Tag Archives: suspense

A Day in the Life of Amanda Doucette by Barbara Fradkin

Fire in the StarsIn my life, no two days are alike. Especially not now, when I am actually between lives. For over ten years I have worked as an international aid worker in different parts of Asia and Africa. It suited my restless spirit, my love of adventure, and my compassion for others. I loved the work and the people I met – their food, their culture and music, their humour and courage – but a year ago a terrifying encounter with a band of thugs waving AK47s left my health and sanity in tatters. Back in Canada, my safe haven, I retreated to my aunt’s country cabin to heal my wounds and to figure out whether I would ever have the courage to go back into the line of fire. Increasingly, aid workers are soft targets for every terrorist group trying to be the toughest on the block.

An experience like that forever puts you on the other side of an abyss from ordinary people, so I’ve been feeling pretty rootless, directionless, and alone. My parents live a nice, safe life inside the ivory tower of their university careers, and after ten years as a nomad, I have dozens of friends around the world but none at home. I really have nothing but my lime green motorcycle, which gives me the freedom to roam – and escape – and Kaylee, my exuberant Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, who makes me laugh and keeps me safe.

For a year I’ve worked on a daily rhythm that includes fitness training, biking, therapy, yoga, and mindful meditation. I always delighted in cuisine from all over the world, but I’ve never had much patience for cooking. This past year, I’ve tried to impose some discipline on my diet. I’ve inched towards health, but the cabin days have been long and lonely. As it healed, my spirit grew restless for fun and adventure again, so when my friend and fellow trauma survivor, Phil Cousins, wrote to invite me on a wild Newfoundland adventure of whales, icebergs, and mountain hikes, I bought Kaylee a custom bike trailer, threw some clothes in a bag, and set off.

This first story, FIRE IN THE STARS, opens as I stand on the top deck of the ferry, getting my first glimpse of the rugged Newfoundland coast. I’m excited but worried. I haven’t heard from Phil in days, and I don’t know where to meet him. Newfoundland is a big place, with eleven thousand miles of coastline and millions of mountains and trees. More importantly, his wife tells me that he left home the day before with his young son in tow. The young son had not been in our plans; I love the boy, but this was to be a journey of catharsis and healing, not a family outing. Perhaps even more than me, Phil has been damaged by our ordeal, and I know he can go to some very dark places inside. Not places you would take an eleven year-old boy, if you were thinking at all clearly.

So I feared for Phil, and for his son, as I embarked on my trip across Newfoundland in search of him. The ensuing days were full of twists and harrowing adventures as the mystery of his disappearance deepened. I found out that pain and danger don’t just erupt in faraway lands ravaged by war and poverty, but can bump up against the quiet, almost deserted shores of Canada as well. But I also found the beginnings of a path forward. A path that stays true to my spirit and my dreams, but hopefully keeps me safe. Although no two days are ever likely to be the same.

Fire In The Stars is the first book in the NEW Amanda Doucette mystery series, published by Dundurn Press, September 2016.

A former aid worker returns home haunted by her time in Africa and channels her pain into a murder investigation that’s all too personal.

After surviving a horrific trauma in Nigeria, international aid worker Amanda Doucette returns to Canada to rebuild her life and her shaken ideals. There, the once-passionate, adventurous woman needs all her strength and ingenuity when a friend and fellow survivor goes missing along with his son.

A trained first-aid and crisis responder, Doucette ― always accompanied by her beloved dog Kaylee ― joins forces with RCMP officer Chris Tymko to discover the truth about the disappearance. Their search leads them to the Great Northern Peninsula, a rugged landscape of Viking history, icebergs, whales, and fierce ocean storms. Elsewhere, a body gets hauled up in a fisherman’s net, and evidence is mounting of an unsettling connection with Amanda’s search for her friend. Fradkin writes evocatively of the beautiful, often hostile, Newfoundland landscape where Amanda soon finds herself fighting for her very survival.

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Meet the author
Barbara Fradkin is a retired child psychologist with a fascination for why we turn bad. Besides her short stories and easy-read short novels, she is best known for her gritty, psychological Inspector Green series, which has received two Arthur Ellis Best Novel Awards. She is now embarking on a new mystery suspense series featuring former international aid worker Amanda Doucette, who battles her own traumatic past to help people in trouble. Connect with Barbara at www.barbarafradkin.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Fire in the Stars. US and Canadian entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 29, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

My Musing ~ Girl on the Run by Daryl Wood Gerber

Girl on the Run by Daryl Wood Gerber is her first suspense novel. Publisher: Chucklin, Inc., April 2016

Girl on the RunWhen a fairytale fantasy night becomes a nightmare, Chessa Paxton must run for her life…but will the truth set her free?

