Blog Tour: The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden

The Gentleman and the Thief

by Sarah M. Eden

Publication Date: November 3rd, 2020

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing

Series: Dread Penny Society Book 2

Genre: Historical Mystery/Suspense, Victorian Romance, Inspirational Fiction


A standalone novel in The Dread Penny Society set in 1865 London brimming with secrets, scandal, suspense, and romance.
From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he’s smitten. Even though he’s from a wealthy, established family and she isn’t, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father’s successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the “Phantom Fox.” She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis’s brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?


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This is my first experience with a penny dreadful novel, so I wasn’t expecting to get three stories in one!  But there you have it!  Three stories in one!  The main story follows Hollis and Ana with a couple of Victorian-era pulpy stories in between.  I hadn’t read this author’s work before, but I really enjoyed her writing style and narrative voice.  This is a standalone, though part of a series.  I did notice that other reviews said that this could be read on its own, which I wholeheartedly agree with.  I didn’t feel lost or that I’d missed something when reading this book.

The narrative reads smoothly with that fantastic Victorian flair!  The characters were lovely and I really enjoyed the printing of the book!  I’m a sucker for a good physical printing and this was a great paperback edition!  If you were looking for a very heavy romance book, this isn’t it.  There is much more suspense, mild peril, fun and witty dialogue, and actual narrative than romance.  There is romance, it just isn’t the centerpiece here and I really appreciated it!

I loved the mystery to be solved in this book along with the fun character development throughout the main plot!  The short stories that were intermittent were just so much fun as well!  Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend to readers interested in historical fiction, Victorian era penny dreadfuls, mystery, suspense, and light romance.  Also, this book was squeaky clean!  Perfect for an afternoon on a cold day, curled up with a good coffee or a light read during the holidays!  Thank you so much to the author, publisher, and tour arranger for the opportunity to read and review this book! 


About the Author

Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today best-selling author of witty and charming historical romances, including 2019’s Foreword Reviews INDIE Awards Gold Winner for Romance, The Lady and the Highwayman, and 2020 Holt Medallion finalist, Healing Hearts. She is a two-time “Best of State” Gold Medal winner for fiction and a three-time Whitney Award winner. Combining her obsession with history and her affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting deep characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. 


Tour Schedule

Nov 02          Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

Nov 02          The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)

Nov 03          Getting Your Read On (Review)

Nov 03          Literary Time Out (Review)

Nov 03          Storybook Reviews (Review)

Nov 04          Heidi Reads (Review)

Nov 04          Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Spotlight)

Nov 05          Library of Clean Reads (Review)

Nov 06          Relz Reviewz (Review)

Nov 07          Probably at the Library (Spotlight)

Nov 08          The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)

Nov 09          So Little Time… (Spotlight)

Nov 09          Captivated Reading (Review)

Nov 10          Among the Reads (Review)

Nov 10          Bookworm Lisa (Review)

Nov 11          For Where Your Treasure Is (Spotlight)

Nov 11          Christian Chick’s Thoughts       (Review)

Nov 12          Books, Teacups & Reviews (Spotlight)

Nov 12          Fiction Aficionado (Review)

Nov 13          Randi Loves 2 Read (Spotlight)

Nov 14          The Book Diva’s Reads (Spotlight)

Nov 15          My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt)

Nov 16          Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)

Nov 17          Book Bustle (Review)

Nov 18          Jorie Loves a Story (Review)

Nov 18          An Historian About Town (Review)

Nov 19          Lu’s Reviews (Review)

Nov 20          Reading with Emily (Review)

Nov 20          Books and Socks Rock (Review)

Nov 21          Bringing Up Books (Review)

Nov 21          Bookish Rantings (Review)

Nov 22          The Bibliophile Files (Review)

Nov 23          Impressions in Ink (Review)

Nov 23          A Bookish Way of Life (Review)

Nov 24          Bookfoolery (Review)

Nov 24          Wishful Endings (Excerpt)

Nov 25          Chicks, Rogues and Scandals (Review)

Nov 25          Joy of Reading (Review)

Nov 26          From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)

Nov 27          Fire and Ice (Review)

Nov 27          Austenesque Reviews (Review)

Nov 28          Impressions in Ink (Review)

Nov 28          Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

Nov 29          Laura’s Reviews (Review)

Blog Tour: Strong from the Heart by Jon Land

Strong from the Heart

(Caitlin Strong #11)

by
Jon Land
Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Forge Books
Date of Publication: July 28, 2020
Number of Pages: 368 pages
Scroll down for Giveaway!
Caitlin Strong wages her own personal war on drugs against the true power behind the illicit opioid trade in Strong from the Heart, the blistering and relentless 11th installment in Jon Land’s award-winning series.
The drug crisis hits home for fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong when the son of her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters nearly dies from an opioid overdose. On top of that, she’s dealing with the inexplicable tragedy of a small Texas town where all the residents died in a single night.
When Caitlin realizes that these two pursuits are intrinsically connected, she finds herself following a trail that will take her to the truth behind the crisis that claimed 75,000 lives last year. Just in time, since the same force that has taken over the opiate trade has even more deadly intentions in mind, specifically the murder of tens of millions in pursuit of their even more nefarious goals.
The power base she’s up against―comprised of politicians and Big Pharma, along with corrupt doctors and drug distributors―has successfully beaten back all threats in the past. But they’ve never had to deal with the likes of Caitlin Strong before and have no idea what’s in store when the guns of Texas come calling.
At the root of the conspiracy lies a cabal nestled within the highest corridors of power that’s determined to destroy all threats posed to them. Caitlin and Cort Wesley may have finally met their match, finding themselves isolated and ostracized with nowhere to turn, even as they strive to remain strong from the heart.

PRAISE FOR STRONG FROM THE HEART:

“A time-jumping, savory Tex-Mex tale, seasoned with all the ingredients of a great thriller.”―Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author

“A mind-blowing tale that takes a flamethrower to our psyches to warm the chill it leaves up our spines. Seething with energy and replete with wondrously staged set pieces, this is thriller writing that defies genre even as it reminds us why we love to read.”―NYK Daily

“Exceptional…. Snappy one-liners, plausible dialogue, and lots of nonstop action, Land delivers another riveting, believable thriller.”―Press-Republican

“Caitlin Strong is one of the strongest female characters ever to hit the page, and Jon Land is the king of the intelligent thriller, continually pushing his own writing to new levels.”―New York Journal of Books

This book left me mostly speechless!  Before I picked up this book, I hadn’t read anything from Jon Land and what a mistake that has been!  I have long been a fan of the modern crime drama with grit, but also a lot of heart!  The Caitlin Strong series is all of this and more!  A modern Texas Ranger who kicks butt and takes names!  Caitlin is a law enforcement professional with a history great work, lives saved, and justice served!

This book absolutely reads as a standalone and I would encourage fans of this book to pick up any of the other Jon Land books out there!  This book is a little bit Narcos, a little bit Walker, Texas Ranger, part Justified, and all strong female lead.  Land takes on big issues such as immigration and the opioid crisis through a narrative that lends itself to tackling these big themes. 

The narrative follows several characters including Caitlin Strong, a working Texas Ranger, Cort Wesley Masters, Roland Fass, Colonel Guillermo Paz, and others through a mysterious crisis in a remote rural town near the Texas/Mexico border, an overdose, and other interesting events.  It was hard to put this book down, the pacing is very tight and I found myself nervously awaiting the next piece of the puzzle as I read!  I loved the backdrop of rural and urban South Texas!  The relationships between the characters play an integral part in the book, romantic, friendly or otherwise.  The narrative flows seamlessly from the present to the past, in flashbacks to Caitlin’s family members who have a long history of serving in the ranks of the Texas Rangers.  You may even find some historical figures in this book! 

Overall, I found this book to be engaging, interesting, and a perfect balance of real-life law enforcement, real-life issues, and fictional characters interacting with the narrative!  I would recommend this to fans of crime books, semi-historical mysteries, books that deal with big issues, and fans of series!  I loved this book and would recommend to friends in a heartbeat!  Jon Land has a significant catalog of books to pick up when you pick up a copy of Strong from the Heart!

Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, eleven of which feature Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. The critically acclaimed series has won more than a dozen awards, including the 2019 International Book Award for Best Thriller for Strong as Steel and the 2020 American Fiction Award for Best Thriller. He has also authored six books in the MURDER, SHE WROTE series and has recently taken over writing Margaret Truman’s CAPITAL CRIMES series. A 1979 graduate of Brown University, Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island and received the 2019 Rhode Island Authors Legacy Award for his lifetime of literary achievements.
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10/29/2020 Character Spotlight Chapter Break Book Blog
10/29/2020 Review Bibliotica
10/30/2020 Top 5 List Hall Ways Blog
10/30/2020 Review Tangled in Text
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#PICT Blog Tour: Derailed by Mary Keliikoa

Derailed by Mary Keliikoa Banner

 

 

Derailed

by Mary Keliikoa

on Tour September 1-30, 2020

Synopsis:

Derailed by Mary Keliikoa

A dying wish. A secret world.

Can this grieving investigator stay on the right track?

PI Kelly Pruett is determined to make it on her own. And juggling clients at her late father’s detective agency, a controlling ex, and caring for a deaf daughter was never going to be easy. She takes it as a good sign when a letter left by her dad ties into an unsolved case of a young woman struck by a train.

