#BookTour “Architect of Courage” by Victoria Weisfeld

Architect of Courage by Victoria Weisfeld BannerJune 20 – July 15, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

 

book cover

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Synopsis:

 

Ordinary Man, Extraordinary Situation

In June 2011, September was weeks away, and the full dread of the approaching anniversary hadn’t yet settled on New York City’s residents. But from One Police Plaza to the FBI’s grim headquarters in Washington, D.C., the top brass harbor a rumbling in the gut. Each person who works for them down the line shares their unease, from every rookie cop walking the beat to the lowliest surveillance specialist. And Archer Landis is about to get caught up in their fixation.

Landis is not one of his city’s guardians, and a different sort of electricity runs under his skin on this warm Thursday evening. A highly successful Manhattan architect—a man you’d say has his life totally, enviably, in order—Landis works the room at a Midtown reception, shaking hands, being seen, accompanying his cheerful greetings with the convivial clinking of ice in an untouched glass of scotch.

When the noisy crowd becomes sufficiently dense and everyone present can say they’ve seen him, he will slip away. Out on Fifth Avenue, he will grab a cab for the run south to Julia’s Chelsea apartment. It’s a trip that will hurtle him into deadly danger. Everyone and everything he cares about most will be threatened, and he will have to discover whether he has the courage to fight his way clear.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime / Murder Mystery

Published by: Black Opal Books

Publication Date: June 4, 2022

Number of Pages: 350

ISBN: 1953434819 (ISBN13: 978-1953434814)

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

When Manhattan architect Archer Landis let himself into Julia’s apartment, he was surprised to find it dark. He strode down the short entry hall to the living room and felt for the light switch. The heavy draperies were closed, and thick blackness pressed in on him. A trace of her perfume teased the air, along with another smell—elemental, evoking . . . something.

“Julia? I’m here.”

For Landis, this second-floor apartment was a treasure-house, its sangria-colored walls crowded with portraits and huge mirrors with carved, gold-painted frames. Deeply fringed paisley shawls draped chaises upholstered in carmine velvet. It would require all his French curves and a full palette of rose and violet pigments to reproduce the effect.

His glance traveled the room, skipping past something he didn’t want to see, something his brain didn’t at first accept that he had seen, until it reached the farthest corner and unwillingly returned to settle on the room’s one discordant object: Julia sprawled on a chaise, the white lace ruffle of her shirtfront soaked with blood.

For a moment, Landis’s heart stopped. He stood frozen at the edge of the room, yet he saw himself rushing to her, kissing her hands, grabbing her shoulders and shaking her, soothing her, calling her. She didn’t move, and neither did he. He choked before he could create a single word.

Now he identified the strange smell. Blood. Blood that had oozed from a huge wound in her chest. Blood that drenched the crocheted lace of her shirt and darkened the crimson velvet of the chaise. A stray drop, spattering upward, had left a dot on her chin. He took two halting steps toward her.

Shouldn’t he wipe off that spot? Couldn’t he put all the blood back? Couldn’t he press his hands on her ravaged chest and seal life inside? Her dark eyes, wide open and fixed, gazed blankly toward him and told him he could not.

He stepped backward to sag against the wall and slowly collapsed to the floor. His head drooped. He sobbed into the hands that had held her hands, caressed her face. Hands that should be holding her now. When he raised his head, tears blurred the contours of her pale face, the empty black pools of her eyes. All else washed by a tide of red.

He couldn’t bear to think about the terror of her final moments. What was the last thing she did? What did she see? Who did she see? Who? A dark cloud of vengeance rose in him like smoke from a bonfire. He had to call the police, make them come immediately. Set the hounds of the law on the scent of her killer.

Yet.

Yet he shouldn’t—he couldn’t—be found in her apartment. His presence would damage his reputation and ruin Julia’s. The lie he’d told his wife Marjorie about his evening dinner plans rolled like a boulder through his tumbling thoughts. His associates, his team, the people he spent every day with, considered Julia a colleague, and they’d never trust him again. He wasn’t on easy terms with betrayal—not enough practice. Nor was he clever with lies and excuses. He couldn’t conjure up a plausible reason for being in her apartment when he was so clearly supposed to be elsewhere.

He had to leave, to escape the awful sight of Julia’s body, the awful reality of it. What did I touch? He scanned the room. At one time or another, he’d touched furniture, switches, faucets, dishes, glassware, books, and more. He’d have to explain those fingerprints, eventually.

Evidence of this visit, though, could disappear. If only he’d never come tonight; if only he’d never made this awful discovery. He pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his presence away, scrubbing around the light switch. His back was to her, his eyes were squeezed shut, and still he saw Julia’s broken body.

With a final look at the face he loved, Landis promised her she wouldn’t be alone and in the dark for long and retreated down the hall. He wrapped his hand in the handkerchief, quietly opened the apartment door, wiped the outside knob, and hurried downstairs to the lobby.

He hadn’t seen any of her neighbors when he came in, would one of them be there now and see him leave? He ran his hand through his long and distinctive white hair, straightened the collar of his suit, and paused to compose his face. No, the lobby was clear. He exhaled.

He’d walk east to Eighth Avenue to hail an uptown cab. A few cars were parked on the opposite side of the street, and he didn’t see any pedestrians. Except there. Up ahead, across the street, an elderly woman turned the corner, heading his way, led by yappy wirehaired terrier. Tall as he was, Landis was hard to miss. The dog looked straight at him, barking furiously.

“Toby!” the woman admonished in her brittle voice. Her arm strained forward with the pull of the leash. Her attention was on the dog, and Landis still hoped he could slip away.

“Toby!” she screamed. “Come back!” Dragging his leash, Toby darted between parked cars. An SUV hissed toward them from the next corner.

Landis stepped into the street and waved both arms. The SUV squealed to a stop. He scooped Toby up and handed him to his quivering mistress. “No harm done.”

She hugged the rambunctious terrier, a little plastic bag of poop flapping in her hand. “Toby, you naughty boy. You mustn’t run from Mama like that.”

Landis edged away, but she wasn’t finished thanking him. She opened her handbag.

Was she fumbling for a tip, for Christ’s sake? No, she pulled out a tissue and wiped her eyes. He put a few feet between them. “Now, Toby, you be good,” and to her, “Are you all right now?”

“We’re fine. You go on. You’ve done your good deed for this evening.”

#

All the way up Eighth Avenue Landis huddled in a corner of the sour-smelling cab, breathing hard. The swarthy driver stared at him in the rearview mirror. Under the man’s suspicious gaze, he returned his phone to his pocket instead of calling 911.

The sticky breath of the early June night blew in through the cab’s half-open window. This ride felt completely different from the one he’d taken—what? forty minutes before?—when he’d slipped out of the Plaza Hotel, past the line of malodorous horse-drawn carriages waiting for tourists, and toward the honking melee of Fifth Avenue. There, he hailed a bright yellow cab and climbed inside, full of thoughts of Julia. A buzzing energy had him drumming the leather seats, willing the traffic lights ahead to turn green.

Off the rails, heading straight into the abyss.