Chessa Paxton, an event planner in Lake Tahoe, celebrates a successful night at the Happily Ever After Ball, but her dream quickly becomes a nightmare when she wakes up beside the body of her dead husband. Nauseous and confused, feeling as if she’s been drugged, she can’t explain to the sheriff why her princess costume is bloodied. With her father already a convicted murderer, she feels invisible shackles ratcheting onto her wrists and ankles. She runs! But she can’t escape vivid flashes of memory: a massacre in a meadow; men and women in fairy tale costumes; Snow White’s dead body shielding her from bullets.

Though Chessa is a former costumer and a master of disguise, she quickly learns that hiding while trying to prove herself innocent is the most difficult task imaginable. Especially when the sheriff wants to throw her in jail and the real killer wants to silence her forever.

What happens when you wake up next to your husband who is dead and you become the prime suspect? You run and during that run you look for clues that points to the real killer. What happens next is an intriguing mystery that the author pulled off with great success.

This fast-paced and action-packed drama grabbed my attention immediately as the author wove a suspenseful tale where nothing is as it seems. Throw in a few surprising twists and turns and this drama kept me riveted to the pages as I had to know how this will all end. I love how this story kept changing directions keeping me on alert as to what was going to happen next and I loved how everything came to that point where all I could say was “whoa,” I did not see that coming. The parallel movements and byplay of Chessa and Marcus was great junction that enhanced the telling of this tale. This is a terrific read and great foray into the suspense genre for the author.

My Musing ~ Outside the Lines by Sheila Lowe

Outside the Lines by Sheila Lowe is the sixth book in the “Forensic Handwriting” mystery series. Publisher: Suspense Publishing, August 2016

Outside The LinesWhat should have been a routine afternoon on the witness stand for Forensic Handwriting Expert Claudia Rose turns into a shocking assault that leaves her bruised and bloodied. Following on the heels of a series of other traumatic events, the attack sends Claudia to the brink of a breakdown.

Her fiancé, L.A.P.D. Homicide Detective Joel Jovanic, learns of the attack while leading a homicide investigation into a mailbox bomb. An innocent housekeeper in the tony Venice neighborhood is dead and the homeowner is the CEO of a major pesticide-producing corporation that has been targeted in the past. When a notebook found in a geocache near the crime scene leads to the protest group People for Safe Food, Jovanic needs Claudia to identify the handwriting of a suspected eco-terrorist.

Though she may have recovered physically from the assault, weeks later Claudia’s fears continue to plague her. Desperate to get away, she accepts an invitation to lecture in the UK, but her trip turns into a nightmare when she runs afoul of both the FBI and New Scotland Yard. Jovanic’s homicide case has followed her to London where she finds herself unexpectedly allied with the chief suspect.

In this fast-paced and action-packed drama tainted with international intrigue, we find that the need for Claudia’s handwriting skill will play an important role in Joel’s apprehension of a devious adversary. When it becomes apparent that Claudia’s desire to help an ally infringes on Joel’s case, the resulting tempo takes a thrilling turn as the author brilliantly tells a story that quickly became a page turner.

The players were already set-up and it was the narrative that brought the richness of the exploits to a cascade of suspense that set the stage for lives lost, all in the name of greed. The author did a great job in keeping me on my toes and that surprising twist at the end, that I did not see coming. Good job. I liked that the author also gave us insights into the art of handwriting forensics which made this tale more alive than just words on a page. Claudia is a great protagonist and I admire her strength in doing what’s right, even if it’s not popular. Her ongoing relationship with Joel is a bonus and the personal aspects enhances the telling of this tale. This is an excellent read and I look forward to the next book in this terrific series.

My Musing ~ Random Acts by J.A. Jance

Random Acts by J.A. Jance is the third novella in the “Joanna Brady” suspense series. Publisher: Witness Impulse, August 2016

Random ActsFrom New York Times bestselling author J. A. JANCE comes an all- new novella, in which Sheriff Joanna Brady and investigator Ali Reynolds join forces to solve a crime thathas hit dangerously close to home.

