By Don Helin
John (J.T.) Ryan is a decorated war hero and one of the FBI’s leading investigators. While conducting an investigation, he is inexplicably put on the Code Red terrorist watch-list. Ryan’s world is turned upside down as the FBI undertakes a massive manhunt for his capture. The Bureau’s Assistant Director, Erin Welch, Ryan’s friend and boss, is put in charge of the manhunt. She suspects forces inside and outside of the government don’t just want him caught, but want Ryan assassinated. Can he evade his assassins, prove his innocence, and catch the real conspirators who set him up?
Lee Gimenez is the award-winning author of 13 novels, including his highly-acclaimed J.T. Ryan series. Several of his books have been e-book bestsellers, among them The Media Murders, Skyflash, and The Washington Ultimatum. Gimenez was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award and was a finalist in the prestigious Terry Kay Prize for Fiction. All of his books are available in paperback and e-book in the U.S. and Internationally. Gimenez is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, the Georgia Writers Association, and the Atlanta Writers Association.
Here, he chats with The Big Thrill about his new release, FBI CODE RED.
As a seventh-generation Texan, bestselling author Elizabeth Goddard was lulled to sleep as a child by the hum of the oil pumps. That rhythmic, oddly surf-like sound may have made her sensitive to the rhythms of language as well, and thus been partially responsible for her lifelong love of writing. She wrote poetry and short stories throughout her childhood and started her first romance novel at fourteen. She was also a voracious reader, tackling 2001: A Space Odyssey and Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth in the fifth grade.
Since then, she’s written more than 30 romantic suspense novels. Her 2011 romantic mystery, The Camera Never Lies, is a 2011 Carol Award winner, and she’s a double finalist for the prestigious Daphne Du Marnier Award. But she has an analytical side too. She has a degree in computer science, and before leaving the work force to homeschool her three small children and pursue her dream of becoming a writer, she worked in high-level software sales.
Her readers appreciate her uplifting, faith-based stories. When they’re feeling blue, they can pick up one of her books and forget their problems for a while. For Goddard, that means she’s doing her job. On her website, she says, “Sometimes we simply need an escape from the stress of life and the tragedies happening around us in this fallen world. We need to be refreshed and inspired, lifted from everyday life.”
This month, we welcome Goddard to The Big Thrill to share a little about her writing journey and the inspiration for new release, TEXAS CHRISTMAS DEFENDER.
Douglas Wynne offers up a mysterious blend of music, mythos and mirrors in CTHULHU BLUES, the latest entry in the SPECTRA Files series, which wraps up a trilogy that began in Red Equinox and continued in Black January.
Don’t worry if you’re not up on the world of H.P. Lovecraft. There’s no need to be versed in the lore of Lovecraftian horror to appreciate the book or the series.
While it’s rich with Easter eggs, it’s accessible to anyone who loves action with a magical tinge. “You don’t have to get all of the references to follow the story, but there are all kinds of fun little nods to my favorite horror writers, to various systems of occultism, and to the great city of Boston,” says Wynne, who appropriately hails from Massachusetts where Lovecraft set many of his tales.
CTHULHU BLUES begins with strangeness swirling around Wynne’s heroine, Becca Philips, the urban explorer who became involved with the cosmic-monster-battling SPECTRA in Red Equinox.
It’s 3:33 a.m. as the book opens, the point where recurring nightmares plague Becca, and soon she’ll be facing a new villain and a plot that threatens to unleash all new cosmic terror and extra-dimensional horrors tied to effects from her experiences in previous books.
Readers can expect an experience just as engaging as previous books, which have drawn high praise for the new approach to the Lovecraftian world.
The Big Thrill recently posed a few questions to Wynne about the trilogy, his writing, and this new novel, CTHULHU BLUES.
By Terri Nolan
In her pre-writing life, Marissa Garner was a CPA. She’s not sure when she made the switch from left brain to right brain, but she finds words more fun than numbers. But her left brain years gave her the organizational skills she uses as a pantser. And as such, she can write anytime, at anyplace. Her favorite location is the family room couch, known as Command Central. It is there where she has created her latest novel, RISKY REDEMPTION, the first in the Rogue Security series.
Jake Stone is a retired assassin who begrudgingly takes an assignment because his handler insists the target—a woman—is a traitor and a security threat. The woman, Angela Reardon, does have a secret past and hidden struggles, but it’s not what it seems. As Jake investigates and gets closer to his target, he questions the mission’s justifications.