Hunting down the one person who can prove the mysterious death was not just a drunken accident, Kelly discovers this witness is in no condition to talk. And the closer she gets to the truth the longer her list of sleazy suspects with murderous motives grows. Each clue exposes another layer of the victim’s steamy double life.

Can Kelly pinpoint the murderer, or is she on the fast track to disaster?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Camel Press
Publication Date: May 12th 2020
Number of Pages: 232
ISBN: 1603817069 (ISBN13: 9781603817066)
Series: PI Kelly Pruett #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Goodreads

Derailed is the introductory book to a new series by Mary Keliikoa.  Kelly Pruett has taken over her late father’s private investigation firm, which turns out to be quite a challenge.  Kelly is working through files when she finds a letter asking for help solving a case involving, you guessed it, a train!  Kelly follows the trail and attempts to solve the case.

I really enjoyed the almost hard-boiled PI, but classic leading lady mystery feel to this novel!  Kelly is a well-developed character with deep seated motivations.  Her interactions with other characters, clients, witnesses left me feeling fulfilled by the end of the story.  Her tenacity and sheer will were inspiring!  She works through adversity while juggling relationships, being a single mom, and the entirety of an ex-family.

The narrative flows seamlessly from scene to scene.  The pacing was excellent throughout the story.  This book clocks in at 232 pages which was the perfect length to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon or across multiple sittings!  This follows a classic mystery plot with masterful hints and clues hidden along the way!  There was a large amount of acceptance in this book, from lifestyle choices to  and I appreciated that wholeheartedly!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend to any loves of mystery books with female main characters!  Kelly Pruett is a fantastic character and I can’t wait to see where this series takes her!  Thank you to Partner in Crime Virtual Book Tours for this opportunity to review this wonderful book! 

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Portland, Oregon has as many parts as the human anatomy. Like the body, some are more attractive than others. My father’s P.I. business that I’d inherited was in what many considered the armpit, the northeast, where pickpockets and drug dealers dotted the narrow streets and spray paint tags of bubble-lettered gang signatures striped the concrete. In other words, home. I’m Kelly Pruett and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

I’d just finished invoicing a client for a skip trace and flicked off the light in the front office my dad and I used to share when a series of taps came from the locked front door. It was three o’clock on a gloomy Friday afternoon. A panhandler looking for a handout or a bathroom was my best guess. Sitting at the desk, I couldn’t tell.

Floyd, my basset hound and the only real man in my life, lifted his droopy eyes to meet mine before flopping his head back down on his bed. No help there.

Another rap, louder this time.

Someone wanted my attention. I retrieved the canister of pepper spray from my purse and opened the door to a woman, her umbrella sheltering her from the late October drizzle. Her angle made it hard to see her face, only the soft curls in her hair and the briefcase hanging from her hand. I slipped the pepper spray into the pocket of my Nike warmup jacket.

“Is Roger Pruett in?” she asked, water droplets splatting the ground.

She hadn’t heard the news and I hadn’t brought myself to update R&K Investigation’s website. I swallowed the lump before it could form and clutch my throat. “No, sorry,” I said. “My dad died earlier this year. I’m his daughter, Kelly.”

“I’m so sorry.” She peered from under the umbrella, her expression pinched. She searched my face for a different answer.

I’d give anything to have one. “What do you need?”

“To hire a P.I. to investigate my daughter’s death. Can you help me?” Her voice cracked.

My stomach fluttered. Process serving, court document searches, and the occasional tedious stakeout had made up the bulk of my fifteen hundred hours of P.I. experience requirement. Not that I wasn’t capable of more. Dad had enjoyed handling cases himself with the plan to train me later. In the year since his death, no one had come knocking, and going through the motions of what I knew how to do well had been hard enough. Now this lady was here for my father’s help. I couldn’t turn her away. I raked my fingers through the top of my shoulder length hair and opened the door. “Come in.”

“Bless you.” She slid her umbrella closed and brushed past me.

After securing the lock, I led her through the small reception area and into my office. A bathroom and another office that substituted for a storage closet were down the long hallway heading to the rear exit. Floyd decided to take interest and lumbered over. With his butt in the air, he stretched at her feet before nearly snuffling my soon-to-be client’s shoe up his nose. She nodded at him before vicious Floyd found his way back to his corner, tail swaying behind him. Guess he approved.

The woman looked in her mid-sixties. She had coiffed hair the color of burnt almonds, high cheekbones, and a prominent nose. She reminded me of my middle school librarian who could get you to shut up with one glance. “Would you like coffee, Ms…?”

“No thank you. It’s Hanson.” She settled in the red vinyl chair across from my dad’s beaten and scarred desk. “Georgette Hanson.”

My skin tingled when she said her name.

“My condolences on your father,” she said.

“Thank you.” Her words were simple, and expected, but her eyes held pain. Having lost her daughter, she clearly could relate.

“How did it happen?” she asked.

I swallowed again. With as many people as I’d had to tell, it should be getting easier. It wasn’t. “Stroke. Were you a former client of my father’s?”

She waved her hand. “Something like that.” She lifted the briefcase to her lap and popped the latch. Her eyes softened. “He was a fine man. You look just like him.”

My confident, broad-shouldered, Welshman father had been quite fit and handsome in his youth. Most of my adult life he’d carried an extra fifty pounds, but that never undermined his strong chin, wise blue eyes, and thick chestnut hair. I’d been blessed with my Dad’s eyes and hair and had my mom’s round chin. But since I’d ballooned a couple of sizes while pregnant with Mitz, I knew which version she thought I resembled. “What were you hoping he could do for you with regards to your daughter?”

“Find out why she’s dead.” Georgette shoved a paper dated a few weeks ago onto the desk and snapped the case lid closed.

A picture of a young woman with a warm smile, a button nose, and long wavy brunette hair sat below the fold on the front page under the headline: WOMAN STRUCK BY MAX TRAIN DIES.

I winced at the thought of her violent end. “I’m sorry. Such a pretty girl.”

“She was perfect.” Georgette pulled off her gloves, her eyes brimming. “The train destroyed that. Do you know what a train does to a hundred-pound woman?” Her voice trembled.

To avoid envisioning the impact, I replaced it with the smiling face of Mitz, my eight-year-old daughter. Which made it worse. If anything ever happened to her… How Georgette wasn’t a puddle on the Formica eluded me. I took a minute to read the story. According to the article, Brooke Hanson fell from the sidewalk into the path of an oncoming MAX train downtown at Ninth and Morrison Street. The police reported alcohol was a contributing factor. “They detained the sole witness who found her, Jay Nightingale. Why?” I set the paper down.

Georgette brushed her hair away from her forehead flashing nails chewed to the quick. “At first, the police thought he had something to do with her fall. He told them he’d seen my Brooke stumble down the sidewalk and teeter on the edge of the curb. Supposedly, he called out the train was coming and she didn’t hear him. He made no effort to get her away from those tracks. When the autopsy showed she’d been drinking, they wrote her death off as an accident, released Mr. Nightingale, and closed the case.”

Their decision couldn’t have been that cut and dry. “How much had she been drinking?”

“You sound like the police.” Georgette lifted her chin and met my gaze. There are many stages to grief. One of them anger, another denial. Georgette straddled both, something I knew plenty about. “Not sure…exactly. You’ll have to check the report.”

I scanned her face for the truth. “You don’t know or you’re afraid to tell me?”

She massaged the palm of her hand with her thumb. “The bartender at the Limbo said she’d had a few before he’d cut her off and asked her to leave. None of that matters because Nightingale’s lying. He had something to do with her fall. He may have even pushed her. At the very least, he knows more than he’s telling.”

My eyebrows raised. The police weren’t perfect, but they had solid procedures in death investigations. They would have explored that angle. “What are you basing that on?”

“My gut.”

A mother’s intuition while undeniable, alone didn’t prove foul play. “Did the MAX operator see Mr. Nightingale next to her at any point?”

“He didn’t even see her because the area wasn’t well lit.”

“Do you have his name?”

“Chris Foley.”

I jotted the information down. “What do the train’s cameras show?”

“There weren’t any. And no passenger statements because the train was done for the night. But Brooke shouldn’t have even been in the vicinity of that train.”

“Where is the Limbo located?”

“Ten blocks from where she was hit.”

A half mile, give or take. “Could she have been heading to catch the MAX to go home?”

“Brooke detested mass transit. The people who ride during the day scared her. She wouldn’t go there at night. Besides, she lived south of town. The train wouldn’t have taken her there.” She sighed. “I’m telling you, she wouldn’t be that far from the bar unless someone…” She closed her eyes.

Georgette talked in circles attempting to make sense of it all, but I had first-hand knowledge of drunk people doing things out of character. Given what she’d described, I could understand why the police had closed the matter. Even so, her devastation gripped my heart. And something had brought her out on this rainy Friday. “What are you holding back, Ms. Hanson? Why do you feel so strongly Mr. Nightingale was involved that you’d come to my dad for help?”

