She’s been called the “female Robert Ludlum” and the “Queen of Espionage.” She’s broken barriers for women in fiction, and co-founded one of the world’s leading organizations for writers. And, oh yeah, she writes kick-ass New York Times bestsellers.
You guessed it, she’s Gayle Lynds, and this month, she’s back with a vengeance with THE ASSASSINS (St. Martin’s Press, June 30).
On the heels of her smash hit The Book of Spies, this latest story is about what happens when two spooks get caught in the crossfire of a business dispute—one involving six of the world’s most deadly assassins. Part heist story, part espionage thriller—one hundred percent adrenaline—THE ASSASSINS should go down as Lynds’s best novel to date. And that’s saying something given that her work is on Publishers Weekly’s list of the top ten spy thrillers of all time.
What’s special about Lynds, though, is that when she’s not crafting page-turning thrillers or hiking in beautiful Maine, she’s helping aspiring authors. She’s a true writer’s writer, and it is no surprise that the International Thriller Writers, the organization she co-founded, carries forward her spirit of kindness, support, and mentorship.
Lynds graciously agreed to answer a few questions about THE ASSASSINS and her life and career.
The Big Break: Breaking Into the Thriller Game
Joseph Finder’s Road to the Bestseller List
By Jeremy Burns
Joseph Finder is considered a modern master of the thriller genre. A founding member of the International Thriller Writers, his accolades include a Gumshoe Award (Company Man), a Barry Award (also for Company Man), the Strand Critics Award for Best Novel (Buried Secrets), and the ITW Award for Best Novel (Killer Instinct). His books are critically acclaimed New York Times bestsellers, and two of his books have been turned into Hollywood blockbusters (High Crimes and Paranoia). But Finder’s writing career hasn’t always been so rosy. In fact, some of the obstacles in his path might have seemed nigh impossible at the time, making his current level of success all the more impressive, a testament to what he sees as one of the most invaluable traits a professional writer can have: perseverance.
While touring the country for his latest book, THE FIXER, which released June 9, Finder took some time out of his busy schedule to take us on his road to success—potholes, detours, and all. Though extremely humble, his determination and the fruit it has borne should prove inspirational to all who make the bold leap to pursue their lofty publishing goals or dreams. Here’s what he had to say:
Tell us about your journey into writing.
I’d wanted to write since I was a kid, but I was talked out of it by my elders (my grandfather and my parents), who sensibly urged me to get a “real job.” So instead I thought about academia and business and thought seriously about a career in intelligence. But what I really wanted to do was write.
And what I wanted to do most of all was write novels. But I didn’t have the courage to try fiction, frankly. So when I was twenty-three, I came up with an idea for a nonfiction book, about the relationship between American businessmen and Russia. (I was inspired by the Martin Cruz Smith novel, Gorky Park.) I got an agent and sold it to a publisher. The truth is, I think I wrote a nonfiction book because I didn’t have the courage to try a novel. After that book was published, I kept getting asked, “What’s your next book?”
I still wanted to write a thriller, but I didn’t have the guts to try it. At the time I was reading a lot of thrillers, and I kept saying to my girlfriend (later, my wife), “I can do this!” She finally called me on it and said, “well, are you going to just keep talking about it or are you going to do it?” (Though she used a more earthy expression.) I think I needed a kick in the butt.
It’s interesting. Even a fairly confident guy like me was cowed by the prospect of writing a novel, probably because of all the unknowns—am I any good at it? Will I get an agent? Will it sell?
I was teaching writing at Harvard at the time and would get up early and spend a couple of hours working on the novel that eventually became The Moscow Club.
Riding the Pretty Horses: thoughts on dual time line thrillers
By Manda Scott
Writing a thriller is like riding a horse: some days it plods along with its nose to the ground and you’d go faster if you got off and carried the wretched thing, while on others it spooks at every plastic bag in the hedge and bolts at speed in directions you never imagined going.
Once in a rare while, you and your mount click into a rather miraculous harmony that carries you forward smoothly, effortlessly, beautifully… until the next plastic bag (or the phone call from an editor), brings it all crashing down.
Still, there are some kinds of writing that have always struck me as way more scary than the standard “get on a horse and make it go” variety. Writing a dual timeline novel particularly, feels more like the circus trick where you stand on the backs of two over-bred greys and send them spinning round the ring in the hope that neither will decide to bolt off at right angles: you have to be a hardcore adrenaline junky even to contemplate it.
We’re all on the edge of that, or we wouldn’t be here. By definition, a thriller mingles uncertainty with anticipation in just the right adrenaline-surging proportions, but even so, when we wake up one morning with the next book pushing on the borders of consciousness and part of its many demands is that there be two (or more) timelines, we know that it’s going to be harder than anything else that came before it. Getting it right is not just twice the challenge of a linear narrative, it’s challenge squared.
So, as always, when starting something new, we look at who does it best and learn from them.
Robert Wilson’s Gold Dagger winner, A Small Death in Lisbon, is a good place to start.
“It’s easily forgotten, Inspector, that history is not what you read in books. History is a personal thing. And people are vengeful creatures.”
By J. F. Penn
John Connolly is the bestselling author of the Charlie Parker mysteries, the Samuel Johnson novels for middle-grade readers, and co-author of the Chronicles of the Invaders plus other works.
His latest book, A SONG OF SHADOWS, is the thirteenth book in the Charlie Parker mystery series.
USA Today bestselling thriller author J. F. Penn interviewed John for The Big Thrill.
Your latest book, A SONG OF SHADOWS, weaves European history into a string of murders in Maine, all while Charlie Parker recovers from devastating injuries. How much of the story is based on historical truth? Why did this particular aspect of Nazi history interest you?
My eye had simply been caught by the ongoing attempts of the United States to extradite an alleged former Nazi named Hans Breyer to Europe to face war crimes charges. (Breyer died last year just before he could be extradited.) I began to wonder how many of these men and women were left, and how seriously the hunt for them was being taken.
Out of that research came a lot of surprising details about just how little energy the Allies invested in bringing these people to trial, and how the British and American authorities protected them, mainly in order to milk them for intelligence about the Soviets. I found it fascinating, and just hoped that readers would find it fascinating too.
It then turned out to be very topical because just as the book came out Oskar Gröning, the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” went on trial, and I suppose that the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps also reminded people of what had taken place in them.
I suppose I was also aware that it’s really hard to find anything new to say about the Nazis and the Holocaust, so in that sense I was a bit reluctant to take on the subject. Yet those old men and women nagged at me, and their cases found a resonance in one of the recurring questions in the Parker books: are we defined only by the wrongs that we do, and are some wrongs so terrible that they cannot be forgiven?
Mike Nicol is one of the leaders of South African crime fiction, and his Revenge trilogy—Payback, Killer Country, and Blackheart—are important novels of the dark side of twenty-first century South Africa. After an excursion with new characters, Mike has returned to the next generation of the Revenge trilogy characters in POWER PLAY. For my money it’s his best thriller so far, and that’s starting from a high base. Deon Meyer has said of Mike’s style that it is “by far the best in South Africa” and that he creates “deliciously complex characters.” If you haven’t read any of his books yet, you can start with this one as a standalone. After that you’ll want to read all the others.
