#ReleaseBlitz “A Wrinkle in the Mind” by Bruce M. Perrin

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The Mind Sleuth Series

 

Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Date Published: May 18, 2022

Publisher: Mind Sleuth Publications

 

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When Violet Cruz accused U.S. Representative Alan Barclay of being “the spawn of a Martian whore” and took a shot at him, everyone
agreed that she was delusional. It was just another conspiracy theory in Washington, DC, where such bizarre claims had become all too common.

Tiring of the media harassing the family, however, Cruz’s cousin brought the case to Private Investigator Rebecca Marte. She figured that the public was probably right. Rebecca was, however, willing to give the case another look as Cruz’s sudden, total break from reality without any apparent cause was almost as strange as her beliefs.

With his background in psychology, working with Sam “Doc” Price made sense to Rebecca and she welcomed him as a consultant. But soon, the two, who had worked so well in the past, found themselves at each other’s throats. She dropped him from the investigation, but with his “dog with a bone” determination, Doc went on alone.

Unfortunately, the now-divided team was going after an adversary more cunning and more ruthless than any they’ve faced before. If they’d realized the odds of their survival apart, they would have found a way to put their differences aside before it was too late.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

 

There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who
face reality;

and then there are those who turn one into the other.

Desiderius Erasmus

Dutch philosopher

 Wednesday, April 6

Morning, The National Mall, Washington, DC

“At least you didn’t have to take a bullet for the
guy.”

Renee Portnell heard the words but made no attempt to find their meaning in
the fog of pain that filled her mind. Rather, she watched in numbed
disbelief as a trickle of blood inched closer to a Washington Senators
baseball cap that sat on the sidewalk. She had to be ten yards away sitting
on a park bench and the sun was just beginning to crest the buildings
ringing the National Mall, but with a half-dozen Washington DC Metropolitan
Police Department cars now parked on the grass, all with their headlights
blazing, she could move another ten and the horror of the scene
wouldn’t fade.

“Government, right?”

Portnell slowly turned toward the sound of the voice beside her, an MPD
officer, his name already forgotten. “What?”

“The guy? I heard he was a senator or something. Figured you’d
have to take a bullet for him if it came to that.”

“U.S. Representative Alan Barclay,” said Portnell, every word
drawn out like she was from the deep south rather than Connecticut.
“Although, that’s Secret Service, not private protection
services.”

Portnell shook her head to clear it, each of her senses slowly returning to
the here and now, each becoming preternaturally acute for an instant before
succumbing to the next. She heard the murmur of voices filled with urgency
and authority all around. She registered the acrid smell of car exhaust
mixing with the sickly-sweet of cherry blossoms that had reached their peak
the week before. She tasted gunpowder on her tongue, her saliva no match for
its bitterness. But when her gaze fell on the woman lying on the sidewalk,
the round-robin of sensations ended. She couldn’t pull her eyes away.
And all the while she wondered, how could Barclay’s ball cap have
landed so close to the woman and so far from him?

The police and paramedics had already moved away from the female. Portnell
wasn’t surprised. She’d always been an excellent shot and any of
the four rounds she’d squeezed off could have been fatal. The only
difference between them and the thousand she’d fired before today was
that the previous ones had only penetrated paper. These last four had found
flesh and bone, blood and muscle. As she watched, the woman’s blood
inched ever closer to the cap.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, Portnell knew. In her eight years
with the military police, she had never fired her sidearm in the line of
duty. And when she had retired, her recruitment into the private sector had
emphasized the fact that female body guards were often instrumental in
de-escalating violence. But when the threat is shooting at your client,
gender is not going to stop the onslaught. Only a bullet could.

“Renee, look at me.” The drop in his volume pulled
Portnell’s eyes to the officer’s face. “From what I hear,
you got nothing to worry about. The shooting was righteous. She shot first
and you have the right to protect yourself and others from deadly force.
Only question seems to be, she get off two shots or three?”

Portnell thought it could have been more. Hadn’t she stared in
disbelief for seconds? Hadn’t she fumbled with her firearm when
drawing it from her shoulder holster? The only thing that had gone smoothly
was the Weaver stance-aim-fire sequence, a routine that was burned into her
muscle memory from those thousand practice shots at targets that she
couldn’t harm.

“Not that you need insurance, but she was obviously a wacko,”
said the officer. “I mean, what the hell was it she said?”

Portnell stared at the man’s face, wondering how many times she was
going to have to repeat those words? Of course, it wasn’t like
she’d ever forget them. “When she first approached, she said,
‘You must find it hard to represent the folks back
home.’”

There was nothing particularly memorable in that part of her statement, but
her voice was so melodic, almost childlike. Perhaps that was why, when
Portnell started forward to ask the woman to move on, Barclay had given her
“the signal”—a hand held low at his side, palm facing
backward. Of course, the woman’s physical appearance may have played a
part in his decision as well. Although Barclay had a reputation as a family
man, even he could dream and the woman was the stuff of men’s
dreams—a dark, exotic beauty in a pure white dress.

“Then, she said, ‘I mean, it’s gotta be tough for the
spawn of a Martian whore like you.’”

“Spawn of a Martian whore,” said the MPD officer, chuckling and
shaking his head. “Where the heck do these kooks get this crap? I
mean, you knew the guy better than me. There’s no truth to her words,
right?” The officer laughed again like it was the funniest thing
he’d ever heard. Portnell just stared.