She stared at her hands as if they held the answers. “Brooke had changed in the last year. Become more distant. Not visiting. Missing our weekly calls.” The corner of her mouth turned upward in a sad smile. “We used to go for pie once a month. She loved pie. Apple pie. Cherry pie.” Her smile melted. “One day she was too busy and couldn’t get away. When she did, she didn’t look well. Stressed.”

“Did she say what was bothering her?”

“No. She shut me out, which she’d never done before. Now to have been killed by a train downtown when that Nightingale fellow was close enough to stop it from happening? He’s involved. I can feel it.” She straightened. “Until I know what happened that night, I won’t rest.” Georgette reached into her purse and produced an envelope grasped in her right hand. “Here’s three thousand for you to find the truth. Please say you’ll help me.”

Despite steady work from a few law firms around town, and an adequate divorce settlement, being a single mom often meant more month than money. Georgette was offering twice what I made in a good month of process serving and that would go a long way in taking care of my little girl. Not needing to ever rely on my ex would have been incentive alone, but there was more to it than that.

I’d recognized Georgette’s name the moment she’d said it. At the reading of my dad’s will, his lawyer had handed me a handwritten letter. It was a request from my dad that if a Georgette Hanson ever came to his door asking for help, I should assist and not ask questions why. It had meant nothing at the time. I’d figured it was due to his unending dedication to his clients.

Because Georgette had a connection to my dad in some capacity, that sealed my decision to at least try and help her. While I’d been directed not to ask questions, even he would have needed the obvious one answered before he took her money.

“You said she’d changed. Is there any chance she might have…I mean, was she depressed? Could she have stepped…”

Georgette cut me off. “Stop.” Her eyes grew wide with denial and the damn broke. Tears poured over her cheeks; her shoulders shook, buckling from the weight of her anguish. The anger and determination she’d used as a mask crumbled, and each passing second exposed another layer of her gut-wrenching grief.

I shifted at witnessing her raw emotion, bracing myself against my own around my father, and my thoughts on Mitz. Tears stung my eyes, unsure how to comfort my client when I struggled to do that for myself.

She muffled a wail with the back of her hand and finally drew in deep breaths until the sobs subsided.

I grabbed a box of Kleenex behind me. She already had a handful of tissue ready from her purse. I’d back off the notion of suicide—for the moment. The woman didn’t need any more distress than she’d already endured.

She sniffed hard a couple of times and sopped up her face with the tissue. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.” I swiped under my eyes with my fingers, gaining control over my thoughts. “I’m not sure I’ll uncover anything new, but I will look for you.”

“Thank you.” She composed herself and stuffed the tissue back in her purse for the next inevitable breakdown.

I handed Georgette one of my dad’s old contracts, explaining my hourly rate, and a couple of authorization forms that might come in handy if requesting any case files was necessary.

She signed her name without bothering to read the fine print. She stood, the vinyl chair screeching against the hardwood floor startling Floyd. Her expression softened. “How old are you?”

“Thirty-two.”

“Brooke was a couple of years older, but pretty, like you and with the same flowing brown hair and kind eyes.” She sniffed. “I came to Roger because he could get to the heart of things. If you’re like him, you’ll find out what happened to my baby.”

I’d never be as good as my dad, but I did possess his mule-like stubbornness to get to the bottom of things. My ex could attest to that. “I’ll do what I can.”

She nodded. “Brooke was a good girl. She loved animals, ran every morning, and worked for the law firm Anderson, Hiefield & Price. She was the head accountant there.” Her face beamed with pride before her chin trembled again, but she held it together.

“It might help if I get a better sense of who she was.” I slid the legal pad to her. “If I could get her address, I’d like to start there.”

Georgette jotted the information down and pushed it back to me. She dug into her purse and produced the key. “I haven’t brought myself to go there yet.”

I gave her a sympathetic smile. “Are there family or friends I should start with?”

“Besides my husband, Chester, there’s just her sister, Hannah, who lives in Seattle. They weren’t close.” Georgette cleared her throat. “She never spoke to me about friends or boyfriends. Honestly, with her work schedule, she didn’t have time for any.”

With my own social life lacking, I related. “Do you have her cell? I’d like to check who she had on speed dial.”

She shook her head. “It wasn’t among her belongings.”

What thirty-something didn’t have their phone glued to them? Unless the impact of the train threw it. Another image I pushed away. I rounded my desk and walked her out of my office.

“Please keep in touch on how the investigation is going,” she said.

I assured her I would. She squeezed my arm to thank me as she left. With a twist of the deadbolt, I rested my shoulder against the door and closed my eyes. Mitz would get hugged a little closer tonight.

At my desk, Floyd trotted over and sat at my feet. He rested his chin on my lap while I added a few more notes. His sixth sense of when I needed him never faltered. I tucked the notes, along with a couple of divorce petitions into my bag to serve in between outings with Mitz.

It was early enough to get to Brooke’s place, about twenty minutes away, and to the grocery store so Mitz and I weren’t eating PB&Js for dinner. The faster I got started and found answers, the sooner Georgette could begin healing. If I was lucky, Brooke’s phone would be sitting on her nightstand waiting to be found.

Before getting up, I pulled the letter from my dad out of the top drawer and unfolded the paper. I traced the ruts in the desk we shared with my finger as I read his words. Georgette’s name was there in black and white. I had wanted to ask her more about how she knew my dad, but he’d been explicit in his request. He was a good man, albeit a tough man that I didn’t question. Nor had I ever felt the need to. It hadn’t been easy for him after my mom died, and we became the Two Musketeers. We may have run out of time for him to teach me everything he knew about being a P.I., but I’d learn as I went. I had no other choice. Helping Georgette was the last thing I could do for him. And I would.

“Ready to boogie, Floyd?” I flicked off the lights and Floyd padded behind me down the narrow hall to the backdoor.

We jogged to my yellow 1980 Triumph Spitfire, a gift from my dad when I graduated. “You know the routine, buddy.” Floyd stretched himself halfway into the car, and with a grunt, I lifted in his other half. He tripped over the manual gearshift and settled into the passenger seat as I slunk behind the wheel. The engine started right up, for a change.

Brooke was a couple of years older than me—far too young to die. Was Nightingale involved in her death? Did he know more than he was telling? Or was he just a helpless bystander who could only watch Brooke fall because she was drunk off her ass? I had a feeling I’d be returning the bulk of Georgette’s money after putting in some legwork. With a case the Portland police had already closed and an eyewitness who’d already been cleared, what other possibility was there?

***

Excerpt from Derailed by Mary Keliikoa. Copyright 2020 by Mary Keliikoa. Reproduced with permission from Mary Keliikoa. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Mary Keliikoa

Mary Keliikoa spent the first 18 years of her adult life working around lawyers. Combining her love of all things legal and books, she creates a twisting mystery where justice prevails. She has had a short story published in Woman’s World and is the author of the PI Kelly Pruett Mystery Series.

At home in Washington, she enjoys spending time with her family and her writing companions/fur-kids. When not at home, you can find Mary on a beach on the Big Island where she and her husband recharge. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.

Catch Up With Mary Keliikoa:
MaryKeliikoa.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

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Blog Tour: Dear Durwood by Jeff Bond with Partner in Crime Tours

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Dear Durwood

by Jeff Bond

on Tour August 1 – September 30, 2020

Synopsis:

Dear Durwood by Jeff Bond

Book two in the epic Third Chance Enterprises series, Dear Durwood is a standalone mystery pitting uncompromising principle against big city greed.

Durwood Oak Jones is a man of few indulgences. One he does allow is a standing ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine soliciting “injustices in need of attention.”

This month’s bundle of letters includes one from Carol Bridges, mayor of the dusty, blue-collar town of Chickasaw, Texas. For nearly a century, Chickasaw has relied on the jobs and goodwill of Hogan Consolidated, a family-run manufacturer of industrial parts. Now East Coast lawyers and investment bankers have taken aim at the company. The citizens of Chickasaw fear it may be acquired or bankrupted, leading to massive layoffs — effectively destroying the town.

Durwood and his trusty bluetick coonhound, Sue-Ann, fly to Texas to see what can be done. They find a young CEO born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Factory workers with hammers. A good woman, Carol Bridges, who knows her town is being cheated but can’t get to the bottom of how. And lawyers.

Dirty, good-for-nothing lawyers.

Book Details:

Genre: Action-Adventure / Western Romance
Published by: Jeff Bond Books
Publication Date: June 15, 2020
Number of Pages: 215
ISBN: 1732255296 (ISBN13: 9781732255296)
Series: Third Chance Enterprises
Purchase Links: Amazon | Third Chance Stories | Goodreads

There is so much to say about this book!  I wasn’t familiar with the author’s Third Chance Enterprises series, but I immediately fell in love with his writing style!  Dear Durwood is a novel focusing on Durwood Jones, an ex-soldier looking for work in a small town in Texas.  Being a Texan myself and working with local governments in small towns, I get the dynamic the author is portraying here!  It’s the same in many small towns across the county and it’s also very timely with the current political climate.  This is a slightly pulpy western-themed novel that sets up a classic working class vs. privileged class conflict.  Durwood gets drawn into the political intrigue that flows through the town, it’s rural neighbors, and the entire plot. 