Before coming to crime fiction, Mike wrote four acclaimed literary novels, non-fiction, poetry, a memoir, a book on the 1994 South African election, and collaborated on the mammoth Mandela: The Authorised Portrait. Mike has been a freelance journalist, author, reviewer, and lecturer for more than thirty years. In 2007 he started the Crimebeat website , which is the window on South African crime fiction to this day.
I asked Mike about POWER PLAY and how he came to write it.
Christa—Mace’s daughter in your trilogy—is back with a vengeance. She’s grown up, has a spell in an elite army unit under her belt, and has even changed her name to Krista to make a point. She and a partner now run her father’s security firm. What persuaded you to revisit the characters from the Revenge Trilogy in the next generation?
Not sure, actually, what drew me back. I had created two new characters for Of Cops & Robbers (with every intention of doing more books with them) but something about the earlier books kept niggling. I suppose it has something to do with the rise of the serial character, in that it’s difficult to leave them alone. That said, I didn’t want to trot out Mace Bishop and Pylon Buso for another round. I’d taken them through three books and I felt that was enough. Also one of the most enjoyable parts about writing a novel is creating new characters. Serial characters are a bit like old jerseys—comfortable and comforting—but the grit of a new character is exciting. And Krista-renamed seemed to offer new possibilities even as I revisited an old theme—guarding the rich and famous. So I could do two things: continue a series but with a new character. POWER PLAY has become the fourth book in the “trilogy.” Of course there may be more to come.
The third time I met Vicki Pettersson, she offered up a confession. Squished in at a small round table in a local coffee shop, she leaned forward conspiratorially and said, “I was so intimidated when first we met. I thought if you were anything like Munroe, you were going to hate me.” I shook my head and tried not to laugh.
This type of reader reaction happens often enough that it became material for a tongue-in-cheek piece about the many traits I share with a quasi-psychotic, knife-wielding, butt-kicking, anti-hero, but I never would have expected it from Vicki. Her stories are just as dark as mine, if not darker, her characters as smart and capable, and her readers often think the same thing about her when they first meet.
Backing up a step: Munroe is shorthand for Vanessa Michael Munroe, a woman in the vein of Jason Bourne, first introduced to Vicki when a bookseller put The Informationist in her hands and told her that in this international thriller was a character that could give her own ruthlessly tough heroines and large-than-life settings a run for their money.
Vicki penned dark fantasy and I wrote real-world blood and guts, but he was right: there was a lot in common between our badass female protags and the worlds in which we placed them.
When Vicki discovered that we were both based out of Dallas, Texas, she shot off an email, asking if I might like to meet for coffee. We’ve since become fast friends, so it’s particularly gratifying that as I celebrate the release of THE MASK (6/30/15) the sixth in the Vanessa Michael Munroe series, Vicki is bringing readers SWERVE (7/7/15) her first mainstream psychological thriller. Serendipitously, we’ll be joint-signing at Murder by the Book, in Houston, Texas, on July 14, coming full circle to the bookstore that first brought us together.
By Abby Normal
HOUSE OF HOMICIDE is a battle between good and evil. Our protagonist, Cindy Fairbank, tries to do right by her family but unwittingly puts them in danger when she buys a suburban house that seems to be perfect.
When Cindy hears about an urban legend that centers on her house, she dusts off her investigative journalist skills and begins to research the stories. She discovers that there is much more to the history than expected, with a series of gruesome homicides spanning over forty years and restless souls of murder victims who are clamoring for revenge. As Cindy gets close to uncovering the killer, the killer gets close to her and the ones she loves.
To find out more, let’s talk to the author, Eileen Magill.
Is it true that you almost bought the house that HOUSE OF HOMICIDE is based on?
I did! When I was looking to buy a house, my agent, Dawn, sent me a list of houses that fit my needs. One stood out well above the rest, and I was pretty much set to buy it without seeing it. Thank goodness I didn’t. When we got into the house, we both got a very bad feeling. Truly, my hair on my arms stood up. Not good! Dawn went into the kitchen to look at the disclosure documents, and I went into the first bedroom. It was in horrible shape. There were holes in the floor and the walls. Windows were broken. And that bad feeling I had when I first entered the house? It was overpowering in that room. Back in the kitchen, Dawn reminded me that if anyone had died in the house in the last three years, it had to be listed in the disclosure documents. And there had been. Quite a few, including ones that were listed as “violent, non-disclosed.” I got the heck out of there, but the house “haunted” me. My brain couldn’t let it go. It became the basis for HOUSE OF HOMICIDE.
It takes a lot to scare a horror writer. I mean, I dissect fear for a living. The most violent horror movies don’t elicit a flinch. I can face a clown without wetting myself. But one thing really scared the hell out of me. New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The Category 4 storm blew ashore, flooded swaths of the city, cut off power, cut off help. Those who hadn’t evacuated were isolated from the world. In the face of this ultimate stress test of society, how did it do?
It collapsed within hours. Looting was almost instantaneous. There were widespread reports of people just abandoning critical jobs as they prioritized saving themselves or their families. 23,000 people turned the Superdome into something out of Dante’s rings of Hell. I’ve read people criticizing the realism of some post-apocalyptic fiction, saying that society wouldn’t breakdown so quickly or so completely. Were they living under a rock in 2005?
Those events got me thinking about what would happen if the Katrina event were scaled up. What if it were millions of people? I grew up on Long Island, New York, where a few bridges, a tunnel, and a couple of ferries are all that keep the place from being sealed off from the world. It seemed like the perfect location to let my imagination create disaster. And so the idea for the novel Q ISLAND was conceived.
Lori Rader-Day’s debut novel, The Black Hour (2014), was an instant critical and commercial success. In addition to the starred-review hat trick (Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal), The Black Hour garnered nominations for several prestigious awards, including the Mary Higgins Clark, the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Barry for Best Paperback Original, and the Left Coast Crime Rosebud Award for Best First Mystery. It won the Lovey Award for Best First Mystery at the Love Is Murder conference.
Rader-Day’s second novel, LITTLE PRETTY THINGS (starred review from Booklist), tells the story of two former high school friends and track rivals, who have taken very different paths since their graduation. Maddy Bell, always a step faster on the track, is beautiful and rich. Juliet Townsend, forever second to her friend, cleans rooms in a forsaken motel. When they run into each other ten years later, bitter memories and lingering questions poison their reunion. Then the drama of their shared past comes rushing back to the present when Maddy is found murdered at the motel, and Juliet is the prime suspect.
I had the pleasure of talking to Lori about her latest book.
Your first book, The Black Hour, was a critical success. LITTLE PRETTY THINGS is your second novel. Are you approaching the publishing experience differently? Have your expectations changed this time around?
