Tag Archives: thriller

The case as told to D.J. Schuette by Special Agent Nicholas Keegan, F.B.I.

chaosThe Case: The Medallion Hunt Murder

Ice crystals sheathed my eyelashes and tugged at the hairs in my nostrils. Every breath was like an inhalation of flame. Ten below will do that. Tack on a fifteen-mile-an-hour wind carrying shrapnel shards of snow and ice, and it feels a bit like a scythe carving the flesh right off your body.

Only in Minnesota are there souls crazy enough to venture out for hours in such conditions to search for the Winter Carnival medallion. At least eight hundred of us huddled together near the anticipated spot. The glow of cellphones hovered on a vapor of breath as thick as smoke, casting us all in a shimmering, ghostly light.

It wasn’t the prospect of the $10,000 prize that had drawn me out that night, though that was how the whole thing started. As a forensic criminologist with the FBI—a profiler—I used the annual treasure hunt as a fun way to match psychological and intellectual wits with someone whose intentions weren’t intrinsically coupled with violence and/or death.

But this year, the nightly riddles took a decidedly sinister turn. Admittedly, the clues are vague and can be interpreted any number of ways—so much so that hunters are often in the wrong park right up to the very end. But as the clues progressed, so did the ripple of unease crawling over my skin. Something wasn’t right. Still, it was just a hunch. Nothing I could prove, and certainly nothing I was prepared to officially act on.

I’d tried to unravel the mystery before everyone else, but the clue writer had other plans. He’d forced the hunt to go to the very end. His ego demanded a spectacle. And I knew he was there among us, waiting to see how his little drama would unfold.

I refreshed the Pioneer Press webpage again, and there it was. The twelfth and final clue. A mad dash to a small bowl-shaped valley ensconced in the trees ensued. Bundled as we were against the cruel elements, we stumbled through the deep snow, looking like a crazed, charging battalion, hunting implements of choice slung over our shoulders.

By the hundreds, people collapsed onto their knees and began to hack at the snow, their tools—pitchforks, rakes, shovels, spades, and jimmy-rigged things I couldn’t begin to define—glinting in the light of a thousand lanterns, flashlights, and headlamps. The air smelled of kerosene. Metal sang off of ice. Overrun as the space was with writhing bodies jockeying for position, I marveled that people weren’t slashed to bits in the melee.

I watched as people crumbled clumps of snow between gloved fingers and inspected hunks of tree bark and trash. Across from me I noticed a man whose interest was intently focused on the confusion below. He was filming the chaos. I slowly began to circle toward him.

Seconds later a woman shrieked. A collective groan went up from the crowd, who’d assumed she’d spirited away their chances at the prize. But I heard the quaver in her voice that signaled it was a scream of terror and not one of triumph. She screamed again, and a chorus of “Oh my Gods!” and “Holy shits!” filled the night. As people staggered back in horror, I caught a glimpse. Atop a bed of crimson snow lay a man’s head. The medallion was stuck between his blue-gray lips.

Ballsy, but even I had to admit, if the killer hoped to get away with the murder, this wasn’t a bad play. Physical evidence would be all but impossible to gather after damn near a thousand people had trampled and contaminated the scene.

“FBI!” I shouted over the commotion, keeping my eye on the voyeur not twenty yards ahead of me. “Everyone step away. Now!” The man’s head shot up, and his eyes met mine for a brief second before he bolted. I drew my Glock and gave chase. “Call the police!” I yelled, dodging people as they stumbled out of the valley. Most had their phones pointed toward the vic, taking pictures and video. I only just avoided crashing into a woman as she doubled over and puked in the snow at my feet.

Up ahead, my subject escaped the glow of the lamps and became nothing more than an indistinct shadow crashing through the trees. But he was headed in the right direction. I cut around the wooded area just in time to hear my boss, Bill Quentin, shout, “FBI, stop right there!”

A spotlight from a nearby Crown Vic exploded to life. The man faltered and threw his arms up in front of his face.

“On your knees. Hands behind your head,” I yelled. He quickly complied.

