Thursday, March 23, 2017

"The Last Sin" by K. L. Murphy

The Last Sin
(Detective Cancini Mystery Book 3)
by K. L. Murphy

The Last Sin is the third book in the Detective Cancini Mystery series by K. L. Murphy. Also available: A Guilty Mind and Stay of Execution.

The Last Sin is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Forgive me father, for I have sinned ...
Detective Mike Cancini has seen dark days as a homicide detective in Washington, D.C. But even he is shocked when a charismatic young priest is found shot through the eye on the altar of his own church. As Cancini investigates, he uncovers long-buried secrets from the man’s past, and it becomes clear that the church was not as holy as it seemed.
When another priest is attacked, Cancini refuses to believe it’s a coincidence, and his frustration grows as his search is blocked at every turn by inflexible priests and cagey church employees. The resolute detective must unravel the web of lies before more people are hurt, but how can he find a murderer when no one is innocent, and everyone’s a sinner?

Sunday, February 21st: The Day Of
The smell of incense lingered in the air, temporarily masking the odor of rotting wood. Father Matthew Holland inhaled. The bitter scent stung his nose. Three years had passed since he’d taken over the church and nothing had changed. Even with the increased attendance and community outreach, the church offerings remained meager. Without offerings—without money—the parish church would die.
The priest sat down on the front pew, his robes gathered around his feet. His gaze shifted to the empty pulpit. Two large and colorful plants graced the altar, but they weren’t enough to hide the worn carpet or faded paintings, nor could the soft candlelight make him forget the plywood that covered the cracked stained glass. There was so much to do, so much need. He sighed and looked to the cross over the altar. Not for the first time, he asked for forgiveness, for understanding. There would be money now—he’d made sure of that—but at what cost? He’d done it for the church. His pulse quickened and his stomach clenched. Bending forward, he forced himself to take one deep breath after another until the moment passed.
He loosened his cleric collar and yawned. The evening’s mass had been long and difficult. The drunks in the back of the church had refused to leave, in spite of the old deacons' best efforts.
“S'our right to be here,” the man with the long, stringy hair had said. His words slurred, he’d leaned forward as though he might topple straight into the next pew. “Worshipin’ God,” he'd said, although it had sounded like something else judging by the gasps from the congregation. The drunk had pointed a dirty hand toward the altar. “Here to see Father Holland. Tol' us to come anytime.”
The drunk had swayed again, and his companion had reached out with a strong arm to catch him. Father Holland’s mouth had gone dry at the sight of the tattoo on the man’s forearm—a black dagger plunged into a white skull. Three drops of blood extended in a single line from the tip of the dagger to the man’s wrist. He knew that tattoo, knew what it meant.
The awkward moment had passed although not before Father Holland caught the disdain on the faces of the ladies in the choir. Still, none of the parishioners had said a word, all looking to him instead. He’d hidden his trembling hands in the folds of the heavy cassock and swallowed. “St. William is open to everyone, our members and our guests. However, since we are about to have communion, I would ask that everyone who is not singing remain quiet. Guests may come forward for a blessing, of course.” He'd been careful to keep his voice steady. Thank the Lord it had been enough. The man with the oily hair had quieted down and then stumbled out during the Eucharist. His friend with the tattoo had stayed a moment longer, then followed.
Silence filled the sanctuary now. Father Holland rubbed his hands together and shivered. He could still feel the cold eyes of the tattooed man and the curious glances from the congregation. The man’s presence at the evening mass had been no accident and no drunken whim. The message had been clear.
After the church had emptied, he’d walked to the corner market and made the call. He’d done the best he could. Money changed everything. It always did. He opened his hand and stared at the crumpled paper with the phone number. He was not a stupid man. Nothing came without a price. He murmured a prayer until his shoulders relaxed and the drumbeat of his heart slowed.
His stomach growled, the gurgling loud and rumbly, and he realized it had been hours since he’d eaten. Breaking the quiet, a sound came from the back of the church, a click and a swish as the heavy outer door swung open. He stood and smoothed his cassock. Dinner would have to wait. He strained to see, but the vestibule was dark. “Who's there?” he asked.
The door clanged shut and heavy steps sounded on the dingy marble floor. Father Holland replaced his collar and ran his fingers through his hair. There was only silence. The hair on the back of his neck prickled. “Is somebody there?” he asked again.
A figure shrouded in black stepped out of the dark.
Father Holland stiffened. “Why are you here?”
From the shadows, the eyes of the visitor glittered in the candlelight. “I’m a sinner, Father.”
Father Holland’s shoulders slumped. “We are all sinners in God's eyes.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"I enjoyed this novel of police procedure. Cancini is a detective with his own issues in this story. The second priest attacked is a good friend of his and the investigation is almost compromised because of the relationship. Cancini struggles with the thought that his old friend might somehow be involved. And that brings up an interesting aspect of the mystery. The old priest had been the confessor for the murdered priest. Even if he knew truths that would help Cancini solve the case, the old priest was bound by his orders to not reveal confessions. I appreciated how Murphy wove this concept into the plot and used it to make the investigation more complex. Flashbacks were used to give readers the background leading up to the murder. That was done well. There were plenty of suspects and motives to keep readers interested in the investigation to the very end. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a novel that works through a complex police procedure in unraveling the truth about a murder. There is really no suspense. There is much thinking through of the clues and following up leads, the strength of the novel." ~ Joan N.

