When a series of coordinated blasts takes down several Los Angeles power stations, FBI bomb tech Paul Grale is tapped to investigate. That means leaving his vulnerable niece, Julia, behind in Las Vegas. The sole survivor of a homeland bombing that killed her parents, Julia’s still struggling through grief and trauma. An avowed pacifist, she’s being trolled as anti-American. And entangled in an affair with the wrong man, she’s facing the fallout from his crimes: stolen military-grade ammunition found in her car.
But Grale has no choice but to head to L.A. The sabotage is growing more sophisticated, and with assaults on the telecommunication grid itself, the potential for destruction has never been higher. Now, as rolling blackouts sweep across the West, Grale is following clues that point alarmingly close to home. Especially when Julia disappears.
If Grale can’t stop the attacks from escalating, the grid will go down for good, leaving everyone in the dark. But it’s Grale who could be facing the darkest reality of all…
Prolific author Kirk Russell spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, GONE DARK:
At age eight, Dave Austin witnesses his brother’s savage murder in rural Norwich, New York, but amnesia suppresses the memory, and the killer escapes. Locals suspect an itinerant, a pedophile, or a disturbed friend maddened by psychedelic mushrooms. When Dave starts college, pressures at Princeton and alcohol elicit dreams, each one revealing a bit of memory. Then come visions as Dave senses the killer return. Images of teenagers killed where his brother died precipitate a crisis, and David returns to Norwich to find his dead brother’s friend, a disturbed witness who knows something. Dave’s appearance alarms his psychiatrist, the officers who hadn’t solved the case, and especially the killer, who knows he should not have let the young Dave escape. Now the killer must correct his mistake. When a crazy farmer invites Dave to learn the killer’s name in the Clown Forest at midnight, how can he resist? He may learn what he needs to identify the murderer—if he gets the truth, and survives.
The Big Thrill caught up to the author duo of A. C. Brooks and R. R. Brooks to discuss their latest mystery, THE CLOWN FOREST MURDERS:
By David Healey
Imagine riding Amtrak’s fastest train, the Acela. Inside, the seats are comfortable and the coaches are well appointed. This is no tired train hauling commuters up and down the East Coast corridor. Your fellow passengers are interesting and you strike up a captivating conversation with the lawyer beside you. Beyond the windows, the landscape—like time itself—passes in a blur because you are so caught up in the train, the trip, the conversation.
AN ENGINEERED INJUSTICE by William L. Myers Jr. is about as close as one can get to such an exciting train ride, short of purchasing a pricey Acela ticket. Considering that this new legal thriller is fast-paced, tightly written, and inspired by a real-life railroad disaster, it’s probably no surprise that Myers’ previous novel, A Criminal Defense, remained in the top 10 list for Amazon’s Kindle sales for much of 2017 and into 2018. Currently, the novel has more than 5,000 reader reviews on Amazon.
His new book is just as much of a thrill ride. Young lawyer Vaughn Coburn finds himself obligated to represent his cousin, Eddy, in the wake of an Amtrak train wreck in which many die and many more are injured. Vaughn has a dark family secret that compels him to help Eddy, even when the job is going to make him very unpopular. A steamy relationship with a lawyer from a rival firm adds further complications.
There’s a lot going on here, and for good reason. Myers called AN ENGINEERED INJUSTICE a plot-driven novel, following the up-and-down fortunes of a trial. There is also what he described as a “sense of peril” because one of the victims of the train crash was the son of a vicious mobster. One of Vaughn’s challenges is to persuade the mobster not to seek his own rough justice until all of the facts are known.
Recently, the author shared some insights into his new book, writing in general, and how he became one of Amazon’s top bestselling authors seemingly overnight with his first novel.
By Karen Harper
Locked room mysteries have enthralled readers since Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” effectively launched the modern detective subgenre in 1841. Everyone from Agatha Christie to Japanese mystery master Soji Shimada has tackled the tantalizing setup: someone is murdered in a confined space with no obvious access or means of escape for the killer, and a detective is tasked with unraveling the seemingly impossible crime.
Saralyn Richard pumps fresh blood into the locked room scenario with MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, out now from Black Opal Books. Richard, a former teacher and successful children’s book author, transports the familiar premise to an extravagant dinner party at a Pennsylvania horse farm, where a young African-American police detective named Oliver Parrott is called in to investigate the murder of playboy and former Secretary of the Treasury, Preston Phillips.
Richard spoke with The Big Thrill about making the transition from kidlit to adult fiction, the allure of her novel’s posh setting, and the singular demands of writing a locked room mystery in the 21st century.
Swiss-American police officer Agnes Lüthi is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, recovering from injuries she sustained in her last case, when an old colleague invites her to the world’s premier watch and jewelry trade show at the grand Messe Basel Exhibition Hall. Little does Agnes know, another friend of hers, Julien Vallotton, is at the same trade show—and he’s looking for Agnes. Julien Vallotton was friends with Guy Chavanon, a master of one of Switzerland’s oldest arts: watchmaking. Chavanon died a week ago, and his daughter doesn’t believe his death was accidental. Shortly before he died, Chavanon boasted that he’d discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and she believes he may have been killed for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate his death. But the world of Swiss watchmaking is guarded and secretive, and before she realizes it, Agnes may be walking straight into the path of a killer.