“Holy hell, Keegan, I can’t believe it,” Quentin said as I frisked and cuffed the suspect. “I thought for sure you’d lost your damn mind.”

I yanked down the balaclava covering the guy’s face and checked the ID in his wallet. Just as I’d suspected.

“David Davenport, crime writer for the Pioneer Press, you’re under arrest for murder.”


Chaos is the author’s debut novel published by Critical Eye Publishing, December 2016.

Aleksandr Zorin is a sadistic psychopath and one of the most prolific killers in United States’ history. Exploiting the flaws in an ineffective ViCAP database, he has remained invisible for nearly fifteen years. No one knows he exists. But that’s about to change in a horrifying way.

Special Agent Nicholas Keegan is a forensic criminologist working for the FBI’s Violent Crimes Squad in Minnesota. An expert in the field of abnormal psychology, he employs his unique expertise to profile and capture society’s most dangerous and violent offenders. An unusual case sent his way from a friend in California sets Nick on the path of a killer unlike any he’s ever faced.

An innovative overhaul of ViCAP reveals the staggering enormity of the case, and Nick quickly comes to a disturbing realization—his unsub isn’t just a killer. He’s a profiler.

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Meet the author
D.J. Schuette is an author and editor residing in the oft-chilly northern suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His work covers a wide variety of genres—from dark thrillers, to horror, to YA Fantasy and beyond. He is a published and award-winning songwriter and poet and the creator of enterthemaelstrom.com, a fictional blog written from the perspective of Aleksandr Zorin, the serial killer featured in his first novel Chaos. D.J.’s personal blog, a comprehensive list of works in progress, features on some of his friends in the Minnesota writing community, and pictures of his adorable dog Pogo can all be found on his author’s page at djschuette.com.

All comments are welcomed.

The Game with Cara Lindstrom by Alexandra Sokoloff

bitter-moonAs a ward of the court, Cara’s Thanksgiving would be entirely different from the warm holiday we generally associate with the day. This season especially I wanted to remember that not everyone is sitting down to turkey dinners and football and family.

The van turns, rolls up a curved drive toward a low, wide suburban box with two wings, a brown lawn, scruffy palm trees and a dry fountain with a dusty angel. The group home.

She gets out of the van holding her cheap backpack, containing one change of clothes: jeans and a turtleneck, and socks and a sleep shirt. All the possessions she has in the world.

She forces herself to walk up the path to the porch. She is looking at the doors, the windows, the gates, checking escape routes, even as The Game begins. The Game of Normal.

She must play it—play it and win.

She will never go back to jail, ever.

She is fourteen.

Inside the entry hall she glances around quickly, memorizing the floor plan and exits. She has been in the black hole of The Cage for two endless years. But there is nothing she doesn’t know about group homes. She has been on every level. Levels 13 and 14 serve the most troubled children; they are basically small mental institutions. This home is a Level 5: there is no psychiatrist on site, but one will come every week. There will be five other wards of the court, drugged to the gills, and a staff that changes shifts every eight to ten hours. The staff’s stated job is to watch you. Keep you from hurting yourself, the other residents, and other people. Most of the staff works for the paycheck. A few are crusaders. Others . . . others best not to think about.

She will go to school, then straight back to the home. Ask permission for everything: to get food from the refrigerator, to watch TV, use the phone, go into the backyard, or take a shower. Bedroom doors must be left open at all times. The mirrors in the bathroom will be polished steel, not glass, to prevent wards from breaking the glass and slashing their wrists.

But all told, it is better than The Cage. There are windows. There are no shackles. Little things like that. And for the moment, it is safe enough. There are worse things out there than zoned-out kids.

Much worse.

She finds the psychiatrist sitting behind an ugly desk in a long room lined with books. She sits, and he begins the way they always begin.

“How are you feeling today, Cara?”

He is already looking at her neck and it is all she can do not to lunge across the desk and scratch out his eyes.

“Fine,” she says, without inflection.

“I’ll just start by asking a few questions, all right?”

