Latest Books

The American Dossier by Uri Norwich

RUSSIAN ELECTION MEDDLING never stops.

“How much time do I have left to live?” asked the man.

“We’ll tell you when to die,” was the reply to his question by his handlers.

Once, he had engineered the election of the first black American President. Now, the year is 2016. The Presidency is up for grabs, again. After eight years of the oblivion, he is back to prevent losing it to an outsider. Just like before, death, destruction, and a trail of assassinations follow him.

This time, it hits close to home. When the man learns that his KGB handlers are after an innocent young woman, he sets out to save her life. Soon he finds that she too joined the assassin’s trade to avenge the deaths of her own.

There was no need for the meddling. It has been going on much longer than most people realize.

The novel is a sequel to The American Deluge, published in 2014.

The Big Thrill spent some time with author Uri Norwich discussing his latest novel, THE AMERICAN DOSSIER:
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Fatal Legislation by Ellen Butler

Lawmaking can be a murderous affair.

If any day calls for a soothing glass of wine, it’s today.

One moment, Capitol Hill lobbyist Karina Cardinal is having a heated discussion with Senator Harper, who just torpedoed her latest health care legislation initiative. The next, after a cryptic remark, the senator is dead at her feet. Hours later, she’s still so rattled she wakes to a freezing apartment because she forgot to close her back door. Or did she?

When her boyfriend, FBI cybercrimes expert Mike Finnegan, is suddenly reassigned to work a new case, he’s got bad news and worse news. The bad: the senator’s death was no heart attack—it was assassination by a hacker disabling his pacemaker. Worse: Karina’s a “person of interest.”

Certain that status could change to “suspect” at any moment, Karina begins her own back-channel investigation into who could have wanted the senator dead. Of course, in Washington, that means playing politics and following the money trail. A trail that leads to more murders…and possibly leaving the door open for a killer to change her status to “dead.”

Award-winning author Ellen Butler took some time to discuss her latest novel, FATAL LEGISLATION, with The Big Thrill:
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The Divine Affliction by Robert M. Fleisher

When Derrick Daniels, Justice Department attorney, reluctantly investigates the possibility that rogue Arab states developed deadly diseases as a terrorist weapon against the United States, assassins and inexplicable forces threaten his existence. Soon, the powers of ancient law collide with contemporary villainy, threatening the fate of all humankind. Every living thing is at risk, from wild animals that become road kill to the most elite members of every society. Is widespread violence random, or is there a combination of unrelated plots conspiring to bring an end to the idyllic life that used to define the American way?

TheBigThrill caught up to Dr. Fleisher to gain some insight into his debut novel, THE DIVINE AFFLICTION:
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The Answer to Everything by Ken Kuhlken

Jodi McGee, narrator of THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING, has a 17-year-old daughter, a husband in prison, and a deep affection for Clifford Hickey, a San Diego journalist. When Clifford’s brother Alvaro assists in the murder of a Tijuana drug cartel gunman, Jodi and her daughter, along with the Hickey family, become targets of the cartel. The drama that unfolds features true and revealing history, insights into the nature of evil and the embedded connections between crime and government here and abroad, and captivating portraits of characters young, older, and old. Readers will find it captivating, memorable, and true to the lofty promise of its title.

Award-winning author Ken Kuhlken spent some time discussing his latest thriller, THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING, with The Big Thrill:
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The Big Machine Eats: Stories by Beau Johnson

Life has never been easy. Life has never been kind. It is always hungry. It is never full. Enter the struggles within the pages of THE BIG MACHINE EATS. Where fathers clash with sons, cannibals turn on cannibals, and sometimes sandwich meat is far from the worst choice a person can make.

These stories, along with the continuing adventures of Bishop Rider, make up the bulk of this collection. They are not for the faint of heart. They are not for those who fail to believe one should get what one deserves. We must help ourselves. We must help those who find themselves unable. If not, it’s as the sign says: The Big Machine Will Eat.

The Big Thrill caught up to author Beau Johnson to discuss his latest book, THE BIG MACHINE EATS:
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Adrenaline Junkie: A Memoir by Les Edgerton

ADRENALINE JUNKIE is more than a renowned, multi-award-winning author entertaining with his life history. Les Edgerton understands that backstory matters. It influences the present. So he journeyed through his past seeking answers for why he was the way he was. Seeking answers for his thrill-seeking, devil-may-care, often self-destructive behaviors. Seeking a sense of personal peace.

Why was he compelled to be the best he could be in all his endeavors—legal or otherwise? What drove him to excel, then flee success, only to strive for supremacy in another field?

ADRENALINE JUNKIE holds the answers. With nothing held back. With his life-saving humor, an indomitable spirit, and a fierce courage to expose the ugly and painful. Like the tough, raw, vulnerable characters Les writes about in his short stories and novels, he exposes us to a man fighting against family, society, and his own sense of injustice. Fighting for a moment—regardless of how fleeting—to feel in control of his life. And, as uncomfortable at times as Les’s life adventure may be for us to witness, we come away grateful he took us with him.

So settle back. Meet a real-life, 21st-century Renaissance man. A real-life adrenaline junkie:
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Avenue of Regrets by R. J. Pineiro

I was happy once. I just didn’t know it. I had a family. I had friends. I had a good job. And one day it all ended.

There are defining moments in people’s lives, times forever etched in our minds. Some are good. Others not so. For David Wallace, there was no worse time than receiving the news of his family’s death while confined to a jail cell on murder charges.

Seven years later, David has moved on with his life, having started a non-profit shelter for battered women, still haunted by the indiscretion which changed his world forever. But there are dark forces in play demanding a reckoning. As he’s besieged by past demons, David discovers enemies and crimes so heinous and so far reaching, they threaten to propel him down another avenue of regrets.

The Big Thrill caught up with internationally-acclaimed author R. J. Pineiro to discuss his newest thriller, AVENUE OF REGRETS:
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Hearts of the Missing by Carol Potenza

When a young woman linked to a list of missing Fire-Sky tribal members commits suicide, Pueblo Police Sergeant Nicky Matthews is assigned to the case. As the evidence leads her to a shocking discovery, she uncovers not only murder but a motive with an ominous, vengeful twist that strikes at the very core of what it means to be a member of the Fire-Sky People. With an intimate knowledge of Fire-Sky customs and traditions, the killer ensures the spirits of those targeted will wander lost forever. As Nicky closes in on the murderer, those closest to her are put in jeopardy. She realizes she must be willing to sacrifice everything–her career, her life, and even her soul–to save the people she is sworn to protect.