Before that earlier ride, Landis believed himself securely moving forward, on track and at speed, in full control of his considerable professional talents and personal powers. He’d worked the room at the Plaza, a reception for his peers, the city’s most talented magicians in glass and steel and stone.

They sought him out, and he laughed with them, shook hands and patted backs, accompanying his good cheer with the convivial clink of ice in a glass of single malt. He bear-hugged the evening’s honoree, Phil Prinz. He brushed off praise and bestowed it on others. Accomplishment haloed him, and because he was generous in his success, it did not breed resentment, but drew the light to him.

He made sure everyone would remember greeting him, touching him. When the noisy crowd became sufficiently dense, he’d made his discreet escape. Now his reentry into that world had to be just as smooth.

#

The dinner was under way when he arrived, and he had to find his seat, leaving no time to place the call right then. He’d missed the salad.

“What’s wrong, Arch? Where’ve you been?” a colleague asked. “You look awful.”

Landis adjusted the knot of his tie. “Touch of a bug. Killed my appetite.” He cringed at how easily the lie came. It was what he’d planned to say if anyone asked why he didn’t appear at dinner. At least now they wouldn’t question it if he jumped up later and went out for a few minutes. He’d call the police from a hotel phone, not his cell. Much better. He’d do it between the main course and dessert.

The men at the table commiserated. “It’s going around,” one said. “Three of my people are out.”

As his tablemates ate and shared shoptalk, Landis frowned at his plate. Who would kill Julia? What possible reason could there be? Nothing in her world explained it. Her working life was his office, and her social life was him. He was confident of that, of her. Was it a random, senseless, act? Or did some secret peril lurk close by? If so, it could be as close as his own skin.

When the servers came to clear, the food on his plate was rearranged but uneaten. The evening’s introductions and accolades began. The words of the welcoming speeches jumbled meaninglessly. He rested his head on his hand and mapped out what he’d say to the police. Dial 911, give the address, disconnect. Don’t answer questions. Don’t give them time to ask anything. How long does it take to trace a call? He’d stay on the phone for seconds. Only the facts, no context. Hang up.

Here came dessert. He’d lost another chance to make his call. The server set a collapsing strawberry pavlova in front of him. Frothy white meringue shell, a lake of red juice. Landis’s stomach turned over. He pushed the dish away and took a great gulp from his water glass.

Now he was stuck. It would be too awkward to step out during the commendations, especially since Landis’s long-time friend and fellow Yale alumnus, Phil Prinz, was receiving the main prize—the 2011 Calder Award for Integrity in Architectural Practice. Called to the lectern, Phil’s first words were to ask the award’s previous recipients to stand. Landis wobbled to his feet, waved—my God, did I just smile? His other hand gripped the rim of the table so tightly he could hardly pry his fingers loose.

Prinz’s high-minded theme was courage: physical, mental, emotional, and moral. He might have been speaking directly to Landis, chiding him.

Physical courage, Prinz said, is the kind people think of most often, the kind that lets us ski black diamond runs, compete in marathons, and drive the Jersey Turnpike. A misstep can end with a trip to the emergency department, but any physical damage is visible, treatable, and often heals completely.

Not when a hole has been blown through your chest. Landis fingered the stem of his water glass.

Mental courage—being brave enough to rally your mental faculties, make critical decisions, and not be paralyzed into inaction—demands more, Prinz said, citing race car drivers and soldiers in battle. Landis saw himself in Julia’s apartment, stunned, panicked, choking on tears. Direct hit.

“Emotional courage is when you put your inner self, your core being, in harm’s way, when you risk sustaining wounds people may never see and that may never heal, when you face truths you’d rather ignore. It’s when you risk the very essence of yourself.”

Of course Landis had initial reservations about an affair with one of his employees; of course he’d worried his wife Marjorie might discover it. But he’d left those concerns behind. Instead, he’d followed the single shiny track that appeared in front of him: he fell in love. Unexpected, unlikely, unwise. Julia had opened his heart, revealed to him his true self.

Finally, Prinz said, there’s moral courage—when you stick your neck out for some cause not your own simply because it’s the right thing to do.

The white noise inside Landis’s head drowned out the rest. Although the speech wasn’t especially profound, it earned a standing ovation that precipitated a rush for the doors. Clamoring colleagues swarmed the lobby. A discreet telephone call was impossible.

Moment after moment, he put off calling the police until not calling became inevitable. He simply could not speak the words that would make Julia’s death real, that would pierce his chest like arrows. His life had a hole in the middle of it, and he felt its razor edges. Unless he grabbed onto something, he would fall through. What he clutched tight was his shameful secret.

Chapter 2

Landis’s penthouse with its dramatic window walls was an aerie of straight lines and right angles. The sparsely furnished interior was gray and white—his wife’s taste a stark contrast to Julia’s. Only the Miró hanging on a far wall provided a restrained confetti of color. He was too drained to appreciate the apartment’s muted comforts, however; wherever he looked, he saw the red blur of Julia’s apartment.

His son lay in wait. At age 28, Hawkins Landis was bent on living in comfort while he launched his own architectural career at his own leisurely pace. After spending a couple of years knocking around Europe’s capitals, he’d returned to the States in March, three long months ago. He manipulated his father into hiring him and took up residence in his old room. Tonight, Landis was hardly in the door when Hawk resumed an argument from earlier that evening.

“While you were at Phil’s dinner, I thought more about my situation, and all I can say is you don’t get it, Dad. No matter what I do at Landis + Porter, people will knock me down. They’ll say I’m nothing without your help. It doesn’t matter how good I am.”

“That’s baloney, and you know it.” Landis desperately wanted not to have this conversation. Not tonight. His head was pounding. “The projects will speak for themselves. Eventually.”

“I’m not designing real buildings. I’m doing scut work. The other associates have real projects.”

Hawk’s whining tone hit the sensitized spot in Landis’s brain like a dentist’s drill. “For Christ’s sake, you’re starting out. My lead people—Ty, Charleston, Julia”—he caught his breath—“have been with me for years. Always up for any assignment. Pay your dues, Hawk.” His throat tightened; he needed air. He reached up to loosen his tie.

“Not Julia. She’s new.” When Landis didn’t answer, Hawk said, “You think they’re so perfect. Well, they’re not. They get special treatment. I’ve seen it. You’re not giving me a chance.”

Landis glared. “I’m confused. You say people will criticize you because they’ll think I gave you unfair advantages, and now you’re asking for one?” With a grunt, he pulled off the tie and flung it on the sofa.

“That’s so like you. You make everything my fault. I’m not important to you.”

“Now, hold on—” His voice logjammed with jostling emotions, but Hawk cut him off.

“I need to be where I have friends.”

Marjorie walked into the living room. A long knit skirt and tunic in some pale color draped her thin frame. “What’s going on? Archer? What did you say to him?” She walked to Hawk’s side and put her arm around their son’s waist. “What’s happening here?”

Landis waited for Hawk to explain himself, knowing his own version of the argument would make matters worse. Hawk jerked away from her and left the room. At the end of the hall, the bathroom door slammed. Landis winced.

Throat aching, he said, “Don’t ask me.”

“Is he unhappy? At work?”