I’ve had an embarrassment of riches in launching my first book, so I think my expectations are actually lower. What I learned this past year is that my favorite part of the business is the writing, so while I’m launching LITTLE PRETTY THINGS what I’m actually working on most ardently is writing my next project. I enjoy the whole process of publishing, but what I really like is the sound of the keys on my keyboard and coaxing forward an idea that brings the story together. I’m really excited to have a second book, though, because what I want most is a long future of writing mysteries.
The Big Thrill sat down with Paul Levine to discuss BUM RAP, his new legal thriller (Thomas & Mercer July 1). “BUM RAP brings together the protagonists from Levine’s series: Jake Lassiter, the linebacker-turned-lawyer, and Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, squabbling Miami law partners. In a starred review, Booklist calls the novel, “an irresistible Florida crime romp.”
Paul, has it really been twenty-five years since Jake Lassiter burst onto the crime fiction scene with your first novel, To Speak for the Dead?
Is that a polite way of saying Jake’s old…or that I am?
Only that the Lassiter novels are one of the longest running series in contemporary crime fiction. To what do you attribute their longevity?
Maybe because readers grow attached to characters and want to know what becomes of them after the caper ends. Think of the long careers of Lew Archer and Travis McGee or Kinsey Millhone and Stephanie Plum. And I haven’t even mentioned Sherlock Holmes. In Lassiter’s case, I like to think that his values are timeless.
“I have old habits, old friends and old values. I don’t tweet or blog or order pizza with arugula on top. I don’t have a life coach or an aroma therapist, and I sure as hell don’t do Pilates. I’m so un-hip that I could soon become trendy, like skinny ties and pants that stop at the ankles.”—Jake Lassiter
In BUM RAP, Lassiter defends Steve Solomon, who’s accused of killing a Russian club owner on South Beach. Pretty quickly, Lassiter begins to doubt his client’s story. Did that frequently happen to you as a lawyer?
I always assumed my clients were guilty. It saved time.
I met Jenny Milchman three years ago when I applied to ITW’s Debut Authors Program. A nervous new author, I was welcomed by this woman with seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm. I soon learned a few things about Jenny. One, she loves Jack Reacher novels—I mean loves them. Two, she is one of the most talented, kind, and generous authors you’d ever hope to meet.
A little backstory: Jenny’s road to publication was not easy. She struggled for more than a decade—seven unpublished novels—before finally getting her break. Despite it all, including a pile of rejection letters a foot tall, she didn’t grow bitter or jaded or turn her back on the publishing community. Instead, she stuck to it, honed her craft, and stayed positive. She became an influential blogger, created a national holiday in support of booksellers, and was named chairperson of the Debut Authors Program—before her own debut novel was released.
For those who don’t believe in Karma, consider this: A bestselling author took pity on Jenny, read her unpublished manuscript, and loved it so much she shared it with her editor. That manuscript—Cover of Snow—was scooped up by Random House and ultimately won a Mary Higgins Clark award for best first novel. It also had a blurb from none other than Jack Reacher’s creator, Lee Child.
Jenny did not take her success for granted. Rather, she embarked on an unprecedented book tour, packing her family in the car—home schooling her children in the backseat—and traveled the country for months on end promoting her books. She also became Vice President of Author Programs for ITW, a position singularly aimed at helping ITW authors succeed. Through it all, she’s been a wonderful and supportive friend to an untold number of authors, myself included.
Jenny’s highly anticipated third novel, AS NIGHT FALLS, releases this month. It’s about a family in an isolated mountain home who are terrorized by two escaped convicts. If you’ve watched the news the past couple of weeks, you’ve seen that real-world events have conveniently coincided with Jenny’s book launch. Remember what I said about Karma?
There is another side to the paranormal. A dorky side, a goofy side. A world filled with giant bugs and poodle icons, a place where graves are robbed not only of their corpses, and garbage trucks fly through the air. Eric Turowksi reveals this side in his first Story By Tess Cooper novel, INHUMAN INTEREST.
After writing several brutal novels of extreme horror, the humorous side of Turowski was dying to break free. You could tell, because an entire month of research went into determining the veracity of hyperoxygenating a Las Vegas casino for the sole purpose of growing spiders the size of Shetland ponies—and making it plausible.
Something had to give before things got too strange.
Indeed, something did give, but things got strange anyway. Turowski’s career in journalism spawned the dissatisfied, klutzy-but-spunky Tess Cooper, a reporter weary of corporate news. The character was borne from a mash-up of several dozen friends and acquaintances, all women in newspaper careers—cynical, hard-bitten, idealistic, and always on the verge of burning out, breaking down, and overeating.
Turowski’s family, seekers of bizarre truths (and Bigfoot) who could still hold down normal day jobs gave birth to Davin Egypt—an amoral, eerie, know-it-all occultist and all-around weirdo.
Carey Baldwin’s first book, Judgment, the opening volume in her series featuring forensic psychiatrist Caity Cassidy and FBI profiler Atticus “Spense” Spenser, is a finalist for the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award and the Booksellers Best Award. In addition, Judgment was named “A Best Book of 2014” by Suspense Magazine.
I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of her new book, FALLEN, and I know readers will love it. Having met Baldwin at Bouchercon in Long Beach last fall, I know that besides being generous and optimistic, she has grit. She’s worked hard for everything she’s achieved in her life and is insanely supportive of other writers. Baldwin was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work and her latest book for The Big Thrill.
How on earth do you juggle writing and working as a fulltime physician and still write two full-length novels in about a year?
I really don’t do it all. People used to ask me that question even before I became an author because I was a single mother throughout medical school and for most of my career as a physician. The simple truth is that some things have to fall by the wayside, but I try to make sure that my family and my patients never do. It’s mostly sleep and housework that get pushed aside for writing. And boy, do I ever hate the fact that I don’t have time for housework—big sacrifice!
Your fourth book, FALLEN, comes out this month. Tell us about it.
Out of all my books to date, I have to say that FALLEN, the second book in my Cassidy & Spenser thriller series, was the most fun to write. It features two characters I’ve grown to love, an FBI profiler, Atticus Spenser, and a forensic psychiatrist, Caitlin Cassidy. This time the former rivals turned partners-in-crime-fighting are on the trail of a madman known as the Fallen Angel Killer. The setting is Hollywood, so for research purposes, I explored every tourist trap in Tinsel Town, took star tours, and I even learned how wax statues are made. The book is a thriller, but it has some good times built in. I hope readers will enjoy it, because I certainly loved writing it.
ASHSTORM is the fourth novel in the award-winning thriller series Seventeen by A.D. Starrling. The other novels in the series have been nominated for and won several awards since their publication in 2012, with the third novel Greene’s Calling being a finalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
This month, Starrling answered a few questions for The Big Thrill about the series that fans can’t get enough of.
The Seventeen series comprises an unusual blend of history, science, action, suspense, and an intriguing supernatural twist on the concept of immortality. Tell us how you came up with the series idea for Seventeen.
Seventeen started life with a simple but striking image. Imagine the number seventeen written in blood-red paint on a black marker stone. Imagine that stone standing in the middle of a deserted sandbank in a tropical lagoon halfway on the other side of the world. How did it get there? What did it mean?
