“Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour” — Day 24

RWISA TOUR (1)

One Nice Fall Day

by Bruce A. Borders

©2017 Bruce A. Borders & Borders Publishing

Not having a good Monday at work, I decided to cut my day short and head home. Home, my sanctuary. As a single guy, I often retreat to my sanctuary when things become intolerable, such as today.

Pulling into the drive, I noticed the yard and house really needed attention. I kept the lawn mowed, but the knee-high weeds were another matter. The house too had long been neglected. The loose siding and trim boards couldn’t be ignored much longer.

BRUCE BORDERS

Bruce A. Borders

“Maybe next weekend,” I mused.

But then, I’d said that last week too. I’d only gotten as far as hauling out a garden rake and a tree trimmer before reconsidering and putting them back. Or, maybe I hadn’t put them away, I thought, seeing my rake in the yard.

Taking a minute to replace the rake in the tool shed, I wandered inside, intent on taking it easy for the rest of the afternoon. And I did. The next couple of hours were spent napping. Then, feeling slightly more energetic, I thought I’d give the yard work another try. And that’s when I found the body.

A male, early twenties, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, lay face down in the weeds, not ten feet from where I’d walked earlier. Good citizen that I am, I immediately called 911. Within minutes, my yard was swarming with cops and other emergency personnel.

After examining the body, one of the detectives walked over. “You discovered the body?”

I nodded, as another officer joined us.

“Tell me what led to your discovery.”

I related the gist of my activities of the day, such as they were.

Then began a series of inane questions. “You live alone here? Why’d you leave work early? What took you so long to call 911?”

“You’re acting like this guy was murdered or something.”

“We’re just trying to figure out the timeline and what happened,” one said.

“And to what extent you were involved,” his partner added.

I guess I’ve seen too many TV dramas because the first thing I said was, “So, do I need a lawyer?”

The cop shrugged. “Depends. Is there a reason you may need a lawyer?”

“I don’t know,” I stammered. “Don’t think so. Just don’t want to be blamed for this murder.”

“No one’s blaming you—yet.” The officer paused, whether for dramatic effect or to weigh his words, I wasn’t sure. “Should we be looking at you as a suspect?”

“Of course not.”

The detectives eyed me a moment. “We’ll be in touch,” one said as they turned away.

They’ll be in touch? What’s that supposed to mean? They’d said I wasn’t a suspect; was that just to keep me off-guard until they’d had time to gather enough evidence to build a case?

I shook my head. I must be crazy. There was no evidence. There was no case. I hadn’t done anything except find the body. I certainly hadn’t killed him.

But, they didn’t know that. And here I was acting all weird. Even I had to admit my strange behavior and ramblings appeared suspicious. The police likely thought so too.

And that’s how I ended up seeing a criminal defense attorney for a crime I hadn’t committed.

“Sounds like you’re a bit paranoid,” said the attorney after I’d filled him in.

“Paranoid, huh?” I said, somewhat sheepishly.

He smiled. “A little.”

I couldn’t think of an intelligent response, so I just sat there.

“Tell you what,” he said, breaking my uncomfortable abeyance. “I’ll keep my notes and if you’re arrested, call me.”

“Thanks. Hope I don’t need to.”

“If you didn’t commit the murder, they can’t exactly find any evidence. Although…”

I frowned. “Although what?”

They could always charge you with manslaughter if anything you’ve done, intentionally or unintentionally, contributed to the man’s death.”

“Right. I didn’t even know he was there until I found the body.”

“It’s most likely nothing to worry about. But you never know.”

As I stood to leave, he added, “If you are arrested, don’t say anything until I’m present. You’ve already given your statement. That’s all you’re obligated to do.”

Nodding, I left.

Just talking to the lawyer had helped. The anxiety I’d felt earlier was gone. Feeling better about my prospects, I drove home and was utterly shocked to find two police cars in my driveway, the officers knocking at my door.

As I parked, they came toward me. “Mr. Powell?”

“That’s me.”

“Can we come in and talk?”

I hesitated. The attorney had said to say nothing if I were arrested. He hadn’t mentioned anything about not being arrested. “Depends,” I finally managed. “Am I under arrest?”

“No,” the officer said. “We just want to clarify a few things with you.”

I repeated what the lawyer had told me. “I’ve already given my statement. That’s all I’m obligated to do.”

“You’re not interested in helping solve this murder?”

I certainly was interested in solving the murder, but something told me that “helping” might have an entirely different meaning to them. “I’ve already given my statement,” I said again.

The officers looked perturbed. “Well,” one said, reaching for his handcuffs. “You leave us no choice then. Mr. Powell, you are under arrest in connection with the murder of Vincent Dalhart.”

