It’s been five months since Special Agent Sydney Parnell survived a violent confrontation with a gang of brutal thugs, an encounter that left her physically and emotionally scarred. Deep down, Sydney fears she isn’t ready for another investigation. But when a woman is murdered on the train tracks and a child goes missing, she knows she’s the only one who can lead the hunt for the killer. While Denver police and the FBI chase down blind alleys, Sydney focuses on a single cryptic clue left behind at the crime scene—one that will send her down a path of greed, violence, and long-ago love.
With Denver beset by a series of monsoonlike thunderstorms that threaten to flood the city, Sydney and her K9 partner, Clyde, must wade through a murky trail of murder that stretches back thirty years—all to rescue a child…and catch a killer with a long memory and an insatiable appetite for destruction.
Award-winning author Barbara Nickless was kind enough to discuss her latest novel, DEAD STOP, with The Big Thrill:
A military coup has swept through Thailand and one of the effects is the placement of Thailand’s first female prime minister under house arrest. The plan is to hold a show trial, convict her of corruption, and then send her to prison. Once in prison it is easier for the army to eliminate her. But there might be one thing standing in the way–Jack Shepherd.
Jack Shepherd is a lawyer with a reputation as a troubleshooter and is the first person the prime minister’s supporters contact. After all, the plan is simple: sneak into Thailand, grab his old friend from right under the nose of the Thai army, and keep her alive long enough to get them both out of Thailand again. Piece of cake, right?
This is the major focus of Jake Needham’s DON’T GET CAUGHT and the latest installment in the Jack Shepherd series. Jake took some time from his writing to answer a few questions for ITW.
DON’T GET CAUGHT is the first novel of yours I read. I was struck by its ease and authenticity. How do you achieve this?
I’m not comfortable writing about any location that I don’t know well enough to make it feel real on the page. A sense of place might be the single most important element for me in each of my books. I want readers to know how every place I’ve put in every book feels. How it looks, how it sounds, how it smells.
Writing in a comfortable studio surrounded by books, the scenes playing in the mind of Mark Ellis are not nearly as peaceful: German dive bombers machine gunning troops on the run, war-torn London, a woman’s bloody body in a hotel room.
The British author’s latest effort is MERLIN AT WAR, in which much of the plot centers around a mysterious letter left behind by an officer killed by those dive bombers. Interestingly enough, the main character is not a soldier, but Chief Inspector Frank Merlin. While war rages, there is no shortage of home front crimes for Merlin to solve.
“People carried on,” Ellis said. “Life carried on.”
And so did crime.
There’s a scene in Jaws that kept my kids up at night for at least a week. Jaws was a great, frightening story. Which means that Jessica Bayliss’s new YA paranormal/horror thriller BROKEN CHORDS is in good company. There are at least a dozen scenes that made me sleep with the lights on.
Just the tag line scares the bloomin’ bejesus out of me: “They rip, they tear, they feed, and you never come back again.”
If you love the sickly, quaky, I-can’t-do-this-feeling where you cautiously approach a skyscraper’s safety railing, rest your hips securely against its iron edge, take a deep breath, lean over, look straight down the side of the building, and feel the minute vibrations you know precede climactic failure, then you are in the right place. You push off the railing, too late! The anchor bolts screech as they break loose and you fall headlong to whatever comes next—welcome to BROKEN CHORDS.
How do you sleep at night?
I frequently freak myself out. My husband has this periodic limb movement thing when he sleeps. And I just must, absolutely must, come up with a horror-themed explanation. One night, he’s twitching away, and I decide he’s possessed. That the demon can only take over when he’s sleeping, and the twitching is it attempting to get free.
Yikes. Did something like that provide inspiration for BROKEN CHORDS?
BROKEN CHORDS was born because I had to pee in the middle of the night while camping. Not what you were expecting, right? Camping bathrooms are never conveniently located. To reach it, the fastest route was through a damp, cold, misty playground in the wee hours of the night (no pun intended), and I’m thinking if those swings start moving—I’m so out of here.
The playground scene with the swings in your book is some creepy, creepy stuff. What writers inspire you?
I’m sure this isn’t a big surprise—Stephen King. But also folks like Christopher Moore (I love silly paranormal/horror). I love Holly Black, who does YA and MG, and Maggie Stiefvater, who does YA; both put in just enough lyrical voice while keeping their books very plot-focused and highly character-driven. And Molly Harper (adult UF and romance) because her voice is so funny and snarky. If I could channel all five of them, I’d be the perfect writer.