Award-winning author Carol Potenza took some time to meet with The Big Thrill to discuss her debut novel, HEARTS OF THE MISSING:
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The Clincher by Lisa Preston

By Wendy Tyson

Lisa Preston’s latest novel, THE CLINCHER, features Rainy Dale, a spirited and outspoken farrier (horseshoer) with a troubled past. This first in the Horseshoer Mystery Series is a fast-paced, exciting ride alongside Rainy as she investigates the murder of her trophy-wife client in rural Oregon.

The Big Thrill recently had the opportunity to talk with Preston about the first in a new series, THE CLINCHER. 

Congratulations on your new mystery series debut, THE CLINCHER. Your main character, Rainy Dale, is a horseshoer—an interesting and original occupation for an amateur sleuth. Why horseshoeing?  

After a couple of standalone thriller and suspense novels, I was interested in doing a series. I wanted to accomplish two things at the outset: create a character with plenty of room to grow, and build a mystery series world that hadn’t already been done. A horseshoer accesses properties of all kinds, yet can go largely unnoticed or ignored by others while working for an hour or a day on someone else’s premises. Part of the shoer’s skillset is observation. The same mind that notices subtle changes in one hoof on one horse can notice a wound, friction between people, a car or tool out of place—and these things can be clues to a crime. 
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The One that Got Away by Joe Clifford

In the early 2000s, a string of abductions rocked the small upstate town of Reine, New York. Only one girl survived: Alex Salerno. The killer was sent away. Life returned to normal. No more girls would have to die. Until another one did.

It’s been 12 years since Kira Shanks was reported missing and presumed dead. Alex Salerno has been living in New York City, piece-mealing a livable wage, trying to forget those three days locked underground and her affair with the married detective who rescued her. When a hometown reporter requests an interview, Alex is drawn back into a dangerous game of show and tell in an insular town where everyone has a secret to hide. As details emerge about the night Kira Shanks went missing, Alex learns why so many are willing to kill to protect it. Can Alex Salerno escape the noose once more in time to reveal the horrific truth?

In the modern vein of Girl on the Train and The Bone Collector, THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY is a dark psychological thriller featuring a compelling, conflicted heroine and a page-turning narrative that races toward its final, shocking conclusion.

Author Joe Clifford spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY:
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Midsummer Mayhem by Marty Wingate

Shakespeare comes to Hampshire—and Pru Parke is cast into the role of cunning detective gardener once again.

Pru’s friends and neighbors are abuzz with the news of an acting troupe putting on an outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And while many are eager to catch a glimpse of famed actor Ambrose Grant, Pru can’t wait to finally see the spectacular gardens of the private estate where the play will be performed. When the estate’s gardener abruptly quits—frustrated with actors trampling his beloved plants—Pru is called upon for her gardening expertise. She throws herself into creating magical woodland forest scenes, and is quickly drawn into the excitement of putting on a play, as she watches the drama on and off the stage. But the play’s suddenly no longer the thing, when one of the actors turns up murdered.

Pru’s husband, Detective Inspector Christopher Pearse, relies on Pru’s knowledge of all the players in this particular intrigue, and Pru finds herself using rehearsals to investigate. But playing the role of private eye could prove perilous for Pru, as she closes in on a murderer who won’t let anyone—least of all the gardener—keep him from stopping the show . . . dead.

The Big Thrill caught up to bestselling author Marty Wingate to discuss the latest installment in her ever-popular Potting Shed mystery series, MIDSUMMER MAYHEM:
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Who I Am by Sarah Simpson

Andi met Camilla at university. Instantly best friends, they shared everything together. Until their long-planned graduation celebration ends in tragedy…

Years later, Andi is living a seemingly perfect life on the rugged Cornish Coast with her loving husband, happy children and dream home. Yet Andi is haunted by a secret she thought only she knew.

Someone out there is bringing Andi’s deepest fears to life. And she knows there’s no escaping the past that has come back to haunt her…

You trusted me with your secrets, you told me everything, you thought I was your best friend… but you have no idea WHO I AM.

Gripping, unputdownable and packed with twists and turns from the first page to the very last, this stunning psychological thriller will make you question whether we can ever really trust the ones we love.

Author Sarah Simpson met with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest psychological thriller, WHO I AM:
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A Deadlier Breed by John Wayne Falbey

By George Ebey

John Wayne Falbey brings us international thrills in his latest work, A DEADLIER BREED.

As the story unfolds, Islamic terrorists have moved five nuclear weapons to a point just over the border in Mexico with a plan to detonate them in major American cities within days.

To avoid the widespread panic that public knowledge of the situation would cause, the newly-elected president of the United Sates turns to a secretive, dysfunctional paramilitary group known as Sleeping Dogs.

Their leader, Brendan Whelan, has a marital crisis on his hands, and a traitor within the administration is leaking vital security information. Compounding the threat, a group of unique killers has been recruited for the purpose of eliminating the Dogs. Time is critical and Whelan and the Sleeping Dogs face their most dangerous challenge yet.

The Big Thrill reached out to Falbey to learn more about this exciting new thriller.
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Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits

ROTTEN PEACHES is a gripping epic filled with disturbing and unforgettable insights into the human condition. Love, lust, race and greed. How far will you go? Two women. Two men. One happy ending. It takes place in Canada, the U.S., and South Africa. Nature or nurture. South Africa, racism, and old prejudices — these are hardly old topics but what happens when biological half-siblings meet with insidious intentions?

Can their moral corruption be blamed on genetics — were they born rotten to begin with?

And what happens when they meet up with more of their ilk?

What further havoc can be wreaked, with devastating familial consequences?

The Big Thrill spent some time with award-winning author Lisa de Nikolits discussing her latest thriller, ROTTEN PEACHES:
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The Very Least by Ken Kuhlken

By Basil Sands

Ken Kuhlken’s THE VERY LEAST: A HICKEY FAMILY CRIME NOVEL, about a journalist who runs afoul of crime bosses, politicians, and tycoons on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, is a fast-paced suspense story that’ll keep you reading all night long.

Kuhlken is the author of numerous award-winning novels, stories, articles, poems, and essays. His impressive list of honors includes a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a PEN Ernest Hemingway Award, and a Private Eye Writers of America Best First P.I. Novel award, as well as several San Diego Book and Los Angeles Book Festival awards. His 2006 novel The Do-Re-Mi was a finalist for the Shamus Award for Best P.I. Novel.

The Big Thrill recently caught up with Kuhlken to discuss his long-running Hickey Family series, which reaches its 10th installment with THE VERY LEAST.
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Reborn by Dan Mayer

By P. J. Bodnar

What would you be willing to do for a chance to live your life over again?

