogled.” Apparently she intended to stand her ground.

He decided to stand his as well. That low-back number she had on might be considered relatively tame in a room with more breasts on display than a Picasso exhibit, but there was something about the way she wore it. “Then you shouldn’t have worn that dress, darlin’.”

Her brow arched higher in challenge. “Which is it? Honey or darlin’?”

“Let’s go with honey. You look sweet.” Not at the moment she didn’t, but he’d sure like to try and draw the sugar out of her. This woman was easily as interesting and no less beautiful than his best gallery piece, and she didn’t seem to be reacting to him per the usual script. He noticed his hand floating up, reaching out, just as her hand had reached for the painting. Like his mesmerizing customer, he knew better than to touch the display, but it was hard to resist the urge.

Her body drew back, and her shoulders hunched. “You’re aware there’s a serial killer on the loose?”

Luke, you incredible ass.

No wonder she didn’t appreciate his lingering looks. Every woman he knew was on full alert. The Jericho charm might or might not be able to get him out of this one, but he figured she was worth a shot. “Here, in this gallery? In broad daylight?” He searched the room with his gaze and made his tone light. “Or are you saying you don’t like being sized up for the kill?” He patted his suit pockets, made a big show of it and then stroked his chin thoughtfully. “I seem to have misplaced my rosary somewhere, I don’t suppose you’ve seen it?”

Her shoulders eased back to a natural position.

“Seriously, do I look like someone who’d be called The Saint?”

If the glove doesn’t fit…

Her lips threatened to curve up at the corners. “No. I don’t suppose you do.” Another beat, and then her smile bloomed in earnest. “Looking a little is one thing, maybe it’s even flattering…but you seem to have exceeded your credit line.”

He turned his palms up. “Then I’d like to apply for an increase.”

At that, her pretty head tipped back, and she laughed, a big genuine laugh. It was the kind of laugh that was a touch too hearty for a polished society girl, which perhaps she wasn’t after all. It was also the kind of laugh he’d like to hear again. Of its own accord, his hand found his heart. “Listen, I’m honest-to-God sorry if I spooked you. That wasn’t my intention.”

Her expression was all softness now.

“Do you like the painting?” he asked, realizing that he cared more than he should about the answer.

“It’s quite…dark.” Her bottom lip shivered with the last word, and he could sense she found Dante’s painting disturbing.

Always on the defensive where his brother was concerned, his back stiffened. He tugged at his already loosened tie. “Artists are like that. I don’t judge them.”

“Of course. I-I wasn’t judging the artist. I was merely making an observation about the painting. It’s expressive, beautiful.”

Relaxing his stance, he pushed a hand through his hair.

She pushed a hand through her hair, and then her glance found her fancy-toed shoes. “Maybe I overreacted, maybe you weren’t even staring.”

Giving in to the urge to touch, he reached out and tilted her chin up until their eyes met. “I’m Luke Jericho, and you had it right the first time. I was staring. I was staring at—” He barely had time to register a startled flash of her green eyes before she turned on her heel and disappeared into the throng of gallery patrons.

He shrugged and said to the space where her scent still sweetened the air, “I was staring at your fascination. Your fascination fascinates me.”

Saturday, July 20, 1:30 P.M.

Faith Clancy strode across her nearly naked office and tossed her favorite firelight macaron clutch onto her desk. After rushing out of the gallery, she’d come to her office to regroup, mainly because it was nearby.

She could hear Ma’s voice now, see her wagging finger. “Luke Jericho? Sure’an you’ve gone and put your wee Irish foot in the stewpot now, Faith.”

Well, it was only a tiny misstep—what harm could possibly come of it? She braced her palms against the windowsill. Teeth clenched, she heaved with all her might until wood screeched against wood and the window lurched open.

A full inch.

Swell.

Summers in Santa Fe were supposed to be temperate, and she hadn’t invested in an air conditioner for her new office. She sucked in a deep breath, but the currentless summer air brought little relief from the heat. Lifting her hair off the back of her damp neck with one hand, she reached over and dialed on the big standing fan next to the desk with the other. The dinosaur whirred to life without a hiccup.

That made one thing gone right today.

The relaxing Saturday afternoon she’d been looking forward to all week had been derailed, thanks to Luke Jericho. Okay, that wasn’t even half fair. In reality, the wheels of her day had never touched down on the track to begin with. She’d awakened this morning with a knot in her stomach and an ache in her heart—missing Danny and Katie.

Walk it off, she’d thought. Dress up. Take in the sights. Act like you’re part of the Santa Fe scene and soon enough you will be. Determined to forget the homesick rumbling in her chest, Faith had plucked a confidence boosting little number from her closet, slipped on a pair of heels and headed out to mingle with polite society. Even if she didn’t feel like she fit in, at least she would look the part. But the first gallery she’d entered, she’d dunked her foot in the stewpot—crossing swords with, and then, even worse, flirting with the brother of a patient.

Rather bad luck considering she had just one patient.

Her toe started to tap.

Her gaze swept the office and landed on the only adornment of the freshly-painted walls—her diplomas and certificates, arranged in an impressive display with her psychiatric board certification center stage. A Yale-educated doctor. Ma and Da would’ve been proud, even if they might’ve clucked their tongues at the psychiatrist part. She blinked until her vision cleared. It wasn’t only Danny and Katie she was missing today.

She kicked off her blasted shoes and shook off her homesick blues…only to find her mind returning to the gallery and her encounter with a man who was strictly off limits.

There was no point chastising herself for walking into the art gallery in the first place, or for refusing to pretend she didn’t notice the man who was eyeing her like she was high tea in a whorehouse, and he a starving sailor.

Care for a macaron, sir?

Had she realized her admirer was Luke Jericho, she would’ve walked away without confronting him, but how was she to know him by sight? It wasn’t as if she spent her spare time flipping through photos of town royalty in the society pages.

She’d recognized his name instantly, however, and not only because she was treating his half-brother, Dante. The Jericho family had a sprawling ranch outside town and an interest in a number of local businesses. But most of their wealth, she’d heard, came from oil. The Jerichos, at least the legitimate ones, had money. Barrels and barrels of it.

Luke’s name was on the lips of every unattached female in town—from the clerk at the local Shop and Save to the debutant docent at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum:

Single.

Handsome.

Criminally rich.

Luke Jericho, they whispered.

When she’d turned to find him watching her, his heated gaze had caused her very bones to sizzle. Luke had stood formidably tall, dressed in an Armani suit that couldn’t hide his rancher’s physique. The gallery lights seemed to spin his straw-colored hair into gold and ignite blue fire in his eyes. She could still feel his gaze raking over her in that casual way, as if he didn’t wish to conceal his appetites. It was easy to see how some women might become undone in his presence. She eased closer to the fan.

“Dr. Clancy.”

That low male voice gave her a fizzy, sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, like she’d just downed an Alka-Seltzer on top of the flu. When you’re all alone in a room, and someone else speaks, it’s just plain creepy.

It only took a millisecond to recognize the voice, but at a time when someone dubbed The Santa Fe Saint was on a killing spree, that was one millisecond too long. Icy tendrils of fear wrapped themselves around her chest, squeezing until it hurt her heart to go on beating. The cold certainty that things were not as they should be made the backs of her knees quiver. Then recognition kicked in, and her breath released in a whoosh.

It’s only Dante.

She pasted on a neutral expression and turned to face him. How’d he gotten in? The entrance was locked; she was certain of it.

“Did I frighten you?”

She inclined her head toward the front door to her office, which was indeed locked, and said, “Next time, Dante, I’d prefer you use the main entrance…and knock.”

“I came in the back.”

That much was obvious now that she’d regained her wits. “That’s my private entrance. It’s not intended for use by patients.” Stupid of her to leave it unlocked, but it was midday and she hadn’t expected an ambush.

To buy another moment to compose herself, she went to her bookcase and inspected its contents. Toward the middle, Freud’s “Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis” leaned haphazardly in the direction of its opponent, Skinner’s “Behavior Therapy”. A paperback version of “A Systems Approach to Family Therapy” had fallen flat, not quite bridging the gap between the warring classics.

Dante crossed the distance between them, finishing directly in front of her, invading her personal space. “Quite right. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

She caught a blast of breath, pungent and wrong—a Listerine candle floating in a jar of whiskey. In self-defense, she took a step back before looking up at her patient’s face. Dante possessed his brother’s intimidating height, but unlike Luke, his hair was jet black, and his coal-colored eyes were so dark it was hard to distinguish the pupil from the iris. Despite Dante’s dark complexion and the roughness of his features—he had a previously broken nose and a shiny pink scar that gashed across his cheekbone into his upper lip—there was a distinct family resemblance between the Jericho brothers. Luke was the fair-haired son to Dante’s black sheep, and even their respective phenotypes fit the cliche.

Dante took a step forward.

She took another deep step back, bumping her rear-end against wood. With one hand she reached behind her and felt for the smooth rim of her desktop. With the other hand, she put up a stop sign. “Stay right where you are.”

He halted, and she edged her way behind her desk, using it as a barrier between herself and Dante. Maybe she should advise him to enroll in a social skills class since he didn’t seem to realize how uncomfortable he was making her. Though she knew full well Dante wasn’t on her schedule today—no one was on her schedule today—she powered on her computer. “Hang on a second while I check my calendar.”

“All right.” At least he had the courtesy to play along.

When he rested his hand on her desk, she noticed he was carrying a folded newspaper. She’d already seen today’s headline, and it had given her the shivers. “Any minute now.” She signaled to Dante with an upheld index finger.

He nodded, and, in what seemed an eternity of time, her computer finished booting. She navigated from the welcome screen to her schedule, and then in a firm, matter-of-fact voice, she told him, “I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake. Your appointment isn’t until Monday at four pm.”

As he took another step closer, a muscle twitched in his jaw. He didn’t seem to care when his appointment was. Gesturing toward the leather armchair on the patient side of her desk, she fended him off. “Have a seat right there.” If she could get him to sit down, maybe she could gain control of the situation; she really ought to hear him out long enough to make sure this wasn’t some sort of emergency.

Dante didn’t sit. Instead, from across the desk, his body inclined forward. Her throat went dry, and her speeding pulse signaled a warning. If this were an emergency, he most likely would have tried to contact her through her answering service, besides which, he’d had plenty of time already to mention anything urgent. He must’ve known he didn’t have an appointment today, so what the hell was he doing here on a Saturday?

Dante had no reason at all to expect her to be here. In fact, the more she thought about it, the less sense his presence made. Pulling her shoulders back, she said, “I am sorry, but you need to leave. You’ll have to come back on Monday at four.”

The scar tissue above his mouth tugged his features into a menacing snarl. “I saw you talking to my brother.”

He’d followed her from the art gallery.

Even though Dante’s primary diagnosis was schizotypal personality disorder, there was a paranoid component present, exacerbated by a sense of guilt and a need to compensate for feelings of inferiority. His slip and slide grip on reality occasionally propelled him into a near delusional state. She could see him careening into a dark well of anxiety now, and she realized she needed to reassure him she wasn’t colluding with his half-brother against him. “I wasn’t talking to your brother about you. In fact, I didn’t have any idea I had wandered into your brother’s art gallery until he…introduced himself.”

“I don’t believe you.”

As fast as her heart was galloping, she managed a controlled reply. “That hardly bodes well for our relationship as doctor and patient, does it? But the truth is, we were discussing a painting.”

“Discussing my painting, discussing me, same difference.”

His painting?

That bit of information did nothing to diminish her growing sense of apprehension. That painting had had a darkness in it like nothing she’d ever seen before. A darkness that had captivated her attention, daring her to unravel its mysterious secrets.

Then Dante dropped into the kind of predatory crouch that would’ve made a kitten roll over and play dead.

But she wasn’t a kitten.

Defiantly, she exhaled slow and easy. If she didn’t know better, she’d think Dante was intentionally trying to frighten her. “I’m happy to see you during your regular hour, and we can schedule more frequent sessions if need be, but for now, I’m afraid it’s time for you to go.”

He returned to a stand. “You’re here all alone today.”

A shudder swept across her shoulders. He was right. No one else was in the building. She shared a secretary with an aesthetician down the hall, and today Stacy hadn’t been at her post. The aesthetician usually worked Saturday mornings, but she must’ve finished for the day and gone home. Home was where Faith wanted to go right now. She wished she’d kept her clutch in hand. Her phone was in that clutch. “We’ll work on that trust issue on Monday.”

With Dante’s gaze tracking hers, her eyes fell on her lovely macaron bag, lying on the desktop near his fingertips. He lifted the clutch as if to offer it to her, but then drew his hand back and stroked the satin shell against his face.

The room suddenly seemed too small. “I don’t mean to be unkind. We’ve been working hard these past few weeks and making good progress up to this point, and I’d hate to have to refer you to another psychiatrist, but I will if I have to.” She paused for breath.

“You’re barefoot.” Slowly, he licked his lower lip.

Feeling as vulnerable as if she were standing before him bare-naked instead of bare-footed, she slipped back into her shoes. Jerking a glance around the room, she cursed herself for furnishing the place so sparsely, as if she didn’t plan on staying in Santa Fe long. It wasn’t like she had anywhere else to call home anymore, and now here she stood without so much as a paperweight to conk someone on the head with if…The window was open, at least she could scream for help if necessary. “We’re done here.”

“I’m not leaving, Dr. Clancy.” He opened her purse, removed her cell and slid it into his pants pocket, then dropped her purse on the floor.

Her stomach got fizzy again, and she gripped the edge of her desk. Screaming didn’t seem like the most effective plan. It might destabilize him and cause him to do something they’d both regret. For now at least, a better plan was to stay calm and listen. If she could figure out what was going on inside his head, maybe she could stay a step ahead of him and diffuse the situation before it erupted into a full-scale nightmare. “Give me back my phone, and then we can talk.”

Here came that involuntary snarl of his. “No phone. And I’m not leaving until I’ve done what I came here to do.” Carefully unfolding the newspaper he’d brought with him, he showed her the headline:

Santa Fe Saint Claims Fourth Victim.

 

Author Bio

Carey Baldwin is a mild-mannered doctor by day and an award-winning author of edgy suspense by night. She holds two doctoral degrees, one in medicine and one in psychology. She loves reading and writing stories that keep you off balance and on the edge of your seat. Carey lives in the southwestern United States with her amazing family. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and chasing wildflowers.

Catch Up With the Author:

Other Tour Participants

4/03 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Hott Books
4/04 ~ Review & Giveaway @ A Bookish Girl
4/08 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Words by Webb
4/09 ~ Guest Post @ Writers & Authors
4/10 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Lazy Day Books
4/12 ~ Interview @ The Book Divas Reads
4/14 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
4/16 ~ Showcase @ Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
4/18 ~ Review & Guest Post @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
4/21 ~ Guest Post @ Deal Sharing Aunt
4/24 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Once Upon A Time
4/30 ~ Interview @ The Opinionated Me

Partners In Crime Tours

PICT buttonPICT was founded in  2011 and is a Virtual Book Tour site that helps new, rising and popular crime/ suspense/ thriller/ mystery authors promote their books in the virtual world. It is always a joy to work with Cheryl, Gina and Lance! If you are interested to review books in this genre too, please, feel free to complete the tour host submission form here.