Complete this sentence. Fans of _____________ will find BROKEN CHORD very appealing.
The Call by Peadar O’Guillin and Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill.
There’s a lot of URST (unresolved sexual tension) in BROKEN CHORDS.
BROKEN CHORDS is essentially a YA and you totally need swoony romance in YA. (Okay, you don’t absolutely need it; I actually wrote two YA thrillers in the recent months with zero romance, but it just goes so well!)
Any other books we should look for? Or forward to?
I love to write and need be working on a project at all times. It’s literally my stress release. My recent books have all been YA, and my last couple have been thrillers. I’m so excited about one my editor has (a thriller with magical realism) and the one I just finished (pure contemporary thriller with a very intense/psychological frenemy story). Fingers crossed I’ll have news to share about them sometime in the future.
Jessica Bayliss is a clinical psychologist and fiction author of BROKEN CHORDS (Leap Books, October, 2017) and Ten Past Closing (Sky Pony Press, spring, 2018). Her agent is Dr. Uwe Stender of Triada US Literary Agency. She is the creator of PsychWRITE, a service that offers consultation and coaching for writers along with craft workshops and webinars. She grew up loving all the scary stories, and now they’re in her blood.
To learn more about Jessica, please visit her website.
By Dawn Ius
Few authors revisit their debut after it’s published—at least not beyond typical nostalgia for it being the first. But Michael Slade has not only cracked the spine on his first thriller, he’s completely gutted and re-imagined it, giving it new life not only on the bookshelf as a limited hardcover, but also coming to the small screen in 2018 as an eight-part TV mini-series.
HEADHUNTER, first published in the 1980s, is a horrific tale that grew out of his pioneer ancestors’ frontier history with the Wild West Mounties, his mom’s 1944 adventures in “the Land of the Headhunters,” the death of Slade’s dad when Slade was nine and the crisis that produced, along with ten years of practicing criminal law with modern-day Mounties in a hundred murder cases—many involving insanity.
“When e-books came along, the paper edition was scanned into a Word file. That gave me the opportunity to re-imagine the story the way it would have been written back then had I known what I know now,” Slade says.
“My pre-law studies were in modern history. It takes thirty years, a professor said, to objectively understand current events. Because HEADHUNTER captures my real-life homicide experiences in the sexual underground of Vancouver during the Sexual Revolution, and thirty years have passed since its original publication, there was more to write in the horrific plot of my most personal novel.”
No way could Slade leave the book in a form that, in his opinion, wasn’t his best. So he dropped every other project—including the fifteenth novel in his Special X series—and carved out two years to completely re-conceive his first “Mountie noir” thriller. This month, a legion of fans is frothing at the mouth to get their hands on an updated novel that—even back then—was both terrifying and disturbing.
Slade took some time to talk to The Big Thrill about the story that ignited his writing career and first brought him to the attention of horror fans.
By Wendy Tyson
Mark Bacon’s second novel in his popular Nostalgia City mystery series, DESERT KILL SWITCH, takes readers back to the Arizona retro theme park, Nostalgia City—only this time former cop Lyle Deming is in a race to clear the name of his almost-girlfriend Kate Sorensen when she’s accused of murder.
Bacon recently took time out of his schedule to sit down with The Big Thrill and talk about the inspiration behind his new release.
Congratulations on the recent release of DESERT KILL SWITCH. The first book in the Nostalgia City mystery series, Death in Nostalgia City, introduced readers to ex-cop turned cab driver, Lyle Deming. What elements from Lyle’s past have made him the man he is today?
Lyle actually has a reasonably happy life, but one he can’t always fully enjoy due to his anxiety disorder. Hard to tell whether the anxiety was the cause or effect of things that befell him.
As a child, he was constantly in the shadow of his much older brother, and Lyle received the majority of the parental criticism his overbearing father dished out. As a young child, he soaked up much of his brother’s focus on rock ’n’ roll and hot cars, and thus his interests were different from other kids his age.
With their headquarters destroyed and the world held hostage, members of Kingsman find new allies when they discover a spy organization in the United States known as Statesman. In an adventure that tests their strength and wits, the elite secret agents from both sides of the pond band together to battle a ruthless enemy and save the day, something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy…
Author Tim Waggoner took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his latest novel, KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE, with The Big Thrill:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope the movie’s fans will get a deeper appreciation for the film by reading the novelization, and that they’ll enjoy the extra material that wasn’t in the film.
