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Insider Thrillerfest XIII

“It Promises to be a Blockbuster”

By Nancy Bilyeau

This may be the thirteenth Thrillerfest, but there’s nothing unlucky about this year’s conference for suspense writers. In fact, it promises to deliver the best experience yet, with workshops, panels, networking parties, awards, and a special guest lineup including Lee Child, Megan Abbott, Lisa Gardner, James Rollins—and Thrillermaster George R. R. Martin.

For novelist Heather Graham, the co-president of International Thriller Writers, “Thrillerfest is not just a con—to me, it’s one of the most amazing opportunities possible.”

Explains Graham, “Besides an incredible array of information from experts on all things “thriller”—police, FBI, forensics, and more—it’s a venue where you’ll meet some of the biggest names in thrillers of all kinds—writers who, despite their amazing success, aren’t just willing to share info, but with whom networking is a wonderfully warm and easy affair. Seriously, it seems at T-fest, you’ll meet the nicest people in the world while gaining an unparalleled scope of important information for authors.”

It all kicks off on Monday, July 9th, with a special pre-conference workshop led by special agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) division. Firearms identification, and tracing and arson investigations are some of the highlights.

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Thriller Award: Best Hardcover Novel by Dawn Ius

By Dawn Ius

Some writers will do just about anything—stand on their head, steal cars, write outside of their comfort zone—for…research, of course. Or, as is the case for each of the authors nominated for a coveted International Thriller Award in the Best Hardcover category, create unique ways to celebrate their well-deserved accolades.

We mentioned stealing cars, right?

This month in The Big Thrill, the writers of these award-nominated hardcovers weigh in on what it means to be recognized by the ITW, the authors who have influenced their careers, and how they’ll celebrate should they take home top prize at the banquet later this month.

 

DAN CHAON – ILL WILL

Dan Chaon was driving a stolen car across the Pennsylvania interstate when he got the call that his book ILL WILL had been nominated for an International Thriller Writers Best Hardcover Novel award. A warm wetness spread across his lap as his bladder…

Well, you get the picture. He was very excited.

“I began to cry a little,” he says, noting that the nomination not only is a welcome nod to his latest book—a literary thriller he describes as This Is Us crossed with The Exorcist—but will inevitably guide readers to his Kickstarter page where he hopes to raise enough money to…

Get out of the slammer, obviously. “I’ve been wrongly jailed, and I have only $80,000 left before I can make my bail.”

No doubt the first thing Chaon will do upon release is track down the late Ray Bradbury where the two will eat hamburgers, swap stories about their writing processes, and share secrets about themselves.

Chaon suspects Bradbury will be suitably surprised to learn that, “I have small, deer-like hooves, instead of feet.”

Thankfully, he has normal fingers. ILL WILL has already earned plenty of praise—including being listed as one of Vulture Magazine’s 10 Best Thrillers of the Year” and, as noted by the Wall Street Journal, one of 20 books that defined 2017. Regardless of whether the novel takes top prize at Thrillerfest this July, Chaon will be hard at work on another book—possibly while wearing an orange jumpsuit.

For more about Chaon and his work, visit his website.

 

GIN PHILLIPS – FIERCE KINGDOM

Gin Phillips is reluctant to classify FIERCE KINGDOM as a thriller—but she’s over the moon that it’s been recognized by the International Thriller Writers with a nomination for the Best Hardcover award.

“As I was writing, I thought of it as a book about the relationship between a mother and son,” she says. “Granted, a very fast-paced story of a mother and son. With gunmen. But I’ve slowly gotten used to the idea of it as a thriller, and I’m delighted that people find that it works on that level.”

The book takes place over three terrifying hours, in which a mother discovers what she’s willing to do for her son—and what she’s willing to do for a stranger. The short time frame provides an effective “ticking bomb” but created a challenge in building a convincing world in which the story could take place.

Phillips says she has C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle to thank for that—two authors who showed her, at a young age, the “power of building a world so real that a reader could fall into it and never want to leave,” she says. “If I look for the real start of my career, their books were in it.”

In more recent years, Phillips points to Ann Pratchett as an influence and if given the chance to dine with the author, would love to cook her a meal of seafood gumbo and chocolate chess pie. Their dinner conversation might begin with writing, and then turn to matters of a more personal nature—such as the fact that Phillips lived with Irish nuns for a year after college.

Or, perhaps with enough wine, Phillips might be persuaded to share this fascinating secret: “I can stand on my head almost indefinitely.” Multi-talented indeed!

For more about Gin Phillips and her award-nominated book FIERCE KINGDOM, check out her website.

 

B.A. PARIS – THE BREAKDOWN

It’s always hard to predict how readers will respond to your second book, so when B.A. Paris learned that THE BREAKDOWN had been nominated by the International Thriller Writers for a Best Hardcover Novel award, it was a huge moment. She may have even jumped up and down a little.

“It was such exciting news to learn that it had been nominated for such a prestigious award,” she says, adding that the nod also provided confirmation that she’d accomplished what she’d hoped for—to write a story that would captivate readers in the same way Behind Closed Doors has done.

THE BREAKDOWN is a chilling thriller that explores how fear and guilt can cause a person’s life to spiral out of control—somewhat ironic, perhaps, since Paris once said she’d never write a psychological thriller.

She attributes her love of Agatha Christie novels for her dark and twisty imagination, something she’d share with the late author over dinner if it were possible.

“We would eat smoked salmon, to start with, followed by a main course of monkfish in a delicious white wine sauce with pavlova for dessert,” Paris says. “Or maybe just a huge dish of profiteroles and two spoons.”

It all sounds delicious.

To learn more about this New York Times bestselling author, follow her on Twitter at @BAParisAuthor.

 

RILEY SAGER – THE FINAL GIRLS

You might not think the author of a book that is “part psychological thriller, part homage to slasher flicks and film noir” would have unabashed adoration for Disney—but Riley Sager certainly fits the profile.

In fact, when FINAL GIRLS hit a few bestseller lists, he celebrated by buying his now most prized possession—Walt Disney’s autograph.

Now Sager has even more cause to celebrate. FINAL GIRLS was nominated for an International Thriller Writers Best Hardcover award, and he’s still not quite sure it’s real.

“It’s such an incredible honor, especially when I think about how the thriller genre has been on fire for the past few years,” he says. “There are so many great authors working at the top of their games right now. To be among the handful of titles singled out for a nomination feels truly special.”

Well, that and the early praise from Stephen King, one of Sager’s idols, and a “first fan” of FINAL GIRLS. He says the book would have had very different reception if not for King’s generous praise—and he’d love to say thanks in person, maybe over sushi.

“The idea of dinner with him is intimidating,” Sager says. “I think we’d need to eat something messy or hard to eat, just to distract me from the fact that I’m hanging out with one of the world’s greatest living writers. Sushi, I guess. Chopsticks are a great equalizer.”