She suspected that it was the incongruity of the hate in the woman’s
words and the lilting tone that had carried them to her ears that had caused
her hesitation. She remembered thinking, could this be real? She knew, of
course, that this might happen one day. But in her mind’s eye, it was
always the silhouette of a crazed man. It was the practice target of the
firing range given life.

But while her response had been hesitant, the woman hadn’t
vacillated. A gun materialized in her hand where moments before there had
been none. The crack of her first shot brought Portnell out of her trance.
She reached for her handgun, but it caught for an instant on her jacket. The
woman fired again. Portnell saw Barclay spin to the ground out of the corner
of her eye, perhaps as a defensive reaction, but probably from the impact of
the round. His cap flew from his head, which now explained where it had
landed on the sidewalk.

Her handgun came free and from that instant on, she no longer needed to
think. Each of her four shots produced a new bloom of red on the
woman’s simple white dress. But unlike Barclay, she stayed upright, as
if she was one of the paper targets hung from the carrier at the firing
range. Finally, the woman crumpled to the ground.

“Two,” said Portnell, the words indistinct in her ears.

“What?”

“She fired twice.”

The officer didn’t say anything, but Portnell could hear him moving.
After a moment, the man crouched down in her line of sight. Her vision
dimmed and she collapsed to her back on the bench. The officer yelled,
“Get a paramedic over here. She’s going into shock.” It
sounded like he was twenty yards away, not standing over her.

Lying down helped, and Portnell’s vision and hearing cleared a bit.
She rolled to her side, watching as the trickle of crimson reached the bill
of the baseball cap. Now, the darkening fabric marked the slow march of the
woman’s blood. She stared at the woman’s face. Once, it had
reflected an energy to match her voice, but now, it looked more like frozen
stone, her naturally dark complexion faded from the loss of blood. Only her
eyes seemed to show signs of the person she had been; they twinkled with an
inner light, although Portnell knew that was impossible.

Another man appeared in her line of sight. “Stay with me,
ma’am.” He turned away. “Get that stretcher over here.
Now!”