The questions are always the same:

In the past week, did you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Did you feel depressed or sad? Were you afraid of things? Did you think or worry about bad things that you have seen or have happened to you? Did you have thoughts of harming yourself? Did you have thoughts of harming someone else?

Her answers are carefully calculated. Of course she doesn’t think about harming herself. Of course she doesn’t think about harming anyone else. For some of the lesser questions, like Were you sad this week?—it’s safe to answer yes or “once or twice” or “on a few days.” That’s Normal. Every answer she gives is designed to make her appear Normal, just as every question is designed to trick her into seeming Not Normal.

And then come the crucial questions, the ones she must always answer with No.

“Are you seeing anything that shouldn’t be there?”

You mean the shadows that are more than shadows?

“No.”

“Are you hearing voices?”

Just the moon talking, and the air, and the lizards . . .

“No.”

“Any flashbacks?”

Like the monster in my room?

“No.”

“Nothing that scares you?”

“No,” she says.

No matter how she answers these questions, They will give her medication anyway. All the group home kids are medicated. She wants the medication. She would like it to work.

She sees things, of course she sees things, and hears things too, ever since The Night.

According to Them, the things she sees aren’t real. So they give her drugs to make them go away.

The problem is, they don’t.


Bitter Moon is Book 4 of the Huntress/FBI Thrillers, which should be read in order! Books 1-3, Huntress Moon, Blood Moon, and Cold Moon are  currently on sale on Amazon US for $1.99 each. Amazon Prime members can read Huntress Moon for free. Published by Thomas & Mercer, November 2016

FBI agent Matthew Roarke has been on leave, and in seclusion, since the capture of mass killer Cara Lindstrom—the victim turned avenger who preys on predators. Torn between devotion to the law and a powerful attraction to Cara and her lethal brand of justice, Roarke has retreated from both to search his soul. But Cara’s escape from custody and a police detective’s cryptic challenge soon draw him out of exile—into the California desert and deep into Cara’s past—to probe an unsolved murder that could be the key to her long and deadly career.

Following young Cara’s trail, Roarke uncovers a horrifying attack on a schoolgirl, the shocking suicide of another, and a human monster stalking Cara’s old high school. Separated by sixteen years, crossing paths in the present and past, Roarke and fourteen-year-old Cara must race to find and stop the sadistic sexual predator before more young women are brutalized.

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Meet the author
Alexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning, Bram Stoker and Anthony Award-nominated author of twelve bestselling supernatural and crime thrillers. The New York Times has called her “a daughter of Mary Shelley” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”

As a screenwriter she has sold original suspense and horror scripts and written novel adaptations for numerous Hollywood studios (Sony, Fox, Disney, Miramax), for producers such as Michael Bay, David Heyman, Laura Ziskin and Neal Moritz.

She is also the author of the internationally acclaimed Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks, based on her workshops and blog. Her Thriller Award-nominated Huntress Moon series follows a haunted FBI agent on the hunt for a female serial killer, smashing genre clichés and combatting the rise of violence against women on the page and screen. Connect with Alexandra at http://AlexandraSokoloff.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win an audiobook of the first three books in the Huntress/FBI Thrillers (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon, and Cold Moon). Huntress Moon is a Voice Arts Award winner for Best Narration, Mystery & Thriller. The giveaway ends November 26, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

My Musing ~ Salem’s Cipher by Jess Lourey

Salem’s Cipher by Jess Lourey is the first book in the NEW “Witch Hunter” thriller series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, September 2016

Salem's Cipher A troubled codebreaker faces an epic plot reaching back through centuries of America’s secret history

Salem Wiley is a genius cryptanalyst, courted by the world’s top security agencies ever since making a breakthrough discovery in her field of quantum computing. She’s also an agoraphobe, shackled to a narrow routine by her fear of public places. When her mother’s disappearance is linked to a plot to assassinate the country’s first viable female presidential candidate, Salem finds herself both target and detective in a modern-day witch hunt. Drawn into a labyrinth of messages encrypted by Emily Dickinson and centuries-old codes tucked inside the Beale Cipher, Salem begins to uncover the truth: an ancient and ruthless group is hell-bent on ruling the world, and only a select group of women stands in its way.