For more about Sager, scroll through his website.

 

DENISE MINA — THE LONG DROP

Meet Scotland’s worst serial killer. No, not Denise Mina, but rather the subject of her thrilling book, THE LONG DROP—which was recently nominated for an International Thriller Writers Best Hardcover award.

This semi-fictionalized true crime story about Peter Manuel—otherwise known as “the Beast of Birkenshaw” alternates between an unorthodox pub crawl with a relative of the victims, and Manuel’s trial for murder in 1958. It’s Mina’s first foray into true crime—but based on its critical acclaim, the author clearly knows what’s she’s doing.

While Mina was unavailable for an interview at the time of press, no doubt she’s pleased to add another accolade for THE LONG DROP—a chilling standalone from the author of the bestselling Alex Morrow novels and the graphic novels adapted from Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy.

To learn more about Mina and her work, check out her website.

 
 

Thriller Award: Best Short Story by Dawn Ius

New York Times bestselling author—and one of the founding members of the International Thriller Writers—Lee Child has never been nominated for an ITW Best Short Story award, but he’s…well…thrilled that readers seem to have enjoyed his Jack Reacher short “Too Much Time,”  which was published by Delacorte.

In it, his popular series character Jack Reacher thinks he’s helping the cops, but the whole gig is actually a set-up, which is standard fare for the rugged hero who stars in more than 24 novels and a handful of shorts.

“Too Much Time” is in good company, sharing the nomination spotlight at this year’s Thrillerfest with Mat Coward’s “What Could Possibly Go Boing” and Zoe Z. Dean’s “Charcoal and Cherry” (both published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine), and Willy Vlautin’s “The Kill Switch” and Ben H. Winters’s “Test Drive” (both published by Hachette).

While none of the other authors were available for comment at time of press, we’re positive they’re just still in shock at Lee Child’s big reveal.

“I like ironing,” he says.

It’s possible the other authors have already begun “straightening” their Thrillerfest attire—or perhaps, ironing out their nerves in anticipation of the big event.

 
 

Thriller Award: Best Young Adult by Dawn Ius

By Dawn Ius

Writing thrillers for young adults takes a special kind of skill—an understanding of how to balance authentic experiences with safe thrills.

The five books nominated in this year’s International Thriller Writers Best Young Adult Novel category have achieved that extraordinary balance—though, for some of the authors, not without tremendous trial and error.

The nominees took some time out from preparing their acceptance speeches this month to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill about their journey to publication, the fears that plague them, and the stories that have earned them each well-deserved praise.

 

DIANA RODRIGUEZ WALLACH – PROOF OF LIES

If you’d lived on the same city block as Diana Rodriguez Wallach the day she learned PROOF OF LIES had been nominated for an International Thriller Writers award for Best Young Adult novel, you might have heard a few expletives.

The author danced in her living room, squealed, and then called her husband to tell him the good news. “It was an awesome moment,” she says.

A moment that marks the end of the novel’s tumultuous journey to publication—several drafts, three separate agents, good feedback, bad feedback, rejections and close calls.

“It would have been very easy for me to give up so many times, but I felt in my heart that it was the book I was destined to write,” she says. “So I persevered. I revised it again and again, and each time I made it so much better. Being nominated for this award, by such a prestigious group of writers, is more validation than I could ever have hoped for all those years I was plugging away. It’s proof that I wasn’t crazy believing in this book, and believing this story had a right to be on the shelf.”

Clearly, she isn’t alone in her thinking. PROOF OF LIES tells the story of Anastasia Phoenix, a young girl whose sister goes missing and is presumed dead. In the quest to find out what happened, Anastasia uncovers some uncomfortable truths—including what their parents might have been involved in before their deaths.

It’s a chilling tale in the vein of young adult thriller masters like Christopher Pike, whose books Chain Letter, Remember Me, and Fall Into Darkness inspired Rodriguez Wallach’s love of writing for youth.

“I’ve never met him,” she says. “But I would absolutely love to share a meal. We can eat whatever he wants. I’ll buy him lobster or get him Chinese takeout—he can pick.”

And if she’s lucky, he might choose a restaurant in an exotic locale that would feed Rodriguez Wallach’s other passion—travel.

“I’ve gone bungee jumping in Bai, swam with sharks in Bora Bora, studied abroad in Madrid, went to Easter mass in Poland, gone to a wedding in Rio, and biked through Tuscan vineyards,” she says. “If I were to ever hit a Powerball Jackpot, I’d be booking plane tickets the next day.”

Hopefully not without her laptop!  Learn more about Diana Rodriguez Wallach and her books by visiting her website.

 

GREGG HURWITZ – THE RAINS

Gregg Hurwitz doesn’t know how to tie his shoes properly, but he’s a master at crafting stories—a skill evidenced by an International Thriller Writers (ITW) Best Young Adult Novel nomination for his book, THE RAINS.

Being shortlisted for this award in particular means a great deal to Hurwitz—though he’d prefer that be kept quasi-secret, much like his illustrious past as a college pole vaulter.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have received two ITW nods in the past, and to be honest, recognition from ITW means the most to me,” he says. “I was there at the founding meeting and helped start this organization to recognize thriller writers in our own distinct category. So my thinking is—go thriller writers! This one is also whipped-cream-on-top special since it’s my first YA book.”

In it, everyone over the age of 18 turns into a horrific zombie-like creature who hunts kids, and it’s up to two brothers—Chance and Patrick Rains—and their best friend Alexander to save their town and “maybe even (dun dun dunnnn) the world.”

Hurwitz’s two Rhodesian Ridgebacks star (by proxy) in the book, and when he heard about the nomination, he took them for a long hike.

If he wins, chances are good that Hurwitz will enjoy a glass or two of bourbon—which he would use to toast William Faulkner, an author he claims has most influenced his career.

For more about Hurwitz and his novels, head to his website.

 

SHERYL SCARBOROUGH – TO CATCH A KILLER   

TO CATCH A KILLER is Sheryl Scarborough’s first book, so sometimes, she has to pinch herself to believe that it was really—truly!—nominated for an International Thriller Writers Best Young Adult Novel award.

“To be nominated by such a straight-up, legit organization reaffirms that my dream really did come true—and then to be among such esteemed authors, well, that inspires a great deal of awe,” she says. “I’ve been a thriller fan since my days as a young adult reader. Being nominated makes me part of the thriller legacy and I couldn’t be more…well, thrilled!”

Even though she’s been writing for most of her adult career, Scarborough’s foray into publishing her first novel—a book she describes as “CSI for teens”—took several backroads before she crossed the finish line. She’s written series developments, teleplays, comic books, non-fiction children’s books, business plans, magazine articles, ghosted for a celebrity, and even gone on tour with a boy band—for research, of course.