Durwood as a character is very deep, he has ingrained motivations and he isn’t too squeaky clean.  I like a good, rough character with flaws, but with good intentions.  I think Durwood almost fits this bill, but he’s a fun character to read!  I loved his dog and enjoyed that she was a character in the story as well.  Durwood isn’t a spy or a John Wayne type, but he is a man of his word and he’s said he would help in this situation. 

The setting is lovely, small town Texas plagued by Wall Street and it’s bloodthirsty traders, etc.  I would love to visit this town and I felt like Durwood left his mark.  The narrative flows smoothly from scene to scene and all of the incidental characters are interesting with their own motivations and secrets.  I enjoyed being able to see the mystery through Durwood’s eyes.  It’s a quick read at 215 pages and it has a really cool retro cover!  I highly enjoyed the dime novel cover of this book!

This was easy to read as a stand-alone, but I would love to read the other books in this series, both published and forthcoming!  Thank you to the folks at Partner in Crime Tours, the author, and everyone involved!  This book was a joy to read and I would recommend it to any fans of adult mystery with a modern western twist!  Looking forward to the next book!

Read an excerpt:

Dear Mr. Oak Jones:

I am Carol Bridges, mayor of Chickasaw, Texas. We are located in the western part of the state, Big Bend Country if you know it. I thank you in advance for considering my injustice.

Chickasaw is the home of Hogan Consolidated, a family-run manufacturer of industrial parts. Hogan employs 70 percent of able-bodied adults in Chickasaw, and its philanthropy has sustained the town for ninety years. It’s due to the Hogan family we have an arts center and turf field for youth football.

Recently, East Coast lawyers and investment bankers have taken aim at the company. Multi-million dollar claims have been filed, accusing Hogan of putting out defective parts. It’s rumored the company will be acquired or liquidated outright. Massive layoffs are feared.

My constituents work hard, Mr. Jones. They have mortgages and children to feed. I have tried to find answers about the Hogan family’s intentions, to see whether I or the town can do anything to influence the course of events. Jay Hogan, the current CEO, does not return my phone calls—and is seen dining at sushi restaurants in El Paso (85 miles away) more often than in Chickasaw. I have gotten the runaround from our state and federal representatives. I believe it’s their fundraising season.

As mayor, I have a duty to explore every possible solution to the challenges we face. I do not read Soldier of Fortune regularly, but my deputy police chief showed me your ad soliciting “injustices in need of attention.” I feel certain injustice is being done to Chickasaw, though I can’t as yet name its perpetrator and exact nature.

Alonso (our deputy chief) knows you by reputation, and assures me these details won’t trouble you.

Thank you sincerely for your time,

Carol Bridges
Mayor of Chickasaw, TX

Chapter One

Durwood got to the Chickasaw letter halfway through the sorghum field. He was flipping through the stack from the mailbox, passing between sweet-smelling stalks. Leaves brushed his bluejeans. Dust coated his boots. He scanned for clumps of johnsongrass as he read, picking what he saw. The first five letters he’d tucked into his back pocket.

The Chickasaw letter he considered longer. Steel-colored eyes scanned left to right. He forgot about the johnsongrass. An ugliness started in his gut.

Lawyers.

He put the letter in his front pocket, then read the rest. The magazine forwarded him a bundle every month. In September, he’d only gotten three. At Christmas time, it seemed like he got thirty or forty. Folks felt gypped around the holidays.

Today, he read about two brothers who didn’t steal a car. About a principal who got fired for being too aggressive fighting drugs in his school. About a bum call in the Oregon state Little League championship twenty years ago. About a furnace warranty that wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

Durwood chuckled at the Oregon letter. This one had been writing in for years. Maybe he figured Durwood didn’t read them, figured some screener only put a couple through each go-round and one of these days they’d sneak his through.

But Durwood did read them. Every last one.

He put the letter about the principal in his front pocket with the Chickasaw letter.

Off his right side, Sue-Ann whimpered. Durwood turned to find the bluetick coonhound pointing the south fenceline.

“I see,” Durwood said, of the white-tail doe nosing around the spruces. “Left my gun back at the house, though.”

Sue-Ann kept her point. Her bad hip quivered from the effort. Old as she was, she still got fired up about game.

Durwood released her with a gesture. “What do you say to some bluegill tonight instead? See what Crole’s up to.”

Durwood called Crole from the house. Crole, his fishing buddy who lived on the adjacent sixty acres, said he was good for a dozen casts. They agreed to meet at the river dividing their properties. Durwood had a shorter walk and used the extra time to clean his M9 semiautomatic.

Leaving, he noticed the red maple that shaded the house was leafing out slow. He examined the trunk and found a pattern of fine holes encircling the bark.

That yellow-bellied sapsucker.

Durwood wondered if the holes were related to the tree’s poor vigor.

Out by the river, Crole limped up with his jug of moonshine, vile stuff he made from Jolly Ranchers.

They fished.

Sue-Ann laid in the mud, snoring, her stiff coat bristling against Durwood’s boot. The afternoon stretched out, a dozen casts becoming two dozen. Then three. In the distance, the hazy West Virginia sky rolled through the Smokies. Mosquitoes weren’t too bad, just a nip here and there at the collar.

Durwood thought about Chickasaw, Texas. He thought about East Coast lawyers. About the hardworking men and women who’d elected Carol Bridges to be mayor and stick up for them.

He thought about that CEO picking up raw fish with chopsticks in El Paso.

He thought, too, about the principal who’d been fired for doing right.

Crole said, “Got some letters today?”

Durwood said he had.

Crole grinned, showing his top teeth—just two, both nearly black. “Still running that ad in Soldier of Fortune?”

Durwood lowered the brim of his hat against the sun. “Don’t cost much.”

“They give a military discount?”

Durwood raised a shoulder. He’d been discharged from the Marines a decade ago. He didn’t accept handouts for his service.

Crole nodded to the bulge in his pocket—the letters. “Anything interesting?”

“Sure,” Durwood said. “Plenty.”

They fished into twilight. Durwood caught just five bluegill. Crole, twenty years his senior and luckier with fish, reeled in a dozen, plus a decent-size channel cat despite using the wrong bait. The men strung their catches on a chain. The chain rippled in the cool, clear water.

The Chickasaw job appealed to Durwood. The opportunity to fight crooked lawyers, do something about these Wall Street outfits that made their buck slicing up American companies, putting craftsmen out of work until every last doodad was made in some knockoff plant in China.

Still, Durwood had trouble imagining the case. What would he do, flip through documents? Sit across a folding table from men in suits and ask questions?

Then he thought about the principal. About those gangs the letter had mentioned, how you could look out the windows of the dang school and see drug dealers on street corners. Intimidators. Armed thugs.

Durwood had an easy time imagining that case.

The sky had just gotten its first purple tinge when Durwood lost his bait a third time running.

“These fish.” He held his empty hook out of the water, shaking his head.

Crole said, “There’s catfish down there older than you.”

“Smarter, too,” Durwood said.

Still, the five bluegill would be enough for him and Sue-Ann. Durwood unclipped the fishes’ cheeks from the chain and dropped them in a bucket.

Back at the house, Durwood spotted the yellow-bellied sapsucker climbing the red maple. Not only was he pecking the tree, the ornery creature kept pulling twigs from the gray squirrels’ nest, the one they’d built with care and sheltered in the last four winters.

“Git down!” Durwood called.

The sapsucker zipped away to other antics.

Inside, Durwood scaled and beheaded the bluegill. Then he fried them in grease and cornmeal. Sue-Ann ate only half a fish.

Durwood moved the crispy tail under her nose. “Another bite?”

The dog sneezed, rattly in her chest.

Durwood rinsed his dishes and switched on a desktop computer. He looked up Chickasaw. There was plenty of information online. Population, land area. Nearly every mention of the town made reference to Hogan Consolidated. It looked like Hogan Consolidated was Chickasaw, Texas, and vice versa.

On the official municipal website, he found a picture of Carol Bridges. She wore a hardhat, smiling among construction workers.

Handsome woman. Warm, lively eyes.

Next, Durwood looked up the fired principal. The man lived and worked in upstate New York. For a few weeks, his case had been all over the local news there. A city councilman believed he’d been railroaded. Nineteen years he’d served the school district without prior incident. The only blemish Durwood found was a college DUI.

Durwood hadn’t started with computers until his thirties. His calloused fingers regularly struck the keys wrong, but he managed. This one he’d gotten from the Walmart in Barboursville, forty-nine bucks on Black Friday. It had its uses. A tool like any other.

“Well?” he said aloud, even though Sue was out on the porch. “Looks like a tossup.”

Durwood changed computer windows to look again at Carol Bridges. Then changed back to the principal.

At the bottom of the news story about the principal, he noticed a bubble with “47 comments” inside. He knew people who spouted off online were unreliable and often foolish. He clicked anyway.

“Good riddance, got what he deserved!”

“TOTAL RACIST WINDBAG, glad they fired him.”

Durwood read all forty-seven comments. Some defended the man, but most were negative.

It was impossible to know how much was legitimate. Durwood left judging to Him, and Him alone.

But Durwood did know that the petitioner, the one who’d written the letter to Soldier of Fortune, was the principal himself. Not some third party. Not an objective observer.

What had seemed like a case of obvious bureaucratic overreach suddenly looked less obvious.