 

Disclaimer

Every (e)book received for review on the tours for Partners In Crime Tours is given in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

PICT Review: The Rich And The Dead by Liv Spector

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The Rich and the Dead

by Liv Spector

on Tour March 17 – May 17, 2014

 

RichandDead

Book Details

Genre: Mystery, Detective

Series: Lila Day Book One

Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks

Publication Date: 3/18/14

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 9780062258397

Purchase Links:

Synopsis

To solve the crime of the century, she’ll have to go back in time….

Welcome to Star Island, where Miami’s wealthiest residents lead private lives behind the tall gates of their sprawling mansions. It’s a blissful escape from the hot and dirty city—or it was, until New Year’s Day 2015, when twelve of the most powerful people in the world were found murdered in the basement of a Star Island mansion.

The massacre shocked the nation and destroyed the life of investigator Lila Day. Her hunt for the Star Island killer consumed her. But the case went unsolved, resulting in her dismissal from the Miami PD.

Now, three years later, life hands Lila an unexpected second chance: reclusive billionaire Teddy Hawkins approaches Lila and asks her to solve the case. But how do you investigate a crime when all the leads have long ago gone cold? The answer, Teddy tells her, is to solve the case before it happens. He’s going to send Lila back in time.

With nothing left to lose, an incredulous Lila travels back to 2014, determined to find the Star Island killer once and for all. But as she goes undercover among the members of Miami’s high society, she finds herself caring for—and falling for—people who are destined to die that fateful night. Now she must either say good-bye or risk altering the future forever.

Review

Playing with the concept of time and time travel in itself is not a new notion, but the author manages to give it a new twist with the thought of solving a crime before it even happens. Also, up till the final ending she keeps the reader guessing, and I like to be kept in suspense.

I found it fascinating to read about the high society and its members. The author really drew me in with the description of the characters, their interactions, relationships,  emotions and life decisions. I felt as frustrated as Lila was, pursuing a killer who seemed to be illusive, no matter what she tried. Will she go back – or rather forward – in time or is the pull to find the killer stronger? What is Teddy’s real motive in his desire to find the killer even after so many years? Will Lila come out of this adventure unscathed?

This book is more than just a who-dun-it, including some sci-fi, romance and definitely suspense. I am looking forward to more of Liv Spector and Lila Day!

Read an excerpt

PROLOGUE
Star Island, Florida, is not so much a location on the map as a fantasy come to life. The hundred or so people lucky enough to live on its man-made shores exist as if in a waking dream— a dream as seductive, dangerous, and illusory as a mirage.

Nestled upon the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay, a mere stone’s throw away from that wild and wicked boomtown, Miami Beach, Star Island has been home to movie stars, corporate titans, drug runners, and even a cult leader named Brother Louv, all of whom prized both its opulence and its isolation. But today, Star Island is synonymous with one thing, and one thing only.

The massacre.

All of the sins and scandals that took place on the island before the murders now seem like nothing more than child’s play.

By now, the details of the crime have been fervently hashed and rehashed so many times, on TV talk shows, around kitchen tables, and over cubicle walls, that everyone in the world knows the intricacies of the murders: On New Year’s Day 2015, twelve bodies were discovered on the Star Island estate of hotel magnate Chase Haverford, whose body was recovered among the dead. The victims were all, like Chase, high-profile fixtures in Miami’s social scene. Each had been murdered execution-style with a single bullet shot directly through the forehead.

The moment the news broke, the Star Island massacre took over the attentions of the world like a collective fever. From Tampa to Tokyo, from Kentucky to Kenya, the international media were breathless with talk about what many called the crime of the century.

For months, the hunt for the Star Island killer consumed the best and brightest investigators across the country and around the world. The CIA and the FBI each devoted a team to the case. A $10 million bounty offered by the father of one of the victims inspired countless home-brewed investigations. Yet even with the entire world on the hunt, the identity of the killer remained unknown.

And then, like any fever, the obsession with the Star Island massacre eventually broke. The press turned its attentions to another scandal. The cadre of investigators, tired of insurmountable dead ends and anxious to flee Miami before the summer humidity made the city unbearable, went off looking for new bloodstained bogeymen.

Long after everyone else had moved on, one local detective was left following leads, checking and rechecking evidence, and searching for a break in a case so cold even she knew there was little hope in catching the killer.
Only one detective was foolish enough to care, and it nearly cost her everything.

CHAPTER ONE

The instant Lila Day knocked on the door to room 3746, the yelling from inside stopped. On the other side of the door, she could hear the hustle of loud whispers and shuffling feet—the sound of bad behavior being frantically covered up.

“Security!” Lila bellowed as she pounded on the door.

She looked at her watch: 4:13 a.m. “Figures,” she muttered under her breath as she knocked again, landing three sharp strikes upon the door. “Open up, now!”

One thing all her years as a cop had taught her, and this crap hotel security job had merely confirmed, was that the hour from 4:00 to 5:00 a.m. was always when the ugliest shit went down. By four in the morning, most of the partyers, drunks, and fun-seeking idiots had passed out, and the early birds were still asleep in their beds. Anyone awake at this ungodly time was, without fail, up to no good.

Lila had been working night security at the Hotel Armadale for the past eight months, and in that time, not one notable thing had happened. Usually her job meant busting hotel guests smoking cigarettes in the stairwell, or searching under couch cushions for watches reported as stolen. Tonight, though, things were different. She felt it in her gut.

A sharp and sudden smash came from inside the room. Once again, Lila banged on the door.

“Hotel security. Open the door!” she shouted.

She reached down for her weapon, an automatic impulse after years on the force. But there was no gun there—nothing but a flashlight. Hotel security officers were strictly prohibited from carrying weapons. Bad for business, her manager said.

“Christ,” Lila muttered. She settled for her flashlight, which she could use as a stand-in bludgeon if it came to that.

She banged on the door a final time. Then she heard a muffled cry, followed by what sounded like a heavy object being dragged along the floor. Someone was in danger. In an instant, Lila had swiped her universal key across the touch-screen door lock, kicked the door open, and stepped cautiously inside the room.

It was one of the hotel’s most expensive suites, with jaw-dropping ocean views and sleek furniture. Even on an off-season night like tonight, mid-July in Miami, when the vast majority of tourists were long gone, this room went for $5,200. But tonight, the suite looked like a war zone. A TV had been torn off the wall and smashed against the dining room table. The white marble floor was covered in broken glass and empty booze bottles. A chartreuse raw silk curtain had been ripped off the window.

Slowly, Lila skirted along the perimeter of the room, keeping her back to the wall.

She heard a door slam on the west side of the suite and followed the sound into the bedroom, where she saw a long trail of blood staining the white carpet. The blood stopped at the closed bathroom door. From behind the door, she could hear rushing water and heavy footfalls.

“Hotel security. Open the goddamned door!” There was no response.

With all of her strength, Lila slammed the butt end of her flashlight repeatedly into the doorknob until the metal ripped away. She took a deep breath and then, using all 125 pounds of her body weight, shouldered her way into the bathroom.

Two men, stripped down to their underwear, stood frozen in a Jacuzzi tub at the far end of the cavernous marble bathroom. A woman’s bare legs, tapering down to a pair of leopard-print high heels, hung limply over the tub’s side. The crimson trail of blood continued across the floor toward the tub.

One man was quite short, no more than five four, with a bleached Mohawk and a muscular gym body. The other was a hulking presence, about a foot taller than his friend, paunchy and covered in thick tufts of body hair.

A strong smell of vomit hung in the air. The sink and tub faucets poured with steaming hot water.

“Hands up,” Lila shouted.

“We weren’t doing nothing,” the short man said in a thick accent that Lila couldn’t quite place. He raised his hands slowly and stepped out of the tub. He took several steps toward Lila, close enough that she could smell the soured alcohol escaping from every pore on his body.

“Don’t move,” Lila warned, standing her ground. The small man stopped within arm’s reach of her. From his red-rimmed eyes and raw nostrils she could tell he’d been buried in drugs for hours. The woman’s legs had not moved.

“This has nothing to do with you,” the large man said in a tone so calm and measured that it made Lila’s skin crawl. “You should turn around and go.”

“That’s not going to happen, sir,” Lila said. If that woman was still alive, the water flowing into the tub would drown her within seconds. “Now, can you tell me if the woman is still breathing?”

The large man stepped out of the tub. “Everything is under control,” he said.

“That’s not what it looks like from here.” She inched closer to the tub, her hand wrapped around the flashlight.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” the short man said, grabbing her left arm.

“Hands off !” Lila snapped. She tried to pull her arm away, but the man only tightened his grip, burrowing his fingers deep into the muscle of her biceps.

Lila could see from his eyes and the tense twitch of his jaw that the man had no intention of letting her go. She glanced over at the taller man, who was now standing shoulder to shoulder with his buddy. Two against one. If she was going to get the upper hand, she would have to strike first.

In one swift movement, she spun around, using the momentum of her torqued body to crack the flashlight across the short man’s cheekbone. He let go of her as he fell diagonally, clutching his face. Then she darted to the side as the larger man lunged for her, bringing her foot down on his leg, right above the ankle. She heard the stomach-churning sound of his bone breaking.

Howling in pain, the man collapsed to the floor, and Lila ran to the tub. The woman was naked, her arms akimbo like those of a rag doll. Her long blond hair was wet and hung in clumps around her bloody face. Grabbing the woman’s lifeless arms, Lila attempted to hoist her from the tub, but her wet, unresponsive body slipped out of Lila’s grasp. The woman crumpled to the floor with a thud.

Lila called 911 for help. Her boss had been more than clear that calling the cops was absolutely the last resort. Even though this was a matter of life or death, she knew he’d still give her shit for it. “This is hotel security requesting police and EMT at Hotel Armadale, room thirty-seven forty-six. I have a medical emergency and two detained suspects.”

As she was talking, she pressed her fingers to the inside of the woman’s wrist and was relieved to find a pulse. She was still alive, but she wasn’t breathing.

Just then, the short man got to his feet, stooping down to help his larger friend.

Lila shot back up, ready for round two. But the men weren’t coming toward her. They were shuffling frantically away in the direction of the door.

“Freeze!” Lila shouted. They stopped, looked at her, looked at each other, and took off for the hallway as quickly as they could, the large man dragging his mangled leg behind him.

Lila hesitated for a split second. Should she chase after the men, or try to get this woman breathing again?

“Fuck it,” Lila said. She brushed the blond hair from the woman’s face, used a wet towel to wipe away the blood and vomit, and bent down to hold the woman’s nose closed as she blew two long breaths into her lungs.

By the time the EMTs arrived, the men were long gone, and the woman was barely responsive. But at least she was breathing again.

After the woman had been placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital, a couple of fresh-faced cops arrived on the scene. They were young enough that Lila didn’t know them from her years in the Miami Police Department; and if they knew of her, they didn’t say. For that, she was thankful.

Her cell phone rang while she was in the middle of giving the police a description of the men who’d fled the crime scene. It was her boss. “Get to my office, now.”

“I’m talking to the police,” she replied. “I’ll be down when I’m done.”

“Which is right this minute. Get your ass here, now.”

She took the elevator down to the basement, where her supervisor had his small office just off the kitchen. When she opened his door, he was on the phone.

“I got it. It’s taken care of. Not a problem,” he said, waving Lila in. She knew from the throbbing vein in the middle of his beet-red forehead that she was in deep shit.

“Yes, thank you, sir,” he said into the phone, glaring at Lila.

“Sorry that you had to be disturbed in the middle of the night over this.”

Danny Ramirez, her superior, was an unshaven smudge of a man with a phlegmy cough and an allergic reaction to hard work.

Like Lila, and most of the other shlubs who worked hotel security, he was an ex-cop. The difference was that he was retired with full pension, while Lila had been asked to leave the force. It was a distinction he never let her forget. He was a kiss-up, kick-down kind of guy. In other words, a complete prick.

Lila sat stiffly on a metal stool wedged between a wet vac and a fifty-gallon drum of olive oil, waiting for him to get off the phone.

“That’s right, sir. I’ll handle it. Yes, my pleasure.” Danny hung up the phone, then let out an enormous sigh, rubbing the heel of his meaty hand across his forehead. “Do you have any idea who that was?” he asked Lila.

She shook her head no.

“Thanks to you, I just had the distinct pleasure of getting my ass chewed out by none other than Jonathan fucking Golding, the owner of this very fine establishment. Do you know how many times he’s called me? Just guess.”

Lila shrugged. Saying anything right now would only be digging herself deeper into whatever hole she was currently in.

“In my six years of working here, I’ve only spoken to that man once before tonight. And that was on the day he hired me.”

“You’re acting like I did something wrong.”

“Do yourself a favor and shut your mouth!” he shouted. “I’ll take bullshit from Golding ’cause that’s my job. But I won’t take it from you. Do you have any idea whose fucking ankle you broke tonight?”

“I don’t know. A rapist’s? A murderer’s? I walked in on him and his little friend trying to kill a woman. If I wasn’t there, you’d have a homicide on your hands right now. Is that what you want?”

“She’s a whore who overdosed. That’s the end of the story.

The cops that are with her down at the hospital right now told me she’s not pressing charges. She’s staying very tight-lipped about the whole thing. Poor girl is just trying to keep out of jail herself. On the other hand, those guys you had so much fun bashing around already have their lawyers calling Jonathan fucking Golding demanding that you be brought up on aggravated assault charges.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you. And now I’ve got Golding up my ass saying how bad this looks for the hotel. He’s trying to keep the whole thing contained. If this is leaked to the press, it’ll be a total shit show.” Lila sat there stunned. The worst she had expected was to be called out for letting the guys get away. But this wasn’t the first time she’d been read the riot act for simply doing her job. “I was warned not to hire you. But did I listen?” Danny shook his head. “You were a good cop. And you needed work, so I did what I thought was right and gave you the job.”

“And I’m grateful for that. Really I am.” Lila gave Danny a forced smile. “What I did tonight is part of the job you hired me to do.”

“For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve had a rotten habit of fucking with the wrong people,” he said.

“You mean rich people.”

“That’s one way to put it. Most people just call them the boss. And most people learn early to play nice with the guys who call the shots. It seems to me those are the folks you like to go after.”

Danny stood up, walked around his desk, and stopped in front of Lila. “I’ll need your hotel ID. Leave your uniform and flashlight in your locker. You’ll get a final check sent to you at the end of the month. As of right now, you are no longer an employee of Hotel Armadale.”

Lila sat silent for a moment, studying her boss. Under the fluorescent lights, his face looked slack-jawed and exhausted.

There was a mustard stain on his tie. He had always been sloppy, as a man and as a cop. All he ever really cared about was covering his own ass. The priorities of a coward.

Good riddance, she thought, standing up. She slapped her ID and flashlight on the table.

“You’ll land on your feet, kid.” Danny’s voice was a little strained from this attempt at positivity, but also relieved. She knew he’d been worried she would make a scene. But she wouldn’t give him the pleasure of seeing her protest. It was pointless. Instead, she just nodded as she left his office and closed the door behind her.