“He wants bigger projects, but he’s a neophyte.”

“Well, of course he’s ambitious, he’s your son.” It didn’t sound like a compliment.

“But he doesn’t want people to think he’s had any special breaks. He gets the same treatment all the associates do.” All except Julia, exceptional Julia.

“But he’s your son. That should be special.”

“Marjorie, think about it. That would be the worst thing for him.” He put his hand to his forehead. “To tell you the truth, I wish he’d move out. When is he ever in a good mood?”

“How can you say that? I like having him here. We talk. We have good conversations. The minute you come home, an argument starts.”

“His constant hostility is my fault?”

“Anyway, he can’t afford a decent place. This is where he belongs. I’d worry about him if he weren’t here.”

“That was a long time ago, Marjorie. He’s had a lot of help since then.” Since his teenage rebellion. His suicide attempts. His acting out. Landis had never taken any of that as seriously as she had.

“He’s right, you know—you shouldn’t treat the others better than you do him.”

“What others? What the hell—”

“Hawk says they’re out to get him, that they’re nothing but back-stabbing sycophants.” Her voice rose, betraying her anxiety the way it did every time she had to defend Hawk.

“That’s not true, Marjorie. They’ve been nothing but helpful to him. They’ve never said a word—not one hint of criticism.”

“They’re not stupid. There’s more than one way for them—and you—to undermine a young person with talent and chip away at his confidence.”

“I don’t know what he’s told you, but neither of you knows what you’re talking about.”

“Hawk knows, and that’s why he’s threatening to leave you.”

“That’s what he meant by being somewhere he has friends? He would leave Landis + Porter?”

“That’s right,” said Hawk, strolling back into the room. “Starting Monday, I’ll be working at BLK. Ivan Karsch made me a very generous offer.”

“Oh.” Marjorie slumped to the sofa, stunned.

“BLK?” Landis snorted. “According to reputation, they eat their young. And Ivan Karsch, who sued L + P a couple years ago? Great role model.” He stood behind Marjorie and grabbed the back of the sofa. “So this is decided? And tonight’s the first I hear about it?”

***

Excerpt from Architect of Courage by Victoria Weisfeld. Copyright 2022 by Victoria Weisfeld. Reproduced with permission from Victoria Weisfeld. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

Victoria Weisfeld

Vicki Weisfeld’s short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mystery Magazine, Sherlock Holmes MM, and Black Cat MM, among others, as well as in a number of highly competitive crime anthologies, including: Busted: Arresting Stories from the Beat, Seascapes: Best New England Crime Stories, Passport to Murder (Bouchercon), The Best Laid Plans, Quoth the Raven, and Sherlock Holmes in the Realms of Edgar Allan Poe. Her stories have won awards from the Short Mystery Fiction Society and the Public Safety Writers Association. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and other crime fiction organizations. For the past decade, she’s blogged several times a week at www.vweisfeld.com. She is a frequent book reviewer for the UK website, crimefictionlover.com.

Catch Up With Victoria:
www.VWeisfeld.com
Goodreads
Twitter – @vsk8s
Facebook

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Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

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#BookTour “The Hell Bound Kids (Wild In The Streets Book 1)”

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Book One: Wild In The Streets

A transgressive new book series that blurs the lines between crime, horror,
dark fantasy, and suspense

 

Date Published: 05-01-2022

Publisher: No Sell Out Productions

 

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Lawlessness. Rampant crime. Ruthless gangs running wild in the streets. Welcome to Punk City… city under a perpetual moonless and starless night.

The city of the Hell Bound Kids: one of the many gangs warring for control of Punk City’s hellish streets. A transgressive new book series that blurs the lines between crime, horror, dark fantasy, and suspense.

~~~

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About the Authors

Manson

Manson loves and hates everyone equitably. Though she’ll read just about anything, she enjoys weird shit like Hunter S. Thompson. She also likes crime fiction, the occult, horror, transgressive, science fiction, and dark fantasy.

 

 

Anthony Perconti

Anthony Perconti lives and works in the hinterlands of New Jersey with his wife and kids. He enjoys well-crafted and engaging stories from across a variety of genres and mediums. His articles have appeared in several online venues as well as some indie press magazines such as Three Crows Magazine, Grimdark Magazine, Dark Matter Magazine & Pulp Modern. He can be found on Twitter @AnthonyPerconti

 

Sebastian Vice

Sebastian Vice is the founder of Outcast Press devoted to transgressive fiction and dirty realism. He writes a regular column for A Thin Slice of Anxiety called “Notes Of A Degenerate Dreamer,” and has poetry and short fiction published in Punk Noir Magazine, A Thin Slice Of Anxiety, Outcast Press, Terror House Magazine, and Bristol Noir. His flash piece “One Last Good Day” was nominated for Best Of The Net
2021.

 

Joe Haward

Joe Haward is an author, poet, and heretic. As a freelance journalist his work challenges religious and political corruption. Writing horror, noir, and transgressive fiction and poetry, his work can be found in various places. His debut poetry collection, Heresy (Uncle B. Publications) drops in 2022. Find him on Twitter @RevJoeHaward or at http://www.joehaward.co.uk.

 

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

Goodreads

Instagram

Gettr

Mewe

~~~

 Purchase Link

Amazon

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

RABT Book Tours & PR

~~~

#ReleaseBlitz “The Hell Bound Kids (Wild In The Streets Book 1)”

~~~

Book One: Wild In The Streets

A transgressive new book series that blurs the lines between crime, horror,
dark fantasy, and suspense

 

Date Published: 05-01-2022

Publisher: No Sell Out Productions

 

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

 

Lawlessness. Rampant crime. Ruthless gangs running wild in the streets. Welcome to Punk City… city under a perpetual moonless and starless night.

The city of the Hell Bound Kids: one of the many gangs warring for control of Punk City’s hellish streets. A transgressive new book series that blurs the lines between crime, horror, dark fantasy, and suspense.

 

~~~

About the Authors

Manson

Manson loves and hates everyone equitably. Though she’ll read just about anything, she enjoys weird shit like Hunter S. Thompson. She also likes crime fiction, the occult, horror, transgressive, science fiction, and dark fantasy.

 

 

Anthony Perconti

Anthony Perconti lives and works in the hinterlands of New Jersey with his wife and kids. He enjoys well-crafted and engaging stories from across a variety of genres and mediums. His articles have appeared in several online venues as well as some indie press magazines such as Three Crows Magazine, Grimdark Magazine, Dark Matter Magazine & Pulp Modern. He can be found on Twitter @AnthonyPerconti

 

Sebastian Vice

Sebastian Vice is the founder of Outcast Press devoted to transgressive fiction and dirty realism. He writes a regular column for A Thin Slice of Anxiety called “Notes Of A Degenerate Dreamer,” and has poetry and short fiction published in Punk Noir Magazine, A Thin Slice Of Anxiety, Outcast Press, Terror House Magazine, and Bristol Noir. His flash piece “One Last Good Day” was nominated for Best Of The Net
2021.

 

Joe Haward

Joe Haward is an author, poet, and heretic. As a freelance journalist his work challenges religious and political corruption. Writing horror, noir, and transgressive fiction and poetry, his work can be found in various places. His debut poetry collection, Heresy (Uncle B. Publications) drops in 2022. Find him on Twitter @RevJoeHaward or at http://www.joehaward.co.uk.

 

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

Goodreads

Instagram

Gettr

Mewe