Garner’s novel is non-traditional—she doesn’t follow the usual romance formula or color inside the lines. The story is told in alternating timelines, past and present, and two points of view: the hunter and the prey. The plot structure doesn’t get hung up on its cleverness as it interweaves each story. And when the past and present meet? There is a surprise. True suspense.
This month, The Big Thrill chatted more with Garner about the thrilling first book in her new series.
Earl Javorsky’s protagonist died in his first adventure, so of course he’s back in a new book, DOWN TO NO GOOD.
Charlie Miner, who kept shuffling on this mortal coil in Down Solo despite his condition, continues his post-life career when he’s called on by cop pal Dave Putnam to help the L.A.P.D.
A psychic-to-the stars has provided information about three murders, and it’s info that makes the police department look bad. Who better to look into a psychic than a detective who’s deceased but somewhat inexplicably ambulatory?
Charlie sets out to do his best, though he’s still struggling with what he calls Swiss cheese brain and coming to terms with his situation.
Shifting from Charlie’s first-person-point of view to third-person with Dave, Javorsky leads readers on a page-turning journey that continues the explorations of a hero who was troubled even in life, and who continues to struggle with addiction and related family issues.
It’s an interesting and rousing take on crime novel territory that’s won Javorsky a lot of praise from authors such as T. Jefferson Parker, who said of the first book in the series: “Earl Javorsky’s bold and unusual Down Solo blends the mysterious and the supernatural boldly and successfully. The novel is strong and haunting, a wonderful debut.”
The Big Thrill recently posed a few questions to Javorsky about his Charlie Miner universe.
Variety, as the old saw has it, is the spice of life. Every so often, a book shows up in The Big Thrill list that’s a bit different and this is certainly one of those instances. As an avid reader of—and occasional writer of—short stories, I was delighted to take the opportunity to get Windy Lynn Harris’s take on the subject.
This is your first full length book. How does it feel?
I’m thrilled, of course, but I miss her. Picture me looking wistfully out the window, waving goodbye to a dear friend. I spent years compiling the material for this book, studying industry information, researching, attending events, talking to editors, etc. Saying goodbye to a final copy meant an end to the fun of putting the project together.
Is the sensation different to publishing short stories?
Absolutely. Maybe it’s because I have so many short pieces of writing on my desk every month. I write both essays and short stories: currently there are seven short items in late-editing or submission status around here, and that’s pretty typical for me. Seeing one of my shorts fly off to a new home is a thrilling relief. It makes room for the next idea in my head.
Do you have a favorite short story? Which one and why?
I read Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery each January to set the mood for my year. It’s more than great storytelling that I’m hoping to tap into when I dive into that story, it’s a reminder about prose that stays in your chest when the last word is done. That’s what I hope to achieve.
ASAC Steve (Mac) McKenzie is out to prove himself by leading a task force investigating a series of murders in the heart of Washington, DC. His undercover work in an antigovernment compound twenty years earlier is related—as is the sweet, innocent girl he befriended back then. Now that girl is a beautiful woman, and she has something to hide.
Tess Fallon spent a lifetime trying to outrun her family’s brand of bigotry, but someone is threatening her anonymity by using the anniversary of her father’s death to carry out evil crimes and she’s terrified her younger brother is involved. She sets out to find the truth and comes face-to-face with a man she once idolized, a man she thought long dead. As the crimes escalate it becomes obvious the killer has an agenda, and Tess and Mac are running out of time to stop him.
Will the perpetrator use a decades-old dream of revolution to attack the federal government? And will the fact that Tess and Mac have fallen hard for each other give a cold-hearted killer the power to destroy them both?
Bestselling author Toni Anderson spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest book, COLD MALICE:
Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…
You’re not safe anywhere now.
As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.
Bestselling author Rachel Caine took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest, KILLMAN CREEK, with The Big Thrill:
Biochemist Emma Caldridge joins Jackson Rand, pharmaceutical CEO, on a humanitarian mission to deliver vaccines to remote villages in Africa. But after narrowly escaping a crew of trained assassins, Emma realizes that there is more to this mission than she anticipated. Rand is keeping secrets from her, information that could cost both of them their lives…not to mention millions more.
After its eradication nearly forty years ago, the smallpox virus is once again threatening the world. With no known cure and limited stores of vaccine, the highly contagious, deadly and disfiguring disease has the power to wipe out entire cities. Rand’s company was hired to secure the last known vials, but some have gone missing in Africa and a ruthless government now hunts them for use as a biochemical weapon.