The moment Lila walked out of the Armadale for the last time, a wall of humidity hit her, the sun mercilessly bright overhead. It was only 7:30 a.m., and already the temperature was unbearable. Two thousand eighteen was proving to be the hottest year on record—and the worst year of Lila’s life.

Thoughts of her late mother’s hospital bills, her overdue car payments, her rent, and her frozen credit cards descended on Lila like the oppressive weather, making it almost impossible to breathe. She was broke, she was in debt, and now she was unemployed.

She was crossing the parking lot toward her car, her mind listing one worry after another, when a rapid clicking noise interrupted her thoughts. She looked up and saw an old man on the other side of the street, sitting in a midnight-blue Bentley and pointing a long-lensed camera in her direction. She swiveled around to see what he was photographing, but there was nothing behind her except the empty parking lot. Was he taking pictures of her?

Just as she turned back to the man, the car pulled away and disappeared around the corner. Lila stood glued to the same spot, staring blankly at where the car had been. Its exhaust fumes still hung suspended in the morning air. There was something about that old man, about this specific moment in time, that seemed intensely familiar to Lila, almost as if this had happened before.

She shook herself out of her momentary daze and climbed into her already sunbaked car, which felt something like climbing into a furnace. Déjà vu, she thought with a shrug.

The sun had only been up for an hour, and Lila’s day, as far as she was concerned, was already done

 

Author Bio

Liv Spector was raised on Cape Cod and now lives in Canada. She has worked as an oyster shucker, dancer, farmhand, journalist, and teacher. A graduate of McGill University in Montreal, she received her MFA from Brooklyn College.

Other Tour Participants

3/18 ~ Review @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
3/20 ~ Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
3/27 ~ Review @ Teena in Toronto
4/02 ~ Review @ Hezzi-Ds Books and Cooks
4/04 ~ Review @ Vics Media Room
4/08 ~ Review @ Real Army of Moms
5/01 ~ Review @ Lazy Day Books
5/08 ~ Review @ Marys Cup of Tea
5/14 ~ Review @ CMash Reads

Partners In Crime Tours

PICT buttonPICT was founded in  2011 and is a Virtual Book Tour site that helps new, rising and popular crime/ suspense/ thriller/ mystery authors promote their books in the virtual world. It is always a joy to work with Cheryl and Gina! If you are interested to review books in this genre too, please, feel free to complete the tour host submission form here.

 

Disclaimer

Every (e)book received for review on the tours for Partners In Crime Tours is given in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

PICT Review: Dialogues Of A Crime by John K. Manos

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Dialogues of a Crime

by John K Manos

on Tour March 17 – May 31, 2014

Book Details

Genre: Crime Fiction
Published by: Amika Press
Publication Date: July 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 1937484130 / ASIN: B00E63HDCK
NOTE: Excessive strong language & Graphic violence
Purchase Links: 

Dialogues of a Crime

Synopsis

1972. The Chicago Mob stands unchallenged, and college students with drugs provide fodder for political point-making. Michael Pollitz, a nineteen-year-old with connections to the Outfit, becomes one of those political pawns.

1994. Job-weary CPD Detective Larry Klinger becomes obsessed with a cold case from that pivotal moment twenty-two years ago. In the course of his investigation, he encounters questions of ethics, guilt, and justice that make him doubt certainties that have sustained him for decades.

Dialogues of a Crime examines guilt, innocence and the long-term ramifications of crime and punishment in a gray area where the personal lives of perpetrators, victims and law officers overlap.

Review

As my readers know, I love a crime fiction book with a deeper message and the author certainly delivers. His characters are captivating, each so rich and very well depicted down to their use of language. Any strong language used fits in with the characters and wasn’t disturbing to me. There are some gruesome details of crimes perpetrated, which if it disturbs you, I’d advise you to skip. On the other hand, as it relates to Michael, it is presenting a reality that happens even today.

It’s not your typical crime story, nor is it your common mobster story. The action is more in the background, insinuated. The thread of the story centers around complex relationships, the dysfunction of the judicial system, revenge, punishment and the lack thereof and the consequences of past choices. Through character development and lots of dialogue the story shows itself.

Consequently there is more than one option or interpretation of all that happens and specifically of how it ends. The author leaves it to the reader to interpret the final acts. I felt a little let down, I got so invested in the characters that I really wanted to know how it ended – such is the power of this author’s work! I’ll keep an eye out for his second book.

Readers across genres will enjoy this superb book, I highly recommend it!

 

Read an excerpt

 

1972

From the top of the empty building the river cannot be seen, but its presence seeps through the air like a sense of winter on the northern wind. Blood swells around the wire binding the muscular man’s wrists, and his long blond hair is matted with more blood, just now coagulating in streaks across the duct tape sealing his mouth and muffling his periodic cries. Able to see little more than a red mist through his swollen eye sockets, he flinches away as something round and hard, a thick dowel perhaps, leaves stinging stripes across his back and thighs. Thick hands clutch at his shredded clothing. Not yet in shock and with his lungs straining to somehow split the tape he senses a void at the edge of his consciousness, pebbles on the brittle tar spraying and clattering as in agony he is forced to shuffle forward, shoeless but not feeling the frozen roof.

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A pounding on the thin panels of the dormroom door invaded the young man’s sleep. He dreamt briefly of the caissons being driven for the Hancock Center construction when he and his father and older brother visited the site in Chicago in 1968, but the banging woke him in time to hear the door opening. What he saw first against the weak early-spring light from the windows was a tall, disheveled middle-aged man with short salt-and-pepper hair wearing an inexpensive suit. Cop? was his first thought. The man glanced around the messy room, then stared down at the student as another heavier officer moved through the entranceway, holding aside a burlap screen the young man’s roommate had hung between the room and the closets. Finally a remotely familiar short bald man with a beard entered quickly, looked down at the young man and said, “That’s him.” The bald man pivoted and disappeared. The young man thought he recognized the beard, but not the bald head or the tie.

“What?” the young man breathed as the heavier cop twitched away his blanket and with an air of perfunctory finality clutched his upper arm, pulled him upright, turned him toward the windows and clipped handcuffs around his wrists. Salt-and-pepper rummaged through the top drawer of his desk and pulled out his checkbook. The young man sat naked on the bed with his hands cuffed behind his hips.

The heavier cop stared down at him, then seemed to relent and said, “You’re under arrest.” An inane idea entered the young man’s mind—he thought it was an April Fool’s joke. The door to his room stood open, and he could hear activity down the hall, more pounding on doors.

Salt-and-pepper opened the checkbook and said, “Michael J. Pollitz. That you?”

“You don’t know who I am?” Michael felt a rush of sleepy terror. His narrow face reddened.

“We know,” said the heavy cop. Both men moved around the room, opening drawers in the desks and small dressers. They walked across his clothing. The heavy cop kicked aside some junk-food wrappers on the floor and used his foot to rearrange a pile of papers and books. Salt-and-pepper opened one of the closets, looked down at the pile of clothing, luggage, books and trash, and shut the door again. It occurred to Michael that they weren’t searching for anything, their indifferent examination a matter of going through the motions. Both seemed bored.

“Can I put on some clothes?” Michael asked. He was well muscled in a way that echoed high school athletics, but he was small and felt shriveled and unbearably vulnerable, nude and handcuffed. His nineteen-year-old mind flashed a brief homophobic panic, even though he knew he was dealing with police. The freeze-dried fantasy included a grisly murder. The heavy cop exchanged a look with salt-and-pepper, then nodded. Michael stood and turned, and the detective removed the cuffs. Michael self-consciously shifted his body as he grabbed a pair of threadbare blue and white striped bell bottom pants from the floor and pulled them on. He picked up a wrinkled blue work shirt and buttoned it, and he tied his tennis shoes without sitting. He combed his long hair away from his face with his fingers before he detective replaced the handcuffs, and Michael sat again.

“Feel better?” salt-and-pepper asked with an ironic smile. Then he left the room. The heavy cop positioned himself in the entrance, in front of the flimsy curtain, and stared impassively. Michael looked at the windows, brighter now as dawn filled the sky. Almost to himself, he said, “What is this?”

“You’re under arrest,” the detective repeated.

“Why?”

The detective didn’t answer, and Michael wasn’t able to endure his stare. He looked through the windows again. His room was at the end of a long hall on the top floor in one of the older dormitories on the small campus, a three-story building with just two floors of rooms, the building shaped like a T with a central staircase that led down to the Student Union. The noises from the hall had died down, but he could hear voices. Still bleary, he couldn’t sort out his thoughts. Why was he being arrested? He hadn’t done anything. It was something with the bald guy, but he couldn’t fill in the blanks.

His friend John Calabria’s father came into his mind. He was suddenly overcome with a desire to be sitting in the office at Dominick Calabria’s farm northwest of Chicago, untouchable, waiting for the man’s sharp smile to fade as he offered a serious solution. What would Dominick Calabria do? Nothing. He would say nothing at all and wait for his lawyer. Lawyers. An army of lawyers.

“Can’t you tell me what’s going on?” Michael asked, overcome by confusion and anxiety. The heavy detective’s expression didn’t change even as salt-and-pepper returned.

“Set?” the heavy detective asked.

“Yeah. Let’s go.” Both cops stepped to the bed and raised the young man by his arms.

As they walked down the hall, Michael said, “I need to piss,” nodding toward the common bathroom. Both cops followed him to the urinals, and the heavy detective removed the handcuffs. When Michael finished, they didn’t replace the restraint. The young man felt a childish flush of relief that was almost pride for the miniscule favor: He was trustworthy, they could see that. And this added an absurd hope that the arrest was a mistake that would soon be clarified.

Outside, a friend from the sophomore class, Pat Kinnealy, whose room was down the hall from Michael’s, stood in handcuffs near an unmarked car in the small parking area next to the dorm. It was brightening into a lovely day. Michael glanced up at the sky, then back toward the parking spaces. Behind the unmarked car were one local squad car and three state cruisers. State troopers stood near their cars. Strangers were seated in the backseats of two of the state vehicles. He could see another acquaintance, a man two years older who lived in an apartment in town, with another stranger in the backseat of the local car. Both sat with the awkward tilt of handcuffed prisoners. Two freshmen from the floor below Michael’s stood in the parking area, also with their hands manacled behind their backs, and a small comprehension formed: The two roommates sold reefer, LSD, mescaline and amphetamines in small quantities from their room—he had purchased from them. Michael suddenly felt conspicuous without handcuffs, caught somewhere in the hostile twilight between Us and Them.

He and Pat were ushered into the backseat of the unmarked car. The two freshmen were placed in one of the state cruisers. “Why aren’t you handcuffed?” Pat asked. Beneath a taut strain of somnolent shock, his pallid face was a mixture of relief and accusation.

“They took them off when I peed,” Michael said. “They didn’t put them back on.” The cops were talking outside the cars.

“Did you recognize the bald guy?” Pat asked.

“Not really.”

“I think I sold him some white cross last fall,” Pat said mournfully. “Dan brought him over with another guy,” nodding toward their friend in the local squad car. “I think he was wearing a stocking cap, but I recognize the beard.” Pat seemed on the verge of tears, the skin pale around his eyes.

“I never sold him anything,” the young man mused, feeling relieved and silently reassuring himself that a mistake was being made. His roommate had from time to time sold an ounce or two of excess grass; they must have intended to arrest him instead. A straw to grasp. He didn’t know about the strangers in the state cars, but even though the two freshmen usually had hallucinogens or speed to sell, they weren’t serious dealers, and he, Pat and Dan weren’t dealers at all. Not in the sense of buying quantities and selling again for a profit or even for a supply of free drugs. But he had an uneasy feeling. He thought he recognized the bearded bald man as well, and Pat confirmed it. He thought he had met him once, when Dan brought him to his room in search of drugs. Michael had shown him to the freshmen’s room several months earlier, before Thanksgiving. Could that be it? It seemed too inconsequential to be real.

Author Bio

 

John K. Manos was a magazine editor in Chicago for 20 years. Since 2001 he has earned his living as a writer, editor, and occasional musician. He is a graduate of Knox College. Dialogues of a Crime is his first novel.

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Other Tour participants

3/17 ~ Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
3/18 ~ Guest Post @ The Opinionated Me
3/20 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Gabina49s Blog
3/24 ~ Review @ Teena in Toronto
3/26 ~ Interview & Showcase @ CMash Reads
3/28 ~ Guest Post & Showcase @ Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
4/01 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
4/10 ~ Guest Post @ Writers and Authors
4/16 ~ Review @ Mary’s Cup of Tea
5/11 ~ Suspense Magazine Blog Talk Radio
5/16 ~ Review @ Marys Cup of Tea
5/26 ~ Interview @ The Pen and Muse
5/28 ~ Review @ Celtic Lady Reviews

Partners In Crime Tours

PICT buttonPICT was founded in  2011 and is a Virtual Book Tour site that helps new, rising and popular crime/ suspense/ thriller/ mystery authors promote their books in the virtual world. It is always a joy to work with Cheryl and Gina! If you are interested to review books in this genre too, please, feel free to complete the tour host submission form here.

 

Disclaimer

Every (e)book received for review on the tours for Partners In Crime Tours is given in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

FRBT Book Blast: Eden’s Darkness by D.M. Sears

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Book Details

Genre:  Fantasy

Series: Ellethny series #2

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Edens Darkness

Synopsis

What would you do if the person you loved the most became the very thing you were fighting to destroy?
Eden will have to answer that very question before her quest is through. The land she has come to love is at dire risk of being lost to the shadows seeking to consume it. Circenn, now the consort of Darkness, waits to claim her granddaughter and her powers, unaware that Darkness has his own agenda.
He has but little time to obtain his vessel and find his true form. Will he succeed? And will Eden be able to face the disturbing visions that continue to pursue her?
Nightmares will become reality in Eden’s Darkness, Book Two in the Ellethny Series.

Read an Excerpt

“It’s an ambush!” Lex yelled, out of breath yet trying to be loud enough for all to hear. Shadows were coming in waves out of the forest blocking any escape route we may have had.
“Lexington, get behind me!” Val set up a barrier between them and the shades, doing what she could to keep Lex safe this time. “I can only hold this for a few moments. Eden now would be a good time to do something.”
“You got it.”
I took off in a dead run calling up my dragon. Bronze scales covered my body from toes to head; my feathery wings transformed into those of the dragon. As I ascended up into the sky, my body finished changing and I was Ryu, in all her splendor and ferocity. The penumbral outline of my birthmark glowed brightly on my dragon’s forearm. Ryu burst through the sky like liquid bronze bellowing white fire from her mouth.
Be careful my heart.
You be careful. I am safer than you are right now.
You have to keep our daughter safe.
She is fine. Always the worried papa. Let us finish this– I am getting bored.
You would think this kind of excitement would make your evening.
Nah, they need some new tricks, been there done that.
I blew off the situation with my carefree attitude, but deep inside I knew this couldn’t continue. My family and friends were wearing down, and I would be giving birth soon.
Ryu’s vision allowed me to see everything going on at once. The shades I burned were writhing on the ground, screaming a shrill of agony that was deafening. I searched the ground, monitoring my companions. I zeroed in on Maiya pinned by two shadows; a third was working its way towards her. I searched for the closest of my family to go to her aide.
Gregor, Maiya needs help–there are too many shadows attacking her at once. Go to her quickly!
The thought of another person being seriously injured as my uncle had been was not an option.
That will not happen Eden. I will not allow those insects to harm her.
I sent a mental swell of pride at him. My vampire, always so chivalrous.
You are a pleasant distraction my heart, but just now I must stay focused.
Oops.
Gregor raced with blinding speed over to the silver wolf and threw the two shadows back; the crunch of bone against rock gave a sickening echo. Koren saw what was happening and ran at the third, clamping his strong jaws around the shade’s neck, ripping the head from the body. Black ooze splattered from the head as it was severed from the neck. Maiya rolled over onto her feet and sprang at another shadow, never missing a beat, always ready for the next assailant.
I admired my friends and family for fighting with me, for putting their lives in the balance for a cause that was mine.