As the cop handcuffed me, I focused on what he’d said. I wasn’t being arrested for the murder but in connection with the murder. I wasn’t sure what that meant if anything. I hoped it meant they didn’t actually think I’d killed the man.

The next two days were a blur of numerous meetings with the detectives and my attorney. Through these conversations, I finally learned what had happened.

Vincent Dalhart had been stabbed to death. There were four puncture wounds, evenly spaced. Two had pierced a vital organ. The time of death was uncertain although, the medical examiner estimated it to be five hours before I, the only suspect, had stumbled onto the body.

Meanwhile, the police had executed a search warrant for my property, finding my rake, which they believed to be the murder weapon. Lab testing confirmed that blood present on the tines was that of the victim. Murder in the first degree was the charge.

To his credit, my lawyer seemed undaunted by the discovery. I told him about seeing the rake and putting it away. He seemed satisfied. “But the police will want to know how you didn’t notice any blood on the rake.”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “Not sure how I missed that.”

He shrugged. “Easy enough explanation. The blood was only on the tines—probably not a large amount. By the time you picked it up, the blood had likely dried. It would’ve been very difficult to see unless you were specifically looking for it.”

Unfortunately, the police were specifically looking for it, having determined a garden rake to be the likely murder weapon. And as my lawyer had predicted they weren’t exactly sold on my account of the events. Instead, they believed I’d used the rake to murder the man breaking into my house.

With no other options, we prepared to go to trial. My attorney seemed to like my chances. I wasn’t so confident. Here I was, a guy who’d never even been in a fight, charged with murder. It all felt so overwhelming.

Then, the next day, things took a surprising turn.

The guard came to escort me to the briefing room where my attorney waited.

“Good news,” he greeted me. “All charges have been dropped. You’ll be released within the hour.”

I was stunned. “That’s great, but… why? How?” With the direction things had been going, I found it hard to imagine the police had suddenly decided I was innocent.

“Turns out your neighbor saw the whole thing from across the street. Mr. Dalhart arrived at your house on foot, poked around; checking doors and windows, then went to the shed and retrieved the rake. Standing on your porch railing, he attempted to use the rake to pull himself up to an open second-story window. The window ledge gave way, and Mr. Dalhart fell to the ground, impaling himself on the rake.”

“But the rake was a good ten feet from the body.”

The attorney nodded. “Apparently, the would-be thief lived long enough to remove the rake and fling it away.”

I was frowning. “My neighbor watched all this and didn’t even try to help? Or, report it? Not that I care, really. The thief got what he deserved. But how does someone just watch all that and not do anything?”

The lawyer shrugged. “People are strange. Maybe he didn’t want to be involved. Who knows? He’s been arrested and faces legal troubles over his lack of humanity.”

“I would hope so.”

“Just be glad he eventually came forward.”

“I am.” I fell silent then.

The attorney noticed my gaze. “What is it?”

I smiled wryly. “Was just thinking… That window ledge has been loose for quite a while, banging in the wind. Been meaning to fix it for months, just hadn’t gotten around to it.”

Eyeing me a moment, the lawyer said, “You might want to keep that information to yourself.”

***

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISAWRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Bruce A. Border’s RWISA Author Page

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Interview with Kirsten Streicher, Kick-ass Heroine of “The Blight”

theblightMeet Kirsten Streicher, kick-ass heroine of The Blight, another nail-biter, suspense thriller by John Reinhard Dizon. First, a little about Kirsten and her story:

Kirsten Streicher is an Iraq War veteran assigned to the Supercop Unit in St. Louis. The elite unit has been successful in combating the Blight, a plague of poverty-driven crime that is overwhelming the city. Only a genocidal sociopath has declared his own war against the Blight and is conducting a campaign to eradicate the undesirable elements within the community. The death of one of her partners and the suspension of another portend the breakup of the team. Kirsten is forced to deal with a major change in her career path once the man called X is brought to justice. She is also involved in a romance with a UMKC professor, Kurt Franz. He takes her to a new reality amidst the protests of Brad, who is still hunting the killer despite his suspension. Brad reveals his love for her and places her in the middle of a love triangle. Making matters worse is evidence indicating that X is focusing on Kirsten, which makes her a potential target.

MF: Welcome, Kirsten. It’s a pleasure to have you here today.

KS: I’d just like to thank the interviewer for being so patient in allowing me to put my thoughts together. This has been a harrowing and traumatic time in my life. I’m finally able to articulate my feelings and my reflections, and I hope they might inspire young people out there trying to make the world a better place.