Those thoughts went through my mind when I found myself staring at one such marker stone while visiting my home country of Mauritius several years ago. I decided to enter the British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition the following year, and elected to use that image as inspiration.
After toying with several ideas, I chose to write about a man who could die up to seventeen times. That short story made the finals of the BFS competition and was the beginning of Soul Meaning, the first novel in the series.
GRAY VENGEANCE is the fifth title in the Tom Gray action thriller series, recently released by Thomas & Mercer. Gray is an ex-soldier who runs a security company, and his journey started in England when he kidnapped five repeat offenders and paraded them on the Internet, letting the people of Britain decide their fate. That ended with Gray being whisked off to the Philippines with a new identity, but trouble wasn’t far away as local terrorists took him hostage. Close friends from the UK went to his rescue, but once again, nothing was what it seemed, and soon Gray and his crowd were in a fight for their lives.
Gray eventually returned to Britain, but the journey home was fraught with danger as a government-backed assassin tracked his movements. Only the intervention of MI5 operative Andrew Harvey saved Gray and his companions from certain death, and the two became close friends.
In Gray’s most recent exploits, a local gangster is hustling a relative for protection money while an African warlord threatens to wipe out his friends who are on a training exercise in Malundi. Gray has to decide who takes priority, with tragic consequences.
The latest installment sees Gray taking a back seat in his own company as clients seek to distance themselves from him, but he can’t stay out of the spotlight for long. A home-grown terrorist group launches a series of deadly attacks across Britain, prompting the government to bring a new surveillance tool online, and not a moment too soon. But is it ethical? And does that even matter now?
“It reads like a movie script. . . . Only this was no blockbuster action film. It was a real-life crime drama straight from the streets of Miami.” Those aren’t James Grippando’s words. They come straight from the FBI’s official website, the bureau’s own description of one of the biggest airport heists in history—$7.8 million in cash stolen by a band of amateur thieves. That real life caper is the inspiration for James Grippando’s twenty-fourth thriller, CASH LANDING, released from HarperCollins.
Who were the real-life crooks?
The mastermind, Karls Monzon, teamed up with his uncle, an ex-con; his cocaine-addicted brother in law; and an insider who worked for Brinks Security, Onelio Diaz. Diaz was Monzon’s neighbor and friend since childhood, and he drove one of the armored trucks that regularly shuttled millions of dollars in cash from Miami International Airport to the Federal Reserve Branch just four miles from the airport.
How much cash are we talking about?
Every week a 747 leaves Frankfurt and lands at MIA with anywhere from $80 million to $100 million in U.S. dollars in the cargo belly. German banks don’t need all those fifty- and hundred-dollar bills, and much of Miami’s economy runs on cash.
How did this rag-tag group pull off the heist?
The cash is shipped in 38-pound bags, each holding almost $2 million in bricks of bills. The bags have to be opened to clear customs in a warehouse at MIA. Diaz, the security guard, told Monzon about the security failings inside the warehouse: the bills lay exposed; the security cameras didn’t work; the guards removed their guns before entering the building; and most alluring of all, the warehouse’s enormous bay doors led directly onto the street, which meant that any getaway vehicle could bypass the perimeter fence and the airport gatehouse. For an even cut of the haul, Diaz signaled to Monzon when it was time to strike. The gang drove up to the loading dock in a pickup, covered their faces with bandanas, brandished a handgun, and hurried to grab as many bags of cash as they could carry. They dropped one of the forty-pound bags on their way out, but they still managed to speed away with Monzon’s cokehead brother-in-law at the wheel and $7.8 million in the bed of the pickup.
By Alex Gilly
I have French heritage, and though we didn’t live in France, the comic-book “albums” I read were in French. We had hundreds of them at home—Tintin, Asterix, all of Blake and Mortimer. But my favorites, by an unreachable distance, were Blueberry by Charlier and Giraud, and Barbe Rouge—Red Beard—by Charlier and Hubinon.
Both were adventure stories. Blueberry is the nickname of a Union cavalry officer named Donovan, who, after the Civil War, rides into the untamed West, drinks hard, womanizes, plays his trumpet, and fights injustice and cruelty wherever he encounters it—which is pretty much everywhere. Red Beard, meanwhile, commands the three-masted Black Falcon, and has an adopted son, Eric. Together, they roam the 18th Century seas, mostly pirating but occasionally privateering on behalf of the King of France against the rapacious Spanish and duplicitous English.
The arrival of a new Blueberry or Red Beard album was always a momentous occasion for me. I would become utterly absorbed in every new adventure, disappearing from the sometimes airless real world into one in which bracing winds drove beautiful wooden ships across scintillating seas. I was fiercely loyal to my heroes. I needed them in my life, so the knowledge that I could count on them was profoundly reassuring. Blueberry always sided with the good guys. So did Eric, even if it was sometimes only to atone for the sins of his pirate father.
I met Julia Dahl when we shared a panel at Bouchercon Long Beach. I’d heard rumors and whispers about her first novel Invisible City—all of them extremely positive—but hadn’t yet read it.
After meeting Dahl and listening to her on the panel, I had no choice but to immediately purchase the novel. To say I wasn’t disappointed is a huge understatement. Invisible City is one of those rare first novels that gets everything right—from character to setting to plot to tone to emotion, Dahl nailed it. Her exploration of the Hasidic community and of herself is all there on the page.
We have since become pals and I’m now reading her excellent follow up, RUN YOU DOWN.
I recently asked Dahl some questions that will give readers insights into the novels—and the author behind these great books. Here, she answers for The Big Thrill.
How does a woman from Fresno end up in Brooklyn living over a custom-made cutlery shop?
Getting out of Fresno was essentially the motivating factor of my childhood and adolescence, and for as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to live in New York. I visited once as a nine-year-old and fell in love—plus all my favorite movies as a girl (Working Girl, Big, Splash, Baby Boom, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, etc) took place here. It just seemed like anything was possible in NYC. So, after college, I got an internship at Entertainment Weekly, a roommate, and an apartment on East 39th Street. I’ve been living the dream ever since.
The knife shop is also a love story: I met my husband when we were both getting MFAs at the New School in 2003. Both of us had written novels and neither of us could sell them. I turned my focus to building my career as a reporter, while my husband decided to start working with his hands. One day, he used one of his grandfather’s old tools to make a knife. And then he made another. Eleven years later, people all over the world are dying to get their hands on his knives. We opened a little shop in Gowanus and rent the apartment upstairs. Again, living the dream.
Loreth Anne White’s atmospheric, psychological thriller, “pushes the traditional boundaries of the romantic suspense genre,” according to Amazon’s editors, who selected A DARK LURE as one of their four Kindle First picks for June, 2015. Within the first week of its kindle release, A DARK LURE hit # 1 in the Amazon kindle store. The book officially launches July 1.
