Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"Keep the Midnight Out" by Alex Gray

Keep the Midnight Out
(DCI Lorimer Book 12)
by Alex Gray

Keep the Midnight Out (DCI Lorimer Book 12)  by Alex Gray

Keep the Midnight Out, the twelfth book in the DCI Lorimer series by Alex Gray, is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

When the body of a red-haired young man is washed up on the shore of the beautiful Isle of Mull, Detective Superintendent Lorimer’s tranquil holiday away from the gritty streets of Glasgow is rudely interrupted. The body has been bound with twine in a ghoulishly unnatural position and strongly reminds Lorimer of another murder: a twenty year old Glasgow case that he failed to solve as a newly fledged detective constable and which has haunted him ever since.
As local cop DI Stevie Crozier takes charge of the island murder investigation, Lorimer tries to avoid stepping on her toes. But as the similarities between the young man’s death and his cold case grow more obvious, Lorimer realises that there could be a serial killer on the loose after all these years.
As the action switches dramatically between the Mull murder and the Glasgow cold case twenty years earlier, Lorimer tries desperately to catch a cold-hearted killer. Has someone got away with murder for decades?

Excerpt from Chapter 1
They called it ‘the splash’; though the boat that crept silently, oars dipping lightly in and out of the water creating myriad bubbles of phosphorescence, made little sound at all. It was vital to keep quiet; the time for frightening the fish would not come until the net was properly laid across the mouth of the burn. After that the oars would be raised high and brought down with force, driving the sea trout from their shadowy lairs straight into the trap. It was illegal, of course, had been for decades, but that did not stop more intrepid poachers sneaking in at dead of night and lying in wait for the fish.
Unfair, unsporting, the fishery bodies claimed, though most folk here, on the island of Mull, recognised the thrill of rowing under the stars and risking some wrath from the law enforcers.
Ewan Angus Munro glanced back over his shoulder to see his son playing out the last of the splash net; the ancient cork floats now in a perfect arc across this narrow neck of water.
Young Ewan looked towards his father and nodded; the first part of the deed was done and now all that remained was to ensure that the fish would be scared out from their hiding places by the sudden noise of oars thrashing on the surface so that they would rush towards the net.
The old man turned the boat with an expertise that came from many years of practice, then headed back towards the shallow channel. He raised the oars, resting them in the rowlocks, water dripping like molten rain from their blades. The small craft was allowed to drift a little before Ewan Angus turned to his son again, the eye contact and nod a definite signal to begin the second stage of their night’s work.
Young Ewan Angus stood, legs apart, perfectly balanced in the centre of the boat, one oar raised high above his shoulder as the older man watched him, eyes full of approval. The boy had been given more than just his father’s names: his flair for the splash, too, had been passed down from father to son.
Across the marshy strand full of bog cotton and sweet-smelling myrtle sat a small white cottage. A swift glance showed him that there was no light on anywhere; the holiday folk were doubtless sound asleep, oblivious to the small drama being played out yards from their front door.
The sound of the splash seemed magnified as it disrupted the stillness, echoing over the bay. The young man heaved the oar again and again, each whack making his body stiffen with fear and a sort of bravado. If they were caught they’d lose both the net and the boat, a heavy price to pay for a night of fun and a good catch of sea trout, fish that fetched a decent price at the back doors of the best hotel kitchens.
Several times the boat was rowed up and down, followed by a series of splashes until the old man raised his callused hand to call a halt. Now it was time to wait and see if the fish had indeed been scared witless enough to swim towards their doom.
Once more the old man rowed along the line of corks, his son lifting the net to see if anything lingered below.
‘A beauty,’ the boy whispered, raising the net to reveal a good-sized sea trout struggling in the brown mesh.
‘Ten pounder at least!’ he went on, freeing the huge fish where its gills had caught and hurling it into a wooden box below his feet.
‘Be-wheesht and get the net up,’ his father hissed, though the grin on his face showed how pleased he was with their first catch of the night. The old man bent towards the struggling fish, his fist around the priest, a wooden club that had been in the family for generations. One swift blow and the fish lay lifeless in the box, its silvery scales gleaming in the night.
One by one, others joined the fated sea trout as the two men made their laborious way along the edge of the net.
‘My, a grand haul, the night, Faither,’ Young Ewan Angus exclaimed, his voice still hushed for fear of any sound carrying over the water.
‘Aye, no’ bad,’ his father agreed, a contented smile on his face. One of the middling fish would be wrapped in layers of bracken and left in the porch of Calum Mhor, the police sergeant. A wee thank you for turning his continual blind eye to the nocturnal activities taking place down the road from Craignure. Mrs Calum had guests staying and she’d be fair pleased to serve them a fresh sea trout for their dinner. It was universally acknowledged here on the island that the pink fish was far superior in flavour to the coarser salmon, particularly those that had been farmed.
‘My, here’s a big one!’
The young man staggered as he tried to haul in the final part of the splash net. ‘I can hardly lift it!’ he exclaimed.
‘Must be caught on a rock,’ the old man grumbled, his mouth twisting in a moue of disgust. If they had to tear the net to release it then it would take hours of work to mend, but the operation depended on being in and out of these waters as quickly as they could manage. Hanging about was not an option in case the Men from the Revenue had decided on a little night-time excursion of their own.
Suddenly the young man bent down in the boat, hands gripping the gunwales as he peered into the depths below.
His brow furrowed at the rounded mass swaying beneath the surface, rags of bladderwrack shifting back and forwards with the motion of the waves. Then, as his eyes focused on the ascending shape, Ewan Angus Munro saw pale tendrils that had once been fingers of flesh and one thin arm floating upwards.
He screamed, and covered his mouth as the sickness rose in his throat, then stumbled backwards. The boy flung out his arms, desperate to grasp hold of something solid to break his fall but all he felt under his hands were the wet bodies of slithering fish.
‘What the . . . ? Ewan Angus turned, an oath dying on his lips as the boat rocked violently, small waves dashing over the bow.
Wordlessly, his son pointed to the waters below. Then, as the old man peered over the side of the boat, he saw the body rising to the surface, its passage out to sea impeded by their net.