MF: I understand. The aftermath of such a time is often the most difficult, and you’ve had several such experiences in your life. Looking back to those that made you who you are, did any particular experience you had while serving in the Middle East have a life-defining effect?

KS: It had to be in Afghanistan when we took out that insurgent Taliban unit in preventing an ambush of American soldiers. We found out they were just high school kids who had been brainwashed into fighting for someone else’s cause. During the Blight, I saw the same thing in the teens who were recruited by drug gangs to advance the ulterior motives of others. Kids are so idealistic and easily influenced. Society has a tremendous obligation to raise our children in a moral and principled world.

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MF: That is so true. Kids are always going to reflect their environment and how they’re raised. When parents fail, often law enforcement is forced to fill the gap. As such, what do you find the most satisfying part of being a cop?

KS: The chance to make a difference in society and defend the oppressed and underprivileged. It was the same thing we tried to do in the Middle East. We tried to do it here but we never dreamed we’d be dealing with the same kind of evil. At least we had the battle experience, and I hope that other veterans will be able to use their skills and knowledge to change things here at home.

MF: It’s so sad that our veterans come home to that, but it’s true they can definitely make a difference here as well. Nothing is simple these days. Do you see crime in terms of black and white or are there shades of grey?

KS: That is such a hard question. Good is good and evil is evil, that’s your black and white. Only the effect it has on others is where your shades of grey come in. It’s so hard to deal with victims of crime, especially in gang-controlled neighborhoods where they live. The Blight nearly immersed the city of St. Louis in the darkness. It was a miracle that we were able to help its citizens find their way back to the light.

MF: Yes, it truly was. And it certainly wasn’t easy. If you were “Queen of the World” for a day, what would you change?

KS: I would eradicate drug trafficking by any means necessary. It is what empowers drug gangs, poisons its victims and destroys communities. Cut off the supply, put dealers away for good and do everything possible to rehabilitate dependents. It is the singlemost terrible problem the people of the world are dealing with.

MF: I couldn’t agree more. What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?

KS: Waking up Christmas morning to find goodbye letters from the two most important people in my life. It created a void in my heart, in my existence, that I may never refill. I can’t even remember a happy time. I think readers of my story will fully understand why.

MF: I hope with time that some level of happiness and satisfaction will come your way as you recognize how many lives you have changed in a positive way. They say what doesn’t kill us outright only makes us stronger. In that context, what did you learn from your experience with “The Blight”?

KS: Well, let me take back that last statement. Seeing the people of St. Louis unite to keep the murderers from destroying Christmas was the most wonderful thing I ever saw. Black and white, rich and poor, Christian and Muslim, it didn’t matter who they were. We all became neighbors, we shared and shared alike. The citizens of our city decided they had enough of the Blight and made it go away. Americans have that in common, we stand together in times of trouble. It makes me so proud to be an American and a Missourian. I hope my story helps other people feel that way.

MF: Thank you so much for being with us today, Kirsten. The world needs more people like you in this crazy world we’re living in. I wish you all the best and that you’ll be blessed for all the good you’ve done.

Be sure to pick up a copy of The Blight so you can put Kirsten’s comments and insights into context. You can grab your copy from Amazon here.

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“Fantasy Patch”–Another 5-star Nail-biter from Stephen Geez

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Wow! What a ride! I’m still trying to catch my breath since finishing this fast-moving suspense thriller. In fact, sometimes it moved so fast, I felt left behind in the dust. The immediacy of the story is beyond gripping, told in first person/present tense through the eyes of protagonist, Danté Roenik. So “present”, in fact, you don’t even know his name for several pages. Kind of like meeting an interesting, good-looking, charismatic guy at a party who’s telling a good story. You really don’t care what his name is, you just want to be part of the excitement along with the other enchanted guests. This served as a very clever and effective writing tactic outside the mainstream, for which the author once again definitely earned my admiration.

This is the third Stephen Geez book I’ve read and this man must have multiple personalities because each tome’s style, at least the ones I’ve read so far, stands out as unique. Some authors can write in multiple genres with ease, yet the style is largely the same. I don’t think I’d be able to tell these were written by the same person, though they did share outstanding characterizations and vivid setting descriptions, plenty of suspense, lively dialog, and complex plots as well as strong writing, edited to perfection. No ruts or boring formula writing here! A random sprinkling of clever creative word plays are scattered throughout the narrative as well, which are not only entertaining but further characterize Danté’s artistic temperament. For example, “beeping blippers and blipping beepers” or “purse snatchers and snatch pursuers” or “fact takers and tacit fakers”, all of which add color and humor.