Tell us a little about A DARK LURE
With A DARK LURE, I wanted to take a classic serial killer trope, where a heinous villain returns years later to hunt down his lone survivor—a woman who bears the deep physical and emotional scars of her narrow escape—but I also wanted to hopefully layer it, make it as much a story of survival, and self acceptance, and love in its many forms. And, I wanted it show the disparate ways in which we can become family. While the themes are dark, at the core it’s ultimately a story of hope. A DARK LURE is set against a rugged wilderness backdrop where hunting and fishing are key story elements, and a perfect foil for my fishing guide heroine who believes she’s found a safe and remote place to hide with her dog and her PTSD—but it’s precisely this isolation that presents the danger.
What inspired the story?
At least once each summer, my husband and I load up our truck, camper, and trailer, to head north into British Columbia’s Cariboo country with our Black Beast of a “labradog” where we spend days, sometimes weeks, fly fishing and camping at a place called Big Bar Lake. While tracking with my dog through the grasses along the water on one particularly moody day, I became hyper aware of the encroaching forest and shadows within, and a sense of being watched by something unseen. And so began the “what-ifs,” which were further developed around campfires late at night while we listened to the coyotes cry in the dark hills, and watched the stars move across a northern sky. This is the setting that inspired my fictional Broken Bar Ranch, and out of it, Olivia and Cole’s story was born. Of course Olivia had to have a dog, Ace, a rescue who plays a key role in the book.
Interview by Scott Adlerberg
Born and raised in New Jersey, Wallace Stroby had a long career as a journalist before turning to novel writing. He worked for the Asbury Park Press as a police reporter, and was a Sunday features editor for the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger. His years writing and editing for newspapers helped him develop the razor-sharp prose, compelling sense of character, and precise attention to detail that mark his books.
THE DEVIL’S SHARE, Stroby’s new novel, is his seventh overall and the fourth about professional thief Crissa Stone, who debuted in 2011’s Cold Shot to the Heart. The Big Thrill talked with Stroby about his early books and his latest effort.
Your first two books, The Barbed-Wire Kiss (2003) and The Heartbreak Lounge (2005), were set along the Jersey Shore and featured a male former state trooper named Harry Rane. Then your third book, Gone ‘til November (2010), focused on a Florida sheriff’s deputy, Sara Cross, doing her job and facing dangers in an overwhelmingly male world. What was the impetus behind you creating Harry Rane, and why did you decide after the Rane books to switch perspectives, first to a female law enforcement figure, then to a woman who’s a professional criminal?
With Harry, I essentially wanted to write about the area I grew up in, and where I continue to live, the Jersey Shore, specifically Monmouth County. It was changing a lot at that time, a lot of development going on, and I wanted to capture that a little. Harry’s house is based on my grandmother’s farmhouse in Englishtown, N.J., where I spent a lot of time as a kid (the farm was sold a few years back, the house razed).
In Heartbreak Lounge though, I ended up telling a lot of the story from the point of view of the villain, an ex-con named Johnny Harrow, and I found myself intrigued with that. He was a bad guy who did some evil things, but he had his reasons.
Acoustic Shadows Inspired by Patrick Kendrick
People have asked how I come up with ideas for my novels and my pat answer is, “I read the newspapers.” While this is not an original concept, with my newest work, ACOUSTIC SHADOWS, one cannot miss the headline-inspired storyline of the novel. It begins with a shooting at an elementary school.
When I was touring and doing signings for my last book, Extended Family, I would do a lecture on “Mass, Spree, and Serial Killers,” accompanied by slides, historical information, and anecdotes about various killers over the years. The lecture pointed out the differences between these types of killers: Mass murderers: one event, one location, multiple victims, usually targeted, meant to be a statement and garner lots of coverage by the media. Spree killers: several events over a few days, multiple locations, multiple victims, sometimes targeted, often random, sometimes making a statement, or a person just going over the edge due to some dramatic event such as a lost job or crumbling marriage. Serial killers: multiple events, multiple victims, typically over years; they want to be recognized for their heinous acts but do not want to be caught, so they are very careful.
When I began doing these lectures in 2012, there were a number of mass killings but they could be counted easily enough. Columbine is one of the first that came to mind, then Virginia Tech. But since 2006, these killings have increased exponentially and there have been some 200 cases or more since then. Currently, they are happening at a pace of about one attack every two weeks. They are always startling accounts of innocent people being slaughtered by someone, typically, with a long history of mental illness, living an isolated, socially inept life. For reference, I would suggest this site, based on the FBI’s current data.
For me, none were as disturbing, as heart wrenching, as the shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, a quiet, small town like thousands of suburban towns that exist all across the world. As a paramedic and fire fighter for many years, I have seen my share of disasters, trauma, and human suffering. I could not get over all of those children, so young and innocent, that were slaughtered by another one of these mad men that I often write about in my novels. I could not sleep at night and while I, like most people, wept as I watched the news coverage every night, I could not stop watching it while wondering why does this keep happening and, can it ever be stopped?
Adam Armstrong is a brilliant, wheelchair-bound seventeen-year-old dying of muscular dystrophy. While playing one of his virtual-reality games he encounters Sigma, an artificial intelligence program created by Adam’s computer-genius father. Sigma has gone rogue, threatening to kill Adam and then the rest of humanity, and the only way to stop it is to use the technology Adam’s dad developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son.
Along with a select group of other terminally ill teens, Adam becomes one of the Six who have forfeited their failing bodies to inhabit weaponized U.S. Army robots. But with time running short, the Six must learn to manipulate their new mechanical forms and work together to train for epic combat…before Sigma exterminates the human race.
“I loved The Six by Mark Alpert. This is serious YA sci-fi, full of big ideas, big questions, real science, and things that will make you think and wonder and lie awake late at night. And it’s all wrapped up in a wonderfully exciting action story chock full of characters you’ll love. You’ll want to believe the Sigma threat is far off in the future, but it’s probably not as far off as you think. These revolutionary capabilities are likely within the lifespan of readers, so this is not far-off spaceship sci-fi, this is OMG-this-is-actually-happening sci-fi. And props to Mark Alpert for including a population of kids that has very little visibility — the handicapped, the terminal, the ultimate outsiders. A very nice piece of work.” ~Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Gone
Winter Austin’s latest release delves into a subject matter that has become a matter of importance in our nation: helping our service men and women who are suffering from PTSD, and the high rate of suicide among those who have served. She delicately attacks this while handling the mystery and suspense of a rash of suicides plaguing a small Southeast Iowa town.
McIntire County deputy Nicolette (Nic) Rivers moved to the small town of Eider, Iowa to forget what she experienced as a Marine Scout Sniper, and to heal without family interference. What she’s not expecting is to, once again, use her sniper skills to end a domestic situation. Her single shot turns the sleepy town of Eider on its head, secrets begin pouring out, and citizens of McIntire County turn up dead—presumably by their own hand. With the assistance of Eider police detective, Con O’Hanlon, Nic sets out to learn why the suicides are happening, and face her own demons, hoping she doesn’t succumb to the same fate.