Author Tracee de Hahn spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery, A WELL-TIMED MURDER:
Investigative reporter Dylan Hunter is a vigilante, and this time he’s trying to stop a murderous international conspiracy from taking over the presidency of the United States. The stakes are high, and Dylan must make a choice that will forever seal his fate—including his future with the woman he adores. As political violence sweeps the nation’s capital, it’s an all-or-nothing scenario in Richard Bidinotto’s WINNER TAKES ALL, the third installment in the Dylan Hunter series.
WINNER TAKES ALL explores the lust for power in all its forms within a “sweeping, grand-scale political thriller.” When Bidinotto wrapped up the second Dylan Hunter thriller, 2014’s Bad Deeds, all he knew was that two of his characters—billionaire Avery Trammel and hitman Ray Lasher—would conspire to throw the election to a malleable political puppet. When it was time to flesh out his plot, he says he looked no further than what he calls the “crazy” 2016 election cycle.
“I worked into the story such things as the ongoing threat of terrorism; controversies over ‘fake news’ and media bias; scandals over sexual manipulation by the rich and powerful; government harassment of private citizens; worries about border security; leaks of classified material for political purposes; and the quirky, unsavory personalities of today’s political candidates,” Bidinotto says. “But I didn’t toss in all those ingredients willy-nilly, just to spice up the story. They’re integral to the theme and the plot. Real-world events played perfectly into my story world’s theme of power-lust.”
One of the scarier aspects of WINNER TAKES ALL is the means by which foreign interests funnel money into political campaigns—a plot element that was inspired by Bidinotto’s work for a D.C. nonprofit watchdog group.
“[The] machinations I describe in the novel are what is going on in the real world,” he says. “I learned from several years of first-hand research, exactly how this happens.”
It’s been four months since forensic psychologist Claire Britten last crossed paths with danger. Finally feeling she can catch her breath, together with her partner, criminal lawyer Nick Markwood, Claire has settled into a new role, volunteering with a support group for children stressed by domestic violence. But a leisurely field trip to a wildlife sanctuary turns deadly, leaving Claire to question whether the death was an accident, suicide—or something far more sinister.
Nick gets the South Shores team on the case, hunting down anyone with a potential grudge against the sanctuary. But their investigation turns wild when other attacks come too close to home. With a hostile predator on the loose, Nick and Claire will have to race to unbury the truth before a killer wipes them from the endangered-species list for good.
New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper joined The Big Thrill to discuss her latest thriller, SHALLOW GRAVE:
Not all great thrillers are about global threats. Rick Mofina has created a pulse-pounding nail-biter focused on a single family’s trials in his latest standalone, LAST SEEN.
The story centers on Cal Hudson, a reporter who seems to be living the dream: he’s got a great job, a devoted wife, a loving son, and a home in a tranquil suburban community. That dream becomes a nightmare when the unthinkable happens, and his nine-year-old son is snatched. Hudson is a regular guy and a good man who, as it turns out, has done some terrible things and managed to keep them secret.
“His heart’s in the right place,” Mofina says, “but he’s far from perfect and when all seems lost he’s uncertain he can do the right thing.”
That may not make Cal a hero in the traditional sense, but it certainly makes him interesting. That’s one way this is not your typical thriller. Another is that the reader does not learn who the villain is until late in the narrative.
“We have a lot of suspects and a lot of threads that are tied to all the characters,” Mofina says. “The antagonist is woven into the fabric of the situation and emerges near the end.”
That doesn’t mean that LAST SEEN is totally plot driven. Along with that strong storyline there is no shortage of interesting, engaging people. Mofina clearly feels that a good story must have both: compelling, realistic characters and threatening situations that test them. The author may have a unique perspective on good people in menacing circumstances thanks to his own extensive career as a reporter.
You wouldn’t know it from her lighthearted and clever cozies, but bestselling author T.C. (Toni) LoTempio started out writing horror. After realizing that, with the notable exception of Stephen King, there wasn’t much of a market for horror, she turned her considerable skills toward mysteries.
It seemed a natural progression; while LoTempio neither commits nor solves murders in real life, she has had a lifelong love of mysteries that began with the Nancy Drew classic The Secret in the Old Attic. She began honing her writing skills early as well, changing the endings of her books and comics if she didn’t like how they turned out.
With a bit of uncredited help from her cat ROCCO, she penned the Nick and Nora mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, followed by the Cat Rescue Mysteries published by Crooked Lane. In true cozy fashion, the books sometimes include recipes, like the one named for Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman and made from horseradish, cheese, and thinly sliced beef on an Italian hoagie bun.