Emma must locate these vials before the killer plague is unleashed on the innocent, ravaging a world that never expected to see it again. She runs to the border, finding and freeing hostages as she does. But an insurgency is rising around them, blocking their every attempt to escape. Surrounded and with no choice but to head to the desert, Emma must stop the virus and lead her ragtag team to freedom…if the Sahara doesn’t kill them first.
The Big Thrill caught up to bestselling author Jamie Freveletti to discuss her latest thriller, BLOOD RUN:
In the late 1800s, Augustus finds a job as lighthouse keeper on a beautiful but isolated island. He can’t wait to bring his new bride home to the lighthouse, set on majestic bluffs, which have laid claim to many shipwrecks.
Augustus soon suffers from the effects of self-induced isolation, as Adelia watches her husband’s gradual decline into madness.
Meet Hope, a modern-day quiet, quirky young woman with a case of agoraphobia—or so it would seem. She feels an inexplicable pull toward the lighthouse and the bluffs beyond. Hope struggles with her internal battle and seeks to find the truth about her unsettling recurring nightmares. Maybe then she can discover why she has always felt so alone and unusual.
The Big Thrill sat down with Mya O´Malley to discuss her novel, THE HOUSE THAT ADELIA BUILT:
Sacramento Police detectives John Penley and Paula Newberry investigate a case from Paula’s past. The prime suspect in the murder of a former cop is a man already serving time in prison. He has the ultimate alibi and orchestrates a plan to overturn his conviction and lays the blame on detective Newberry as bodies continue to pile up. Someone has to pay for the crimes, and as political pressure mounts, John Penley and Paula Newberry risk it all to keep the right man in prison and keep Paula out.
BURY THE PAST author James L’Etoile discussed his latest novel with The Big Thrill:
Leanna Renee Hieber brings Victorian London and New York to life and fills both cities with ghosts and monsters. Two groups of paranormally talented investigators discover that the Eterna compound—thought to be the key to immortality—is, instead, a powerful protective charm. That protection is sorely needed, for both England and the U.S. are under attack by dark forces.
Having vanquished the demonic pretender to the British throne, the now-united forces of the Eterna Commission and the Omega Department reach America ready to take on a new menace. But like the United States itself, this evil is rapidly spreading from sea to shining sea. Will the new magic our heroes have discovered be strong enough to defeat it?
With its blend of Victorian details, complex plots, and compelling characters, Hieber’s fascinating historical fantasy continues to earn critical acclaim.
Award-winning author Leanna Renee Hieber recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, THE ETERNA SOLUTION:
After proving his innocence as a murder suspect, taking down an assassin, and being an instrumental part in solving a high profile murder, Calvin Watters believes he can finally move on—until Ace Sanders’ prison escape catapults him into action.
Something has always bothered Detective Dale Dayton about the arrest of Ace Sanders. Call it police intuition, but his inner ‘cop alarm’ keeps twitching. When Dale reopens the case, he’s introduced to new evidence that leads him into a political nightmare.
While Calvin tracks Sanders across continents and into unknown, unfriendly surroundings, Dale remains in Vegas to uncover the truth behind police corruption, prison escapes, and hired assassins. But Calvin and Dale must be vigilant, because there’s a deadly new player in town.
International bestselling author Luke Murphy spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, WILD CARD:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope that they are entertained, and satisfied that questions they still had from book one are revealed in WILD CARD.
Earl Marcus thought he had left the mountains of Georgia behind forever, and with them, the painful memories of a childhood spent under the fundamentalist rule of his father RJ’s church–a church built on fear, penance, and the twisting, writhing mass of snakes. But then an ominous photo of RJ is delivered to Earl’s home. The photograph is dated long after his father’s burial, and there’s no doubt that the man in the picture is very much alive.
HEAVEN’S CROOKED FINGER author, Hank Early, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel:
In continuing her career-makeover quest as a for-real detective, ex-teen and reality star Maizie Albright has a big learning curve to overcome. Her chosen mentor, Wyatt Nash of Nash Security Solutions, would rather stick Maizie with a safe desk job. But Maizie’s got other plans to help Nash. When a major movie producer needs a babysitter for his hot mess starlet, Maizie eagerly takes the job. But when her starlet appears dead and then not dead, Maizie’s got more than an actress to watch and a missing corpse to find. Maizie’s hunting a killer who may be a celebrity stalker. And Maizie might be the next celebrity who gets snuffed.
Author Larissa Reinhart was kind enough to spend some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, 16 MILLIMETERS:
Fifty-three years later, a phone call rips South African translator Caz Colijn out of her reclusive life. When she goes to Belgium in an attempt to trace her and her extraordinary daughter’s family origins, it becomes clear that the country’s colonial past has had as much impact on her life as the apartheid years in South Africa did.