Poor Danté. An artist at heart, all he wants to do is draw, yet he’s sucked into a web of intrigue through his position as creative director at a public relations firm. He’s a nice guy, perhaps too nice, who adores the lively, old lady next door, Mrs. Moeroff, as well as the love of her life, another neighbor, Hank Barnahay. His attorney girlfriend, Cyn, is focused on an ambitious fast-track to partnership in her law firm, which is her top priority, much to Danté’s dismay. And that’s just his personal life. His professional life is what makes your head spin. The author places you firmly in Danté’s shoes in a busy, competitive, fast-paced, head-spinning and often risky environment, ripe with industry jargon. If you’ve ever wanted to work in PR, then this story is required reading for its excellent description of what’s involved, from the actual technical processes, to sales tactics, and competitors as trustworthy as piranha. By the time you finish this story, you feel as if you could put experience at Dellman/Roenik on your resume. I kid you not.

Of course any such firm is loaded with employees doing a variety of tasks, the boatload of characters adding to and authenticating the hectic pace. And then times it by two, by the way, because our hero changes employers, the original now his rather unfriendly competition. In fact, there were so many characters, I would have welcomed a dramatis personae to keep them all straight. They come at you fast, so unless you have a steel-trap memory, which I don’t, you might want to keep notes. Trust me, it would be worth it, because things get more complicated with every page.

The good news is that their names were not only unusual, but differed dramatically, reminding me at times of alphabet soup. Yet they were well-chosen and unique, which helped keep them straight versus unimaginative authors who call one character Bob and another Rob. Their physical descriptions were helpful as well, making them easy to envision, their personalities distinct and never lacking.  There’s no doubt this story would make an outstanding movie, or better yet, TV mini-series.

The story quickly evolves into a murder mystery, so the huge cast also serves as a collective red herring with regard to the identity of the guilty party. But actually, it’s not that simple, it’s Big Pharma and its cohorts covering their tracks with regard to lethal side effects of Parzilac, combined with rather vicious competition tactics as competitor, M-Slovak, prepares to release a potential competitor, the Fantasy Patch. Corporate espionage is in full swing as is appropriate security, courtesy of Flynn Durbett, a carryover character from “Invigilator.” I love it when characters live on!

If you’re looking for high-octane entertainment with surprises at every turn, grab a copy today and plan to stay up late reading. Same goes if you’re naturally suspicious of Big Pharma or are annoyed by those TV drug ads (which are illegal is most of the world besides the USA) where the side effects narrative takes 90% of the allotted time. Breathtaking action, nail-biting suspense, crisp dialog, and edge-of-your-seat narrative suck you in, all the way to the last page. Don’t miss it.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Review of “Faithless Elector” by James McCrone

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Don’t let the enigmatic title and somewhat bland cover of this political thriller fool you. While the subject sounded interesting and very apropos for the times, which is why I decided to read it, I had no idea it would suck me in like it did. I could hardly put it down and even stayed up late, missing a new episode of one of my favorite shows, “Blindspot,” to finish it. Believe me, that takes something pretty gripping.

There were so many things I loved about this book. First of all, I learned more about the Electoral College and the process the U.S. has for electing its president. Many years ago I remember a political science class in college where the professor stated that we should have a national primary, get rid of the electoral college process and go with a strict popular vote to elect the president, which made sense to me. That was back in the 80s and clearly nothing has changed. The complexity of this process leaves too many loopholes for corruption, as this intense story points out.

In this day of computers it simply wouldn’t be that difficult to assure the integrity of elections which is obviously not happening. I could go off on a complete rant about that, but this is a book review, for heaven sake. So I won’t. But I enjoy learning something from a book, especially when it’s packaged in a fast-moving, gripping story where you can’t read fast enough to find out what will happen next. There were parts where I wouldn’t have dared take my blood pressure. Yes, it was that intense.

The characters in this book were strong and believable. The main character, Duncan Calder, is a political science professor. He’s charming, intelligent and undoubtedly handsome, but not someone who is accustomed to being plunged into a world of intrigue and murder. It was very credible, the way he adapted, using his intelligence and survival instincts. All of the characters were also vivid and believable, particularly Imogen Trager, a former grad-student of his who is now working for the FBI. The history these two have is believable and handled in a very convincing way. They were very human and nothing felt contrived.

The descriptions and imagery were fantastic. The author described the various settings using prose that read like literary ambrosia. Yet, he knew when to cut to the chase, literally, and make the story and plot move at a breathless pace. It reminded me so much of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels that I loved, books I gave up like an addiction back in the days when I had a day job because they would force me to stay up into the wee hours of the night finishing them. Like those best sellers, the sense of danger of this thriller is palpable. There were a few brilliantly funny lines that had me laughing out loud and a touch of romance, masterfully intertwined within this incredible. I not only look forward to the next book, given not all the mystery was resolved in this one, but will probably read this one again. That, also, is something I rarely do. If I could give this book 10 stars I would. Don’t miss it.

Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Review of Elle Klass’ “Baby Girl 6: Return to the Bay”

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Cleo’s saga continues in another suspense-filled episode. If you’re a Cleo fan like I am, you won’t be disappointed in this latest segment of her ongoing story. This one picks up where Baby Girl 5: Caribbean Heat drops you off with a nail-biting cliffhanger. Cleo, her best friend, Kacy, and La Tige have been ambushed and left in dire straits in a warehouse. Upon surviving this ordeal, the set out to figure out who the culprit is and his possible motive. More of Cleo’s family secrets are revealed in the fast-moving sequel. As always, the characters are convincing and endearing and by the time you make it this far in this enjoyable series, they’re like your own family. Cleo’s story just gets better and better.

Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Review of “His Revenge” by John W. Howell

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This fast-moving, well-written and nicely edited thriller keeps you turning the pages as you wonder how hero, John Cannon, is going to get out of his current dilemma. In the first book in this trilogy (My GRL), Cannon foiled a sophisticated group of terrorist’s insidious plan. Needless to say, they’re out for revenge and manage to capture him after which they force him to be part of another devious plot aimed at destroying the economic viability of the west. The suspense is well-sustained, dialog gripping, and characters convincing. The action level was breathtaking. Having not read “My GRL” it was nonetheless relatively easy to follow what had transpired previously. Descriptions of Cannon’s recovery from injuries sustained in the previous book were extremely well done.

However, there were various gaps typical of a serial where the author doesn’t remind a previous reader (or enlighten a new one) with regard to details such as what the characters look like. For example, while it was implied in this volume that the terrorists were of the Middle Eastern variety, their names were not indicative of that heritage. Rather, they had names that suggested European or even American origin. There was also no physical description with regard to their appearance, so they were a faceless enigma. This left me scratching my head throughout the story, wondering “Who exactly are these people?”

I can definitely understand this tendency myself since I’ve written a serial. In the author’s mind it’s one, continuous story and easy to forget to include details that seem redundant, yet they’re essential. I’ve covered some of the things I’ve learned in previous blogs for serial writers such as this one and its follow-up. I’m sure my readers can find similar oversights in my books, so I mention this in all humility.

The motivation for their heinous acts was touched on, but not demonstrated in their personal behavior. While I would expect lethal passion resulting from intense anger, hatred, and a visceral need for revenge, the antagonists behaved more like corporate executives out to annihilate a competitor to keep their stockholders satisfied. They were definitely cold-hearted, but the expected fury at Cannon’s previous actions didn’t come through.

Maybe this was covered in the first book, but evoking the emotional drive behind their acts could have added considerable intensity and additional suspense. If the bad guys were true terrorists, you’d expect that pissing them off further would result in chopping Cannon’s (or a loved one’s) head off on YouTube, but that type of potential didn’t come through. Emotional connection is what really grabs a reader. They need to love the hero and hate the antagonist, or at least fear him/her. This is what makes a story real and comprises a gripping tale.

I hate to get on the soapbox again, but I find it helpful to to assess a book during the content editing process using the acronym IDEAS where I stands for Imagery; D stands for Dialog; E stands for Emotion; A stands for Action and S stands for Suspense. Depending on the genre, a certain balance is required of these elements. Action and dialog often come easily for thriller writers, so going back to include the others is often required. Of course you don’t want to slow the story down, so it needs to be done with finesse, not long, drawn-out descriptions that cause the reader’s eyes to glaze over.

While in this story the terrorists used the fate of loved ones to drive their captives’ cooperation, it seemed that the good guys may have gotten around it a bit too easily, if these terrorists were as smart or well-connected as implied. Especially if the antagonists had as much clout and the ability to infiltrate so many organizations to effect Cannon’s capture, which was not explained, either. Including such things increases a story’s credibility.

Perhaps this was covered in the first book, which would make it required reading to fully appreciate this one. The author has an excellent writing style with a talent for developing a fast moving story with convincing dialog and viable characters. By filling in some of these gaps, kicking up the emotional drive a notch, and a bit more imagery, Howell could easily approach the level of Tom Clancy or John Grisham. I see tremendous potential in his writing that could go from great to outstanding with a bit more attention to detail, though many readers may not care and simply enjoy the fast action. I, personally, like to know the how and wherefore, which is what can drive a great story up a notch to the best seller list.

Review of “Stealing Time” by K.J. Waters

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I have three fairly basic criteria that will earn a book an instant 5-star review: It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, and it keeps me up past my bedtime. As you have probably guessed, “Stealing Time” definitely hit the mark.

