#BookReview “The Orientation of Dylan Woodger: A Central New York Crime Story” by Chiuba E Obele

April 18 – May 13, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

book cover

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4/5 Stars!

Unflinching and unnerving, The Orientation of Dylan Woodger holds nothing back as the college student tries to recall three missing years of his life during torture sessions by dark characters who want the three million dollars they say he owes them.

Despite a slow, overly detailed beginning, this read becomes a page-turner as Dylan pieces together his past not knowing what to believe or who to trust. Determined to find out who betrayed him, Dylan convinces his captors to work with him to find their money.

Family dysfunction, politics, feminism, racism, and crime are just some of the themes covered in this read, but considering the current climate surrounding Roe vs Wade, it’s the subject of rape, male and female, that stands out.

Realistic and raw, the focus isn’t on so much what victims went through, but how they survive it and move on despite an assault that forever changed their lives. Strong writing and fully developed characters pulled me into their stories and had me invested in the good and the bad.

There are several turns and a few twists before an extraordinary ending. A satisfying read, Dylan’s story isn’t about orientation to college but to life… and it’s dark ugliness.

Twenty-five percent of proceeds from this book are being donated to Rainn, an organization that support survivors of sexual assault and works to prevent it.

Enjoy!

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Synopsis:

Solving mysteries is never easy. Dealing with an infuriated mob boss and acute amnesia only makes it worse.

Dylan Woodger is a college student who is captured and tortured by the mafia. After amnesia obscures the last three years of his life, Dylan learns that he has stolen three million dollars from a ruthless mafia boss. When, how, and why – he doesn’t remember. But someone betrayed him and gave him a drug that erased his memory. He was then given over to be tortured.

Determined to recover his memory, Dylan begins delving into the events of the past. As he struggles to put the pieces of his past back together, Dylan finds himself wrapped up in a path of vengeance made even more perilous by the presence of assassins, gangsters, and detectives. But as each new piece of the puzzle falls into place, Dylan realizes that no one is who they seem, especially himself. He now has links to rapists, white supremacists, and murders. People who claim to be his friends are hiding secrets from him. And his girlfriend is beautiful, but that’s all he knows about her. Who are these people? And who is Dylan? Even he doesn’t know!

The Orientation of Dylan Woodger is the story of a young man who is torn between his capacity to do evil and his desire to do what’s right. This book explores racism and feminism, and addresses controversial topics such as male rape, hate crimes, and misogyny toward women. The characters are disturbing, but the book aspires to be hopeful, as these characters ultimately succeed in finding some measure of humanity.

There are so many unanswered questions . . . But first, Dylan must survive the torture.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Fischer House Publications

Publication Date: April 19, 2022

Number of Pages: 377

ISBN: 9798985146400

Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

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Tour Participants:

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

~~~

ENTER TO WIN

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for CHIUBA EUGENE OBELE. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

~~~

#BookTour “The Orientation of Dylan Woodger: A Central New York Crime Story” by Chiuba E Obele

The Orientation of Dylan Woodger by Chiuba E Obele BannerApril 18 – May 13, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Orientation of Dylan Woodger by Chiuba E Obele

Solving mysteries is never easy. Dealing with an infuriated mob boss and acute amnesia only makes it worse.

Dylan Woodger is a college student who is captured and tortured by the mafia. After amnesia obscures the last three years of his life, Dylan learns that he has stolen three million dollars from a ruthless mafia boss. When, how, and why – he doesn’t remember. But someone betrayed him and gave him a drug that erased his memory. He was then given over to be tortured.

Determined to recover his memory, Dylan begins delving into the events of the past. As he struggles to put the pieces of his past back together, Dylan finds himself wrapped up in a path of vengeance made even more perilous by the presence of assassins, gangsters, and detectives. But as each new piece of the puzzle falls into place, Dylan realizes that no one is who they seem, especially himself. He now has links to rapists, white supremacists, and murders. People who claim to be his friends are hiding secrets from him. And his girlfriend is beautiful, but that’s all he knows about her. Who are these people? And who is Dylan? Even he doesn’t know!

The Orientation of Dylan Woodger is the story of a young man who is torn between his capacity to do evil and his desire to do what’s right. This book explores racism and feminism, and addresses controversial topics such as male rape, hate crimes, and misogyny toward women. The characters are disturbing, but the book aspires to be hopeful, as these characters ultimately succeed in finding some measure of humanity.

There are so many unanswered questions . . . But first, Dylan must survive the torture.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Fischer House Publications

Publication Date: April 19, 2022

Number of Pages: 377

ISBN: 9798985146400

Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 3

WHO WAS I? Dylan J. Woodger

Where was I? I wasn’t sure.
What time was it? I had no clue.
Why was I here? I didn’t know

What I did know, was that it was fucking cold. I could feel undergrowth beneath me. My eyes darted around. There were trees as far as the eye could see. I had a raging headache. I couldn’t move my hands or feet. I looked down at my prone body and saw rope wrapped tightly around my ankles. I couldn’t move my hands — they were tied behind my back. My wrists hurt, and whatever bound them also cut into my arms. I had a pain in my shoulder. It hurt bad. But it was nothing compared to the pain that I would suffer once I fell into the hands of the Utica Mafia.

But we’re not there yet.

In my mind, it was yesterday that my mother dropped me off at Hamilton College. I went to sleep, then woke up in the woods. It was warm and sunny when Mom left me. But now, I woke up in the freezing cold. I thought it was August and I couldn’t figure out how it could get so cold. And why was I tied up? And could the pain in my shoulder be…a bullet wound? But how could it be a bullet wound? I’d never been shot at!

I knew I had to get outta there, or else I’d freeze to death. Most people aren’t experts in rope tying. Usually, the average person without formal training doesn’t know how to do a good job. And this rope tying definitely wasn’t the work of a professional. So I felt confident I could escape. I managed to free my arms with some wriggling though it took more skin off my wrists. Then I focused on freeing my legs. I kicked off my shoes and pulled my feet out of the rope. Once my feet were free, I used my hands to pull the leg bonds down. I was now free, but still clueless. Who had done this to me? One thing I knew for sure: this was the work of an amateur who didn’t know how to properly tie someone up.

Oh, and I noticed something strange about myself. I grew facial hair and had put on some muscle. But when did that happen? I hadn’t looked in a mirror, but I doubted I was the same baby-faced boy my mom had dropped off that morning.

Just then, I heard a group of men shouting out of sync. “Hello, is anybody here? Hello?”

I felt relieved. Did the police send out a search party for me?

I was eager to get out of the cold, and my first instinct was to shout, “Over here!”

That was my first mistake.

As the men approached, their boots crunching on twigs and fallen branches, I rushed over to them. I kept my left arm still — the pain of

moving it alone caused my vision to flash white and my ears to ring. I stumbled a bit, but soon I could see them clear enough. The men wore plain clothes, just any random winter jacket and jeans someone might get at the nearest Walmart. They weren’t uniformed as you would normally expect police to be.

“Thank goodness you’re here. I thought I would freeze to death.”

The men looked at each other in confusion, until one of them finally said, “Are you here with anyone?”

“No,” I replied. “I found myself tied up and managed to escape, just before you got here.”

“This guy is lying to us,” one of them said. “This must be an ambush.”

“An ambush? What are you talking about?” I struggled to keep my voice even. “I just woke up, and I haven’t seen another person until you guys showed up. I’m glad you got here, though. Can you please take me home?”

Just at that moment, one of the men pulled out a gun and pointed it at me. My hands flew out in front of me, and my blood ran cold when I saw the barrel. “Wait, hold on! What are you doing?”

“You better tell us right now. Is this an ambush? ’Cause if bullets start flying, you’ll be the first one to die.”

“No, sir. I promise, this isn’t an ambush.”

“So where’s our money?” he demanded.

I was confused. Then I thought I had pieced it together. “Yeah, okay. You guys obviously want money for going through the trouble of finding me. That’s fair. My mother’s pretty well off, and she probably offered a reward to find me. I’ll make sure you get it. That’s how these things work, right? So can you please take me home now?”

The man kept the gun pointed at me. I heard a click and knew he had cocked it. I realized then, that this was no ordinary search party.

“What’s going on here?” I asked, with fear creeping in.

The man with the gun shouted at me. “Stop playing games and tell us where our money is!”

I furrowed my eyebrows at him. He was an olive-skinned man. I pegged his age at around forty. He was bigger than average with shaggy black hair and unkempt facial hair.

“You’ve got me confused with someone else,” I said. “I don’t have anybody’s money.”

“Nice try, kid, but I’m not a babbeo. Whatever tricks you’re trying to pull, they won’t work. Stop acting like we’re suckers and tell us where our money is! I’m not gonna ask you again.”

Babbeo? I wondered. What language is that? Could it be Italian?

“Look, I already told you that if you take me home, my mom will be glad to help you with some money. Now can we please—”

Before I could finish speaking, the man with the gun slapped me with it. I grabbed my jaw and fell backward. My head exploded with pain.

One of the men said, “Shit, Tony. This guy is useless. Let’s finish him off and get outta here.”

Another man replied, “Wait, Tony. The boss sent us to collect the money. We can’t kill him. We have to make this kid talk.”

“All right,” Tony said. “Let’s take him back to the warehouse. And then we can really start having fun.”

I knew what he meant by “fun.” They were going to torture me. “Help!” I screamed. “Somebody help me!”

A loud bang rang out. Before my ears could even begin ringing, the bullet ripped into my thigh, stopping like red hot steel somewhere inside of me. My vision flashed white, and I fell to the ground. Pain pulsed out from the wound. I wasn’t aware of myself at that moment. Maybe I cried out, or maybe it was more of a scream. What I knew, though, was that Tony had shot me in the leg.