Author Bio




D.M. Sears lives in Missouri with her daughter and one crazy cat. Her first paranormal fantasy, Eden’s Mark, was recently published by Solstice Publishing. D.M. Sears is a Director of an early childhood center and bakes cupcakes on the side. She loves most genres of books and is currently finishing Book 2 in the Ellethny Series.

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Fabulosity Reads Book Promotions is a book touring website that promotes authors and their precious works to an extensive audience using blogs, twitter, Facebook and other Social Media, with the aim of introducing them to an appreciative readership.

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FRBT Book Blast & Giveaway: Easy Like Sunday Mourning by Jennie Marts

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Book Details

Genre: Romantic Comedy / Women’s Fiction

Series: A Page Turners Novel

Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Date: January 14, 2014

Number of Pages: 295

ASIN: B00HUTZLG2

Purchase Links:   AMAZON

Synopsis

Dating is hard…
Single mom Maggie Hayes puts up a tough front to hide her loneliness, spending her days in the courtroom as a lawyer and her evenings as a closet video gamer. Another heartache isn’t worth the risk, not after her husband left her last year for a Hooters waitress. When she decides to try dating again, a cute video game-designing nerd seems like a safe bet….Until he becomes the prime suspect in a murder.
But falling in love can be murder…
Jeremy Rogers makes a good living designing video games, but nothing prepares him for the real world adventure of being accused of poisoning his own employee. Add in falling for a sassy attorney with a competitive ex-husband, a clingy blonde coworker, and a mammoth-size dog that eats his furniture. Suddenly fighting off a screen full of zombies or preventing an alien invasion seems like child’s play.
Game over!
Maggie and Jeremy find themselves embroiled in a game of death threats, lies, and betrayal. Maggie must learn to trust again while playing the most dangerous game of all. Because defeat could mean not only losing her heart, but also her life…
Revisit the quaint Colorado town of Pleasant Valley and sit in with the Page Turners Book Club, a group of book-loving women who double as extremely amateur detectives. Join them as they set out to help their friend, while devouring good literature and some really great desserts.

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Read an Excerpt

“Hey, gals,” Maggie said on a rush of air as Edna threw her arms around her in a theatrical embrace. Maggie gave her a quick squeeze, the smell of lavender and vanilla filling the air as she nestled her chin in the cloud of Edna’s silver curls. Mabel reached out and squeezed Maggie’s hand.
Jeremy seemed to be pleased by the appearance of the two geriatric Nancy Drews, but Maggie’s eyes narrowed with suspicion at Edna. “It’s amazing how you always seem to be in the middle of whatever excitement is going on.”
Edna shrugged and gave her a look of mock innocence. “You know me, honey, if there’s a pile of trouble somewhere, I’ll find a way to step in it.”
Mabel cackled at Edna’s joke, then her laugh turned into a phlegmy smoker’s cough, and Edna turned to slap her on the back. “You’ve got to give up those cancer sticks,” she said in between slaps.
“Ahh, bite me,” wheezed Mabel. “I’m gonna die anyway.”
Ignoring the drama of the elderly women, Maggie pulled on Edna’s sleeve. “Who is that guy you were talking to? And what did you find out?” Regardless of her knack for finding trouble, Edna was good at ferreting out information and could usually be counted on to know the inside scoop.
“Do they know what happened to Jim?” Jeremy absently rubbed his tiny grandmother’s back, used to her frequent coughing fits.
Edna whipped out her notebook, holding it within inches of her nose. “Well, I haven’t had a chance to gather too much information, since we just got here and they won’t let us too close to the crime scene. I’m sure they’re dusting for prints and gathering DNA evidence. The evidence always tells the true story, you know.”
“OMG,” Maggie said, mimicking one of her son’s favorite terms. She tried to control her eyes from rolling into the back of her head as she listened to Edna’s CSI-esque interpretation of the scene. “What do you actually know?”
Edna huffed and lowered her voice. “Well, we know a man was murdered here.”
“Oh my gosh. You think? Maybe you should open your own ladies’ detective agency.”



Author Bio

Jennie Marts loves to make readers laugh as she weaves stories filled with love, friendship and intrigue. She’s the author of the Kindle Bestselling romantic comedy, Another Saturday Night and I Ain’t Got No Body. Reviewers call her book “laugh out loud” funny and full of great characters that are “endearing and relatable.”

She writes from the mountains of Colorado where she lives with her husband, two sons, a parakeet, and a golden retriever named Cooper. Jennie enjoys being a member of (RWA) Romance Writers of America, the Pikes Peak Chapter of RWA, and Pikes Peak Writers.

Jennie is addicted to Diet Coke and adores Cheetos. She loves playing volleyball and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes or friends.

Catch Up With The Author: Website, FacebookTwitter.


Fabulosity Reads Book Promotions is a book touring website that promotes authors and their precious works to an extensive audience using blogs, twitter, Facebook and other Social Media, with the aim of introducing them to an appreciative readership.

They offer a diverse range of both complimentary and affordable products to help the reach of your book go that much further.

PICT Book Blast & Giveaway: Confession by Carey Baldwin

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Confession

by Carey Baldwin

BOOK BLAST on March 11th

on Tour April 2014

Confession-Carey-Baldwin-cover

***GIVEAWAY***

of One (1) E-book Copy of Confession for BlueFire Reader App

***Worldwide***

HONOR POLICY: One winning book per household. Please notify me (hotchpotchblog @ gmail.com) if you have won this book from another site, so that someone else may have the chance to win and read this book. Thank you!

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Book Details

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Suspense

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: March 11, 2014

Number of Pages: 384

ISBN: 9780062314109 / 0062314106

Purchase Links:

Synopsis

For fans of Allison Brennan and Karen Rose comes Carey Baldwin, a daring new name in suspense, with the story of a serial killer out for blood—and the only woman who can stop his reign of terror.

They say the Santa Fe Saint comes to save your soul—by taking your life.

Newly minted psychiatrist Faith Clancy gets the shock of her life when her first patient confesses to the grisly Saint murders. By law she’s compelled to notify the authorities, but is her patient really The Saint? Or will she contribute to more death by turning the wrong man over to the police?

Faith is going to need all her wits and the help of a powerful adversary, Luke Jericho, if she’s to unravel the truth. But she doesn’t realize she’s about to become an unwitting pawn in a serial killer’s diabolical game: For once he’s finished with Faith, she’ll become his next victim.

Read an excerpt

Author Bio

Carey Baldwin is a mild-mannered doctor by day and an award-winning author of edgy suspense by night. She holds two doctoral degrees, one in medicine and one in psychology. She loves reading and writing stories that keep you off balance and on the edge of your seat. Carey lives in the southwestern United States with her amazing family. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and chasing wildflowers.

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Prologue

Saint Catherine’s School for Boys
Near Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ten years ago—Friday, August 15, 11:00 P.M.
I’M NOT afraid of going to hell. Not one damn bit.

We’re deep in the woods, miles from the boys’ dormitory, and my thighs are burning because I walked all this way with Sister Bernadette on my back. Now I’ve got her laid out on the soggy ground underneath a hulking ponderosa pine. A bright rim of moonlight encircles her face. Black robes flow around her, engulfing her small body and blending with the night. Her face, floating on top of all that darkness, reminds me of a ghost-head in a haunted house—but she’s not dead.

Not yet.

My cheek stings where Sister scratched me. I wipe the spot with my sleeve and sniff the air soaked with rotting moss, sickly-sweet pine sap and fresh piss. I pissed myself when I clubbed her on the head with that croquet mallet. Ironic, since my pissing problem is why I picked Sister Bernadette in the first place. She ought to have left that alone.

I hear a gurgling noise.

Good.

Sister Bernadette is starting to come around.

This is what I’ve been waiting for.

With her rosary wound tightly around my forearm, the grooves of the carved sandalwood beads cutting deep into the flesh of my wrist, I squat down on rubber legs, shove my hands under her armpits and drag her into a sitting position against the fat tree trunk. Her head slumps forward, but I yank her by the hair until her face tilts up, and her cloudy eyes open to meet mine. Her lips are moving. Syllables form within the bubbles coming out of her mouth. I press my stinging cheek against her cold, sticky one.

Like a lover, she whispers in my ear, “God is merciful.”

The nuns have got one fucked-up idea of mercy.

“Repent.” She’s gasping. “Heaven…”

“I’m too far gone for heaven.”

The God I know is just and fierce and is never going to let a creep like me through the pearly gates because I say a few Hail Marys. “God metes out justice, and that’s how I know I will not be going to heaven.”

To prove my point, I draw back, pull out my pocketknife, and press the silver blade against her throat. Tonight, I am more than a shadow. A shadow can’t feel the weight of the knife in his palm. A shadow can’t shiver in anticipation. A shadow is not to be feared, but I am not a shadow. Not in this moment.

She moves her lips some more, but this time, no sound comes out. I can see in her eyes what she wants to say to me. Don’t do it. You’ll go to hell.

I twist the knife so that the tip bites into the sweet hollow of her throat. “I’m not afraid of going to hell.”

It’s the idea of purgatory that makes my teeth hurt and my stomach cramp and my shit go to water. I mean what if my heart isn’t black enough to guarantee me a passage straight to hell? What if God slams down his gavel and says, Son, you’re a sinner, but I have to take your family situation into account. That’s a mitigating circumstance.

A single drop of blood drips off my blade like a tear.

“What if God sends me to purgatory?” My words taste like puke on my tongue. “I’d rather dangle over a fiery pit for eternity than spend a single day of the afterlife in a place like this one.”

I watch a spider crawl across her face.

My thoughts crawl around my brain like that spider.

You could make a pretty good case, I think, that St. Catherine’s School for Boys is earth’s version of purgatory. I mean, it’s a place where you don’t exist. A place where no one curses you, but no one loves you either. Sure, back home, your father hits you and calls you a bastard, but you are a bastard, so its okay he calls you one. Behind me, I hear the sound of rustling leaves and cast a glance over my shoulder.

Do it! You want to get into hell, don’t you?

I turn back to sister and flick the spider off her cheek.

The spider disappears, but I’m still here.

At St. Catherine’s no one notices you enough to knock you around. Every day is the same as the one that came before it, and the one that’s coming after. At St. Catherine’s you wait and wait for your turn to leave, only guess what, you dumb-ass bastard, your turn is never going to come, because you, my friend, are in purgatory, and you can’t get out until you repent.

Sister Bernadette lets out another gurgle.

I spit right in her face.

I won’t repent, and I can’t bear to spend eternity in purgatory, which is I why I came up with a plan. A plan that’ll rocket me straight past purgatory, directly to hell.

Sister Bernadette is the first page of my blueprint. I have the book to guide me the rest of the way. For her sake, not mine, I make the sign of the cross.

She’s not moving, but her eyes are open, and I hear her breathing. I want her to know she is going to die. “You are going to help me get into hell. In return, I will help you get into heaven.”

I shake my arm and loosen the rosary. The strand slithers down my wrist. One bead after another drops into my open palm, electrifying my skin at the point of contact. My blood zings through me, like a high-voltage current. I am not a shadow.

A branch snaps, making my hands shake with the need to hurry.

What are you waiting for my friend?

Is Sister Bernadette afraid?

She has to be. Hungry for her fear, I squeeze my thighs together, and then I push my face close and look deep in her eyes.

“The blood of the lamb will wash away your sins.” She gasps, and her eyes roll back. “Repent.”

My heart slams shut.

I begin the prayers.
Chapter One

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Present Day—Saturday, July 20, 1:00 P.M.

Man, she’s something.

Luke Jericho halted mid-stride, and the sophisticated chatter around him dimmed to an indistinct buzz. Customers jamming the art gallery had turned the air hot, and the aromas of perfume and perspiration clashed. His gaze sketched the cut muscles of the woman’s shoulders before swerving to the tantalizing V of her low-back dress. There, slick fabric met soft skin just in time to hide the thong she must be wearing. His fingers found the cold silk knot of his tie and worked it loose. He let his glance dot down the line of her spine, then swoop over the arc of her ass. It was the shimmer of Mediterranean-blue satin, illuminated beneath art lights, that had first drawn his eye, her seductive shape that had pulled him up short, but it was her stance—her pose—that had his blood expanding like hot mercury under glass.

Head tilted, front foot cocked back on its stiletto, the woman studied one of Luke’s favorite pieces—his brother Dante’s mixed-media. A piece Luke had hand-selected and quietly inserted into this show of local artists in the hopes a positive response might bolster his brother’s beleaguered self-esteem.

The woman couldn’t take her eyes off the piece, and he couldn’t take his eyes off the woman. Her right arm floated, as if she were battling the urge to reach out and touch the multi-textured painting. Though her back was to him, he could picture her face, pensive, enraptured. Her lips would be parted and sensual. He savored the swell of her bottom beneath the blue dress. Given the way the fabric clung to her curves, he’d obviously guessed right about the thong. She smoothed the satin with her hand, and he rubbed the back of his neck with his palm. Ha. Any minute now she’d turn and ruin his fantasy with what was sure to turn out to be the most ordinary mug in the room.

And then she did turn, and damned if her mug wasn’t ordinary at all, but she didn’t appear enraptured. Inquisitive eyes, with a distinct undercurrent of melancholy, searched the room and found him. Then, delicate brows raised high, her mouth firmed into a hard line—even thinned, her blood-red lips were temptation itself—she jerked to a rigid posture and marched, yeah, marched, straight at him.

Hot ass. Great mouth. Damn lot of nerve.

“I could feel your stare,” she said.

“Kind of full of yourself, honey.”

A flush of scarlet flared across her chest, leading his attention to her lovely, natural breasts, mostly, but not entirely, concealed by a classic neckline. With effort, he raised his eyes to meet hers. Green. Skin, porcelain. Hair, fiery—like her cheeks—and flowing. She looked like a mermaid. Not the soft kind, the kind with teeth.

“I don’t like to be ogled.” Apparently she intended to stand her ground.

He decided to stand his as well. That low-back number she had on might be considered relatively tame in a room with more breasts on display than a Picasso exhibit, but there was something about the way she wore it. “Then you shouldn’t have worn that dress, darlin’.”

Her brow arched higher in challenge. “Which is it? Honey or darlin’?”

