Tag Archives: thriller

A day in the life of Ali McGovern by Catriona McPherson

I start the morning with lemon in hot water, a probiotic yoghurt and some almonds. There’s no use a beauty therapist having dog-rough skin from bacon butties and too much coffee. Then it used to be the gym, but gym membership was one of the first things to go. After my Vogue subscription but before the shift to supermarket own-brands.

Now I push the couch back, put the coffee table up on its end and do a twenty-minute work-out with Davina McCall. Or in theory, I do. But the couch is heavy and the coffee table’s always laden. It’s been a while, if I’m honest. And I’ve started having a Pop-tart for breakfast too.

But my beauty regime is unchanged: I wash my face with plain water and a rough flannel, I spritz it with rose-water and I dab on a bit of SPF 15. All before my shower. In the shower, I exfoliate, I pumice, I brush with a bristle brush, I work my loofah toward the heart. Sometimes I think I’m trying to wipe myself out, one dermal layer at a time.

My hair gets washed once a week. That’s plenty so long as you don’t fiddle with it. Or work in a coalmine, I suppose. It’s all the touch-touch-touching with dirty fingers that makes hair greasy – nothing to do with your scalp oils, And it’s the same thing with spots and bad skin. People are always touching their faces. No wonder winter colds do the rounds. As a beauty therapist, I’ve trained myself not to touch my mouth, eyes, nose or ears with my fingers. And I haven’t been ill in ten years.

Once I’m dressed for the day – in white tunic and trousers, comfy clogs and no jewellery – it’s a bit of a blur. I’m lucky if I can grab an apple and slice of cheese at lunchtime. A single appointment is half an hour – lashes, brows, half-leg waxes – and then the full-waxes, mani-pedis and facials are all double appointments. My book’s full and I don’t like to let people down.

Except, look what just happened. I slipped right back into the past, to when Face Value was my pride and joy, when I had a book of regular clients and no time for lunch. Truth is, my whites are put away in vacuum bags and my products are oiled to keep them fresh, clingfilmed and packed in the dark. I thought it would only be for a month or so. I keep meaning to open them up and check them. They’re probably drying out, oxidizing. They’re probably useless by now.

So let’s try that again. I do look for jobs. I look at Indeed.co.uk online, and I even go to the Job Centre sometimes, even though it is hands-down the most depressing place on earth. Worse than a hospital ward. Worse than the visiting room in an undertaker’s. I imagine. And it’s nice to be home when Angelo gets in from school. He’s too cool to talk to me, of course, but if there’s a sandwich made, he’ll eat it. And they do say it’s not quality time that matters, don’t they? It’s just time.

Time.

It heals. That’s another thing they say. And they’re wrong. They’re idiots. Time doesn’t heal anything. It just passes and – sometimes – it tells.


You can read more about Ali in House. Tree. Person., a novel of suspense.

The body found in a muddy grave across the street is just the latest horror threatening to tear Ali McGovern’s life apart seam by seam. She knows Angelo, her brooding teenage son, is keeping secrets. She fears he’s in danger, too. But her new job at the psychiatric hospital, the job her husband pushed her into, is using up everything she’s got every day. She can try to ignore the sounds that surely can’t really be there. And she can try to trust the doctors, who can’t be as dark as they seem. But can Ali hold herself, her life, and her family together without getting blood on her hands?

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About the author
Catriona McPherson is the multi-award-wining and best-selling author of the Dandy Gilver mysteries, set in Scotland in the 1930s, and six modern suspense thrillers, for which she has been Edgar and Mary Higgins Clark shortlisted. House. Tree. Person. (UK: The Weight Of Angels) is her twentieth novel. Catriona lives in northern California. Reach out to Catriona at catrionamcpherson.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Matt Jorgenson by Michele Drier

The day my dad’s caregiver called and told me my dad couldn’t remember how to button his shirt was the day I had to make one of the hardest decisions.