ATONEMENT is your newest release, what inspired the title, and for you to write this book?
My husband is retired from the military, and nine years ago we were preparing for his one and only deployment. During that time a nugget of the story idea came to me. We knew many people who had deployed and came back suffering from mild to severe PTSD. Almost all of my books have a character who is or was military, and with that I knew I had to one day write a book on this subject of PTSD.
Fast forward to 2012, early spring the character Nicolette Rivers was born, and with her came a serious load of baggage that wouldn’t leave me alone. Her story nagged at me until last year when I was able to finally work on her book. Nic is also my first dip into fast-tracking certain aspects that aren’t currently happening in the military. She is the first female Marine Scout Sniper, and it’s because of that job she’s suffering. My hope is that readers will get a better understanding of what actually goes on inside the head of someone suffering from PTSD. Nic’s story is probably the darkest one I’ve written yet.
As for the title, atonement plays a huge role in the suicides that are happening in Eider. Atonement has some deep religious connotations, and for Nic, who is seeking her own atonement for the things that occurred in her past.
Brooklyn native Ronnie Allen worked for the New York City Department of Education for more than thirty years as a classroom teacher, staff developer, crisis intervention specialist, and mentor for teachers who were struggling. Along the way, she saw the horrors inflicted by child abuse on both the victims and society as a whole. She carries through this theme in her novel GEMINI, which also includes intriguing information about holistic healing and alternative therapies, such as Reiki and crystal healing.
Combining a love of the crime genre and her psychology background with her alternative therapies experience, writing psychological thrillers is the perfect venue for Ronnie.
In GEMINI, Barbara Montgomery, school psychologist by day and stripper by night, has an emotional meltdown and is given over to Dr. John Trenton for analysis in a seventy-two hour observation. But as the clock ticks down, her thirst for revenge only grows, until she breaks free and goes on a violent, killing rampage, targeting not only those who caused her to fall into an abusive foster care system, but everyone who stands between her and her revenge, including the NYPD, as well as Dr. Trenton … and his wife and the adoptive son they only recently rescued from the foster system.
Action, murder, sex, and healing all await you in GEMINI.
Here’s what Ronnie Allen had to say about her book in a recent interview.
What was the catalyzing event or idea that caused you to write GEMINI?
Well, I’m a NYC gal transplanted to rural central Florida. We’re here seven years. In 2011, I was bored. I missed the energy and fast pace of the city. I’ve been writing since the seventies. First in film and TV, not produced, but my screenplays were always in the crime genre. Then in the ’90s, I began my journey into holistic healing and I was published in a few professional journals. I was thinking about what I should do to occupy my mind. I was thinking about writing a novel and this was the time. I told my my friends at Mahjongg that I was going to write a novel and their reaction was like everyone else’s, “yeah right.” Well chapter by chapter everyone asked me, “What are you up to?” At the pool, this was daily. In all honesty, with people questioning and doubting, I was more motivated. I will always beat out anyone who says, “You can’t.”
Reformed public relations executive Kay Kendall was an ITW debut author at ThrillerFest in 2013 with Desolation Row, the first in her Austin Starr Mystery series. Set in 1968, it explores murder and mayhem in the draft resister community. Now RAINY DAY WOMEN introduces amateur sleuth Austin Starr to women’s liberation when she helps a friend suspected of murdering a leading feminist. The author answers a few questions for The Big Thrill about rediscovering the chaotic sixties and what comes next in her writing career.
Tell us about how you came to write about the era that Mad Men has made trendy again.
Three years before the advent of Mad Men, I sent query letters to agents suggesting that aging boomers would be eager to read my novel set during the days of their youth. I even wanted to call my first manuscript—a wannabe literary novel—by the title of Boom. But I was too far ahead of the curve. In 2007 when Mad Men began, television viewers were shocked to see the sixties recreated. But then the show became a darling of critics and fans alike and rejuvenated interest in the time period. Tom Brokaw even swiped my intended title and published his book called Boom. All the while, I felt “called” to write about the sixties, believed in my vision, and figured it was an historic niche that needed filling. So I persevered.
Have you gotten any blowback for writing about such contentious subjects—Vietnam War protestors and now women’s liberation activists? How have these subjects been received by your readers?
I was prepared to get nasty remarks hurled at me, especially online when comments can be made anonymously. So far that has not happened. The closest I’ve come to negative remarks is when a few readers said that living through the sixties was difficult enough and so they preferred to keep their memories buried. On the other hand, at my best bookstore event, forty readers delved spontaneously into the effects of the Vietnam War on themselves and their loved ones. After an hour, the discussion showed no signs of flagging but had to stop so I could sign books. Deep wounds had surfaced, and this audience wanted to talk about them.
Conversely, I expect to find little or no resistance to reading about the women’s movement. When I began writing RAINY DAY WOMEN, I had no idea that women’s issues would become as timely as they are right now.
The Big Thrill sat down with Australian-based political thriller writer Steve P Vincent to talk about his newest release, STATE OF EMERGENCY. Steve is an ITW Debut Author for 2014-15 and he’ll be speaking and signing books at Thrillerfest.
Tell us about the Jack Emery series and the newest release, STATE OF EMERGENCY
My debut novel, The Foundation, was released as a digital first publication in September 2014. The book sees Jack Emery—an Australian reporter based in New York—in a race against time to expose a conspiracy and prevent global war. It was generally well received and I was lucky enough to be contracted for a few more books. Since then, I’ve released a free Jack Emery prequel novella, Fireplay, and a print edition of The Foundation.
The newest release, STATE OF EMERGENCY, is the second book in the series. Jack is home after a few months covering the war in Syria, only to find he’s walked right into a wave of terrorist attacks across America. The book deals with how US authorities would deal with such a scenario, and Jack is forced to fight against the very government he worked to save in the first book. It’s a book about a desperate government overreaching and creating something far worse than what it was fighting.
What was the inspiration for the novel?
The Foundation dealt with the concentration of media power in the hands of a few, and the outrageous level of control exerted by think tanks and lobbyists. STATE OF EMERGENCY, on the other hand, explores just how far a government will go to grasp on to control. It was fun to write, because I’ve always been interested in the struggle between the known (leaders, governments, armies) against the unknown and the largely unquantifiable (terrorism, drugs).
By Lori Roy
What’s in a Title?
It’s August 12, 2014, midmorning on a Tuesday. Here in Florida, I have my most recent novel up on my computer screen. Denise Roy, Dutton Senior Editor, has the same pulled up in her New York office. Looking for phrases that might inspire a title, we’re paging through the text together. Some of our ideas are too familiar. Others, too forgettable. Yet others have been used too recently or too frequently. Today is the day we must, absolutely must, decide on a title for my third novel. Our deadline is noon.
Titles are tricky business. Many theories exist as to what makes a good title. There’s even a website that will quantify a title’s chances of becoming a bestseller. As to my own theory, I’m searching for those perfect few words that will intrigue a reader as her eyes scan the bookshelves of her favorite bookstore, and that will further offer insight once she has read the book.