That’s the question facing Walter, the down-and-out protagonist of Dan Mayer’s sophomore novel, REBORN. Walt’s life has gone definitively off the rails: he’s reeling from the deaths of his parents and grandmother, and he’s estranged from the love of his life. When the mysterious Joshua offers him the opportunity to go back and fix his mistakes, Walt is willing to risk everything for a second chance—even if it means reliving the tragic death of his parents. But as the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Mayer is an Ontario-based author whose debut title, The Suffering, was released in November 2017. He’s currently working on his third novel, Dave’s War, a psychological thriller with supernatural elements. Between promoting his newest release and getting his next novel ready for publication, Mayer took time to answer some questions for The Big Thrill.
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The Spectral City by Leanna Renee Hieber

By Jaden Terrell

When she’s not writing bestselling and award-winning Gothic Victorian Fantasy, Leanna Renee Hieber moonlights as a licensed ghost tour guide in New York City’s Boroughs of the Dead.

Perhaps that should come as no surprise. An online search for “ghosts of New York City” yields more than 80 million results, while “haunted New York City” garners more than a hundred million. The Big Apple loves its haunts, and Hieber’s work is both haunted and haunting, her spectral characters as developed as those of flesh and ink.

Set in 1899, THE SPECTRAL CITY features Eve Whitby, a gifted young medium in charge of New York City’s Ghost Precinct. When her ghostly contacts begin to disappear, Eve and her network of fellow psychics and wayward ghosts must work with the diligent but skeptical (and all too attractive) Lieutenant Horowitz to thwart a force so evil it threatens even the dead.

Asked what readers can expect from her book, Hieber says, “I hope readers will feel connected to Historic New York and also think about the bond between the living and the dead as something beautiful and full of interest and help.”

Her ghosts are not the horrifying specters depicted in Hollywood horror films. “I’m interested in presenting ghosts in a helpful, friendly and unique light,” she says, “and I hope this provides a compelling paranormal adventure that’s refreshing for readers. I hope readers will love my mediums, a group of young women who are brave and professional, at a time when women were emerging presences in the average workforce. I hope readers will love a realistic 19th century New York where the paranormal is normal; a seamless blend of history and fantasy.”

Hieber feels that mystery and thriller elements have always been “the core and binding part” of her cross-genre work. She blends crime and suspense with supernatural elements and a rich historical setting. Her research into the creation of the New York Foundling Hospital led to some of the novel’s more poignant moments.

Let’s welcome her to The Big Thrill.

Congratulations on your new book, Leanna! And thank you for taking the time to talk to us about it. Why don’t we start with a little bit about your writing journey and how you came to be a professional writer?

I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe in grade school and never looked back. I began my first novel around age 11, set in 1888. My chosen time period has been a life-long obsession. Mutually in love with the stage and the written page, I graduated with a BFA in theatre performance with a focus in the Victorian era. Years later, at a Broadway callback, all I could think about was the book that became my debut novel, so I shifted my focus and placed novel writing at the fore.

You describe your work as Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy with strong elements of mystery and suspense. Tell us a little bit about the genre and what attracts you to it?

The Gothic novel, one of the most misunderstood and maligned genres in literary history, has always had its finger on the pulse of popular fiction, intimate psychology and internal conflict. Writing deeply passionate, psychological, and spirit-filled novels in a historic setting allows me to grapple with important aspects of human existence as a timeless question while crafting a gamesome adventure in lyrical prose. Nineteenth century Spiritualism cracked open society’s understanding of life and death, paving the way for new voices in a restrictive time period. My characters live fully in that freshly carved historic space full of wonder and possibility.

Why did you choose turn-of-the century New York City for this book?

Gilded Age New York City is dizzying in its wealth as contrasted with its squalor, great works of philanthropy balanced against cruelties, a city of dichotomies, wonders and new technologies, filled with larger-than-life characters. Simply put, it’s irresistible. I’ve been a licensed New York City tour guide sharing history for over a decade and I can promise you there’s never a dull moment in this city’s past.

Can you tell us a little bit about your main character, Eve, and her little group of mediums?

Eve Whitby’s family has been with me for a decade. I love them beyond measure. Each of my series stand alone, but readers who have followed me will greet familiar faces. Eve is perhaps the boldest, most no-nonsense heroine I’ve ever written. She has delightfully surprised me all along the way. Her three fellow mediums come from vastly different backgrounds and their found family dynamic is an ever-evolving treasure.

You explore a number of modern issues in THE SPECTRAL CITY. How do you blend the discussion of women’s roles in society and transgender issues into a historical background?

The fight for women’s equality blossomed in the 19th century as women began working in all kinds of new spaces. Movements that finally gained the vote in the 20th century were built decades prior. Victoria Woodhull ran for president with Frederick Douglass as her running mate 27 years before the setting of my book. The issues and biases Eve and Detective Horowitz confront were part and parcel of contemporary Victorian discourse.

LGBTQ+ folks have always existed, that’s no modern invention, though 19th century existence came with complications, biases, and legal issues. Oscar Wilde’s trial took place two years before my 1899 setting, so methods of hiding, passing, and code-switching for LGBTQ+ folk remained vital for safety. That’s why Eve understanding and welcoming Antonia is so important. While the vernacular of the time period was different than today, it would be inaccurate to exclude these identities from a city as historically diverse as NYC. The important part for me was presenting a trans character who simply exists, safely and helpfully, who isn’t a point of conflict or tragedy. For a wonderful window into 19th century LGBTQ+ life, please visit the Alice Austen house in Staten Island for a treasure trove of period photography and information.

What are some of the resources you use to ensure historical accuracy?

My go-to resources are guidebooks from the time period, catalogues, periodicals, maps, museums, articles and advertisements; the voice and images of the era. This time around, I was thrilled to obtain a book cataloguing Harry Houdini’s theatre bills, so I was able to recreate one of his exact escape advertisements.

Conversely, what kinds of liberties do you take with historical facts—especially in light of the paranormal aspects of your work?

The steepest veering off historical course is creating the Ghost Precinct itself. While there was no official department investigating things via paranormal aid, mediums, psychics, mesmerists, magicians, occult and mystical figures teemed this point in history. Every aspect my characters embody matches the obsessions and preoccupations of the era.

What’s next? Will we see more of Eve and the Ghost Precinct?

THE SPECTRAL CITY is set for at least a trilogy! And the fourth and final installment in my popular Strangely Beautiful saga, Miss Violet and the Great War, after years of trials and tribulations, will finally release with Tor Books February 2019.