In Ghent, professor Luc DeReu too is torn out of his familiar orbit when the woman he blames for his father’s premature death re-enters his bland existence.
While Caz and Luc try to cope with the upheavals in their respective lives, Erevu Matari and his grandson desperately need to find the nkísi taken from them more than five decades ago to fulfill their holy mission.
When the paths of these individuals intersect, it leads once again to murder and Caz is the main suspect.
The Big Thrill had the opportunity to discuss SACRIFICED with prolific South African author Channette Paul:
Scorpio obsessed, with a mind as strong as twisted steel, Henry Slater, suave, sophisticated, sexy, intelligent, and wealthy is the perfect man—except to women who tell him what he doesn’t want to hear.
Dr. John Trenton is called back to NYC for a case close to his heart, while NYPD Detective Samantha “Sam” Wright and forensic psychiatrist Doctor Frank Khaos, conflicted about their on-again-off-again relationship, take on another case—a serial killer who’s orchestrated sixteen murders across the United States over a nine-year period. The seventeenth victim is Sam’s best friend, Carrie Baines. When forensic science connects Frank to Slater, Frank is pushed to delve into his past, something he swore never to do. Meanwhile, due to the interstate nature of the crimes, the FBI gets involved, convincing Sam to go undercover. But Slater is clever, and Sam is no match for him. Will her psychic skills and police training be enough to survive this close encounter with a killer, or will she end up as his eighteenth victim? And even if she lives, is her relationship with Frank really over?
Ronnie Allen, author of SCORPIO: THE SIGN BEHIND THE CRIME, recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest novel:
Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.
Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families… including her own.
When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries.
A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS author, Victoria Gilbert, stopped by The Big Thrill to discuss her new release:
When security expert Cody Samuels finds fugitive Viktoria Mateev in hiding, he can’t believe his luck. Turning her in will be the perfect revenge on the crime family who destroyed Cody’s DEA career. But to his surprise, Cody is just in time to rescue Viktoria from assassins. He soon finds himself tracking her son’s kidnappers.
To keep her son from ruthless in-laws, Viktoria went on the run. Now she’s teaming up with a man she can’t trust. Cody’s courage and bold gambits are a temptation Viktoria can’t resist– even as the risky sacrifice guarantees they might not survive to see another holiday.
Bestselling author Jennifer D. Bokal spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, HER ROCKY MOUNTAIN HERO:
LAPD Homicide detective Davie Richards is called to an airport parking garage to investigate the shooting of a retired U.S. Army Ranger and Vietnam War veteran. As Davie unravels baffling clues, one murder becomes two and a pattern begins to emerge. Racing to save the killer’s next victim challenges Davie’s physical and emotional endurance and tests the bonds of brotherhood and friendship.
OUTSIDE THE WIRE author Patricia Smiley spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel:
A blond-haired, blue-eyed teenager from a prominent family vanishes after teaching English to a group of immigrants. Suspicion soon falls on the men she was tutoring, inflaming tensions in the close-knit, picturesque community of Lake Holly, NY. For Detective Jimmy Vega, more is at stake than just keeping the peace. His girlfriend, Adele, heads the community center where the girl was last seen.
When a risky surrender goes awry, Vega gets tossed into a grunt detail that hides a political minefield: a person who will stop at nothing to cleave the town in two. He can’t imagine a worse turn of events—until he uncovers even darker forces at play. And no matter which way he turns, every step could cost him his job, his town, his family—even his life.
Award-winning author Suzanne Chazin stopped by The Big Thrill to discuss her upcoming novel, A PLACE IN THE WIND:
By Wendy Tyson
New York Times bestselling author Lynn Cahoon first introduced us to former English professor Cat Latimer in A Story to Kill. Now Cat, who runs a writers’ retreat in the Victorian she inherited from her ex-husband, is back in OF MURDER AND MEN. In this newest installment of Cahoon’s popular cozy series, Cat’s business partner’s wealthy beau is found dead in the horse barn, and it’s up to Cat to manage a group of aspiring authors while trying to catch a killer.
The Big Thrill sat down with Cahoon to talk about her latest novel, the appeal of the cozy genre, and the importance of writing communities.
Congratulations on the recent release of OF MURDER AND MEN. No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
There’s a bit of a power struggle between Cat’s best friend and her first love, with Cat in the middle. And an ex-Alaskan cop may get more than words done during her retreat.
What attracted you to the cozy subgenre?