Sheriff Joanna Brady has a lot on her plate—she is up for re-election as sheriff, pregnant with her third child, and her eldest is packing up to leave for college. Then Joanna is woken in the middle of the night by a call reporting a motor vehicle accident. Her mother and stepfather’s RV ran off the road at high speed and hit the pillar of an overpass.

Something about the accident seems suspicious, though, and when Joanna gets a call from Ali Reynolds, a journalist turned investigator, she accepts her offer to help. They come up with a plan to find out who was responsible…even if that person is not the villain they’d expected.

This fast-paced thriller is a prelude to DownFall, the next book in the Joanna Brady series. Joanna gets disturbing news about her parents and in a single moment, thanks to her mother, it goes from an accident to murder. The author did a great job in delivering a nicely packed and tightly woven tale of suspense with an intriguing twist with how this short story ends. This riveting page turner has me geared up for more exploits with Joanna and the gang.

A Day in the life of Raissa James by Carolyn Haines

The Book of BelovedA Woman Of Words

Before World War I, my life stretched before me like the neat and orderly rows of marigolds in my neighbor’s garden. I’d married the man I loved, a young lawyer. We’d rented the perfect cottage in Savannah, Georgia, a city filled with grace and beauty. The pattern of my days made sense. I woke up in my husband’s arms. I cooked breakfast and sent him to his office with a smile. I maintained our home and cooked and cleaned and met him at the door with a kiss. In the evenings, we sat on the porch or before a fire, reading our books, talking, as close as we could get to one another. I’d found my safe harbor, the life I loved, the man who led me into marriage with humor and strength.

And then the war came and everything changed.

When Alex was killed on a European battlefield—a hero who saved the lives of his fellow soldiers–I clung to the new routine I’d developed in his absence. I’d become a schoolteacher. English literature and grammar, at the local high school. Stunned by my husband’s death, I continued with the solitary life I’d built, and had thought was only temporary. Never had I anticipated I would live without Alex.

When my Uncle Brett Airlie invited me to spend the summer on his Mobile, Alabama, estate, Caoin House, I almost declined. He’d planned a weekend party in my honor, and the thought of staying in Savannah alone with no students to teach for the summer finally convinced me to board the train to Mobile. I was prone to depression when I was alone.

My uncle’s estate is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Acres and acres of pecan groves, gardens, live oak trees, forests, and swamps. Coain House is the crown—a vast house with porches, balconies, and a gracious charm that epitomizes the Southern way of life.

Uncle Brett is an inventor—and a very social man. He loves a good party, dancing, drinking (even though it’s illegal), and spending time with friends. He’s a bachelor, but he has a lovely friend, Isabel. She’s smart, kind, and social, a perfect companion for his parties and occasional mischief. Uncle Brett is after me to stay at Caoin House, permanently. He’s a man with modern views, and he supports my ambition to become a writer of ghost stories. I want to be the female M.R. James or Sheridan Le Fanu or Henry James. That’s my secret ambition, one I’m almost afraid o speak aloud.

Some people think that writing is not a profession for a woman. Especially not stories of ghosts and ghouls and the dead. That terrain is the fertile ground of Mr. Poe and other men. While I love their stories, I believe I, too, can spin a tale of mystery with a bit of a chill. I want to try, and Uncle Brett encourages me. I’m proud to say my uncle is a modern man, one who believes a woman deserves the vote and the right to own property and determine her own fate. He is not averse to the current fashions and finds the flapper to be a “charming invention.” As I said earlier, he loves inventions. Most of his have been applied to powering steamboats.

As much as I love staying at Caoin House, there is something amiss her. My uncle sees the spirit of a beautiful woman. It must be none other than Eva Whitehead, the first mistress of Caoin House.

And late at night, the ghostly image of a handsome Confederate cavalry officer wanders the oak grove in front of Caoin House. He wants something from me, and I’m almost afraid to find out what.

If I’m to be a writer, I need to determine what these restless spirits want. That’s my mission at Caoin House. I want to explore the spirit world by whatever means possible, including a visit with the famous medium, Madam Petalungro, in New Orleans.

Perhaps I’ll stay the summer in Mobile with Uncle Brett. Maybe longer. And while I’m here, maybe my heart will start the long process of letting go of Alex.