“An award would truly be the cherry on top of a super-fun career,” she says.

And to celebrate, she’d love to take Stephen King and Dean Koontz—because who can pick just one?—out to dinner where they would dine on live Maine lobsters and great wine.

You can catch more about Scarborough and her killer books by visiting her website.

 

RYSA WALKER – THE DELPHI EFFECT

Even after almost five years of full-time writing, Rysa Walker admits she’s prone to imposter syndrome, the fear that despite several bestselling books to her credit, readers will figure out she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing.

But having THE DELPHI EFFECT nominated for an International Thriller Writers Best Young Adult award goes a long way toward curbing that fear.

“Some of my favorite writers are among the previous ITW nominees,” she says. “Maybe looking at THE DELPHI EFFECT on that list will help me shake the feeling the next time I have one of those days where I’m terrified that everyone will discover I’m totally winging it.”

Though a quick peek into her impressive career pretty much solidifies that Walker knows exactly what she’s doing—and THE DELPHI EFFECT is just the latest in a long list of books poised for accolades from the young adult community.

In it, a teen’s ability to pick up “mental hitchhikers” leads her to the center of a government conspiracy aimed at exploiting dozens of people with similar gifts. Fans of Walker’s work won’t be surprised to hear it includes…death.

“I’m perfectly capable of reading and writing scenes where numerous people die, often in a graphic fashion,” she says. “My teens will often ask how many people I killed after a writing session and, to be honest, those scenes are usually among my favorites to write because they are fast-paced and visual.”

But not too visual. Walker says the scenes are sepia-toned in her head—because she can’t handle the sight of blood.

“Horror movies,” she says, “especially those of the spewing-artery variety, totally put me off my popcorn.”

Read more about Walker and her spellbinding catalogue of young adult books by visiting her website and blog.

 

Gregg Olsen – THE BOY SHE LEFT BEHIND

Gregg Olsen wasn’t available to answer questions for The Big Thrill at time of press, but we’re sure he’s thrilled that the second novel in his edgy young adult Vengeance series was nominated for an International Thriller Writers Best Young Adult Book award.

THE BOY SHE LEFT BEHIND brings back Rylee Cassidey and thrusts her into a search for a serial killer that could either change her life—or end it. Using her well-honed skills of lying, reinventing, and plotting revenge, Rylee follows a series of leads, each one bringing her closer to a betrayal that will force her to answer one important question: Is there anyone she can trust?

Olsen is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of nine nonfiction books, nine novels, a novella, and contributor to a short story collection edited by Lee Child.

For more information about Olsen, his books, and THE BOY SHE LEFT BEHIND, take a look at his website.

 

 

 
 

International Thrills: James Wolff

Shaping the Conflict

By Layton Green

Great fiction resonates. It changes minds and hearts. The best crime novels probe human nature and illuminate worthy causes at the same time they deliver fascinating characters and fast-paced, compelling plots. In this month’s featured interview, debut novelist James Wolff has swung for the fences and penned an ambitious spy novel on the Syrian War and the Middle East. It succeeds on many levels, made me think about the world, and was an absolute pleasure to read.

Wolff knows that of which he speaks: he grew up in the Middle East and has worked for the British government for the past 10 years. In fact, due to the controversial nature of the novel, he has written under a pseudonym to protect his identity. With that tasty morsel to entice you, I urge you to read what Wolff has to say about the novel, and pick up a copy for yourself.

Thanks for taking the time to chat, James.  First off, congratulations on a wonderful debut! I was immediately intrigued by the Syrian settingCan you tell us a bit about your background and how it relates to the novel?

I grew up in the Middle East, and have been fortunate enough to live in a number of countries in different parts of the Arab world—including Lebanon, where the novel is chiefly set. Some of my most powerful childhood memories are of armed checkpoints and the distant (and not so distant) crackle of gunfire, and I remember stories of family friends being kidnapped. And there has been a Middle Eastern theme to some of my work for the British government over the past 10 years. I would hope this has given me a grounded sense of place that goes beyond images of deserts and minarets and camels, as well as a glimpse of the currents far beneath the surface that can push and pull events across the region in such confusing directions.
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Neil Nyren Spotlight: Jeremy Finley and the Unimaginable

Jeremy Finley is a hard-nosed professional. As the chief investigative reporter for the NBC-affiliated television station in Nashville, he has spent more than 15 years exposing corruption, financial abuse, and criminal activity, and has won some of the highest honors in journalism, including multiple Emmys, Edward R. Murrow awards, and IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors) awards.

It’s also led him down some very unexpected paths. “My day job is so rooted in proof—in verifying facts and seeking documentation of everything—I’m a bit obsessed that we still haven’t been able to come to a true conclusion about alien abductions and strange lights in the sky. And the Loch Ness monster. And Bigfoot. This is why I don’t sleep at night.”

In THE DARKEST TIME OF NIGHT, Finley’s electric first novel, a seven-year-old boy vanishes in the woods behind his Nashville home, and the sole witness, the boy’s older brother, can only say, “The lights took him.”

They’re words that give a shock to their grandmother, Lynn Roseworth, because decades earlier she’d heard the exact same phrase while working for an astronomer studying unexplained disappearances around the country. The odyssey it sends her on, and the astonishing things she discovers—not only about the disappearances but also about her family and herself—makes for a roller-coaster ride, a story filled with dramatic twists and turns that will easily hold any reader, believer or not.
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Author Guided Tour: James Hockenberry

New York City Attacked, 100 Years Ago

By James Hockenberry

How does a historical fiction writer bring a location to life and connect the past to present-day readers? For my World War One thrillers, my challenge was illuminating New York City, which served as the center for Germany’s little known undeclared war against America between 1915 and 1918. I was shocked to learn that Germany’s greatest success in this war occurred in New York Harbor at a place called Black Tom Island, now part of Liberty Park, a grassy area overlooking the Statue of Liberty where people toss Frisbees and picnic.

Stand in Liberty Park today and look across to lower Manhattan. Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty continue to inspire. More recently, the Freedom Tower has replaced the World Trade Center as the dominant landmark. A century ago, the view was different. Though lower, the skyline was bourgeoning. The 60-story, 792-foot Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway was the tallest building in the world, signifying New York City’s growing commercial dominance as it surpassed London on the world economic stage.

Black Tom Island, across the harbor in New Jersey, contributed to the city’s success, serving as a major transport hub for American goods sent to the Allies. Railroad lines fed an extensive warehouse-and-shipping complex with piers jutting into the harbor. Maps and pictures of the time show us how it was.
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Debut Author Focus: Ellison Cooper

By S.L. Huang

Ellison Cooper, the author of CAGED, is one of those people I have a hard time believing actually exists. A Ph.D. anthropologist whose life reads like an Indiana Jones movie, she’s battled deadly snakes across Belize and investigated murders in D.C. And then she wrote a novel that grabs you by the throat from start to finish, an FBI thriller that’s faster, more fun, and more immersive than the best crime shows on TV.