*****

Actress, playwright and author Leanna Renee Hieber is the award-winning, bestselling author of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels for adults and teens. Her Strangely Beautiful saga, beginning with The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, hit Barnes & Noble and Borders Bestseller lists and garnered numerous regional genre awards, with new revised editions from Tor Books now available. Darker Still was named an American Bookseller’s Association “Indie Next List” pick, a Scholastic Book Club “Highly Recommended” title and a Daphne du Maurier award finalist. Her new Gaslamp Fantasy saga, The Eterna Files trilogy, is now available from Tor Books. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies such as Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, Willful Impropriety, The Mammoth Book of Gaslamp Romance, featured on Tor.com and she writes for Criminal Element. Her new Gaslamp Fantasy series The Spectral City begins Nov. 2018 from Kensington Rebel Base. A four-time Prism Award winner for excellence in the genre of fantasy romance, Leanna’s books have been selected for national book club editions and translated into languages such as Complex Chinese, German and Polish. A proud member of performer unions Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA, she lives in New York City, where she is a licensed ghost tour guide and has been featured in film and television on shows like Boardwalk Empire and Mysteries at the Museum.

She is represented by Paul Stevens of the Donald Maass agency and is active on Twitter @leannarenee and has resources and more information on her website.

 

 
 

Gravy Train by Tess Makovesky

By Tim O’Mara

When asked to do an interview for The Big Thrill, I always say yes. Typically, I get a copy of the book, find a comfy place to read, and break out my notebook. While reading Tess Makovesky’s GRAVY TRAIN, I had so much fun, I never took a single note—that’s never happened to me before.

The story centers on Sandra, a barmaid who learns details of a betting scam that nets her and her husband a cool 80 thousand pounds. Crime pays, it would seem. Except they don’t anticipate the mugger waiting for them outside the betting shop, or the chaos that ensues.

Since Makovesky resides on the other side “of the pond,” our conversation about GRAVY TRAIN was conducted over the Internet—even that was fun, as you’ll see in the below interview.

One of the most interesting things about GRAVY TRAIN is how all of Sandra’s scenes—and only hers—are in the present tense. What led to that choice?

It just seemed to work out like that. I wanted to do chapters from several different characters’ points of view and was looking for ways to make them sound different enough that the readers could tell pretty much who was “talking” in each chapter. For example, crime boss Ball is a bit prissy, Todd-the-chauffeur swears a lot. It just seemed to happen that Sandra’s chapters ended up in present tense. Given that in many ways she’s the main character in GRAVY TRAIN, it adds to the immediacy of her scenes.

It’s something I used sparingly in my previous book, Raise the Blade, and that gave me the courage to try it in slightly longer passages here.
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Harbinger by Frank Zafiro and Jim Wilsky

By P. J. Bodnar

Set off the Gulf Coast of Florida, on the sleepy little island of Sanibel, HARBINGER is anything but sleepy. The storyline takes the reader to the origins of Frank Zafiro and Jim Wilsky’s character, Ania.

As they have throughout the series, the authors each voice one of the two main characters—lifelong friends Boyd Tomlin and Hicks Ledoux. Boyd is a straight shooter and the brains of the business. Hicks is the laid back and carefree one, who is always the life of the party. Boyd and Hicks own the Harbinger, a charter fishing boat passed down to them from their fathers.

When times get tough, Boyd and Hicks have to make some questionable decisions that put a strain on everything except their friendship. But when they meet sisters Ania and Karolyn, everything for them changes.

HARBINGER is the prequel to Zafiro and Wilsky’s Ania Series, which includes Blood on Blood, Queen of Diamonds, and Closing the Circle. The duo is also working together on a novella anthology, A Grifter’s Song, with several other authors.

Zafiro and Wilsky took time out of their busy schedules to answer some questions for The Big Thrill:
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Fireball, a J. T. Ryan Thriller by Lee Gimenez

By Millie Naylor Hast

The murder of three prominent leaders—a Supreme Court justice, a senator, and a cardinal—blasts Lee Gimenez’s FIREBALL off to a searing start, and the danger grows more intense as the pages fly by.

The U.S. President—teetering on the brink of impeachment—asks former Special Forces soldier and Medal of Honor recipient J. T. Ryan, now a private investigator working with the FBI, to join a small cadre of trusted aides to track down the killers. He suspects rogues within the National Security Agency. The murders pile up as J. T., his boss, FBI Assistant Director Erin Welch, and CIA Agent Rachel West uncover an international conspiracy that pushes the United States and Russia to the brink of nuclear war.

Gimenez is the author of 14 novels, including six science fiction and eight mystery/thriller. He was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award and was a finalist in the Terry Kay Prize for Fiction.

I caught up with him for The Big Thrill to talk about FIREBALL, the latest in his J. T. Ryan series.
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Absinthe Without Leave by Carole Nelson Douglas

By Cathy Perkins

Literary chameleon Carole Nelson Douglas has written bestselling high and urban fantasy, historical and contemporary mystery and romance, and thrillers.

Formerly an award-winning, truth-telling, mainstream media, real newspaper journalist, Douglas is an Agatha and Nebula nominee, a USA Today bestseller, and a four-time Rita award finalist. She’s won RT Book Reviews awards for mystery and suspense, for career achievement, and as a pioneer of publishing for her multi- and cross-genre works.

The Big Thrill caught up with Douglas to discuss ABSINTHE WITHOUT LEAVE, the latest in her Midnight Louie series featuring an unsuspected co-detective to two amateur and pro human crime-solvers.

Termed an irresistible combination of Sam Spade and Nathan Detroit, Louie is back with a new partner-in-crime solving—savvy paranormal PI Delilah Street, fresh from the urban fantasy Dark Side of Vegas. Is the notorious late 19th-century drink of absinthe, now a Las Vegas rage, responsible for a magic-act murder? Or runaway human emotions: love, hate and jealousy? Or is some secret governmental undercover mission unraveling? Louie and his human partners will be forced to nose out the killer.

The Midnight Louie series is long running, with many fans, but for readers just joining, or transferring over with this series “mashup,” Douglas shares insight into how she develops main characters and what made her decide to feature a furry sleuth.
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Pushback by John E. Stith

Ordinary Hijacked by Extraordinary, With Comedy

By K. L. Romo

Dave Barlow is just an ordinary guy whose existence is suddenly hijacked by wildly extraordinary circumstances.

When Dave takes his new love, Cathy, to the high school reunion he’s not even sure he wants to attend, he’s shocked that not one person remembers him. And he doesn’t recognize them either. Is he losing his mind? After all, he’s long suffered from PTSD—first from witnessing the murder-suicide of his mother and father when he was a boy, and then from the horrible car crash that killed his fiancée and left him mangled, both inside and out. Maybe he needs to go to therapy more often?