“Shut the fuck up!” he said, waving the gun around. “I better not hear one more word outta you, or the next bullet is going straight through your head. Don’t test me!”

The men grabbed the ropes I had untied and started binding me. All the while, I felt my pants getting soaked with warm blood. My temples pounded with my racing heart as I begged for my life. “Please, you have

to believe me. I haven’t taken anyone’s money!”

One of the men said, “Well, if you didn’t rob us, then explain how you got that bullet wound in your shoulder. Huh?”

The men paused and waited for me to answer. For a moment, I forgot about the pain in my leg. I looked over my shoulder, and I could see someone had bandaged me up.

“I don’t know where I got this from,” I said.

“Don’t lie! I specifically remember shooting someone in the shoulder when the guys who robbed us were running away. You mean to tell me that’s a coincidence?”

“Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please let me go.”

Tony went into a rage and began kicking me relentlessly in the gut. I tried to curl into a ball to protect my stomach which was near impossible thanks to the rope bonds. “Stop pretending to be dumb!” he said. “You’re getting on my fucking nerves!”

“Tony, relax!” one of the men said. “Remember, we gotta keep this guy alive until we know where our money is.”

The men gagged my mouth with a dry kitchen cloth and carried me into their van. Then the van drove off. The windows were tinted black. I tried kicking. I tried screaming. But none of it worked. After they placed me into the van, one of the men pulled a bag over my head. I couldn’t see a thing, but I could still hear them speak. One of them sounded like Tony—a baritone smoker. He was apparently speaking on the phone.

“Yeah, Vinny,” he said. “Tell the boss we found someone…I don’t know who it is…I already told you, I don’t know who he is! It’s just some kid who’s putting on an act.”

I heard Vinny shouting on the other end of the call. “You didn’t even ask him his for fucking name, Tony?”

Tony jerked the bag off my head and yanked the gag from my mouth. “What’s your name, kid?” he asked.

I scrambled for a plan. Should I give him a fake name? What if they catch me in a lie? That wouldn’t be so smart. I thought about whether I should cooperate. Then I simply said, “I’m not saying a damn word.”

At that point, Tony pulled a knife from his pocket and repeatedly stabbed my leg wound. White-hot pain seared through my mind. I nearly passed out from the pain and the sight of blood pouring out of me.

“Stop! Please, stop!” I cried out.

One of the men said, “You could make this a lot easier, kid, if you just tell us your name.”

“Dylan!” I screamed. “My name is Dylan!” “Dylan who?” Tony asked.

“Dylan J. Woodger!”

The pain in my leg was so bad I could barely breathe. I trembled uncontrollably. Soon, I felt lightheaded. “Can you please wrap my leg?” I

begged. “I’m bleeding badly. And I—”

Before I could finish speaking, Tony gagged me again and pulled the bag over my head. He continued talking on the phone.

“Okay, Vinny. He said his name is Dylan…Dylan Woodger…Yeah, we’re on our way to the warehouse, and—”

At that moment, I heard the shriek of a police siren. “Shit!” the driver muttered.

“What is it?” Tony asked

“It’s a cop! We’re being pulled over.”

A wave of obscenities reverberated throughout the van. “Everyone, calm the fuck down!” Tony yelled.

I felt something hard being shoved against my crotch. It was the familiar feel of a gun.

“You better not say a word, kid,” Tony said, “or I’ll shoot you in the balls.”

The van halted abruptly. A minute passed. I heard footsteps outside on the road, the glide of shoes on gravel.

“Hello, Officer,” the driver said calmly, “What seems to be the problem?”

“License and registration,” said the cop.

“Sure. Not a problem.” The driver gave the cop his license and registration.

“Do you know why you’re being stopped?” “Was I speeding?”

“No. Your van has tinted windows. Tinted windows are illegal in the state of New York.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know that,” the driver said. “I just bought this vehicle last week, and the car dealer failed to mention that. I’ll be sure to get the windows changed.” The driver laughed nervously. “So, I guess I’ll take that ticket and be on my way.”

“Not so fast,” the cop said. “I still have a couple of questions to ask you…Where are you coming from?”

“Oh umm…We’re just a few fellas going out hunting in the woods.

We just got finished not too long ago, and now we’re heading home.” “And where’s home?” the officer asked.

“Utica, sir.”

“Well, you’re only allowed to hunt animals between November first and December twentieth. Hunting season ended last week.”

“Yeah, sorry about that.”

“I’d like to check your vehicle.”

“Sure Officer. Go right ahead. I’ll unlock it for you.”

When I heard the rear door unlock, I nearly let out a cheer. It was as if the officer could hear my heart pounding its way through my chest. But as soon as I heard the rear door of the van creak open, a barrage of bullets tore open the air. I heard a body drop to the ground.

One of the men inside the van hissed, “Shit, he’s still moving. He’s probably got a vest on.”

Another man said, “I’ll go finish him off.”

“No! Hold on.” Tony stopped him. He pulled the bag off my head and said to me, “I want you to see what happens to those who get in our way.”

Tony stepped out of the van. Through the open door, I could see the officer on the ground, writhing in pain and begging for his life. “Please,” he said, “Don’t do this…I have three kids and a wife.”

At that point, Tony fired two gunshots straight into the officer’s head. Blood splattered onto the pavement. Tony got back into the van and said to me, “I wanted you to see that, so you know we’re capable of killing anyone. If you fuck with us, you’ll end up joining this guy here.”

***

Excerpt from The Orientation of Dylan Woodger by Chiuba E Obele. Copyright 2022 by Chiuba E Obele. Reproduced with permission from Chiuba E Obele. All rights reserved.

 

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Author Bio:

Chiuba E Obele

CHIUBA EUGENE OBELE is a poet, writer, and author of The Orientation of Dylan Woodger: A Central New York Crime Story. He can usually be found reading a book, and that book will more likely than not be a crime fiction novel. Chiuba lives and works out of his home in Boston, Massachusetts. When not absorbed in the latest page-turner, Chiuba enjoys spending his summers vacationing with his parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews.