I was lucky enough not only to get an early copy of CAGED but to interview Ellison Cooper herself. And though the main character of her novel, Agent Sayer Altair, is one of the coolest, most kickass women on the page, I think her creator could give her a run for her money—which is no small feat.

So your publisher’s tagline for you is “ELLISON COOPER IS A BADASS.” You’d have to be pretty badass to think up a suspense thriller like CAGED. What kind of background do you need to write such a fast-paced, hard-hitting crime novel?

It’s really hard for me to answer this, because I feel like there is a bit of everything I’ve done in CAGED.
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Up Close: William Martin

Bound for Gold – and Glory 

By E.M. Powell

The beginning of William Martin’s latest release, BOUND FOR GOLD, is earth-shattering. Literally. It opens in the hours before dawn on April 18, 1906, and the setting is San Francisco. For the few, the very few, who may not know, 5:12 A.M. on that date saw the city hit with a hugely powerful earthquake that caused terrible loss of life. Buildings and infrastructure were left in ruins, damaged not only by the quake but by the fires that broke out as a result.

Martin shows us this momentous event through the eyes of James Spencer, an old man who has been in the mining business for many years and who is now in mortal fear of his life as the world breaks up around him.

If anyone is not yet a fan of historical thrillers, then I can only say to read this opening. It’s truly white-knuckle stuff and I defy anybody not be immediately gripped by this story. Miner Spencer has a past where he had come out west to search for a lost river of gold and that search was carefully documented in a journal. Fast forward to the present day and we have none other than rare-book dealer Peter Fallon, a protagonist familiar to and loved by Martin’s many readers, who is searching for the stolen journal.

The novel is told in a dual timeline, on which more later.
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Up Close: Sandra Block

A Twist on Revenge

By Wendy Tyson

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and with Sandra Block’s latest novel, WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT, that’s indeed the case. Block’s debut thriller, Little Black Lies, the first in her Zoe Goldman series, was a 2016 Thriller Award finalist that earned Block critical praise. Now Block is back with WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT, a morally complex, fast-paced standalone thriller that takes a hard look at what it means when the pursuit of justice becomes personal.

When Dahlia is brutally attacked while at a party at Harvard, her world falls apart. She can’t remember the details, but the physical evidence of rape is undeniable. The police dismiss her, family members seem to blame her, and ghostly, half-formed images of what she endured haunt her. Eventually depression and hopelessness push her to attempt the unthinkable. Five years later, Dahlia has some semblance of her life back. Working a job that’s not challenging, and suffering from PTSD, Dahlia is still plagued by the crimes committed against her—until a video of the attack surfaces on the internet. Although it’s painful to watch, the video fills in many of the gaps in Dahlia’s memory. Armed with new knowledge and five years’ worth of rage, Dahlia uses her wits and inner strength to identify her attackers and go after them in ways they could never anticipate.
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Up Close: Alan Jacobson

Shooting for the Moon 

By J.H. Bográn

NASA’s last trip to the moon—Apollo 17—launched in 1972. Many people believe we should return, and Alan Jacobson explores that scenario in THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, the fourth entry in his OPSIG Team Black series.  This time, however, the trip is far from benign, as it quickly escalates into an armed race with three nations’ mission to acquire a material that could help create a powerful weapon of mass destruction. Hector DeSantos and Aaron Uziel find themselves strapped into an Orion spacecraft going where few men had gone before.

OPSIG stands for Operations Support Intelligence Group and it’s a black ops unit that is part of the Department of Defense and headquartered in the basement of the Pentagon. In short, black ops are those high stakes, high risk missions performed by the military without any connection to the United States, designed to protect the interests of America and its citizens. Almost always, they involve sensitive subjects and high value targets, including hostage rescue in a hostile country, assassination attempts on rogue dictators, and anything that cannot be attributed to, or traced back to, the US.
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Up Close: Susan Spann

A Novel That Immerses

By Steve P. Vincent

There’s something very special about a novel that’s steeped in so much detailed historical research that it feels completely real. Easier now than ever thanks to technology, desktop research gets authors some of the way to where they need to go. But when an author achieves total immersion in a culture, the results are spectacular.

TRIAL ON MOUNT KOYA by Susan Spann is one such book. The sixth Hiro Hattori novel, it sings with Spann’s deep love and knowledge of Japan. I sat down with Spann to discuss the novel, some of the research she undertook to write it, and the amazing coincidence that will help her celebrate the book’s release in style.

Can you tell us a little bit about TRIAL ON MOUNT KOYA and your heroes—Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Father Mateo?

TRIAL ON MOUNT KOYA is my dual love letter to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and the sacred mountains of Japan. Hiro and Father Mateo climb to the summit of Koyasan, carrying an urgent message for a ninja spy posing as a priest on the sacred mountain.

When a snow storm traps them on the mountain, and a killer begins murdering priests and posing their bodies as the Buddhist judges of the afterlife, Hiro and Father Mateo must stop the killer before he adds them to his grisly council of the dead.
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Up Close: George R. R. Martin

Martin Is Coming

By Nancy Bilyeau

“There’s a lot happening these days, so much that some days it feels as if I cannot even keep up with my own life,” George R. R. Martin wrote a few weeks ago.

Add to the list of happenings,  George R. R. Martin’s first ever-appearance at Thrillerfest.

Martin will be the Thrillermaster at Thrillerfest XIII in New York City this month, following a period of several years in which he appeared at few conferences. The author of the bestselling series A Song of Ice and Fire will be interviewed onstage by Anne Groell, Executive Editor for Penguin Random House, and the following evening, he’ll receive an award from Lee Child.

Among the exciting project news Martin is sharing is that HBO has greenlit the first of the “successor shows” to its top-rated Game of Thrones series. Martin created the untitled series with producer Jane Goldman, best known for the comic book films Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service.

“Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour,” according to HBO. “And only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the white walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend … it’s not the story we think we know.”
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Up Close: Amy Stuart

A Woman in a Town

By April Snellings

When Amy Stuart began work on her first novel, Still Mine, she had every intention of writing a standalone thriller. After about a hundred pages, though, Stuart knew that her main character’s journey was only beginning.

In Stuart’s 2016 debut, Clare O’Dey fled her abusive husband to the insular mining town of Blackmore, where she agreed to track down a missing woman for her enigmatic employer, private investigator Malcolm Boon (incidentally, the same PI who’d been hired by Clare’s husband to find her, only to become her ally instead).