Maybe if I can put the ghosts of Caoin House to rest, I can help my own ghosts settle into the long sleep of the grave.

The Book Of Beloved is the first book in the Pluto’s Snitch mystery series, published by Thomas and Mercer, August 2016.

Murder, Mystery, Ghosts And All That Jazz

As a young woman widowed by World War I, Raissa James is no stranger to ghosts. But when an invitation arrives from Caoin House, her uncle’s estate in Mobile, Alabama, she’s finally ready to cast off the shadows of her past. And what better way to do so than with a grand party in her honor? An aspiring authoress, Raissa’s eager to soak up more of life—and immerse herself in the dark history that haunts the estate.

But the revelries come to an abrupt end when one of her uncle’s guests takes a deadly plunge. And when a ghost from the property’s past, a Confederate soldier, reveals himself to Raissa, she’s more determined than ever to get to the heart of the mysterious deaths that plague Caoin House. Enlisting the help of Reginald Proctor, a self-proclaimed medium, she holds a séance to shed light on old secrets. But she discovers that some secrets, even those long dead, still have a startling hold on the living…

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About the author
USA TODAY bestselling author Carolyn Haines is the author of over 70 books. The Book Of Beloved is the first book in a new series published by Thomas & Mercer. She is also the author of the popular Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series. Haines is the founder of Good Fortune Farm Refuge, a 501c3 animal rescue. Learn more about her books and animals at www.carolynhaines.com and sign up for her newsletter. We invite you to follow the author on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub

Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub is the second book in the Mundy’s Landing suspense trilogy. Publisher: HarperCollins, July 2016

Blue MoonNew York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub returns to Mundy’s Landing—a small town where bygone bloodshed has become big business.

Hair neatly braided, hands serenely clasped, eyes closed, the young woman appeared to be sound asleep. But the peaceful tableau was a madman’s handiwork. Beneath the covers, her white nightgown was spattered with blood. At daybreak, a horrified family would discover her corpse tucked into their guest room. The cunning killer would strike again . . . and again . . . before vanishing into the mists of time.

A century ago, the Sleeping Beauty Murders terrified picturesque Mundy’s Landing. The victims, like the killer, were never identified. Now, on the hundredth anniversary, the Historical Society’s annual “Mundypalooza” offers a hefty reward for solving the notorious case.

Annabelle Bingham, living in one of the three Murder Houses, can’t escape the feeling that her family is being watched—and not just by news crews and amateur sleuths. She’s right. Having unearthed the startling truth behind the horrific crimes, a copycat killer is about to reenact them—beneath the mansard roof of Annabelle’s dream home.

I love a book that starts with a steady tempo and then BAM you are knocked off your feet with this intensely-paced drama that deals in the present while hauntingly taking you to the past. I love the way this is set-up, giving me a look into the killer’s mind and activities, not knowing exactly who IS the killer. Mirroring the past with the kidnappings and murders keeps the town on their toes and me riveted to all that is happening on the page. I liked how the author teased us with hints, here and there, keeping the killer’s identity locked until it was time for the reveal and boy did I enjoy the capture. The author does a great job in building the scenes with compelling visualization, developing the characters and the role they play and creating a dialogue that heightened all my senses and had my heart palpitating as this whodunit progressed towards an ending befitting this well-written tome. This was a very enjoyable read and I look forward to the conclusion of this trilogy, which we got a sneak preview.

A Conversation with Cassidy Clark by Lala Corriere

Bye Bye BonesFOR THE FIRST TIME in four months, my schedule allowed me to sleep in. I would not. Unless on a stakeout, pre-dawn allowed me my best writing time away from my detective work.

Looking across the desert riparian while spying the awakening wildlife gifts me a feverish creativity.

With a fountain near my front door, I’m used to the clamorous ritual. My two teacup Yorkies, however, didn’t become accustomed to such a racket, producing ear-piercing barks when the javelina came up in herds to get the life-sustaining drink of water.

This morning became more normal as the sun began to rise. I found myself out of coffee pods, which left me with some sort of detoxifying dandelion root tea. It must work because every time I drink it I have diarrhea. My cat barfed up a good one. Not a little pile. She had to do the projectile vomiting thing, and although my house is almost all tile and wood floors the Ragdoll had to puke on my oriental rug. Finally, once again, my morning newspaper landed smack in the middle of the prickly pear cacti at my drive.