I’ve read the author’s “Murder by Month” mystery series and enjoyed it tremendously, but this new series, knocks it out of the ballpark by delivering a fast-paced and action-packed thriller that doesn’t let up from the first page to its conclusion. The drama contained in the narrative of this riveting drama grabbed my attention immediately and kept me glued to the pages as I had to know how this will end and boy was I transfixed by all that was happening. The dangerous exploits surround our heroine everywhere she went and it was her dogged pursuit and determination that propel this intensifying, hold-your-breath story forward and I applaud the author on a job well done.

Author Showcase with Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara, and Charles Salzberg

Triple Shot

Ross Klavan “Thump Gun Hitched” – I’ve got two main characters. . .Ty Haran and Bobby Dane. Both start off as cops in LA and both end up without badges and in real trouble. Haran is older, an experienced special officer and a decorated veteran who fought in the Middle East and has no illusions about heroism. He’s also trying not to let Bobby Dane drive him back to drinking (and failing at that). As for Bobby Dane, he’s been like a son to Haran, looks up to him but never really caught on to what Haran’s been trying to tell him—“Try not to get yourself killed.” These two guys have had one another’s backs for years…and ultimately, that’s what gets them into hard times.

For questions. . .

–If I had to ask each of them personally, the question would be. . .”What the hell were you thinking?” I guess Haran would say that watching out for one another became a habit and eventually they ran up a bill between them, a debt, that nobody could pay. So when Bobby Dane needed help, Haran listened, even though he wanted to wash his hands of the guy. And I think Bobby Dane would say that he wanted to be like Haran, or at least his fantasy of what kind of guy Haran was, and that kind of thinking can lead you to trouble, the kind that you can’t turn back from.

–I’d ask myself. . .are these guys based on anyone real? Good question. They’re a combination of certain guys I knew in the Army and when I was reporting the news, mixed in with fictional characters so that the reader gets an interesting take on this kind of story. And, I used to know a guy who taught hand-to-hand combat and was mostly hired by the police and military. He said he was once a cop. . .until he spent a year in prison after doing something really stupid with a handgun while drunk at a cop party. That’s what gave me the germ idea for the story.

–I’d also ask about the tone of the story—it’s really sort of a Western with automatic weapons. As a city boy, I like the desert. . .I like the way it looks and the feel of just that much lurking danger. I have a lot of respect for the desert and the Sun and what’s out there and have had enough experience not to go too far out. But I enjoyed writing about two guys who were friends who wind up in real danger in a place that’s dangerous just because it is.


The lead character in Smoked, you can call him Aggie, is a low-level marijuana and crystal meth dealer doing business in an unnamed Midwestern state. He’s the kind of guy who—when not selling illegal substances—is either lying or rationalizing. (You can tell because his lips are moving.) After getting in way over his head, and putting the few loved ones he has in jeopardy, he finds an inner strength he never knew he had in order to make things right. Back east in New York City, we refer to this realization as “Growing a pair.”

Question: Is Aggie based on someone in your life?
Answer: Yes. And to answer your next question, I’m pretty confident I’m safe from any liability as this person doesn’t read all that much and would have to admit to some pretty shady—read illegal—activities if he (or she) ever decided to prove Aggie was based on him (or her.)

Question: Why base the story in the Midwest? Aren’t your Raymond Donne novels all set in the New York City (mostly Brooklyn) area?
Answer: I spend a lot of time in the Midwest as that’s where my wife grew up and my in-laws still live. I visit with my wife and daughter twice a year—summer and Christmas—and have developed quite a fondness for the location and the people. As much as I love NYC, I need to get out every once in a while, either physically or through my fiction. Writing about a location I don’t actually live in was quite a challenge and I learned a lot from taking it on.

Question: Will we see “Aggie” in a future novella?
Answer: Read Smoked—and the other two novellas in Triple Shot—and then you tell me. Since he is a first-person narrator with a penchant for manipulating the truth, it could go either way.