Asked which writers have influenced her writing, she says, “I’ve definitely been influenced from a young age by the Nancy Drew mysteries. I think I’ve read almost every girl sleuth series around, from Trixie Belden to Judy Bolton and everything in between. And I’m a big fan of today’s cozy mystery authors, particularly Laura Childs and Miranda James.”
Toni agreed to chat with The Big Thrill about her new release, a Cat Rescue mystery called DEATH BY A WHISKER.
The bones of seven young girls, picked clean and carefully preserved, discovered years ago… That’s all Sergeant Ryan DeMarco knows about the unsolved crime he has unwittingly been roped into investigating during what is supposed to be a healing road trip with his new love, Jayme.
DeMarco is still reeling from the case that led to death of his best friend months ago and wants nothing more than to lay low. Unfortunately, the small southern town of Jayme’s idyllic youth is not exactly a place that lets strangers go unnoticed—especially strangers who have a history of solving violent crimes. And if there’s anything DeMarco knows, it’s that a killer always leaves clues behind, just waiting for the right person to come along and put all the pieces together…
WALKING THE BONES is a story about things buried—memories, regrets, secrets, and bodies. Acclaimed author Randall Silvis delivers another heart-stopping investigation as DeMarco finds himself once again drawn into a case that will demand more of himself than he may be willing to give.
Randall Silvis, bestselling author of the Ryan Demarco mystery series, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest installment, WALKING THE BONES:
An expedition off the Italian coast reclaims a World War II-era German midget submarine. When the two-man sub is opened, it contains a single corpse, and an artifact from Adolf Hitler’s bunker that was thought to be lost to history.
On Long Island, an elderly man and woman are brutally murdered. FBI Agent Link Johnsten is called in to assist local authorities and to maintain the victims’ secret. When six unsent letters are discovered in their home, one piques his interest. It’s addressed to his friend, CIA agent Samuel Tolen.
Chinese-American physicist Dr. Sing Liao is abducted after making an astonishing, yet terrifying, scientific breakthrough. The intersecting lives of Dr. Liao, a rogue FBI agent, and a billionaire shipping magnate collide. With ties to Nazi Germany, Tolen and Johnsten are swept up in a frantic chase to uncover Adolf Hitler’s darkest secret. At stake is the life of an 11-year-old savant–and possibly the end of the world.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with co-authors Gary Williams & Vicky Knerly to discuss their latest thriller, BLOOD LEGACY:
On the surface, it looks like Paul Callahan has it all. The family, the house, the job. But nothing is ever as perfect as it seems, and when a college friend contacts Paul out of the blue, he finds himself reliving his first year of college, when everything went so right, and then so very wrong. The novel skips between the present and the past, tracing what happened to Paul and his friends during college and the effects in the present day.
TESTAMENT is a story of friendship and love and of the terrible evil people are capable of doing to one another. It is the story of a man doing his best to move forward, but struggling with an emotional anchor latched firmly in the past. But more than anything, it is a story about redemption and the unfathomable workings of the human heart.
Author Mark P. Dunn took some time to discuss his latest novel, TESTAMENT, with The Big Thrill:
But he quickly learns the case isn’t really about a petty theft. Pretty soon there’s a murder, and a connection to large-scale drug smuggling, and to a pair of Albanian crooks who are looking to expand their operations and don’t care how they do it. In addition he finds himself drawn to the mysterious singer Geneva Chance, who has secrets of her own.
What seemed straight-forward becomes both complicated and dangerous.
THE SONG OF GENEVA CHANCE author, Keith Dixon, sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest thriller:
All they want is for him to go into North Korea and extract three women; a daughter and granddaughters of NK’s ambassador to China, who wants to defect. Since he’s the former head of NK’s nuclear program, the U.S. is more than merely interested in him.
The Big Thrill caught up to prolific author L. J. Martin to discuss his latest novel, THE K FACTOR:
Five years is a long time, even longer if you think of it in dog years. For Clarissa Goenawan, that’s how long it took from the conception of her exquisite debut, RAINBIRDS, to publication. And some of that time was actually spent writing it.
If you’re looking for a straight suspense thriller, with murder, mayhem, car chases, stuff blowing up and the world as we know it at stake, RAINBIRDS is probably not for you. But if you’re in the market for an intelligent, well-written, thought-provoking novel, what Goenawan calls “a literary mystery with an element of magical realism set in Japan, a coming-of-age story masquerading as a murder mystery,” then RAINBIRDS is right up your alley.
RAINBIRDS doesn’t read like a first novel. You know the kind: precious and derivative. Instead, it appears to have sprung forth from a talented writer who’s been around longer than 29 years—“I’m turning 30 this year (gasp), but until my birthday in April, I’m going to insist I’m in my twenties”—and who’s carefully developed a plot and characters that grab you from the get-go and don’t let go.