Catch Up With Chiuba E Obele:
ChiubaObele.com
Goodreads
Twitter – @ChiubaE
Facebook – @chiubaobele7

~~~

Tour Participants:

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

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ENTER TO WIN

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for CHIUBA EUGENE OBELE. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

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#BookTour ‘n’ #Interview “A Message in Poison” by BJ Magnani

A Message in Poison by BJ Magnani BannerMay 9 – June 3, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

book cover

I’m excited to have an interview with author BJ Magnani during my stop on the book blog tour. Read on and meet a true queen of all poisons!

Thank you for spending a little time with us here on Nesie’s Place today, BJ! Do you prefer BJ,  Barbarajean, or Dr. Magnani?

I choose the name depending on the setting: BJ ( informal and fun), Barbarajean (serious and elegant), and Dr. Magnani (full-on work mode)! Or sometimes, “The Queen of All Poisons.”

Tell us about yourself… where you’re from, your profession, family, hobbies, guilty pleasures.

I am the mother of two grown children, an equestrian, guitar player, rock climber, and lover of all things nature and science.

I’m originally from New York but came to Boston for my medical training. I’m a board-certified clinical pathologist with a specialty in toxicology. I was the former Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine (Tufts Medical Center) and Chair of the College of American Pathologists Toxicology Committee.

I’ve had a blessed life and believe in giving back. Therefore, part of the proceeds from my novels helps support the College of American Pathologists Foundation See Test & Treat program, which provides education and free cervical and breast cancer screening for women in need. Everyone should have equal health care opportunities.

Your books deal with death by poisoning. Why poison? What inspired you?

You write what you know, and I know poisons! I worked with some formidable toxins as a scientist, and my clinical work focused on poisons and drug overdoses. How better to educate the public than through a rich story. I always thought that Michael Crichton provided some education through his novels. Each of my novels contains information at the back of the book for science lovers: book 1 in the Dr. Lily Robinson series, The Queen of All Poisons, has a poison ‘appendix’ at the back of the book,  book 2,  The Power of Poison, contains some information on molecular weights, and my new book, A Message in Poison, has information about the periodic table. I’m a science nerd.

I also write a monthly poison blog which you can find on my website

The Poison Blog | BJ Magnani

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

I am traditionally published through a small independent press (Encircle Publications) located in Farmington, Maine.

How long have you been a writer?

I started writing short stories as a high school student, then stopped to pursue a career in science (MS, PhD, MD.) So for most of my life,  I have been writing scientific articles related to my work. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that I started writing fiction again at the urging of the editor-in-chief of a scientific journal who was interested in educating scientists through a fictional character, and that was the birth of Dr. Lily Robinson. Dr. Robinson is the brilliant toxicologist exploited by the government for her knowledge of poisons as she is recruited as an assassin to eliminate terrorists from the world.

Pantser or Plotter?

I am more of a pantser than a plotter, although I have a general idea of where I want to go. I’m always surprised when I end up in a place I hadn’t anticipated.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

I read a variety of genres and non-fiction too.

What are you reading now?

Currently, I’m reading a memoir and a romance novel, but I mostly like medical or science thrillers.

Where do you get the most writing done?

Here is a picture from my back deck. The beauty of nature inspires me.

bj magnani cloud pic

What’s your next project or release?

A Message in Poison (book 3 in the Dr. Lily Robinson series) was just released on April 20th, 2022—book 1, The Queen of All Poisons, is the start of Lily’s story, which continues into book 2, The Power of Poison) and I’ve just started the 4th book in the series. I also recently finished writing a romance novel—I believe in stretching as a writer.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

It’s never too late to start writing (this is my 4th career—teacher, scientist, pathologist, fiction author) and write what you love. And keep writing.

Many thanks to BJ Magnani for spending time with us today!

Read on for an excerpt, and learn more about her latest release, A Message in Poison. Grab a copy and enter the giveaway!

Be sure to stop by on June 3rd for my review of this medical thriller mystery!

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Synopsis:

 
Sparks fly as Dr. Lily Robinson-the brilliant academic pathologist and covert assassin for the U.S. Government-investigates two seemingly unrelated deaths alongside her lover, Agent Jean Paul Marchand, and D.C. Medical Examiner Dr. Logan Pelletier.

A U.S. Senator and the president of a developing nation are found dead in their beds. As governments thousands of miles apart react to the fallout and begin their investigations, no one claims responsibility, and no motives are clear. Yet, the cause of death implies a link between the two—one that only a mind versed in poisons and politics can decipher. With her personal relationships teetering on the brink and her loved ones facing foreign threats, Lily must unravel the mystery and uncover a plot more calculating than anyone could imagine—but it may be too late.

A Message in Poison, the third part of the Art of Secret Poisoning trilogy (The Queen of All Poisons and The Power of Poison), continues with twists and turns as Dr. Lily Robinson travels the globe, stares down death, and finds herself at “another crossroad, another choice between life real or imagined…”

The fast-paced action juxtaposes nicely with the personal dilemmas Lily faces as she uncovers a new plot that forces her to reconsider her talents and place in the world.
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Mystery / Thriller

Published by: Encircle Publications

Publication Date: April 20th 2022

Number of Pages: 278

ISBN: 1645993256 (ISBN13: 9781645993254)

Series: A Dr. Lily Robinson Novel, The Art of Secret Poisoning Part 3

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

I’ve done some terrible things in my life. Big lies splash in my wake and follow me until the water creeps into my lungs. I’ve murdered many people who deserved to die. I take the phrase ‘pick your poison’ literally. My arsenal of natural toxins and poisons hidden deep within a freezer provide enough variety to mimic natural death. The cool salt air at my seaside cottage coaxes plants in my poisonous garden to yield the natural killers that I need. And I have collaborators around the world who can provide for me what my garden cannot.

Yes, it’s true that I’ve spent much of my life taking care of patients as a physician and taught a generation of medical students. But it was this very expertise in toxicology that captured the attention of our government. They seduced me and then orchestrated a transformation from consultant to assassin. Some say it’s my jewel-green eyes, raven-colored hair, and even my stiletto heels that tend to disarm my victims. They are blinded to the truth. With eyes closed to the Hippocratic Oath, I travel the world, eliminating terrorists and traitors with poison, stealth in a bottle, in the name of preventing mass destruction on a global scale. Our small covert counter-terrorism team weeds out threats at home and abroad—sanctioned killing, the price of doing business. I’m told that ‘the good of the many outweighs the good of the one.’ It’s become my guiding mantra, allowing me to rationalize this dual existence.

I hide my secret life beneath the cloak of justice, and I’ve discovered that others do too. So I ask you if you’re sure you know the truth about those around you. This last year of my life has been fraught with revelations that I didn’t see coming. For more than twenty years, I thought my baby, my little girl, had died in the Colombian jungle. Not only did I learn that she’s alive, but I discovered that she’s attending the same medical school where I have my academic appointment—a life-changing disclosure. I tremble when I think that we may have brushed by each other not only at the university, but in my fleeting past. I look back and see momentary images of familiarity etched in my mind. Was my beautiful Rose right in front of me while I wore blinders of guilt and despair?

JP, my lover, and partner in our covert government band, grasps my turmoil. Desperate to soothe my soul, he promises that life’s twists and turns can only make us more resilient and resolute. Facing the wind, my body stands tall and hard like a tree firmly rooted in the ground. Having no support on its own, a vine uses its tendrils to clutch to the broad trunk. My stories are like this vine, ever climbing, ever strangling—a complicated life that requires both brilliance and strength.

***

Excerpt from A Message in Poison by BJ Magnani. Copyright 2022 by BJ Magnani. Reproduced with permission from BJ Magnani. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

BJ Magnani

BJ Magnani (Barbarajean Magnani, PhD, MD, FCAP) is the author of the Dr. Lily Robinson novels: The Queen of All Poisons (Encircle Publications, 2019), The Power of Poison (Encircle Publications, 2021), and A Message In Poison (Encircle Publications, 2022.) Lily Robinson and the Art of Secret Poisoning (nVision Publishing, 2011) is the original collection of short stories featuring the brilliant, yet deadly, doctor. Dr. Magnani is internationally recognized for her expertise in clinical chemistry and toxicology, has been named a “Top Doctor” in Boston magazine, and was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Laboratory Medicine Professionals in the World by The Pathologist. She is Professor of Anatomic and Clinical Pathology (and Professor of Medicine) at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, and the former Chair of both the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Toxicology Committee and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Tufts Medical Center.

Follow BJ Magnani on:
www.BJMagnani.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @bjmagnani
Twitter – @bjmagnani
Facebook – @bjmagnaniauthor

Join us for an InstaParty at #bjmagnani!!

~~~

Tour Participants:

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

~~~

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for A Message in Poison by BJ Magnani. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

~~~

#BookTour “Dead Man’s Leap” by Tina deBellegarde

Dead Man's Leap by Tina deBellegarde Banner

May 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Dead Man's Leap by Tina deBellegarde

DEAD MAN’S LEAP revisits Bianca St. Denis in Batavia-on-Hudson, New York

Rushing waters…dead bodies…secrets…

As Bianca St. Denis and her neighbors scour their attics for donations to the charity rummage sale, they unearth secrets as well as prized possessions. Leonard Marshall’s historic inn hosts the sale each year, but it is his basement that houses the key to his past. When an enigmatic antiques dealer arrives in town, he upends Leonard’s carefully reconstructed life with an impossible choice that harkens back to the past.

Meanwhile, when a storm forces the villagers of Batavia-on-Hudson to seek shelter, the river rises and so do tempers. Close quarters fuel simmering disputes, and Sheriff Mike Riley has his work cut out for him. When the floods wash up a corpse, Bianca once again finds herself teaming up with Sheriff Riley to solve a mystery. Are they investigating an accidental drowning or something more nefarious?

Dead Man’s Leap explores the burden of secrets, the relief of renunciation, and the danger of believing we can outpace our past.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 1685120849 (ISBN-13: 978-1685120849)
Series: A Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery, #2
Purchase Links: Amazon

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

He inched toward the precipice, his toes gripping the stone ledge as if they had a will of their own. He lifted his head and squinted into the sunlight still streaming through the blackening clouds. He took in the expanse of rushing water below. In all his eighteen years, Trevor had never seen the creek roil so ferociously.

A clap of thunder startled him. His toes relaxed, and he felt as if the slightest wind could take him over the edge. Lightheaded for a second, he regained his footing and his purpose.

He had no choice if he wanted all this to stop.

He needed to do it.

And do it now.

The downpour would break again soon. But for now, all he could hear was the rushing of Horseshoe Falls beneath him, the roar drowning out the noise of his past.

Of his father.

Of his mother.

Yes, his mother. He had expected his father to be weak, and wasn’t surprised at all after he left. But his mother? A mother’s love is supposed to be unconditional. At least that’s what she had always said before she had turned their world upside down. It was bad enough when she had played at being the sexiest woman in town. At least when his friends teased him then, it was meant to be fun. But this was worse, far worse. Now they wanted nothing to do with him. Now they used him as a punching bag.

His gang no longer looked to him as their leader. They ridiculed him for what his mother had done. From the beginning, he knew those kids were bad news. What choice did he have? In grade school he’d been bullied. Well, he had put a stop to that in high school. Can’t be bullied if you’re the biggest bully.

His mother was gone. His father was gone. And now his posse. First, it was the cold shoulder, and a few snide remarks. Then he was cornered in the locker room after the game one day. That was the hardest. He hadn’t taken a beating like that since the fifth grade. But the tables had been turned on him so fast that he never saw it coming. Trevor realized now that they were never friends. They were just a group of trouble makers who hung out together. Good riddance to them. He didn’t need them anymore.

Another thunderclap reminded him where he was. On the edge. Right on the edge. He either had to do this properly or he would be going over anyway.

Trevor looked over his shoulder one last time and heard a faint commotion in the background. Once they rounded the path, he closed his eyes and jumped.

* * *

Bianca St. Denis stretched to grab the cord just out of reach above her head and yanked on it with all her force to bring down the attic staircase. She tilted her head to avoid being struck as it made its way down. She unfolded the retractable stairs and put one foot on the first rung. But there she stopped, not sure she could take the next few steps. At forty-two the issue wasn’t her physical ability to climb the steps, she was active, even fairly athletic. The old saying went “the mind was willing but the body was not.” Well, in her case “the body was willing but the mind was not.”

She had stayed out of the attic all these months since Richard’s death. She had made do without her ski parka this past winter, and used Richard’s barn jacket she’d found in the mudroom instead. She had made do without the spring curtains she would normally switch out in the living room each March. The winter ones still hung heavy and foreboding. And she made do without the patio cushions she had sewn two seasons ago. She simply sat on the raw wood when she wanted to read or eat in the backyard. She hadn’t realized the number of things she had been doing without by avoiding the attic, not until the town started buzzing about the rummage sale. She pretended it was because she hadn’t had time to search for the items, but she knew better.

She took her foot off the rung, bent and picked up the stairs again, refolded them, and let them float to the ceiling. The hatch closed with a neat click.

* * *

Once Trevor hit the water, his tension disappeared. He welcomed the release and let himself drop. Slowly he was pulled down into the chaos of the rushing water, but his mind had floated above it all. He didn’t feel a thing, he observed it instead. He watched as his body sank, as it swirled in the vortex of the overfull creek. He watched as his body escaped the current and floated peacefully in the murky water. And he watched as he gave in to full renunciation and allowed the water to decide what was to become of him.