Trish Sullivan, approaching forty, is an on-air TV investigative reporter, working for a Syracuse, New York daily newscast. She’s smart, talented, and most of all ambitious. She realizes that if she’s going to move up on the food chain, which means getting signed by a network like NBC, ABC, and CBS, or a cable news network like CNN, MSNBC or Fox, she’s going to have to do it soon. And the only thing that’s going to get national attention is a big story. And so, when Trish is contacted by Meg Montgomery, who’s serving a life sentence for murdering her husband and two young children insisting she’s innocent, Trish thinks this might be the breakout story that gets her where she wants to go.

Meg Montgomery is in her early thirties, blonde, very pretty—thing a young Meg Ryan. She’s married and has two children, both under the age of 10. Or rather she was married with children. Now she’s in prison, convicted of killing all of them. She claims innocence and, with no other avenue open to her to prove that, she writes a letter to a local TV news reporter, Trish Sullivan, in hopes that Trish will investigate her case and perhaps uncover the real killer.

In effect, Meg and Trish are not so different—opposite sides of the coin—and this is perhaps what attracts them to each other.

Questions for Trish Sullivan
1. What made you go into the news business?
I’ve always been a news junkie. When I was a kid every night I looked forward to the news. I imagined myself up there, telling a story, breaking news to the public. My idol was Barbara Walters. She was tough, honest, and not afraid to ask the right questions. That’s who I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to interview important people. I wanted to travel around the world. I wanted to watch news being made and I wanted a hand in making the news.

2. What made you decide to investigate Meg Montgomery’s conviction?
Frankly, I saw a bit of myself in Meg. She looked fragile and yet she was obviously tough. She had to be to go through what she did. I was predisposed to believing she was innocent, but I wanted to make sure, which is why I offered her the choice. I wouldn’t investigate her case unless she took a polygraph test and passed. When she did, I was thrilled. This might be the story I was looking for, the story that would get the attention of the national news organizations. And if I could find enough evidence to get her a new trial, I was sure it would get me out of Syracuse and onto the career path I always wanted.

3. How did you feel when you realized you were being manipulated?
Betrayed. Embarrassed. Ashamed. I’d put my faith in Meg and she’d used me. My credibility was damaged, perhaps beyond repair. I knew I had to do something, otherwise my career would be over.

Questions for Meg Montgomery
1. Why did you marry your husband?
I was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. The cute girl who was always popular in school, but still looked down on simply because I didn’t come from a family with money or prestige. Marrying my husband was a step to change all that.

2. What was your marriage like?
It was more like a business partnership more than a marriage. My husband gave me something: legitimacy and instant prestige. He got a very pretty woman to be by his side, which raised his stock as much as he raised mine. That’s why I say it was a business deal more than a love match. But love fades anyway, so I didn’t think I was doing anything particularly wrong. He gained something and so did I, but in the end I gave more than I got, because he was not the man I hoped him to be.

3. Did you feel remorse or guilt for what happened?
I’m not the kind of person who looks back. I do what I do, what I have to do to survive, and I try not to judge myself. I know other people judge me all the time, so why would I have to judge myself?


Shadow towns, smugglers and secret notes—this trio of New York authors are a Triple Shot of twists and turns in three novellas published by Down & Out Books, August 2016

Payback leads to an unmarked grave in Ross Klavan’s Thump Gun Hitched. A freak accident forces two L.A. cops to play out a deadly obsession that takes them from back alley payoffs to hard time in prison, then deep into the tunnel networks south of the border to a murderous town that’s only rumored to exist. Before the last shot is fired, everything they thought was certain proves to be a shadow and everything they trusted opens into a trap.

Life was so much simpler for Tim O’Mara’s marijuana-selling narrator in Smoked when all he had to worry about was keeping his customers, now ex-wife, and daughter satisfied. When he forges a reluctant alliance with his ex-wife’s new lover, he realizes there’s lots of money to be made from the world’s number one smuggled legal product—cigarettes. Unfortunately, his latest shipment contained some illegal automatic weapons. Now he’s playing with the big boys and finds the price of the game way over his head. Murder was never part of his business model.