I seem to write what is always my last solved case as these stories prove to be stranger than fiction. I’ll twist around the names and locations and timelines and I’ll have another best seller, not because I’m that great of a writer but because I live these plots. Sometimes I live in these worlds for as long as a year. Sometimes, they are unshakeable for what will be my lifetime.

I had just finished writing my last chapter about the missing women of Tucson, to include a prominent but largely distrusted congresswoman, when my phone rang.

Sheppard “Schlep” Brown, number one on my detective team, proved to be our main brain. It seemed like he memorized the WWW while hitting the refresh button every morning.

He told me he would be at my home in ten minutes, which usually meant he wanted to swim some laps before work. I’m not a psychic, but I am a sensitive. Usually, the hairs on the nape of my neck rise when there is danger or even unwariness. Lately, I’ve been hearing the humming. Not like tinnitus and not like the vortexes of the earth in Sedona. Just a low hum resonating from deep inside of me.

My neck felt wildly tingly and my entire body sunk into the abyss of the humming as I hung up the phone.

Schlep knew to come through my house and out to the pool, and he knew my usually yapping dogs would only run to give him wet kisses at his ankles.

“Cassidy, I’ve been asked to deliver you some news, in person. Will you sit down?”

I love Schlep but he’s not the best at social etiquette. This request had me on full alert. I sat down on the chaise lounge and placed my cup of that nasty tea on a nearby table.

“Your friend, Catherine Bibbione, has passed away.”

I put my hands up to somehow support my face. “I don’t understand.”

“She died early morning, Rome time. Probably about the time you were climbing into bed.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Your friend, Breecie, is on the way down here.”

“She’s moving here,” I snapped, which is not at all like me.

“She asked that I come here and tell you.”

“I don’t understand. Catherine was healthy. The original let’s get physical girl. How?”

“Her husband claims it was a heroin overdose.”

Bingo. That’s why Schlep got involved. No one would believe that Catherine died of a drug overdose. Catherine would only sip at a flute of champagne on New Year’s Eve.

One more thing. Catherine was married to a mob boss that floated between Rome, New York, and Tucson the way most of us find a Starbucks on every corner. With ease.

I wish I would have slept in that morning with my phone turned off. My intuition ate at my stomach. This would be my new case. I would fly to Italy to properly say goodbye to my friend. And, without a doubt, I’d be taking on one of the largest Dons in the world. Anthony Bibbione.

For the first time, I felt real danger. The humming was all-consuming.

Bye Bye Bones is the first book in the NEW Cassidy Clark suspense series, published by Bridge Publishing, October 2015.

Jaxon Giles’ beloved dog is dead. He can’t prove it, but he knows who killed Gecko. His stalking ex-wife wants to take away anything and anyone he loves.

Private investigator Cassidy Clark agrees to run surveillance, while in the midst of helping the city of Tucson.

Women are disappearing. Gone. Were they murdered? Kidnapped and being held captive? A cult that enticed them to leave all belongings behind?

Without bodies and any crime scenes, there is no DNA. No evidence. No trace.

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Note: If you like what you’ve read, you can download a free kindle copy of Bye Bye Bones today (June 25, 2016) only.

Meet the author
LalaCorriere is the author of five titles in suspense & thriller. Her most recent work, Bye Bye Bones, released in November 2015. Credits include the endorsement and mentorship from the late Sidney Sheldon, listed on USA Today as MUST READ SUSPENSE, and blurbs from Betty Webb, Andrew Neiderman, J.Carson Black, Paris Afton Bonds, and KT Bryan.

A desert rat, Corriere nestles there with her husband of twenty-seven years, and two Teacup Yorkies, Finnegan and Phoebe.  Visit Lala at lalacorriere.com

All comments are welcomed.

Author Showcase ~ Girl On The Run by Daryl Wood Gerber

Girl on the Run

When a fairytale fantasy night becomes a nightmare, Chessa Paxton must run for her life. . .but will the truth set her free?

Chessa Paxton, an event planner in Lake Tahoe, celebrates a successful night at the Happily Ever After Ball, but her dream quickly becomes a nightmare when she wakes up beside the body of her dead husband. Nauseous and confused, feeling as if she’s been drugged, she can’t explain to the sheriff why her princess costume is bloodied. With her father already a convicted murderer, she feels invisible shackles ratcheting onto her wrists and ankles. She runs! But she can’t escape vivid flashes of memory: a massacre in a meadow; men and women in fairy tale costumes; Snow White’s dead body shielding her from bullets.