He’d developed Alzheimer’s gradually and over the past three years had been able to live in his home with a caregiver. The disease was too great now and he needed to be moved into a Memory Care facility. Locked doors, twenty-four-hour care.

This meant he’d be abandoning the home in Bakersfield that I’d grown up in, the home that my dad built for his family, my mother and me. I moved away better than a decade ago, heading for law school and a career in San Francisco, shaking the dust of the Central Valley off my shoes and not looking back. As much as I loved him, I couldn’t give up my life in the Bay Area, particularly now that I’d met Jennifer.

Alzheimer’s, the concern for my father and the gnawing fear that I may be headed for the same diagnosis, terrified me. When I heard about a memory chip that could augment your memory, maybe bring back forgotten parts of your life, I jumped at it. Now, I’m thinking it may have unintended consequences.

The other night, I was out in a North Beach bar with some friends when a woman smiled at me. I smiled back and asked the waitress to bring her a drink. As I went over to talk to her, another guy, a drunk from the end of the bar came over. I said, “Leave the lady alone. She’s not interested.”

“And who are you? Her guardian?” The guy took a step towards me and raised his hand.

I pushed the hand away and twisted the guy’s arm up behind him. “What part of leave her alone didn’t you understand?” I poked him in the ribs. Not a hard punch, just enough that he whooshed out a breath and staggered.

Now Brian, Stan and Artie were up, surrounding me to keep the other drinkers and the bartender from seeing anything. “Come on, pal, let’s get some air.” Artie put an arm around the guy’s shoulder and he and Stan walked him to the door, talking all the time about how he’d had too much to drink.

“What was that all about?” Brian watched me, an odd expression on his face. “I’ve never seen you make any moves like that. You’re a lover, not a fighter.”

“I don’t know, man. I had this feeling, this anger, come up from my gut.” I sucked in a deep breath. “Something about that guy and his cheezy moves made me see red.”

I turned to the woman, stuck out my hand. “I’m sorry if I frightened you. I don’t usually meet a woman like this. I’m Matt and this is Brian.”

The blond didn’t take it. She turned to her friend, said, “Let’s go,” picked up her purse and went out the door.

Not a night to remember, and I have strange dreams now, violent dreams of hitting people, breaking things, lashing out with anger I can’t control.

With my dad on his way to a facility that he’ll never leave, and me with dark and dangerous dreams, I worry that Alzheimer’s isn’t the only thing I have to fear.


You can read more about Matt in Ashes of Memories, a psychological thriller.

Getting what you wish for can bring unintended circumstances. Jennifer in New York and Matt in San Francisco worry that they’re losing their memories. Jennifer from an earlier trauma and Matt while watching his father succumb to Alzheimer’s. After finding a new medical technology designed to help people with cognitive disorders, they independently track down a grey-market supply, but when they meet they find unknown terrors.

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About the author
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.

She is the president of Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the co-chair of Bouchercon 2020.

Her Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, (called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review), Labeled for Death and Delta for Death, and a stand-alone thriller, Ashes of Memories, published in 2017.

Her paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was the best paranormal vampire series of 2014 from the Paranormal Romance Guild. The series is SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, Danube: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Nights, SNAP: All That Jazz, and SNAP: I, Vampire.

Visit her Facebook page, her website www.micheledrier.com or her Amazon author page,

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Afton Tangler by Gerry Schmitt

Last night was like something out of a nightmare. A medical helicopter was shot down just as it was making its final approach over the Mississippi River to land at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Two pilots killed, dozens of students injured, rotor blades carved into the side of the Science Building, debris scattered everywhere. To top it off, a cooler containing a human heart crashed through one of the dorm windows. I’m Afton Tangler and even though I’m a family liaison officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, I was one of the first responders who helped retrieve that mangled heart.

Just a few hours later, I was sitting in a meeting with a deeply troubled deputy chief, three world-weary detectives, a guy from the NTSB, and a tech from our IT Department. After watching footage hastily gleaned from three different cameras, the consensus on the crash seemed to be either terrorism or sabotage. But I thought there might be more going on here. I even ventured my opinion that the transplant patient, Leland Odin, the man who was literally lying on the operating table, waiting for his unsalvageable heart, was somehow involved.