“Let’s go with honey. You look sweet.” Not at the moment she didn’t, but he’d sure like to try and draw the sugar out of her. This woman was easily as interesting and no less beautiful than his best gallery piece, and she didn’t seem to be reacting to him per the usual script. He noticed his hand floating up, reaching out, just as her hand had reached for the painting. Like his mesmerizing customer, he knew better than to touch the display, but it was hard to resist the urge.

Her body drew back, and her shoulders hunched. “You’re aware there’s a serial killer on the loose?”

Luke, you incredible ass.

No wonder she didn’t appreciate his lingering looks. Every woman he knew was on full alert. The Jericho charm might or might not be able to get him out of this one, but he figured she was worth a shot. “Here, in this gallery? In broad daylight?” He searched the room with his gaze and made his tone light. “Or are you saying you don’t like being sized up for the kill?” He patted his suit pockets, made a big show of it and then stroked his chin thoughtfully. “I seem to have misplaced my rosary somewhere, I don’t suppose you’ve seen it?”

Her shoulders eased back to a natural position.

“Seriously, do I look like someone who’d be called The Saint?”

If the glove doesn’t fit…

Her lips threatened to curve up at the corners. “No. I don’t suppose you do.” Another beat, and then her smile bloomed in earnest. “Looking a little is one thing, maybe it’s even flattering…but you seem to have exceeded your credit line.”

He turned his palms up. “Then I’d like to apply for an increase.”

At that, her pretty head tipped back, and she laughed, a big genuine laugh. It was the kind of laugh that was a touch too hearty for a polished society girl, which perhaps she wasn’t after all. It was also the kind of laugh he’d like to hear again. Of its own accord, his hand found his heart. “Listen, I’m honest-to-God sorry if I spooked you. That wasn’t my intention.”

Her expression was all softness now.

“Do you like the painting?” he asked, realizing that he cared more than he should about the answer.

“It’s quite…dark.” Her bottom lip shivered with the last word, and he could sense she found Dante’s painting disturbing.

Always on the defensive where his brother was concerned, his back stiffened. He tugged at his already loosened tie. “Artists are like that. I don’t judge them.”

“Of course. I-I wasn’t judging the artist. I was merely making an observation about the painting. It’s expressive, beautiful.”

Relaxing his stance, he pushed a hand through his hair.

She pushed a hand through her hair, and then her glance found her fancy-toed shoes. “Maybe I overreacted, maybe you weren’t even staring.”

Giving in to the urge to touch, he reached out and tilted her chin up until their eyes met. “I’m Luke Jericho, and you had it right the first time. I was staring. I was staring at—” He barely had time to register a startled flash of her green eyes before she turned on her heel and disappeared into the throng of gallery patrons.

He shrugged and said to the space where her scent still sweetened the air, “I was staring at your fascination. Your fascination fascinates me.”

Saturday, July 20, 1:30 P.M.

Faith Clancy strode across her nearly naked office and tossed her favorite firelight macaron clutch onto her desk. After rushing out of the gallery, she’d come to her office to regroup, mainly because it was nearby.

She could hear Ma’s voice now, see her wagging finger. “Luke Jericho? Sure’an you’ve gone and put your wee Irish foot in the stewpot now, Faith.”

Well, it was only a tiny misstep—what harm could possibly come of it? She braced her palms against the windowsill. Teeth clenched, she heaved with all her might until wood screeched against wood and the window lurched open.

A full inch.

Swell.

Summers in Santa Fe were supposed to be temperate, and she hadn’t invested in an air conditioner for her new office. She sucked in a deep breath, but the currentless summer air brought little relief from the heat. Lifting her hair off the back of her damp neck with one hand, she reached over and dialed on the big standing fan next to the desk with the other. The dinosaur whirred to life without a hiccup.

That made one thing gone right today.

The relaxing Saturday afternoon she’d been looking forward to all week had been derailed, thanks to Luke Jericho. Okay, that wasn’t even half fair. In reality, the wheels of her day had never touched down on the track to begin with. She’d awakened this morning with a knot in her stomach and an ache in her heart—missing Danny and Katie.

Walk it off, she’d thought. Dress up. Take in the sights. Act like you’re part of the Santa Fe scene and soon enough you will be. Determined to forget the homesick rumbling in her chest, Faith had plucked a confidence boosting little number from her closet, slipped on a pair of heels and headed out to mingle with polite society. Even if she didn’t feel like she fit in, at least she would look the part. But the first gallery she’d entered, she’d dunked her foot in the stewpot—crossing swords with, and then, even worse, flirting with the brother of a patient.

Rather bad luck considering she had just one patient.

Her toe started to tap.

Her gaze swept the office and landed on the only adornment of the freshly-painted walls—her diplomas and certificates, arranged in an impressive display with her psychiatric board certification center stage. A Yale-educated doctor. Ma and Da would’ve been proud, even if they might’ve clucked their tongues at the psychiatrist part. She blinked until her vision cleared. It wasn’t only Danny and Katie she was missing today.

She kicked off her blasted shoes and shook off her homesick blues…only to find her mind returning to the gallery and her encounter with a man who was strictly off limits.

There was no point chastising herself for walking into the art gallery in the first place, or for refusing to pretend she didn’t notice the man who was eyeing her like she was high tea in a whorehouse, and he a starving sailor.

Care for a macaron, sir?

Had she realized her admirer was Luke Jericho, she would’ve walked away without confronting him, but how was she to know him by sight? It wasn’t as if she spent her spare time flipping through photos of town royalty in the society pages.

She’d recognized his name instantly, however, and not only because she was treating his half-brother, Dante. The Jericho family had a sprawling ranch outside town and an interest in a number of local businesses. But most of their wealth, she’d heard, came from oil. The Jerichos, at least the legitimate ones, had money. Barrels and barrels of it.

Luke’s name was on the lips of every unattached female in town—from the clerk at the local Shop and Save to the debutant docent at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum:

Single.

Handsome.

Criminally rich.

Luke Jericho, they whispered.

When she’d turned to find him watching her, his heated gaze had caused her very bones to sizzle. Luke had stood formidably tall, dressed in an Armani suit that couldn’t hide his rancher’s physique. The gallery lights seemed to spin his straw-colored hair into gold and ignite blue fire in his eyes. She could still feel his gaze raking over her in that casual way, as if he didn’t wish to conceal his appetites. It was easy to see how some women might become undone in his presence. She eased closer to the fan.

“Dr. Clancy.”

That low male voice gave her a fizzy, sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, like she’d just downed an Alka-Seltzer on top of the flu. When you’re all alone in a room, and someone else speaks, it’s just plain creepy.

It only took a millisecond to recognize the voice, but at a time when someone dubbed The Santa Fe Saint was on a killing spree, that was one millisecond too long. Icy tendrils of fear wrapped themselves around her chest, squeezing until it hurt her heart to go on beating. The cold certainty that things were not as they should be made the backs of her knees quiver. Then recognition kicked in, and her breath released in a whoosh.

It’s only Dante.

She pasted on a neutral expression and turned to face him. How’d he gotten in? The entrance was locked; she was certain of it.

“Did I frighten you?”

She inclined her head toward the front door to her office, which was indeed locked, and said, “Next time, Dante, I’d prefer you use the main entrance…and knock.”

“I came in the back.”

That much was obvious now that she’d regained her wits. “That’s my private entrance. It’s not intended for use by patients.” Stupid of her to leave it unlocked, but it was midday and she hadn’t expected an ambush.

To buy another moment to compose herself, she went to her bookcase and inspected its contents. Toward the middle, Freud’s “Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis” leaned haphazardly in the direction of its opponent, Skinner’s “Behavior Therapy”. A paperback version of “A Systems Approach to Family Therapy” had fallen flat, not quite bridging the gap between the warring classics.

Dante crossed the distance between them, finishing directly in front of her, invading her personal space. “Quite right. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

She caught a blast of breath, pungent and wrong—a Listerine candle floating in a jar of whiskey. In self-defense, she took a step back before looking up at her patient’s face. Dante possessed his brother’s intimidating height, but unlike Luke, his hair was jet black, and his coal-colored eyes were so dark it was hard to distinguish the pupil from the iris. Despite Dante’s dark complexion and the roughness of his features—he had a previously broken nose and a shiny pink scar that gashed across his cheekbone into his upper lip—there was a distinct family resemblance between the Jericho brothers. Luke was the fair-haired son to Dante’s black sheep, and even their respective phenotypes fit the cliche.

Dante took a step forward.

She took another deep step back, bumping her rear-end against wood. With one hand she reached behind her and felt for the smooth rim of her desktop. With the other hand, she put up a stop sign. “Stay right where you are.”

He halted, and she edged her way behind her desk, using it as a barrier between herself and Dante. Maybe she should advise him to enroll in a social skills class since he didn’t seem to realize how uncomfortable he was making her. Though she knew full well Dante wasn’t on her schedule today—no one was on her schedule today—she powered on her computer. “Hang on a second while I check my calendar.”

“All right.” At least he had the courtesy to play along.

When he rested his hand on her desk, she noticed he was carrying a folded newspaper. She’d already seen today’s headline, and it had given her the shivers. “Any minute now.” She signaled to Dante with an upheld index finger.

He nodded, and, in what seemed an eternity of time, her computer finished booting. She navigated from the welcome screen to her schedule, and then in a firm, matter-of-fact voice, she told him, “I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake. Your appointment isn’t until Monday at four pm.”

As he took another step closer, a muscle twitched in his jaw. He didn’t seem to care when his appointment was. Gesturing toward the leather armchair on the patient side of her desk, she fended him off. “Have a seat right there.” If she could get him to sit down, maybe she could gain control of the situation; she really ought to hear him out long enough to make sure this wasn’t some sort of emergency.

Dante didn’t sit. Instead, from across the desk, his body inclined forward. Her throat went dry, and her speeding pulse signaled a warning. If this were an emergency, he most likely would have tried to contact her through her answering service, besides which, he’d had plenty of time already to mention anything urgent. He must’ve known he didn’t have an appointment today, so what the hell was he doing here on a Saturday?

Dante had no reason at all to expect her to be here. In fact, the more she thought about it, the less sense his presence made. Pulling her shoulders back, she said, “I am sorry, but you need to leave. You’ll have to come back on Monday at four.”

The scar tissue above his mouth tugged his features into a menacing snarl. “I saw you talking to my brother.”

He’d followed her from the art gallery.

Even though Dante’s primary diagnosis was schizotypal personality disorder, there was a paranoid component present, exacerbated by a sense of guilt and a need to compensate for feelings of inferiority. His slip and slide grip on reality occasionally propelled him into a near delusional state. She could see him careening into a dark well of anxiety now, and she realized she needed to reassure him she wasn’t colluding with his half-brother against him. “I wasn’t talking to your brother about you. In fact, I didn’t have any idea I had wandered into your brother’s art gallery until he…introduced himself.”

“I don’t believe you.”

As fast as her heart was galloping, she managed a controlled reply. “That hardly bodes well for our relationship as doctor and patient, does it? But the truth is, we were discussing a painting.”

“Discussing my painting, discussing me, same difference.”

His painting?

That bit of information did nothing to diminish her growing sense of apprehension. That painting had had a darkness in it like nothing she’d ever seen before. A darkness that had captivated her attention, daring her to unravel its mysterious secrets.

Then Dante dropped into the kind of predatory crouch that would’ve made a kitten roll over and play dead.

But she wasn’t a kitten.

Defiantly, she exhaled slow and easy. If she didn’t know better, she’d think Dante was intentionally trying to frighten her. “I’m happy to see you during your regular hour, and we can schedule more frequent sessions if need be, but for now, I’m afraid it’s time for you to go.”

He returned to a stand. “You’re here all alone today.”

A shudder swept across her shoulders. He was right. No one else was in the building. She shared a secretary with an aesthetician down the hall, and today Stacy hadn’t been at her post. The aesthetician usually worked Saturday mornings, but she must’ve finished for the day and gone home. Home was where Faith wanted to go right now. She wished she’d kept her clutch in hand. Her phone was in that clutch. “We’ll work on that trust issue on Monday.”

With Dante’s gaze tracking hers, her eyes fell on her lovely macaron bag, lying on the desktop near his fingertips. He lifted the clutch as if to offer it to her, but then drew his hand back and stroked the satin shell against his face.

The room suddenly seemed too small. “I don’t mean to be unkind. We’ve been working hard these past few weeks and making good progress up to this point, and I’d hate to have to refer you to another psychiatrist, but I will if I have to.” She paused for breath.

“You’re barefoot.” Slowly, he licked his lower lip.

Feeling as vulnerable as if she were standing before him bare-naked instead of bare-footed, she slipped back into her shoes. Jerking a glance around the room, she cursed herself for furnishing the place so sparsely, as if she didn’t plan on staying in Santa Fe long. It wasn’t like she had anywhere else to call home anymore, and now here she stood without so much as a paperweight to conk someone on the head with if…The window was open, at least she could scream for help if necessary. “We’re done here.”

“I’m not leaving, Dr. Clancy.” He opened her purse, removed her cell and slid it into his pants pocket, then dropped her purse on the floor.

Her stomach got fizzy again, and she gripped the edge of her desk. Screaming didn’t seem like the most effective plan. It might destabilize him and cause him to do something they’d both regret. For now at least, a better plan was to stay calm and listen. If she could figure out what was going on inside his head, maybe she could stay a step ahead of him and diffuse the situation before it erupted into a full-scale nightmare. “Give me back my phone, and then we can talk.”

Here came that involuntary snarl of his. “No phone. And I’m not leaving until I’ve done what I came here to do.” Carefully unfolding the newspaper he’d brought with him, he showed her the headline:
Santa Fe Saint Claims Fourth Victim.

Find other participants of the Book Blast here!

April Tour Participants:

4/03 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Hott Books
4/04 ~ Review & Giveaway @ A Bookish Girl
4/08 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Words by Webb
4/10 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Lazy Day Books
4/12 ~ Interview @ The Book Divas Reads
4/14 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
4/16 ~ Showcase @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
4/18 ~ Review & Guest Post @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
4/21 ~ Guest Post @ Deal Sharing Aunt
4/24 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Once Upon A TIme
4/30 ~ Interview @ The Opinionated Me

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PICT Book Review: Beyond Justice by Joshua Graham

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Beyond Justice

by Joshua Graham

on Tour February 1 – March 31, 2014

Book Details

Genre: Thriller (Christian)
Published by: Dawn Treader Press
Publication Date: July 2010
Number of Pages: 430
ISBN: 978-0-9844526-0-6
Purchase Links:

Synopsis

THE DESCENT INTO HELL IS NOT ALWAYS VERTICAL…

Beyond-Justice-Joshua-Graham-CoverSam Hudson, a reputable San Diego attorney, learns this when the authorities wrongfully convict him of the brutal rape and murder of his wife and daughter, and sends him to death row. There he awaits execution by lethal injection.

If he survives that long.

In prison, Sam fights for his life while his attorney works frantically on his appeal. It is then that he embraces the faith of his departed wife and begins to manifest supernatural abilities. Abilities which help him save lives- his own, those of his unlikely allies-and uncover the true killer’s identity, unlocking the door to his exoneration.