~~~

 Purchase Link

Amazon

~~~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

RABT Book Tours & PR

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#BookTour “A Trifling Murder (Cookies & Kilts Mysteries)” by Jo A. Hiestand

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Cookies & Kilts Mysteries

 

Cozy Crime Mystery

Date Published: 01-24-2022

 

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The annual Robert Burns Birthday Dinner celebration is underway in the small Missouri town of Beaudin Trace. Guests gather to honor Scotland’s national poet with bagpipes and haggis and a trifle for dessert. But everything isn’t as smooth as Scotch whisky. The Society’s president and vice-president have a very public haggle over the haggis. And less than an hour later, one of them is found dead.

And found by Kate Dunbar, owner of The Cookie Cutter Bakery. It wouldn’t be too bad except the victim was murdered with her knife.

Gossip hints she is the killer. The majority of her customers must agree, for her bakery sales fall drastically. If she is to keep the business from crumbling, she needs to investigate.

But sleuthing is harder and more dangerous to Kate and those around her than she thought. Luckily, she gets help from the town’s zany songwriter and his Scottie dog. Murder is no trifling matter.

~~~

 

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EXCERPT

Kate found mystery author Beryl Muggle at her home, an old barn that had been converted a decade ago into cozy living quarters. The exterior had been given a coat of gray paint—“to give it that sinister look”—and the interior had been sectioned into rooms and filled with thrift store furniture and family pieces. The former loft retained its unwalled expanse and functioned as Beryl’s writing and storage area. All in all, Kate thought, sitting in the huge living room, a clever upscaling of an empty building.

Beryl Muggle, a sixty-year-old woman with dyed bright red hair and eyeglasses that seemed to perpetually perch atop her head, stirred her cup of tea and looked at Kate. The room was quiet but for the faint clicking of the gas logs blazing in the fireplace.

“I hope I’m not keeping you from your writing.” Kate took a sip of tea, second-guessing her decision to drive out to the residence. It sat five miles north of town in a deserted pastureland fringed with trees to the west. A small shed that appeared to be standing by luck alone leaned against a massive oak several dozen yards away. Kate angled her head out of the sunlight filtering through the window and gazed at Beryl. The woman looked as though she hadn’t a thing to do but sip tea and chat. Kate continued. “It’s so mysterious, the empty shop burglary, and yet nothing was taken. If you add Ron Picard’s break-in, well, that just adds to the puzzle.” At least, I think so, she added mutely. Disregarding Josh’s opinion… “I can’t think of anyone else so adept at thinking up mysteries and solving them, so I thought you could figure this one out in a snap.” Kate set her empty cup on the coffee table. “How many books do you have out now?”

“An even two dozen. The latest one comes out next month. Mayhem Among the Mangoes. It’s in my Cozy Veggie series.”

“Oh.” Kate chewed on her bottom lip, trying to think of a comment. “It sounds…so…thrilling.”

“Thank you. I write all of these under my pen name, of course, though I am considering using another name for a new series I’m bashing about.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, how did you decide on your current pseudonym?  S.O. Teric is so…unique.”

Beryl beamed, settling back in her chair. “Isn’t it? I was inspired. That’s the only word that describes my flash of genius. The full name is Sadie Odilia Teric, but I can’t use that on the cover, so I opted for the shortened version with initials and of course use my full pen name on the author bio inside the book. Sadie was my great grandma’s name, and I chose Odilia because she’s the patroness of the blind.”

“Well,” Kate blinked, drawing in a breath. “It’s certainly…memorable.”

“Thank you. I don’t know if I enjoy writing those cozy veggie books or the musical instruments series the most. But I don’t have to have a favorite. I just write as the muse hits me.”

Kate nodded, not certain how to reply.

“Now, then. I hate to rush you, but I do have to get back to the one I’m writing now. I’m calling it A Muddle of Puddles. It’s in my cozy weather series. I’m in the part of the story where Juanita Fozzard—she’s my protagonist—is trapped inside an old mine and it’s been raining like cats and dogs for days. So naturally the water in the river is rising and is about to flood the mine. It’s thrilling!” Beryl’s eyebrows rose as she looked at Kate.

“Sounds like it. Well, I’ll make this brief. As I said, I’d like your opinion about the burglaries, if you can figure out what’s going on.”

“You know, the same thing happened to Honey French, my heroine, in Aggression Amid the Okra.  Or did it happen to Tiffany Dollenberg in The Glockenspiel Deal? Gee, now that I think of it, I realize both books dealt with a burglary. Oh, and I used a similar break-in scene in Harmonicas At Midnight.” She shook her head, frowning. “No, I don’t think that’s correct. The part I’m thinking of was in Aggression Amid the Okra. Yes, definitely Okra. I have a tendency to confuse my books sometimes. It’s perfectly understandable.”

“I’d think writing two dozen books would make it difficult to keep plots straight.”

Beryl blinked, shifting her attention from somewhere on the ceiling to Kate. In turning her head, the sunlight glanced off her glasses and looked like a mental spark. “Pardon? Oh, the plots. Well, I write sort of freely. I think that influences my muddle.”

“Freely?”

“Yes. I once did an interview for a magazine—they wanted to know about my writing style and a typical day. You know the sort of thing. Author insights so readers can cozy up to you. Anyway, I confessed I move about from book to book, as the spirit urges. I might write a few chapters on Aggression Amid the Okra and then write a half dozen pages for Harmonicas At Midnight—striking while the thought is there—and then turn to A Muddle of Puddles while that scene idea is red hot.” She sighed heavily, smiling. “You can’t take notes for that sort of thing. No. You must get it down while it’s bubbling inside you before it evaporates and is gone.” She finished the last of her tea and set her cup beside Kate’s.

“But even if you can’t recall a specific book, you’ve written the burglary scene quite often. Is there any general truth you’ve discovered from your research? You’re so good at deciphering puzzles like this. I thought you’d have a suggestion since you deal in mystery plots every day.”

Beryl frowned and pursed her lips, as if thinking deeply. “The motives were different in all these instances.  Or did I have the bad guy looking for something in Tine and Tine Again? That one’s very popular. It’s in my Cluttered Kitchen Series.  I think. Or maybe it’s with the veggies.”

~~~

About the Author

Jo A. Hiestand grew up on regular doses of music, books, and Girl Scout camping. She gravitated toward writing in her post-high school years and finally did something sensible about it, graduating from Webster University with a BA degree in English and departmental honors. She writes a British mystery series (the McLaren Mysteries)—of which three books have
garnered the prestigious N.N. Light’s Book Heaven ‘Best Mystery Novel’ three years straight. She also writes a Missouri-based cozy mystery series (The Cookies & Kilts Mysteries, of which “A Trifling Murder” is the second book) that is grounded in places associated with her camping haunts. The camping is a thing of the past, for the most part, but the music stayed with her in the form of playing guitar and harpsichord,
and singing in a folk group. Jo carves jack o’ lanterns badly and sings loudly. She loves barbecue sauce and ice cream (separately, not together), kilts (especially if men wear them), clouds and stormy skies, and the music of G.F. Handel. You can usually find her pulling mystery plots out of scenery—whether from photographs or the real thing.

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#BookSale “When the Children Return (Children of the Eye Book 2)” by Barry Kirwan

book cover

~~~

When it finally comes, we won’t even know what’s hit us.