Odin’s a millionaire, you see. A business tycoon who headed Diamond Shopping Network, a major home shopping company. On the surface Odin looks squeaky-clean, but I think someone wanted him dead. Could be a business rival or maybe even an associate within his own company. Whatever the case, I’m guessing that Odin crossed the wrong person – and made them angry enough to exact a clever and spectacular revenge. Because now, with no donor heart available, Odin will probably die within a matter of days.

Obviously we jumped on Odin’s family and business associates immediately. Met with his wife, partner, attorney, and step-daughter, tried hard to pound out some answers. They all claimed to know nothing at all, told us Odin had no enemies.

Clearly he did.

But we just lucky, we got a break. The University of Minnesota Police located what they guessed was the shooter’s nest. The third floor of the Huang Sheng Noodle Factory where the surface-to-air missile was fired. When I arrived at the Noodle Factory on the opposite bank of the river, it was a total bugout. Tactical Response’s shiny black SUV’s were parked everywhere, accompanied by a huge contingent from Crime Scene, MPD, UMPD, and even INS.

When I was finally allowed to take a peek upstairs, it looked like the perfect place to shoot down a helicopter. A narrow window afforded a bird’s-eye view directly across the river, right up a leafy green riverbank to the University of Minnesota Medical Center and their private helicopter landing pad.

There weren’t a lot of clues, but we’re going to work with what we found. A cigarette butt from a pack of expensive Chinese cigarettes, a brand called Double Happiness. And shaky descriptions of two Asian people who rented the upstairs room, but left after only a few hours. But here’s the weird thing – the occupants were a young man and an old woman.

We immediately covered the airports and bus terminals, hoping to detain our possible suspects before they made a hasty exit. Instead, things got even stranger. Because we just received word that Jay Barber, Odin’s business partner and one of the people we interviewed, has been kidnapped. Apparently, Barber went out running to clear his head and disappeared in a pouf of smoke. All that was found of him was one scuffed running shoe that was tearfully identified by his wife.


You can read more about Afton in Shadow Girl, the second book in the “Afton Tangler” thriller series.

The brutal murder of a business tycoon leaves Afton Tangler and the Twin Cities reeling, but that’s just the beginning of a gruesome crime spree. . .

Leland Odin made his fortune launching a home shopping network, but his millions can’t save his life. On the list for a transplant, the ailing businessman sees all hope lost when the helicopter carrying his donor heart is shot out of the sky.

Now with two pilots dead and dozens injured, Afton Tangler, family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, is drawn into the case. As she and her partner investigate family members and business associates, whoever wants Leland dead strikes again—and succeeds—in a brazen hospital room attack.

The supposedly squeaky clean millionaire has crossed the wrong person—and she’s not finished exacting her revenge. The case explodes into an international conspiracy of unbridled greed and violence. And as Afton gets closer to unearthing the mastermind behind it, she gets closer to becoming collateral damage. . .

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About the author
Gerry Schmitt is the author of Shadow Girl, an Afton Tangler Thriller, and Little Girl Gone, the first book in the series. Writing under her pen name Laura Childs, she is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-nine mysteries that include the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Her books have also been on the USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists as well as having won the prestigious Favorite Character Award from the Romantic Times Book Review. Gerry is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won dozens of TV and radio awards, and written and produced two reality TV shows. She and her professor husband enjoy travel and their two Shar-Pei dogs.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a hardcover copy of Shadow Girl. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends August 4, 2017. Good luck everyone!

My Musing ~ Shadow Girl by Gerry Schmitt

Shadow Girl by Gerry Schmitt is the second book in the “Afton Tangler” thriller series. Publisher: Penguin Random House, coming August 1, 2017

The brutal murder of a business tycoon leaves Afton Tangler and the Twin Cities reeling, but that’s just the beginning of a gruesome crime spree. . .