In B R E A T H E, a top U.S. scientist, Dr. Nell Northam, is abducted in Manhattan by two men in a van. The President directs his top security advisor, Donovan Rourke, to find her. Dr. Northam is taken to a cabin in the Adirondacks where her abductors force her to complete their weapon. But Nell finally escapes and explains to Donovan that the horrific weapon is about to kill thousands of innocent people. As they rush to stop the attack … they realize they’ve been completely misled and that the weapon is being delivered in a unique way no one could possible imagine … or possibly stop.
The Big Thrill caught up to Mike Brogan to discuss his latest thriller, BREATHE:
Reeling from her recent divorce, Kate Fox has just been sworn in as Grand County, Nebraska Sheriff when tragedy strikes. A railroad accident has left engineer Chad Mills dead, his conductor Bobby Jenkins in shock. Kate soon realizes that the accident was likely murder.
Who would want to kill Chad Mills? Kate finds that he made a few enemies as president of the railroad workers union. Meanwhile his widow is behaving oddly. And why was his neighbor Josh Stevens at the Mills house on the night of the accident?
While her loud and meddling family conspires to help Kate past her divorce, State Patrol Officer Trey closes in on Josh Stevens as the suspect. Kate doesn’t believe it. She may not have the experience, but she’s lived in the Sandhills her whole life, and knows the land and the people. Something doesn’t add up—and Kate must find the real killer before he can strike again.
The Big Thrill caught up with Shannon Baker to discuss her latest novel, DARK SIGNAL:
FBI Special Agent Drew Cady is reluctantly drawn into investigating the assassination of a sitting United States senator. Strangely, the senator’s death is linked to a murdered Baltimore junkie with an identical M.O. – a single stab wound to the heart and a typed eulogy left at the scene.
As Agent Cady deals with a professional hit man known only as the Canadian, a breakthrough Alzheimer’s drug, a misanthropic hacker, and a Mexican drug cartel, he peels back the layers of deceit and comes to realize that even the reddest of red herrings can bite. And unfortunately for all involved, the killings have just begun.
THE EULOGIST author, Jeffrey B. Burton, recently met with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest novel:
Damon Traynor leaves a glittering career on Wall Street to set up his own private equity business. When it is the winning bidder in the multi-billion dollar auction for a government-owned defense company, his firm’s future success looks certain.
But soon after the deal closes, Damon makes an alarming discovery—something that makes the recent acquisition worthless. Then he learns he was duped by the financially-strapped federal administration and that there are many others in the same position. Facing financial ruin, he investigates the US treasury officials behind the transaction.
What Damon uncovers is a terrifying web of organized crime—extending all the way to the White House itself—involving blackmail and assassination on an industrial scale. When those around him begin to die, Damon finds himself locked in a deadly battle with the leader of the free world.
Author Martin Bodenham met with The Big Thrill to discuss his his novel, SHAKEDOWN:
For PI Eddie Collins, the moment Carla Rizzoli sashays into his office casts him deliciously into a scene from a classic noir. Only this femme fatale is a sweet ghost from his past, a time when he made his living exclusively as an actor. Then she was a full-time actress too, and they’d dated briefly before an old flame came back into her life. Now she’s known as Velvet La Rose and making a steady living as an exotic dancer at the Feline Follies. She needs Eddie’s services to find her missing brother Frankie Rizzoli, who sent her a cryptic message warning her to watch her back.
Eddie falls hard for Carla, who hasn’t given up on acting. In fact, she’s about to start work on a B-movie, Festival of Death. Now motivated by more than a paycheck, Eddie searches for Frankie, last seen hiding out among the homeless. Frankie was once a member of the military police, and an old photo identifies an old army buddy, James Curran, who starts to cross paths with both Eddie and Carla with increasing frequency.
What is Frankie mixed up in and why doesn’t he want to be found? How does James Curran figure in? As Eddie questions the residents of Skid Row and works undercover as an extra in Festival of Death, he searches in vain for the links between Frankie and James and Carla. He needs answers soon, or Carla may slip through his fingers again, this time into oblivion.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with author Clive Rosengren to discuss the third installment of the Eddie Collins Mystery series, VELVET ON A TUESDAY AFTERNOON:
Reeling from family betrayal and tragedy, Gabe McKenna charts a new course as historical consultant on a motion picture filming in New Mexico. Before you can say “Action!” he is entangled in a web of illusion and deceit, where death plays a starring role. With the help of The Onion, a private investigator and long-time friend from New York, Gabe peels away layer after layer of dishonesty, battles brutal drug cartels, is accused of murder, and must unmask a mysterious, seductive woman to reveal the truth in a world full of lies.