Ten years have passed since the Axleth invaded Earth and a few hundred humans escaped aboard the ship Athena, piloted by the Artificial Intelligence who calls himself Ares. Now, the refugees approach Earth, determined to take back their home. But something has followed them from deep in space, and as war breaks out on Earth, humanity must decide who is the real enemy.

Praise for Barry Kirwan…

A fantastic and original premise…flashes of Stephen King and MR Carey.Tom Witcomb

Kirwan lights the fuse on a new SF seriesaction-adventure and dark-edged SF that will enthrall readers.” Kirkus Reviews

★★★★★ Great story-telling. Intelligent, compelling, and told in a direct, easy-to-read style.” Susan Yea

★★★★★ “The writing is even and solid throughout, with interesting, intelligent characters who fight against horrific odds with every advantage and resource they can muster. I‘m getting the sequel as soon as it comes out!” Adrian B.

★★★★★ “A taut thriller, with a Lee Child feel to its staccato writing and strong action sequences, and a high concept stretching the novel into true science fiction territory.” Amanda Rutter.

★★★★★ “I’ve read and enjoyed first contact stories before, but the unique plot and realistic characters of When the Children Come make it a memorable book that goes on the re-read shelf. Felicia Denise

★★★★★ “Not just a page-turner – all in all a fabulous novel, which I was sad to finish.” Loulou Brown

★★★★★ “Kirwan’s writing really feels authentic. His knowledge is clearly well-researched, and the themes of this novel felt real. I absolutely loved the vivid descriptions, the characters (Sally is awesome), the struggles. Everything felt real. I was on the edge of my seat!” Jessica Belmont

Kindle Unlimited

99c for a limited time!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

~~~

#BookReview “Pay or Play (A Charlie Waldo Novel, 3)” by Howard Michael Gould

January 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Pay or Play book cover

~~~

5/5 Stars!

Charlie Waldo is a man torn between his minimalist beliefs and finding the truth. Once a star detective with LAPD, his world crashed around him when he helped send a man to prison, only to later find out the man was innocent. His campaign to win the man his freedom made him a pariah in the department. Life bottomed out for Charlie when he found out the innocent man is killed in a prison fight.

Disillusioned, Charlie walks away, buying twelve acres in the mountains to embark on a lifestyle that would make Thoreau smile. He’s determined to do no more damage. To hurt no one else. So, he lessens his carbon footprint by growing his own food, drinking only tap water, and using only transportation that is either public or self-propelled.

He also owns only One Hundred Things.

While I found Charlie’s commitment to the survival of humankind and the planet laudable, to me, it was simply guilt he couldn’t… or didn’t want to get past.

But once a good cop, always a good cop.

During one of his infrequent trips down the mountain to visit on-again, off-again girlfriend, Lorena Nascimento, the private investigator tries to pull him into one of her cases. Again. This time, it’s easy for her when Charlie finds out the prospective client is the star of his guilty pleasure television show, Judge Ida Mudge.

The thirty-five-year-old hazing death of a student from the Judge’s college days may not be the accident it’s believed to be, but the investigation not only keeps Charlie in conflict with widening his carbon footprint, it also conflicts with his other case – finding out why a homeless man died in a strip mall fountain. Charlie would shake the case off but he is hired by a drug trafficker with little patience and who doesn’t accept no for an answer.

Though he wishes he could deny it and return to his mountain, both cases get Charlie’s detective hackles up when finding the truth could also mean finding a murderer.

But how much of himself is he willing to give? Can he hold fast to his beliefs? Does he want to?

Though I found him to be too tightly wound, I liked Charlie Waldo. He tries to stand on his principles, but he’s flawed six ways from Sunday and he knows it. Lorena is also a strong, likable character who wants more from life… and Charlie, but knows she may have to settle for life.

I haven’t read the previous books in the series, but Pay or Play contains just enough back story to key readers in and stands on its own. However, good writing and original story lines have me curious enough to want to start at the beginning!

Enjoy!

~~~

Synopsis:

 

Blackmail, sexual harassment, murder . . . and a missing dog: eccentric, eco-obsessed LA private eye Charlie Waldo is on the case in this quirky, fast-paced mystery.

Paying a harsh self-imposed penance for a terrible misstep on a case, former LAPD superstar detective Charlie Waldo lives a life of punishing minimalism deep within the woods, making a near religion of his commitment to owning no more than One Hundred Things.

At least, he’s trying to. His PI girlfriend Lorena keeps drawing him back to civilization – even though every time he compromises on his principles, something goes wrong.

And unfortunately for Waldo, all roads lead straight back to LA. When old adversary Don Q strongarms him into investigating the seemingly mundane death of a vagrant, Lorena agrees he can work under her PI license on one condition: he help with a high-maintenance celebrity client, wildly popular courtroom TV star Judge Ida Mudge, whose new mega-deal makes her a perfect target for blackmail.

Reopening the coldest of cases, a decades-old fraternity death, Waldo begins to wonder if the judge is, in fact, a murderer – and if he’ll stay alive long enough to find out.

Pay or Play is the third in the Charlie Waldo series, following Last Looks and Below the Line. Last Looks was turned into a major motion picture, starring Charlie Hunnam as the offbeat private investigator.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Private Detective

Published by: Severn House Publishers Limited

Publication Date: December 7th 2021

Number of Pages: 224

ISBN: 0727850857 (ISBN13: 9780727850850)

Series: Charlie Waldo, #3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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Join In:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Howard Michael Gould. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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#BookTour “Pay or Play (A Charlie Waldo Novel, 3)” by Howard Michael Gould

Pay or Play by Howard Michael Gould BannerJanuary 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Pay or Play book cover

~~~

Synopsis:

 

Blackmail, sexual harassment, murder . . . and a missing dog: eccentric, eco-obsessed LA private eye Charlie Waldo is on the case in this quirky, fast-paced mystery.

Paying a harsh self-imposed penance for a terrible misstep on a case, former LAPD superstar detective Charlie Waldo lives a life of punishing minimalism deep within the woods, making a near religion of his commitment to owning no more than One Hundred Things.

At least, he’s trying to. His PI girlfriend Lorena keeps drawing him back to civilization – even though every time he compromises on his principles, something goes wrong.

And unfortunately for Waldo, all roads lead straight back to LA. When old adversary Don Q strongarms him into investigating the seemingly mundane death of a vagrant, Lorena agrees he can work under her PI license on one condition: he help with a high-maintenance celebrity client, wildly popular courtroom TV star Judge Ida Mudge, whose new mega-deal makes her a perfect target for blackmail.