Guest Post by the Author
The Story Behind the Story: The Last Sin
Inspiration can strike a writer unexpectedly. It can come from a random news article or a radio story or from a man walking down the street who sparks an idea. Authors are often asked where they get their ideas and sometimes there is no easy or identifiable answer. However, if asked about the third book in my Detective Cancini Mystery series, The Last Sin, I actually have something to say!
A few years ago, I heard a story that got my attention. The story was about an older priest I knew - although he could more accurately be described as a friend of a friend back then. I knew the priest as a charismatic and distinguished man, the type of man that commands respect whether standing at the pulpit or seated at the dinner table. He was a strong leader, decisive, determined, and likable. Unfortunately, according to the story, one of his parishioners liked him a little too much. She began to write him letters. She appeared in the church offices for no real reason. She resorted to low level stalking to be around him as often as possible. Naturally, this made him uncomfortable, but he was unsure what to do about it. When I heard this story, I immediately decided I would use it in some way. Unlike pastors of other faiths, I knew that Catholic priests must remain unmarried and celibate. That is hard for most anyone. I imagined that would be even harder for a priest when it was apparent that a woman was infatuated with him. How would a man/priest handle that?
In the real-life story, things worked themselves out without any difficulty. The priest was transferred to another parish in another city and there was no harm done. Knowing the priest, he probably remained as polite to her as possible without encouraging her in any way. However, I did wonder what might have happened had he not been transferred and her obsession had escalated. Light bulbs went off in my brain and I conjured up all kinds of scenarios. One of those inspired a character and plot line in The Last Sin.
While the plot of The Last Sin is completely fictional - as is every character - there is a thread of “truth” woven into the story. That “truth” is the role of the Catholic Church and its influence on many of the characters. Father Holland and Father Joe are obvious in that they share a faith and devotion in service to God. Still, they are not the same. The younger priest is ambitious and impatient. He wants to grow his parish, renovate the building, and clean up the neighborhood. He has lofty goals that go beyond his role as priest. Yet, it is the Church that grounds him.
Most people don’t think of the Catholic Church when they think of fire and brimstone sermons or singing choirs. There’s a good reason for that. The Catholic religion is long on tradition and ritual. For some, that may be stifling, but for others, it offers comfort and security. The sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) is one of those rituals and plays a key role in The Last Sin. What intrigued me about the sacrament, however, was the similarity of the priest-confessor relationship to that of doctor-patient. The concept of privacy is essentially the same, yet under church doctrine, the sacrament of Reconciliation can never be broken. In this small excerpt from The Last Sin, Cancini attempts to explain the binding laws of the sacrament to Captain Martin. They are discussing young Father Holland’s confessional conversations with Father Joe.
“According to papal law, the sacrament of reconciliation is absolute. If someone comes in to confess their sins, they have to know that nothing they say will ever leave the confessional.”
“This is different. It’s a murder investigation. There must be exceptions.”
Martin’s face flushed pink. “We can subpoena him.”
“It won’t matter. Look, let’s say someone walks into the confessional and tells the priest he is planning to kill his wife that day. He tells him everything, how he’s going to do it, when he’s going to do it, even why he’s going to do it. The priest can try to talk the man out of it. He can try to get the man to go to the police. But he can never tell a soul. The best he can do is alert the police that the woman might be in danger, and even that can be tricky.”
“That’s crazy. He’d have an obligation to tell the police, wouldn’t he?”
“No. His obligation is to uphold the sacrament. You can’t reveal anything you’ve ever heard, even ten years, twenty years later.”
It may sound crazy to non-Catholics, but under the laws of the church, it’s anything but crazy. It’s an extension of the parishioner’s relationship with God. This concept is why priests also go to confession, to unburden their sins and be closer to God. In The Last Sin, I wanted to respect the ritual, but I also used it to create a situation where the police suspect Father Joe knows far more than he is willing to tell.
I also like to incorporate something real in the settings of each novel. In The Last Sin, I used Barry Farm, a true-life low income housing development that has since been condemned. The setting and the neighborhood are a big part of who Father Holland is as well as why Carlos Vega is the man he is. Of course, most everything else that happens in The Last Sin is just my imagination running wild. Where do I get my ideas? For this third novel in the series: a pinch of gossip, a snippet of reality, and a whole lot of “I wish I knew!”