It was help, and Portnell thought she should feel relieved. She
didn’t. She knew no one could help her with what she needed
most—getting the image of the beautiful woman in white with the
melodic voice out of her mind forever.

~~~

  About the Author

Bruce Perrin has been writing for more than 25 years, although you will find much of that work in professional technical journals or conference proceedings. But after completing a PhD in Industrial/Organization
Psychology and spending a number of years in the research and development of advanced learning technology with a major aerospace company, he’s now
applying his background to writing. Not surprisingly, most of his work falls in the techno-thriller, mystery, and hard science fiction genres, examining where technology and psychology meet, now and in the future.

In addition to pounding the keyboard, Bruce likes to tinker with home automation and is an avid hiker, logging nearly 2,500 miles a year in the first eight years of Fitbit ownership. When he is not on the trails, he lives with his wife in Aurora, CO. For a closer look at his writing life, book reviews, and progress on his upcoming works, please join him at
brucemperrin.com.

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#BookBlitz “Breaking Waves (Phil Tyler Crime Thriller Series, Book One)” by Barry Litherland

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Phil Tyler Crime Thriller Series, Book One

 Thriller, Crime Thriller

Date Published: February 2022

Publisher: Bleaknorth Publishing

 

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Past events cast shadows you can’t outrun. Wayne and Phil knew that better than anyone, after what happened when they were children, bullied by Wayne’s murderous brother. When Tyrone returns after many years, bent on revenge, they are about to be drawn back into his dangerous world

Breaking Waves is a crime thriller set in a fictional seaside town in the North of England. It is Book 1 in the Phil Tyler Thriller series. The narrator, Phil Tyler, is a journalist on a local free sheet newspaper and he tells the story in the first person present tense. Poor Phil is not an heroic tough-guy type of protagonist; he has an antipathy to violence, blood-shed and pain – especially his own. But he has a strong sense of right and wrong and, even when faced with danger and the threat of death, he cannot help but continue his pursuit of justice. He is very loyal, especially where his friend are concerned. The novel moves between traumatic childhood events, which involved him and his friends, and their consequences in adult life. It is a tense, suspense-filled narrative but there is a lot of humour in the book too, which occurs as he reflects upon the gap between his natural antipathy to conflict and the menacing events he is caught up in.

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About the Author

Barry Litherland lives in the far North of Scotland with his wife and two, lively springer spaniels. He has written several well-received novels for adults – crime, paranormal crime, political crime in the main. He has also written two novels for Middle Grade children (8-12 year olds) – The Jenny Stories. He is currently working on Book 4 of the Phil Tyler series and will
soon publish his first Literary Fiction novel – ‘Dark Skies and Fireflies‘.

 

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#BookTour “I’m a Contract Killer” by Andrew Segal

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The Aberration Series: Book 2

Thriller / Noir

 

Date Published: 03-07-2022

Publisher: Happy London Press

This is the second book in the Aberrations Series, a collection of ten new, short stories to tease and tickle.

How would you feel if you came face to face with a contract killer? I did, and it formed the basis for my title story .

But then, most, if not all of my yarns have a foundation in something I’ve heard, read or personally experienced.

I’ve kept a diary, for example, but have not had as macabre an experience as the old man in my tale, Dear Diary .

One might wonder, for example, whether, given the chance, the leopard might ever change its spots? Read my take on it and find out for yourself. This story was based on an actual event involving my wife, when she was just six years old. Her mother was so appalled by what happened, she refused to ever speak about it, or hear about it for the rest of her life.

I am not, and have never been a Gigolo, but decided to have our hero from Book 1 meet his comeuppance in Book 2 when he meets a Courtesan, who tumbles his well-kept secret. It’s all there for you to appreciate.

In this second Book in the series, I’ve also looked at taxidermy, car crime and conditions under which an innocent journalist might be tortured and imprisoned in Vietnam? All based on personal experience, or else events I’ve read about in the press which struck me as being worthy of a view to be expressed in a short story .

These are just a few tasters of a collection of tales I hope you’ll enjoy reading as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

Andrew Segal

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EXCERPT

The glint of steel defined the blade held in the man’s right hand. The
shank was at least eight inches long. Its owner, in his twenties, over
six feet tall, in tight blue jeans, with muscles bursting from his shabby
white T- shirt, frowned like one intent on a task in hand. His three
colleagues, of similar height and build, seemed equally absorbed. They
were fanned out across the pavement like a herd of approaching
buffalo, in the otherwise deserted street, on what was a cold grey
October afternoon.
The object of their attention was the two men approaching them.
The older of the two, in his early forties, bull-necked, shaven headed,
around five feet eight, his companion, in his late teens, lean built and
slightly taller.
The younger man spoke first, his voice tremulous, “Christ dad. I said
we shouldn’t have come down this street. It’s asking for trouble.”
“It’s a free country son. We don’t need permission to walk any street
we want.”
“But what’re we gonna do? There’s four of ‘em.”
“Stand still son. Now! Let them come to us. We start nothing. Maybe
they’ll walk on. If they start getting clever, well, just remember what
I’ve taught you.”
The four were closer now. “Dad?” The boy sounded frightened, felt
frightened, his heart hammering painfully in his chest.

Excerpt From: Andrew Segal. “I’m a Contract Killer: Murderous,
Explosive, Deviant.”

All Copyrights reserved by the author Andrew Segal 2022

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About the Author

My inspirations have come from real people, events or situations that have presented themselves. Titles like, I am a Contract Killer, I am a Gigolo, Death Zone, License to Kill, are all based on my own lifetime experiences, questions asked, incidents occurring.