Though Chessa is a former costumer and a master of disguise, she quickly learns that hiding while trying to prove herself innocent is the most difficult task imaginable. Especially when the sheriff wants to throw her in jail and the real killer wants to silence her forever.

Release: April 2016
Genre: Suspense
Publisher: Chucklin, Inc.

About the author
Agatha Award-winning and nationally bestselling author Daryl Wood Gerber ventures into the world of suspense with her gripping debut novel, Girl On The Run.

Daryl also writes the bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries and as Avery Aames, she pens the bestselling Cheese Shop Mysteries.

Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote“. In addition, she has jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. She absolutely adores Lake Tahoe, where Girl On The Run is set, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky.

Visit Daryl at www.darylwoodgerber.com.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win either a print (US entries only, please) or e-book (open to everyone) of Girl On The Run. The giveaway will end June 2, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Maggie Gardiner by Lisa Black

That DarknessThere’s nothing particularly interesting about my life. What I do is pretty routine, most of the time: I compare fingerprints and photograph crime scenes and collect items of evidence. All the excitement is over when I get there—which is the way I like it—and I’m happy to let the police officers deal with tackling the suspects or talking to the press or comforting the family. I don’t have a spouse or children or even a dog—I live in a downtown apartment that doesn’t allow pets—but I’m not lonely. I have my co-workers, DNA analyst Carol and my boss Denny, who is currently a little scatterbrained because his wife is about to have their third child.

Cleveland is a major city with a healthy homicide rate. I see a lot of drug dealers perforated in a drive-by and abused women with the life crushed out of them. So it’s not exactly a surprise when a guy turns up dead in an alley, and in any event there isn’t much I can do except to test for gunshot residue on the clothing and estimate whether he was shot from a distance or up close and personal. It isn’t even necessary in this case since the man died from three shots to the back of the head—obviously close and personal—with a twenty-two. A small caliber, a relatively un-dramatic means for an execution, but cheap and effective. This leaves me with no DNA to collect and without hairs and fibers from the suspect’s clothes since the victim never got a chance to struggle. But with no ID on him I have to ink and roll his cold fingers–again, just a routine day, a visit to the morgue and back to the lab to run them through our database. The guy’s name pops up, which links him to an extensive criminal history. Big surprise. Much more poignant to me is the battered young girl we find draped over a grave in the ancient downtown cemetery—her fingerprints don’t connect her to any history at all. No one has even reported her missing. How does that happen?

I examine her clothes for hairs and fibers, since there had obviously been quite a struggle. But before I follow any trail to her past another dead guy turns up, no ID, maybe foreign clothing. . .and a few details which make me believe that he is connected to the young girl. Not only connected, but I think he’s the one who killed her—question is, who killed him? With three twenty-two slugs through the cerebellum.

Then a very white-collar child pornographer is found, his body nearly mummified, with. . .three shots to the back of the head. It’s not a pattern, exactly—.22 is a cheap and common caliber, and there is no way this guy would have set foot in the alleys the dead gangbanger frequented, or dealt with the violent human trafficker. The only thing these guys had in common was a police record.

A police record.

I begin to have worrisome thoughts and theories, all of which I have to keep to myself. If I am wrong, my career could be forever trashed, and my job is everything to me. It is my life. It is my home.

But if I am right then the killer is very, very close to that home. And me.

That Darkness is the first book in the NEW Gardiner and Renner suspense series, published by Kensington, April 2016.

As a forensic investigator for the Cleveland Police Department, Maggie Gardiner has seen her share of Jane Does. The latest is an unidentified female in her early teens, discovered in a local cemetery. More shocking than the girl’s injuries—for Maggie at least—is the fact that no one has reported her missing. She and the detectives assigned to the case (including her cop ex-husband) are determined to follow every lead, run down every scrap of evidence. But the monster they seek is watching each move, closer to them than they could ever imagine.

Jack Renner is a killer. He doesn’t murder because he savors it, or because he believes himself omnipotent, or for any reason other than to make the world a safer place. When he follows the trail of this Jane Doe to a locked room in a small apartment where eighteen teenaged girls are anything but safe, he knows something must be done. But his pursuit of their captor takes an unexpected turn.