Now Sue-Ann loped in from the porch. Appalachian air followed her inside, nice as perfume. Sue settled at Durwood’s feet, wheezing, rheumy eyes aimed up at her master.

He said, “What do you say, girl. Up for seeing the Lone Star State?”

The dog sat up straight, responding to the action in his voice. The effort made her mew. That hip.

Durwood laid his thumb down the ridge of the dog’s skull. He felt pained himself, thinking of documents, folding tables, and men in suits.

Chapter Two

It was a healthy drive, nearly two thousand miles, to see this Carol Bridges. Doubts remained in Durwood’s mind. Petitioners he met through the Soldier of Fortune ad fell through sometimes. It would turn out their letter was misleading or flat false. Other times the injustice had taken care of itself by the time Durwood arrived.

Once he’d driven clear to Nebraska to help a man whose pride and joy, a 1917 Ford Bucket T he’d restored from salvage by hand, had been denied roadworthiness by some city councilman with a grudge. When Durwood knocked on his door and asked about the hot rod, the man said, “The Ford? Guy made me an offer, I sold her a few weeks back.”

Durwood decided it was worth the trip to hear Carol Bridges out. If he didn’t like what she said, he’d tip his hat, get back in the Vanagon, and drive home.

Crole observed, “You could call.”

Durwood was humping supplies into the van. “Folks can say anything on the phone.”

The older man looked to the horizon, where the sun would rise soon. His pajamas dragged the dirt, and he held his jug by two fingers. “They can say anything to your face, too.”

Durwood whistled to Sue-Ann.

“It’s different,” he said as the dog climbed in. “Lay off that shine, hm?”

Crole looked down at his jug as though surprised by its presence.

He answered, “Don’t kill anyone you don’t have to.”

With a wave, Durwood took out. The van wheezed over mountain switchbacks and chugged steadily along interstates. By afternoon, Sue was wincing on the bare metal floor. Durwood bought her a mat next time he stopped for gas.

They reached Chickasaw the following morning. Crossing the city limit, they saw fields of wheat and corn, and grain elevators, and dry dusty homesteads. Factories burped smoke farther on. Billboards shilled for some dentist, somebody else who wanted to be sheriff.

Downtown Chickasaw was a grid, eight blocks square. Durwood saw the turf field mentioned in the letter and smiled. A boarded-up building with a sign reading, Lyles Community Outreach Center. A fancy hotel that looked out of place.

Next door to City Hall, Durwood’s destination, was a coffee shop called Peaceful Beans. The logo showed the name written along the stems of the peace sign. The light bulbs inside had those squiggly vintage filaments.

Durwood knew that these towns, rural or not, had all types. You got your vegan yoga instructors living next to redneck truckers—sometimes married to each other.

City Hall itself was a stone structure, two stories high. A sign indicated the municipal jail was located in the basement.

Durwood parked. His bones creaked as he stepped from the van and stretched.

The woman working reception cooed at Sue, who’d rolled over on her back. The big ham. Durwood stated their business, declared his M9, and passed through a metal detector before being shown to the mayor’s office.

Carol Bridges stood from her desk with a humble smile. “Mr. Oak Jones, thank you for traveling all this way for our town.”

“You’re welcome,” he said. “Call me Durwood, please.”

She said she would and handed him a business card with her personal number circled. Durwood placed the card in his bluejeans pocket. The mayor gestured to an armchair whose upholstery had worn thin. Durwood, removing his hat, sat.

“My dog goes where I go, generally,” he explained. “She can sit outside if need be.”

“Don’t be silly.” The mayor reached into a drawer of her desk for a biscuit. “If I’d known, I’d have brought in my German Shepherd.”

She didn’t just toss the biscuit at Sue, as some will. Carol Bridges commanded the dog to sit first.

Sue sat.

The mayor squatted and offered the treat, palm up, her knees pinching below a dark skirt. Sue wolfed it down.

Durwood said, “We saw the factories on the way in. How many employees?”

“Forty-four hundred on the floors themselves,” she said. “Plus another eight thousand in support roles.”

“And it’s all going away? Vamoose?”

Carol Bridges crossed one leg over the other. “That’s how the winds are blowing.”

She expanded upon what the letter had said. For the better part of a century, Hogan Consolidated had produced parts for various household products. Brackets. Pot handles. Stepladder hinges. Nothing sexy, Carol Bridges said, but quality components that filled a need higher up the supply chain.

Five or six years back, Wall Street began taking an interest in the company. They believed Hogan was underleveraged and growing too slowly.

Durwood stopped her. “What does underleveraged mean?”

“As I understand”—the mayor fluffed her dark red hair dubiously—“it means you aren’t taking enough risks. Your balance sheet is too conservative.”

“Too conservative?”

“Right. You’re not expanding into new markets. You’re not inventing new products.”

Durwood rolled her words around his head. “Suppose you’re good at what you do, and that’s it.”

Carol Bridges looked out her window toward a pair of smokestacks. “Not good enough for Wall Street.”

Thoughts of finance or economics usually gave Durwood a headache, but he made himself consider the particulars of the case now.

“But Hogan’s a family-owned company,” he said. “Can’t they tell Wall Street to go to hell? Pardon my French.”

“They were family-owned up until 1972, when they sold out.”

Durwood sat up in his chair, recalling her letter.

She seemed to read his thoughts. “They’re a family-run company. The CEO’s always been a Hogan, but the equity is publicly traded.”

“Hm.” Durwood’s head wasn’t aching, but it didn’t feel quite right either. “I read your letter different.”

“I apologize, I didn’t mean to be unclear.” The mayor took a step out from behind her desk. “I hope you don’t feel I brought you here on false pretenses.”

They looked at each other. The woman’s face tipped sympathetically and flushed, her eyes wide with concern. On the wall behind her hung the Iraq Campaign Medal and the striped ribbon indicating combat action.

“It’s fine,” Durwood said. “And they’re facing lawsuits, you said?”

“Correct,” the mayor said. “A class-action suit has been filed by customers claiming injury as a result of faulty Hogan parts.”

“What happened?”

“A woman in New Jersey’s toaster exploded. They’ve got two people in California saying a bad Hogan hinge caused them to fall. One broke her wrist.”

“Her wrist.”

Carol Bridges nodded.

“Falling off a stepladder?”

She nodded again.

“What’re the Hogans doing?” Durwood asked. “They have a strategy to stomp out this nonsense?”

“No idea. I hear, just scuttlebutt from the cafe, that the company’s going bankrupt.” The mayor flung out an arm. “Somebody else says they’re selling out to a private equity firm—one of these outfits that buys distressed companies for peanuts and parts ’em out, auctions off the assets and fires all the workers.”

Durwood leaned over the thighs of his bluejeans. “You mentioned the CEO in your letter. Eats sushi.”

The woman smiled. “Jay Hogan, yes. He’s only twenty-eight, and I don’t think he likes living in Chickasaw much. He went to college at Dartmouth.”

“Whereabouts is that?”

“Dartmouth?”

Durwood nodded. He’d once met an arms supplier in Dortmund, Germany, the time he and Quaid Rafferty had stopped a band of disgruntled sausage vendors from bombing ten soccer stadiums simultaneously. He’d never heard of Dartmouth.

Carol Bridges said, “New Hampshire.”

“If he doesn’t like the place,” Durwood said, “why didn’t he stay east? Work a city job?”

She crossed her legs again. “I doubt he could get one. Around here, he was a screw-up. They got him for drunk driving regularly. I was with the prosecutor’s office back then. The police winched him out of the same gully four different times in his dad’s Hummer.”

“Why’d they pick him for CEO?”

“He’s an only child. When the father had his stroke, Jay was next in line. Only pitcher left in the bullpen.”

Durwood drew in a long breath. “Now the fate of the whole town rests on his shoulders. Fella couldn’t keep a five-thousand-pound vehicle on the road.”

Carol Bridges nodded.

Durwood felt comfortable talking to this woman. As comfortable as he’d felt with a woman since Maybelle, his wife and soulmate, had passed in Tikrit. Carol Bridges didn’t embellish. She didn’t say one thing but mean another—leaving aside the misunderstanding over “family-run,” which might well have been Durwood’s fault.

Still, comfort didn’t make a case.

“I sympathize, Miss Bridges,” Durwood said. “I do. But I’m a simple man. The sort of business I’m trained for is combat. Apprehending suspects. Pursuing retribution that can’t be pursued within the confines of the law. This situation calls for expertise I don’t have.”

He’d delivered bad news, but Carol Bridges didn’t seem upset. She was smiling again.

“I have to disagree,” she said.

“You need somebody knows their way around corporate law. Knows how to—”

“You’re not a simple man. There’s a lot up there”—her warm eyes rose to his head—“that doesn’t translate into words.”

Durwood held her gaze a moment. Then he looked down to Sue-Ann.

The dog was sleeping.

He said, “America is changing. For better or worse. A town like Chickasaw doesn’t get the better end of it, I understand. There’s injustice in that. But it’s not the sort I can stop.”

“Of course. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting you can deliver us back to the 1970s.”

Carol Bridges laced her fingers over her dark red hair. A funny thing was happening with her mouth. Was she chewing gum? No, that wasn’t it. Using her tongue to work a piece of food out from between her teeth? Durwood didn’t think so either.