I was going through breast cancer treatments ten years ago. The one good thing about cancer is you have a lot of time to think or read. I did both, but as I scoured my library shelves, I found I enjoyed mysteries. Not ones with lots of gore or action, but instead, these community-based books where I could visit a new place or bond with new imaginary friends. That’s when I found the cozy genre. I started writing Guidebook to Murder a few years later and fell in love with writing cozies as well as reading them.
Imagine Bin Laden meets Bernie Madoff—and hold on for the ride. This is how Tim Tigner describes his latest novel, FALLING STARS.
While Kyle Achilles responds to a mysterious summons from the man who forced him out of the CIA, his former partner suffers an outlandish assault. More inventive than 9/11 and infinitely more lucrative, the attack on Jo Monfort kicks off a campaign destined to set the gold standard for clever crime.
Two distressed heroes. Three dastardly crimes. And the slickest heists of all time.
This month, Tigner took time from his schedule to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill.
Describe your start as a novelist.
I started writing my first thriller in 1996 from an apartment overlooking Moscow’s Gorky Park. I was running a major medical corporation’s Russian operations at the time—a great job—but feeling unfulfilled. That initial experiment convinced me I had potential as a novelist, but I only acted on it six years later. By then I was living in Brussels, running European operations for a blue chip corporation. My family physician wrote, “Change your job” on his prescription pad. That note led to quite an interesting discussion with my fiancée. We moved to Florida and lived off savings for the next five years while I wrote my first three novels.
In 2013, I self-published those three novels—Coercion, Betrayal, and Flash—after they spent six years collecting dust on my hard drive. I was working as the CEO of a Silicon Valley startup. If our technology had worked better in clinical trials, those novels would likely still exist only as electrons.
In 2014, the first novel, Coercion, was picked up by Thomas & Mercer, ten years after I wrote it. The validation gave me courage and confidence. I abandoned my business career to pursue my passion—for the second time in my life.
Angel Luis Colón invites you on a short tour of the world as a literary mix tape to that strange Goth girl with the lazy eye who still wants nothing to do with you–no matter how good that fedora looks on your head.
So what’s in store for your brain?
Follow three major moments in the life of gambling addict and mafia muscle Sean Clarke as he goes from soft-hearted kid to full-blown bastard to broken old man.
Thrill at the short-lived and incredibly violent courtship, marriage, and honeymoon of Hank and Annie.
The set of the country’s most popular trash TV talk show is appropriately trashier than what makes the air.
Beards make absolutely terrible trophies.
Sometimes you’ll crawl through the fire and smoke for a chance at a semi-decent score and a way out of working in a place called “Meat City.”
All that along with even more violence, revenge, Lee Van Cleef, light sex crimes, and cannibals than you can shake a stick at!
The Big Thrill caught up with Angel Luis Colón to discuss his latest novel, MEAT CITY ON FIRE:
When a long-hidden safe unlocks clues about why his father was kicked off the police force twenty-seven years ago and then spiraled into an early drunken death, Rick scratches to find the truth even if it proves the one thing he’s always feared.
But as he grapples with his father’s past, the woman he’ll always love begs him to find out if her husband is having an affair, or is involved in something much more sinister.
Rick may never discover either truth as killers who will do anything to protect their secrets lurk in the shadows.
Author Matt Coyle met with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest mystery, BLOOD TRUTH:
With her enemies unmasked and her career spiralling out of control, Kay’s determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.
Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.
Could Kay’s need for revenge be her undoing, or will she survive to see justice served?
Bestselling author Rachel Amphlett spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing the latest novel in her Detective Kay Hunter series, HELL TO PAY:
Eight years into his career with the CIA, Karl Baier once again finds himself on the front line of the Cold War. He is stationed in Vienna in the spring of 1955 as Austria and the four Allied Powers are set to sign the State Treaty, which will return Austria’s independence, end the country’s post-war occupation, and hopefully reduce tensions in the heart of Europe. But the Treaty will also establish Austrian neutrality, and many in the West fear it will secure Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe and create a permanent division.
Asked to help investigate the death of an Austrian aristocrat and Wehrmacht veteran, Baier discovers an ambitious plan not only to block the State Treaty, but also to subvert Soviet rule in lands of the old Hapsburg Empire. Then Baier’s wife is kidnapped, and the mission becomes intensely personal. Many of his basic assumptions are challenged, and he discovers that he cannot count on loyalties, even back home in Washington, D.C.
At each maddening turn in the investigation, another layer must be peeled away. Even if Baier succeeds in rescuing his wife, he faces the unenviable task of unraveling an intricate web of intrigue that reaches far back into the complicated history of Central Europe.