The story is set in motion with the murder of a young woman, Keiko, the older sister of Ren, who visits the fictional small town of Akakawa (inspired by one of the suburban cities in Indonesia Goenawan visited as a child), where his sister moved years earlier to teach. While mourning her death, Ren hopes to find out who murdered her and why, but instead finds what he really wants is to get closer to his late sibling.
By George Ebey
Author Richard L. Mabry, MD, brings his considerable expertise to his latest medical thriller, SURGEON’S CHOICE.
Dr. Ben Merrick and his fiancée, Rachel Gardner, can’t get her divorced parents to stay in the same room, much less attend their wedding together.
Added to the stress is that Ben is looking over his shoulder, expecting more trouble from a senior surgeon still smarting from a previous dust-up. Ben doesn’t know if a series of mishaps and accidents are caused by a disgruntled patient’s relatives, or represent more drama from his disgruntled co-worker.
Then, Ben’s prospective father-in-law approaches him, needing money for reasons Ben can’t fathom, and Rachel doesn’t want to accept it. But when the deaths begin, Ben and Rachel begin to wonder if they can escape unscathed…and alive.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with Mabry to learn more about his exciting new tale.
From the Edgar-nominated author of Hammett Unwritten and Woman with a Blue Pencil comes a startling meta-fiction tale told in the voice of Sherlock Holmes. Set in 1920s’ London, Cambridge, and Paris, HOLMES ENTANGLED by Gordon McAlpine leads the infamous sleuth on an adventure through labyrinths of crime and espionage in a mortally dangerous inquiry into the unseen nature of existence itself.
Sherlock Holmes, retired from investigations and disguised as a professor at Cambridge, is shaken when a modestly successful author named Arthur Conan Doyle calls upon him at the university. This Conan Doyle, notable for historical adventure and science fiction stories (but no detective tales), somehow knows the false professor’s true identity, and pleads for investigative assistance. Someone is trying to kill him.
Intrigued by how the “middling scribbler” ascertained Holmes’s identity in the first place, despite the detective’s perfect disguise, Holmes agrees to investigate.
With the assistance of Dr. Watson’s widow, Holmes persists, exploring séances, the esoterica of Edgar Allan Poe, the revolutionary new science of quantum mechanics, and his own long-denied sense of loss and solitude. Ultimately, however, even Sherlock Holmes is unprepared for what the evidence suggests.
At first glance, this story may seem like fan fiction, but HOLMES ENTANGLED can more aptly be described as a mash-up of meta-mystery with meta-biography.
By Terri Nolan
There is a bounty on Tina Alder’s head—and so, she hides within an ordinary life in a small town. She earns cash for watercolor paintings and has no internet footprint, no bank account, no phone, and no permanent address. She doesn’t use computers; not even the anonymous ones at the public library.
So when Tina, a former hacker, needs a fix, she enters the library to peruse books while casting hungry gazes at the bank of computer terminals. To go online would risk exposure and in today’s connected world, safety can’t be taken for granted—even if you live small. Tina’s go-bag is packed and ready.
But when Tina meets an older woman at an art show she is thrown off her game. The woman seems to know more about Tina than she should. The compulsion to know who this woman is leads Tina to a laptop. She knows better. Her safety depends on staying off the grid. But the compulsion is mighty, and Tina does the one thing she shouldn’t do. By the next day she is on the run.
VANISHED is Karen E. Olson’s fourth novel in the Black Hat series. It is extreme in pace with intense, non-stop action—and it may make one pause next time they log online or use an ATM.
Just before high school graduation, Daisy Murphy returns home from a football game and finds her mother standing over her abusive boyfriend’s body—holding a bloody hammer. In the aftermath, Daisy flees her home and eventually establishes a new life as an expert winemaker in the Central Valley of California. But as hard as she tries to get away from her past, the effects of that horrible night travel with her.
Detective Jake Frisco has unearthed a murder at the vineyard where Daisy is employed as the winery’s expert winemaker. It doesn’t take long to discover that Daisy is haunted by her past and carries a heavy burden. It seems that possible involvement in an unsolved murder is part of her life’s baggage. Does this put Daisy at the top of the suspects list? Can he put aside his growing feelings for her and follow the leads in the case, even if they take him straight to her as the murderer?
Can Daisy finally face her past and trust that the truth she offers the detective will be enough to save her? Will she find the courage to ask for a future beyond the sorrow of her youth—a future filled with love and self-worth?
L. Lee Kane took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest novel, DEATH ON THE VINE, with The Big Thrill:
The race is on to find the cure for a bloody disease targeting women of color. But a hidden side-effect of the Black Sea Virus might kill us all. Time to call in the 21st Century Robin Hoods to locate, assemble and decode The Pandora Block.
The Pandora Block opens with the world engulfed in a deadly pandemic. Jonathan Boyd reaches out to a team of reluctant colleagues in the search for an ancient puzzle/relic that might hold the key to the cure. From Capetown to Columbia, Busan to Paris, LA to St. Croix, John Hegenberger takes readers on a globe-trotting ride that is part action/adventure, part spy thriller, and part theft caper. Meticulously researched, the book combines the best elements of Clive Cussler and Ian Fleming, with a dash of Dan Brown and Michael Crichton. A fascinating story. — Baron R. Birtcher, award-winning author of Rain Dogs and South California Purples.