And finally in Twist of Fate, Charles Salzberg follows Trish Sullivan, an ambitious TV reporter working in a small, upstate New York market. She receives a note from Meg Montgomery, a beautiful young woman convicted of murdering her husband and two children. Montgomery claims she’s innocent and Sullivan, smelling a big story that may garner some national attention, investigates and turns up evidence that the woman has, indeed, been framed. What happens next changes the life of both women in unexpected ways.

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Meet the authors
Ross KlavanROSS KLAVAN’s novel, Schmuck, was published by Greenpoint Press in 2014. He recently finished the screenplay for The Colony based on the book by John Bowers. Nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, his original screenplay, Tigerland, was directed by Joel Schumacher and starred Colin Farrell. He has written screenplays for InterMedia, Walden Media, Miramax, Paramount, A&E and TNT. As a performer, Klavan’s voice has been heard in dozens of feature films including Revolutionary Road, Sometimes in April, Casino, In and Out, and You Can Count On Me as well as in numerous TV and radio commercials. In other lives, he was a member of the NYC alternative art group Four Walls and was a reporter covering New York City and London, England.

*****

Tim O'MaraTIM O’MARA has been teaching math and special education in New York City public schools since 1987, yet he is best known for his Raymond Donne mysteries about an ex-cop who now teaches in the same Williamsburg, Brooklyn, neighborhood he once policed: Sacrifice Fly (2012), Crooked Numbers (2013), Dead Red (2015), Nasty Cutter (January 2017). His short story, The Tip, is featured in the 2016 anthology Unloaded. The anthology’s proceeds benefit the nonprofit States United To Prevent Gun Violence.

*****

Charles SalzbergCHARLES SALZBERG is the author of the Shamus Award-nominated Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair (re-release Nov. 2016), Devil in the Hole (re-release Nov. 2016), Triple Shot (Aug. 2016), and Swann’s Way Out (Feb. 2017). His novels have been recognized by Suspense Magazine, the Silver Falchion Awards, the Beverly Hills Book Award and the Indie Excellence Award. He has written over 25 nonfiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Life and Zany Times, with Soupy Sales. He has been a visiting professor of magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, and he teaches writing at the Writer’s Voice and the New York Writers Workshop where he is a founding member.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Triple Shot. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 19, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life with Sabrina Vaughn by Maegan Beaumont

Blood of SaintsI don’t sleep well.

Maybe it’s a holdover from my old life as a homicide inspector. Maybe it’s the remnants of paranoia that cling to me, shaking me awake in the middle of the night to listen to the quiet for a whispering voice. . .

Hey there, darlin’, Did you miss me?

There’s no voice. Hasn’t been for nearly a year now. Nothing in my head but my own thoughts and maybe that’s what wakes me. The silence. It’s big. Too big sometimes. During the day, there’s activity. Kids and dogs. Meals to prepare. Dishes to wash. Routine. Noise. Things to do. Life to hide behind.

The silence feels different in the dark. It feels like waiting.

I feel the press of Avasa’s nose against my knee and I open my eyes to find her sitting on the floor next to my side of the bed. As soon as I open my eyes she whines softly and stands, her paws mincing impatiently as if to say, come on, you’re wasting time.

I don’t want to wake Michael but as soon as I shift toward the edge of the bed, I feel his arm snake around my waist, pulling me close. “Sabrina,” he murmurs, eyes still closed.

“Avasa needs to go out,” I say, turning to press a kiss to his sleep-softened mouth. “I’ll be right back.”

“Want me to take her?” he offers, sounding more alert.

“Nope.” I kiss him again and the arm around my waist loosens. I ease out of bed and Avasa dances backwards to make room for me. I pull on a pair of pajama pants and Michael’s discarded T-shirt while she watches me, tail twitching, not so much excited as she is impatient. “Keep your pants on,” I hiss at her and she chuffs at me in response, making me laugh.