Praise for the Book
“Another rip-roaring tale from Alex Gray!” ~ Auntie Annie
“Always love the stories involving the characters. Bill and Maggie are so in love but that sense of loss of their children is poignant. Alex brings the landscape to life and as a ex pat Scot I love it!” ~ Amazon Customer
“As usual Alex Gray has come up with a very enjoyable book.” ~ hazel duffau
“I have enjoyed the Lorimer mysteries and this is a good one. […] I recommend this book to mystery readers who enjoy a well crafted novel with a good balance of description, character development, and plot progression.” ~ Joan N.
“… it’s a corker. With a distinctive setting and a cast of memorable characters, this well-written novel will appeal to readers in search of a fresh take on Scottish crime fiction.” ~ Jim Napier, mystery & crime fiction reviewer

About the Author
Alex Gray
Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.
Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.
A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of the DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three ebook copies of The Silent Games by Alex Gray.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

"Magick Run Amok" by Sharon Pape

Magick Run Amok
(An Abracadabra Mystery Book 3)
by Sharon Pape

Magick Run Amok (An Abracadabra Mystery Book 3) by Sharon Pape

Magick Run Amok is the third book in the Abracadabra Mystery series by Sharon Pape. Also available: Magick and Mayhem (read my blog post) and That Olde White Magick.

That Olde White Magick by Sharon Pape

Magick Run Amok is currently on tour with Great Escapes 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.

The answer to whodunit may lie beyond the veil …
November in upstate New York can be chilly, but Kailyn Wilde’s shop, Abracadabra, is a cozy respite where you can find lotions, potions, and plenty of warm, feline company. But what customers don’t know is that the proprietor has some unusual powers—and unusual friends, including the renowned magician Merlin, who’s been transported into the modern world. All of which comes in handy when there’s a murder to be solved …
Investigative journalist Ryan Cutler has perished in a car accident in New Camel, and his friend, Travis, suspects foul play - especially when the reporter’s notes reveal a mysterious list of dead men’s names. Kailyn wants to help, but she’s also got her hands full with the curmudgeonly Merlin, who’s not exactly maintaining a low profile. Between keeping the wizard under wraps and mixing up cold remedies that work like magic, she’ll have to tap into her many talents to figure out a killer’s fatal formula ...