The Big Thrill caught up with author Robert D. Kidera to discuss his latest novel, CUT. PRINT. KILL.:
Michael North is a hero, with a bullet in the brain to prove it. A bullet which has rewired his neural pathways and heightened his sense of intuition.
A bullet which is driving him mad.
Working for an extra-governmental agency called The Board, North knows one thing for sure.
He is very good at killing very bad guys.
But what happens when a hero is ordered to kill a good woman rather than a bad man? Because it turns out that rising political star Honor Jones, MP can’t stop asking the right questions about the wrong people.
He should follow orders.
Not least because he’s running out of time. North always knew the bullet in his brain would kill him.
Then again, what if he’s wrong? What if it’s not the bullet, but Honor Jones who’ll be the death of him?
Judith O’Reilly, the bestselling author of KILLING STATE, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her first novel:
Down in Key West, Sherri Travis and her best friend Marley are looking for a little fun in the sun. Promising to be back for last call, Marley leaves the Rawhide Saloon with an Elvis impersonator. She doesn’t return. With Hurricane Alma turning toward Key West, and the police saying Marley must be missing for seventy-two hours before they start searching, Sherri and Lexi Divine, a six-foot tall drag queen, hunt for Marley amidst the chaos of the evacuation.
LAST CALL author Phyllis Smallman spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I want readers to understand how someone can drown in their own home. In LAST CALL I was writing my worst fears, which makes a great basis for a thriller. We owned a home on the west coast of Florida for two decades. When hurricane insurance became too expensive, we dropped the coverage. From May until November we worried.
Los Angeles, 1908: In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former boyfriend, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover, who has fled. If news gets out that a white woman was murdered in Chinatown, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese, so Joe and Anna plan to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret. Meanwhile, the Hop Sing tong has kidnapped two slave girls from the Bing Kong tong, fueling existing tensions, threatening a bloody tong war that would put all Chinatown residents in danger. Joe orders Anna out of Chinatown to keep her safe, but to atone for her own family’s sins, Anna must stay to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.
Author Jennifer Kincheloe spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK:
Freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley embarks on a career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. As a pharmaceutical researcher, she’s determined to save lives from the shelter of her lab. But on her very first day she’s pulled into a world of uncertainty. Reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.
With help from her best friend, Maggie discovers the victims on her phone are connected to each other and her new employer. She soon unearths a treacherous plot that threatens her mission—and her life. Maggie must unlock deadly secrets to stop horrific abuses of power before death comes calling for her.
The Big Thrill caught up with author Kathleen Valenti to discuss her novel, PROTOCOL:
In DOWN TO NO GOOD, the sequel to Down Solo, PI Charlie Miner, freshly revived from his own murder, gets a call from Homicide Detective Dave Putnam. Self-styled “psychic to the stars” Tamara Gale has given crucial information about three murders, and the brass thinks it makes the Department look bad. Dave wants Charlie to help figure out the angle, since he has first-hand experience with the inexplicable. Trouble is, Charlie, just weeks after his full-death experience, once again has severe cognitive problems and may get them both killed.
DOWN TO NO GOOD author, Earl Javorsky, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel:
By Sonja Stone
This month, RYAN QUINN AND THE LION’S CLAW—the second novel in Ron McGee’s middle grade adventure series—was released to eager fans. His debut, Ryan Quinn and the Rebel’s Escape, introduced readers to hero Ryan Quinn, whose parents covertly work for the Emergency Rescue Committee, an organization that performs perilous rescue missions around the globe.
McGee took time to speak with The Big Thrill about his latest novel, his experience writing for television, and how to introduce global issues in an exciting, youth-friendly way.
I love that your adventure series isn’t fantasy-based. You’ve successfully written fantasy before (Disney Channel’s Halloween hit Girl vs. Monster). Why did you decide to keep the Ryan Quinn novels grounded in reality?
So many of the books available to kids and teens are steeped in fantasy and dystopian worlds. I love those books and devour them myself, but I also love the real-world action and adventure found in adult thrillers. With Ryan Quinn, I hoped to create a hero for younger readers who doesn’t have powers or magic to rely on. Ryan’s pretty exceptional as teens go—he’s been unknowingly trained by his parents to be a spy from a young age—but in the end, he only has his wits, his skills, and his friends to rely on when he’s in trouble. In that way, he’s not that different from any one of us.