Let me be reassuring, thus-far, nobody has been murdered on my watch. But the notion gave rise to the impetus to write my first murder mystery, The Lyme Regis Murders. Could I make the jump after years of writing macabre short stories to a full length drama? That familiar beating in the gut, said, ‘Yes, try it. Give it a go.’

And so to that cosy coastal town where nothing untoward ever happens. Or perhaps it does. The author seeks to shatter notions, change people’s perceptions, spoil long held views. That was my intention in entering into the world of crime thrillers. I’ve found that ‘nice’ people are not always what they seem. The helpless can be transformed into the most dangerous, the most dangerous become the most harmless. It’s all up to the writer and what they’re hoping to achieve.

For me there have been 10 children’s books, 4 books of short stories and so far, three novels, with a fourth in the mixer.

Whilst a short story might be written with a flurry of adrenalin in the space of a few hours, a book will need more than just a flash of creativity. It will need perseverance, discipline and dogged determination.

But then, isn’t that what is required of every ambition?

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#BookReview “Mouse Trap (A Clay Wolfe / Port Essex Mystery Book 3)” by Matt Cost

April 4-29, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

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5/5 Stars!

I loved every page of this fasting-moving, hard-hitting mystery thriller!

Private Investigator Clay Wolfe accepts a job believing he’s looking for the person who tried to steal a mouse from a research lab.

His partner, Baylee Baker is hired by a wealthy pop singer as a bodyguard, and to do a background check on the same research lab she’s considering working with.

What neither expected was for their cases to become one and lead them to dead bodies, sadistic killers, dark money, Russians, genetic engineering, and Nazis.

A side plot with a wealthy woman wanting a child and choosing Clay to be the father is also connected to the case in ways no one saw coming.

Clay, Baylee, and their small team of friends are all more than meets the eye, and even background checks on them don’t reveal their true tenacity, skill, and commitment to the job… and each other.

I haven’t read the first two books in the Clay Wolfe series but don’t feel Mouse Trap was missing anything in character development and backstories.

An original plot with interesting characters and amazing writing make Mouse Trap a must-read! (And I will read books one and two!)

Enjoy!

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Synopsis:

 

When Clay Wolfe is hired to find out who tried to steal a mouse, he thought it was akin to a fireman getting a cat out of a tree. It wasn’t.

“Sometimes bad genes need to be stamped out and good ones need to be fostered,” Bridget Engel said. “There’s really no difference between mice and human beings when it comes to genes.” She wore a gray suit, and her blonde hair was cut short in the style that Hillary Clinton had made popular.

When Clay Wolfe rekindles an old romance, the summer is looking bright. It wasn’t.

He woke in the middle of the night, gathered his things, and slipped away. After Clay left, Victoria rose from the bed and went into the bathroom, carefully removed the condom from the Kleenex it was wrapped in and put it in a plastic baggie.

Who is the mysterious man who clubs Westy with a hammer and threatens the lives of everybody Clay Wolfe holds dear?

Now, Clive Miller was a fixer. He took care of problems that arose. Once given a task, his hands weren’t tied, and he was well-paid for his troubles. There were two simple rules. Eliminate the problem. Don’t draw attention.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Published by: Encircle Publications, LLC

Publication Date: April 13, 2022

Number of Pages: 312

ISBN: 1645993299 (ISBN13: 9781645993292)

Series: A Clay Wolfe / Port Essex Mystery Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Tour Participants:

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

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

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#BookTour “Mouse Trap (A Clay Wolfe / Port Essex Mystery Book 3)” by Matt Cost

Mouse Trap by Matt L Cost BannerApril 4-29, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

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book cover~~~

Synopsis:

 

When Clay Wolfe is hired to find out who tried to steal a mouse, he thought it was akin to a fireman getting a cat out of a tree. It wasn’t.

“Sometimes bad genes need to be stamped out and good ones need to be fostered,” Bridget Engel said. “There’s really no difference between mice and human beings when it comes to genes.” She wore a gray suit, and her blonde hair was cut short in the style that Hillary Clinton had made popular.

When Clay Wolfe rekindles an old romance, the summer is looking bright. It wasn’t.

He woke in the middle of the night, gathered his things, and slipped away. After Clay left, Victoria rose from the bed and went into the bathroom, carefully removed the condom from the Kleenex it was wrapped in and put it in a plastic baggie.

Who is the mysterious man who clubs Westy with a hammer and threatens the lives of everybody Clay Wolfe holds dear?

Now, Clive Miller was a fixer. He took care of problems that arose. Once given a task, his hands weren’t tied, and he was well-paid for his troubles. There were two simple rules. Eliminate the problem. Don’t draw attention.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Published by: Encircle Publications, LLC

Publication Date: April 13, 2022

Number of Pages: 312

ISBN: 1645993299 (ISBN13: 9781645993292)

Series: A Clay Wolfe / Port Essex Mystery Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1:

Monday, July 6th

 

“Sometimes bad genes need to be stamped out and good ones need to be fostered,” Bridget Engel said. “There’s really no difference between mice and human beings when it comes to genes.” She wore a gray suit, and her blond hair was cut short in the style that Hillary Clinton had made popular.

Victoria Haas was careful to not let her fork drop to the plate and her mouth fall open in astonishment, not the expected response of ladies of power in business and society. Women who gaped did not drink the 2015 Chablis 1er Cru Fôrets for lunch in the swank private dining room of the exclusive Port Essex Harborside Hotel in the company of the CEO of Johnson Labs, one of the premier biomedical research companies in the U.S. and Maine’s third largest employer.