In the hours that remained, only one more person came in. He was big and broad shouldered, wearing a battered leather jacket open over a tee shirt with a skull motif. Tattoos peeked out of both sleeves of his jacket and from the neck of his tee. He was wearing jeans and combat boots and carrying a biker’s helmet under his left arm. His hair was spiked and the stubble on his cheeks had the look of a permanent two day growth. Tilly referred to men like him as biker dudes.
“How you doin’?” he asked before I could greet him.
“I’m well, thanks. How are you?”
“Good, good,” he said nodding like a bobble-head doll as he gave the shop the once over. He turned back to me. “I was just passing through, you know? And the name of your shop hooked me in.”
“Are you interested in magick?” I asked him.
“If you’re talkin’ magic like in magic shows, nah, except for when I was kid. Now if there was such a thing as real magick, sure - I’d be all over it, who wouldn’t be?”
I laughed. “True enough.”
“So what is it you have goin’ on here exactly?” he asked as he started browsing down the first aisle.
I raised my voice so he could hear me. “Natural products for what ails you, beauty aids for the skin and hair, candles for aroma therapy....”
He exited the aisle at the other end and instead of going down the next one, he headed back to me, clearly not interested enough to finish his self-tour. “It’s quirky, cute” he said, words that sounded odd coming from a biker dude’s mouth.
He shifted the helmet from his left arm to his right like he was settling in for a while. “New Camel’s definitely small-town America. I’ll bet you know every soul and every rumor makin’ the rounds.” 
If I’d been a dog, my ears would have pricked. For someone just passing through, someone who’d walked into my shop on a whim, why was he so interested in my acquaintances?” It might be idle conversation, but I was investigating a potential string of murders and I couldn’t afford to dismiss any offhand remark by a stranger. “You’d be surprised,” I said, morphing out of casual shopkeeper mode and into wary investigator in a split second. “My shop and this whole town are geared to the tourist trade. I do know many of the locals, but certainly not all of them. And if you’re talking about Watkins Glen, I probably know less than thirty percent of the residents there. Are you from a big city like New York?” Two can play the question game.
“I travel a lot,” he said, his eyes flitting around me for someplace to land other than my face. He spotted Sashkatu on the window ledge and grinned, showing off perfect white teeth. A man of the highways and byways who flossed and brushed regularly. “Cool detail - the cat,” he said. “What do they call the cats that help witches?”
“I think you mean ‘familiars.’”
“Yeah, that’s it.” He picked up a candle from one of the little display tables near the counter, turned it over, sniffed it and put it back down. “I stopped in Watkin’s Glen to grab a burger for lunch. Everyone was talkin’ about the guy who was found dead in his mobile home. I heard some folks say he deserved whatever he got. Guess he wasn’t liked much.”
I shrugged. “I wouldn’t know.”
“You don’t expect to hear stuff like that up here. In a city, yeah, but here in quiet-ville?”
“There are bad people everywhere. For all we know, the killer was just some guy passing through,” I said pointedly. He looked me squarely in the eye, and I had a smile all ready for him.
“A waitress was makin’ a wager with the guy at the next table,” he continued after a moment. “She bet the “Wilde girl” in New Camel would catch the killer before the cops again. You know who that is?”
“I’m Kailyn Wilde,” I said, pretty sure he already knew that, since he was standing in my shop.
“So – you really that good at findin’ criminal types?”
I shrugged. “People like to exaggerate.  I’ve probably just been lucky. Right time, right place - you know.” If he was involved in crime, murder specifically, there was no sense in giving him reason to eliminate me first.
“Nah, I’m mostly in the wrong place at the worst time,” he said chuckling at his own wit. He glanced at his watch. “I gotta hit the road. Good talkin’ to you, Miss Wilde. You stay safe.”
“I intend to,” I said. Over the years, my family and I had dealt with every sort of person, but not one of them had left me feeling as unsettled as this guy. I breathed a whole lot easier after he walked out and I heard the rumble of his motorcycle fade into the distance.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“We get to follow Kailyn, her aunt, Merlin, and the cats on yet another murder investigation that will have you laughing and gasping along the way.” ~ Books a Plenty Book Reviews
“I felt this read was full of lighthearted fun with plenty of twists and turns to draw me into the mystery. I like the cross-genre that mixes the mystery with paranormal fun!” ~ Ms.Cat’s Honest World
“With humor and investigative daring, along with some other worldly intervention, this adventure is a welcome addition to a delightful series. You can never predict what will happen next or who will save the day!” ~ Laura’s Interests
“This story not only turns about the mystery but the curious family of Kailyn, with her ghost mother lecturing her when she is not acting correctly, her ‘mysterious’ friend Merlin, that could be coming from the past … or of course the cats she has in her life …! But let me say that it makes the story funny and interesting, of course.” ~ Varietats