Leland Odin made his fortune launching a home shopping network, but his millions can’t save his life. On the list for a transplant, the ailing businessman sees all hope lost when the helicopter carrying his donor heart is shot out of the sky.

Now with two pilots dead and dozens injured, Afton Tangler, family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, is drawn into the case. As she and her partner investigate family members and business associates, whoever wants Leland dead strikes again—and succeeds—in a brazen hospital room attack.

The supposedly squeaky clean millionaire has crossed the wrong person—and she’s not finished exacting her revenge. The case explodes into an international conspiracy of unbridled greed and violence. And as Afton gets closer to unearthing the mastermind behind it, she gets closer to becoming collateral damage. . .

This fast-moving and well-written drama immediately grabbed my attention quickly becoming a page turner that I could not put down. The author does a great job in staging this grippingly riveting tale where there was a no holds bar on the part of the villains and when their mission comes a bit too close to Afton, this mama bear takes action that had my adrenaline pumping as fast as I could read to see how this will all play out.

The visually descriptive narrative kept me immersed in all the action as I was rooting for the team of Afton and Max as their pursuit of these ruthless beings took them to a hospital, an abandon building, a chapel, a park and last but not least, the railroad tracks. All the while, this gang continues to wreak havoc on a city that is looking for them.

The suspenseful nature, the intrigue, the intensifying need to capture their prey and the pivotal role of the key players, including Bonaparte, all came together in a wild and frenzy ride where time did not stop for the wicked as the aftermath was vividly captured on the page. Boasting a wonderful cast of characters with engaging dialogue, the author did an outstanding job in telling this dramatic story and I can’t wait to see what new opportunities await Afton in the next book in this terrific series.

Buy Link


FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the author.

A day in the life of Jane Norton by Jeff Abbott

I’m an outcast. Once I had family, friends, a future—now I’m the young woman whose gaze you don’t want to meet as we pass on the street.

Today I’m homeless, sleeping occasionally in a dorm room at St. Michael’s University in south Austin, where my friend Adam lets me crash when I crawl through his window. I used to have a normal life like yours–before I became an amnesiac. No, I’m not a soap opera character and I’m not Jason Bourne. I’m just someone like you—with a chunk of my history missing. Perhaps forever lost.

I grew up in Lakehaven, a wealthy suburb of Austin. I went to the best schools, had great friends, my whole life a glowing hopeful promise in front of me. Then two years ago, when I was seventeen, I crashed my car on a deserted road in the hills above Lakehaven. My passenger and neighbor, my childhood friend David Hall, died. I suffered a brain injury and lost the last three years—including why David and I were even together in a car that night.

We’d grown up together, but we had grown apart. Why were we even in my car? What were we doing, where were we going on that lonely road that led to nowhere? And why was there a note found at the crash site, in my own writing, saying I wish we were dead together.

I can’t imagine I wrote it or that I would hurt David. But I don’t know who I was then. The Jane of now might not be the same person as the Jane of then.

My mother wants me off the streets and in a mental institution—I keep moving so she can’t find me. David’s mom and dad—our next door neighbors I once loved as surrogate parents—hate me and blame me for David’s death. My best friend, Kamala, was also David’s girlfriend and mounted a campaign to destroy me when I returned to our high school. My one friend Adam seems to have his own set of secrets and a classmate named Trevor might hold the clues to who I really was that night—but he won’t tell me. And Kevin, a psych grad student, seems very interested in the peculiarities of my case. All of them will try to tell me who I once was—but are they rewriting my lost history to suit their needs?

Today, the second anniversary of the crash, someone has posted on my abandoned Facebook page I know what you claim you don’t remember. I know what happened that night. Someone—who blames me for David’s death—is trying to hurt me. It’s not going to work. I’ve decided to investigate that night, amnesia be damned. I’m going to find the truth even if I never find my memories.


You can read more about Jane in Blame, a psychological suspense novel.