Maggie Gardiner finds another body waiting for her in the autopsy room—and a host of questions that will challenge everything she believes about justice, morality, and the true nature of evil . . .

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About the author
Lisa Black has spent over 20 years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into 6 languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s List and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series. Visit Lisa at lisa-black.com, @LisaBlackAuthor and on Facebook.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of That Darkness. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end May 3, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Jude Hamner by Catriona McPherson

Quiet NeighborsI know as soon as I wake that I’m not in London. The silence is broken by a single car – maybe a farmer in his Landrover, delivering a sack of feed. I hear it coming on the only road that snakes through the fields, between stone walls. I hear it passing my cottage and then listen till it fades to perfect quiet again.

Then I’m up, throwing the curtains open, letting the watery winter sunlight in. My windows are so pristine. No traffic to send up exhaust fumes to coat them . And my floors are so smooth under my feet. No grit gathers there to make my soles itch.

I always thought the countryside was dirty – animals and mud – but when I peg out a line of tea towels and watch them twitch and billow in the thin wind that blows off the sea . . . I feel the pure clean rightness of being here and it fills me.

Even when it’s threatening to rain, like today, I can dust, mop and vacuum the whole place, two rooms up and two rooms down, in the hour after breakfast before work. Sets me up for the day like a tonic.

Round at the bookshop, I draw on the good the tonic has done me. I’m done with Biography – at last! – and ready to tackle Homecrafts and Cooking. People are pigs. How hard is it to have a selection of different sizes of clear plastic bag to pop over your open cookbook while it sits on the worktop beside your chopping board? How can anyone stand to have the pages splattered and crusted like that? And why do they think a stranger might buy their crusts and splatters secondhand?

I wipe and wipe and wipe. Sometimes I chip at the pages with the blade of a knife. Occasionally, I give up and smuggle one into the recycling, when Lowell’s not looking. Because of course he’s worse than anyone! Polishes his glasses on his hanky, rinses out his coffee mug under the cold tap in the toilet, puts his toothbrush – not at the bookshop but I can’t stop thinking about it – puts his toothbrush, bristles down, on the sink. The bathroom sink where he washes his hands after . . . I have to stop thinking about it.

Like I stop myself thinking about the money I touch when a customer comes in and buys a book. I take the fiver in my hand and caress the spit of the person who counted it out with a licked finger and the nose of the person before that who scratched while they were waiting for their change and the germs of the one who keeps money in a pocket with the tissue they use to stifle their sneezes and the sweat of the one who put it in her bra or down his sock.

And then the customer holds out a bag of toffees and asks if I want one. If I want to unwrap a sweet with my radioactive hand covered in spit and sneezes and sock juice.

“No, thanks,” I say and try to smile.

“Health nut, are you?” says the customer. “There’s nothing in toffee to hurt you, you know. Typical London.”

Quiet Neighbors is the author’s fifth suspenseful standalones published by Midnight Ink, April 2016.

It’s the oldest bookshop in a town full of bookshops; rambling and disordered, full of treasures if you look hard. Jude found one of the treasures when she visited last summer, the high point of a miserable vacation. Now, in the depths of winter, when she has to run away, Lowell’s chaotic bookshop in that backwater of a town is the safe place she runs to.

Jude needs a bolt-hole; Lowell needs an assistant and, when an affordable rental is thrown in too, life begins to look up. The gravedigger’s cottage isn’t perfect for a woman alone but at least she has quiet neighbours.

Quiet, but not silent. The long dead and the books they left behind both have tales to tell and the dusty rooms of the bookshop are not the haven they seem to be. Lowell’s past and Jude’s present are a dangerous cocktail of secrets and lies and someone is coming to light the taper that could destroy everything.

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About the author
Catriona McPherson is the author of the multi-award-winning Dandy Gilver series of preposterous 1920s detective stories set in her native Scotland, and a strand of also-quite-award-winning darker contemporary standalones. The Child Garden is a 2016 finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark award and Quiet Neighbors (with starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Kirkus) came out nine days ago. Catriona lives on 20 scruffy acres in northern California with a black cat and a scientist.

Connect with Catriona at catrionamcpherson.com, @CatrionaMcP and on Facebook.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Quiet Neighbors. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end April 22, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.