Reopening the coldest of cases, a decades-old fraternity death, Waldo begins to wonder if the judge is, in fact, a murderer – and if he’ll stay alive long enough to find out.

Pay or Play is the third in the Charlie Waldo series, following Last Looks and Below the Line. Last Looks was turned into a major motion picture, starring Charlie Hunnam as the offbeat private investigator.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Private Detective

Published by: Severn House Publishers Limited

Publication Date: December 7th 2021

Number of Pages: 224

ISBN: 0727850857 (ISBN13: 9780727850850)

Series: Charlie Waldo, #3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

ONE

It wasn’t the sex that set Waldo’s woods on fire, it was the afterglow.

Surrounded by forest, nearly all its structures made of wood, his mountain town of Idyllwild had already seen five homes destroyed, the remainder evacuated. Route 243 was closed on both sides, leaving Waldo and all the other residents cut off and fearing the worst. As the record temperatures of summer 2018 scorched California, infernos blossomed up and down the state. Six people were dead in the one up north, the one called the Carr.

Watching clips of his wildfire, the Cranston, from a hundred miles away and the safety of Lorena’s house, Waldo knew it would take a miracle to keep the rest of Idyllwild from being consumed. He didn’t know whether his own cabin was already lost. He didn’t know if his chickens were still alive.

What he did know was this: the conflagration was all his fault.

Not literally, of course. It wasn’t like he’d lit the match. And he hadn’t set the tinderbox. The planet was rebelling. Climate change had made this fire season hotter and drier. Forest-management practices left more fuel on the ground, too, the unintended reper¬cussion of conscientious wildlife protection. Those were the reasons Waldo’s mountain was burning.

Those and, according to the news, arson.

But Waldo knew better. Call it karma, call it moral justice – Waldo knew his own wobbling had something to do with it, too.

 

Four years earlier, Waldo learned in an instant the precariousness of the world, the damage one man could do, the damage he could do, when his own zealous police work had led to the death of an innocent man. His life since had been a daily struggle not to do any more.

He had resigned from the force, ghosted his girlfriend Lorena and everyone else he knew, and bought twelve acres in Idyllwild, in the San Jacinto mountains, where he lived for three solitary years in self-sustaining austerity, making a near religion of his commitment to a zero-carbon footprint and to owning no more than One Hundred Things. And that worked for him, at least until Lorena showed up and triggered the chain of events which drew him away from his refuge and back into civilization.

She’d hoped to coax him into joining her expanding PI business, and back into their relationship, too. The latter took; the former, not so much. He did work one case with her, a missing-persons that turned rancid and left Waldo with no taste for more. She eventually stopped trying and seemed to accept the relationship as it was. He’d come down the mountain for a visit about once a month, usually for a few days when Willem – the male model she’d married during Waldo’s absence, estranged now but still her housemate – was out of town on a shoot.

It was a delicate equilibrium: less than Lorena wanted, but enough; a constant test of Waldo’s punishing minimalism, but within bounds he could handle.

Then Willem, wanting to cash in on the overheated L.A. real estate market, insisted that Lorena agree to sell their jointly owned Koreatown bungalow as a final condition of their divorce. He moved out the day the papers were signed.

The next time Waldo came to visit, the common spaces looked barren, Willem apparently the owner of most of their thousands of Things, including almost all the furniture.

Lorena looked lost in the empty house. That plucked at Waldo in ways he didn’t expect, and he ended up staying in town longer than he ever had before, almost two weeks. One night, after love-making fierce and profound even by their standards, Lorena said, ‘What if we got a place together?’

In a sense, it was reasonable to muse on.

In another, it was absurd. How could that work? In L.A., just as in Idyllwild, Waldo maintained his exacting rules for living, not allowing himself even an extra toothbrush to leave at her place. Meanwhile, in the face of his asceticism, Lorena clung to her consumerist pleasures all the harder. So, did she mean for him to give up his cabin, and to battle out all their joint decisions, item by item, precept by precept? Or did she mean for him to keep his cabin, and cohabit a second home, profligate beyond imagining?

That these questions were even on the table was a sign that

Waldo had gotten too comfortable here. His heart starting to race, he silently recited his catechism, the covenant with the world which he’d devised and repeated aloud regularly for his first few months alone on his mountain until it had become ingrained:

Don’t want, don’t acquire, don’t require.

Don’t affect.

Don’t hurt.

The answer was not complicated. It was not ambiguous. He needed to hold fast. Every time he hadn’t, every time he let his resolve slip, every time he compromised the principles which had redeemed him, something had gone wrong.

And this compromise would be bigger than anything Waldo had ever contemplated, the consequences surely bigger, too. He had to say no. Of course he had to say no.

He looked over at Lorena, her eyes closed, her lip curled in a gentle smile, and before he knew it he too was lost in the after¬glow. That ruinous afterglow.

And what Waldo said was: ‘Maybe.’

By the next afternoon, his mountain was in flames.

Four days later, alone in Lorena’s barren kitchen, Waldo scoured the internet for any morsel of new information. Evacuated – what did that actually mean? Had anyone remained to support the fire-fighters, or was it a ghost town? Not that he knew any of his fellow denizens anyway, even after four years, other than his batty neighbor Hilda Flitt, who kept an eye on his chickens when he was away. And Hilda wasn’t answering her phone.

Nor was Lorena, for that matter. He shot her another text and went back to surfing.

Surfing and blaming himself for the fire.

Not that he could talk about his guilt with Lorena. She’d already said something about him ‘getting worse’ and one time (at a downtown Szechuan restaurant, after he questioned the waiter as to why a restaurant that puts Environment Friendly! on the menu still tops the meal with plastic-wrapped fortune cookies), even asked whether he ‘ever thought about talking to somebody.’ Sure, why wouldn’t she want that? It’d be so much easier to have that ‘somebody’ browbeat Waldo into complaisance than to develop some environmentally responsible habits herself.

Maybe, though, this was what ‘getting worse’ looked like. Holding to rules was one thing, magical thinking another entirely, and after all, it was the guy with the barbecue lighter and the WD-40 who’d set the mountain ablaze, not Waldo.

Still.

It all happened just hours after Waldo’s maybe, and it was Waldo’s town about to be devoured, and Detective III Charlie Waldo had never believed in coincidences.

As the day wore on, the news from Idyllwild began to improve. Firefighters, dropping retardant from the sky, managed to cut the inferno just before it reached the Arts Academy, and suddenly they were using the words ‘mostly contained.’ Deep into the night, Hilda Flitt still wasn’t answering her phone. But the authorities had reopened 243, so Waldo could go back in the morning to see for himself whether his home was safe, whether he even had any Things left, save the ones on his back.

Waldo waited up for Lorena like he always did. He sprawled on her bed with his Kindle, chipping away at Richard White’s massive history of the late nineteenth-century United States, specifically a grim chapter about how American ‘progress’ killed off the bison and pushed the Native Americans to the reservations. Even though Waldo enjoyed the book greatly – it filled multiple lacunae in his knowledge and was peculiarly relevant to the U.S. in 2018 – tonight he struggled not to put it down.