Award-winning author John Hegenberger spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, THE PANDORA BLOCK:
There are 4.7 billion searchable sites that make up 10% of the web; the other 90% is dedicated to the “Dark Web.” Within that environment there is a thriving economy where everything is for sale: Sex, Armies and Code for hire. Well-known companies buy and sell for governments and NGO’s (non-governmental organizations). They appear as benign legal boutique companies and consultants, but their true purpose is to be the middlemen/cyber lynchpins for these illicit goods and services.
Isabella Nunez owns a computer firm in Brooklyn with her lover Jacob Costa. Accepting her infertility, they have a blue nose pit bull called Justice as their “child” and live simple lives as techy nerds. Isabella’s idyllic life is shattered when several days after her lover’s ex-wife, Simone Johns’, reported death, Simone sends Jacob an email to come save their child, which he didn’t know they had.
SANCTUARY OF LIES author Chad Bishop took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his latest thriller with The Big Thrill:
Security specialist and PI Jamie Sinclair crosses interstate boundaries—and personal ones too—in this electrifying thriller from an award-winning author who “understands how to keep her readers riveted from beginning to end” (USA Today).
With a long list of high-profile, high-paying clients, Jamie Sinclair has her hands full—and that’s the way she likes it. Still reeling from the brutal investigation that drove a wedge between her and her boyfriend, military police officer Adam Barrett, Jamie is counting on hard work to help her forget her recent history—but then DEA agent Marc Sandoval barges back into her life. The last time they worked together, Jamie almost crossed all kinds of lines. Now Marc doesn’t just want Jamie, he needs her . . . because she’s the only one who can help him—and the little boy he never told her about.
Marc’s ex has vanished, leaving their six-year-old son in his care. Despite a troubled past, Elena never wavered in her duties as a parent, so something must be very wrong now. Teaming with Marc to track Elena through her home state of Colorado and beyond, Jamie finds herself on a cross-country search for the missing mother of Marc’s child, at a crossroads with Adam, and on a collision course with the killers who’ll stop at nothing to find Elena first.
Award-winning author Nichole Christoff sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss the latest installment of her Jamie Sinclair thrillers, THE KILL WIRE:
As deputy medical examiner and homicide detective respectively, the couple are dispatched to a grisly crime scene at the Grizzly Motel, a seedy joint for illicit liaisons on the outskirts of Sorenson, Wisconsin. A man and woman are found dead next to each other in bed in what initially appears to be a grim but straightforward murder-suicide. An affair gone sour?
But as the forensic evidence is gathered and autopsies are performed, Mattie and Hurley realize the scene has been staged. They have a double murder on their hands. The spurned spouses of both victims top the list of suspects, but as more is revealed, the case becomes increasingly complex. Dividing their time and resources between the double homicide and an ongoing investigation involving Mattie’s father, as well as caring for their toddler Matthew and Hurley’s teenaged daughter Emily, the two are stretched to their limits.
After another victim turns up dead, there’s no room for error as Mattie and Hurley stage a scene of their own to back the killer into a corner…
The Big Thrill caught up to author Annelise Ryan to discuss her mystery, DEAD CALM:
Hundreds of white-hot meteor fragments plunge toward Earth near Monterey Bay, California. Huge fires ignite the tinder-dry landscape and, as the sun sets, the power grid collapses and the fires grow, illuminating a nightmare created in hell itself. Donovan Nash realizes he is trapped.
Injured and growing desperate, his options dwindling, Donovan fights to keep himself and a small band of survivors alive until dawn, when they can make one last attempt to escape the inferno.
Meanwhile, Donovan’s wife, Dr. Lauren McKenna, working with the Pentagon as well as the Forest Service, envisions a bold approach to stop the fire from spreading all the way to the Bay Area and the seven million residents living there. She’s terrified that, if not executed perfectly, her plan could cause the death of thousands of people–including Donovan.
Bestselling author Philip Donlay discussed his latest thriller, SPEED THE DAWN, with The Big Thrill and this is what he had to say:
Jim Bean is having a bad day. A bad year, a bad life. Sophie Evers, his latest client, has duped him in the worst possible way. Instead of a straightforward missing persons case, he’s led a serial killer straight to her most coveted prey.
Sophie’s clung to the demented belief that she and Daniel Hodge belonged together. Instead of sleeping her way to the top, she killed her way into a position to create the “perfect life” for the only man she ever loved. Except now she can’t find him. Her plan: kill Daniel’s sister and manipulate a private investigator into flushing out her man.
Despite being told to leave the case alone, responsibility drives Jim to set things straight before Sophie’s delusion shatters and more souls are lost.