But hours before the reunion, someone had fired two bullets into his car door and then turned the holes into a smiley face. At first dismissing the damage as a random act of vandalism, Dave now realizes that the reunion fiasco was a set-up, and the two hateful acts are connected. As he tries to piece the puzzle together, eerie things continue to happen. Someone isn’t just trying to ruin Dave’s life—they’re trying to kill him. Can he determine who is behind the vendetta against him and stop it before they stop him?
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Africa Scene: Mike Nicol by Michael Sears

The Making of an
Unputdownable Thriller

By Michael Sears

Mike Nicol is the best stylist writer in the thriller genre in South Africa today—his staccato language, tense plotting, and nice and nasty backdrop of Cape Town makes each of his books impossible to put down. Nicol’s novels just keep getting better. And if you’ve never read a South African thriller before, try SLEEPER—you’ll be hooked.

Cool-cat surfer Fish Pescado and his ex (maybe) spy girlfriend, Vicki Kahn, are back. The minister of energy is murdered and his lover hires Fish to find the killer—but then disappears herself. A much deeper game is going on, and one that sucks Vicki back into her old profession. Spies, terrorists, a briefcase of enriched uranium, and a sleeper all come to a head at a farm in the Agter-Paarl.

Below, Nicol takes some time to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill about his riveting new thriller, SLEEPER.
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Between The Lines: Lee Child by Josie Brown

Digging Up The Past

By Josie Brown

Iconic anti-hero Jack Reacher has made thriller writer Lee Child an internationally renowned author. In PAST TENSE—the latest novel in this New York Times bestselling series—a turn in the road takes Child’s avenging loner to his long-deceased father’s hometown, where the ghosts of his past aren’t necessarily dead and buried.

As is customary, Child started PAST TENSE without a plot.

“I am the extreme example of a pantser,” he says. “I have no idea at all what the book is going to be about. I just start it and hope that somehow it sets in motion a chain of thought that will then produce a decent story. This is number 23 in the series. Having done so many, I’ve learned to trust that process.”

And as is usually the case, the book’s first paragraph inspired the entire plot.

“Reacher’s rootlessness leaves him a lot of time to kill and no particular place to go,” Child says. “The first paragraph was supposed to launch a journey, or a trip, whatever. But when I re-read it, I realized that I used a lot of ornithological imagery: about Reacher leaving the Northeast at the ending of the summer and planning to head south, like a migration. I then thought, ‘Why have I done that? What is the subliminal content about that paragraph?’”

He remembered writing about ornithology in another book, where he describes Reacher’s father. “There’s a brief mention of this Marine Corps officer who was a stone-cold killer but also a birdwatcher. Tough, but also somewhat tender,” Child says, adding that a few meager details about the man also appear in a short story. “In it, I mention his name—Stan—and the town he’s from: Laconia, New Hampshire. I chose Laconia simply because it sounds like ‘laconic,’ which is a Reacher family characteristic.”
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Turning Point: C. J. Lyons by Dawn Ius

The Dark Spectrum of YA Thrillers

By Dawn Ius

It’s not unusual for authors of bestselling adult fiction to dabble in writing for young adults, but the “turning point”—the event or circumstance or story gem—that points an author in a different direction is as random as pinpointing where ideas come from.

For C. J. Lyons, the inspiration to write for young adults stemmed from watching her niece and nephew struggle to find books that kept them engaged without pushing content boundaries.

“They’re both brilliant,” she says. “Really, not just proud auntie boasting. They were reading at a college level when they were seven and eight years old. Unfortunately, once they tore through the Harry Potter series and books like it, there really weren’t books they were interested in that didn’t have explicit sex and violence—what today they call ‘clean’ YA.”

Lyons admits she wrote her sci-fi young adult trilogy, The Stolen Futures, for them—with their input—and realized that she didn’t just love reading young adult literature. She found it much more freeing than writing for adults, where she often has to censor herself and pull back because of older readers’ sensibilities.

“I actually go much darker with my YA, not only in terms of plot twists, but also emotionally,” she says. “YA readers love emotionally honest characters, who despite their flaws and mistakes find the courage to change.”

That’s certainly the case with her new young adult thriller, THE COLOR OF LIES, a riveting story about a young girl with synesthesia—a kind of sensory criss-crossing that, in the case of high school senior Ella Cleary, gives her the ability to see people’s emotions via colorful auras.
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Up Close: Debra Webb by E. M. Powell

The Idyllic Start of a New Mini-Series

By E. M. Powell

Debra Webb’s latest, THE DEAD GIRL, is the first book in the Breakdown series, a suspense mini-series that revolves around the seemingly perfect small town of Shutter Lake.

Nestled in a peaceful valley surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the picturesque Shutter Lake is filled with pleasant, charming people. The crime rate there is zero—until a dead girl is found. Deputy Chief of Police Laney Holt is called to investigate, something she never thought she’d have to do in this quiet idyll. She’s a former L.A. homicide detective who walked away from big city crime after a shooting she couldn’t put behind her.

It turns out that the perfection of the town is just a façade, one that’s crumbling piece by piece. And thanks to Webb’s fast paced, gripping writing, the reader can’t look away from the unfolding disaster. One is left waiting for the next installment.

Yet, it won’t be from Webb.

In a less than usual format, Webb has written the Breakdown series with three other writers, with the possibility of more later. First came a meeting of two minds.

“Vicki Hinze and I had been discussing it for a while,” Webb says. “Soon we had the storyline laid out. We developed the primary plots and outlined the main characters.”
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Up Close: Sara Paretsky by R. G. Belsky

Returning to the Voice of
Crime and Justice

By R. G.  Belsky

V. I. Warshawski is back in a dazzling new thriller called SHELL GAME, the 19th in Sara Paretsky’s bestselling series about her renowned Chicago private investigator. And, even though Victoria Iphigenia (Vic) Warshawski’s been around for a long time, she’s still tough as ever here as she battles ISIS, ICE, the Russian mob, archeology looters, and more.

Paretsky laughs when asked about Warshawski’s age in this latest release. “We were both 30 when we started. And she’s about 50 now, while I’m 70. She’s going to hover there for a while. Maybe if I live to be 90 and I’m still writing, 60 might sound good for her — and I’ll move it up a decade.”

Paretsky says she originally intended for Warshawski to age in real time, but then decided she needed to use a fictional approach instead. “I’m not happy about it but I want her to still be an effective physical presence.”