The Wade House has been reduced to ash, but the dreams that plagued Becca Philips and Jason Brooks when they slept in that abomination continue to haunt them. After years of facing trans-dimensional monsters in the service of SPECTRA, a few lingering nightmares are to be expected. But when Becca starts singing in her sleep—an ancient song that conjures dreadful things from mirrored surfaces—she fears that the harmonics she was exposed to during the Red Equinox terror event may have mutated not only her perception, but also her voice. It’s a gift—or curse—that she shares with a select group of children born to other witnesses of the incursion.
While a shadowy figure known as the “Crimson Minstrel” gathers these children to form an infernal choir, something ancient stirs on the ocean floor. And Becca, hearing its call, once again finds herself running from an agency she can no longer trust, into the embrace of cosmic forces she can barely comprehend.
The Big Thrill spent some time with CTHULHU BLUES author, Douglas Wynne, discussing his latest novel:
In his new religious thriller, Matthew Peters brings readers international action, heart-gripping suspense, and a secret so terrible it could change the world.
The story kicks off with the gruesome murder of a U.S. presidential aide, which is only the tip of an iceberg. Only ex-Jesuit Nicholas Branson and Jessica Jones have a hope of discovering the awful truth in time to save a persecuted religious group from extinction. But they could be thwarted by a megalomaniacal pope and an ultra-secretive U.S. governmental force.
Branson and Jones are, on the surface, unlikely heroes who might save the world. Nicholas Branson is a renowned historian of Christianity whose intellectual development has outpaced his emotional maturity.
“He had a hard time growing up,” Peters says. “His stepfather was an alcoholic and Branson became one as well. If we met him at a party, it would be difficult to form an opinion of him, as social events make him uncomfortable. Having been sober for several years, he can no longer rely on alcohol as a social lubricant. He’s also an introvert by nature and might come off as aloof. Branson is more of an anti-hero than a hero, though at times he demonstrates extraordinary courage.”
For the forces of evil, Sam Roberts is catnip. Even during periods of calm, Sam knows that evil is just biding its time before challenging him again. So when he is asked to defend a wealthy shut-in charged with murder, he is suspicious. Why is the largest and wealthiest law firm in town hiring an outside attorney who is a sole practitioner to represent Mr. Blake May?
Sam’s client resides in the sublimely creepy Frost Home, a “haunted” mansion given a wide berth by the residents of Champaign, Illinois. The house has been engulfed in rumors of death, missing children, and mystery since before the Civil War. Blake May is accused of not only murdering his girlfriend but decimating the remains until they look like marinara. But the agoraphobic middle-aged man rarely, if ever, left his rooms. If he indeed killed Heather, why can’t the police find a murder weapon? Everyone seems to want Blake declared insane rather than acquitted.
Sam and his buddy Bob Sizemore know that Heather’s grizzly fate can’t be blamed on something as mundane as murder. There is a force at work in the house, and it seems to emanate from the mirror hung in the room where the remains of the body were found. Can Sam and Bob end the Frost Home’s eerie legacy of evil?
HABITAT FOR HUMAN REMAINS author Scott A. Lerner discussed his novel with The Big Thrill:
A smartly dressed man has been found unconscious at the local racecourse and is rushed to the hospital, where he subsequently dies. But who is he? Where does he come from? He had no form of identification on him, and no one claims the body.
Doctor Chris Rankin, a specialist who treated the deceased–and who struggles with mental health issues–is intrigued by the nameless dead man, obsessed even, and starts asking questions. However, someone doesn’t want the questions answered and will go to any lengths to prevent it, including an attempted murder. But when no one will believe that someone tried to kill Chris, the doctor is left with no option but to discover who the nameless man was and why he died . . . preferably before following him into an early grave.
New York Times bestselling author Felix Francis spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, PULSE:
Nicole Nelson and Ahmed Masud are a dynamic, highly successful Philadelphia couple. They are partners in a thriving plastic surgery practice, are very much in love, and they adore their young son, Alex. But cracks are beginning to appear in their fairy-tale life: lingering post-9/11 prejudice against Arab men, accumulating malpractice lawsuits for Ahmed, and most recently, pressure from Ahmed’s wealthy family in Cairo for him to return to Egypt—permanently—with his son.
The Masud family pressure becomes a demand as the Hosni Mubarak regime is seriously threatened by protestors in Egypt. Ahmed’s family owes their control of the Egyptian cotton empire directly to Mubarak cronyism. If Mubarak goes down, the Masuds will surely lose their wealth, maybe even their lives. They need Ahmed back in Egypt to implement their plan to move their fortune and family out of Egypt and into South America.
Ahmed must make a decision—stay with Nicole in America or obey his father. And what about their son?