Award-winning author J. D. Allen met with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest mystery, 19 SOULS:
Lauren Riley is an accomplished detective who has always been on the opposite side of the courtroom from slick defense attorney Frank Violanti. But now he’s begging to hire her as a private investigator to help clear his client of murder. At first Lauren refuses, wanting nothing to do with the media circus surrounding the case—until she meets the eighteen-year-old suspect.
To keep an innocent teen from life in prison, Lauren must unravel the conflicting evidence and changing stories to get at the buried facts. But the more she digs, the more she discovers that nothing is what it first appears to be. As Lauren puts her career and life in danger, doubt lurks on every corner . . . and so does her stalker.
Join The Big Thrill and author Lissa Marie Redmond as she discusses her thriller, A COLD DAY IN HELL:
When family man and war veteran Russell loses his job as a quarry worker, his life suddenly seems more like a waking nightmare than a chance to finally live the American dream. Facing bills, a new baby, and a bone-dry bank account, he’s got nothing left to lose. Russell comes to the rescue of a naked stranger dancing in the rain, and what was supposed to be a straightforward good deed turns into a spiral of danger. When Russell finds an enticing stash of money in the woman’s house, he knows the cash could be his only hope. Taking just a handful will save his family’s future.
His “victimless crime” seems to be anything but risky—until the criminals he robbed come looking for their dirty money. Russell’s ready to surrender it, but then his daughter gets sick…and he must choose between saving her or giving the devils their due. Someone’s going to pay. The question is, how much?
The Big Thrill caught up with bestselling author Randall Silvis to discuss his latest thriller, ONLY THE RAIN:
On May 3, 2007, three-year-old Madeleine McCann was on holiday in the Portuguese resort town of Praia da Luz with her parents, her two-year-old twin siblings, and a group of family friends and their children. That evening, the adults dined in a restaurant less than 200 feet away from the ground-floor apartment where Madeleine and the rest of the children slept. But when dinner ended around 10 p.m. and Madeleine’s parents arrived back at the apartment, they found that Madeleine was missing.
Thus began one of the most widely reported missing-child cases since the Lindbergh baby. Even now, almost 11 years later, no one knows what happened to Madeleine.
There was something about this case that caught the attention of novelist Simon Wood—but it wasn’t the unexplained disappearance. Instead, Wood was taken by something that happened to a member of the group of friends accompanying the McCanns.
“It was what we now call a ‘fake news’ story,” Wood says. “Published in Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper News of the World, the article named one of the members of the trip as being involved in the kidnapping. He was referred to as a predator, and when he returned to England the cloud of suspicion still hadn’t lifted and he got the shit kicked out of him. Eventually, the paper admitted they’d made a mistake and compensated him, but the result was that the paper made more than five times the amount of the payment in additional newspaper sales.”
In a Wall Street Journal interview, bestselling thriller author Lee Child describes Belfast as “perfect noir.” Perhaps that explains why the past decade has seen an unprecedented surge of crime fiction authors writing in and about Northern Ireland. Among the most recent of these is musician and songwriter Simon Maltman, whose debut novel, A Chaser on the Rocks, launched in September of 2016. Its sequel, A KILL FOR THE POET, uses dark humor and haunted characters to provide a stark contrast to the beauty of the Northern Irish setting.
A fan of the original film noir movies, Maltman is heavily influenced by Raymond Chandler. This “Chandler effect” is noticeable in sharp, gritty dialogue and an economy of prose. Even the structure of Maltman’s series is an homage to his noir roots. A Chaser on the Rocks juxtaposes the exploits of modern-day private detective Brian Caskey with those of Billy Chapman, a “fiction-within-a-fiction” P.I. in 1940s Belfast.
A KILL FOR THE POET adds yet another layer to the mix, as writer Henry Flynn picks up Billy’s tale as filtered through Brian’s persona. Or so the reader is led to believe. Maltman’s authorial sleight of hand keeps the reader guessing.
If you like your thrillers to be complex, stimulating, and tension-filled, with heroes you love and villains you hate, your next read should be SINS OF THE FATHERS by Joseph Badal.
The sixth installment of the Danforth Saga kicks off with the kidnapping of Michael and Robbie Danforth, the son and grandson of veteran CIA operative Bob Danforth. The abductions lead to terrorist attacks and Special Ops campaigns in the United States, Mexico, Greece, Turkey, and Syria.
Badal writes big stories, but with very human characters. “Bob and [his wife] Liz are American patriots and are portrayed as everyday heroes,” he says. “But they are, unlike protagonists in many other thrillers, the antithesis of superheroes.”
The senior Danforths are kind and loving people—until you threaten their loved ones or their country. And there are threats aplenty in this epic tale of political intrigue that ensnares three generations of the Danforth clan. Multi-generational stories, while fairly common in romance and fantasy, are rare in thrillers, but Badal cites a practical reason for expanding his cast: Bob and Liz are now in their seventies, so the focus of SINS OF THE FATHERS is more on their son, Michael, and teenage grandson, Robbie.