In STILL WATER, out this month from Touchstone, Malcolm sends Clare to a remote Western town called High River, where a woman and her young son have disappeared from a women’s refuge. As in Still Mine, Clare manages to insert herself in the town’s complex dramas as she tries to win the residents’ trust, but her efforts to find the missing mother and son are stymied by the town’s fierce instincts to protect its secrets. Clare, in the meantime, is still reeling from the fallout of her last case and fleeing the life that led her to it: she’s recovering from a gunshot wound, struggling with an addiction to painkillers, and constantly looking over her shoulder for any signs that her husband is on her trail.

“I realized that her arc was going to take longer than one book, because I really wanted her to evolve to a place of being better and doing better,” Stuart says. “The first book takes place over the course of seven or eight days, and that was not gonna happen in that time. I wanted the reader, at the end of the first book, to feel like Clare had begun this process of healing, but that it would take more time.”
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The Glass Girl by Kim Alexander

By George Ebey

Author Kim Alexander’s latest work, THE GLASS GIRL, is the third installment in her ongoing paranormal fantasy series, The Demon Door.

In this installment, newly blessed (or cursed) with wings and fire, Prince Rhuun of the demon realm of Eriis sees hope for his life on the human world of Mistra with his fierce human lover, Lelet va’Everley. She literally went to hell and back to save him, and she’s not about to let anything—or anyone—ruin their perfect future.

All too soon, the claims of family, duty, and justice force Rhuun and Lelet to confront new griefs and old mistakes as they attempt to restore balance to the throne of Eriis. But, with every jealous rumor and each vengeful whisper, friends turn, family schemes, and forgotten enemies creep from the shadows.

The Big Thrill recently checked in with the Alexander to learn more about her exciting series and THE GLASS GIRL.
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Her Greatest Mistake by Sarah Simpson

By Terri Nolan

Sarah Simpson has a decade of experience within the mental health field working with vulnerable people at difficult times. As a private psychological therapist and a consultant for a regional group of family solicitors, she has supported families through times of relationship breakdown and divorce.

It’s natural then, that her debut novel draws from this practice. HER GREATEST MISTAKE is a domestic thriller filled with psychological tension and twitchy, nerve-ending emotion.

Eve and Gregg are the perfect couple. Or so it seems. But when the shades are drawn, their relationship is a study in how a seemingly perfect marriage can be toxic. She is held prisoner in a world of abuse by a truth known only to her. Eve had made detrimental choices in life based on misunderstandings; hindsight cruelly judged her. This perceptual outlook almost seals her fate. Eve’s plight and her need to protect her son drives her resolve to escape by any means.

What was Eve’s greatest mistake? Marrying Gregg? Leaving him? Or leaving him alive? Simpson took time out of her schedule to share some insight about HER GREATEST MISTAKE with readers of The Big Thrill.
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Loved By Darkness by Autumn Jordon

By Karen Harper

Autumn Jordan’s new release kicks off with a dynamite opening and then settles into a plot that is ripped from the headlines and features characters that are totally intriguing—and believable.

Since I also write suspense blended with romance, I was thrilled to interview Jordan about LOVED BY DARKNESS and the rest of the books in her impressive cache of work.

Please tell us what LOVED BY DARKNESS is about.  

LOVED BY DARKNESS is a romantic mystery/suspense in which a two-year-old child is found adrift on the Atlantic. It’s the job of the Cape James Police Chief, Norris Stiles, to learn who left the girl to die. But new to the area, and to the job as chief, he might be out of his depth. Fortunately help has arrived.

Unfortunately, the feisty and beautiful U.S. Marshal sent to assist could distract him from his obligations.

Burnt out by grueling covert missions, U.S. Marshal Jolene Martinez heads home to the Virginia Coast for a much-needed vacation, only to become embroiled in a heartbreaking child abandonment case. When she saves the child, the case becomes personal for Jolene, and she’s determined to solve the mystery with or without the chief’s support.

As the clock ticks on, both the sweet girl and the charismatic chief pluck at heart strings Jolene believed severed years ago. Duty and desire mix while she and Norris race to eliminate suspects and expose the perpetrator of the sinister act before the tides wash away all evidence and the suspect attempts to harm the child again.
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Deep Cherry Red by Bob Bickford

The South Seas Room is silver light, generous drinks, and the best band in town. At night, the fashionable crowd leaves swimming pools and beaches to haunt the end of the bar. It’s a friendly place. Go there by yourself, and chances are you’ll leave with company. Someone is borrowing the pretty people though, and not returning them.

Convertibles, neon signs, and Gin Rickeys…a sea of light all the way to the Pacific Ocean. This is January 1948 and Santa Teresa, California…perfume and color so real you might not want to come back.

Author Bob Bickford met with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest thriller, DEEP CHERRY RED:
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Don´t Believe it by Charlie Donlea

DON’T BELIEVE IT follows Sidney Ryan, a crime series TV producer who investigates the case of a young med student convicted of murdering her boyfriend while on vacation in Saint Lucia ten years earlier.

DON’T BELIEVE IT reads like a cinematic behind-the-scenes exposé of the juiciest in-depth investigation series, as Sidney rushes to stay one episode ahead of her TV show’s weekly airings, jetting from network meetings in New York, to the scene of the cold case murder on a Saint Lucian island resort, to the prison where her series’ subject awaits exoneration. But as America watches her peel away the layers of deception on prime time, a troubling picture of the truth starts to unfold. Is Sidney working to free an innocent woman wrongfully imprisoned, or is she a pawn in a sinister game?

The Big Thrill caught up to international bestselling author Charlie Donlea to gain some insight into the creation of his latest release, DON’T BELIEVE IT:
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The Case of the Missing Drag Queen by Michael Rupured

Broke, saddled with a mountain of debt, and dependent on his Aunt Callie’s support, aspiring writer Luke Tanner has returned to Kentucky to put his life back together after a failed five-year relationship.

On his twenty-fifth birthday, Luke meets diminutive Pixie Wilder, a long-time performer at the Gilded Lily. After headliner Ruby Dubonnet doesn’t show up, Pixie takes her place as the star of the show—a motive that makes her a suspect in Ruby’s disappearance.

Luke reluctantly agrees to help his newfound friend clear her name. He and Pixie set out to find the missing drag queen, and in the process, put themselves in danger.

Author Michael Rupured spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest mystery, THE CASE OF THE MISSING DRAG QUEEN:
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Murderess on the Loose by R. Barri Flowers

On the evening of Wednesday, July 12, 1922, Los Angeles, California, was the scene of a shocking and deadly assault. The victim was an attractive twenty-one-year-old widow named Alberta Meadows. Her death came as the result of a vicious hammer and boulder attack on a twisting dirt road at the bottom of a hill in the subdivision of Montecito Heights on the city’s northeast side.