Guest Post by the Author
Will the Real Killer Please stand Up
I generally don’t start writing a book, until I’ve decided on the victim, the killer and the motive. Until recently, I’d only changed the killer once. It was late in the story, which makes any major change difficult to pull off and still make the book’s deadline. When the character who wanted to become the killer first popped into my head, I brushed them off. But they kept popping up, refusing to be ignored. “It makes more sense if I’m the killer,” they insisted. “Think about it and you’ll see that I’m right.”
That character was right. I thought about how hard it would be to make the change. As it turned out, it wasn’t that difficult, probably because the original killer and the new killer were related. I did have to add a few paragraphs and pages here and there to support the change, and I had to go through the manuscript carefully to remove anything that wouldn’t jibe with the new killer. If my character hadn’t been relentless, the book would not have been as good or as surprising as it turned out.
Five years later, when another character stopped in to have a similar chat, I was much more open to the prospect of change. This time it was a different one of my suspects who was campaigning to become the killer. They pointed out that I’d provided them with a better motive than the original killer as well as a reasonable opportunity to commit the murder. Why hadn’t I realized it myself? The manuscript would require some adjustments, but nothing all that difficult. As a writer, it can definitely be worthwhile to listen to those voices in your head.

About the Author
Sharon Pape
Sharon Pape describes her writing career as having two stages. Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, she had three paranormal books published. The first one was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they ever condensed. Then life brought her an unexpected challenge, by the name of breast cancer. After treatment, she and her oncologist started a not-for-profit to provide information and peer support to breast cancer patients. With the organization up and running, she returned to her first love – writing. This time around she’s been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of Magick Run Amok by Sharon Pape.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

"The Staircase of Fire" by Ben Woodard

The Staircase of Fire
(A Shakertown Adventure Book 3)
by Ben Woodard

The Staircase of Fire, the third book in the Shakertown Adventure series by Ben Woodard, is due for release on 25 May but is currently available for pre-order at the special price of $2.99 (save $1.00). Also available: A Stairway to Danger (read my blog post) and Steps Into Darkness (read my blog post).

This book blast and giveaway is brought to you by BeachBoundBooks.

A quiet town in Kentucky explodes from a racial incident and fourteen-year-old Tom Wallace is in the thick of it. His past haunts him and now he’s witness to a horrific event leaving him devastated and afraid.
Tom and his cousin, Will, search for lost Shaker gold he believes can help him escape his town and memories. But leaving has consequences. He will lose his friends and his new love.
On a fiery staircase Tom finally realizes that he must face his inner demons and his terrifying nightmares. To do so he must take a stand that could change his life … or end it.
Author Ben Woodard relies on firsthand experience and family history to tell this moving story of personal tragedy and racial hatred set in the rolling countryside of Kentucky in 1923.