His thoughts slowed, as muddy as the water surrounding him.

They slowed, but he could not make them disappear.

He had managed to avoid jumping off Dead Man’s Leap every summer, but this year he knew he couldn’t get away with it. They had already threatened to make sure he jumped this year. That was only part of what the summer had in store for him. Who could he turn to? His grandparents had no idea what he was going through. They always hid their heads in the sand anyway. There was nothing they could do for him. So, he had taken matters into his own hands.

He was shocked when his head broke the surface, and despite himself he gasped for air in enormous mouthfuls until he gagged. He bobbed there, undecided, until he finally attempted the few strides to reach the cove. It took him longer than he expected, like swimming in molasses. A cross between his fatigue, his indifference, and the strong current kept him from reaching the bank in the three strokes it would normally require. On his knees, he crawled out of the pull of rushing water and dropped on the shore.

* * *

Leonard Marshall picked up the package, the paper crinkling in his hand. He carefully unwrapped one layer, then another. Layer after layer until he held the smooth tiny statuette in his hand. He trembled, and smiled, attracted and repulsed at the same time. How could such a tiny thing hold so many emotions for him? So much power over him? It was so small he could cradle it in the palm of his hand. He closed his fingers around it. It disappeared. He opened them again, and there it was. With it came a flood of memories. Exhilarating. His heart raced with a quick pat, pat, pat.

The basement door creaked. He took in a breath.

Time slowed and his heart with it.

Thump……thump……thump.

The light clicked on.

Another creak. Above him a step, a pause, another step. The door ached on its hinges as it opened wider. The light flicked off. The door closed. The steps faded. He let out his breath.

* * *

Trevor had never experienced fatigue like this. He crawled onto shore in the shadow of the cliff and collapsed. He never expected to make it out of the water, and now that he had, he lay there drawing in large mouthfuls of air, as if his lungs would never get enough. He stayed there, staring up at the sky, watching the dark clouds shapeshift. The rain would be there any moment, and to his surprise, he welcomed it.

As his breathing relaxed, he realized that the pain he felt was a sharp object stabbing his back. He rolled over, removed it, and threw it off to the side. As he turned to lay back down, his blurry eyes focused on the object. It was a bone. A human bone? He scrambled onto his knees and slowly made his way over to it. He was repulsed and fascinated, but mostly he was frightened by the sight of a bone and what that could mean. What had happened here, right here in this cove?

In the distance, he heard their drunken voices again. He knelt and grabbed handfuls of dirt to cover the bone. He heard them approach the edge of the cliff.

“He came this way. I saw him jump.”

“He’s too chicken, he didn’t jump. But when I find him, he’ll jump alright. He’ll jump or I’ll send him flying.”

“He jumped, I tell ya. Leave him alone. You wanted him to jump, and he did. I saw him. Let it go, already.”

“Yeah, well if he jumped, where is he?”

“You think he’s still under? You think he hit his head like that kid a while back?”

“I’m telling you, he didn’t jump.”

“There’s nowhere else to go but down. Of course, he jumped.”

“I’m going in. If he did jump, we’ll find him down there. He’s probably hiding under the cliff.”

Trevor carefully picked his way out of the cove. Scraping up against the cliff as close as his body would allow, he followed the contours until he came out on the other side of the falls. With his last bit of strength, he climbed up the rocky trail alongside Horseshoe Falls.

***

Excerpt from Dead Man’s Leap by Tina deBellegarde. Copyright 2022 by Tina deBellegarde. Reproduced with permission from Tina deBellegarde. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Tina deBellegarde

Tina deBellegarde has been called “the Louise Penny of the Catskills.” Winter Witness, the first book in her Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery series, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel, a Silver Falchion Award and a Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem Award. Her story “Tokyo Stranger” which appears in the Mystery Writers of America anthology When a Stranger Comes to Town edited by Michael Koryta has been nominated for a Derringer Award. Tina’s short fiction also appears in The Best New England Crime Stories anthologies. She is the vice-president of the Upper Hudson Chapter of Sisters in Crime, a member of Mystery Writers of America and Writers in Kyoto. She lives in Catskill, New York, with her husband Denis and their cat Shelby where they tend to their beehives, harvest shiitake mushrooms, and cultivate their vegetable garden. She winters in Florida and travels to Japan regularly to visit her son Alessandro.

Catch Up With Tina deBellegarde:
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BookBub – @tinadebellegarde
Instagram – @tdb_writes
Twitter – @tdbwrites
Facebook – @tinadebellegardeauthor

 

 

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#BookReview “Canary In the Coal Mine” by Charles Salzberg

April 18 – May 13, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

book cover

~~~

5/5 Stars!

Private Investigator Pete Fortunato never met a fight he didn’t take part in. The professed protector of the underdog will always fight for justice and what’s right.

Most of the time.

When wealthy socialite, Lila Alston, hires Fortunato to find her husband—dead or alive—he knows he should walk away… because of the “dead” part, but bills need to be paid so he takes the job, and of course, finds the husband dead… in the apartment of the woman’s boyfriend.

While Fortunato succeeds in recouping his money when Lila’s check bounces, and doing a quick soft shoe to keep the cops off his back for now, he’s caught off-guard when Travis Chapman, Lila’s former boyfriend, wants to hire him for protection. Travis won’t divulge who he needs protection from, but Pete soon finds out when he’s taken for a ride to meet with the Albanian mob. They want Travis, and their money and it’s up to Pete to find him… soon.

Now he has to find the mob’s money just to survive.

And that’s what Pete Fortunato is… a survivor. With ADHD, anger management, and daddy issues, the hapless anti-hero always has the deck stacked against him, but manages to draw a winning card. However, that may not be the case this time around.

The realistic tone of Canary in the Coal Mine raises it to more than a crime fiction mystery. The writing style, and Pete’s quirky, sarcastic first-person narrative, along with its break-neck pace make this read a five star page-turner!

~~~

Synopsis:

 

PI Pete Fortunato, half-Italian, half-Jewish, who suffers from anger management issues and insomnia, wakes up one morning with a bad taste in his mouth. This is never a good sign. Working out of a friend’s downtown real estate office, Fortunato, who spent a mysteriously short, forgettable stint as a cop in a small upstate New York town, lives from paycheck to paycheck. So, when a beautiful woman wants to hire him to find her husband, he doesn’t hesitate to say yes. Within a day, Fortunato finds the husband in the apartment of his client’s young, stud lover. He’s been shot once in the head. Case closed. But when his client’s check bounces, and a couple of Albanian gangsters show up outside his building and kidnap him, hoping he’ll lead them to a large sum of money supposedly stolen by the dead man, he begins to realize there’s a good chance he’s been set up to take the fall for the murder and the theft of the money.

In an attempt to get himself out of a jam, Fortunato winds up on a wild ride that takes him down to Texas where he searches for his client’s lover who he suspects has the money and holds the key to solving the murder.

Praise for Canary In the Coal Mine:

“Salzberg has hit it out of the park. Love the writing style, and the story really draws you in. As with Salzberg’s prior works, he has a knack for making his heroes real, which makes their jeopardy real, too. So, say hello to Pete Fortunato, a modern PI who thinks on his feet and has moves that read like the noir version of Midnight Run.”
—Tom Straw, author of the Richard Castle series (from the ABC show) and Buzz Killer

“Salzberg writes hardboiled prose from a gritty stream of conscious. Peter Fortunato is an old school PI to be reckoned with.”
—Sam Wiebe, award-winning author of Invisible Dead and Never Going Back

“Charles Salzberg’s Canary in the Coal Mine is everything a reader wants in a great crime novel, and then some. The rat-a-tat cadence of the noir masters, seamlessly blended with the contemporary sensibilities of an author thoroughly in control of his craft. I liked this book so much I read it twice. No kidding. It’s that good.”
—Baron R. Birtcher, multi-award winning and Los Angeles Times bestselling author

“Charles Salzberg has created a fantastic literary PI: Pete Fortunato. Rash, blunt and prone to violence, you can’t help but turn the page to see what Fortunato will do next. Canary in the Coal Mine is great!” —James O. Born, New York Times bestselling author

Book Details:

Genre: Crime/Noir

Published by: Down & Out Books

Publication Date: April 18, 2022

Number of Pages: 276

ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-1-64396-251-1

Purchase Links: Amazon | Down & Out Books

~~~

Tour Participants:

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

~~~

Join In for a Chance to WIN!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Charles Salzberg. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

~~~

#BookTour “Canary In the Coal Mine” by Charles Salzberg

Canary In the Coal Mine by Charles Salzberg BannerApril 18 – May 13, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Canary In the Coal Mine by Charles Salzberg

PI Pete Fortunato, half-Italian, half-Jewish, who suffers from anger management issues and insomnia, wakes up one morning with a bad taste in his mouth. This is never a good sign. Working out of a friend’s downtown real estate office, Fortunato, who spent a mysteriously short, forgettable stint as a cop in a small upstate New York town, lives from paycheck to paycheck. So, when a beautiful woman wants to hire him to find her husband, he doesn’t hesitate to say yes. Within a day, Fortunato finds the husband in the apartment of his client’s young, stud lover. He’s been shot once in the head. Case closed. But when his client’s check bounces, and a couple of Albanian gangsters show up outside his building and kidnap him, hoping he’ll lead them to a large sum of money supposedly stolen by the dead man, he begins to realize there’s a good chance he’s been set up to take the fall for the murder and the theft of the money.

In an attempt to get himself out of a jam, Fortunato winds up on a wild ride that takes him down to Texas where he searches for his client’s lover who he suspects has the money and holds the key to solving the murder.

Praise for Canary In the Coal Mine:

“Salzberg has hit it out of the park. Love the writing style, and the story really draws you in. As with Salzberg’s prior works, he has a knack for making his heroes real, which makes their jeopardy real, too. So, say hello to Pete Fortunato, a modern PI who thinks on his feet and has moves that read like the noir version of Midnight Run.”
—Tom Straw, author of the Richard Castle series (from the ABC show) and Buzz Killer

“Salzberg writes hardboiled prose from a gritty stream of conscious. Peter Fortunato is an old school PI to be reckoned with.”
—Sam Wiebe, award-winning author of Invisible Dead and Never Going Back

“Charles Salzberg’s Canary in the Coal Mine is everything a reader wants in a great crime novel, and then some. The rat-a-tat cadence of the noir masters, seamlessly blended with the contemporary sensibilities of an author thoroughly in control of his craft. I liked this book so much I read it twice. No kidding. It’s that good.”
—Baron R. Birtcher, multi-award winning and Los Angeles Times bestselling author

“Charles Salzberg has created a fantastic literary PI: Pete Fortunato. Rash, blunt and prone to violence, you can’t help but turn the page to see what Fortunato will do next. Canary in the Coal Mine is great!” —James O. Born, New York Times bestselling author

Book Details:

Genre: Crime/Noir

Published by: Down & Out Books

Publication Date: April 18, 2022

Number of Pages: 276

ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-1-64396-251-1

Purchase Links: Amazon | Down & Out Books