Victoria had been coming here since she could remember, while Engel had only moved to Port Essex some ten years earlier. Yet, she’d never known about this ornate oasis just off the main dining room. It appeared that this private room was reserved exclusively by Johnson for business functions and engagements.

What did Engel mean by stamped out, Victoria wondered? She’d brought up the subject in passing, asking how one could ensure that your baby was genetically gifted only to be somewhat taken aback by the abruptness of the answer. She bought some time taking a bit of the Cobb salad. Even though her ship had passed Engel’s at many political and official functions in the past years, this was the first time they’d met for a social engagement.

“How does one go about stamping out bad genes?” Victoria asked, taking a small sip of the chardonnay. She was also blonde, but was much more fashionably dressed, with a shirtwaist dress, dirndl skirt, Chanel slingbacks, and a string of pearls around her neck.

Engel was looking through the wall-size window into the main dining room, a window Victoria knew was mirrored on the other side. There were four tables in the room she was surveying, but only one occupied, by three men and a woman. This was the room that Victoria knew well, one that she’d eaten in countless times. It was one of the men at the table who’d caused Victoria to bring up the subject of babies. She’d known him since she was a little girl, even having had a fling with him after her senior year in high school, but she’d barely seen him since as their lives has led them in two different directions.

“It used to be easier,” Engel said, her attention drawn to the other room. “There was a time when the disabled, the poor, the inferior, and the promiscuous could be sterilized. Instead of having them grow up to be criminals filling our jails, or to let them starve out of their own imbecility, the United States used to prevent those who were manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”

“Do you know those people?” Victoria nodded her head at the window.

“The two men with their backs to us work for my company,” Engel said.

Victoria nodded, taking another sip of the Chardonnay. She knew that Engel’s company, based nearby in East Essex, did genetic experiments on mice in an effort to eradicate disease, but she wasn’t quite sure where sterilization came in. The waiter approached and poured another scant inch of wine into their glasses.

“It seems that sterilization has long been out of favor,” Victoria said. “Perhaps there are other ways to…ensure that deficient genes are not passed on to one’s offspring?”

Engel turned from the view of the other room and focused on Victoria. “We’ve made great advances in the past few years. Soon, much disease will be a thing of the past.”

“That doesn’t take care of the slovenly or the stupid, though, now does it.”

“No, no it doesn’t.”

“You said something about fostering good genes?”

“Why are you asking?”

Victoria looked at the man facing her in the other room. He was the answer to something she’d been contemplating for some time now. She wasn’t getting any younger, and, for the past year, she had felt this emotional void, an emptiness only filled when she imagined bringing an extension of herself into this world, something larger than her work, her money, or anything she’d ever known.

“I’ve wondered about what it might be like to have a baby,” Victoria said.

“Tiresome,” Engel said, and the two women laughed.

“But truly,” Victoria said. “I have thoughts of becoming a mother.”

“I know the Haas family has impeccable genes and have had so for generations,” Engel said. “What of the father?”

“I haven’t chosen a father as of yet.”

“Does that mean you’re holding tryouts?” The two women looked at each before breaking into giggles.

“In a way, yes,” Victoria said. “I certainly don’t want my child to be average.”

“Or your husband.”

“I don’t believe I said that I was looking for a spouse.” Victoria’s tone changed from jest to business in a split second. “Just a baby.”

“Men can be a nuisance. How do you propose picking a father?”

“I have somebody in mind. I have had his background looked into—in all the usual ways. But if I wanted to do a DNA check on him, how would I go about it?”

The waiter opened the door, and Engel waved him away impatiently. “You could simply ask them to submit to a test. A swab from the inside of the cheek or a blood sample would do fine.”

“That might be a bit delicate.”

“He doesn’t know that he’s applying to be the father?” Engel asked.

Victoria blushed. “Not exactly. How about a hair?”

Engel shook her head. “You’d have to be sure to pull out the follicle and part of the scalp to be certain, and that would be noticeable.”

“How, then?”

“Are you…sexually active with him?”

“Not for nineteen years.”

Engel laughed. “I’m sure the poor dummkopf doesn’t stand a chance against a woman such as you. Tell you what? Why don’t you seduce the poor fool and bring me a sample of his semen? I can have people at the lab analyze it and let you know whether he’s worthy of being the father of your child or not.”

***

“We must first establish the need for utmost confidentiality as concerns any and all of our business dealings and any such information, trade secrets, intellectual property or any related knowledge you may be…exposed to as you go about your work for us.”

The legalese hung heavy in the air over the table in the fancy function room of the Harborside Hotel where they were eating. The clean-cut fellow with the five-thousand-dollar suit had uttered the words more as a threat than a statement, the other man, his duds no less expensive, nodding in rhythm almost as if listening to music. He must be the lawyer, Clay Wolfe thought, wishing they would get to the point, not that he was invited into Port Essex’s inner sanctum for a fine lunch every day, but still….

“Of course,” he replied. “That is a standard clause of my contract.”

“I have a, um, slightly more binding non-disclosure agreement that I’d like you to sign.”

The man had said that his name was Rex Bolton and that he was chief operating officer of Johnson Laboratories. On second glance, he was not as well manicured as Clay had originally thought. His sandy blond hair was tight on the sides but tousled on top, and lines creased his face suggesting worry rather than age.

“I don’t see why that would be a problem,” Clay said, nodding. He hadn’t recognized most of the dishes on the menu and had ordered a Cobb salad. The waiter came and went so quietly and with such self-effacing efficiency that he was almost invisible. Unlike the quite impressive Frederick Remington statue in the corner next to a large mirror that made the room seem bigger than it was.