Chapter 1
Rose stood up.
"They could kill you," whispered Tom.
"Tom, sometimes a person has to stand for what they believe, and this is one of them. Go on home."
The County Clerk's door opened and Rose and James moved toward it. A crowd followed.
Tom's eyes pleaded with James. His friend ignored him.
"Rose," said Tom. "Don't do this. It's not that important. Your vote won't change anything."
"You don't understand," she said softly. "You can't understand. The Nineteenth Amendment says I have the right to vote. I intend to use it."
"But you know an amendment passed a couple of years ago won't change anything. Mercer County will never allow you to register, much less vote. Few Negroes ever have — especially women."
Rose moved closer to the door and eyes, dozens of eyes, followed her.
"She wants to register," an elderly man yelled.
Tom tensed as the crowd pressed toward them.
A stench of hate filled the stale, tobacco-laden air and constricted Tom's throat. Doors slammed, feet pounded on steps and curses echoed through the tight courthouse space.
The news had sped like a bullet through the small town and an angry crowd of white people filled the tiny courthouse room, spilling into the hallways and out the door.
Tom unconsciously eased away from his friends. He stopped himself. They needed to get out of here. He leaned closer to Rose, "We have to leave, now."
"Go home, Tom," James spat out the words.
Tom flinched. This wasn't the James he knew. The gentle and quiet farm hand Tom worked with on a daily basis.
James stared straight ahead, the muscles in his face like granite, his eyes hard. Showing only confidence and determination.
Rose and James edged toward the Clerk's office and the crowd surrounded and jammed against them.
Tom stood horrified. As he tried to push his way back to his two friends, a rawboned farmer in overalls stopped him.
"Are you with those two?" he asked.
"I'm trying to get them out."
"I seen you with them. You need to leave. We'll take care of them."
Another man spoke up, "I've seen him before. He knows those Negroes."
"Yeah," said the first. "Isn't he the one from Nicholasville who —"
Tom moved with the crowd into the Clerks office. He had to escape before they figured out who he was, and what he did.
Sweat formed on his upper lip as he glanced in every direction desperately trying to find a way out of the courthouse.
The two men were now in the door and continued to point at him as Rose reached the counter. She said above the din, "I want a voter registration form."
The room went quiet. Deathly quiet.
Then, a woman to Rose's left screamed, "Damn Negroes."
Beside Rose stood an older woman in a simple cotton dress with a bonnet covering her mousy-gray hair. Her face was contorted with rage. The rest of the crowd joined her in shrieking at the small, brown woman.
A glob of spit and tobacco juice smacked into the back of Rose's starched calico dress and the screaming woman yanked out Rose's yellow hair ribbon. James spread his arms around his mother and took the brunt of the slaps and pushes.
The women behind the counter stood confused.
The County Clerk came out of his office and held up his hands for quiet. He glared at Rose.
"What do you want?" he said.
"I want to register to vote."
The crowd growled again and the Clerk quieted them.
"We don't allow your kind to vote," he said.
Rose only smiled. "What kind?" she asked.
The two men came closer to Tom and others now pointed in his direction. They must have figured out who he was and they might turn on him next.
Tom remembered a stairway to the basement that led to a rear exit. He wormed his way toward it finding the stairway door closed, but unlocked.
Tom jerked it open.
His body tightened.
The sounds faded as memories and fears came charging back at the sight of wooden steps vanishing into the shadows.
Sweat stung his eyes and salted his lips. Tom's hands trembled. He wiped his face on a sleeve.
He couldn't go down. He wouldn't.
But the men still watched. Tom was trapped.
The bedlam of the room returned and he heard the Clerk scream at Rose and James telling them to get out.
He had to help them, but fear glued him in place.
Tom jerked as Sheriff Smith pushed his way into the room bellowing for the mob to get away from Rose. Two grim-faced deputies armed with shotguns flanked the lawman. They elbowed their way to Rose and James and the Sheriff whispered to Rose. She shook her head. He spoke to her a few more minutes and she finally nodded.
The three lawmen surrounded Tom's friends and led them through the crowd. Screams and curses followed.
Tom snuck through the throng and barreled down the front courthouse steps. The Sheriff and deputies escorted Rose and James to their wagon
Tom stared as their rig bounced down the dusty road toward Shakertown. His stomach rolled. He should have done something.
Anything. Except freeze in fear.
The reeling in his gut got worse and he staggered toward the clump of trees where he'd tied his horse.
Tom untied the reins and slipped into the saddle. He was sure, or at least tried to convince himself, that the Sheriff would protect Rose and James.
He spun the horse around and headed for Shakertown.
As he rode, the fear for Rose and his fear of the staircase still gripped him. Was every set of stairs he saw going to terrify him? Cause the memories to come crawling back?
And no matter where he was in Mercer County, someone might recognize him.
He released the reins, the horse knew the way home, and dropped his head on the animal's neck. Trying not to throw up. And then the sweats started, soaking his body.
The usual. Caused by a memory from that morning at Grandfather's house. Still there after four years.
He needed to get himself under control before he saw Will or Helen. His best friends. But he couldn't tell them, or anyone, what happened that Sunday morning. The memory hurt too much.
But he had to talk to them about Rose and James. His friends would understand.
And right now, Tom needed a friend.

Praise for the Book
The Staircase of Fire succeeds in offering dramatic action, mystery, social insights, and a story line that evolves from pure adventure to something deeper…” ~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
The Staircase of Fire is a riveting and intense tale ...” ~ The Children's Book Review
“Tom grows a lot in this book and I really enjoyed reading his journey. It seems like almost every white character is racist in some way (which is historically accurate) and it was refreshing to see Tom learn to break out of the narrow-minded thinking that he had and which surrounds him.” ~ Eustacia Tan
“An inspiring adventure where the reader discovers that strength of character, the belief in what is right, and facing your demons, is the only answer to true inner peace – Highly recommended.” ~ Susan Keefe

About the Author
Ben Woodard
Ben Woodard is a (mostly) retired amateur adventurer who has traveled across Tibet, climbed to 18,000 feet on Mt. Everest, and solo backpacked wilderness areas. Now his adventures come in the form of imagining stories, writing and telling them to kids and teens. He works with teachers, schools and literacy organizations spreading the word that books are vital - and fun.

Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.