About the Author
K. L. Murphy was born in Key West, Florida, the eldest of four children in a military family. She has worked as a freelance writer for several regional publications in Virginia, and is the author of A Guilty Mind, Stay of Execution, and The Last Sin. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two very large, very hairy dogs.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three ebook copies of The Last Sin by K. L. Murphy (gifted via Bluefire Reader).


"A Trinity of Wicked Tales Volume One: Jilted Love" by Kyla Ross

A Trinity of Wicked Tales
Volume One: Jilted Love
by Kyla Ross

A Trinity of Wicked Tales Volume One: Jilted Love by Kyla Ross is FREE from 23 to 27 March. The author stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt. You can also read my review.

Desperation. Suspicion. Selfishness.
In this collection of dark tales lives will be savagely twisted, inner demons will be reawakened and deception will reign supreme. A quest for a fix turns bloody for two heroin addicts as their vicious endeavors land them into a gruesome pitfall. A marketing executive and car salesmen are deceived by the ones they love. Armed with rage, they set out to slaughter those responsible.

Excerpt from "Irises"
She was losing control of her love life once again, and what was more important than that? Natalie began to rock back and forth, her hip rubbing against the granite counter top. She tried to take control of her breathing, but this proved unsuccessful. She began to sob uncontrollably.
Natalie pushed herself away from the counter and hurried into the living room, where her smartphone rested on the suede love seat. She snatched it up and called Jason as she made her way back into the kitchen. No answer. Natalie threw her phone into the granite kitchen wall. The stone took the phone and smashed it to pieces.
Natalie began to pace back and forth from counter to counter, digging the heels of her bare feet into the marble tile.
“I vowed to never let a fucking man make me lose my mind again!” she yelled. Natalie grabbed the bottle of wine and shoved the spout against her lips. She desperately sucked the remaining liquid down her throat, nearly drowning herself in her haste. She looked at the sterling silver wall clock. 11:19.
She slammed the bottle on the counter. She opened her hands and rested them on her face, then pulled them down slowly, swiping away the tears and smeared mascara. Her blood pressure continued to rise as her body shook. She felt a jolt of anxiety and confusion go through her chest. She took another deep breath and abruptly exhaled. She looked around the kitchen.
He would risk all of this, she thought.
As she continued to survey the kitchen, her eyes fell upon the gourmet knife rack. She inched towards it and caressed the wooden handle of the meat clever. She slowly pulled it out. The sound of the cleaver shearing against the wood was eerily refreshing. She looked at her reflection in the meat cleaver and said, “You won’t have your cake and eat it, too. You won’t have anything. If you hurt me, I will hurt you more.”
She smiled maniacally, her eyes gleaming. She tilted the knife, concentrating on the streaks of mascara running down her cheek, the eyeliner that covered small segments between her eyelashes and eyelids; most of it had been washed away. She admired her deep green eyes and the red lock that rested upon the side of her perfectly round shaped face. Her self-loathing was interrupted when she heard keys enter the keyhole of the front door. She briskly walked to the front door to see Jason enter. He reeked of irises.
[Want more? Click below to read another excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Deranged characters. Deception and twisted horror. Three dark tales with murderous endings. I enjoyed this book, look forward to vol. 2." ~ Rita Hyland
"It was good. The first story made my mouth drop. The second story, had me like wow. Yes I loved it, no joke. It was like I can picture the events happening in the story. The last one was out cold." ~ Lula Farris
"It was an awesome collection of short stories. I loved the suspense that the author gave, it was really chilling which makes it more fun to read. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves gruesome short stories. Read this compilation." ~ KyraLowry
"I enjoyed every twist and turn in each of the short stories in A Trinity of Wicked Tales: Jilted Love. The author was tasteful in painting a wonderful picture of each character and developing their personalities throughout each story. I look forward to Volume 2 and what the future holds in the rest of these wonderful stories!" ~ Britney U
"I really loved the complexities that came with the characters. It made them more than just fictional characters but instead real people that you could encounter in day to day life. It's also kind of terrifying the things we'd do for love and in A Trinity of Wicked Tales Ms. Ross explores those terrifying possibilities." ~ Amber

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
This is a collection of three short stories dealing with the subject of jilted love. They are cautionary tales of what can go wrong when love isn't reciprocated.
In "Junk for Two", two junkies will do anything for their next fix.
In "Iris", a young woman's obsession turns deadly.
In "Phil", when a man's life falls apart, he resorts to drastic measures.