The violent act was perpetrated by a romantic rival named Clara Phillips, who lured the unsuspecting victim to the unlikely crime scene. The twenty-three-year-old murderesses’ actions were spurred by jealous rage as Mrs. Meadows was the mistress of Clara’s husband, Armour Phllips, an oil stock salesman who was three years her senior.

Prolific, bestselling author R. Barri Flowers took some time out of his relentless writing schedule to meet with The Big Thrill and discuss his latest true crime release, MURDERESS ON THE LOOSE:
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The Powder Merchant by David Orange

What kind of man is above the law, beyond suspicion, and madly brilliant?

Alexander Volga, a respected philanthropic billionaire, hides a murky lineage with a veil of respectability. He’s gifted with a uniquely devious and sharp mind and responsible for literally millions of lives destroyed. Sensing storm clouds of retribution approaching, Volga prepares for his ultimate deception. He invests his enormous fortune in a mind-bending effort to make his dream of immortality become a reality.

An unexplainable force draws Detective Harriet O’Keefe to Volga. She’s head of a new drug enforcement agency, CRUNCH (Crime and Racketeering Unit of Narcotics-Cocaine and Heroin). “Dirty Harriet,” whose job is to track down the big chieftains of the cocaine and heroin world-the “Merchants of Powder”-finds herself dangerously close to falling for Volga’s lure.

Volga’s estranged godson shares information with Harriet about his godfather’s past. Desperate to find a lead, Harriet dabbles in hypnosis and is shocked when recollections of past life confrontations with Volga are discovered. Harriet dismisses the revelations and decides to deal with Volga in the present with the realization he’s the most wanted and insidious man she ever matched wits against.

With tension mounting from all sides, and uncertain of where loyalty remains, Alexander Volga sets a Machiavellian plan in motion. His digital alchemists have been working feverishly to have him immerse in an entirely synthetic alternate world—a Shangri-La, that will allow him to escape. When the countdown begins, Volga’s enemies better check their life-insurance policies…and Harriet O’Keefe, her heart.

The Big Thrill caught up to author David Orange to discuss his latest thriller, THE POWDER MERCHANT:
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Proof of Innocence by Patricia McLinn

Four and a half years ago, Maggie Frye served as special prosecutor in a remote mountain county in Commonwealth of Virginia v. J.D. Carson. Shaking off echoes of the family tragedy that drove her to be a prosecutor, she did her damnedest, but still is rattled when the jury finds Carson not guilty.

But now another young woman has been killed in chillingly similar circumstances.

Either Maggie prosecuted the right man and got the wrong verdict or she prosecuted the wrong man and got the right verdict. Either way, a murderer went free to strike again.

And there is J.D. Carson — not only still in town, but far too close to the investigation for Maggie’s comfort. This time Maggie’s going to get it right…no matter what it costs her.

USA Today bestselling author Patricia McLinn met up with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest thriller, PROOF OF INNOCENCE:
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Killer by the Road by Ronald E. Hignite

In this crime thriller, KILLER BY THE ROAD, a distraught individual grows deeper into depression after losing his job and family. He resorts to drinking and his distorted mind turns to vengeance to fix his problems. An incident that has eaten at him for years becomes his internal focus.

With victims showing up in both Chicago, Illinois and Connersville, Indiana from a killer by the road, people are living in fear. With pressures building, both Detective Jack Revelle and Detective Frank Harris strive diligently to catch the killer.

Finally, a tip will send Detective Jack Revelle into a face-to-face game-ending confrontation with the killer.

Ronald E. Hignite, author of KILLER BY THE ROAD, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his new thriller:
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Beyond Control by Kat Martin

When Victoria Bradford got engaged, she told herself to give love a chance. Six months later, she’s on the run from her angry, abusive ex-fiancé with her four-year-old daughter and nowhere to go.

Seventy miles north of Dallas, the Iron River Ranch is pretty much nowhere. That’s what its new owner, Josh Cain, wanted when he came back from Afghanistan. Big skies, quiet nights, no trouble.

One look tells Josh the pretty redhead with the adorable little girl will give him trouble of the most personal kind. But he’s seen trouble before, and he doesn’t scare easy. Not when “accidents” start happening around the ranch. Not when Tory’s best friend back in Phoenix is abducted and brutalized. Not even when it looks like their current problems are only the tip of the iceberg.

But if he gets too close to fierce, determined Tory, Josh knows his nights are going to be anything but quiet. And that’s one possibility no amount of training can prepare him for…

The Big Thrill caught up to New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin and had the opportunity to discuss her latest release, BEYOND CONTROL:
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39 Winks by Kathleen Valenti

Former pharmaceutical researcher Maggie O’Malley is losing sleep. Her friend Constantine’s aunt is a multitasking sleepwalker who, in addition to wandering her stately home, prepares meals, folds laundry and, one winter night, stumbles across her husband with his throat slit.

It’s a rude and gruesome awakening that’s upsetting to Aunt Polly. And interesting to the police.

Maggie and Constantine work to uncover who killed the cosmetic surgery mogul and why. As they dig into the lives of those who knew him best, they discover that the truth is only skin deep and doctoring perception is a treatment with deadly side effects.

A gripping page-turner with more twists than a surgeon’s suture, 39 WINKS is a tale of lies, betrayals and greed that will keep you up at night. And looking over your shoulder.

39 WINKS author Kathleen Valenti took some time to meet with The Big Thrill and offer some insight into her latest mystery:
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Last Year’s Man by Paul D. Brazill

By Tim O’Mara

In his new thriller, LAST YEAR’S MAN, Paul D. Brazill introduces us to Tommy Bennett, an aging hitman who grows increasingly troubled by his life in London. Hoping for a respite from his violent lifestyle, Tommy decides to head back to his more peaceful childhood seaside home in North East England, only to find the ghosts of his past have come back to haunt him.

Geez, what’s a veteran of multiple murders for hire have to do to catch a break?

Via email—Brazill lives in Poland and I’m in New York City, a seven-hour time difference—I asked Brazill what the deal is with readers’ continued fascination with hired killers. These are men—and occasionally women—who make a living ending people’s lives. Why are we so drawn to them and, at times, actually find ourselves rooting for them?

“Sometimes ties with the past are more like a leash or even shackles,” Brazill says. “Wouldn’t it be great to erase the past? But first, of course, you’d have to erase the people. I think it’s no surprise that hitmen are often referred to as ‘cleaners.’ We all would like someone to tidy up our lives for us from time to time, to tie up those annoying loose ends. Indeed, that’s what crime fiction—particularly the police procedural—does in many ways. It tidies up messy situations. (Noir, on the other hand, creates chaos from order.) The hitman is like an X-rated version of the Good Fairy in Cinderella.”