What he itched to do instead was stream another episode of his new addiction, the sinfully titillating Judge Ida Mudge, which Lorena had told him about just this week and which instantly wormed its way into Waldo’s limbic system like none of his favorite junk television shows ever had, not even prime MTV Cribs. But he’d already watched two, using up the daily hour he allowed himself.

Waldo pushed to the end of the chapter and checked Lorena’s bedside clock. It was past midnight, later than he ever stayed up in his woods. Was his junk TV ‘day’ defined by his sleep schedule, or by the clock? That is, could he allow himself to watch ‘tomorrow’s’ Judge Idas now? If he was going to spend much of the next day traveling, he might not have time to watch anyway – so why not allow himself a smidgen of ethical squinching and stream an episode? Or two.

The sound of Lorena’s key in the door saved him from the lapse.

He went out to meet her in the living room. ‘Sorry I didn’t answer your texts,’ she said. ‘I got caught up with something.’ Her vagueness didn’t throw Waldo like it would have during the jealous years. She added, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’

He shrugged, You don’t have to.

Apparently she did, though. ‘Something with an op. I had to take over a tail.’

‘Fat Dave?’ Lorena had three part-time operatives, two LAPD washouts and a wannabe. She swore they carried their weight but he found that hard to believe. Fat Dave Greenberg, whose rep as a world-class douchebag radiated far beyond Foothill Division, was the worst of them, as far as Waldo was concerned.

She repeated, ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ and Waldo repeated his you don’t have to shrug, but again she did. ‘Reddix,’ she said. Lucian Reddix was a young African American, the only one Waldo didn’t know from the force and the one for whom Lorena had the softest spot. ‘He was on a marital tail, followed the subject into a bar. Caught her with her boyfriend, was starting to shoot them on his phone . . . but the bartender came over and he asked for a beer.’

‘So?’

‘So they carded him. He’s not twenty-one until November.’ And this was her star. ‘It turned into a thing. Kid was sure he was made. Don’t say it.’

Waldo didn’t have to; he’d said plenty in the past. These jokers were one more reason not to enmesh himself in Lorena’s business.

‘Anyway,’ she said, ‘I went over and picked it up for him.’

‘Get what you need?’

‘And then some. Too cheap for a motel, these two. Got it on right in his car. Anyway, I wasn’t checking my texts – sorry. Listen,’ she said, changing the subject, ‘I could use a favor.’

He tensed; something in her voice told him it had to do with work. ‘Yeah?’

‘I’ve got a meeting with a prospective in a couple days. It’d help to have you there.’ It was the first time in half a year she’d tried to coax him onto a case. ‘I’m pretty sure you’d like this one.’ He’d heard that before.

Waldo said, ‘243’s open.’

‘Oh. Fire’s out?’

‘Contained enough, I guess. I’ve got to get up there.’

She drew a breath at the rejection. It had cost her something to ask again.

‘How?’ she said. ‘Not on your bike . . .?’ Since Waldo basically restricted himself to transportation that was either public or self-propelled, each trip from L.A. to Idyllwild meant a bus and then a tortuous, torturous bicycle climb. She said, ‘I could drive you.’

And then, she was no doubt thinking, she could drive him back down, once he was assured that his property was all right. Back to L.A. and her prospective client meeting. Back to L.A. and looking for a place for them to share.

He couldn’t do it. Besides, he had long ago decided that he’d grant himself a waiver to ride in a private automobile only with someone who’d already have been making the drive without him; clearly that didn’t apply here. He said, ‘I’ll be fine.’

‘With the smoke and everything? That’s so not healthy.’

She was probably right, but he tipped a shoulder anyway, a second rejection.

‘Waldo . . .’

‘I’ll be careful.’ Waldo knew he should hit her with a third, to rip off the Band-Aid quickly and tell her straight out that he wasn’t going to move in with her.

But she stopped him cold with the lopsided quarter-grin that grabbed him every time. ‘Last night in town is usually pretty good,’ she said, and headed to the bedroom, grazing the back of his neck with her fingertips as she passed.

He heard her start the shower. He knew he wouldn’t be able to tell her tonight. Not even if that meant the winds would pick up, the fire would jump the retardant line, and his woods would be imperiled all over again.

Maybe this time it would be the sex that burned it all down.

***

Excerpt from Pay or Play by Howard Michael Gould. Copyright 2021 by Howard Michael Gould. Reproduced with permission from Howard Michael Gould. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

Howard Michael Gould

Howard Michael Gould graduated from Amherst College and spent five years working on Madison Avenue, winning three Clios and numerous other awards.

In television, he was executive producer and head writer of CYBILL when it won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series, and held the same positions on THE JEFF FOXWORTHY SHOW and INSTANT MOM. Other TV credits include FM and HOME IMPROVEMENT.

He wrote and directed the feature film THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY LEFAY, starring Tim Allen, Elisha Cuthbert, Andie MacDowell and Jenna Elfman. Other feature credits include MR. 3000 and SHREK THE THIRD.

His play DIVA premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and La Jolla Playhouse, and was subsequently published by Samuel French and performed around the country.

He is the author of three mystery novels featuring the minimalist detective Charlie Waldo: LAST LOOKS (2018) and BELOW THE LINE (2019), both nominated for Shamus Awards by the Private Eye Writers of America, and PAY OR PLAY (2021). The feature film version of LAST LOOKS, starring Charlie Hunnam and Mel Gibson and directed by Tim Kirkby, will premiere February, 2022; Gould also wrote the screenplay.

Catch Up With Howard Michael Gould: HowardMichaelGould.com

Goodreads

BookBub

Instagram – @howardmichaelgould

Twitter – @HowardMGould

Facebook – @HowardMGould

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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Join In:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Howard Michael Gould. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

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#BookReview “When the Children Return (Children of the Eye Book 2)” by Barry Kirwan

book cover

~~~

5/5 stars!

I’ve looked forward to book two of the Children of the Eye series since January and When the Children Return didn’t disappoint.

A now-adult Sally leads the battle-ready group as the Athena returns to Earth to face the Axleth and reclaim their planet.

It will be easier said than done.

Even with the artificial intelligence Ares and his knowledge way beyond humanity’s imaginings, the fight will be daunting, perhaps even hopeless. Has Ares shared everything he knows with the humans? What does he know about the mysterious ship that attacked the Athena and is following them to Earth?

Doesn’t look as though the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but it will take battle, betrayal, and loss before the true enemy is identified.

Nathan, our hero from book one is back, still not feeling like a hero. Haunted by his service in Afghanistan, even the small victory of saving some of Earth’s children doesn’t change him. Things get even worse for him when Lara goes missing and is presumed dead. But never count him out. The survivors can make this planned assault on their home planet because he got them out the first time and he’ll rise to the occasion when needed.

Like Sally, many of the children who escaped are now adults, some with children of their own. But some have chosen to be augmented by Ares to assist with piloting the Athena, and now exist as something more than human.

However, like in book one, it is man’s humanity that to me is the dominant theme of When the Children Return. Our differences separate us. Our differences lead us to shun, hate, and violence. But Barry Kirwan’s science fiction adventure proves when we have a common enemy and goal, those differences are meaningless and fade away. (So why do we allow them to do so much damage at all?)

This fast-moving epic has several moments of ennui and regret, and sadness, but realistic characters and stellar writing not only lead to smooth transitions but also made this a one-sitting read for me.

Bittersweet, yet hopeful, the ending is open enough for book three, and I’m here for it!

Enjoy!