Overall, the writing is good, but there are some clumsily phrased sentences that you need to read twice in order to ascertain their intended meanings. There are also too many unnecessary physical descriptions (especially in relation to eye color) and a few editing errors. Still, these are three interesting stories of obsession with unexpected endings. I look forward to seeing the author further develop her craft in the next volume.
Warnings: coarse language, graphic violence, sex scenes.

Interview With the Author
Author Kyla Ross joins me today to discuss her book of short stories, A Trinity of Wicked Tales Volume One: Jilted Love.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
Adult, mature readers.
What sparked the idea for this book?
Real life issues. I was having a really hard time with family and career. Then I found a grey hair. I had to write the thoughts out that I kept trapped inside for a decade. I had to make it happen.
Which comes first? The character's story or the plot?
The characters' stories mean everything. Their ideology of a fair and humble life are delusional. They ruin others in the process. It's fun seeing their stories from them.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
It was my first literary fiction piece. So everything was a little challenging. I come from a technical background. So the transition wasn't as easy I thought it would be.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
Think about how things could be worse when you're having a tough time. Appreciate those loyal people who support you. And make sure you know the one you devote yourself to. This is hard because you can be with someone for decades and not know them. But never ignore the signs.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Five months.
What is your writing routine?
I write whenever I feel inspired, which is often. Even when I'm driving, I pitch ideas to myself. I always have a notebook.
How did you get your book published?
I self-published it.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Keep writing, take constructive criticism. Look to be better at you craft and commit to the long run. It's a fun ride.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Reading is cool. I love music, so I blast that in my car and house.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family enjoys my writing. Mom thinks it's a little dark but she appreciates it. My siblings and family member love the book and are very proud.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I grew up in Detroit. Not the most lavish life, but I had really good friends. We moved a lot. I was a shy kid so finding a friend and keeping them for a long time was a custom for me. I'm the oldest of six so there was never a solo moment for me until college. I had a lot of stress on my shoulders but it was worth it. I am very, very close to my siblings.
Did you like to read when you were a child?
Yes! I thought books were an amazing escape. My aunt used to work at a science and engineering library and we spent a ton of time with her. I pretended to understand what I was reading every time. Though I didn't understand what I was reading, I couldn't help it. I loved the books for being books full of things I didn't understand. It was fun for me. And of course there was the Goosebumps series, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, anything the Reading Rainbow discussed. I was always a bookworm.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A long time ago, but I was having a love affair with biochemistry, so I set it aside. I picked it up when my mom told me to stop doubting myself and that I owe it to myself to 'fail'. She said it will be okay. Just try. And I did, and I'm enjoying every moment of it.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Yes and no. Growing up in Detroit, I saw and heard things that were both terrifying and refreshing. It was real life. The horrible things that people do to each other is nothing that we should pretend doesn't happen. It does. Nowadays, things don't surprise me. I guess my hard outer shell makes it a little easy to get graphic in my writing.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I love Sam Sisavath! I read tons of writers but right now he's at the top of my list. I'm getting into Richard Laymon and am liking what I'm reading. Stephen King is an amazing author as well. Lately, I've been reading indie author books, so my top 3 changes often.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do hear from readers of my book and free flash fiction. They say they really enjoyed the thrill and the twist I provide. The graphic scenes were enough to make some people tell me I scared the hell out of them. It's all positive. It's fun to talk with them on social media. Their interest keeps me going.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Wow. Where to start? I have a Romantic Suspense/Erotic Thriller coming out this summer (a novel). A Trinity of Wicked Tales Volume Two will be out in October, and I publish free flash fiction monthly. I'm doing some guest posts, some of my work will be narrated on a podcast. I am also aiming to publish a horror novella this year.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by today, Kyla. Anything else you would like to add?
Happy reading everybody!