I ask why Brazill has chosen the novella form for this tale instead of turning it into a longer novel.
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Against the Law by Jay Brandon

By Rick Reed

Jay Brandon is the author of 18 novels, most recently the instant holiday classic Thanksgiving Eve. His 2014 espionage novel Shadow Knight’s Mate has been called “an absorbing, exciting, and absolutely entertaining novel.” His earlier titles include 1990’s Fade the Heat, which was an Edgar finalist and published by more than a dozen foreign publishers. He has a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University.

In Brandon’s newest novel AGAINST THE LAW, disbarred Houston lawyer Edward Hall is trying to rebuild his life after serving two years in prison for burglarizing the courthouse evidence room. He gets a call from his sister Amy, a doctor who has been arrested for the murder of her estranged husband, also a prominent physician. As Edward tries to steer her through the legal system, it becomes clear Amy wants Edward to represent her. But there is a complication in his doing so: the judge assigned to Amy’s case was Edward’s secret partner-in-crime in the burglary of the courthouse.

Brandon recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his impressive career and offer some advice to writers who are just beginning the journey to publication.
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Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman

By Austin S. Camacho

If you’re looking for a truly gripping work of suspense, you should check out Dan Fesperman’s SAFE HOUSES, a spy novel wrapped around a murder mystery set in Cold War-era Berlin.

The story kicks off in 1979, with a low-level CIA official discovering a cover-up that has lethal consequences. In her duties overseeing a network of CIA safe houses in West Berlin, Helen Abell overhears two unauthorized encounters. While one merely hints at a shadowy situation, the other puts her in the crosshairs of one of the CIA’s most ruthless and powerful operatives.

Helen is a capable woman but she doubts herself, mostly because she has grown accustomed to being underestimated. No surprise since she wants to be a field operative for the CIA in the late ’70s, when women were rarely offered those kinds of jobs.

“It’s easier for us to recognize her heroism and her abilities—she’s smart, savvy, bold, persistent—than for her,” says Fesperman. “If we met her at a party, we’d enjoy her subversive wit, although we might not notice her right away. She’d be keeping to the margins, a keen observer awaiting her moment.”
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Caged by Ellison Cooper

By Charles Salzberg

We might as well get something out of the way right now. There is no Ellison Cooper. That’s right—Ellison Cooper does not actually exist. And yet, she does. How do I know? Because CAGED is a first novel written by none other than Ellison Cooper.

Sounds like a riddle, doesn’t it? When is Ellison Cooper not Ellison Cooper?

Allow me to put you out of your misery. Ellison Cooper is the nom de plume of—well, there isn’t much point using a nom de plume if someone like me is going to spill the beans and tell you who Ellison Cooper really is, right?

So I won’t. But what I will tell you is that the facts of Ellison Cooper’s life are startlingly similar to the facts about another woman, who shall remain anonymous but who also claims to have written CAGED.

First, let me tell you something about this new thriller.

Sayer Altair is a Washington, D.C.-based neuroscientist who works for the FBI. (Oddly enough, Ellison Cooper is also a neuroscientist, as is her alter ego, but neither of them work for the FBI, so I’m sure this is merely one of those weird coincidences.) Still reeling from the death of her fiancé, Sayer specializes in analyzing the brains of serial killers. When local police stumble onto a gruesome murder involving a young girl later identified as the daughter of a high-profile senator, Sayer gets a chance to put her knowledge to work as she struggles not only to find the killer but also to find another young girl who, like the earlier victim, is being slowly starved to death while held captive in a cage.
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A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman

By Jaden Terrell

A LADY’S GUIDE TO ETIQUETTE AND MURDER isn’t the debut one might expect from a woman who spent most of her adult life in the world of corporate finance. It’s a cozy historical novel set in the late Victorian era, and the heroine is an American heiress forced by circumstance to become an amateur sleuth. The few references to finance are plot-related, authentic to the period, and easily understood by even a layman like myself.

But maybe it’s not so surprising after all.

Author Dianne Freeman is a life-long book lover who pursued writing as a hobby throughout her corporate career and then co-authored a non-fiction book, Haunted Highway, The Spirits of Route 66, before quickly realizing her true love was fiction, historical mystery in particular. In short, she has spent years laying a solid foundation for this well-crafted debut.

Her research led to some unexpected insights. “Victorians weren’t so staid and uptight as I once thought,” she says, “nor were Victorian women meek. In fact, they were very much like we are today, only the technology has changed.”

Asked what authors inspired or influenced her career, she reveals two very different writers: “Edith Wharton, who made me fall in love with the late Victorian era, and Janet Evanovich, who showed me that humor and mystery could coexist.”
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Irrational Fears by Lee Lindauer

After witnessing the horrifying murder of her friend Tom Haley, Mallory Lowe, a cautious university mathematics professor, must emerge from her cocoon to become the gutsy and unpredictable woman she’s always dreamed of being. Running on the guilt of a past family tragedy that she blames on herself, Mallory is determined to find Tom’s now-missing daughter.

Following the clues in a 300-year-old equation left by Tom, Mallory’s search propels her into the tangled threads of a ruthless corporate entity known as Möbius, bent on controlling the world’s most precious resource: fresh water. Mallory is propelled along a perilous journey from the southwest United States through the breathtaking landscape of Switzerland and into the inner workings of a massive hydroelectric dam in Turkey. She solves the riddle of the centuries old mathematics equation—only to discover something more ominous and deadly in the process.

Author Lee Lindauer spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest release, IRRATIONAL FEARS:
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Plum Springs by Dan Lawton

After a lifetime of abuse, nine-year-old Rusty Travis and his older brother Bo decide their father must be stopped when, in a drunken rage, he goes after their six-year-old sister. After their vengeance is complete, they seek refuge in the tall oak forest where they stumble upon a mysterious runaway orphan. This leads to uncovering secrets about themselves and their family they never imagined, leading Rusty to question everything he thought he knew. With his brother by his side, they battle with the demons that shatter their world in the sleepy town of Plum Springs.

Author Dan Lawton spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, PLUM SPRINGS:
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Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky

Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match.

Sure, it was an accident. But the blaze killed his mom and set his dad on a path to self-destruction. Everything else about that fateful night is full of gaping holes in Theo’s mind, for good reason. Maybe it’s better that way. As captain of the Ellis Hollow Diving Team, with straight A’s and solid friends, he’s only one semester away from securing a scholarship, and leaving his past behind.

But when a family history project gets assigned at school, new memories come rushing to the surface, memories that make Theo question what he really knows about his family, the night of the fire, and if he can trust anyone—including himself.

Award-winning art director and designer-turned-writer Demetra Brodsky spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her new release, DIVE SMACK:
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The Lonely Witness by William Boyle

By Dawn Ius

Authors draw inspiration for characters from a number of places—friends and family, a stranger they caught a glimpse of at the coffee shop, exes and crushes. William Boyle’s muse comes in the form of an actress.