“I felt the Danforths were characters who would have an enduring impact on readers,” Badal says. “But thrillers need lots of action and I came to the point where Bob and Liz were too old to provide all of it. That’s the reason I slowly brought along their son and grandson.”
Considering the series’ roots, it’s not surprising that family bonds have emerged as a dominant theme. Prior to a four-decade career in the financial services industry, Badal was a decorated U.S. Army officer whose deployments included stints in Greece and Vietnam. The Danforth Saga evolved from the author’s real-life experiences, including the kidnapping of his two-and-a-half-year-old son in Greece—an event that inspired the 2011 series-starter Evil Deeds. It all grew from there. The ongoing saga involves CIA and military operations, plus terrorist sleeper cells and drug cartels. One reason the action seems so real is that Badal has the background knowledge to bring it to life. Besides his military experience, he tries to visit every country that plays a role in his novels.
By Karen Harper
The shadow of Hitchcock looms large in KILLER CHOICE, the debut novel from Tom Hunt. The fast-paced domestic thriller centers on Gary and Beth Foster, a happily married couple whose lives are upended when Beth—pregnant with their first child—is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. A sliver of hope comes in the form of an expensive treatment abroad and a stranger who offers to cover the cost, but there’s one small catch: in order to collect the cash and save Beth’s life, Gary must commit a cold-blooded murder.
On the eve of KILLER CHOICE’s release, Hunt sat down with The Big Thrill to talk about the thorny path he laid out for his protagonist, and his own journey from unpublished novelist to debut author.
By J. H. Bográn
Eric Beetner´s new novel, THE DEVIL AT YOUR DOOR, is the final installment of a trilogy where protagonists Lars and Shaine have returned to a quiet life on the islands.
This story revolves around Lars, a man trying to live down the mistakes of his past and set them right in the only way he knows how. It’s also a book about family—the one we create, regardless of biology.
When Lars lands in a hospital, Shaine is called in from a thousand miles away, and she must take the lead in the last job of Lars’s storied career of “death for hire.” Over the course of three books, Lars and Shaine’s relationship has inverted—and here, Shaine must step in to run the show while Lars takes a back seat. It’s a test of how well he has prepared her, and whether she’s had time to learn the most important lesson of all—the cost of killing.
As the end of the trilogy looms ahead, Beetner admits he found it hard to say goodbye to his characters. “Lars is, in many ways, the type of character I write best,” he says. “A man on the wrong side of the law, and yet someone you root for. He has a good heart beneath his abhorrent deeds.”
Beetner is perhaps more invested in the characters due to the nature of writing a series.
“These two have been more personal for me than any other I’ve written,” he adds.
By J. H. Bográn
In John Lutz’s new thriller, THE HONORABLE TRAITORS, Thomas Laker, top agent of the elite, super-secret agency The Gray Outfit, investigates the death of a long-time Washington insider. Teaming up with NSA code breaker Ava North, he delves into secrets buried since World War II in order to prevent an act of domestic terrorism. His opponent is a man of many deadly skills and disguises. And the chase extends from Hawaii to New York City, culminating in a countdown to unimaginable destruction that only Laker can prevent.
An ability to write in different crime genres is a staple of Lutz’s career, but they all have one thing in common—the books are about people doing bad things. And when it comes to the espionage genre, Lutz says his characters will be doing BIG bad things. “I’ve become interested in evil-doing on a global scale.”
Lutz likes unique heroes, both independent and self-reliant. His earlier series characters were private investigators in one-man agencies and retired cops who were so good the NYPD had to call them back to work.
Thomas Laker, the lead character of THE HONORABLE TRAITORS, fits that profile as well.
He works for The Gray Outfit, a small, super-secret agency that has more flexibility than the CIA or NSA. Its agents are experienced people with illustrious reputations in intelligence circles that open doors closed to everyone else. They work on their own, flying under the radar. Laker reports to his tough-as-nails boss, Sam Mason, but luckily Mason has as much disdain for routine methods as he does.
Being popular isn’t the same as being loved. At the exclusive Violet Crab, the club headliner is Carla Rose, a torch singer with a voice as delicious as the rest of her. There’s nothing delectable about the strange, bloated mermaid who washes up under the Santa Teresa pier, wearing seaweed and a red dress, though—and nobody wants to know about Carla’s last swim. She’s all alone.
THE VIOLET CRAB is the third Kahlo and Crowe mystery, following Girls in Pink and Hau Tree Green. This is southern California in the dying days of 1947—ocean breezes and palm trees, the taste of a gin fizz mixed with lavender neon. It’s LA noir, as bright and colourful as today.
THE VIOLET CRAB author, Bob Bickford, sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest installment of the Kahlo and Crowe mystery series:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope they have fun. Writing is supposed to be for readers, not so authors can hear their own voices in the mirror.