Sometimes the person you thought you knew best.
Turns out to be someone you never really knew at all.

The crash that killed him
Two years ago, Jane Norton crashed her car on a lonely road, killing her friend David and leaving her with amnesia. At first, everyone was sympathetic. Then they found Jane’s note: I wish we were dead together.

A girl to blame
From that day the town turned against her. But even now Jane is filled with questions: Why were they on that road? Why was she with David? Did she really want to die?

The secrets she should forget
Most of all, she must find out who has just written her an anonymous message: I know what really happened. I know what you don’t remember.

Buy Link

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Meet the author
Jeff Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of eighteen novels. He is the winner of an International Thriller Writers Award (for the Sam Capra thriller The Last Minute) and is a three-time nominee for the Edgar award. He lives in Austin with his family. You can visit his website at www.JeffAbbott.com.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Blame by Jeff Abbott

Blame by Jeff Abbott, a thriller. Published by Grand Central Publishing, coming July 18, 2017

Sometimes the person you thought you knew best. . .

Turns out to be someone you never really knew at all.

The crash that killed him
Two years ago, Jane Norton crashed her car on a lonely road, killing her friend David and leaving her with amnesia. At first, everyone was sympathetic. Then they found Jane’s note: I wish we were dead together.

A girl to blame
From that day the town turned against her. But even now Jane is filled with questions: Why were they on that road? Why was she with David? Did she really want to die?

The secrets she should forget
Most of all, she must find out who has just written her an anonymous message: I know what really happened. I know what you don’t remember. . .

This fast-paced and riveting drama had me immersed and mesmerized with all that was going in this intense psychological novel that ratchetted up a steep notch keeping me in suspense until the last chapter was read. The author knew the way to pull me in with a narrative so gripping, I couldn’t put this book down. When I thought I had a finger on what was going on, the author changed direction with strategically placed twists and turns that gave me pause as I followed along with Jane on her journey of self-discovery where secrets were meant to stay buried, and someone was determined to keep it that way.

Buy Link


FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

A day in the life with Jonathan Stride by Brian Freeman

Occupation: Duluth Police Lieutenant

It’s race day. Five in the morning. We’ve already closed the streets.

There’s no sun over the lake today, just black clouds. The morning is cool, and drizzle spatters the streets. The spectators don’t mind; nothing keeps the people of Duluth away from the marathon. I can already feel the excitement at the finish line. People cheer; people clang bells. There’s a sense of anticipation, waiting for the first of the runners to arrive.

For me, there’s a sense of foreboding, too. Maybe that’s just my cop’s imagination. Maybe this will be one more perfect summer day. But I have mixed emotions about the marathon this year.

On one hand, it’s the city’s crowning event. Tens of thousands of runners and spectators fill the streets and line the shore of Lake Superior.

On the other hand, I can’t help thinking about what happened in Boston.

There’s energy in crowds, but there’s also a threat. My team and I are on high alert this year. We’ve got a tactical van near the finish line. We’ve got bomb-sniffing dogs. We smile, but we study every face. That’s the job of a cop. To see everything.

This isn’t just a job for me. It’s personal, too. My wife, Serena, is running the marathon. The teenage girl we adopted, Cat, is hanging out with the crowd on the last block to cheer her on.

My name is Jonathan Stride. I’ve been a Duluth cop for thirty years. This is my town – born and raised here. When you spend this long in one place, you don’t see strangers anymore among the people you protect. The whole city is a family to me. But like other parts of the country, our family is divided.

We’ve had protests in Duluth for weeks that have split the city. Everyone is screaming at each other; no one is listening. I feel like we’ve become a dry, dry field, waiting for a single match to burn us all down.

It’s a bad time. It worries me to see thousands of people crowded together in the midst of so much unrest. And yet this is also the kind of event we need to bring us together again.

There’s a cheer in the crowd now. Steely Dan is playing over the loudspeakers, and people are laughing and dancing. I love to see the excitement on all the faces, caught up in the energy of the morning. Good for them. That’s what this day is all about.