She points out that keeping her at this age also allows her to keep a lot of beloved characters in the series. “Lotty (her close friend and doctor) and Mr. Contreras (her neighbor) would be far too old. And the dogs cannot die. In my fictional world, I don’t want that kind of grieving. Readers understand and like that. It very much resonates with people when I talk about this.”
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Up Close: Robert Rotstein by Wendy Tyson

Exploring Multiple Points of View

By Wendy Tyson

Robert Rotstein is back with his latest legal thriller, WE, THE JURY. Hailed as a must-read by New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry, WE, THE JURY is a riveting tale told from the perspective of individual jurors involved in a horrifying murder trial involving alleged domestic violence.

On the day before his 21st wedding anniversary, a man buries an ax in his wife’s skull. Now, the jurors assigned to his trial must decide whether the accused is a cold-blooded murderer—or whether he was a battered spouse who killed his wife in self-defense.

In an age of media sound bites and incendiary tag lines, some would say we’ve never had more information at our fingertips—yet have never been less informed. Given the current climate, Rotstein’s novel—which deals with public perception and the often-blurred lines between truth and fiction—seems especially timely.

Rotstein says the idea for WE, THE JURY came after he sat on a jury for the first time. “After the trial, I started exploring a modern-day jury-deliberation story. I’ve always admired Twelve Angry Men, but that’s a play/movie, so the audience isn’t inside the jurors’ heads. I wanted my novel to get inside the jurors’ heads. I re-read William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, which has over a dozen first-person narrators. Once I adopted that structure, I was off and running, finishing a first draft in six weeks.”

Rotstein agrees that the jury room is a perfect place for exploring those blurred lines between truth and fiction.

“Lawyers get paid for trying to convince a jury to adopt one competing version of the truth over another,” he says. He points out that the jurors—ordinary citizens—supposedly base their verdict on the “truth.” “But their view of what’s true is colored by their pre-existing biases and life experiences,” he says. “In the end, most people try to do the right thing. The problem is that, all too often, the ‘right thing’ is just as elusive as the truth.”

Rotstein in conversation with fellow authors Allen Eskens and James Ziskin

In WE, THE JURY, Rotstein skillfully uses preconceptions to pull in the reader. From the start, the reader is caught off-guard, forced to examine her or his own biases. “I play against type a lot in the novel,” he says. “The alleged battered husband is a physically strong man; his lawyer is female; the prosecutor is male. Anomalies—just like in real life and law—cause confusion and foster indecision.”

Indeed, the structure of the novel, which places the reader in the midst of the trial, serves to strengthen the sense of immediacy and involvement. The reader feels like one of the jurors, an outcome that Rotstein planned.

“That’s one reason I used the multiple-narrator technique, told the story in the present tense, and conceived of a title that has the word we in it,” he says. “The reader is also able to understand the hidden, and often dark, reasons why jurors behave and decide as they do.”

The multiple-narrator technique requires great attention to craft—especially when a novel involves more than a dozen first-person narratives. Rotstein pulls it off well and convincingly.

Rotstein with writers Andrew Kaplan and Tammy Kaehler, taken at Literary Orange in 2014

“Ensuring that the characters had different voices was challenging,” he admits. “To make a particular character’s voice consistent, I read chapters aloud to myself and others, showed pages to my editors, and printed out each of the character’s chapters and read them separately from the rest of the book. I also gave the characters very different backgrounds and characteristics, which helped me keep them straight naturally.”

This attention to detail is apparent in the characters themselves. WE, THE JURY is both a legal thriller and a compelling study of human psychology. The characters are complex, and their perspectives and emotional reactions ring true, especially considering the crime in question.

“I did extensive research on the law governing the battered-spouse defense and on the psychology of abuser and victim,” Rotstein says, “especially when the abuser is female. The judicial cases, to put it mildly, are not clear-cut—which is a bad thing for the law but a good thing for a novelist.”

Rotstein is no stranger to legal research. As an intellectual property attorney who has represented all the major movie studios and record companies, as well as well-known directors and writers, he’s familiar with trial proceedings, and his background certainly influences his legal thrillers. New York Times bestselling author James Patterson said, “WE, THE JURY has what most legal thrillers lack—total authenticity, which is spellbinding.”

Robert Rotstein

This authenticity shines through, although Rotstein says his legal background not only influences what he writes, but how he writes. “I approach the process of writing a novel the same way I approach writing a legal brief. I set a deadline, put something down on paper whether I feel like it or not (that’s what we do in our jobs), and edit the rough draft, knowing from experience that the editing process will get rid of the roughness. There’s something to be said for demystifying the writing process.”

Rotstein’s ability to approach writing in such a professional manner was surely welcome when working with James Patterson on The Family Lawyer, the story they co-wrote for a collection by the same title, which was released in 2017.

“It was a pleasure working with James Patterson and a wonderful learning experience,” Rotstein says. “I’m grateful for the opportunity he gave me and his support for WE, THE JURY. I actually didn’t find the collaborative process difficult. Lawyers write collaboratively with colleagues and clients all the time, so I’m accustomed to that process.”

When it comes to process, Rotstein knows how to court the muse. He’s neither a hardcore outliner nor a complete fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants plotter. “On the spectrum between plotter and panster, I’m somewhere in between. (Does that make me a planster?)”

He takes long walks, thinks about the idea, and waits for the characters’ dialogue to pop into his head. “Usually, I’ll have a beginning and ending in mind before I put fingers to keyboard. Once I start writing, I’ll plan out four or five chapters, write them, plan another four or five, and so on, until I reach the end.”

WE, THE JURY was released in October, but thankfully fans can look forward to a new Rotstein thriller in the near future. “I’m writing a novel about two lawyers, a husband and wife, who travel the country representing clients in controversial, high-profile cases,” he says. “In this next book, the client is a pregnant woman who’s made a seemingly inexplicable medical decision that threatens the life of her unborn baby.”

 

 
 

Up Close: Wendy Webb by Nancy Bilyeau

Exploring the Eerie Pleasures
of Lake Superior

By Nancy Bilyeau

Sometimes, as readers, we don’t know what we’ve been longing for until after it arrives. For instance, the eerie pleasures of a suspenseful, atmospheric novel set on Lake Superior become evident when we wrap ourselves around a sentence such as, “No one who was alive when her body floated onto shore that morning knew anything about her, with the single exception of Kate Granger, who, by no coincidence whatsoever, was in a house that overlooked the very beach where her body now rested.”

This is in the first chapter of DAUGHTERS OF THE LAKE, the latest release from bestselling author Wendy Webb.

Webb began writing fiction following a successful journalism career, beginning with The Tale of Halcyon Crane, a modern ghost story that won the Minnesota Book Award for fiction in 2011. She was dubbed the Queen of the Northern Gothic while publishing novels such as The Fate of Mercy Alban, The Vanishing, and The End of Temperance Dare.