The Big Thrill caught up with Bill Rapp to discuss his latest novel, THE HAPSBURG VARIATION:
When the Deringer pistol that shot Abraham Lincoln is stolen and ends up in the hands of a Russian military general, covert agent Blake Deco is tasked by the FBI to head to the Balkans to recover the historical weapon. Meanwhile, the United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star Goldie St. Helen.
After Blake’s return from overseas, he receives a tip from a Mexican friend that a drug lord, obsessed with the beautiful actress, is holding her captive in Tijuana. With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake mounts a daring rescue. What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for Goldie—or that a killer is hunting them.
Enigmatic clues and codes from a missing colleague and brother-in-law about the seepage of sensitive FBI data lead to the sudden death of a team member and leave Delta A spinning. Two new agents, with special talents akin to Ellie’s, join the team and ramp her alarm sensors even higher. Her niece’s social media life offers clues to a horrifying network and its activities.
Working under a directive from the Director of the FBI and with the Wayward Son Protocol, Ellie and Delta A work to disentangle leads from the darknet, stem the flow of death, and bring her family home.
METABYTE author Cat Conner spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing the ninth installment of The Byte series:
Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images in his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at the museum with an old reference letter from her father in his pocket. A search through her father’s records sheds new light on Dennis’s history, but it seems his present life wasn’t so transparent either. Now, with a gallery of suspects to consider, it’s up to Savannah to figure out who fits the mold of a murderer.
The Big Thrill recently caught up to author Cheryl Hollon to discuss her latest release, ETCHED IN TEARS:
Bliss needs to rethink her “anything for a buck” approach to life. Lockport’s mayor from hell has her scouting the back roads on her motorcycle, searching for abandoned cemeteries. Her mission: locate, evaluate, and report. Easy money. First day out, she falls into a grave and lands on a pile of bones. Shock turns to outrage when she realizes the skull is missing.
She expects her boyfriend, Police Chief Neil Redfern, to throw everything he has at the crime, but Neil is in the middle of a serious investigation and can’t spare the resources. In his job, missing firearms trumps the desecration of a century-old burial. Bliss won’t accept this decision, and their relationship founders when she senses he’s also keeping personal secrets from her.
Despite Neil’s insistence she leave police work to him, Bliss continues her quest to find the graverobber. She discovers more headless skeletons in the far reaches of the township and stumbles across a dying man poisoned by Jimsonweed.
Not until she narrowly escapes death by the same toxin does Neil concede there may be a link between the gun thefts and the violated graves. On Midsummer’s Eve, Bliss faces their adversary alone. Will Neil find her in time? Or will she join the ranks of the long-dead she has so fiercely championed?
Working the nightshift for fellow detective Sam Kincaid should have been an easy job, but after saving a kidnapped child from a blazing house and attending a drive-by shooting in Beacon Hill, it proves to be anything but. The trouble is the wealthy target, Daniel Hunt, doesn’t want to complain and Grant’s bosses try and shut him down.
Grant isn’t one for shutting down and it doesn’t take him long to discover that Hunt wasn’t the intended target. After a foiled robbery and a squashed dog, the case turns personal, then the stakes really go through the roof.
BEACON HILL author Colin Campbell stopped by The Big Thrill to discuss his latest thriller:
In “Mesa Boys,” Ronnie plots a haphazard heist with a twisted con man. In “The Feud,” tough-as-nails Rex lets his resentment for a local pot dealer cloud his judgement. And in “Bar Burning,” a mysterious drifter goes toe-to-toe with his new lady’s psychotic ex-husband.
ACCIDENTAL OUTLAWS is a hellfire ride through working class America’s angsty underbelly.
Author Matt Phillips spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, ACCIDENTAL OUTLAWS:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
My hope is that readers hop in, latch their seat belts, and enjoy the ride. These stories are a wild journey down a long desert highway––pure speed, fun, and danger.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
This book draws a direct line to the rural noir thrillers of Jim Thompson, Daniel Woodrell, Harry Crews, Flannery O’Connor, and others. If noir is to be rural, I believe it must be honest in its depictions of the rural mindset and tendency to dabble in the outlaw side of life (whether that’s right or wrong). I hope the book is a contemporary take on the outlaw mindset from my own experience and perspective.
Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?
I was surprised at my own understanding and continued realization of the rural-urban dichotomy. This is a growing rift in American society, and I was interested in exploring this dynamic as a person who, now, lives in a major American city. I used to live in a rural area and it made a huge impact on me (both for good and ill).