By late morning, I have filled a page in my spiral notebook with ideas. Denise and I decide to hang up and work separately to see what new possibilities we might shake loose. I stare down on my list and let out a sigh. A few are of the titles are intriguing but not necessarily insightful. I would call them trite. Others are insightful but not intriguing. These, I would call befuddling. I continue scanning the manuscript for the one perfect phrase that will capture the heart of my 95,000-word novel, and approximately forty-five minutes before our deadline, I receive an email from Denise. While googling a phrase from the book, she stumbled upon a Bob Dylan song titled LET ME DIE IN MY FOOTSTEPS. What do you think of this direction, she asks.
REMEMBER MIA is a thriller that puts you in the midst of every mother’s worst nightmare: her baby has disappeared. When Estelle Paradise’s baby daughter is taken from her crib, she doesn’t report her missing. A week later, Estelle is found in a wrecked car miles from home, with a gunshot wound to the head and no memory. The only thing she can recall is the blood…so much blood. She knows she holds the key to what happened that night—but what she doesn’t know is whether she was responsible.
Tell us about your background. You are originally from Europe?
I was born in Germany. I read English literature in high school—I remember Bram Stoker’s Dracula, C. S. Forester’s African Queen, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—but other than that I read books exclusively in my native language. Days after graduating from college I boarded a plane to the U.S. I ended up in Texas, I married, and explored a career in corporate America. I eventually started reading English novels, gluttonously, day in, day out. After the birth of my daughter I became a freelance translator and even though the projects I worked on were mostly commercial, I really wanted to break into literary translations. The union never panned out and I so decided to tell my own stories instead. I took a few writing classes and eventually published my short fiction.
Tell us how you came up with the idea for REMEMBER MIA?
I eventually took a novel-writing class, and on the first day of class I was asked to post twenty-five pages. Needless to say, I hadn’t put a single word on paper. So later that night, I sat down and a sentence popped into thy head: “Tell me about Mia.” I imagined a woman, ravaged by postpartum depression, being confronted by a psychiatrist working to unravel the ball of yarn that is the disappearance of her infant daughter. The title may changed over the years, but the story remained the same; a tale of motherhood, shortcomings, and isolation. There were many revisions, many workshops, but eventually the story took shape.
COLD MOON, Book 3 in my Huntress/FBI series, is out this month worldwide in ebook, print, and audio. Anyone who’s read the first two books, Huntress Moon and Blood Moon, knows that I’m very passionate about this series. More than passionate.
I’m writing these books because I’ve had enough of violence against women in fiction and film. Last summer I was at Harrogate, the international crime writing festival. And prominently displayed in the book tent was a new crime fiction release that featured a crucified woman on the cover.
A crucified woman. On the cover.
It’s not like I’ve never come across a crucified woman in a crime novel before. In fact, I’ve had to stop reading three or four novels in the past two years when variations of this scene came up. But on the cover, now? The selling image of the novel?
Last year was also the year of the highly praised TV miniseries True Detective, which featured two complex male detectives and a female cast made up entirely of hookers, dead hookers, little dead girls, a mentally challenged incest victim, and the female lead: a wife who cheats on her husband with his partner because she’s too weak to just freaking leave him. Oh right, there was a female love interest who was a doctor—but she had, I believe, one line in the entire show. Maybe two.
Defenders of the show argue, “But the detectives weren’t sympathetic, either.” No, they weren’t, always, but unlike the entire female cast, they were actual, developed characters, not play toys for the male characters or—well, corpses.
By Liam Saville
UK author Alex Shaw has built an international following with his thrillers featuring MI6 operative, Aidan Snow. They include Cold Blood, Cold Black, and his latest COLD EAST. He has also written several stand-alone books, has had works published in numerous anthologies, and recently penned a novella for Amazon’s Kindle Worlds platform.
Alex and his family divide their time between homes in the UK and Ukraine; where many of his books are set. Alex’s personal insight into the politics and daily life of Eastern Europe flavours his work, adding a rich authenticity to his writing.
Australian thriller writer, Liam Saville recently caught up with Alex for a chat about his latest book, COLD EAST.
Alex, for those readers who may be new to your books, can you tell us a little about Aidan Snow the man; what makes him tick and what are his inner demons?
Aidan Snow is a former SAS trooper turned operative for the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly referred to as MI6. His father was a diplomat and Snow spent his formative years in East Germany and then Moscow. He has a strong sense of social justice which has on occasion put him on the wrong side of events. In the first Aidan Snow thriller, Cold Blood, he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, whilst on the run in Ukraine, accused of murder.
That’s interesting; I know PTSD is a significant issue for many soldiers from both our countries who have recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, so it’s refreshing to see an author tackle this issue. It’s been said that thrillers can be very plot driven, and not so big on character development. I know that’s not the case with your books, and with that in mind, if you had to liken Aidan Snow to another well-known literary character, who would it be, and why?
I think that’s an easier question for a reader to answer than me, I didn’t set out to copy anyone, but by virtue of the genre there will be some comparisons. Snow gets the bad guys in the end but I think he’s more cerebral than the “action man” stereotype. He gets injured and sometimes luck plays a part in his success. I wanted to build a three-dimensional protagonist based on my own experiences. For example, when we first meet Aidan Snow he’s teaching at an International School in Kyiv and enjoying life as an ex-pat—which is what I was doing at the time I wrote Cold Blood. I must point out however that I was not in the SAS.
Scotland, 1831. After a tumultuous courtship complicated by three deadly inquiries, Lady Kiera Darby is thrilled to have found both an investigative partner and a fiance in Sebastian Gage. But with her well-meaning-and very pregnant-sister planning on making their wedding the event of the season, Kiera could use a respite from the impending madness.
Commissioned to paint the portrait of Lady Drummond, Kiera is saddened when she recognizes the pain in the baroness’s eyes. Lord Drummond is a brute, and his brusque treatment of his wife forces Kiera to think of the torment caused by her own late husband.
Kiera isn’t sure how to help, but when she finds Lady Drummond prostrate on the floor, things take a fatal turn. The physician called to the house and Lord Drummond appear satisfied to rule her death natural, but Kiera is convinced that poison is the real culprit.
Now, armed only with her knowledge of the macabre and her convictions, Kiera intends to discover the truth behind the baroness’s death-no matter what, or who, stands in her way…
One year after the 9/11 attacks, Alex Vane—a brilliant, carb-obsessed reporter for The New York Standard—wants nothing more than to break into the flashy world of TV news. But when he stumbles on the scoop of a lifetime, Alex’s tightly controlled world is rocked: his editor buries his story, a source turns up dead, and he finds himself at the center of a violent media conspiracy.
Alex enlists the help Camila Gray—a captivating media professor—as he receives a series of tips from a mysterious anonymous source. Aided by an Internet genius, a billionaire’s sexy widow, and a washed-up sports reporter, Alex and Camila uncover a $500-million secret that could derail the largest corporate media merger in history.