Her new novel, THE DAUGHTERS OF THE LAKE, has garnered praise such as “Well-delineated characters and a suspenseful plot make this a winner” from Publishers Weekly.

Below, she answers some questions about her latest release including what inspired the premise, the challenges of balancing the supernatural with thriller, and more.
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Up Close: Jeffrey Wilson & Brian Andrews by Dawn Ius

Blending High-Octane Thrills with Gritty Authenticity

By Dawn Ius

Between the two of them, authors Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson have held the kind of careers most writers live vicariously through their characters—acting, firefighting, piloting a jet, performing trauma surgery. The writing duo have a wealth of experience from which they could craft stories.

But it’s their combined service to their country—Wilson, a combat surgeon and former naval officer, and Andrews, a U.S. Navy veteran and nuclear engineer—that inspires their bestselling military thrillers featuring rough-and-tumble hero John Dempsey.

The pair view their books as dual purpose—primarily to entertain, of course, but also to demonstrate, with as much authenticity as the genre will allow, what life as an elite Tier One Navy SEAL is truly like. Hint: it’s not quite the same as pop culture references might lead you to believe. Sorry, David Boreanaz.

“One of the things we spend far too much time doing is making sure that the books are authentic, but also accessible,” Andrews and Wilson say, noting that they don’t necessarily dumb down technology—that’s the fun stuff—but instead, are careful about making intentional story and character choices.
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Beyond the Truth by Bruce Robert Coffin

By Don Helin

In this latest mystery from #1 bestselling author Bruce Robert Coffin, Detective Sergeant John Byron faces the greatest challenge of his career.

When a popular high school senior is shot by police following a late night robbery, chaos ensues. The actions of the officer are immediately called into question. Amid community protests, political grandstanding, department leaks, and reluctant witnesses, Byron and his team must work quickly to figure out what went wrong.

And when an attempt is made on the officer’s life, Byron shifts into overdrive, putting everything on the line. Was the attack merely retribution or something more sinister? The search for the truth may come at a price not even Byron can afford.

Coffin is the bestselling author of the Detective Byron mystery series and a former detective sergeant with more than 27 years in law enforcement. At the time of his retirement from the Portland, Maine police department, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine’s largest city. Following the terror attacks of September 11th, Coffin spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI, earning the Director’s Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive.

His short fiction appears in several anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories 2016.

Coffin is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. He is a regular blog contributor to the Maine Crime Writers and Murder Books blogs.

The Big Thrill caught up with Coffin to ask a few questions about his latest release in the Detective Byron mystery series, BEYOND THE TRUTH:
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A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany

By Charlie Cochrane

With A SCANDAL IN SCARLET, author Vicki Delany delivers the fourth instalment of her Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery series. In this shrewdly plotted tale, Gemma and Jayne donate time to raise money for the rebuilding of a burned-out museum—but a killer wants a piece of the auction.

Delany is no stranger to crafting riveting plots and memorable characters. The multi-published author has three—count them!—cozy mystery series on the go, and so the first question any fellow writer has to ask is, which is her favorite of those series and why?

“That’s like asking me which is my favorite child. Difficult to answer, but in this case not impossible,” she says.

“I’m particularly fond of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series.  I love attempting to create the mind of The Great Detective in a modern young woman. It has its challenges: if Gemma Doyle, my fictional bookshop owner, is to be like Sherlock, she sometimes has to be a bit clueless about people’s reactions to her deductions, not understanding that they might not want her to know things about them they’d rather keep hidden. So it’s a balancing act, making her super smart but sometimes unaware of people’s feelings; making her kind and well-intentioned, but not able to understand why people don’t always keep up with her. All of that that makes her an interesting character to write. And I love my fictional bookshop. Everything sold in it, books and merchandise, exists in the real world.”

Below, Delany takes some time to indulge The Big Thrill with more insight into A SCANDAL IN SCARLET, the trajectory of her writing career, and her love for the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.
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High Crimes by Libby Fischer Hellmann

By Azam Gill

HIGH CRIMES, Libby Fischer Hellmann’s latest Georgia Davis thriller, is about justice, conspiracy and politics, and is “loosely based on” the Facebook group Investigation of the Trump-Russia Conspiracy in the 2016 Election, founded by Suzy Fischer.

In the novel, Hellmann’s Chicago P.I. Georgia Davis is challenged to pick out a murderer from the 42,000 suspects within a Facebook group. She’s hired to hunt down the conspirators responsible for organizing and ordering the assassination of resistance leader Dena Baldwin at a demonstration fourteen months after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The shooter, too, dies within minutes of the shooting.

Sifting through Dena Baldwin’s Facebook followers, Georgia uncovers fake profiles, concealing villains who will even commit murder to shield their sponsors.

The sudden reappearance of Davis’s mother, who had abandoned her when she was a child, complicates her investigation. She now has to survive an emotional family crisis at the same time as she pursues killers determined to snuff her out.

Fischer Hellmann has won the IPPY and the Readers Choice Award multiple times. A finalist twice for the Anthony and four times for Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year, she has also been nominated for the Agatha, the Shamus, and the Daphne. Her books have been translated into Spanish, German, Italian, and Chinese.
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A Deadly Brew by Lynn Cahoon

By Jaden Terrell

Lynn Cahoon’s home page says she writes about small towns and families—the ones you’re born into and the ones you create. That’s a nice way to sum up all three of her cozy mystery series: the Tourist Trap series, which features the owner of a small coffee/book shop; the Farm-to-Fork series, which features the owner of an Idaho farm-to-table restaurant; and the Cat Latimer series, about a Colorado English professor who owns a bed and breakfast.

These are fun books, which is not to say they are inconsequential. Cahoon discovered cozies while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and many of her readers, enduring struggles of their own, find hope and comfort in Cahoon’s stories.

“I dabble in dark themes,” Cahoon says. “I’ve written about spousal abuse, drugs, dysfunctional families, and high school bullying. But my readers know that good will win over evil and there will be a happy ending.”

Her latest work, A DEADLY BREW, has a Halloween theme and a touch of the supernatural. Like many cozies, the setting plays a strong role in the story, and in this case, it’s a long-empty house on the coastline—a perfect Halloween haunted house and the ideal place for four couples to spend the weekend in an “all-in-good-fun fright fest.” But when they try to conjure up a spirit, they get more than they bargained for.

A DEADLY BREW is a novella, book #5.25 in Cahoon’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Tourist Trap series. The first book in the series, Guidebook to Murder, won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction. For those who like a little more spice with their mystery, Cahoon also writes romance under the pseudonym Lynn Collins.