~~~

Read an excerpt:

Part One

New York City

“Doubt, of whatever kind, can be ended by action alone.”
—Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present

1

This Could Be the Start of Something Big

I wake up with a bad taste in my mouth.

It’s not the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. I like to think of it as my personal canary in the coal mine. That taste usually means trouble on the horizon. Sometimes it’s someone else’s trouble. Sometimes it’s mine. Sometimes it’s both. Those are the times I have to watch out for.

Once I rouse myself from bed—it’s never easy when I’ve had a rough night—I launch into my usual routine. Shower, shave, brush my teeth, my pride and joy, especially the two phony teeth implanted on the upper left side replacing those knocked out in a particularly vicious fight I didn’t start, at least that’s the way I see it. The way I usually see it. It was a pickup softball game. A guy came into second hard and late and spiked my shortstop in the leg. It was bad. So bad, it took eleven stitches to close the wound. Someone had to do something and as usual I was the first one out there and the one who threw the first punch. That’s the drill for most of my fights. I never start them, well, hardly ever because being provoked doesn’t count. But when I do throw a punch I always have good reason. The fights usually end with me bloodied but unbowed. You might say I have a temper but I prefer to think of it as a short fuse and an obsession with justice. No one gets away with anything on my watch. I win a few. I lose a few. There’s always a price to pay and I always make my point. But let’s face it there are no real winners when it comes to violence. Everyone, even the winner, loses something. That’s just the way it goes.

These phony teeth of mine match the others perfectly. A dentist who owed me a favor—I provided him with all the information he needed to divorce his cheating wife and avoid being taken to the cleaners—planted them and swore no one could tell the difference. So far, he’s been right. I like to think those are the only phony things about me. Everything else, for better or worse, is me, all me. I don’t apologize for it. Take me or leave me. I don’t care.

Lately, I’ve had to curb the physical stuff. Now that I’m well into my forties, things are starting to fall apart. They say it’s the legs that go first, but in my case, it’s my shoulder. I displaced it throwing a punch at someone who deserved it, someone who’d had a little too much to drink and insulted a woman I was with. The embarrassing thing is I missed. Turns out that’s what did the damage. Missing my target. I had my arm in a sling for almost a month. It’s pretty much healed now though I sometimes feel it in damp weather. The doc warned me it could go out again any time. “Try to stay out of fights, Pete,” he said, then added, “though knowing you that’s not very likely.”

He was right. I’m combative. It’s my nature. I’ve never run away from a fight and I probably never will. If you don’t stand up for yourself, who will? I just have to be a little more careful now, which means choosing my battles more wisely.

I stop at the local diner for my usual breakfast: two cups of black coffee—neither of which take that bad taste out of my mouth—then head downtown to my office in Greenwich Village. Well, let’s be honest here. It’s not really my office. It’s the office of a friend who runs a small real estate firm here in the city. He has an extra desk he rents me for only a couple hundred bucks a month, which includes phone service and a receptionist, if you call the person who takes up space at a desk up front a receptionist. I mean, shouldn’t a receptionist be able to take a proper message? Shouldn’t they be able to direct someone to your desk, even if it’s in back, half hidden behind a pillar? But there’s a hitch—there always is. When business picks up and they have to hire another broker, it’s arrivederci, Pete. Fortunately, in the two years I’ve been here that’s only happened once, and then just for a couple months.

New York City real estate is like having a license to print money, but the competition for listings is fierce and how anyone but the crème de la crème makes a living is beyond me. But I can’t say being without an office puts much of a dent in my business, since it’s always been pretty much touch and go. Thank goodness for that bank overdraft protection thing which has kept the wolves from my door more times than I’d like to admit.

I’m a PI. I have a license that says so. I take it out and look at it every so often, just to remind myself I actually have a profession. Profession. I say the word aloud. It’s a strange word. It makes me think of the “world’s oldest.” I’ve done pretty much everything in my life except for that, though some might not make much of a distinction between what I do and what they do. They do it on their back. I do it on my feet. That’s pretty much what sets us apart. It’s like that Sinatra song. You know the one. Puppet, pauper, pirate, poet, pawn and king. Only with me substitute menial jobs like shoe salesman, night watchman, doorman—one summer the year after I graduated college—hot dog vendor, dog walker, even a short stint as a waiter. I was the world’s worst. Half my salary went for broken glassware and plates. Once, I actually had to pay for a guy’s meal out of my own pocket to keep him from ratting me out to the owner and getting me fired. Turned out it wasn’t a very good investment. The next day I got canned anyway. I also spent a short time as a cop. More on that later.

This job as a PI stuck by process of elimination. The only real talent I have for anything was as a ballplayer, and after I washed out of the game because of injuries that pretty much made it impossible to throw or swing a bat, then trashed my way through that bunch of other jobs, I realized I was suited to do little else. My new profession meets a laundry list of criteria.

  • I do not have to wear a suit and tie.
  • I do not have anyone telling me what to do, where to be, and when to be there.
  • It gives me an opportunity to use my brain, brawn (not that I’m brawny, but even now I’m still pretty solid, topping out at 170 pounds on my five-foot-ten-inch frame, but I’ve always been a physical guy willing to use what muscle I had), and ingenuity. But not too much of any of the three.
  • It doesn’t take too much concentration since like half the population of the world, I’ve got ADHD issues. In other words, I lose interest very quickly.
  • I make my own hours.
  • I mind someone else’s business while I can ignore my own.
  • The job fits my cynical, paranoid personality which makes me suspicious of everyone and supports a strong belief in Clare Boothe Luce’s claim that no good deed goes unpunished. I believe there is evil lurking in everyone’s soul, especially mine, though I do my best to fight against those darker urges. Other traits I own up to include being lazy, combative, argumentative, and stubborn. I love getting up in everyone else’s business, which gives me the perfect excuse to avoid mine.

I didn’t grow up watching cops and robber shows. My drug of choice was sports, especially baseball. I loved the game not only because I was good at it but because although it appears that for long stretches of time nothing is happening there’s always something going on. Even if it isn’t discernible to the eye. Baseball is not just a game of physical skill. It’s a game of thought, analysis, contemplation, and anticipation. Unlike other team sports, there is no time limit. It takes as long as it takes, and in this sense, it mimics life. No one knows when it’s going to end. Theoretically, a game can go on forever, ending only when one team has scored more runs than the other. It is a game of nuance. It is a game that can be won with power, or speed, or defense, or a combination of these attributes. It can be won on the mound, at the plate, or in the field. It can be won by a score of one nothing or twelve to eleven. It can end as a result of a timely hit or an untimely error. It is a game of ebb and flow. It is unpredictable. Just like life.

I’ll take a thinking player over a naturally talented one any day of the week. Baseball is a game like chess. The best ballplayers are always several steps ahead of the game. They’re thinking about what they’ll do long before they actually do it. “If it’s hit to me I’ll fake the runner back to second then go to first.” That sort of thing does not show up on the TV screen nor does it appear in the box score. But that’s what wins and loses games.

Baseball imitates life: Long stretches of nothingness, then short bursts of action, which comes as a logical conclusion of those stretches of nothingness. This is much how our lives unfold. At least it’s the way mine does.

I thought I’d make it as a major league ballplayer, but I never got the chance to prove it. I was a pretty good high school pitcher and when I wasn’t pitching, I played shortstop with middling range, a good arm, and a better than average bat, although I lacked power. I told myself I’d grow into it, though I never did. I threw the ball in the mid-eighties, not very fast by today’s standards, when young players can now flirt with a hundred on the gun. But I had a decent curve and was working on what I hoped would be a better than average changeup. I figured by the time I got to the minors I’d ramp it up, adding a few miles per hour to the fastball. I was good enough to earn a partial scholarship to a small upstate New York college.

But before I got halfway through my first college season, I developed arm trouble. In those days, more than a quarter century ago, Tommy John surgery wasn’t what it is today and it certainly wasn’t for college kids without a buck to their name. Even if I wanted it, who was going to pay for it? My father was lucky to make the rent each month and if it hadn’t been for that athletic scholarship, I would have wound up working some soul-sucking civil service job.

Once I accepted the fact I’d never pitch again, I had to shift gears, away from the idea of becoming a professional athlete. They let me keep the scholarship so long as I maintained my grade point average. I was certainly no A student, but when I put my mind to it, I can do almost anything, no matter how unlikely. I sure as hell wasn’t the best student in the world, but I wasn’t the worst either, and somehow, I made it through to graduation. The first to do so in the Fortunato line. My mother’s family was a bunch of brainiacs. She went to college and might have gone further if she hadn’t met my father. That was the first thing he screwed up in her life. It wouldn’t be the last.