Grant Collins is a man tormented by his past and it may get him killed. Returning to his hometown of Trinity to attend his mother’s funeral, Grant finds himself drawn into the local politics. A large corporation is attempting to bring a nuclear power plant to the town. And the stakes are high—including the murders of a number of citizens opposed to nuclear power. As Grant begins to unravel the mystery behind his mother’s unfortunate accident, he finds himself a target in the life and death struggle for wealth and power in Trinity.
Author Richard Edde recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his fourth novel, TRINITY:
By David Healey
Chris Malburg is a writer who wants to get things right.
Sure, it’s not unusual for a good thriller writer to head to the local library, spend some time with Professor Google, or visit a locale that he’s thinking of using as a setting. But how many would enroll in classes at the University of Southern California to learn the finer points of air disaster investigation?
Malburg would—and did—learning alongside experts from a host of “alphabet” government agencies such as the FAA and FBI. The final exam, by the way, involved heading out to a hangar to determine why three different planes went down.
That hard work has paid off in Malburg’s fourth Enforcement Division novel, MAN OF HONOR. American planes are crashing thanks to Chinese cyber terrorism, and it’s up to NTSB investigators to help stop them. The result of Malburg’s research is a novel that rings true in every detail.
Malburg wasn’t always a writer. He began his career as a CPA and investment banker. Success in that field enabled him to pursue his dream to be a writer, and he enrolled in classes to improve his skills.
Since then, he has written or co-authored a slew of books, many of them nonfiction and focused on finance, such as “The Great Unravel: Profiting From The Transformation In Fixed Income.”
When a mangled car is pulled from the river, containing bloodstains and a gun, the sense of safety is shattered in Tessa’s Californian hometown. Tessa, who works at the river conservancy, thinks she saw a girl out on the riverbank – but Tessa’s memory is failing and could this be the start of something more serious?
Tessa’s friend and co-worker, Claire Barrett, is worried – about the car and the gun, but also about Tessa. With Tessa’s attorney husband preoccupied with a big case and in denial about his wife’s memory issues, Claire knows that it’ll be up to her to work out what’s going on. When a body turns up and she discovers the identity of the gun’s owner – someone disturbingly close to home – Claire is determined to uncover the truth . . . whatever it takes.
Bonnie Hearn Hill, author of more than a dozen novels, spent some time recently with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, THE RIVER BELOW:
CULPRITS: THE HEIST WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING represents a first for me. It was the first anthology I’d read that reads like a novel. The contributing authors were so attentive to the presented narrative, that each individual story fed into the whole.
The anthology starts out with the introductory chapter that sets up the story and introduces the characters. What appears to be an easy score—seven million dollars in cash found in a slush fund controlled by “an outfit run by business and underworld interests”—ends up with unexpected twists and turns in the heist’s aftermath. From there, each chapter is the story of one of the participants.
CULPRITS is the brainchild of Richard Brewer and Gary Phillips, editors and authors who had just completed an anthology for Jason Pinter at Polis Books. Pinter liked their Occupied Earth and wanted something else from the duo. Brewer and Phillips had a conversation or two “along the lines of that shared world notion, and being fans of the heist story, CULPRITS was born.”
The idea to construct CULPRITS as a novel can be blamed on “all those damn Parker novels by Westlake we were weaned on,” Phillips says. “Not to mention movies like Takers, Rafifi, Inside Man, and the Asphalt Jungle—book and film.”
Ginny Fite is an award-winning journalist who has covered crime, politics, government, healthcare, art, and all things human. She’s done communications for a governor, a member of Congress, a few colleges, and a robotics R&D company. With degrees from Rutgers University and Johns Hopkins University, she also studied at the School for Women Healers and the Maryland Poetry Therapy Institute. As with her first two murder mysteries in the Detective Sam Lagarde series, Cromwell’s Folly and No Good Deed Left Undone, her new mystery, LYING, CHEATING, AND OCCASIONALLY… MURDER, is set in the rolling hills of Jefferson County, West Virginia.
Ginny took time out of her busy schedule to sit down with The Big Thrill and discuss her latest novel, LYING, CHEATING, AND OCCASIONALLY… MURDER:
By George Ebey
Thomas Pluck’s latest book, LIFE DURING WARTIME, is a blackjack 21 of stories featuring people caught up in crime, facing bleak horrors, or otherwise spun up in the whirlpool of human absurdity.
Take a ride on the neuter scooter in “The Big Snip,” selected as one of the best crime stories of 2016. Follow a mountain man who’s not what he seems into a snowbound frontier town where evil has sunk its claws. Dine at the most exclusive restaurant in New York, where “Eat The Rich” takes on a whole new meaning. And meet Denny the Dent, a hulking 350 pounds of muscle who wouldn’t harm a fly…but who’ll glad crush a bully’s skull. And read the Jay Desmarteaux yarn that takes off where “Bad Boy Boggie” ends.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with Mr. Pluck to discuss what this collection has in store for readers.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
The stories are of several genres but “thriller” ties them all together. Whether the characters are caught up in crime, facing bleak horrors, or wake up in a whirlpool of the absurd, it’s our desire to see what comes next that keeps us turning the pages.