She was smirking.

“All I’m asking,” she said, “on behalf of my town, is this: talk to Jay Hogan. Get a straight answer out of him. I can’t, I’ve tried. The rest of the Hogans live in Vail or Tuscany. We need somebody who can cut through the bull and find out the truth.”

Durwood repeated, “The truth.”

“Yes. If the jobs are going away, if I need to retrain my citizenry to…” She searched around her desktop for some example—pencils, folders, a stapler. “Heck, answer customer-service calls? I will. But we want to know.”

Sue-Ann snored and resettled against Durwood’s boot.

He said, “Talk to Jay Hogan.”

The mayor clasped her hands hopefully over her chest. “That’s all I’m asking. Find out where we stand.”

Durwood thought about the crop fields he’d seen riding into town. The dusty homesteads. The billboards—the dentist, man who wanted to be sheriff. He thought of the factories still putting out smoke. For now.

The stakes were lower than what he fought for alongside Quaid and Molly McGill with Third Chance Enterprises. The planet itself was not imperiled. He wasn’t likely to face exotic technologies or need to jump from moving aircraft. So it went with these injustice cases—with injustice in general. Ordinary folks suffering ordinary hardship.

“We did drive a couple thousand miles,” he said. “I suppose it makes sense to stay and have a word with Mr. Hogan.”

Carol Bridges rushed forward and pressed his calloused hands in her smooth ones. She gave him the address of Hogan Consolidated from memory.

Chapter Three

Hogan’s main factory and corporate headquarters were in the same building. Durwood parked in a Visitors spot, and he and Sue walked up to the fifth floor where the executive offices were—over the factory. Stairs were murder on the dog’s hip, but she persevered. Durwood stopped every few steps for her.

Through the stairwell’s glass wall, he watched the assembly line. Men and women in hardhats leaned into machine handles. A foreman frowned at a clipboard. Belts and treads and rotors turned. Even behind glass, Durwood could smell grease.

Nothing amiss here.

On the fifth floor, Durwood consulted a directory to find Jay Hogan’s office.

His secretary wore nicer clothes than Carol Bridges. Looking at her neat painted fingernails, Durwood doubted she kept dog biscuits in her desk.

“You—you honestly thought bringing a dog to see the chief executive of Hogan Consolidated was acceptable?” the woman said, looking at Sue’s spots like they were open sores. “OSHA would have a field day if they showed up now.”

Sue-Ann laid her chin on her paws.

Durwood said, “She can stay here while I see Mr. Hogan.”

The woman’s nameplate read Priscilla Baird. Durwood suspected she’d be taller than him if she stood. Her lips were tight, trembling like she was about to eject Durwood and Sue—or flee herself.

“I don’t know that you will see Mr. Hogan today,” she said. “You’re not on his schedule. Jones, did you say?”

She checked her screen.

“Won’t find me in your computer,” Durwood said. “Is he here?”

Priscilla Baird glanced at her boss’s door, which was closed.

“He is…on site. But I’m not at liberty to say when he’d be available to speak with arbitrary members of the public.”

“I’m not arbitrary. I’m here on authority of the mayor.”

“The mayor?”

“Of Chickasaw, yes ma’am. Carol Bridges.”

Priscilla Baird rolled her eyes at this. Durwood thought he heard, “Getting desperate” under the woman’s breath.

Durwood waited. After thirty minutes, he tired of Priscilla Baird’s dirty looks and took Sue-Ann out to the van. She didn’t like dogs, fine. He wouldn’t be difficult just for the sake of it.

He returned to wait more. The lobby had an exposed beam running down its center—pimpled, showy. Folks built like that nowadays. Slate walls displayed oil paintings of the company’s executives. Sitting out on tables were US Weekly and Field and Stream. Durwood read neither. He spent the time thinking what questions to ask Jay Hogan.

All told, he waited an hour and a half. Others entered and were admitted to see Hogan. Men wearing pinstripes. A made-up woman in her late forties with a couple minions hustling after her. Some kid in a ballcap and shorts carrying two plastic bags.

The kid left Hogan’s office without his bags.

Durwood caught him at the door. “Pardon, youngster. What did you drop off?”

The kid ducked so Durwood could read his hat.

Crepes-a-Go-Go.

An involuntary growl escaped Durwood’s mouth. He crossed to Jay Hogan’s door.

“Excuse me,” Priscilla Baird said. “Mr. Hogan’s schedule today is terribly tight, you’ll need to be patient if—”

“It just opened up,” Durwood said.

He jerked the knob and blew inside. Jay Hogan was stuffing a crepe into his face with a plastic fork. Ham and some cheese that stank. The corner of his mouth had a red smear, either ketchup or raspberry jam.

Probably jam.

“The hell is this?” Hogan said. “You—what…Priscilla…” He placed a hand over his scrawny chest and finished swallowing. “Who is this person?”

Priscilla Baird rushed to the door. “I never admitted him, he went himself. He forced his way in!”

Durwood stood in the center of the office. He said to Hogan, “Let’s talk, the two of us.”

The young CEO considered the proposal. He was holding his crepe one-handed and didn’t seem to know where to set it down. He looked at his secretary. He looked at Durwood. His hair was slicked back with Pennzoil, skin alabaster white—a shade you’d have to stay inside to keep in southwest Texas.

Durwood extended his hand. “I can hold your pancake.”

Jay Hogan stiffened at the remark. “Who are you?”

“Name’s Durwood Oak Jones.”

Hogan tried saying it himself. “Duuurwood, is it?”

“Correct.” Durwood assumed Jay Hogan, like the mayor, wasn’t a Soldier of Fortune subscriber. “I’m a concerned party.”

“What does that mean?” Hogan said. “Concerned about what?”

“About this town. About the financial standing of your company.”

As Priscilla Baird excused herself, Durwood explained his contact to date with Carol Bridges and the capacity in which he’d come: to investigate and combat injustice. There was no reason he and Jay Hogan shouldn’t be on the same side. If the lawyers were fleecing Hogan Consolidated or Wall Street sharks were sabotaging it, Durwood’s help should be appreciated.

But Jay Hogan wasn’t rolling out the welcome wagon.

Injustice?” he sneered. “The company’s in a crap situation, a real hole. Not my fault. I didn’t build those hinges. I didn’t, you know, invent P/E ratios or whatever other metrics we aren’t hitting.”

Durwood glared across the desk. Every not and didn’t stuck in his craw.

He said, “What do you do, then?”

“I chart the course,” Hogan said. “I set the top-line strategy.”

“Top-line?”

“Yes. Top-line.”

Durwood resettled his hat on his head. “Thought the bottom line was the important one.”

Jay Hogan made a sound between flatulence and a pig’s snort. “Look—we’ve held the line on wages, kept the unions out. Done everything in our power to stay competitive.”

Durwood asked what his strategy was on those lawsuits.

“Chester handles legal matters,” Hogan said.

“Who’s that?”

“Chester is the COO.”

Durwood raised a finger, counting out letters. “Now what’s the difference between CEO and COO?”

Jay Hogan made impatient motions with his hands. “The COO is the operating officer. He’s more involved in day-to-day business.”

“Who deals with Wall Street? The money men?”

“Chester.”

“Who handles communication? Getting word out to the citizens of Chickasaw about what’s going on?”

Hogan picked up his crepe again. “Chester.”

He said the name—which was prissy to begin with—in a nasal, superior tone.

Durwood’s fist balled at his side. “Fella must be sharp, you trust him with all that.”

“Chester’s extremely smart,” Hogan said. “I’ve known him forever—our families go back generations. We attended all the same boarding schools.”

“Boyhood chums?”

Hogan frowned at the question. “Something like that.”

“He’s about your age, then?”

Hogan nodded.

“Couple twenty-eight-year-olds running a company that dictates the fate of a whole town.” Durwood folded his arms. “Sound fair to you?”

The CEO’s pale cheeks colored. “They’re lucky to have us. Two Ivy League graduates blessed with business instincts. Chester Lyles was president of our fraternity, graduated magna cum laude. We could be founding startups in Seattle or San Francisco where you don’t have to drive a hundred miles for decent food.”

That name rung a bell somewhere for Durwood.

Lyles.

Recalling what Carol Bridges had said about the gully, he said, “You graduate magna cum laude?”

“I don’t need to defend my qualifications to you or anyone.”

Durwood nodded. “Must’ve just missed.”

Jay Hogan stood up a snit. He looked at his crepe again in its tissue-paper sleeve and couldn’t resist. He took a quick bite and thrust a finger at the door, mouth full.

“I’m done answering your questions,” he said. “As CEO, I’m accountable to a shareholder-elected board of directors, which includes presidents of other corporations, a former Treasury Secretary of the United States, and several other prominent executives. They’re satisfied with my performance.”

“How many of them live in Chickasaw?”

Hogan barked a laugh. “They understand the financial headwinds I’m up against.”

“How about those bad hinges? From what I hear, Hogan used to make quality parts.”

“Another Chester question. I don’t deal with quality control.”

That’s for sure.

Durwood saw he would get nowhere with Jay Hogan. This Chester was who he needed to find. Asking this one how the town of Chickasaw was going to shake out was like inspecting your John Deere’s hood ornament to judge if you needed a new tractor.