There were two tables separating Clay and his business partner, Baylee Baker, from the two men from Johnson Laboratories. This was to provide the minimum six feet of social distancing in this time of Covid-19. Baylee was slender with legs that went on forever, a bit of bronze to her skin, and brown hair that matched her eyes. The words Real People were tattooed on the inside of her left forearm. The glass of white wine in front of her was nearly untouched, unlike the surf ’n’ turf, scallops and Angus tips, which she’d demolished, much to Clay’s amusement. The woman had an appetite.

The lawyer, with as yet no name, looked at Baylee. “Absolute confidentiality, Mr. Wolfe, is what we need and expect.”

“Miss Baker is my lead investigator and a partner in the firm,” Clay said. He took a sip of the expensive scotch that he sure hoped was going on someone else’s tab.

“Nonetheless, we must insist,” the lawyer said.

Clay leant back in his chair. His hands pressed lightly onto the elegant tablecloth. He ignored the lawyer and spoke directly to Bolton. “I could tell you that I won’t include her in the case,” he said. “But I’d be lying. If it’s a deal breaker, then I’m sorry.” He steepled his fingers under his chin, his cards played, ready to accept the outcome however it went.

“I’m sure that we can have Miss Baker sign the NDA as well,” Bolton said.

The lawyer reached down to the chair beside him, taking up two thick-stapled copies from a briefcase and sliding them across the dual tables. “Please sign where indicated.” It seems he’d been prepared for this eventuality. They didn’t appear to be men who were surprised by much.

“What do you know about Johnson Laboratories, Mr. Wolfe?” Bolton asked when they were done, the paperwork safely stashed back in the lawyer’s briefcase with copies for Clay and Baylee slipped into a thick envelope.

“They, you, employ quite a few people in the area,” Clay said. “You’ve got a complex in East Essex.” He shrugged. “Testing with mice or something like that.”

Bolton smiled, a smirk that didn’t reach his eyes. “We’re the largest employer north of BIW with over a thousand employees. This includes over two hundred men and women with doctorates or other advanced degrees who investigate the genetic bases of cancer, disease, autoimmunity, and many other disorders. JOHNS is known for biomedical research that bridges translational and clinical contexts. We integrate mouse genetics and human genomics to understand the underlying cause of human health and disease. There have been nineteen Nobel Prizes associated with our work.”

“So, you do test with mice,” Baylee said.

Clay fought back a chuckle. That was about all he’d gotten out of the mumbo jumbo that Bolton had just spouted out, too.

“Yes, Miss Baker. As a matter of fact, we are the world’s supplier for over nine thousand strains of genetically defined mice.”

“That’s where all those rodents come from,” Baylee said.

“More importantly, they are mammals,” Bolton said. “Very similar to humans in many ways. We have even created a humanized mouse.”

“A humanized mouse?” Clay asked.

“Mouse models with human immune cell engraftment represent ground-breaking platforms to evaluate compounds to treat a variety of human diseases, from cancer and infectious diseases to allergies and inflammation.”

“Oh, I see,” Clay said. But he did not see at all. He did deem it best to not be an ignoramus when trying to land a case from a man in a five-thousand-dollar suit. “How about you tell us why you’re here and what you need from us?”

“We are worried that our research has been compromised,” Bolton said.

Clay nodded. “You must have your own security. Why us?”

Bolton looked at the lawyer, who said, “You understand that breaking the NDA could possibly be a treasonous offense, and that you could be prosecuted as a traitor to the United States of America.”

“You think the Russians or the Chinese are hacking you? Like they did with the Covid-19 vaccine? Because I’m sort of under the impression we should just be sharing that stuff, you know, if it’s going to save human lives.” Clay wondered, what could possibly be hacked in regard to mice?

“It’s more sensitive and delicate than you could imagine, Mr. Wolfe.” Bolton’s voice expressed exasperation.

“Perhaps I should get my lawyer to read through the NDA before I go any further,” Clay said. His lawyer was his grandpops, eighty-four years of age, still with a keen mind.

“That might be for the best,” Bolton said.

“What can you tell us about the case?” Baylee asked. “Without possibly compromising our freedom?”

“I like your directness, Miss Baker,” Bolton said. “Quite simply, somebody has been stealing mice.”

He’s worried that it’s an inside job, Clay thought. But stealing mice? It was quite a leap from that to treason. The mice must be quite special, possessing something so sensitive, that if he, Clay Wolfe, leaked, he could be arrested as a traitor and thrown into some place like Guantanamo without charges or trial. This was serious shit.

“And you suspect your own security team of being involved?” Clay asked.

“We don’t know who to suspect,” Bolton said. “But it is concerning.”

“I think before we get into the nuts and bolts of this that we’ll have our lawyer go over the NDA,” Clay said. “It shouldn’t take long. Perhaps we can get together tomorrow and move forward?”

“Time is of the essence, Mr. Wolfe,” Bolton said.

“Of course, I understand.”

The lawyer reached into his case and retrieved the NDA and slid it back across the table.

“One of our security team disappeared over the weekend,” Bolton said. “He was on the night shift for the fourth. Showed up to work. Was last seen about 2:00 AM. Never checked out. Never went home. Gone.”

***

Excerpt from Mouse Trap by Matt L Cost. Copyright 2022 by Matt L Cost. Reproduced with permission from Matt L Cost. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

Matt L Cost

Matt Cost is the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of the Mainely Mystery series. The first book, Mainely Power, was selected as the Maine Humanities Council Read ME fiction book of 2020. This was followed by Mainely Fear, Mainely Money, and Mainely Angst. I Am Cuba: Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution was his first traditionally published novel. He had another historical released in August of 2021, Love in a Time of Hate. Wolfe Trap and Mind Trap were the first two in the Clay Wolfe Port Essex Trap series. Mouse Trap is the third in this series. Cost was a history major at Trinity College. He owned a mystery bookstore, a video store, and a gym, before serving a ten-year sentence as a junior high school teacher. In 2014 he was released and began writing. And that’s what he does. He writes histories and mysteries. Cost now lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. He now spends his days at the computer, writing.

Catch Up With Matt:
www.mattcost.net
Goodreads
BookBub – @matthewcost
Instagram – @mlangdoncost
Twitter – @MattCost8
Facebook