Now a free man, Sam’s newfound faith confronts him with the most insurmountable challenge yet. A challenge beyond vengeance, beyond rage, beyond anything Sam believes himself capable of: to forgive the very man who murdered his family, according to his faith. But this endeavor reveals darker secrets than either Sam or the killer could ever have imagined. Secrets that hurtle them into a fateful collision course.

BEYOND JUSTICE, a tale of loss, redemption, and the power of faith.

“…A riveting legal thriller…. breaking new ground with a vengeance… demonically entertaining and surprisingly inspiring.”

My Review

Beyond Justice is a very apt title in more ways than one. Of course there is the legal part of justice, or in this case, injustice, when Sam is convicted of crimes he did not commit. We follow him through the trial and his prison stay – making for a roller coaster of emotions, especially when you throw in his young son in coma at the hospital. The sheer injustice of it all is hard to swallow.

The title also refers to the issue of Biblical justice – and linked with that the issue of forgiveness, on the human level and by God Himself, a view that goes way beyond the earthly justice system.

The author has certainly taken an extreme situation to show the view of his faith.  There is quite some evangelical lingo and several supernatural ways that God speaks to Sam that are rather unusual. Despite all that, the issue he raises is an interesting one, and I like the ending very much, in all it’s grit and glory. It gives you food for thought, which I rather like as an added bonus to a thriller.

This book might not be for everyone, because it deals with a distinctly christian theme. However, for those with open minds it will certainly give you something extra to think about.

A gripping story that will keep you captivated till the – unexpected – end!

Read an Excerpt

The descent into Hell is not always vertical. Bishop Frank MorganPART I

Chapter One

THE QUESTION MOST PEOPLE ASK when they first meet me is: How does an attorney from a reputable law firm in La Jolla end up on death row? When they hear my story, it becomes clear that the greater question is not how, but why.
I have found it difficult at times to forgive myself for what happened. But a significant part of the answer involves forgiveness, something I never truly understood until I could see in hindsight.
Orpheus went through hell and back to rescue his wife Euridice from death in the underworld. Through his music, he moved the hearts of Hades and Persephone and they agreed to allow Euridice to return with him to Earth on one condition: He must walk before her and not look back until they reached the upper world. On seeing the Sun, Orpheus turned to share his delight with Euridice, and she disappeared. He had broken his promise and she was gone forever. This failure and guilt was a hell far worse than the original.
My own personal hell began one night almost four years ago. Like images carved into flesh, the memories of that night would forever be etched into my mind. The work day had been tense enough”my position at the firm was in jeopardy because of the inexplicable appearance of lewd internet images in my folder on the main file server.
Later that night, as I scrambled to get out the door on time for a critical meeting with a high profile client, my son Aaron began throwing a screaming fit. Hell hath no fury like a boy who has lost his Thomas Train toy. In my own frenzied state, I lost my temper with him. Amazing how much guilt a four-year-old can pile on you with puppy-dog eyes while clinging to his mother’s legs. His sister Bethie, in all her seventh grade sagacity, proclaimed that I had issues, then marched up to her room, slammed the door and took out her frustration with me by tearing though a Paganini Caprice on her violin. All this apocalypse just minutes before leaving for my meeting, which was to be held over a posh dinner at George’s At The Cove, which I would consequently have no stomach for.
I couldn’t wait to get home. The clock’s amber LED read 11:28 when I pulled my Lexus into the cul-de-sac. Pale beams from a pregnant moon cut through the palm trees that lined our street. The October breeze rushed into the open window and through my hair, a cool comfort after a miserable evening.
If I was lucky, Jenn would be up and at the computer, working on her latest novel. She’d shooed me out the door lest I ran late for the meeting, before I could make any more of a domestic mess for her to clean up.
The garage door came down. I walked over to the security system control box and found it unarmed. On more than one occasion, I had asked Jenn to arm it whenever I was out. She agreed, but complained that the instructions were too complicated. It came with a pretty lame manual, I had to admit.
The system beeped as I entered the house, greeted by the sweet scent of Lilac”her favorite candles for those special occasions. So much more than I deserved, but that was my Jenn. Never judging, never condemning, she understood how much stress I’d been under and always prescribed the best remedy for such situations.
From the foot of the stairs I saw dimmed light leaking out of the bedroom. It wasn’t even date night, but I had a pretty good idea what she was thinking. So before going up, I stopped by the kitchen, filled a pair of glasses with Merlot and set out a little box of chocolates on a breakfast tray”my secret weapon.
As I climbed the stairs I smiled. The closer I got, the more I could smell the fragrant candles. From the crack in the door classical music flowed out: Pie Jesu from Faure’s Requiem. Must’ve been writing a love scene. She always used my classical CDs to set her in the right mood.
A beam of amber light reached through the crack in the doorway into the hallway. The alarm system beeped. She must have shut a window. It had just started to rain and Jenn hated when the curtains got wet.
Kathleen Battle’s angelic voice soared.
Pie Jesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem,
Requiem sempiternam.
Jenn didn’t know a word of Latin. She just liked the pretty tunes.
I nudged the door open with my foot.
“Honey?” Caught a glimpse of a silky leg on the bed. Oh, yes. I pushed the door open.
Shock ignited every nerve ending in my body like napalm. The tray fell from my hands. Crashed to the ground. Glasses shattered and the red wine bled darkly onto the carpet.
Jenn lay partially naked, face-down, the sheets around her soaked crimson. Stab wounds scored her entire body. Blood. Blood everywhere!
“Jenn!”
I ran to her, turned her over.
She gasped, trying to speak. Coughed. Red spittle dripped from the corner of her mouth. “The kids…”
I took her into my arms. But her eyes begged me to go check on them.
“You hang on, honey. With all you’ve got, hang on!” I reached for my cell phone but it fell out of my belt clip and bounced under the bed.
On my knees now, I groped wildly until I found the cell phone. Dialed 9-1-1. Barely remembered what I said, but they were sending someone right away.
Jenn groaned. Her breaths grew shorter and shorter.
“Bethie… Aaron.”
Her eyes rolled back.
“I’m going. Hang on, baby. Please! You gotta hang on!” I started for the door. Felt her hand squeeze mine twice: Love-you.
No.
Tears streamed down my face. As I began to pull away, she gripped my hand urgently. For that split second, I knew. This was the end. I stumbled back to her. Gathered her ragdoll body in to my arms.
“Jenn, oh God, Jenn. Please don’t!”
“Whatever it takes,” she said. Again, she squeezed my hand twice. “Mercy, not…sacrifice. One last gasp. She sighed and then fell limp in my arms, her eyes still open.
Holding her tight to my chest, I let out an anguished cry.
All time stopped. Who would do this? Why? Her blood stained my shirt. Her dying words resonated in my mind. Then I remembered. The kids. I bolted up and ran straight to Bethie’s room.
Bethie’s door was ajar. If my horror hadn’t been complete, it was now. I found her exactly like Jenn”face down, blood and gashes covering her body.
Though I tried to cry out, nothing escaped the vice-grip on my throat. When I turned her over, I felt her arm. Still warm, but only slightly. Her eyes were shut, her face wet with blood.
“Bethie! Oh, sweetie, no!” I whispered, as I wrapped the blanket around her.
I kissed her head. Held her hand. Rocked her back and forth. “Come on, baby girl. Help’s on its way, you hold on,” I said, voice and hands trembling. She lay there unconscious but breathing.
Aaron.
Gently, I lay Bethie back down then got up and flew across the hall. To Aaron’s door. His night light was still on and I saw his outline in the bed.
Oh God, please.
I flipped the switch.
Nothing.
I dashed over to the lamp on his nightstand, nearly slipping on one of his Thomas Train toys on the carpet. Broken glass crackled under my shoes.
I switched on the lamp on his nightstand. When I looked down to his bed, my legs nearly gave out. Aaron was still under his covers, but blood drenched his pillow. His aluminum baseball bat lay on the floor, dented and bloodied.
Dropping to my knees, I called his name. Over and over, I called, but he didn’t stir. This can’t be happening. It’s got to be a nightmare. I put my face down into Aaron’s blue Thomas Train blanket and gently rested my ear on his chest.
I felt movement under the blanket. Breathing. But slowly”irregular and shallow.
Don’t move his body. Dammit, where are the paramedics?
I heard something from Bethie’s room and dashed out the door. Stopping in the middle of the hallway, I clutched the handrail over the stairs. Thought I heard Aaron crying now. Or maybe it was the wind.
My eyes darted from one side of the hallway to the other. Which room?
Faure’s Requiem continued to play, now the In Paradisum movement.
Aeternam habeas requiem.
Something out in front of the house caught my attention. The police, the paramedics! Propelled by adrenaline, I crashed through the front door and ran out into the middle my lawn which was slick with rain. I slipped and fell on my side.
Nobody. Where were they!
Like a madman, I began screaming at the top of my lungs. My words echoed emptily into the night.
“Help! Somebody, please!”
A dog started barking.
“Please, ANYBODY! HELP!”
Lights flickered on in the surrounding houses.
Eyes peeked through miniblinds.
No one came out.
I don’t know if I was intelligible at this point. I was just screaming, collapsed onto the ground, on my hands and knees getting drenched in the oily rain.
Just as the crimson beacons of an ambulance flashed around the corner, I buried my face into the grass. All sound, light, and consciousness imploded into my mind as if it were a black hole.

Author Bio

Josh grew up in Brooklyn, NY where he lived for the better part of 30 years. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree and went on to earn his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. During his time in Maryland, he taught as a professor at Shepherd College (WV), Western Maryland College, and Columbia Union College (MD).

Today he lives with his beautiful wife and children on the West Coast. Several of Graham’s short fiction works have been published under various pen names by Pocket Books and Dawn Treader Press.Writing under the pen name Ian Alexander, Graham debuted with his first Epic Fantasy novel ONCE WE WERE KINGS, an Amazon #1 Bestseller in multiple categories and Award-Winning Finalist in multiple categories as well.

BEYOND JUSTICE is  the Winner of the International Book Awards.

Publishers Weekly described BEYOND JUSTICE as: “A riveting legal thriller…breaking new ground with a vengeance…demonically entertaining and surprisingly inspiring.”

Suspense Magazine listed BEYOND JUSTICE in its Best of 2010, alongside titles by Scott Turrow, Ted Dekker, Steven James and Brad Thor.

Many of Graham’s readers blame him for sleepless nights, arriving to work late, neglected dishes and family members, and not allowing them to put the book down.

For Film Rights Josh is represented by UNITED TALENT AGENCY.

Catch Up With the Author:

Other Tour Participants

2/01 Guest Post @ The Book Divas Reads
2/02 ~ Interview @ Starting Fresh blog
2/03 ~ Review @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
2/04 Interview & Showcase~CMash Reads
2/05 ~ Review @ Vics Media Room
2/06 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Reviews From The Heart
2/07 ~ Showcase @ jc-martin – fighterwriter
2/10 ~ Review @ just reviews
2/11 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Mommabears Book Blog
2/12 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Deal Sharing Aunt
2/13 ~ Interview, Review & Giveaway @ The Nook Users Book Club
2/14 ~ Interview @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
2/17 ~ Showcase & Excerpt @ Brooke Blogs
2/18 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
2/24 ~ Review @ Kritters Ramblings
3/01 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Amy {The Crafty Book Nerd}
3/08 ~ Showcase @ Hott Books
3/14 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
3/26 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Celticlady’s Reviews

Partners in Crime Tours

PICT button Founded in 2011, Partners In Crime Tours (PICT) offers virtual book tour services for both well established and best-selling authors, as well as those just starting out with their careers. PICT prides itself on its tailored packages for authors, with a personal touch from the tour coordinators.
It is always a joy to work with Cheryl and Gina! If you are interested to review crime books too, please, feel free to complete the tour host submission form here. I’d be tickled if you’d mention my name! ;-)

Disclaimer

Every (e)book received for review on the tours for Partners In Crime Tours is given in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

PICT Book Review: A Fly Has A Hundred Eyes by Aileen Baron

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A Fly Has a Hundred Eyes

by Aileen Baron

on Tour Feb 1 – 28, 2014

Book Details

Genre: Mystery
Series: Lily Simpson #1
Published by: Aileen Baron
Publication Date: September, 2013
Number of Pages: 217
ISBN:
Mobi: 978-0-578-12887-0
E-Pub: 978-0-578-12888-7
POD: 978-0-578-12956-3
Purchase Links:

Synopsis

In the summer of 1938, Jerusalem is in chaos and the atmosphere teems with intrigue. Terrorists roam the countryside. The British are losing control of Palestine as Europe nervously teeters on the brink of World War II.

A Fly Has A 100 EyesAgainst this backdrop of international tensions, Lily Sampson, an American graduate student, is involved in a dig—an important excavation directed by the eminent British archaeologist, Geoffrey Eastbourne, who is murdered on his way to the opening of the Rockefeller Museum. Artifacts from the dig are also missing, one of which is a beautiful blue glass amphoriskos (a vial about three and a half inches long) which Lily herself had excavated. Upset by this loss, she searches for the vial—enlisting the help of the military attaché of the American consulate.

But when she contacts the British police, they seem evasive and offputting—unable or unwilling either to find the murderer or to look into the theft of the amphoriskos. Lily realizes that she will get no help from them and sets out on her own to find the vial. When she finds the victim’s journal in her tent, she assumes he had left it for her because he feared for his life.

Lily’s adventurous search for information about the murder and the theft of the amphoriskos lead into a labyrinth of danger and intrigue.

This impressive historical mystery novel has already won first place in its category at both the Pikes Peak and Southwest Writers Conferences in 2000.

Review

This is an interesting and enjoyable read. I particularly liked the historical setting of Jerusalem / Israel before the start of the second World War during the British Mandate. To me it seems a very accurate depiction of that time and the author describes the people and the land beautifully.

Also, I enjoyed the archeological side of the story – something else that is of great interest to me.

The mystery part, however, continued to be somewhat mysterious to me, somehow I wasn’t able to figure out what role each character was supposed to play in the whole ordeal. I felt like I missed parts of it, but that of course, can be a very personal issue. I am not really sure what to think of it.

If you like history and / or archeology, it certainly is a nice read and hopefully you do better with the mystery than I did!