Amy Falconetti—the haunting protagonist of his gritty new release THE LONELY WITNESS—is named after Renee Maria Falconettti from The Passion of Joan of Arc, one of Boyle’s all-time favorite films.

“I just kept thinking how cool it would be to have a character called Falconetti—it could have been the name of a ’70s TV detective,” he says. “So I started there.”

More accurately, though, Falconetti’s story began in Boyle’s debut, Gravesend, in which she is a minor character that never fully left the author’s head and heart. When THE LONELY WITNESS begins, almost seven years have passed since the action in that first book, and Boyle was anxious to get to know her better.

“I learned not to expect anything of her,” he says. “I learned that she was a million things, all at once, all of them valid. I learned that she’s haunted, that she’s searching for contentment she’ll likely never find. I learned that she’s impulsive, and I learned to value her unpredictability.”

The reader learns these things as well—especially about her impulsiveness. For reasons she can’t quite understand, Falconetti is captivated by a crime she witnesses, and the murderer himself. Rather than calling the police—as perhaps most in her situation might—Falconetti collects the murder weapon from the sidewalk and soon finds herself on a dangerous hunt for the killer.

Boyle took some time this month to give The Big Thrill readers a behind-the-scenes look at THE LONELY WITNESS.
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Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer

By Azam Gill

New York Times bestselling author Andrew Shaffer’s HOPE NEVER DIES is part quirky mystery-adventure and part bromance, featuring Barack Obama and Jo Biden in the roles of Sherlock and Watson.

Joe Biden, fresh out of a job as vice president, is weighing his options. Then his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving the victim’s family in shreds. Biden decides to take matters into his own hands, and teams up with trusty old Barack Obama to clear up the mystery.

Watching each other’s backs, the duo plumbs the darkest corners of Delaware, well known for being a tax haven for corporations and a front-line casualty of America’s opioid epidemic. Their noir milieu of investigation is a far cry from the five-star haunts of former presidents and vice-presidents as six-figure consultants and lecturers. From cheap motels to tough biker bars, a car chase, a tense showdown on a moving train and more, they tangle with sinister forces. Wilmington, Delaware, Biden’s hometown, opens up its dark underbelly to these endearing investigators by default.

HOPE NEVER DIES offers a fine balance of realism and the ridiculous, blended by Shaffer’s craftsmanship, and will be a welcome comfort for readers pining for the Obama-Biden era.

Up until the last segment of his presidency, Obama had remained an engineer of hope, starting from his authorship of The Audacity Of Hope, to riding his stirring campaign slogan of “yes we can” on which he rode into office. His engineering, partly retrieved by Hilary Clinton, was overtaken by Donald Trump’s promise to “make America great again.”
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Like to Die by David Housewright

Once a police detective in St. Paul, Minnesota, Rushmore McKenzie has become an unlikely millionaire and an occasional unlicensed private investigator, doing favors for friends. The favor, this time, is for a friend of a friend – Erin Peterson, a local business person and owner of a growing food company called Salsa Girl. Someone seems to have a beef with her: the outside locks on her factory having been systematically filled with superglue. But for some reason, Erin doesn’t want to report this harassment to the police. As a favor to his poker buddy and hockey teammate Ian, McKenzie agrees to stop by and chat with Erin.

At first Erin denies there’s anything going on and then, when the harassment escalates and threatens her business, she also asks for McKenzie’s help. The further McKenzie digs into the situation, the more complicated – and deadly – it becomes. And somewhere, in the middle of it all, is Erin, playing all sides against the middle, leading McKenzie to wonder if you ever really know who your friends are.

The Big Thrill caught up with award-winning author David Housewright to discuss the latest installment in his P.I. Mac McKenzie series, LIKE TO DIE:
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The Lost World of Kharamu by Robert J. Stava

Grant Taylan is an adventurer-paleontologist also known as “The Dinosaur Detective,” a polite term for what he really does, which is track down the more dangerous criminals in the Dinosaurs Fossil Black Market and bring them to justice, sometimes the hard way. But his latest case is about to land him in the strangest situation of a lifetime: a vacation island in the South China Sea known as THE LOST WORLD OF KHARAMU. Developed by the Chinese corporation MuTron International, they’ve taken Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park concept in a very different direction: the ultimate immersive role-playing experience tailored to only the exclusively wealthy elite. With real dinosaurs.

On the resort’s first major beta run, Taylan finds himself fighting dinosaurs, Russians, Vietnamese commandos and his ex-girlfriend in the ultimate vacation gone-wrong, where only the strongest, quickest – and the luckiest – will survive.

Robert J. Stava took time out of his busy schedule to meet with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest thriller, THE LOST WORLD OF KHARAMU:
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Dirty Who? by Jerry Kennealy

Rough and Tumble SFPD Inspector Johnny O’Rorke, the department’s Executive Protection Officer, has a new partner, Cosmo the Wonder Dog, a Lakeland terrier his sister has left in his care.

O’Rorke is called to San Francisco City Hall to meet with Film Commissioner Audrey Pebble. Warner Brothers is preparing to film a major motion picture, Dirty Harry, in San Francisco, with Frank Sinatra set for the starring role as Inspector Harry Callahan.

Pebble knows that O’Rorke has worked as a bodyguard for Sinatra. She hired Harly Walker, a local young artist and musician, to scout the city for locations that would appeal to Warner Brothers. Walker has disappeared and Pebble is desperate for O’Rorke to find him.

The hunt takes O’Rorke and Cosmo to the famed Haight Ashbury Medical Clinic and to some of the darkest, most dangerous areas of the city, including porno movie studios, drug dens, bathhouses and hardcore leather bars.

While searching for Walker, O’Rorke learns that several of Harly’s friends have been murdered in such a painful manner that even the medical examiner is shocked.

O’Rorke races to find the killer—and then comes the hard part: Telling Frank Sinatra that he is not right for the role of Dirty Harry.

Award-winning author Jerry Kennealy spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing the second installment of his Johnny O’Rorke series, DIRTY WHO?:
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Obsessed by Joseph Badal

A world-class thriller with non-stop, heart-pounding tension and action, OBSESSED brings back Matt Curtis and Renee Drummond and their villainous nemesis, Lonnie Jackson. This second installment in Joseph Badal’s The Curtis Chronicles takes the reader from Rio de Janeiro to the mountains of New Mexico to the Mexico/United States border, following a crazed Jackson on his single-minded quest for revenge against the two people he blames for the deaths of his mother and brother and for the destruction of his criminal empire in Hawaii.

OBSESSED is another master stroke of fiction from this Amazon #1 Best-Selling Author, two-time winner of the Tony Hillerman Award for Best Fiction Book of the Year, and three-time Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal Winner.

The Big Thrill caught up with Badal just in time to discuss his latest thriller:
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