I also have tremendous respect for an author who takes nine years to bring a book to completion. Now, of course, this is really bad news if you have to wait that long for the next episode, which hopefully won’t be the case! But IMHO, there’s a certain richness that a novel achieves with time versus those that are kicked out in a few weeks. No offense to those who do so, of course, I’m probably just jealous, because I’m another one who takes a while to finish up a book. Sometimes much longer than nine years, but that’s another story. What I’m getting at is the quality of the characters, imagery and plot details show when a book, like a fine wine, has aged a bit, giving the author time to rethink, embellish and perfect their story. Yeah. Like a fine wine.

As a time travel story, this one is outstanding. The mechanism that transfers the heroine, Ronnie, back in time is in the realm of science fiction, i.e., credible, but not belabored. Thus, this is not true science fiction fodder, but more in the realm for those who love historical fiction since the majority of the story takes place in 18th Century England with some flashbacks (or would it be flashforwards?) to Florida enduring Hurricane Charley, back in 2004, which precipitated the transfer.

The research for this period of time was incredible. The reader is truly transferred back in time to a world so different than ours it feels like another planet. If you don’t think the world has made any progress in the past two hundred fifty years, you definitely need to read this book. While today’s world definitely has its problems and fundamental human nature doesn’t change, it’s incredible to get a glimpse of what England was like back in 1752. Wow. I, for one, am reminded how lucky I am to be living in this century. There are plenty of undercover lessons here, too, with regard to superstitious and unreasonable beliefs that drive a culture, in this case the ridiculous view of what qualified a woman as a witch and how she was subsequently tried and treated. Chilling and horrifying are the first words that come to mind.

The imagery and action was absolutely breathtaking, especially the last fourth of the book, at which point I just sucked it up regardless of the late hour and finished. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, I knew everything wouldn’t be solved, but it did provide a satisfying ending, though there were certainly plenty of unanswered questions to drive the reader’s hunger for the next volume. I highly recommend this well-written story to anyone who loves a thriller, historical fiction or romanticizes the past. Believe me when I say we have come much farther than you may think.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

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Review of “Both Sides Now” by John Reinhard Dizon

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This unique story entirely sucked me in. It has so much substance I scarcely know where to begin. The characters are incredibly real, not only the protagonist, but the supporting ones as well. It feels like real life because there are so many others involved with their own agendas. In this sense, it reads more like a biography as opposed to a novel. The plot is likewise incredibly complex and convincing while it skillfully portrays a slice of history representative of the 60s era.

Lucien Triskellion obtains his PhD in Germany and accepts a teaching job at New York University teaching German. Lucien is a big guy who was a champion amateur wrestler during his college years. It doesn’t take long for someone to notice the fact he can press 500 pounds and lure him into the professional wrestling circuit. If you’re not a wrestling fan, don’t let this stop you from reading this book. I, personally, couldn’t care less about this pseudo-sport, yet I enjoyed this story tremendously because it went so far beyond that. Wrestling comprises numerous settings, but the story was so character-driven that it was comparable to meeting someone really interesting and listening to their life’s story. For example, the dichotomy of Lucien’s life as a university professor versus that of a pro-wrestler, in which he was cast as a bad guy, is gripping in and of itself. If you’re a wrestling fan, then you’ll undoubtedly love it even more as it brings the human element alive with the conflict behind the scenes.

Of course with a young, hot protagonist like Lucien, there’s going to be a romantic angle. This involves Anneliese Krieger, another German immigrant, who lives with her father. As if Lucien doesn’t already have enough going on in his life, Anneliese’s father is falsely accused of Nazi war crimes incident to WWII which results in a gripping trial which is loaded with additional suspense.

The details of all elements of this novel are so vivid and convincing it was easy to get lost in it and forget that it wasn’t real. The author has the masterful ability to include just the right amount of detail to build strong imagery, clear sense of place, as well as character appearance and development. Whether it’s an address in New York City, a famous restaurant, Madison Square Garden, or legal terminology or courtroom protocol, you feel as if you’re there. Needless to say, this book would make an incredible movie.

They say an author should write what he knows, and clearly Dizon knows wrestling, which shows in how he immerses the reader in this crazy world. He’s footnoted some of the unusual terminology and slang, which helps if you’re unfamiliar with it. The business and politics of this sport are explored and exposed as well as the various complications this adds to Lucien’s life and even reflect on the trial of Anneliese’s father. While some of the detail regarding the players in the wrestling business was somewhat overwhelming, possibly a bit overdone, it nonetheless added to the story’s amazing credibility.