I’d like to say I’m choosey about the kinds of cases I take, but that would be a lie. It’s not that I don’t lie, by the way, it’s just that I don’t lie frivolously, which makes it difficult to know whether what comes out of my mouth is the truth or a lie. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, in my business it probably qualifies as a plus.

It’s that time in New York when the city isn’t quite sure what season it wants to be. A few days before Halloween, people are already gearing up for Thanksgiving, then Christmas. Always one, sometimes two holidays ahead of itself. One day in late August, I was shocked to see plastic pumpkins lined up on display in a CVS pharmacy. As if life isn’t disorienting enough.

The weather doesn’t help. Today, when I look out my window, the sky is cloudless and that shade of deep blue so beautiful it makes you want to cry. But it’s deceiving because when I get outside the temperature is hovering in the low forties. But like the city itself, the weather can break your heart by promising something it just can’t seem to deliver. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be pushing seventy, at least that’s what the weather people are forecasting. And as if that isn’t disorienting enough, the next day it’s supposed to drop back to the fifties with overcast skies and intermittent showers. It’s that schizo time of year when you never quite know what to wear. As a result, I always seem to be dressed one or two days ahead or behind the weather.

I usually roll into my office around ten, which I think is a pretty decent time considering the erratic hours I keep. Sometimes it’s because I’m on a job, sometimes it’s because I suffer from debilitating bouts of insomnia. When that strikes either I lie in bed thinking about all the things I could have done different in my life, and there are plenty, or I get up, get dressed, and roam the streets. In this city, there’s always plenty to keep things interesting. So yeah, New York really is the city that never sleeps. At least that’s true for some of its citizens. No matter how late or early it is I’m never the only one walking the streets. But I’m probably the only one who has no idea where he’s going.

Obviously, not everyone is in agreement about arriving at a decent hour thing, because half a dozen other desks in the office are already filled with folks either working the phones or staring blankly into their computer. I park myself at my desk way in the back, near the bathroom, and as soon as I do, Philly, my friend and boss man of the real estate firm, appears in front of me.

“I wasn’t sure you were coming in today, Petey,” he cracks. He flashes a goofy grin after the words tumble out of his mouth like a waterfall. He’s a born and bred New Yorker so he talks as if he’s in a race to finish a sentence so he can move on to the next one. Sometimes, he speaks so quick the words stick to each other and he is this close to being unintelligible. Unlike others who have to ask him to slow the fuck down, I, being a born and bred New Yorker, too, can understand him without much effort.

When he speaks, he bares his teeth, which are a dull yellow and seem to be in a life-or-death struggle for room in his mouth. But his nose, well, that’s another story. Unlike mine, which has been broken too many times to count, his is straight and in perfect harmony with the rest of his face. You might suspect he’s had work done on it, but no, Philly was born this way. He is, no doubt about it, a handsome man—except for those teeth, which I keep advising him he ought to get fixed—and he knows it. He’s been married three times, each one of them a stunner, and if he ever gets divorced from his present wife, Marnie, I have no doubt there’ll be a fourth waiting in the wings. He can afford it, though.

“What are you talking about?” I say, tapping my watch for emphasis. “This is fucking early for me.”

“I’ve been here since eight, my friend. That’s early.”

“You’re not going to tell me about the damn bird, are you?”

“What bird?”

“The one who gets the worm.”

“I don’t need any bird to tell me when to get to work, Petey.”

“What can I say, Philly, other than you’re a better man than me.”

“Damn straight. You’d give everything in your bank account to change places with me, Petey, and you know it.”

“That wouldn’t be much, Philly, and you know it.”

He shrugs. “Maybe that’ll change. There was a broad in here earlier looking for you.”

“Yeah?”

“That’s right.”

“She actually asked for me?”

“Yeah. By name, not the usual ‘where’s that scumbag owes me money?’”

“What’d she look like?”

“That’s the first thing you ask?”

“I yam who I yam.”

He smiles. There are those teeth again. I want to give him the name of my dentist but I know it won’t do any good, so why bother?

“You and Popeye. She looks like you’d want to get to know her and spend a lot of time with her. If I weren’t so blissfully married, she’d be at the top of my list for number four.”

I resist asking, how long’s that gonna be for? and say instead, “That good, huh?”

“Yeah. That good.”

“I hope you didn’t try to sell her an apartment.”

“She didn’t look like she needed one.”

“Did she tell you why she wanted to see me?”

“Nope. But she did give me this.” He pulls a business card out of his pocket and tosses it on my desk. “Said you should call her. If I were you, I’d do it ASAP. She reeked of money and folks with money don’t like to be made to wait.”

I look at the card then bring it up close to my nose. It smells like lemons. The name on it is Lila Alston. I like the sound of that. And the smell of lemons. Her name reminds me of those in one of those pulp crime novels. Like Velma. Or Bubbles.

As soon as Philly dismisses himself, I dial the number. A woman’s voice answers. I take a shot.

“I believe you were looking for me, Ms. Alston.”

“If you’re Peter Fortunato that would be correct. But it’s Mrs. Not Ms. At least for the moment.”

“Then I’ll take a wild guess and say this has something to do with your husband.”

She laughs. It’s short and it’s raspy and it’s sexy. Very sexy. “That’s correct. And it appears I may have found the right man…for a change.”

“Would you like to meet in person or continue this over the phone, Lila?”

“I liked it better when you were more formal, Mr. Fortunato. At least until we get to know each other a little better.”

I can’t wait. I’m already getting the beginnings of a hard-on.

“Got it. So, phone or meet up, Mrs. Alston?” I’m hoping she’ll agree to the latter. I have to see for myself what this chick looks like because Philly is only prone to exaggeration when it comes to real estate.

“I suppose a face-to-face meeting would be more advantageous. This is a rather…odd situation and it might take some explaining.”

“I specialize in odd situations, Mrs. Alston.”

“I suspected as much.”

“By the way, how did you come to get in touch with me?”

“I went down a list of private investigators until I found a name I liked. It happened to be yours. Fortunato. It has a rather nice ring to it.”

“Yeah, just like the sound of a cash register. So, you know nothing else about me?”

“I didn’t say that, Mr. Fortunato. I didn’t say that at all.”

***

Excerpt from Canary In the Coal Mine by Charles Salzberg. Copyright 2022 by Charles Salzberg. Reproduced with permission from Charles Salzberg. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

Charles Salzberg

Charles Salzberg is a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer. His novels Swann’s Last Song (the first of the five Henry Swann novels) and Second Story Man were nominated for Shamus Awards and the latter was the winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award. Devil in the Hole was named one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense Magazine. His work has also appeared in several anthologies as well as Mystery Tribune. He is a former professor of magazine at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University, and he teaches writing in New York City. He is one of the Founding Members of New York Writers Workshop, and is a member of the Board of PrisonWrites and formerly a board member for MWA-NY.