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
This book, in so many ways, is a subtle exploration of personal ties––you’ll find sons abandoned by fathers, a drifter intent on severing all earthly ties, and often futile attempts at salvaging love and joy.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Harry Crews wrote the most unique stories––I appreciate his constant willingness to experiment and let his characters lead him to surprise. Thomas McGuane, I think, taught me how to write about family in a compelling way. Ben Whitmer and Joe Lansdale are two writers I’m returning to again and again… Jim Thompson’s Savage Night. Dorothy B. Hughes with The Expendable Man and In a Lonely Place. I’ll stop there because I can go on and on and on…
Matt Phillips lives in San Diego. His books include Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. He has published crime stories across the web at Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Out of the Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Metal Magazine, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Manslaughter Review, and elsewhere.
To learn more about Matt, please visit his website.
How a Newsman Turns News Into Suspense
By E.M. Powell
For those of us who love our thrillers, there’s nothing better than diving into a suspenseful read that grabs from the first page. And so it is with PARTING SHOT, the latest release in the hugely popular Promise Falls series from internationally bestselling author Linwood Barclay. But this being Barclay, there isn’t just one intriguing plot in play—there are two.
First up, cop turned private investigator Cal Weaver is asked to provide short-term protection to a wealthy young man, Jeremy Pilford, who has been convicted of killing a friend while driving intoxicated. Pilford’s defense, that he has led too pampered a life, means that he is on probation but has escaped prison. The sentence has led to a huge social media backlash, with Pilford an object of hatred and derided as “The Big Baby.” Threats have become physical. Weaver takes on the case, although with some reluctance. Second, we have Detective Barry Duckworth of the Promise Falls Police. Duckworth is called to investigate an assault on another young man, Brian Gaffney. Gaffney has been found wandering around Promise Falls, suffering from amnesia and unable to remember anything about how a large, ugly tattoo was carved onto his back.
Fascinated By the Darkness
Martin Steyn got into writing because of Stephen King’s The Dark Half, and then into writing crime fiction because he was fascinated by what motivated serial killers to hunt strangers for pleasure and how they did it. He began by reading books on the subject, while scanning the local paper for reports on a serial killer dumping the bodies of young boys in the dunes not far from where he lived.
Martin studied psychology and criminology at the University of South Africa. After that he studied serial killers and profiling in earnest, following it up with research into the investigation of violent crime in South Africa.
In 2014 Martin’s first crime novel set in Cape Town, Donker Spoor, was published in Afrikaans and the following year it was awarded an important prize for South African suspense fiction. Earlier this year the English version, DARK TRACES, came out in South Africa, and it has just been released in the US.
Martin places a premium on realism, and it shows in the book. But his character study of his protagonist, Jan Magson, and the people caught up in the killer’s wake are riveting.
By Dawn Ius
The office of a private investigator conjures up images of a dark, gritty room, the scent of whiskey and cigar smoke permeating the thick files of secrets. Stories of cheating husbands and corrupt cops.
These hired guns of old emerged in the wake of the Western hero, transforming into the iconic—and staple—character they represent in today’s crime fiction. But modern PIs have not only shrugged off their proverbial trench coats in favor of business attire, they’ve traded phone booths for smart phones and are embracing bigger, more dangerous missions that span the globe—and every possible sub-genre.
“The PI field offers endless opportunities for authors to explore every literary niche,” says Eric Campbell, publisher at Down & Out Books. “Hard-boiled, soft-boiled, cozy, thriller, high-tech, big city, rural community, and so on. PIs can investigate any kind of case while detectives (cops) are typically restricted to cases where the law was broken. This allows writers of PI characters greater flexibility in developing their stories and bending the law in ways not quite legal.”
That certainly explains why many authors gravitate to this lone-wolf hero, but what is it about the private-investigator character that makes him so endearing to readers? Sure, there are rogue cops, but most law-enforcement characters are true to their profession. So, is it the investigator’s ability to color outside the lines of the law that has given them such impressive staying power? The release this month of a remake of Murder on the Orient Express, starring Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, emphasizes the hold such crime detectors have over readers.
A Dark Page of Family History
Crime fiction is as popular in France as anywhere else. Without much hard evidence, I’ve always assumed the French approach to the genre was more literary and political in nature. That isn’t necessarily the case, according to Johana Gustawsson, hailed as an exciting new voice in French Noir: “Our approach to crime fiction is a varied as our landscapes—or cheeses!”