Hogan was still pointing at the door. Finally, Durwood obliged him.

On the way out, he said, “You got families counting on this company. Families with children, mortgages, sick grandmas. They’re counting on you. Hogans before you did their part. Now be a man, do yours. Rise to your duty.”

Hogan didn’t answer. He had more crepe in his mouth.

Walking down to the parking lot, Durwood passed the factory again. It was dark—the shift had ended while he’d been waiting for Hogan. His boots clacked around the stairwell in solitude.

He considered what ailed Hogan Consolidated and whether he could fix it. He wasn’t optimistic. Oh, he could poke around and get the scoop on Chester Lyles. He could do his best working around the lies and evasions he’d surely encounter. Maybe he would find Chester’s or Jay Hogan’s hand in the cookie jar.

The likeliest culprit, though, was plain old incompetence. Jay Hogan belonged in an insurance office someplace—preferably far from the scissors. Instead, he sat in a corner office of a multi-million dollar company.

Did that rise to the level of injustice? Maybe. Maybe, with so many lives and livelihoods at stake.

Durwood didn’t like cases he had to talk himself into.

He was just imagining how he’d break the news to Carol Bridges if nothing much came of Chester when four men burst from the shadows and tackled him.

***

Excerpt from Dear Durwood by Jeff Bond. Copyright 2020 by Jeff Bond. Reproduced with permission from Jeff Bond. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Jeff Bond

Jeff Bond is an American author of popular fiction. His books have been featured in The New York Review of Books, and his 2020 release, The Pinebox Vendetta, received the gold medal (top prize) in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards. A Kansas native and Yale graduate, he now lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.

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Review: The Crowman by Gareth Clegg

The Crowman

Author: Gareth Clegg

Published: July 1, 2020

Publisher: Twisted Fate Publishing

Format: eBook

Source: Author Request

In a dying world, one lone rider is the only hope for salvation.

Some say the world is shattered, that our way of life is dying. Our sun fills half the sky and the scorched lands struggle to provide enough to sustain us. Still, there has always been hope. But as that fiery red orb descends below the rocky skyline, then comes the shadow: Dark spirits hell-bent on destroying what’s left of humanity, as if we needed any help.

My name is Cheveyo Santiago. I cheated death as a child, but that trauma marked me, and now I sense the evil in others. So here I am, drawn like a moth to the flame. Though I carry a revolver, I’m no gunslinger, there are plenty faster on the draw than me. My real edge is knowledge.

Old family recipes passed down through the ages – the secrets to banish the shadow back to the hells that spawned it. Salt, Brimstone, Silver and Tallow shall be my weapons.


So, hear this, all creatures and spirits of evil. I know you. I see you. Prepare yourself for judgement.

The Crowman is the first novella in a Weird West / Supernatural Western Horror series from Amazon best selling author Gareth Clegg. 

Enter:  Cheveyo Santiago.  Badass, lone wolf. 

Read the synopsis!  What can you not love about this novella!  This has all the markings of great science fiction, great fantasy, and great western.  Sometimes authors can try to mash up too many genres, but I think this was done expertly!

Cheveyo Santiago is such a well written character!  Not only is he super cool, he’s also a survivor.  He is a banisher of spirits and he wants to protect the last shreds of human life in an effort to attain salvation.  Not only is Cheveyo well-written, the personality that is infused into his character is witty, sharp, and interesting!  I’ve recently stumbled into this genre and I have really enjoyed it so far! 

The setting is lush with a ton of descriptive prose provided by the author.  Sweeping backdrops of almost post-apocalyptic scenery.  Reminiscent of Fallout or Mad Max, but infused with so many details and interesting plot devices.  Also, I loved the typesetting and choices for the chapter images!  I’m a suck for a gunslinging magical adventure through a crazy landscape.  Fantastically Monster Hunter International blended with a pulpy western novel!  I can’t say anything more because this was so good!  Please give this a go and check out more from author Gareth Clegg!

Thank you to Gareth for asking me to review this novella!  I truly loved it and will be looking forward to more  from him!

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Review: Cape Menace by Amy M. Reade

Cape Menace

Author: Amy M. Reade

Published: June 2, 2020

Publisher: Pau Hana Press

Format: Paperback

Source: Author Request

The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah. Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping that Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.

Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are
saying about her mother’s disappearance.

When the time comes for Sarah to face her father’s secrets and figure out why her mother never came home that December day in 1712, what she learns will shock her tiny community on the New Jersey cape and leave her fighting for her life.

Cape Menace is a new release from bestselling author Amy M. Reade!  This historical mystery is steeped in meticulous research and few artistic liberties.  The premise is intriguing, Sarah Hanover’s mother disappears without a trace and her father begins acting strangely.  This colonial era mystery is laced with intrigue and hints of 18th century romance.  Sarah’s mother helped with the sick in the town, but when she disappears, Sarah takes up the mantle.  Not quite a healer, not quite a doctor, Sarah is skilled with herbs and other remedies.  The narrative follows Sarah as she navigates life without her mother and her increasingly suspicious father.

I picked up quickly that the author had done extensive research into not only the time period, but also the specific setting of Cape May.  Sarah is a well-defined and well-crafted character that I thoroughly enjoyed reading!  Other characters like William Hanover, Mistress Reeves, Richard, Captain Eli, and other townspeople interact with Sarah and their surroundings in a very realistic way. 

The pacing of the book was very good and it has such an exciting conclusion!  Clocking in around 250 pages, this novel was easy to read in one or two settings and does not have a dull moment!  I haven’t read anything by Amy M. Reade, but I really enjoyed this novel!  Her back catalog is extensive and something I am excited to dive into in the future!  I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the author for sending me a copy of Cape Menace.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I received a galley copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

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Blog Tour: A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder by Dianne Freeman

Kensington Books
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: A Countess of Harleigh Mystery, Book 3
In Dianne Freeman’s charming Victorian-era mystery series, Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh, finds her sister’s wedding threatened by a vow of vengeance. London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens. But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancé, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas. As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll…

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I have done a lot of exploring new series in the recent past and I am excited to say that this is my first adventure into the world of Frances Wynn and the Countess of Harleigh mystery series!  I love a good cozy mystery with a historical backdrop.  Since this is the third book in the series, there had been significant character development in earlier books, but I didn’t find that I felt lost.  I felt that the author provided enough information for me to jump right in with this as a standalone.  Of course, I would encourage anyone to begin with the first book to fully appreciate the characters and world, but jumping in here would be perfectly acceptable.

As a long-time fan of the juxtaposition between the ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ in the Victorian era, I found this book to be exceedingly interesting with the plot developing in both settings.  Though Frances is of the upstairs crowd, she has just as much respect for the downstairs tragedies as those that take place in her world.  I found this compassion to be a central point in the story.  The reader will pick up on and appreciate the detailed research the author surely undertook to ensure that the book had an air of historical accuracy.  There were no out of place elements and the language used by the characters was fantastically period accurate! 

Some novels can fall into the category of having so much danger that it seems highly unrealistic, but I found this book to have the right balance between ‘accidents’, danger, and realistic events that would probably have occurred if this had happened at a real Victorian era estate.  This can oftentimes be a fine line to walk, but this author has done that beautifully!  This is the perfect book to open on a rainy day with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit!  Clocking in at around 300 pages, it was a fairly fast paced book with plenty of intrigue to keep the reader hooked.  I loved the mystery and the plot development throughout!

I would recommend this to fans of cozy mysteries and those who enjoy a good historical mystery novel as well!  A healthy dose of whodunit mixed with a strong female lead make this book a must read historical mystery!  Thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, the publisher, and Dianne Freeman for having me along for this tour and providing a copy for me to read.  All thoughts and opinions are my own!  Looking forward to more from the Countess of Harleigh!

About the Author

Dianne Freeman is a life-long book lover who left the world of corporate finance to pursue her passion for writing. After co-authoring the non-fiction book, Haunted Highway, The Spirits of Route 66, she realized her true love was fiction, historical mystery in particular. She also realized she didn’t like winter very much so now she and her husband pursue the endless summer by splitting their time between Michigan and Arizona. She’s been nominated for an Agatha and the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award, and won the 2019 Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 3 Review & Excerpt at Probably at the Library Tuesday, August 4 Interview at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals Wednesday, August 5 Review at Books, Cooks, Looks Thursday, August 6 Feature at The Lit Bitch Friday, August 7 Review at Bookish Rantings Monday, August 10 Review at History from a Woman’s Perspective Tuesday, August 11 Review at Bookworlder Feature at The Book Junkie Reads Wednesday, August 12 Review at Hallie Reads Thursday, August 13 Review at Book Bustle Friday, August 14 Review & Excerpt at Gwendalyn’s Books Monday, August 17 Review & Interview at Jorie Loves A Story Tuesday, August 18 Review at YA, It’s Lit Wednesday, August 19 Review at Books and Zebras Thursday, August 20 Feature at I’m Into Books Friday, August 21 Review at A Darn Good Read Review at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder + a $10 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter. Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js