Tragic consequences, which Ahmed could have never foreseen, propel both the Masud family and the Nelson family on a path toward unspeakable tragedy.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Patricia Gussin discussed her latest novel, COME HOME, with The Big Thrill:
Living on a farm with four hundred goats and a cantankerous carnivore isn’t among vegan chef Brie Hooker’s list of lifetime ambitions. But she can’t walk away from her Aunt Eva after the dairy’s pot-bellied pig unearths a skull. The skull belongs to Eva’s husband, who disappeared years before, and the sheriff, kin to the deceased, sets out to pin the murder on Eva. He doesn’t reckon on Brie’s resolve to prove her aunt’s innocence.
Death threats, ruinous pedicures, psychic shenanigans, and biker bar fisticuffs won’t stop Brie from unmasking the killer, even when romantic befuddlement throws her a curve.
Author Linda Lovely recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her novel, BONES TO PICK:
A trip to the Cotswolds turns into a brush with death for Pru Parke, the only gardener whose holiday wouldn’t be complete without a murder to solve. Pru is invited to redesign an arts and crafts garden, and she and her husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher jump at the chance for a getaway. Unfortunately, the once thriving garden has fallen into heartbreaking neglect. When Pru stumbles upon the owner’s body in the garden – dead and pinned beneath one of his limestone statues – Pru’s work on the garden turns up one ominous clue after another, and she discovers that the scenery is more dangerous than she or Christopher could have anticipated.
Bestselling author Marty Wingate was kind enough to discuss her latest novel, BEST-LAID PLANTS, with The Big Thrill:
In the midst of an internal investigation, the police department is thrown into chaos when Captain Frank Morelli is gunned down on his own front lawn. Detective Jane Harper suspects that someone is tying up loose ends—a conviction that only grows stronger when she witnesses the execution of another officer in broad daylight. With no one else to turn to, Jane seeks the help of psychic Ida Lane.
Ida thought she’d finally found peace after the death of the man who murdered her mother. But as the town emerges from the shadow cast by that serial killer, they discover that there is more than one monster hiding in the darkness. Desperate to lay her ghosts to rest, Ida puts her extraordinary skills to the test. Together, she and Jane must uncover the truth…or be permanently silenced like the rest.
The Big Thrill caught up with bestselling author Tony Healey to discuss his latest book, STORM’S EDGE:
Andy Sinnott and Connie Kelly face off with a professional assassin in this taut psychological thriller. Burke—hired by the mob to eliminate Lester Cartwright, Tom Wesley, David Mullins, and a sequestered federal witness—is a brutal killer who uses a jackhammer on his victims. Burke sends Andy to the hospital, captures Connie, and cuts off two of her toes. Helpless and at the mercy of a sadistic serial killer, Connie must think out of the box if she hopes to survive. Fast-paced and riveting, this tale brings together characters from previous books. Who will survive and who won’t?
Author Paul Dale Anderson spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, JACKHAMMER:
You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…?
When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.
Claire is sure of two things—that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.
A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it…?
THE MISSING author, C. L. Taylor, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel:
DEATH’S SILENT JUDGEMENT is the thrilling sequel to Dancers in the Wind, and continues the gripping series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge. Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her dental practice. With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime, Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…
Anne Coates, the author of DEATH’S SILENT JUDGEMENT, recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Apart from enjoying an exciting page-turner, readers will see that many of today’s problems were already evident in the early 90s: trafficking girls as sex slaves, transgender issues, homelessness…
Special Agent Matthew Roarke has abandoned his rogue search for serial killer Cara Lindstrom. He’s returned to the FBI to head a task force with one mission: to rid society of its worst predators. But as the skeletal symbols of Santa Muerte, “Lady Death,” mysteriously appear at universities nationwide, threatening death to rapists, Roarke’s team is pressured to investigate. When a frat boy goes missing in Santa Barbara, Roarke realizes a bloodbath is coming—desperate teenagers are about to mete out personal, cold-blooded justice.
Hiding from the law, avenging angel Cara Lindstrom is on her own ruthless quest. She plans to stay as far away from Roarke as possible—until an old enemy comes after both her and the FBI, forcing her back into Roarke’s orbit. This time, the huntress has become the hunted…
The Big Thrill recently spoke with award-winning author Alexandra Sokoloff about her latest novel, HUNGER MOON:
By Dawn Ius
It’s impossible to overstate the impact of Stephen King on the realm of horror fiction.