~~~

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#BookReview “At Any Cost: A Forensic Instincts Novel” by Andrea Kane

March 21 – April 15, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

book cover

 

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5/5 Stars!

Andrea Kane delivers yet another edgy, suspenseful mystery for the crew of Forensics Instincts.

It also plays into my love of “the details” with its thorough forensic investigation.

While the team has solved difficult and dangerous cases before, they have no idea what awaits them when they take on Aimee Bregman’s case. An executive for a company that deals in CBD products—mainly beer—Aimee hires FI when her mentor is murdered and her life is now in danger. The story then deep dives into the ugly, ruthless world of the rich and powerful, a college scandal, and those who’ll do anything to keep their secrets… even murder.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a serial killer with his own motives and lists of victims. Stepping inside his twisted mind made me look around and turn the lights on. His method of punishment and murder is not for the faint of heart.

I also enjoyed getting to know more about the FI team and the relationships between them, and go, Ryan!

Number nine in the Forensics Instincts series, At Any Cost ranks near the top of the series for me. Kane’s talent with distraction and red herrings kept me guessing right up until the end.

Enjoy!

~~~

Synopsis:

 

Aimee Bregman had the perfect life. She had an enviable job as head of marketing for an up-and-coming CBD-infused beer that was taking the tri-state area by storm. She had cultivated a massive social media following that showcased the beer at college campus parties and alumni events―and had fun doing it. She had an attentive, steady boyfriend and friends who believed in her. Everything was going right.

But when her long-time mentor, Rita, sets up a business meeting with an important influencer―her life crashes all around her. The casual meeting over drinks suddenly devolves into a shouting match between all parties, and any chance of a new business relationship is over before it begins. Hours later, when the NYPD shows up at Aimee’s apartment, questioning her about Rita’s abrupt disappearance―foul play suspected―Aimee realizes she’s in way over her head.

Fearing that Rita has been murdered, and that she may be next, Aimee hires Forensic Instincts to keep her safe and figure out what’s really going on.

Forensic Instincts, a brilliant investigative firm who walks the fine line between legal and illegal, solves challenging and high-profile cases when the bureaucratic restrictions imposed on law enforcement get in the way of achieving results. But neither Aimee nor Forensic Instincts realize how ruthless, how connected, their adversaries are. As dangerous and powerful people are threatened with exposure, anyone is fair game for elimination. And when multiple victims die at the hands of a sociopathic serial killer, it gets harder and harder to tell where the battle lines are drawn… and who might die next.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Thriller

Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC

Publication Date: March 22nd 2022

Number of Pages: 384

ISBN: 168232043X (ISBN13: 9781682320433)

Series: Forensic Instincts #9 | Each Can Be Read as a Stand Alone Novel

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Tour Participants:

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

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#BookTour “At Any Cost” by Andrea Kane

At Any Cost by Andrea Kane Banner

March 21 – April 15, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

At Any Cost by Andrea Kane

Aimee Bregman had the perfect life. She had an enviable job as head of marketing for an up-and-coming CBD-infused beer that was taking the tri-state area by storm. She had cultivated a massive social media following that showcased the beer at college campus parties and alumni events―and had fun doing it. She had an attentive, steady boyfriend and friends who believed in her. Everything was going right.

But when her long-time mentor, Rita, sets up a business meeting with an important influencer―her life crashes all around her. The casual meeting over drinks suddenly devolves into a shouting match between all parties, and any chance of a new business relationship is over before it begins. Hours later, when the NYPD shows up at Aimee’s apartment, questioning her about Rita’s abrupt disappearance―foul play suspected―Aimee realizes she’s in way over her head.

Fearing that Rita has been murdered, and that she may be next, Aimee hires Forensic Instincts to keep her safe and figure out what’s really going on.

Forensic Instincts, a brilliant investigative firm who walks the fine line between legal and illegal, solves challenging and high-profile cases when the bureaucratic restrictions imposed on law enforcement get in the way of achieving results. But neither Aimee nor Forensic Instincts realize how ruthless, how connected, their adversaries are. As dangerous and powerful people are threatened with exposure, anyone is fair game for elimination. And when multiple victims die at the hands of a sociopathic serial killer, it gets harder and harder to tell where the battle lines are drawn… and who might die next.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Thriller

Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC

Publication Date: March 22nd 2022

Number of Pages: 384

ISBN: 168232043X (ISBN13: 9781682320433)

Series: Forensic Instincts #9 | Each Can Be Read as a Stand Alone Novel

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

1

Brightington University
Birchmont, Westchester County, New York
Eight years ago

A kill for a kill.

Weeks of watching and waiting. Plans devised. Soon to be meticulously executed. Mid-November. Football season nearing its peak. Thursday night. Nine p.m. Campus in early-weekend party mode. Undergrads drinking. Smoking up at the frat houses. Athletic building deserted.

Nearly deserted.

His target was there. Alone. Thursday night was his late night during football season. That’s when he reviewed his game strategy and player weaknesses. That’s when he targeted the next eager kid to torture until he broke.

The bastard wouldn’t be breaking anyone ever again. Not the way he’d broken Hank.

As the star quarterback in high school, Hank had gotten a full-ride Division 1 scholarship. Since he’d come from a dirt-poor family, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. A first-rate college education with a shot at the NFL. It was supposed to be a life-changing event.

Instead it turned out to be a death sentence.

His executioner had been Pete Rice. Football coach? Bullshit. Rice hadn’t coached Hank; he’d tortured him, driven him—until he’d blown out his knee on a rain-soaked football field junior year, ending his college career, his dreams. And in the end, his life.

It was first down and goal.

Rice was about to find out the true meaning of payback.

The campus grounds were soggy, leftover patches of wet leaves and an endless span of slick grass, made worse by the cold, steady rainfall. The bare trees swayed as rain pounded their branches. A wet mess. Treacherous, like a wet football field.

Slugging through the debris, he approached the athletic building, pausing yards away to don the black ski mask. He then tugged his hood back into place. No point in taking chances. Security cameras were everywhere. He didn’t need his face to be captured. Other than the mask, he could be any college student. A waterproof parka that swallowed up his body. Jeans and combat boots. Standard college garb.

He reached the building and slid Hank’s ID card into the entry slot. The card still worked. Too soon for it to be deactivated.

He was in. He wriggled into his latex gloves.

The office door was unlocked. Rice was at his desk, files spread across it. He was scribbling something on one of them, brows knit in concentration, totally focused on his work.

Clueless that he was about to die.

In one fluid motion, he was inside the office, the door closed behind him. Rice leapt to his feet, snatching the heavy football trophy on his desk as he rounded the front of it to defend himself against the intruder.

Without a word, the killer whipped out a pistol and fired two bullets, one into each of Rice’s kneecaps. Rice howled, collapsing to the floor in pain. The trophy hit the floor beside him with a thud.

The assailant moved quickly—four long strides until he was behind Rice, dragging him back to his chair and heaving him into it. He shoved a rag in the coach’s mouth to stifle his screams, then moved behind him, wrapping a strong arm in a choke hold around Rice’s throat. He pocketed his pistol, pulled out a zip tie, and leaned down to cinch the writhing man’s ankles together. That done, he slapped a digital voice recorder on the desk, with the record feature on. He yanked the rag out of Rice’s mouth, tossed it aside, and anchored his forearm against the left side of the coach’s neck, using his free hand to pull as tight against the carotid artery as he chose to—for now.

A rush of power surged through him. He could taste victory.

But there was work to be done before the final play.

“You killed Hank Bishop,” he growled. “I want details.”

When he got no answer, only a violent trembling of Rice’s body, he tightened the pressure around his neck. “Talk.”

“Car crash…” the coach gasped. “I didn’t…”

“Wrong answer.” His grip tightened still more, enough so Rice was on the verge of losing consciousness. The coach struggled in vain, his struggles weak and fading.

His soon-to-be executioner eased the pressure the tiniest fraction. He knew just what it would take. And he wasn’t ready. Not until he got what he wanted.

“Wanna die?” he asked in a flat tone that was chillingly devoid of emotion.

Terrified, blood oozing down his legs, Rice gave a feeble shake of his head.

“Good. Because this is what it will feel like.”

He increased the pressure until Rice passed out. Slowly, he eased the choke hold until the scumbag came to.

“Now I’ll ask my question again,” he said calmly. “Why is Hank dead? Why was he in that car crash? This is your last chance. I want to hear it all—what you did, how you did it, what you drove him to.”

Rice was drenched in sweat, his entire body shuddering, choking sounds coming from his throat.

No further coercion was necessary.

Between gasps for air, the coach spilled his guts, revealing everything he’d done, everything that had happened—plus a whole lot more that was happening still.

Interesting stuff. Some of which he knew about. Still more of which he didn’t. It was even bigger than what he’d come here to learn. But frankly, he didn’t give a shit. He’d originally planned to take the voice recorder with him to relive Rice’s agonized confession whenever he chose to. But it really didn’t matter. He’d committed the bastard’s words to memory. So instead, he’d leave the recorder here, let the cops hear the entire confession, including the big-picture part that had nothing to do with Hank but that would send their investigation in the entirely wrong direction—a direction his employer wouldn’t appreciate, but that was his problem.

His adrenaline pumping, he tightened his choke hold into a death grip, pressing against the carotid artery, closing it off and squeezing the life out of his victim.

A minute later, Rice was dead.

***

Excerpt from At Any Cost by Andrea Kane. Copyright 2022 by Andrea Kane. Reproduced with permission from Andrea Kane. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty-one novels, including seventeen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles. With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.
Kane’s first contemporary suspense thriller, Run for Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller.

She followed with a string of bestselling psychological thrillers including No Way Out, Twisted and Drawn in Blood.

Her latest in the highly successful Forensic Instincts series, At Any Cost, showcases the dynamic, eclectic team of investigators as they square off against a criminal organization with a serial killer as a hit man. The first showcase of Forensic Instincts’ talents came with the New York Times bestseller, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, followed by The Line Between Here and Gone, The Stranger You Know, The Silence That Speaks, The Murder That Never Was, A Face To Die For, Dead In A Week, No Stone Unturned and At Any Cost.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, Echoes in the Mist, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan.

Catch Up With Andrea Kane:

AndreaKane.com

Goodreads

BookBub

Instagram – @authorandreakane

Twitter – @andrea_kane

Facebook – @AuthorAndreaKane