About the Author
Kyla Ross is a horror, thriller, and dark fiction writer from Detroit, Michigan. She posts suspense and horror flash fiction on her blog biweekly and is the author of a collection of gruesome suspenseful short stories titled A Trinity of Wicked Tales Volume One: Jilted Love. Her first erotic thriller novel, When We Swing, will be released in June 2017.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"The Echo Man" by Richard Montanari

The Echo Man
(Byrne & Balzano Book 5)
by Richard Montanari

The Echo Man, the fifth book in the Byrne & Balzano series by Richard Montanari, is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

In this gripping, unforgettable thriller for readers of James Patterson and Lisa Gardner, someone is recreating infamous unsolved murders ... and the killer is closer than anyone could imagine.
Fall in Philadelphia. A man’s corpse is found in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. It’s unmistakably the work of a killer.
But to homicide detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano, it feels familiar. Eight years ago, another body was found in the same place, in the same position ... killed in the same manner. Even the crime-scene photos are identical.
That case was never closed. And now more copycat murders are happening. Someone is recreating the city’s most infamous unsolved killings, victim by victim - with more clues for Byrne and Balzano to unravel ...

Book Video

For every light there is shadow. For every sound, silence. From the moment he got the call Detective Kevin Francis Byrne had a premonition this night would forever change his life, that he was headed to a place marked by a profound evil, leaving only darkness in its wake.
“You ready?”
Byrne glanced at Jimmy. Detective Jimmy Purify sat in the passenger seat of the bashed and battered department-issue Ford. He was just a few years older than Byrne, but something in the man’s eyes held deep wisdom, a hard-won experience that transcended time spent on the job and spoke instead of time earned. They’d known each other a long time, but this was their first full tour as partners.
“I’m ready,” Byrne said.
He wasn’t.
They got out of the car and walked to the front entrance of the sprawling, well- tended Chestnut Hill mansion. Here, in this exclusive section of the northwest part of the city, there was history at every turn, a neighborhood designed at a time when Philadelphia was second only to London as the largest English-speaking city in the world. The first officer on the scene, a rookie named Timothy Meehan, stood inside the foyer, cloistered by coats and hats and scarves perfumed with age, just beyond the reach of the cold autumn wind cutting across the grounds.
Byrne had been in Officer Meehan’s shoes a handful of years earlier and remembered well how he’d felt when detectives arrived, the tangle of envy and relief and admiration. Chances were slight that Meehan would one day do the job Byrne was about to do. It took a certain breed to stay in the trenches, especially in a city like Philly, and most uniformed cops, at least the smart ones, moved on.
Byrne signed the crime-scene log and stepped into the warmth of the atrium, taking in the sights, the sounds, the smells. He would never again enter this scene for the first time, never again breathe an air so red with violence. Looking into the kitchen, he saw a blood splattered killing room, scarlet murals on pebbled white tile, the torn flesh of the victim jigsawed on the floor.