It’s a secret that unearths dark memories from Alex’s past. It’s a secret that leads them back to the morning of 9/11. And it’s a secret that could get them both killed.
“The Anonymous Source evokes comparisons to John Grisham’s finest—The Firm and The Pelican Brief…with a touch of All The President’s Men…A high stakes, explosive debut novel from a talented new writer sure to do damage to the best-seller lists.”
~Robert Dugoni, #1 Amazon and New York Times Bestselling Author of My Sister’s Grave
The famous Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany. A young prostitute is found dead. It quickly becomes clear she has been brutally murdered. The police is not really interested in the case – but her best friend is. She partners with a cop who has not much to lose anymore. The next 48 hours become the most dangerous of her life. They uncover a crazy financial/political crime. Meet weird BDSM fanatics. And almost pay for all of this with their lives.
A brutal, fast paced debut thriller – set in the world famous harbor city of Hamburg. The first in a series featuring prostitute Michelle Müller and policeman Paul Hinnerken.
Svea Tornow studied American and Psychology. She worked on three continents, among others for an international fashion label and currently for a media company. She knows Hamburg from her time at university in all its facets, from Reeperbahn to City Hall.
Sydney Castleton has worked hard to put her less than savory past behind her…until her sister asks for her help. Devin Starke has fought too many battles, seen too many deaths, to look forward to a peaceful future…until his best friend and partner asks him to help return the horse his wife, Sidney’s sister, took when she left.
Stormhaven, a ranch in northern New Mexico, has become a place for fighting men to readjust to the world, a sort of decompression chamber for those who have seen too much. Devin Starke is such a man. And Sydney isn’t far behind him.
“This book, like the others Karel has written, shows a depth of understanding of people and their relationships. You can’t help but root for her characters as they struggle to find their way through unique trials and tribulations. The story has a good strong plot that will keep you turning pages, but it’s the charming, heart-warming love story that will have you reading this one again and again.” ~Taylor Jones
The Lost Concerto is the story of a widowed concert pianist who is swept up in a decades-old secret and a search across France for her missing godson.
A woman and her young son flee to a convent on a remote island off the Breton coast of France. In a seafarer’s chapel high on a cliff, a tragic death occurs. The terrified child vanishes into the mist. So begins The Lost Concerto, a compelling blend of suspense, mystery, political intrigue, humor and romance, with strong, fully-realized characters.
A personal note from Helaine:
I wrote the book that I wanted to read.
That meant writing about something I love – classical music. In The Lost Concerto, it is music that sets this story apart, music that tells Maggie’s story.
There was just one small problem… I can’t even find middle C on a piano. So that meant research. Hours and hours and hours of research. The good news is that one article on music led to missing music, and that article led to music lost during WW2, and – voila! – a plot was born.
FAMILY MATTERS is like early episodes of the TV drama Dallas. The plot is fueled by rivalry, jealously, greed, and, ultimately, murder. The setting is a stuffy New England town with an economic cast system. It is replete with good guys and bad guys.
In the novel, the first Adam Kingston builds a clothing manufacturing company from scratch. In his sixties, sick and depressed, he commits suicide and his son takes over the business. Adam II continues to build Kingston Industries until his reckless life style results in dementia. The courts turn control of the estate and business over to his son while his son Adam Kingston III ruthlessly operates the business.
The destinies of five townspeople in the quiet community of Old Pebscott, Connecticut, are transformed as they deal with the Kingstons. The interplay between Adam Kingston III and the townspeople provides a fast-moving drama as each of the main characters vies for position.
The reader is exposed to a myriad of emotions moving in and out of the character’s lives. Each has a good reason to hate the Kingstons, but only one of them hires an assassin to kill Adam III and his father and burn Kingston Manor to the ground. The novel ends with a fast-paced sequence of events that leaves the town of Old Pebscott reeling.
In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.
Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .
I Let You Go is a Richard & Judy Book Club summer read, one of eight titles chosen by the celebrity couple. I Let You Go has been acquired by Penguin USA imprint Berkley, and will publish in the U.S. and Canada in May 2016.
“A terrific, compelling read with an astonishing twist that floored me. I loved it and did not want it to end.” ~Peter James
“A hugely assured and gripping debut and a twist that made me green with envy.” ~Mark Billingham
On a routine intelligence gathering mission in Tehran, Jack Ryan, Jr., has lunch with his oldest friend, Seth Gregory, an engineer overseeing a transcontinental railway project. As they part, Seth slips Jack a key, along with a perplexing message.
The next day Jack is summoned to an apartment where two men claim Seth has disappeared—gone to ground with funds for a vital intelligence operation. Jack’s oldest friend has turned, they insist.
They leave Jack with a warning: If you hear from Seth Gregory, call us immediately. And do not get involved.
But they don’t know Jack. He won’t abandon a friend in need.
His pursuit of the truth will lead him across Iran, through the war-torn Caucasus, and finally deep into territory coveted by the increasingly aggressive Russian Federation. Along the way, Jack is joined by Seth’s primary agent, Ysabel, a enigmatic Iranian woman who seems to be his only clue to Seth’s whereabouts.
Jack soon finds himself lost in a maze of intrigue, lies, and betrayal where no one is who they seem to be—not even Seth, who’s harboring a secret of his own that harkens back to the Cold War. A secret that is driving him to the brink of treachery.
Racing against the clock, Jack must unravel the mystery: Who is friend and who is foe? Before it’s over, Jack Ryan, Jr., may have to choose between his loyalty to Seth and his loyalty to America.
Murder of a Mafia Daughter is a story about a path to murder that begins in old Las Vegas with gangsters and the boys from the Jewish mob. It moves to San Francisco with the movers and shakers, to New York City with its literati, and ends in Beverly Hills with the glitterati.
The slaying of Susan Berman in the winter of 2000 had all the earmarks of a professional hit aimed at a person born into the Mafia. Or was that just what the killer intended everyone to think, to lead investigators to the assumption that it was a Mob hit when it was not?
Or was it her best friend Robert Durst who wanted her dead?
“Cathy Scott is a star writer in the crowded field of true crime.” ~Ann Rule
“Murder in Beverly Hills is intense tale of an eccentric murder victim with a colorful history and how one of her friends has likely gotten away with not just her murder but others as well. Who doesn’t love a real life whodunit?”~Kim Cantrell, Editor, True Crime Zine
Reluctant med-school drop-out Mandy Murrin has a new job and a new mission. She will find a way to have a social life in small town Alabama if it kills her. After all, she deserves a little fun after surviving the daily grind as a blue collar working stiff. And she has plenty of time for dating after putting in glamorous shifts as a tow truck operator, earning extra cash as lab technician at B Positive Clinic, and being a caretaker to her younger sister with special needs.
Okay, maybe not “plenty,” but she is more than ready to find a good man. Only, the man she finds just happens to be dead and in the trunk of a car.
When an old friend asks for her help, Mandy knows she must make a dent in solving this puzzle before the killer retires another victim. But will she get to the bottom of it before the culprit can cover his tracks, or will she reach a dead-end of her very own?