Me, I’m looking at everyone with a backpack.

The race is about to begin.


You can read more about Jonathan in Marathon, the eighth book in the “Jonathan Stride” thriller series.

On a rainy June morning, tens of thousands of people crowd into Duluth for the city’s biggest annual event: the Duluth Marathon. Exhausted runners push to reach the finish line and spectators line the streets to cheer them on. Then, in a terrifying echo of the Boston bombing, there is an explosion along the race course, leaving many people dead and injured.

Within minutes, Jonathan Stride, Serena Dial, and Maggie Bei are at work with the FBI to find the terrorists behind the tragedy. As social media feeds a flood of rumors and misinformation, one spectator remembers being jostled by a young man with a backpack not far from the bomb site. He spots a Muslim man in a tourist’s photo of the event and is convinced that this was the man who bumped into him in the crowd–but now the man’s backpack is missing.

When he tweets the photo to the public, the young man, Khan Rashid, becomes the most wanted man in the city. And the manhunt is on.

But are the answers behind the Duluth bombing more complex than anyone realizes? And can Stride, Serena, and Maggie find the truth before more innocent people are killed?

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Meet the author
Brian Freeman is the author of more than a dozen psychological thrillers, including the #1 Amazon bestseller The Night Bird and the internationally acclaimed Jonathan Stride series. His books have been sold in 46 countries and 20 languages. He is widely acclaimed for his “you are there” settings and his complex, engaging characters and twist-filled plots.

His novel Spilled Blood won the award for Best Hardcover Novel in the annual Thriller Awards presented by the International Thriller Writers organization, and his novel The Burying Place was a finalist for the same award. Brian’s debut thriller, Immoral, won the Macavity Award and was a nominee for the Edgar, Dagger, Anthony, and Barry awards for best first novel. Freeman lives in Minnesota with his wife, Marcia.

Connect with Brian at bfreemanbooks.com, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

Marathon is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

My Musing ~ Executive Order by Max Allan Collins w/Matthew V. Clemens

Executive Order by Max Allan Collins w/Matthew V. Clemens is the third book in the “Reeder and Rogers” thriller. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer, April 11, 2017

A riveting novel by MWA Grand Master Award winner Max Allan Collins.

In Eastern Europe four CIA agents are dead—geopolitical pawns caught in border dispute cross fire. Why were they there? Who sent them? Not even the President knows.

Back in Washington, the Secretary of the Interior dies from an apparent allergic shock. As details emerge, so do suspicions that she was murdered.

Investigating their respective cases, ex–Secret Service agent Joe Reeder and FBI Special Situations Task Force leader Patti Rogers recognize a dangerous conspiracy is in play. When suspects and government contacts are killed off with expert precision, their worst fears are confirmed. As the country edges closer and closer to war, Reeder and Rogers must protect the President—and each other—from an unseen enemy who’s somehow always one step ahead.

The stakes have never been higher, against killers who might be anywhere, and Reeder and Rogers have no one to trust but each other.

This cornucopia of political intrigue is the latest from the team of Collins and Clemens that will knock your socks off. Something nefarious is afoot when CIA agents and a cabinet member are killed, it will take an executive order from the president for Reeder and Rogers to do what they do best. . .eliminate the enemies.

Once again, this team has delivered on its previous merit, a fast-paced, action packed and riveting drama that quickly became a page turner as this book was hard to put down. The narrative was visually descriptive making the exploits leap off the pages as the story flowed from scene to scene causing a mad adrenaline rush as I had to know how this was all going to play out. The authors did a great job in staging this multi-plot story with key maneuvers, including that one comical moment from an unlikely source, and a few strategically placed incidences that led to the heightened suspenseful nature of that final push towards an explosively climatic finale. This is the best book in this grippingly captivating thriller series and I can’t wait for the next adventures with Reeder, Rogers and their illustrious friends.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from publisher via NetGalley.

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.