I was fortunate to meet the delightful author in May at Newcastle Noir, where she was on a Nordic Noir panel. I wasn’t the only one surprised to discover that despite her name, Gustawsson was born in Marseille. She studied political science and worked as a journalist before turning her hand to crime. She co-wrote the bestseller On se retrouversa, adapted for French television with great success in 2015. And the same year saw publication of her debut solo novel BLOCK 46, which was awarded the prestigious Balai de la Découverte and the Nouvelle Plume d’Argent.
The gripping action of BLOCK 46 moves back and forth between England and the coast of Sweden, where the mutilated body of a jewelry designer is found. Her wounds match those of two young boys murdered in London. French crime writer Alexis Castells joins forces with Emily Roy, a Canadian profiler on loan to Scotland Yard, to track down a ruthless serial killer who may be connected to horrific events that took place at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in 1944.
BLOCK 46 is a dark and complex hybrid of police procedural, psychological suspense, and historical thriller. Johana Gustawsson balances this feat of high-wire juggling with a combination of raw emotion, harrowing violence, and elegant prose.
By Joe Clifford
Joe: Hey, Danny? You ready for our interview?
Danny: Hey, man. I am.
Joe: Great! So let’s start with what you are listening to.
Danny: Interestingly enough, the score to Bladerunner 2049.
Joe: Terrific! I’m glad you didn’t come back with “nothing.” Because if you’re at a computer, I assume you have music on.
Danny: I’m bangin’ on a new first chapter to the next Elliot Caprice novel and instrumentals help me get into a good headspace. That, and Delta Blues.
Joe: As long as we are on Elliot… You want to go with how you got here? I mean, Elliot’s journey to the printed page was not an easy, nor fast, one.
Danny: Seeing I’ve told this story in pieces hither and yon, here’s a bit of nuance for you that adds a previously unknown dimension: After succeeding in independent film in the early aughts, personally I just crashed and burned. I didn’t dig who I was and I certainly wasn’t surrounded by people who encouraged me to be authentic and true, so I grabbed a reed and just drove folks out of the temple, man. And then I just stopped everything professionally. All I did was meditate, work out, play golf, volunteer at the Westwood Veterans Administration golf course a few hours per day, and occasionally write. After a few years, I emerged from my asceticism and I started the personal tradition of setting a single New Year’s resolution for myself. The year A Negro and an Ofay found its way to its failed first edition, my resolution was “accept all invitations.” So that’s how it wound up with that first outfit.
By Dawn Ius
Lee Child admits he sometimes wonders what it might be like to write a novel without Jack Reacher, something unexpected—a new character, maybe a new genre. Like most authors, he has at least 99 ideas he’d like to pursue.
But he won’t.
“It’s all about having a contract with the reader,” he says. “They want Jack Reacher every year, and for me to deliver anything else would be weird and puzzling. My business is, I’m the Reacher guy.”
And business is very good.
This month, Child releases his 22nd novel featuring the gritty—and swoon-worthy—Jack Reacher, a tall tough guy with no roots, a nose for danger, and a fighting spirit that has spawned dozens of fast-paced action scenes and a sprawling fan club of “Reacher Creatures.”
Picking up where Make Me left off, THE MIDNIGHT LINE begins with Reacher in a more vulnerable state than readers might be used to. Still feeling the sting of rejection after a woman he was “really into” leaves, Reacher wanders into a Wisconsin pawn shop and stumbles across a class ring from 2005—it’s small, for a woman, and her initials are engraved on the inside.
Tracking a Literary Killer
By R.G. Belsky
Layton Green’s new book, WRITTEN IN BLOOD, has an unusual premise for a thriller–a serial killer who leaves behind literary clues from Dostoevsky and Edgar Allen Poe and Agatha Christie with the victims. But then Green loves to write different kinds of thrillers than most authors.
“I was brainstorming ideas for a police procedural, and wanted an idea that would set the book apart,” he said when asked how he came up with the literary concept for WRITTEN IN BLOOD. “It’s a tough and crowded market. What do I love, I asked myself? What do I know? I love and know books, and I decided to weave a literary angle into the story. The bookseller as sleuth idea is an old one, so instead, I decided to give the murderer the literary chops.”
The killings begin when a local bookstore owner in a small North Carolina town is found murdered in exactly the same way as the pawnbroker in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Two more victims are later found at crime scenes like those in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Agatha Christie’s Five Little Pigs.
The cop who has to stop the killings and figure out why they’re happening is Detective Joe “Preach” Everson – a prison chaplain turned police officer with a troubled past. Everson teams up (both professionally and personally) with a young woman who works at the bookstore and helps him with literary clues.