While Jimmy called for the medical examiner and crime- scene unit, Byrne walked to the end of the entrance hall. The officer standing there was a veteran patrolman, a man of fifty, a man content to live without ambition. At that moment Byrne envied him. The cop nodded toward the room on the other side of the corridor.
And that was when Kevin Byrne heard the music.
She sat in a chair on the opposite side of the room. The walls were covered with a forest-green silk; the floor with an exquisite burgundy Persian. The furniture was sturdy, in the Queen Anne style. The air smelled of jasmine and leather.
Byrne knew the room had been cleared, but he scanned every inch of it anyway. In one corner stood an antique curio case with beveled glass doors, its shelves arrayed with small porcelain figurines. In another corner leaned a beautiful cello. Candlelight shimmered on its golden surface.
The woman was slender and elegant, in her late twenties. She had burnished russet hair down to her shoulders, eyes the color of soft copper. She wore a long black gown, sling-back heels, pearls. Her makeup was a bit garish—theatrical, some might say—but it flattered her delicate features, her lucent skin.
When Byrne stepped fully into the room the woman looked his way, as if she had been expecting him, as if he might be a guest for Thanksgiving dinner, some discomfited cousin just in from Allentown or Ashtabula. But he was neither. He was there to arrest her.
“Can you hear it?” the woman asked. Her voice was almost adolescent in its pitch and resonance.
Byrne glanced at the crystal CD case resting on a small wooden easel atop the expensive stereo component. Chopin: Nocturne in G Major. Then he looked more closely at the cello. There was fresh
blood on the strings and fingerboard, as well as on the bow lying on the floor. Afterward, she had played.
The woman closed her eyes. “Listen,” she said. “The blue notes.”
Byrne listened. He has never forgotten the melody, the way it both lifted and shattered his heart.
Moments later the music stopped. Byrne waited for the last note to feather into silence. “I’m going to need you to stand up now, ma’am,” he said.
When the woman opened her eyes Byrne felt something flicker in his chest. In his time on the streets of Philadelphia he had met all types of people, from soulless drug dealers, to oily con men, to smash-and-grab artists, to hopped-up joyriding kids. But never before had he encountered anyone so detached from the crime they had just committed. In her light-brown eyes Byrne saw demons caper from shadow to shadow.
The woman rose, turned to the side, put her hands behind her back. Byrne took out his handcuffs, slipped them over her slender white wrists, and clicked them shut.
She turned to face him. They stood in silence now, just a few inches apart, strangers not only to each other, but to this grim pageant and all that was to come.
“I’m scared,” she said.
Byrne wanted to tell her that he understood. He wanted to say that we all have moments of rage, moments when the walls of sanity tremble and crack. He wanted to tell her that she would pay for her crime, probably for the rest of her life—perhaps even with her life—but that while she was in his care she would be treated with dignity and respect.
He did not say these things.
“My name is Detective Kevin Byrne,” he said. “It’s going to be all right.”
It was November 1, 1990.
Nothing has been right since.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt. Please note the book has since been reissued with a different cover.]