~~~

When it finally comes, we won’t even know what’s hit us.

Ten years have passed since the Axleth invaded Earth and a few hundred humans escaped aboard the ship Athena, piloted by the Artificial Intelligence who calls himself Ares. Now, the refugees approach Earth, determined to take back their home. But something has followed them from deep in space, and as war breaks out on Earth, humanity must decide who is the real enemy.

Praise for When the Children Return

A fantastic and original premise…flashes of Stephen King and MR Carey.Tom Witcomb

Kirwan lights the fuse on a new SF seriesaction-adventure and dark-edged SF that will enthrall readers.” Kirkus Reviews

★★★★★ Great story-telling. Intelligent, compelling, and told in a direct, easy-to-read style.” Susan Yea

★★★★★ “The writing is even and solid throughout, with interesting, intelligent characters who fight against horrific odds with every advantage and resource they can muster. I‘m getting the sequel as soon as it comes out!” Adrian B.

★★★★★ “A taut thriller, with a Lee Child feel to its staccato writing and strong action sequences, and a high concept stretching the novel into true science fiction territory.” Amanda Rutter.

★★★★★ “I’ve read and enjoyed first contact stories before, but the unique plot and realistic characters of When the Children Come make it a memorable book that goes on the re-read shelf. Felicia Denise

★★★★★ “Not just a page-turner – all in all a fabulous novel, which I was sad to finish.” Loulou Brown

★★★★★ “Kirwan’s writing really feels authentic. His knowledge is clearly well-researched, and the themes of this novel felt real. I absolutely loved the vivid descriptions, the characters (Sally is awesome), the struggles. Everything felt real. I was on the edge of my seat!” Jessica Belmont

Kindle Unlimited

99c at time of posting!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

~~~

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~~~

#BookTour “When the Children Return (Children of the Eye Book 2)” by Barry Kirwan

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~~~

book cover

~~~

When it finally comes, we won’t even know what’s hit us.

Ten years have passed since the Axleth invaded Earth and a few hundred humans escaped aboard the ship Athena, piloted by the Artificial Intelligence who calls himself Ares. Now, the refugees approach Earth, determined to take back their home. But something has followed them from deep in space, and as war breaks out on Earth, humanity must decide who is the real enemy.

Praise for Barry Kirwan…

A fantastic and original premise…flashes of Stephen King and MR Carey.Tom Witcomb

Kirwan lights the fuse on a new SF seriesaction-adventure and dark-edged SF that will enthrall readers.” Kirkus Reviews

★★★★★ Great story-telling. Intelligent, compelling, and told in a direct, easy-to-read style.” Susan Yea

★★★★★ “The writing is even and solid throughout, with interesting, intelligent characters who fight against horrific odds with every advantage and resource they can muster. I‘m getting the sequel as soon as it comes out!” Adrian B.

★★★★★ “A taut thriller, with a Lee Child feel to its staccato writing and strong action sequences, and a high concept stretching the novel into true science fiction territory.” Amanda Rutter.

★★★★★ “I’ve read and enjoyed first contact stories before, but the unique plot and realistic characters of When the Children Come make it a memorable book that goes on the re-read shelf. Felicia Denise

★★★★★ “Not just a page-turner – all in all a fabulous novel, which I was sad to finish.” Loulou Brown

★★★★★ “Kirwan’s writing really feels authentic. His knowledge is clearly well-researched, and the themes of this novel felt real. I absolutely loved the vivid descriptions, the characters (Sally is awesome), the struggles. Everything felt real. I was on the edge of my seat!” Jessica Belmont

Amazon US

Amazon UK

~~~

Author Bio JF Kirwan

I grew up in Farnborough, England, home to the fast-jet Red Arrows, and started writing when still at school, a weekly satirical thriller called the Adventures of Blackie the Cat for my classmates. I then got hooked on academic writing for my day job (preventing disasters in nuclear power plants, oil rigs and aircraft) and published four text books on human error. It wasn’t until I moved to Paris that I started writing fiction again, with the Eden Paradox released in 2011. It was intended to be a one-off, but I got a lot of fans demanding more, and so it went ‘epic’, a space opera of four books.

After an accident with my back and two subsequent operations, I was laid up for a long while and couldn’t scuba dive – my other passion – so I wrote a thriller about a spy who was also a scuba diver, and the Nadia Laksheva series was (to my amazement at the time) snapped up by HarperCollins. They asked me to use a pseudonym, which is where the initials J F came from, borrowed from my late father, who loved thrillers.

Although I keep my work and fiction separate (some of my colleagues aren’t convinced) the fiction is always influenced by my psychological training, and an unending fascination with how the mind works, and how it can go off the rails. This most clearly comes out in my two new series, Greg Adams (The Dead Tell Lies) and Children of the Eye (When the Children Come).

My favourite scifi authors range from Asimov and Clarke, to Brin, McDevitt, Hamilton, Asher and Reynolds. My favourite thriller writers are Baldacci, Child and Nesbo. My favourite moment as an author is when I’m sitting with my laptop with an espresso macchiato, wondering what comes next in a story, when suddenly it arrives, and I can’t type fast enough.

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#ReleaseBlitz “Ninety-Five” by Lisa Towles

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Crime Thriller

 

Date Published: November 24, 2021

Publisher: Indies United Publishing House

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Running away is what Zak Skinner does best, and he’s just done it again, having transferred from NYU to University of Chicago. His fresh start goes south when he accidentally uncovers evidence of an on-campus, organized crime scam involving drugging students, getting them to commit crimes on camera, and blackmailing them to continue under the threat of expulsion. Digging deeper, Zak discovers that the university scam is just the tip of the iceberg, connected to a broader ring of crimes linked to a darkweb underworld. Following clues proves too dangerous. They know, they’re watching him. But he’s in too deep now to turn back. Zak is led to a compound within Chicago’s abandoned Steelworker Park, only to discover that he’s being hunted. Following the path toward the truth transforms him from a nerdy academic to a rabid activist hell-bent on exposing the most elaborate and expensive scam on the US economy and its unsuspecting victims. While trying to find a way out alive, Zak discovers there’s something much more personal he’s been running from – his past. And now there’s nowhere to hide.

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About the Author

Lisa Towles has 6 mystery/thrillers in print. Her 2019 thriller, The Unseen, was a Finalist in the Thriller category of the Best Book Awards by American Book Fest and her 2017 thriller Choke won a 2017 IPPY and a 2018 NYC Big Book Award for Thriller. Lisa’s published books include The Unseen, Choke, and the following titles published under her previous name, Lisa Polisar: The Ghost of Mary Prairie, Escape, Blackwater Tango, and Knee Deep. She is an active member and frequent Panelist/Speaker of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She has an MBA in IT Management and works full-time in the tech industry in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lisa is a graphic designer and video creator, with a passion for supporting other authors.

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