Catch Up With Charles:
www.CharlesSalzberg.com
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Instagram – @CharlesSalzberg
Twitter – @CharlesSalzberg

~~~

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#BookTour “Murder, Sweet Murder” by Eleanor Kuhns

Murder, Sweet Murder by Eleanor Kuhns BannerApril 11 – May 6, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

book cover

Synopsis:

 

Will Rees accompanies his wife to Boston to help clear her estranged father’s name in this gripping mystery set in the early nineteenth century.

January, 1801. When Lydia’s estranged father is accused of murder, Will Rees escorts her to Boston to uncover the truth. Marcus Farrell is believed to have murdered one of his workers, a boy from Jamaica where he owns a plantation. Marcus swears he’s innocent. However, a scandal has been aroused by his refusal to answer questions and accusations he bribed officials.

As Will and Lydia investigate, Marcus’s brother, Julian, is shot and killed. This time, all fingers point towards James Farrell, Lydia’s brother. Is someone targeting the family? Were the family quarreling over the family businesses and someone lashed out? What’s Marcus hiding and why won’t he accept help?

With the Farrell family falling apart and their reputation in tatters, Will and Lydia must solve the murders soon. But will they succeed before the murderer strikes again?

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery

Published by: Severn House Publishers

Publication Date: February 1st 2022

Number of Pages: 224

ISBN: 0727850091 (ISBN13: 9780727850096)

Series: Will Rees Mysteries #11

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

After regarding Rees for several seconds, Mr Farrell extended his hand. Rees grasped it, painfully conscious of his rough hand, calloused by both farm work and weaving. ‘Please attend me in my office,’ Mr Farrell said. ‘We are expecting a few guests for dinner tonight so we will have little time to talk then.’ Turning, he strode away. Rees started to follow but, realizing that Lydia was not by his side, he turned back. She stood hesitantly by the table, her hands tightly clenched together. Rees glared at Mr Farrell’s back and then, reaching out, he pulled one of her hands through his elbow. Together they followed her father into his office.

As Farrell moved a stack of papers from the center of the desk to one side, Rees looked around. A large globe on a stand stood to the right of Farrell’s desk and one chair had been drawn up to the front. A seating area, with additional chairs, were arranged by the window that looked out upon the front garden. A table in the center held an intricately carved tray with a crystal decanter and several glasses. Shelves of books lined the wall behind and adjacent to the desk, on Rees’s right.

The room was chilly although the fire was burning. Newly laid, it had been lighted, no doubt by some anonymous servant.

Farrell looked up and his eyes rested on Lydia in surprise. Rees felt his wife shrink back, intimidated. He was not going to stand for that. He pulled a chair from the window grouping and placed it in front of the desk. She hesitated for a few seconds and then, lifting her chin defiantly, she sat down. Once she was seated, Rees lowered himself into the opposite chair. After one final dismissive glance at his daughter, Farrell looked at Rees.

‘So, you are a weaver.’

‘That is so,’ Rees said, adding politely, ‘I understand you are a merchant.’

Farrell smiled. ‘I see your wife has told you very little about me or my profession.’ Since responding in the affirmative seemed somehow disloyal to Lydia, Rees said nothing.

Farrell took a box from his desk drawer and opened it to extract a cigar. ‘Would you like a smoke?’

‘No thank you,’ Rees said.

‘Or a glass of rum? Or whiskey if that is your tipple.’ When Rees declined again, Farrell put away the cigars and walked to the fireplace to light a splint. The end of the cigar glowed red and the acrid scent of burning tobacco filled the room. Puffing, Farrell returned to his seat. ‘I suppose one could say I was a merchant. But I do so much more. I own a plantation as well as a fleet of ships that sail between Boston, the West Indies and Africa. In Jamaica they take on sugar and molasses which are returned to Boston. Some of it is transformed into rum in my distillery. I export the liquor overseas, both to England and to Africa where the proceeds are used to purchase slaves.’

Sick to his stomach, Rees glanced at Lydia. She was staring at her hands, her face flaming with shame. Although she had alluded to her father’s profession, she had not told him the half of it. She had not told him of her father’s pride in it. Rees understood why she hadn’t.

‘Most of the slaves are brought to the sugar plantation,’ Farrell continued, seemingly oblivious to his daughter’s distress, ‘but some are sold in the Southern states. And you needn’t look so shocked. Why that upstart Republican with his radical ideas, Mr Jefferson, owns slaves. And he may be the next President. I suppose you voted for him.’

Rees did not respond immediately. Although many of Mr Jefferson’s ideas were appealing, Rees had found in the end that he could not vote for a slave holder. Instead, he had voted for Mr Adams. But that gentleman had not placed; the election was a tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Sent to the House for resolution, Jefferson had won by one vote.’ No,’ Rees said carefully, keeping his voice level with an effort, ‘I voted for his opponent.’

‘Well, that makes us kin then. Although you will meet a few slaves here in Boston, in this very house.’ He grinned and Rees thought of Morris and Bridget with their tinted skin. ‘But few, very few. Neither the Africans nor the Spanish Indians adapt well to this northern climate and they quickly die.’ This was said with indifference as though he spoke of a broken chair.

Farrell flicked a glance at his daughter and smiled. With a surge of anger, Rees realized that Farrell fully understood the effect his speech would have on her and was enjoying her misery. Rees gathered himself to rise from his chair. Lydia reached out and grasped his sleeve.

‘This is for Cordy,’ she whispered. Rees sat down again, his body stiff.

‘But you did not come to listen to me natter on about my profession,’ Farrell said, watching the byplay with interest. ‘Shall we discuss that ridiculous murder, the one of which I am accused?’

Rees looked into Lydia’s beseeching eyes and after a few seconds he relaxed into his seat. God forgive him, a part of him hoped Marcus Farrell was guilty.

‘Go on,’ Rees said coldly. Marcus smiled.

‘Permit me to save you both time and effort,’ he said. ‘I did not kill that boy.’

‘Then why do people think you did?’ Rees asked. Puffing furiously, and clearly unwilling to reply, Farrell took a turn around the room.

‘Did you know him?’ Lydia asked, her voice low and clear. ‘This Roark?’

Farrell stood up so abruptly his chair almost tipped over. ‘Yes, I knew him.’ He glanced at Rees. ‘We were seen, Roark and I, arguing down at Long Wharf.’

‘Arguing about what?’ Rees asked.

‘It is not important. He was a nobody.’ Farrell glared at Rees, daring him to persist. Rees waited, never removing his gaze from the other man. Sometimes silence made the best hammer. Finally, Farrell said angrily, ‘He wanted a rise in his wages. I said no. He disagreed. That was all there was to it.’

Rees glanced at Lydia and found her staring at him. He knew, and he suspected she did too, that her father had just lied to them.

***

Excerpt from Murder, Sweet Murder by Eleanor Kuhns. Copyright 2021 by Eleanor Kuhns. Reproduced with permission from Eleanor Kuhns. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

Eleanor Kuhns

Eleanor Kuhns is the 2011 winner of the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur first mystery novel. Murder, Sweet Murder is the eleventh mystery following the adventures of Rees and his wife. She transitioned to full time writing last year after a successful career spent in library service. Eleanor lives in upstate New York with her husband and dog.

Catch Up With Eleanor Kuhns:
www.Eleanor-Kuhns.com
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Twitter – @EleanorKuhns
Facebook – @writerkuhns

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#BookReview “Razing Stakes (The De La Cruz Case Files Book 3)” by TG Wolff

book cover

~~~

5/5 Stars!

When called to an accident scene in the middle of the day, Detective Jesus De La Cruz’s gut instincts tell him the jogger’s death was no simple hit and run. Proving it will lead Cruz to jealousy and betrayal in the workplace, the world of the privileged, and a close connection to his girlfriend, Aurora Williams.

Cruz is also tasked with investigating a series of attacks on employees of the city’s water department that will have consequences no one sees coming.

A likable character, Cruz doesn’t have the savvy of Joe Fontana or grumpiness of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He does, however, have an everyman quality that keeps him balanced as he deals with his demons from his undercover days, alcoholism, taking the next step with Aurora, and realizing his widowed mother has a sex life.

Third in the De La Cruz Case Files, Razing Stakes is my first read from the series. With plenty of spins and twists, it’s  an engrossing page-turner right up to the end.

Enjoy!

~~~

April 1-30, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

 

The first day of summer is the last day of a young accountant’s life. Colin McHenry is out for his regular run when an SUV crosses into his path, crushing him. Within hours of the hit-skip, Cleveland Homicide Detective Jesus De La Cruz finds the vehicle in the owner’s garage, who’s on vacation three time zones away. The setup is obvious, but not the hand behind it. The suspects read like a list out of a textbook: the jilted fiancée, the jealous coworker, the overlooked subordinate, the dirty client.

His plate already full, Cruz is assigned to a “special project,” a case needing to be solved quickly and quietly. Cleveland Water technicians are the targets of focused attacks. The crimes range from intimidation to assault. The locations swing between the east, west, and south sides of the city. This is definitely madness, but there is a method behind it.

The two cases are different and yet the same. Motives, opportunities, and alibis don’t point in a single direction. In these mysteries, Cruz has to think laterally, yanking down the curtain to expose the master minding the strings.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Down & Out Books

Publication Date: February 14, 2022

Number of Pages: 294

ISBN: 978-1-64396-245-0

Series: The De La Cruz Case Files, 3rd in series

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Down & Out Books

~~~

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#BookTour “Razing Stakes” by TG Wolff

Razing Stakes by TG Wolff Banner~~~

April 1-30, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Razing Stakes by TG Wolff

The first day of summer is the last day of a young accountant’s life. Colin McHenry is out for his regular run when an SUV crosses into his path, crushing him. Within hours of the hit-skip, Cleveland Homicide Detective Jesus De La Cruz finds the vehicle in the owner’s garage, who’s on vacation three time zones away. The setup is obvious, but not the hand behind it. The suspects read like a list out of a textbook: the jilted fiancée, the jealous coworker, the overlooked subordinate, the dirty client.

His plate already full, Cruz is assigned to a “special project,” a case needing to be solved quickly and quietly. Cleveland Water technicians are the targets of focused attacks. The crimes range from intimidation to assault. The locations swing between the east, west, and south sides of the city. This is definitely madness, but there is a method behind it.

The two cases are different and yet the same. Motives, opportunities, and alibis don’t point in a single direction. In these mysteries, Cruz has to think laterally, yanking down the curtain to expose the master minding the strings.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Down & Out Books