~~~

Tour Participants:

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

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:

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

~~~

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~~~

#CoverReveal “Powerless” by Jeff O’Handley

I’m pleased to share this cover with you all today. The book is called Powerless by Jeff O’Handley and it will be available late this summer!

Powerless_eBook final

Powerless

Expected Publication Date: August 24th, 2022

Genre: Thriller/ Contemporary

Publisher: Breaking Night Press

When all goes dark, they’re left alone. As starvation provokes chaos, can one man defend all he holds dear?

Sunspots, Al-Qaeda, North Korea—no one knows why the power goes out in sleepy little Harpursville, how much of the world is affected, or how long it will last. In one instant virtually every modern convenience stops working, leaving the townspeople scrambling.

For Kevin Barton, the problem is compounded by the presence of his sixteen-year-old daughter’s best friend, Dina, who’s been stranded at the house after yet another sleepover. When Kevin’s attempt to escort Dina home ends in robbery and humiliation, their “second daughter’s” overnight visit becomes a permanent stay. Kevin doesn’t really mind. Dina helps with everything from hauling water to digging a garden, and she does it with a smile. But with food scarce and hunger eating away at reason, her large appetite and constant presence sets the household on edge, causing a rift between Kevin and his wife, Monica.

Help is offered by the man who stops Harpursville from sliding into everyone-for-themselves chaos but then he gives Kevin an unthinkable ultimatum. With the peace of the town and Kevin’s own family hanging in the balance, he faces a two-front war. Can Kevin find the power in himself to protect everything he holds dear?

Buy Powerless to shine a light on darkness today!

“A poignant, elegantly written, gripping book that delves deep into an all-too-possible future. You won’t be able to put this down. O’Handley is brilliant and masterful. One of the best books I’ve ever read.” – Lisa Regan, USA Today & Wall Street Journal best-selling author

Powerless is Available on Netgalley!

Pre-Order Here

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon Ca | Books2Read

About the Author

Jeff author photo 1

Jeff O’Handley has been a science and technical writer as part of his job since the late 1980’s, but fiction is his passion. This talented and insightful author provides depth to his characters and explores their stories in a way that can be related to on a very personal level. Jeff can often be found ‘butt-deep in a swamp’ removing invasive species, leading a nature walk in the woods, or promoting recycling as part of his work for a boots-on-the-ground conservation organization. Jeff is a die-hard Boston Bruins fan who loves the outdoors and has a resistance to tech, but grudgingly admits to the usefulness of smartphones and computers. Jeff grew up on Long Island, NY but has embraced the rural life of central New York, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

Find out more about Jeff and his work at www.jeffohandley.com

 

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