Beginning with the seminal novel The Castle of Otranto in 1764, horror fiction has flourished, pouring from the pens of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and Bram Stoker. But in the 20th century, ever since Carrie was published in 1974, an immeasurable number of scribes have been inspired by Stephen King’s pet burial grounds, creatures in the mist, world-decimating plagues, haunted cars and hotels, twisted dimensions, and perhaps most relevant today, killer clowns.
Last month, Stephen King’s It dethroned The Exorcist to become the highest grossing horror movie of all time, bringing in more than $500 million—a rarity for any film, but history-making for the genre.
Twenty years from now, King’s influence will still be profound, but with Pennywise striking terror in every major movie theatre across North America, it’s hit a sweet spot of respect that is also fueled by nostalgia.
A Gift for Finding the Bizarre
By E. M. Powell
Paranormal mystery fans will need no introduction to Heather Graham and her hugely successful Krewe of Hunters series, as her latest, WICKED DEEDS, is book Number 23. As in usual Graham style, it’s a fast-paced read with large measures of creepiness, romance, and fun as well as an intriguing mystery.
Krewe members historian Vickie Preston and Special Agent Griffin Pryce are on their way to set up their new home in Virginia, but they detour for a romantic weekend in Baltimore. Their plans take a hit when a popular author is found dead in the basement of an Edgar Allan Poe-themed restaurant. Poe of course died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849. The bizarre circumstance in which the corpse is found has disturbing echoes of Poe’s life and work, and means that the services of the Krewe are needed. Yet more deaths quickly follow that bring the horrors of Poe’s dark fiction to life, putting Vickie and Griffin in a race against time to find the killer.
Unexpected help arrives—Poe himself appears to Vickie in dreams and visions with cryptic information about the murders. It’s clear that Graham is a huge fan of Poe and it’s a love that started very early in life. “I don’t even remember when I first started reading Poe,” she says. “But I was a lucky kid. Both my parents were avid readers, and I was happy to follow right along. The first book I really remember that created the seeds of my fascination with Edgar Allan was a Treasury for Young Readers. There were stories about presidents, scientists, actors, artists—and writers, Poe, of course, among them.”
The Fine Art of Terrifying
By Dawn Ius
Eric Rickstad was just 14 years old when a terrifying encounter stripped the veil of his innocence and forever imprinted in his mind the notion that bad things can happen—anywhere. Even in the majestic woodland playground of northeast Vermont, where he and his cousin often fished, hunted, and camped.
It was during one of these adventures that the two boys were confronted by a pair of grizzled, unshaven men armed with shotguns. An avid reader of books by Roald Dahl and Edgar Alan Poe, Rickstad didn’t need much help in imagining what might happen if they didn’t do exactly what these men wanted. And that was for them to get the hell off their property.
“We were miles from nowhere, and I realized that these men could make us disappear,” Rickstad says. “They could do anything they wanted to us, and no one would know. It was my first abrupt encounter with violence, and it had a tremendous impact.”
Not only did this harrowing event inspire the themes that would later translate into Rickstad’s writing, he learned a great deal about the fine art of storytelling.
“Sharing the experience over and over taught me what parts to edit out,” he says. “I learned how to tell the story more succinctly, and when not to drown in back story. I learned that there were certain beats to storytelling, and how to use them for pacing. It helped to bolster and hone my writing skills.”
When the Wrong Side Has Power
A Canadian by birth and now the CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science based in Queensland, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist, and environmental scientist. He has rough-necked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, and rehabilitated village water wells in the wilds of Africa. He survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a in 1993, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war.
Yemen was the setting for Hardisty’s powerful debut thriller, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, which was short-listed for the Crime Writers Association Creasy New Blood Dagger award—the premiere British award for first novels in the mystery/thriller genre. It was followed by The Evolution of Fear last year.
Paul’s protagonist, Claymore Straker, is a South African who went through the mill of the Angola war and was badly chewed up in it. In RECONCILIATION FOR THE DEAD we find out what really happened to him then and why. It’s Clay’s backstory.
How much of that story have you always known, and how much have you developed in the writing of this book?
I have been thinking about and working on the plot and character elements of this series for the last 15 years. Clay’s experiences as a young man growing up in South Africa during apartheid were always going to be the essential backstory for the books, and I had a number of pretty specific events from his past fixed quite early. These appear as fragments of flashbacks and recollections in the first two books, which are set 13-plus years later, after Clay has been dishonorably discharged and exiled from SA.