I don’t often find myself in a position where I’ll actually miss the characters of a book, but I felt as if Lucien and Anneliese were personal friends by the time it ended. If you enjoy a meaty novel with a different setting, strong, well-developed characters, and a breathless ride through the 60s, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this book. I absolutely give it 5-stars.

You can pick up a copy on Amazon here.

Spotlight Author Blog Tour: Meet Kim Cox!

I’m excited to be a part of RRBC’s Spotlight Author Blog Tour! This week’s featured author is Kim Cox, who writes in several genres, one or more of which is likely to be on your list of favorites. If you’re a fan of the TV series, “The Ghost Whisperer”, then her Lana Malloy series is just what you’ve been waiting for! Keep reading to learn more about Kim and this intriguing series.

Lana Malloy Paranormal Mystery Series

In the LANA MALLOY PARANORMAL MYSTERY SERIES, Lana Malloy is a psychic, private investigator who is on a mission to help the dearly departed even when they don’t realize they need help. With each book, Lana’s psychic abilities grow. As she’s pushed to new limits, she learns she’s capable of much more than she knew.

In book one, HAUNTED HEARTS, Lana sets out to solve her first case—the twenty-year old cold-case and double murder of her great aunt and her great aunt’s fiancé. If she succeeds, they’ll spend eternity together; if she can’t, they’ll be stuck as Haunted Hearts. With the help of the ghosts and a new love interest, she is able to find the murderer.

In book two, GET OUT OR DIE, the success of Lana’s first case has spread throughout the local Charleston area and her business is booming. At one pro-bono job, Lana helps a widow communicate with her late husband where she learns of a frightening new ability—an ability that could give the next spirit, an angry ghost, the upper hand if she’s not careful.

In book three, THE WEDDING CRASHER, Lana is on her honeymoon in Gatlinburg, Tennessee when she learns that a recurring vision about an abducted woman took place in nearby Knoxville. This case takes her hiking up mountainsides and trekking through rough terrain to find a madman before he can harm this young woman.

In the fourth book, CHRISTMAS CRUISE, Lana boards a cruise ship haunted by dead women who were brutally murdered. While aboard the ship Lana has an experience that mentally injures her. Once she recovers, she’s more determined than ever to find the murderer.

Coming up next, book five, HAUNTED BY HER PAST: Lana is faced with the task of helping, Jena, a domestic abuse victim escape the ghost of her dead, abusive, ex-boyfriend.

Other Books Coming In This Series

In book six, DEMI’S SERIAL CASE, the town of Charleston has a serial killer and Demi requires Lana’s assistance. Demi is Lana’s best friend and a police detective. Lana helps Demi profile the killer who is believed to be a copy-cat killer (copying another serial killer’s modus operandi) of the man who has been in jail for about five years.

In book seven, DEATH COMES CALLING, Derek, Tony’s brother has moved back to Charleston after living in the middle east and Africa, treating serious injuries while associated with the organization, Doctors Without Borders. A ghost that died in his care begins to haunt him.

Book eight is of yet untitled, but the idea is that shortly after Demi is promoted to Police Captain, she will be involved in a shootout that leads to her being charged with murder. Lana will need to find the truth in order to save her friend. The problem, the dead spirit isn’t talking and he’s the only one that knows what truly happened.

Also Available at the following book sites:

HAUNTED HEARTS – Book 1 – Available now in print and ebook through Amazon KindleAmazon Print24Symbols, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Page Foundry.

GET OUT OR DIE – Book 2 – Available now in ebook through Amazon Kindle24Symbols, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Page Foundry.

LANA MALLOY PARANORMAL MYSTERY (Box Set 1)  2-Book Set – Available now in ebook through Amazon Kindle24SymbolsBarnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Page Foundry. Save $2 by purchasing the box set.

THE WEDDING CRASHER – Book 3 – Available now in ebook through Amazon24SymbolsBarnes & NobleKoboiTunesPage Foundry, and Scribd.

LANA MALLOY PARANORMAL MYSTERY (Box Set 2) 3-Book Set – Available now in ebook through Amazon24SymbolsBarnes & NobleKobo, and Page Foundry. Save $3 by purchasing the box set.

CHRISTMAS CRUISE – Book 4 – Available now in ebook through Amazon24SymbolsBarnes & NobleKoboiTunesPage Foundry, and Scribd.

Read more . . .

SM - Book CoverallthistimeKCcoverIf you like romantic suspense, be sure to also check out “Suspicious Minds” on Amazon here and “All this Time” on Amazon with this link.