Praise for the Book
"This tale had me gripped by the throat, unwilling to do anything but anxiously turn the pages. Richard Montanari’s writing is both terrifying and lyrical, a killer combination that makes him a true stand-out in the crowded thriller market. The Echo Man showcases a master storyteller at his very best." ~ Tess Gerritsen, bestselling author of The Silent Girl
"Richard Montanari’s The Echo Man continues his work as a writer whose prose can capture quite extraordinary subtleties. When a man’s facial expression is described as 'not the look of someone with nothing to hide, but rather of one who has very carefully hidden everything', we know we are in good hands, and with The Echo Man, we are in the hands of one of the best in the business" ~ Thomas H. Cook, bestselling author of Red Leaves

Interview With the Author
Richard Montanari joins me today to discuss his new book, The Echo Man.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
The Echo Man is an adult-themed book, somewhere between a PG-13 and an R. I would say sixteen and over.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I’ve always been fascinated with the notion - some would call it a belief - that energy, especially negative energy, stays behind when something evil happens. In every room where murder has been done, on every blood soaked battlefield, there is a psychic residue that defies time. I began to wonder if there are people who could stand in such a spot and hear the screams, weeks and months and even decades later. This is the terrible and terrifying ability of The Echo Man.
Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
The first step in my process is always to determine the killer’s pathology. Why is he doing what he is doing? There are certain required steps in the writing of all procedurals - a body is found, police are called, investigators show up at the crime scene - so my main series characters need to be on their game early in the story. That’s the prevailing theory, anyway. Kevin Byrne, and to some extent Jessica Balzano, don’t always play by the rules. This is certainly true of my killers. Once I know what motivates my villain, and through what prism he views the world, the story begins to take shape.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
I believe the challenge in writing any long-running series is an obligation an author has to honor the established characters. The Echo Man is the fifth book in my Philadelphia series featuring homicide detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano, and I feel I know them pretty well. That said, they do continue to surprise me. Although it is a series novel, The Echo Man can easily be read as a standalone.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope readers find The Echo Man to be a good story, well told - the interwoven narratives of the past and the present; the lives of Lucinda Doucette, a young hotel room attendant, and Christa-Marie Schönburg, a world renowned cellist; the crimes that forever link their stories; the race to stop a madman on the streets of Philadelphia.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Once the research is in place, it takes about six to nine months to write the first draft. A second draft and a polish takes another three months or so.
What is your writing routine?
Up by six-thirty, a quick workout and breakfast, then off to the iMac by eight. A good day will yield a thousand words. A great one, two thousand. A bad one? This is why I have bird feeders just outside my office window.
How did you get your book published?
I’ve been with the Jane Rotrosen Agency for just over twelve years, since the publication of The Rosary Girls. My agent, Meg Ruley, is the best.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Pay no attention to trends. By the time we notice a trend it has already peaked. Write something you would love to read. Find your voice, stay true to it, and write everyday. One sentence has a way of becoming two. Before you know it ...
Great advice. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Photography, cooking, theater. As a film buff, I love to discover new directors. I’ve recently begun taking acting classes, so watch out, Broadway! Okay, Off-Off-Off Broadway. In spring and summer, I plant herbs and vegetables that never grow. It’s therapy.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think my desire to be a storyteller began pretty early. I seem to remember going to birthday parties when I was five or so and trying to grab the spotlight. By the time I got to junior high I realized that the written word was probably a better way to go.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I think the most influential writers are those whose impact goes unnoticed. As a reader, I like nothing better than to be so consumed by a story, so rooted in a world, that I forget that I am reading a fiction. It is only on a second or third read that, as a writer, I take particular note of style and voice and structure. I’ve always been drawn to suspense, and I think that I’ve been influenced in equal measure by the great suspense and crime writers as I have by the films of Alfred Hitchcock.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
In May, Witness Impulse will release book 6 in the Byrne & Balzano series, The Killing Room, which will be its first North American edition.
I’ve just completed a standalone novel, a tale of small town murder called The Last Girl. Next up, a new, terrifying case for Kevin and Jessica.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Richard. Best of luck with your future projects.
Thanks! It was my pleasure.

About the Author
Richard Montanari was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to a traditional Italian-American family. After university, he traveled Europe extensively and lived in London, selling clothing in Chelsea and foreign language encyclopedias door-to-door in Hampstead Heath.
Returning to the US, he started working as a freelance writer for the Chicago Tribune, the Detroit Free Press, the Seattle Times, and many others. He wrote his first book, Deviant Way, in 1996 and it won the OLMA for Best First Mystery. His novels have now been published in more than twenty-five languages.

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