She leads me down the hall, into the kitchen. Moonlight streams in through the window and I can see her clearly as she sits down in front of the backdoor, tail swishing. I reach past her and flip the lock as I look at the clock mounted on the wall. It’s 3AM.

“I really have to teach you how to let yourself out,” I tell her, pulling the door open and she bolts ahead of me. Instead of heading into the yard she stops short, dropping her rump on the top tread of the steps, planting herself between me and yard. “Hurry up, knucklehead. I’ve got another couple hours to sleep and I don’t want to waste it on—”

Avasa growls, low and deep in the back of her throat, the sound of it tightening the skin on the back of my neck.

Something’s out here.

I think of the antique larder a few feet behind me. There are guns in there. It would take me less than a minute to unlock it and arm myself. Instead, I leave the safety of the doorway, pulling it shut firmly behind me to join my dog on the porch. “Shhh,” I say, smoothing my hand over her sleek head while I scan the yard. As soon as I touch her, she settles, pressing her head against the top of my thigh.

The moon is full, washing the yard in bright, silvery light. About fifty yards ahead is the river. Beyond it more land—we’re surrounded by nearly five-hundred acres. Beyond that, the steep cliffs that encircle our valley and keep us safe. There is nothing out here that doesn’t belong. It’s impossible.

Still, I feel naked. Exposed, and I lace my fingers around Avasa’s collar, getting ready to yank her into the house if I have to. . . and then I see him.

He’s sitting on the opposite bank of the river, watching us. Seeing him, my fingers relax and I sink down to sit on the top step next to Avasa. “Your boyfriend’s back,” I say and she answers me with another growl, this one softer than the first.

The wolf is big. His massive head held high, steel gray fur glowing blue in the moonlight. He’s a frequent late-night visitor, usually accompanied by the small pack he leads. This time he’s alone.

“I think he likes you,” I tell her. I swear she rolls her eyes at me.

About a hundred yards from where he’s sitting is a bridge. If he wanted to, he’d have little trouble finding his way across and into our yard but he doesn’t. As usual, he stays on his side of the river. He just sits there, watching us. Watching me.

It happens again—the skin on the back of my neck goes tight. A warning and I instantly aim my gaze as the narrow dirt road beyond the bridge, half expecting to see someone traveling its narrow width but it’s empty. We’re still alone here—still safe—but I have the feeling that’s about to change.

When I swing my gaze back toward the river, the wolf is gone.

I stand. “Come on,” I say to my dog and she reluctantly follows me inside.


Blood of Saints is the fifth book in the Sabrina Vaughn thriller series, published by Midnight Ink, August 2016.

He wants a miracle

And he won’t stop killing until he gets one

Deep in the mountains of Montana, former Homicide inspector Sabrina Vaughn has found the kind of peace she’s always dreamed of. And with Michael O’Shea, she’s found the kind of love she never thought possible. Together, even under the constant threat of faraway adversaries, they’ve managed to build the kind of idyllic life they’ve both longed for.

But a life this safe was never meant to last. When twenty-year-old forensic evidence connects her to a string of recent murders, Sabrina must leave her new life behind and return to the place she was brutally raped and tortured in order to search for a killer who’s as cunning as any she’s ever encountered.

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Meet the author
Maegan Beaumont is the award-winning author of the Sabrina Vaughn thriller series. Her debut novel, Carved In Darkness was awarded the 2014 gold medal from Independent Publishers for outstanding thriller as well as being named a Foreword, book of the year finalist and Debut Novel of the Year by Suspense Magazine. When she isn’t locked in her office, torturing her protagonists, she’s busy chasing chickens (and kids), hanging laundry and burning dinner. Either way, she almost always in to company of her six dogs, her truest and most faithful companions and her almost as faithful husband, Joe. Look for the fifth novel in her series, BLOOD OF SAINTS, released by Midnight Ink in August 2016. Connect with Maegan at maeganbeaumont.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win the complete 5-book series set (Carved in Darkness, Sacrificial Muse, Promises to Keep, Waiting in Darkness and Blood of Saints). U.S. residents only, please. The giveaway will end August 18, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!
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