About The Author

KC - Author Photo

Kim Cox is an author of Paranormal, Mystery, Suspense and Romance. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with her chain saw artist husband, their West Highland White Terriers–Scooter and Harley, and a Yorkie mix, Candi. Kim is published in novels, short stories and articles.

Sign up for Kim’s Readers List for exclusive information, new releases, contests, giveaways, and free books.

Visit her at the following sites:

Author’s Website: http://www.kimcoxauthor.com

Blogs: Kim’s Musings, Kim’s Author Support Page

Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/kimcox

Social Media locations:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimcoxauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimCoxAuthor

Google: https://plus.google.com/+KimCoxAuthor/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kimcox

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kimwrtr/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimwrtr

 

Review of “Alien Affairs” by Scott Skipper

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This fast-moving tale was one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read in a long time. Not only did I find numerous scenes laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it had enough suspense for me to stay up into the wee hours of the night to see how it ended.

Ironically, one of the reasons I bought this book was because one of its reviewers gave it a poor rating simply because it was politically incorrect.  And they were right, it certainly is.  And therein was where I found most of the humor. The snarky, cynical comments were such an accurate reflection of the state of the world today that you either laugh or cry.  I, for one, prefer to laugh.

The story begins with the Roswell incident back in 1947, with which any UFO nut like myself is duly familiar. The author did an excellent job of recounting the incident and blending those individuals mentioned in the historical record with fictitious characters.  In fact, it’s difficult to tell where the truth (which is undoubtedly out there) ends and speculation begins, placing this story within that popular sci-fi subgenre where fact mingles comfortably with supposition.

This version of the incident begins when a counter-intelligence officer recovers an e-reader the surviving alien was trying to destroy. They discover that it activates when picked up and displays alien writing on its screen, but shuts down a few moments later, leaving the person slightly light-headed. The device eventually winds up in the hands of the CIA where Miles Ashly, a linguist, and Lambert Gray, a cryptographer, are tasked with the translation and soon discover that as they begin to recognize certain words that the device “speaks” the word telepathically, providing the pronunciation, then eventually starts teaching Ashly the language.  When they uncover the aliens’ “Mission Plan” they are horrified to discover that their intent was to exterminate the human race. Once the failure is apparent to those back on Tau Ceti, a new attempt will be made which they expect will occur around 2016.

The author marches through time, taking us to the present while tying in various historical events, such as the race to the Moon as well as other presidential administrations.  Eventually Ashly retires and decides to teach the alien language to his grand-niece, Carrie Player, telling her it’s the language of the Dogon people. Years later, when he’s on his death bed and Carrie is an adult, he tells her the truth and advises her to write the CIA a letter about her special skills when she graduates from college. She does and, as expected, they hire her.  It takes a couple decades but eventually the dreaded day arrives when three UFOs are discovered on a course toward Earth.  Their plan is not to kill everyone overtly, but rather render everyone sterile, so they would die off over time. The reason for this action is because Earthlings are a potentially harmful, belligerent race that poses a potential danger to other civilizations in interstellar space.

Eventually contact is made with the incoming craft and Carrie converses on her cell phone with their leader, a grey, almond-eyed alien named Deshler, and the real fun begins, starting with her assigning the theme from The Twilight Zone as his ring tone.  Her goal, as expected, is to talk him and his crew out of completing their mission to exterminate the human race.  Various remarks about how our government operates as well as conducts international relations definitely were politically incorrect.  For example, Carrie’s question during one conversation where she asked, “We have many parasites who live off the work of others. Could you use your sterilization stuff selectively? There are plenty of people I would like to stop from reproducing.”

The POTUS is not shown in a positive light, either, which would undoubtedly be offensive to some if you projected his identity to an actual person. Frankly, depending on your political persuasion, he could be from either major party, both of which are laughable these days, if you maintain your objectivity and sense of humor. Thus, those of you who can see our current state of affairs for the FUBAR it is will appreciate the satire and what is a rather convincing tale with enough credibility to make you wonder, as good fiction should.

The dialog is convincing but includes quite a few f-bombs, so those who prefer less graphic language may want to look elsewhere. If you’re a UFO fan you’ll recognize numerous familiar stories and names which provide authenticity and credibility as they interact with Skipper’s characters.  Depictions of how the various government agencies would react to the situation’s developments are believable, the characters diverse and engaging, the technology described sufficient to satisfy hard sci-fi fans.  The story would make an excellent mini-series with its outstanding balance of humor, suspense, and UFO lore, somewhat like a cross between The X-Files and Men in Black. I found it sci-fi at its best with any political incorrectness contributing to its authenticity.  I’m actually glad that it’s the first book in a series and look forward to reading the sequels.

You can pick up a copy at Amazon here.  (Affiliate link)