Blog Tour: The Black Midnight by Kathleen Y’Barbo #LSBBT

THE BLACK MIDNIGHT
by
Kathleen Y’Barbo
Genre: Fiction / Historical Mystery / True Crime  
Publisher: Barbour Books 
Publication Date: August 1, 2020 
Number of Pages: 257
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Two killers, two detectives, and a menace called The Black Midnight may be the death of both of them. Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, a killer struck fear into the hearts of the citizens of Austin, Texas. Some believe one man is responsible for both, while others lay the blame at the feet of someone close to the queen herself. With suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin murders case, and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter. One man is essential to her team, and she doesn’t want to consider taking on this challenge without his expertise. Unfortunately, he’s back in Texas, with a bad attitude and a new profession. 
The prospect of a second chance at catching the man who terrorized Austin three years ago just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer, even if it does mean working with the Queen’s great-granddaughter again. If his theories are right, they’ll find the Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the lady detective left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago. 
Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted.
PRAISE for The Black Midnight: 
“Warning! Don’t read this historical romantic suspense at night!” DiAnn Mills, Expect an Adventure 
“Impeccably researched with sparkling dialogue and riveting history, Kathleen Y’Barbo’s The Black Midnight puts a pair of star-crossed Pinkerton detectives on the trail of a Texas killer who may also be the notorious Jack the Ripper. Very highly recommended and sure to keep you reading well past your bedtime!!” Colleen Thompson, RITA-nominated author of Deadly Texas Summer 
“You’re in for a wild ride as Kathleen Y’Barbo takes you on a story through some of America and Britain’s grisliest murders and somehow manages to weave in a delicious romance. From Texas to London, the ties that bind may be more linked than you previously believed. Settle in for a novel of suspense and romancejust be sure to look over your shoulder every now and then!” Jaime Jo Wright, 2018 Christy Award-winning author of The House on Foster Hill and 2020 Inspy Award-nominated The Curse of Misty Wayfair
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The Black Midnight is a thrilling crime novel with a hint of romance, a large helping of intrigue, and a transatlantic mystery from Kathleen Y’Barbo!  The narrative follows Alice Anne, Annie, a pedigreed Pinkerton agent with strong ties to the British Royal Family.  Annie is asked to investigate a string of murders in London.  She works to assemble her team of operatives for the case and travels to Austin, Texas to seek the help of Isaiah “Ike” Joplin, a former associate and almost lover.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel!  It was my first book by this author, but I will be seeking out other works to fill my shelves!  I found Annie to be an incredibly intelligent, competent, and deliciously witty character!  Isaiah was just the right amount of rough and tumble and loveable.  The author struck a delicate balance between mystery, suspense, and romance.  As a historian, I love novels that instill a love of history in their readers.  I felt this novel provided a great amount of detail, while also providing an entertaining narrative.  The twin mysteries of Jack the Ripper in London and the Midnight Assassin in Austin are compelling and expertly woven through the story.  The pacing is great and I really can’t find anything that I disliked about this book.  This was a treat to read and oh so interesting!

Some historical fiction can be dry or too romance-y, but his novel has the exact right amount of detail and romance to break out of those problems that typically plague this genre.  Kathleen Y’Barbo is a fantastic author and this is a great addition to the True Colors series!  I would recommend this novel and series to fans of Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series (female detective/spy with a hint of romance) or a more modern sleuth series like the Kate Carpenter series by Vanessa Robertson!  Thank you to Kathleen Y’Barbo, Barbour Books, and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for having me along! 

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and author of more than eighty books, with almost two million in print. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. Kathleen celebrated her fifteenth year as a published author by receiving the Romantic Times Inspirational Romance Book of the Year Award for Sadie’s Secret, a Secret Lives of Will Tucker novel. Her novels celebrate life, love, and the Lord—and whenever she can manage it, her home state of Texas. Recent releases include The Pirate Bride, River of Life, and My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas.
  Website Bookbub  Facebook Instagram ║ Amazon  Goodreads 
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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
FIVE WINNERS!  One Winner: Signed copy of The Black Midnight + $20 Amazon gift card 
Four Winners: Signed copy of The Black Midnight 
AUGUST 6-16, 2020 
(US ONLY)
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:
8/6/20
Notable Quotable
8/6/20
BONUS Post
8/7/20
Author Interview
8/8/20
Review
8/9/20
Excerpt
8/10/20
Excerpt
8/11/20
Review
8/12/20
Guest Post
8/13/20
Review
8/14/20
Author Interview
8/15/20
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@rararesources Blog Tour: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

The Greenbecker Gambit

by

Ben Graff

Genre: Myster, Thriller

Publication: April 16, 2020

Age Group: Adult

‘I only feel truly alive when the chess clock is ticking and the patterns on the squares in front of me are dancing in my head. Very little else gives me the same feeling. Nothing else, that does not involve a flame.’

Tennessee Greenbecker is bravely optimistic as he sets out to claim what he sees as rightfully his – the title of world chess champion. But who is he really? Is he destined to be remembered as chess champion or fire-starter? Either way, might this finally be his moment?

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As a follow up to yesterday’s rich, psychological novel, I have The Greenbecker Gambit on tour today!  This is another book with plenty of detail and a fascinating plot to get lost in!  This story follows Tennessee Greenbecker, a former chess child prodigy, who is plagued by the notion that there is a deep state conspiracy to prevent him from reaching his full potential in the genius department.  Ultimately, Tennessee is experiencing mental health issues that eventually lead to an incredibly poor physical and mental state.  The first couple of chapters are experienced in Tennessee’s head, rather than in reality.  Eventually the reader is brought into a wider view of the world and that “bubble” that we’ve been in becomes something entirely different.  I felt it was an interesting way to not only set up this character, but to frame the narrative around him.  I haven’t seen this done before and I really enjoyed it!

This book does not have a ranging cast of characters.  Those that do appear throughout the story are well written and have a depth of knowledge that is incredibly interesting!  Though I don’t know anything about chess, I didn’t feel like I needed a lot of in depth knowledge to be able to read and digest the content of this book.  The author gives Tennessee a unique voice and has an interesting writing style.

An intense book, but also a book that is particularly needed today!  The present in which I am writing this review needs more books like this.  Books that you can begin reading and not realize that it’s been three hours and you should have had a meal by now.  I found this book to be fascinating and would recommend to any reader looking for a psychological thriller in a modern setting!

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources and the author for having me on tour!  I was so happy to read and review this title!  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ben Graff is a writer, journalist and Corporate Affairs professional. He is a regular contributor to Chess and Authors Publish. He is not a grandmaster but did draw with one once.

Blog Tour: The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie @tom_gillespie @lovebooksgroup

The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce

by

Tom Gillespie

Genre: Myster, Thriller

Publication: July 21, 2020

Age Group: Adult

A spiraling obsession. A missing wife. A terrifying secret. Will he find her before it’s too late?

When Dr Jacob Boyce’s wife goes missing, the police put it down to a simple marital dispute. Jacob, however, fears something darker. Following her trail to Spain, he becomes convinced that Ella’s disappearance is tied to a mysterious painting whose hidden geometric and numerical riddles he’s been obsessively trying to solve for months. Obscure, hallucinogenic clues, and bizarre, larger-than-life characters, guide an increasingly unhinged Jacob through a nightmarish Spanish landscape to an art forger’s studio in Madrid, where he comes face-to-face with a centuries-old horror, and the terrifying, mind-bending, truth about his wife.

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In the recent past, I have read fantastic books about art, from kick-butt heroine in the field of art dealing to a found theory book about the diary of an artist and photographer in France.  This book is a dark, compelling, and sometimes frantic journey through the mind of a man obsessed with mathematical theory and art.  It is in many ways part A Beautiful Mind and part something entirely other.  I found this book to be incredibly thought provoking and masterfully written! 

In the beginning I thought this was a story about obsession, but it quickly turned into a mystery.  The entire narrative is layered with themes like grief, loss, uncertainty, guilt, and a few fine lines, specifically those between passion and obsession and imagination and reality.  I found myself lost in the “pages” (I have an eCopy), engrossed in the story to the point of almost obsession myself?  This book has a lot of plot to unpack, which I won’t do here because of spoilers.  But, I do want to remind readers that this  is a dark and engrossing story that may very well suck you in and spit you out once you are an emotional wreck! 

I’d also like to point out that the nuance and detail in this book are such that I want to read it a second time to be sure I’ve picked up on everything.  Not many books do I recommend a second reading, but this one warrants one in my mind.  Jacob’s, and of course our other players’, story is incredibly interesting an prescient.  There are no dull spots in this narrative, it keeps you engaged from cover to cover.

Overall, this is a brilliant book and I am so glad that I’ve been able to read and review it!  I would recommend this to any fans of intellectual mystery, dark reality, or any number of broader genres related to these.  Thank you to Love Books Tours and Tom Gillespie for the opportunity to read and review!  I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

Tom Gillespie grew up in a small town just outside Glasgow. After completing a Masters in English at Glasgow University, he spent the next ten years pursuing a musical career as a singer/songwriter, playing, recording and touring the UK and Europe with his band. He now lives in Bath with his wife, daughter and hyper-neurotic cat, where he works at the university as an English lecturer. Tom writes long and short stories. His stories have appeared in many magazines, journals and e-zines. He is co-author of Glass Work Humans-an anthology of stories and poems, published by Valley Press. Visit Tom at tom-gillespie.com