Nikki Garcia is an unlikely Sam Spade: a former international auditor who turns private investigator and lands an assignment in Mexico to find a missing ten-year-old child, Bibi Lombardi. Bibi’s estranged parents are fighting over her custody and one of them could even be responsible for her disappearance. It’s an easy child snatching case – right? Nikki pursues a trail of dangerous criminals through designated UNESCO locations, archaeological sites, picturesque colonial towns, and barren deserts. But when Sofía, Bibi’s mother, receives a ransom request, Nikki is already undercover with a gang of “Coyotes.” Nikki’s boss and fellow private eye is certain someone purposely provided misleading information on the abduction to prevent Nikki from recovering the child. Or is the kidnapper headed north to the U.S. border, where Bibi’s fate could be much worse than her current situation?
Award winning author Kathryn Lane spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, COYOTE ZONE:
Warrant Officer Jan Magson, of the South African Police Service, looks down at the decomposing body of a teenage girl. She was tortured and hanged, and she wasn’t the first. Trapped in a dark place following his wife’s death after a battle with cancer, the pursuit of a serial killer who will not stop threatens to suffocate Magson. While the killer fantasizes about his next victim, Magson nurtures his own dark fantasies, his service pistol in his hand.
Author Martin Steyn recently discussed his latest novel, DARK TRACES, with The Big Thrill:
Janet Hutchings, Chris Grabenstein, Gary Phillips, and Hilary Davidson headline a new world tour anthology of 22 stories from the heartland of America to Italy, Japan, Mexico, Cuba, England, and more.
PASSPORT TO MURDER is published in conjunction with Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, held in 2017 in Toronto, Ontario. As with the convention itself, the anthology spreads a broad canopy across a wide variety of crime writers from across the country and around the world—including both veteran writers and the brightest up-and-coming talents in the field. All of the stories include some kind of travel, ranging from a cross-America ride-sharing trip to tourists in Italy and Japan, to a woman on the run in Mexico, to murder in Cuba. And even a haunted hotel in Toronto.
By Karen Harper
Lise McClendon writes fiction from her home in Montana. She is the author of twelve novels, short stories, and articles. In 1997 she wrote and directed the short film, The Hoodoo Artist, featured at the Telluride Indiefest. She has served on the national boards of directors for Mystery Writers of America and International Association of Crime Writers/North America. She is on the faculty of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference and co-presents a novel workshop for writers.
Please tell us what your book is about.
This mystery follows the story of Merle Bennett, one of five lawyer/sisters, who in the first in the series inherit a stone house in France. In this, the fifth installment, Merle takes a leave from her job in New York City at Legal Aid for an extended stay in France. A tightly-wound go-getter with a penchant for list-making, she is under the illusion, not uncommon, that just being in France cures a person of all his or her ills. Her ‘bliss’ makes her French boyfriend laugh. Pascal is a cop in the Wine Fraud Division of the Police Nationale and has seen his share of the underbelly of ‘La Belle France’. When someone he put in jail years before returns with revenge on his mind, things definitely take a dark turn. Merle starts out a bit dreamy, writing a novel about the French Revolution, but rallies the forces to save Pascal.
True Crime Turns All Too Real
One year, when British novelist Sophie Hannah was on a book tour in America, she found that every time she turned on the television in a hotel room, the news was about Florida native Casey Anthony, arrested in 2008 in the disappearance of her daughter, Caylee. Hannah was blown away by the strength of the opinions of those declaring Anthony guilty—“Especially Nancy Grace!”— and taken aback that these discussions could even take place in the media before Anthony was found guilty in a courtroom.
“When I came home, I would mention the Casey Anthony story, and everyone would say, ‘Who?’” At that moment, Hannah was struck by these starkly different perspectives on a crime story: in the United States, media saturation, and in the United Kingdom, complete obliviousness. Part of it has to do with the different laws governing pre-trial publicity and libel in the UK. But when it came time to think of a plot for her new novel, Hannah took on the issue, writing what it would be like for a British person to stumble on a real-life victim of an infamous American crime she’d never heard of, and the consequences.
In that thriller, KEEP HER SAFE, Hannah tells the specific story of Cara Burrows, an English wife and mother stressed to the breaking point by her family, who escapes to a five-star spa in Arizona to think through her life. But when, exhausted, she arrives at the hotel, a mistake at the front desk puts her in the same room as a rather strange girl and an adult man who comes across as a bit menacing. The next day, Burrows realizes after another guest starts going off on a sighting, and she does some research, that the girl Burrows saw the night before was Melody Chapa, the most famous murder victim in America, definitely alive but perhaps not so well.