Read an excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
Later, Lily would remember the early morning quiet, the shuttered shops in the narrow lanes of the Old City. She would remember that few people were in the streets — bearded Hassidim in fur-trimmed hats and prayer shawls over long black cloaks returning from morning prayer at the Wailing Wall; an occasional shopkeeper sweeping worn cobbles still damp with dew.She would remember the empty bazaar, remember that the peddler who usually sold round Greek bread from his cart near Jaffa Gate was gone.She would remember the crowd of young Arabs, their heads covered with checkered black and white kefiyas, waiting in the shade of the Grand New Hotel, leaning against the façade, sitting on window ledges near the entrance; remember them crowded under Jaffa Gate in a space barely wide enough to drive through with a cart, standing beneath the medieval arches and crenellated ramparts, faces glum, arms crossed against their chests, rifles slung across their backs, revolvers jammed into their belts. One wore a Bedouin knife, its tin scabbard encrusted with bright bits of broken glass. Only their eyes moved as they watched her pass. Lily remembered holding her breath, pushing her way through, feeling their body heat, snaking this way and that to avoid touching the damp sweat on their clothing. No one stepped out of her way.She would remember the bright Jerusalem air, fresh with the smell of pines and coffee and the faint tang of sheep from the fields near the city wall; the empty fruit market, usually crowded with loaded camels and donkey carts and turbaned fellahin unloading produce, deserted and silent. Vendor’s stalls, looking like boarded shops on a forlorn winter boardwalk, shut; cabs and carriages gone from the taxi stand.She would remember the pool at the YMCA, warm as tea and green with algae, and the ladies gliding slowly through the water, wearing shower caps and corsets under their bathing suits, scooping water onto their ample bosoms, gathering to gossip at the shallow end. She would remember swimming around them with steady strokes, her legs kicking rhythmically, and the terrible tempered Mrs. Klein, blowing like a whale, ordering Lily to stop splashing. A tiny lady holding onto the side of the pool and dunking herself up and down like a tea bag nodded in agreement; Elsa Stern, the little round pediatrician with curly gray hair, gave Lily a conspiratorial wink and kept swimming laps.She would remember it all. Everything about that day would haunt her.###Lily Sampson was on her way to the new YMCA on Julian’s Way that morning, to catalogue pottery from the Clarke collection in the little museum being built in the Observation Tower.She had stayed at the YMCA four years ago when it first opened in 1934 and reveled in its splendor, in its graceful proportions, in its arches and tiled decoration, its tennis courts and gardens, and the grand Moorish lobby paved with Spanish tiles. It had a restaurant, an auditorium where Toscanini played, and a swimming pool — the only one in Jerusalem. Tourists came to ooh and ah and told her this was the most beautiful YMCA in the world. They would climb the Observation Tower for a view of the city and look through telescopes into windows of apartments on Mamilla Street and Jaffa Road.

Lily went there to use the swimming pool three times a week when she was in Jerusalem, walking from the American School through the quiet lanes of the Musrara quarter, or cutting through the Old City.

At five minutes to nine, her hair still damp against her ears, her eyes stinging from chlorine, Lily climbed the six flights to where the little museum would be.

Sheets of glass and wooden shelving for cases were stacked against the wall in the corner of a large, bare room that held only an old table, two wooden chairs, pottery wrapped in newspapers and stowed on the floor in old grocery cartons, and a wall clock that said four minutes before nine.

Eastbourne had said he would be here around nine o’clock. Lily suspected that if Eastbourne agreed to help her today, he had reasons of his own. She was grateful that he recommended her for this job, grateful for the small windfall from cataloguing pottery during the short break in excavations at Tel el Kharub.

Lily stepped onto the balcony that opened off the museum, holding her breath at the sight of Jerusalem, creamy gold in the morning brightness. The great gilded cupola of the Dome of the Rock glinted in the sun. The Old City, its stone walls adorned with towers and battlements, steeples and minarets, loomed behind the King David Hotel.

She could see the crowd of grim-faced young Arabs she had passed this morning at Jaffa Gate, now grown to two hundred or more. The tops of their heads bobbled like so many black and white beach balls.

Smoke twisted from small fires in the Valley of Hinnom. Lily looked through the telescope toward Government House on the crest of the Hill of Evil Council. She could just make out the Union Jack, flopping limply from its tower.

In the street, a dapper American tourist in a Panama hat and seersucker suit came out of the King David across the way.

The ladies left the YMCA one by one — Mrs. Klein, still frowning, her hair pulled back tightly in a bun, marched down the street; Dr. Stern walked toward the corner.

Lily heard Eastbourne enter the museum. “Let’s get to work.” He looked at his watch. “I don’t have much time.”

Full of his usual charm this morning, she thought. “I was watching for you,” Lily told him. “I didn’t see you in the street.”

“I had breakfast downstairs.”

“You actually ate here?”

“I was hungry for some good English cooking and a real breakfast.”

Of course you were, Lily thought. Good British housewives get up early every morning to cool the toast and put lumps in the porridge.

“You don’t have a cook at the British School?”

“He’s an Arab. This morning I had ham and eggs.”

Lily noticed the newspaper under his arm and twisted her head to read the headlines. Eastbourne folded it into a small packet and put it in his pocket.

“I haven’t finished with the paper,” he said, looked out at the street, and checked his watch again.

On the wall clock, it was exactly 9:00 a.m.

The sound of an explosion from somewhere in West Jerusalem rocked the air.

After a tick of silence, a shout of “Allah Akbar” erupted in a fullthroated roar from the crowd gathered at Jaffa Gate.

Lily rushed to the balcony, with Eastbourne close behind her. A mob spewed out of the Old City, propelled by the rhythmic chant, onto Mamilla and around the King David Hotel, and spread in a torrent toward West Jerusalem.

Five or six men carrying rifles ran down Julian’s Way and encircled a truck, rocking it back and forth until it turned over. At first the impassioned madness and destruction seemed strangely distant to Lily, choreographed and rehearsed, like a slow-moving pageant. She watched three men rush from the gas station at the turn of the road with full jerry cans, spilling gasoline on the street as they ran.

Waving fists, brandishing rifles, kefiyas flying in the wind, the horde swarmed into the warren of back streets with old Jewish shops and houses, down Jaffa Road toward Zion Circus. The blare of sirens, scattered shouts and screams carried from the direction of West Jerusalem on wind heavy with smoke.

Lily heard the crash of shattering glass and looked toward Mamilla to see a man with a jerry can splash gasoline through a shop window. A rumble of flames erupted and danced in the currents of heat from the rush of the blaze.

“It’s that bloody Grand Mufti, el Husseini,” Eastbourne said. His nostrils dilated with anger, and he wiped his hand across his mouth. “You can’t trust him. He must be orchestrating this from Syria, with the backing of Hitler and his crowd.”

The tourist from the King David, his back arched in a posture of fear, stood in the middle of the street now, tilted this way and that by rioters who swirled around him as if he were a lamppost. Eastbourne watched from the doorway, looking toward the tourist in the Panama hat, and glanced at his watch again.

Mrs. Klein advanced on the rabble like a tank, shouting and flailing her arms. The mob surrounded her while she punched and kicked and screamed. They pressed against her, pushing her back onto the road. She floated to her knees, her skirt billowing around her, falling to the asphalt, her hair undone and sticky with blood that began to puddle on the pavement.

Dr. Stern turned back, hurrying toward her friend splayed on the sidewalk. A man careened to face Dr. Stern, stepping into her path, thrusting a fist in her direction as if to greet her. Her eyes widened, her mouth opened, and she staggered against him. He pushed her away and slowly, carefully, she plummeted straight down, silent, onto the sidewalk. Lily closed her eyes and turned away from the balcony back to the notebook on the table, back to the comfort of the past to count clay lamps, juglets, burnished bowls with turned-back rims. She picked up a lamp, the nozzle smudged with ancient soot, and put it down again, drawn back to the balcony with a horrified fascination.
The tourist in the seersucker suit, without his Panama hat, disappeared into the revolving door of the hotel.

“Get inside,” Eastbourne said. “This isn’t a peep show.” He looked at the street. “When this is over, they’ll cover the bodies, take them away, and hose down the streets.”

What will be left in two thousand years, Lily wondered? Just a thin layer of charcoal, without memory, without skeletons to mark the day, just one more level in the stratigraphy of Jerusalem?

People hung out the windows of the King David Hotel, one man with field glasses, others leaning against balcony railings, some aghast, some curious. A father led his small daughter inside, shut the door and pulled down the blinds.

The tourist in the seersucker suit was gone now.

Dr. Stern lay on her side in the street. Little rivulets of blood seeped from beneath her, flowing downhill and staining the pale blue cloth of her skirt. The little tea bag lady lay stretched out on the steps of the YMCA as if she were sleeping in the wrong place.

Mrs. Klein lay in a widening dark pool, her hair, beginning to mat with blood, loose and wild against the asphalt. She looked oddly peaceful, her frown gone, her jaw fallen open in death. False teeth lay beside her softened cheek. A man stopped, looked at the teeth on the sticky pavement, picked them up, wiped the blood on his sleeve, and put them in his pocket. He pulled a knife from his belt and, brandishing it, ran on toward Mamilla.

“The name Jerusalem means City of Peace, you know,” Eastbourne said. Shuddering, Lily edged back to the table. The haze of smoke from the fires, the blare of fire trucks, the sounds of sirens from ambulances, of sobs, of wounded and mourners, of shutters ringing down with a clatter, penetrated the room. Lily was drawn to the balcony, and back inside to the table, too mesmerized to stop, too terrified to watch, mourning for the ladies who would never again skim across the green water, for Canaanites and Jebusites, for Israelites and Judeans, for Crusaders and Mamelukes who fought in this city with its twisted streets, its strange mystique and power, its heritage of blood and vengeance.

“Go downstairs and get me a packet of Players,” Eastbourne said, reaching into his pocket. “Here are fifty mils. Bring me the change.”

Lily dropped the money when he held it out. Her fingers numb and shaking, she picked it up slowly. “Sorry. I wasn’t looking,” she said and turned toward the door.

In the lobby, the desk clerk looked at her dumbly, his eyes glazed, his face pale. A bushy mustache hid his mouth and quivered when he spoke.

“Rioting in the streets and you ask for cigarettes,” he said in a hushed monotone. “Cigarettes? Are you mad?”

“Players,” Lily repeated.

“I don’t sell them here. In the dining room.”

Lily went into the dining room. The desk clerk followed and placed himself behind the bar.

“Players,” Lily said again and put the money on the counter. He counted it and pushed back the change. “You cold-blooded English. You have no feelings. Here are your cigarettes.”

“I’m an American.”

“Crazy American. You’re all the same.”

Lily climbed the stairs, catching her breath at the landings, looking down empty halls at laundry carts stacked with fresh linens for unmade beds. She felt heat from hidden pipes radiate through the whitewashed walls, heard the elevator knock and clatter as it moved from floor to floor.

On the sixth floor, the museum was silent. The notebook was still open on the table; the clay lamp was where she had put it down. And Eastbourne was gone.

Author Bio

Aileen G. Baron has spent her life unearthing the treasures and secrets left behind by previous civilizations. Her pursuit of the ancient has taken her to distant countries—Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Greece, Britain, China and the Yucatan—and to some surprising California destinations, like Newport Beach, California and the Mojave Desert.

She taught for twenty years in the Department of Anthropology at California State University, Fullerton, and has conducted many years of fieldwork in the Middle East, including a year at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem as an NEH scholar and director of the overseas campus of California State Universities at the Hebrew University. She holds degrees from several universities, including the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Riverside.

The first book in the Lily Sampson series, A FLY HAS A HUNDRED EYES, about the murder of a British archaeologist in 1938 in British mandated Palestine, won first place in the mystery category at both the Pikes Peak Writers conference and the SouthWest Writers Conference. THE TORCH OF TANGIER, the second novel in the Lily Sampson series, takes place in Morocco during WW II, when Lily is recruited into the OSS to work on the preparations for the Allied invasion of North Africa, Operation Torch. In THE SCORPION’S BITE, Lily is doing an archaeological survey of Trans-Jordan for the OSS.

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Tour Participants

2/03 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Buried Under Books
2/04 ~ Review & Giveaway @ bless their hearts mom
2/05 ~ Interview @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
2/06 ~ Interview @ CMash Reads
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2/10 ~ Showcase @ Bookalicious Traveladdict
2/11 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
2/12 ~ Review & Giveaway @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
2/13 ~ Guest Post @ Omnimystery
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2/20 ~ Review @ Brooke Blogs

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PICT Book Review: The Tenth Circle by Jon Land

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Book Details

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Open Road Integrated Media
Publication Date: December 24, 2013
Number of Pages: 420
ISBN: 978-1480414792
Purchase Links:

Synopsis

The Tenth Circle Cover1590: An entire colony of British settlers vanishes from their settlement on Roanoke Island, seemingly into thin air.

1872: The freighter Marie Celeste is found drifting at sea off Gibraltar, its entire crew and passengers gone missing without a trace.

But what if there’s a connection between two of the greatest historical mysteries ever? And what if the roots of that connection lie in a crazed plot to destroy the United States as we know it today?

Those are the questions confronting Blaine McCracken as he takes up the trail of small time preacher Jeremiah Rule whose hateful rhetoric has done big time damage by inflaming an entire people half a world away, resulting in a series of devastating terrorist attacks stateside. Rule, though, isn’t acting alone. A shadowy cabal is pulling his strings, unaware they are creating a monster soon to spin free of their control.

McCracken has just returned from pulling off the impossible in Iran, ridding the world of one terrible threat only to return home to face another. Isolated in a way he’s never been before and now hunted himself, he’ll have to rely on skills and allies both old and new to get to the heart of a plan aimed at unleashing no less than the Tenth Circle of Hell. This as he contends with a failed congressman intent on changing the country to fit his own vision and an Iranian assassin bent on revenge.

Blaine’s desperate path across country and continent takes him into the past where the answers he needs lie among the missing Roanoke colonists and the contents of the Marie Celeste’s cargo holds. Those secrets alone hold the means to stop the Tenth Circle from closing. And as the bodies tumble in his wake, as the clock ticks down to an unthinkable maelstrom, McCracken and Johnny Wareagle fight to save the United States from a war the country didn’t even know it was fighting, but might well lose.

Review

If you want to know just how dangerous one person’s actions and convictions can be, than you have to read this book! Reverend Jeremiah Rule is on fire,spreading his message to create one big inferno, that will encapsulate everyone. A true despot and villain, it is terrifying to realize what one man can achieve, when matched with the ‘right’ people to back him up.

How much damage can he do before he is silenced? Will McCracken be able to crack the case and will his 60-year old body comply with what he asks it to perform?

The Tenth Circle, being a reference to Dante’s nine circles of hell, is an action-packed thriller from start to finish, that keeps you at your toes as there are several different story lines and it takes a while before they all come together.  It is easy to get lost within those lines, I found. The reader has to pay attention to the headings of the short chapters to keep track of where in the world the events take place. And how events from hundreds of years ago influence and threaten the world today.

The plot is cleverly put together and beautifully executed. Despite the James Bond kind of qualities – albeit a middle-aged James, meaning a hero with unlikely and impossible power and strength, this thriller does make one think about the power of extreme convictions and the way they can be used to ignite the world. Scary stuff indeed!

Read an excerpt

CHAPTER 1
The Negev Desert, Israel; the present

“We have incoming, General! Anti-missile batteries are responding!”

General Yitzak Berman focused his gaze on the desperate scenario unfolding in amazingly realistic animation on the huge screen before him. Eight missiles fired from Iran sped toward all major population centers of Israel in a perfect geometric pattern, about to give the nation’s Arrow anti-missile system its greatest test yet.
“Sir,” reported the head of the analysts squeezed into the underground bunker from which Israel maintained command and control, “initial specs indicate the size, weight and sourcing of the missiles . . .”

“Proceed,” the general said when the analyst stopped to swallow hard.