Cahoon agreed to talk with us about her latest release. Let’s welcome her to The Big Thrill.
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Welcome to HolyHell by Math Bird

By David Healey

Welsh writer Math Bird works in a studio overlooking the Dee Estuary in the town of Holywell. The waterway serves as a boundary between Wales and England. Across the water, to the north, are Liverpool and Manchester, where local residents often commute for work.

These are the borderlands of Wales, and the writing that Bird does reflects this crossroads region with all of its history and angst.

Recently, Bird agreed to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill about his writing. (During the Skype session, he kindly explained that the name Math isn’t a shortened version of some exotic Welsh warrior’s name like Llywelyn or Cadwgan, but just the Welsh version of Matt.)

“It’s kind of seen its heyday,” Bird said of Holywell, an ancient and scenic place by the coast. In his writing, Bird adds elements to create his own brand of Welsh noir. The landscape and the Dee tend to run through all his writing.

“The estuary is in most of my stories,” he says. “There’s very few crime novels set in northeastern Wales. I wanted to make the region more accessible.”

To some extent, he’d already been doing that in his fiction. He has had some of his writing produced by the BBC, which he calls an interesting process in hearing someone else read what he’s written.

“I sometimes think that I would not have read it that way. It’s interesting how someone else puts emphasis on certain words, for example,” he says.
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Predators by Michaelbrent Collings

By George Ebey

Michaelbrent Collings sends chills our way in his latest horror novel, PREDATORS.

Evie Childs hoped the all-expense-paid trip to Africa would give her a chance at adventure. Maybe it would even let her forget a past that haunts her, and find safety from a husband who abuses her. But when a group of “freedom fighters” kidnaps her safari tour group, intent on holding them for ransom, the adventure turns to nightmare.

Now, Evie and the rest of the survivors must travel across miles of the harshest, most dangerous environment on Earth. No food. No water. No communications. And they’re being hunted.

A pack of Africa’s top predators have smelled the blood of the survivors, and will not stop until they have fed. Because in this place, you can be either one of the prey, or one of the… PREDATORS.

The Big Thrill recently checked in with Collings to learn more about his terrifying new tale.
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Too Far Gone by Allison Brennan

When a man who appears mentally unstable holds a group of people hostage and dies in a shootout with the FBI, Special Agent Lucy Kincaid is assigned to investigate what happened. Up until two months ago, McMahon was a respected scientist—then his wife left him, he lost his job, and he was arrested for assaulting a former colleague. The one person who might have answers—his research assistant—has disappeared.

While Lucy is investigating this bizarre case, her husband Sean is on top of the world: his son Jesse is visiting for the summer. They are having a blast, until someone follows them. Sean is positive that the surveillance is connected to Jesse’s stepfather—a man who had once laundered money for a violent drug cartel. But when Lucy and Jesse are run off the road, they begin to wonder if the attack is connected to Jesse…or Lucy’s current case.

Nothing is what it seems—not the McMahon investigation or the car accident. As Sean and Lucy dig deep into the lives of everyone involved, one thing becomes clear: If they don’t find the truth fast, everyone they care about is in danger…

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Allison Brennan spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, TOO FAR GONE:
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Silent Scream by Karen Harper

A violent past leads to a present danger…

When an old college roommate invites Claire Britten to join her on an archaeological dig at a Florida peat bog, it’s an offer the renowned forensic psychologist can’t refuse. Claire’s husband, criminal lawyer Nick Markwood, is comforted to see Claire working on a prehistoric burial site instead of an open grave for once. But Claire’s investigative instincts kick in when some of the Black Bog’s perfectly preserved corpses show signs of a grisly fate. What really happened to these people?

What started as an exploration of the past soon escalates into an all-too-current danger. Someone is watching—someone who really doesn’t want Claire digging into the past or Nick making connections to a current, violent murder case he’s investigating. The bog’s corpses may be long dead, but if Claire and Nick don’t figure out who’s gunning for a fresh kill, the next bodies to be discovered will be their own.

The Big Thrill caught up with New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper to discuss her latest release, the fifth installment of her South Shores series, SILENT SCREAM:
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Record Scratch by J. J. Hensley

It’s a case Trevor Galloway doesn’t want. It’s certainly a case he doesn’t need. The client—the sister of a murdered musician—seems a bit off. She expects Galloway to not only solve her brother’s homicide, but recover a vinyl record she believes could ruin his reputation. Galloway knows he should walk away. He should simply reach over the desk, give back the envelope of cash that he admittedly needs, and walk away. However, when the client closes the meeting by putting a gun under her chin and pulling the trigger, his sense of obligation drags him down a path he may not be ready to travel.

As Galloway pieces together the final days of rock and roll legend Jimmy Spartan, he struggles to sort through his own issues, to include having the occasional hallucination. He’s not certain how bad his condition has deteriorated, but when Galloway is attacked in broad daylight by men he assumed were figments of his imagination, he realizes the threat is real and his condition is putting him and anyone nearby at risk. The stoic demeanor that earned Galloway the nickname The Tin Man is tested as he reunites with an old flame, becomes entangled in a Secret Service investigation, and does battle with old enemies.

A story is divided into twelve songs from Jimmy Spartan’s final album.

Award-winning author J. J. Hensley met with The Big Thrill to discuss the second installment in his Trevor Galloway series, RECORD SCRATCH:
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101 by Tom Pitts

On the cusp of pot legalization in California, Jerry runs afoul of some San Francisco bikers in the marijuana game. He flees straight up Highway 101 to Humboldt County to hide out deep in the hills at Vic’s, a reclusive pot farmer and old pal of his tough-as-nails mother. But trouble finds Jerry no matter where he goes and soon the bikers, a pair of stone killers, and a Russian weed tycoon named Vlad the Inhaler are all hot on Jerry’s trail.

Fallout from the unfolding chaos piques the interest of SFPD detective Roland Mackie when he learns Jerry’s host, Vic, is somehow involved. It opens a twenty-year-old wound, an unsolved case called the Fulton Street Massacre, and Mackie is willing to do whatever it takes to get a pair of cuffs on the elusive Vic.

When Jerry and his protectors are chased off the mountain and back down the 101 to an inevitable showdown back in the Bay, he learns Vic is much more than his host, he’s a mentor, his mother’s hero, and the toughest man he’s ever met.

With an unforgettable cast of characters and an action-packed plot, 101 is a wild ride through Northern California’s “emerald triangle.”

The Big Thrill caught up with author Tom Pitts to discuss his latest novel, 101:
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