Publication Date: February 14, 2022

Number of Pages: 294

ISBN: 978-1-64396-245-0

Series: The De La Cruz Case Files, 3rd in series

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Down & Out Books

~~~

Read an excerpt:

Ten minutes dead. The sun shined brightly, no clouds on this first day of summer, the last day of John Doe’s life. Cleveland police Detective Jesus De La Cruz squatted next to the broken body. The warmth beneath his hand testified to the newness of death.

Two EMTs had worked to sustain the man’s life. One was at the ambulance now, tending to the tools of his trade. The other stood over the body, shaking his head at the victim. “He was dead before we arrived, Detective. He just didn’t know it.” The EMT peeled off his gloves, finality in a simple act. “Damn it if we didn’t fight for him. In the end, he was just too crushed.”

Cruz rose looking east and west, north and south. The crime scene was on the side of a road halfway between East 9th Street and East 55th Street. North Marginal was a two-way street carved between Lake Erie and a spur off I-90 called the Shoreway. Properties cut off by the Shoreway—the Coast Guard station, Burke Lakefront Airport, a private marina, a condominium complex—were accessed from North Marginal. Even at the busiest times of day, vehicular traffic here was scant. Middle of a workday, a steady stream of runners arced around the first responders.

“Popular place,” Cruz said, meeting the eyes of a curious runner rubbernecking as he slowed to a jog.

“It is,” the EMT said. “Few better places downtown for running. A solid two and a half miles with no cross streets. Whoever hit him came from the east. Blew him up.”

The body spoke for itself. No way it could be where it was being hit from the west. Cruz straddled the curb, which was a generous term for the inch separating the driving surface from the running path. A bicycle wouldn’t call it an obstacle. John Doe either never saw it coming or was unable to get out of the way. The impact had launched him into the airport’s tall security fence. The fence bounced him back, the one-hundred-eighty-pound body a pinball rebounding off bumpers.

John Doe had been moved, necessary and appropriate as he’d been alive when he was found.

“Medical Examiner is en route,” the EMT said. “He’s yours now.”

“I’ll take care of him.” Cruz studied the victim. The man was mostly skin. He had taken off his shirt on the warm day, one of the first to be hot. A shirt lay on the edge of the path, marked by an evidence tag. Two other shirts lay close to the body; one black, one yellow and stained with blood.

The running shorts covered hip to mid-thigh. He wore socks, shoes, and a fitness device on his wrist. Skin was scraped off his arms, legs, chest, and face, the asphalt unforgiving. An AirPod was in his left ear, the right one missing.

Squatting again, Cruz felt the side seams of the shorts, finding zippered pockets. Inside the right one was a slim, card-size piece of plastic, a security badge for a building on East 9th Street. The dead man smiled out of a poor-quality image. Beneath was the name Colin McHenry.

“Detective, we found his phone,” one of the officers securing the scene called out. “It’s in good shape. Thumb print pass coded.”

“Open it before the ME takes him. Who found him?”

“A pair of runners. I parked them under the big tree.” The officer pointed across North Marginal to a small grove on a manmade hill. The two men waited anxiously under the tree, watching the activity. Both were runners. Both were shirtless. Both came to attention as Cruz approached and introduced himself.

“I’m Landon Chartres, this is Denny Bradford. We saw him as soon as we came around the bend. He was half in the street.” The otherwise straight line of North Marginal had a large curve bumping out to make space for an exit from the Shoreway. McHenry’s body would have been screened by the fence and shrubs separating the public from the airport’s private property.

“We knew someone was ahead of us,” Bradford said. “When you turn onto the Marginal, you can you see all the way to the curve.”

Chartres nodded like a bobblehead. “We saw the vehicle that must have hit him. It was the only one that passed us before we got to him. Black SUV. Part of the license plate was LDC. Those are my initials, so it caught my attention. I didn’t catch the make or model.”

Bradford looked behind him, to East 9th Street. He repeatedly shifted his weight from foot to foot. “He was only out of our sight to a few minutes. Would you say he had a five-minute lead, Landon?”

“At most. Probably more like three or four. We called 9-1-1 and pulled him out of the road. Anyone coming around the curve would have hit him. We used our shirts to try to stop the bleeding.”

As a pair of witnesses went, these two were easy, answering questions before he could ask them. They wanted to talk, maybe even needed to talk. “Did anyone pass you from behind, coming from East 9th going east?”

The pair looked at each other, huddled like they were on a pitcher’s mound deciding on a call. It was Chartres who answered. “We don’t think so, Detective, but we couldn’t swear to it. We weren’t paying that much attention. But the one that came toward us, the one with my initials, it was flying.”

“Is he going to make it?” Bradford asked, hope in his voice. “The ambulance got here fast. We kept pressure on his wounds, like they tell you to.”

“I’m sorry, he didn’t.” As if on cue, an engine started. The ambulance pulled away without a passenger.

***

Excerpt from Razing Stakes by TG Wolff. Copyright 2022 by TG Wolff. Reproduced with permission from TG Wolff. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

TG Wolff

TG Wolff writes thrillers and mysteries that play within the gray area between good and bad, right and wrong. Cause and effect drive the stories, drawing from 20+ years’ experience in Civil Engineering, where “cause” is more often a symptom of a bigger, more challenging problem. Diverse characters mirror the complexities of real life and real people, balanced with a healthy dose of entertainment. TG Wolff holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With TG Wolff:
TGWolffCom.wordpress.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @TG_Wolff
Instagram – @tg_wolff
Twitter – @tg_wolff
Facebook

~~~

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#BookTour “Paradise Cove” by Davin Goodwin

Paradise Cove by Davin Goodwin Banner

April 1-30, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

book cover

Synopsis:

 

Every day is paradise on Bonaire—until something unexpected washes ashore

On the laid-back island of Bonaire, every day is paradise until a seaweed-entangled human leg washes ashore. Combing the beach, retired cop Roscoe Conklin examines the scene and quickly determines that the leg belongs to the nephew of a close friend.

The island police launch an investigation, but with little evidence and no suspects, their progress comes to a frustrating halt. Then, thanks to a unique barter with the lead detective, Conklin finds himself in possession of the case file. He can now aggressively probe for his own answers.

Sifting through the scant clues, eager to bring the killer to justice, Conklin struggles to maintain forward momentum. He has all the pieces. He can feel it. But he’d better get them snapped together soon.

Otherwise, the body count will continue to rise.

 

Praise for Paradise Cove:

“An intriguingly gruesome beginning, sexy location, and a supremely satisfying ending. Paradise Cove is a terrific read.” —Marc Cameron, New York Times best-selling author

Paradise Cove is a wonderful thriller with a great story . . . what makes it special are the perfect descriptions of Bonaire and life on the island.” —Nicholas Harvey, author of the AJ Bailey Adventure Series

“Grab a beer and revisit Bonaire with Roscoe Conklin as your guide in Paradise Cove. A rich cast of characters and an intriguing plot guarantee an exciting trip you’ll long remember.” –Shawn Wilson, author of Relentless

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Oceanview Publishing

Publication Date: April 5th 2022

Number of Pages: 304

ISBN: 1608094855 (ISBN13: 9781608094851)

Series: Roscoe Conklin Mystery #2 | The novels in the Roscoe Conklin

Mystery Series stand on their own and can be read in any order.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

Finished with my morning swim, having pushed myself hard the last quarter mile, I sat on the end of the pier with my legs dangling over the edge. No clouds in the typical Caribbean-blue Bonaire sky and a faint hint of salt floated in the air. The wind shoved waves, larger than normal, against the shore.

An iguana lay a few feet away, basking in the sun, overweight from gorging itself on the remnants of the near-by garbage can. It sat motionless, one eye tilted in my direction, the other skewed over the edge of the pier at the water. It was a resident of the area and joined me regularly on the pier after my swims.

I had taken to calling it Charlie.

As I towel-dried my arms and hair, I noticed two teenaged boys using a stick to poke at an object near the water’s edge, a stone’s throw south of the pier. The object had washed ashore and was covered with random strands of dark seaweed.

I watched the boys take a few steps forward, jab the stick at the object, then retreat, as if expecting something to happen. Nothing did, so they repeated the process several times with the same result.

Some younger children ventured forth, staying well behind the brave teenagers. Wide-eyed, high-pitched streams of Papiamento—the native language of Bonaire—filled the air as they half-talked, half-screamed. They gawked at the object, the raced back up the beach to their mothers, sitting on beach blankets.

One mother stood, nodding her head, and, appeasing the child, walked toward the water. She stopped a few feet shy of the shore. Her eyes widened and she shuffled backward to the other women, grabbed her cell phone, and, with a shaky hand, put it to her ear. She pointed at the object and spoke, her Papiamento not as high-pitched as the child’s, but every bit as excited. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand a word they said, my Papiamento being only slightly better than my Klingon.

The base of my neck tingled.

I no longer carried a badge, but nearly three decades as a law enforcement officer, specifically with the Violent Crimes Division of the Rockford, Illinois, police department, had trained my curiosity to remain on high alert. Of the hundreds of traits, quirks, and ticks conditioned into my psyche during those years, the sense of inquisitiveness, along with a constant need to know and understand, were the most deeply engrained.

I shook my head, stood, and walked down the pier to the beach. This was something I probably needed to see.

My sudden movement startled Charlie and he darted to the other side of the pier, both eyes now pointed in my direction. I gave him a shallow wave. “Sorry, Charlie.”

The water surface on the west side—or leeward side—of the island remained consistently flat, almost glasslike, aided by a solid wind from the east. The wind also swept most of the seaweed, litter, and other debris out to sea. Few items floated ashore on the leeward coast of Bonaire.

Except during wind reversals. Over the last few days, the easterly wind had changed direction and blew in from the west, bringing with it all kinds of surface floaties.

I plodded through the sand, closing the distance to the water’s edge. Most likely, an unfortunate tuna or tarpon had met its demise. But based on the actions and behaviors of the children, and the concern of the mother, I quickly changed my mind. A fish washing ashore was too common an occurrence and wouldn’t generate the reactions I’d just witnessed.

Then I remembered the epidemic affecting the green moray eels. For some reason, a strange parasite was attacking the green morays, causing the deaths of many. The occurrence was so rare that a group of marine biologists had recently arrived on the island, and with the help of local researchers, were studying the phenomenon. The situation was declared serious, possibly affecting the entire green moray population of the local reefs. When a dead eel washed ashore, the researchers wanted to be informed so they could harvest the carcass for study.

The teenagers moved back a few steps as I worked past them and stood over the object. It wasn’t a tarpon or tuna. Or a diseased moral eel. I turned back toward the beach and scanned the area, noticing the increased crowd size. I admit, the word crowd is relative on a small island like Bonaire, but, even so, a small horde of lookie-loos had gathered. Some vied for a better view, meandering closer to the water’s edge.

But not too close.

I sighed and shook my head. Few things draw a crowd to the beach faster than a human body part washing ashore.

***

Excerpt from Paradise Cove by Davin Goodwin. Copyright 2022 by Davin Goodwin. Reproduced with permission from Davin Goodwin. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

Davin Goodwin

Davin Goodwin is a graduate of Arkansas State University and works in the technology industry. He’s been a small business owner, a real estate investor, an aerial photographer and flight instructor, a semi-professional banjo player, and a scuba diver, often seen on the island of Bonaire. Paradise Cove is the second novel in his Roscoe Conklin Mystery Series and he intends to continue writing the Roscoe Conklin series set on Bonaire. Goodwin lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife, Leslie.

Catch Up With Davin Goodwin:
DavinGoodwinAuthor.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @dgoodwin7757
Instagram – @davin_goodwin_author
Facebook – @authordavingoodwin

~~~

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