“They’re nuclear, sir, in the fifty kiloton range.”

“Targets?”

Another young man picked up from there. “Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Mediterranean coast, the Sinai, our primary airfields . . .” He looked back toward Sherman. “And here, sir.”

“Anti-missile batteries are launching!” a new voice blared through the strangely dim lighting that seemed to flutter as the missiles drew closer.

And Sherman watched the animated simulation of dozens and dozens of Israeli Arrow rockets, along with larger American Patriots, shooting upward in line with the incoming missiles. Four hits were scored in the maelstrom of animated smoke bursts, more rockets launched to chase down the remaining four nukes that had survived the fist salvo.

“We have two more confirmed downed!” yet another young voice rang out.

But the bunker fell silent as the sophisticated animation continued to follow two surviving Iranian missiles as they streaked toward Tel Aviv and Haifa.

“Schmai Israel, hallileh hoseh,” one of the young voices began, reciting the prayer softly as the missiles’ arc turned downward, on a direct course to their targets with nothing left to stop their flight.

“Order our fighters holding at their failsafe positions to launch their attacks,” instructed Berman. “Destroy Iran.”

He’d barely finished when two flashes burst out from the animated screen, bright enough to force several squeezed into the bunker to shield their eyes. As those flashes faded amid the stunned silence and odor of stale perspiration hanging in the air, the bunker’s regular lighting snapped back on.

“This concludes the simulation,” a mechanical voice droned. “Repeat, this concludes the simulation.”

With that, a bevy of Israeli officials, both civilian and military, emerged from the rear-most corner of the bunker, all wearing dour expressions.

Israel’s female defense minister stepped forward ahead of the others. “Your point is made, General,” she said to Berman. “Not that we needed any further convincing.”

“I’m glad we all agree that the Iranian nuclear threat can no longer be tolerated,” Berman, the highest-ranking member of the Israeli military left alive who’d fought in the Six-Day War, told them. “We’ve been over all this before. The difference is we’re now certain our defenses cannot withstand an Iranian attack, leaving us with casualty estimates of up to a million dead and two million wounded, many of them gravely. Fifty simulations, all with results similar to the ones you have just witnessed.” He hesitated, eyes hardened through two generations of war boring into the defense minister’s. “I want your formal authorization.”

“For what?”

“To destroy the Iranian nuclear complex at Natanz.”

Israel’s defense minister started to smile, then simply shook her head. “We’ve been over this before, a hundred times. Our army can’t do it, our air force can’t do it, our commandos can’t do it, and the Americans are saying the very same thing from their end. You want my authorization to do the impossible? You’ve got it. Just don’t expect any backup, extraction, or political cover.”

Yitzak Berman returned his gaze to the wall-sized screen where animated versions of Tel Aviv and Haifa had turned dark. “The man I have in mind won’t need of any of that.”

“Did you say man?”

CHAPTER 2

Netanz, Iran

“We are descending through a million tons of solid rock,” the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Minister of Energy, Ali Akbar Hosseini, told the filmmaker squeezed in the elevator by both his equipment and the trio of Revolutionary Guardsmen. “A technological achievement in its own right. You understand the great task you’ve been entrusted to perform.”

“Just as you must understand I’m the best at my job, just like your scientists are at theirs,” said the bearded, award winning filmmaker Hosseini knew as Najjar. Najjar’s appearance was exactly as depicted in photographs, save for the scar through his left eyebrow the minister did not recall. He was dressed casually in dark cargo pants and long-sleeve cotton shirt rolled up at the sleeves, bulky clothing that hid what was clearly a V-shaped, well-muscled frame beneath. “I was told I’d be given total access to the facility.”

“And you will, at least those parts deemed appropriate by me.”

“That wasn’t part of the deal. It never is with my work.”

“This is a different kind of opportunity.”

The elevator started to slow.

“Then you should have gotten a filmmaker more adept at wedding videos,” Najjar snapped. “Perhaps we’ve both made a mistake.”

“You are about to see what few men ever have,” Hosseini continued, wearing a fashionable suit instead of a military uniform. “And it will be your blessed privilege to chronicle it for the world to see when the time is right. You call that a mistake?”

“You chose me because I’m the best. I ask only that you treat me that way.”

“I could have retained a simple videographer for this assignment,” Hosseini said, his shoulders stiffening. “I chose you because I wanted something that would stand the test of history. This will be my legacy, my contribution to our glorious Republic, and I want it to be celebrated, not just appreciated, a century from now. I want anyone who watches to see not just a place, but a point in history that changed the world forever. An awesome responsibility I’m entrusting you with.”

“I look forward to exceeding your expectations.”

Hosseini’s eyes fell on the bulky equipment lying at the filmmaker’s feet; a camera, portable lights, and a quartet of shoebox-sized rechargeable batteries to supply power. “Others I’ve worked with have turned to much smaller cameras for video, even ones that look like they only take pictures.”

“And how did their work turn out?” asked the filmmaker, his tone still biting.

“Acceptable, but not impressive. This assignment clearly required something more, a case I had to make to the Council’s finance board to justify your fee.”

“If you aren’t satisfied with what I produce for you, you owe nothing. I’ll return my fee to the Council personally.”

“Both of us know that will not be necessary. Both of us know you will produce something that will stand the test of time through the ages and serve both of us well,” Hosseini said to the man he’d personally selected for the job.

“I value your regard and the confidence you have in me,” Najjar said more humbly in Farsi.
Then he slung the camera over his shoulder and scooped up the batteries and portable lights in his grasp, beckoning the minister to exit ahead of him.

“After you,” said Blaine McCracken.

CHAPTER 3
Washington, DC; two months earlier

“You’re kidding, right?” Blaine McCracken said after the Israeli he knew only as “David” finished.

“You come highly recommended, Mr. McCracken. Back home you’re considered a legend.”

“Another word for dinosaur.”

“But far from extinct. And my American friends tell me you’re the only one they believe can get this done.”
“Meaning I’d have to succeed where two governments have failed.”

David shrugged, the gesture further exaggerating the size of his neck that seemed a stubby extension of his shoulders and trapezious muscles. He wasn’t a tall man but unnaturally broad through the upper body. McCracken couldn’t make out his eyes well in the darkness, but imagined them to be furtive and noncommittal.
They’d met at the Observation Deck of the Washington Monument. Closed to the public for repairs indefinitely, but still accessible by workmen, though not at night, always McCracken’s favorite time to view Washington. He liked imagining what was going on in offices where lights still burned, plans were being hatched and fates determined. There was so much about the city he hated but plenty from which he couldn’t detach himself. In the vast majority of those offices, officials were trying to do good; at least, they believed they were.
McCracken found himself wondering which of those offices David had come here from; it would be State or Defense in the old days, across the river in Langley just as often. These days it was Homeland Security, the catch-all and watch word that got people nodding in silence, Homeland’s offices spread out all over the city proper and thus responsible for an untold number of the lights that still burned.

A few work lamps provided the only illumination inside the gutted Observation Deck, riddled with a musty basement-like smell of old, stale concrete and wood rot mixed with fresh lumber and sawdust which covered the exposed floor like a floating rug. David had sneezed a few times upon first entering, passing it off as allergies.

“It’s not that we’ve failed,” David told him, “it’s that all the plans we’ve considered have been rejected out of hand. We’ve come to you for something non-traditional that no one expects.”

“You’ve got a lot of faith in me.”

“If anyone can do it, it’s you. Otherwise, we will have no choice but to try something that is doomed to fail and perhaps even make things worse. But our hands our tied. With Iran so close to getting their bomb, the choice is gone.”

“Your name’s not really David, is it?” McCracken asked the Israeli.

“Why would you think that?”

“Because the last few times I’ve worked with your country, my contacts were named David too. A reference to David and Goliath maybe?”

A flicker of a smile crossed the Israeli’s lips. “I’m told you had a plan.”

“No, what I’ve got is an idea. It’s risky, dangerous, and I haven’t even broached it to the powers at be here.”

“Because you don’t think they’d be interested?”

“Because they haven’t asked.” McCracken looked out through the window at the twinkling office lights again, already fewer of them than just a few minutes before, imagining the kind of things being discussed after office hours had concluded. “The only time my phone rings these days is when the SEALS or Delta have already passed on the mission, with good reason this time.”

“We’re asking,” said David. “You, not them. And we’ll provide you with the right resources, any resources you require.”

McCracken gave David a longer look, the younger man’s thick nest of curly hair making him seem vulnerable and innocent at the same time when neither was true. “Tell me you’re ready to fight fire with fire. Tell me that’s what you meant about making the right resources available.”
David seemed to grasp his meaning immediately. “And if we are?”
Blaine smiled.

CHAPTER 4
Netanz, Iran; the present

McCracken lugged the equipment from the elevator, careful to show strain and exertion on his features to avoid raising any suspicions in Hosseini. The hall before them was brightly lit, as clean and sterile as a hospital’s. The air smelled of nothing; not antiseptic, not solvent, not fresh tile. Nothing. The lighting looked unbalanced, harsh in some places and dull in others.

The new Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s successor, had made no secret of his desire to chronicle Iran’s greatest technological achievement ever. When the time was right, he wanted the world to see the true scope of his country’s accomplishment, so long hidden behind innuendo and subterfuge. Like the mullahs themselves, he was at heart a braggart obsessed with cementing his own legacy in a way history could not deny.
Najjar, the award winning Iranian filmmaker chosen for that task, was virtually the same height and weight as McCracken and the two men bore more than a passing resemblance to each other right up to the scruffiness of their tightly trimmed beards. Of course, the plan was not without its flaws. Most notably, McCracken had no idea when Najjar would be summoned to capture the Natanz facility in all its glory. Based on the current timetable for the Iranians’ ability to generate enough fissionable material from the refuse of their vast centrifuges, though, he guessed no more than six months.

It turned out to be only two.

The filmmaker Najjar was already under twenty-four-hour surveillance by Israeli Mossad agents long entrenched within Iranian society. Barely an hour after the filmmaker was contacted by Minister Hosseini’s office on extremely short notice, McCracken boarded a private jet with a make-up specialist on board to finish the job of matching his appearance as closely as possible to Najjar’s. The result, after a laborious process that took much of the flight, exceeded even his expectations. The lone oversight had been not to disguise the scar through McCracken’s left eyebrow from a wayward bullet decades before. Although Minister Hosseini had clearly noticed it, he seemed unbothered by its presence.

While Najjar waited in his apartment for his government car to arrive, a fresh Mossad team just in country entered his apartment by using a key fit to the specifications of his lock based on the serial number. The filmmaker, who was still packing, was unconscious in seconds with McCracken ready in his stead, equipment in hand, as soon as the car arrived for the first leg of his journey.

Once out of the elevator, he knew he was about to encounter plenty not mentioned in David’s reports on the structure and its schematics. Israel’s intelligence on the Natanz facility was an amalgamation of satellite reconnaissance, prisoner and defector interrogations, and four separate brilliantly crafted infiltrations. Each of these had revealed the particulars of at least a section of the facility, but even taken in sum they didn’t offer a thorough rendering of all of it.

The assembled intelligence did reveal a sprawling single-level underground facility. The original plans had called for multiple levels but this had proven too onerous from both a construction and security standpoint. Natanz had been chosen for the site of the plant specifically because of the heavy layers of limestone and shale beneath which it would be contained, along with an under layer of nearly impenetrable volcanic rock formed in prehistoric times. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the nuclear generating plant that sat at ground level was not positioned directly over the underground facility at all; rather, it served as effective camouflage for the vast tunneling efforts that had forged Natanz from the side instead of from above. The facility was laid out roughly in a square, the size of six football fields laid next to each other, and featured the sophisticated technology required to enrich uranium along with the centrifuges responsible for generating it, a process that undoubtedly included the massive pumps and water systems required for cooling.
But the very features that made Natanz impenetrable to an attack from above made it vulnerable to what McCracken was planning from within.

David versus Goliath indeed.

“One more thing before we get started,” Hosseini said, opening a door McCracken hadn’t noticed before. “If you’d join me inside here. . . .”

* * *

It was a locker room, more or less, each open cubicle featuring an orange radiation suit and wrist monitor hanging from a hook inside.

“Standard procedure,” the minister explained. “The lightest weight suit manufactured anywhere. You slip it on right over your clothes,” he continued, starting to do just that himself.

McCracken followed in step. Modern, sophisticated nuclear plants like this were hardly prone to leaks, so the donning of such protective material could only mean Hosseini meant what he said about assembling a complete picture of one of the world’s most secret facilities. And something else was obvious as well:
That after hearing and seeing so much, there was no way McCracken was getting out of here alive.

Author Bio

Jon Land is the award-winning, critically acclaimed author of 36 books, including the bestselling Caitlin Strong Texas Ranger series that includes Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance and, most recently, Strong Rain Falling. The Tenth Circle marks the second return engagement of his longtime series hero Blaine McCracken on the heels of last year’s Pandora’s Temple which was nominated for a Thriller Award and received the 2013 International Book Award for Best Adventure Thriller. Jon’s first nonfiction book, Betrayal, meanwhile, was named Best True Crime Book of 2012 by Suspense Magazine and won a 2012 International Book Award for Best True Crime Book. He is currently working on Strong Darkness, the next entry in the Caitlin Strong to be published in September of 2014. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Brown University in 1979, where he continues to maintain a strong volunteer presence.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants

1/20 ~ Guest Post @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
1/21 ~ Review ~ Vics Media Room
1/22 ~ Review @ The Stuff of Success
1/23 ~ Review @ A Date with a Book
1/24 ~ Review @ Real Army of Moms
1/25 ~ Review @ Gabina49s Blog
1/25 ~ Showcase @ Hott Books
1/27 ~ Showcase @ J. C. Martin, Fighter Writer
1/28 ~ Review @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, MOmmy, & Sissy, Too!
1/29 ~ Review & Giveaway @ fundinmental
1/30 ~ Guest Post, Review & Giveaway @ bless their hearts mom
1/31 ~ Guest Post @ Beauty in Ruins
2/03 ~ Review @ Kritters Ramblings
2/04 ~ Guest Post @ The Book Faery Reviews
2/05 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
2/06 ~ Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
2/07 ~ Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
2/10 ~ Review & Giveaway @ bless their hearts mom
2/11 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Lazy Day Books
2/12 ~ Review @ Celticlady’s Reviews
2/13 ~ Showcase @ The Opinionated Me
2/18 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Mythical Books
2/24 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Marys Cup of Tea
2/24 ~ Review & Giveaway @ The Top Shelf
2/27~ Review @ Amy {The Crafty Book Nerd}
TBD ~ Review @ THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK

Partners in Crime Tours

PICT button Founded in 2011, Partners In Crime Tours (PICT) offers virtual book tour services for both well established and best-selling authors, as well as those just starting out with their careers. PICT prides itself on its tailored packages for authors, with a personal touch from the tour coordinators.
It is always a joy to work with Cheryl and Gina! If you are interested to review crime books too, please, feel free to complete the tour host submission form here. I’d be tickled if you’d mention my name! ;-)

Disclaimer

Every (e)book received for review on the tours for Partners In Crime Tours is given in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.