Crime Fiction

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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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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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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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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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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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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Songs of Innocence by Anne Coates

A drowning in a local park is originally written off as suicide by the police until freelance journalist Hannah Weybridge is asked to investigate by the girl’s distraught aunt. Hannah discovers a pattern of Asian girls going missing and is convinced that Amalia was killed. But there seems to be no motive. And all the while Hannah is being stalked by her past, threatening her present.

The Big Thrill caught up with author Anne Coates to discuss the latest release in her Hannah Weybridge series, SONGS OF INNOCENCE:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

So far I am delighted that readers have been swept along by the narrative and are engaged with Hannah and her life. There is cause for hope and optimism at the end which is more uplifting than the previous book, Death’s Silent Judgement.
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The Fifth to Die by J.D. Barker

In the thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, a new serial killer stalks the streets of Chicago, while Detective Porter delves deeper into the dark past of the Four Monkey Killer.

A 4MK Thriller.

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

Bestselling author J.D. Barker carved some time out of his busy schedule to meet with The Big Thrill and discuss the fourth installment of his 4MK series, THE FIFTH TO DIE:
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Shark Bait by Paul Kemprecos

By Tim O’Mara

Charter boat captain. Diver. Private detective. Ex-Marine. Ex-Boston detective. Lives in converted boathouse on Cape Cod. Philosophical. Witty. Smart. Rule-breaker. Irreverent. Distrust of authority. Trying to do the right thing often lands him in trouble. Despises bullies. Favors the underdog and cats. Guilt-ridden over failure to live up to expectations of his close-knit, Greek-American family.

And yes, readers, Aristotle “Soc” Socarides is available. Currently he’s available in Paul Kemprecos’ latest, SHARK BAIT (Suspense Publishing, April 2018). The eighth installment in Kemprecos’ Soc series finds the charter fishing boat captain/part-time private investigator up to his neck in trouble, this time trying to solve an oyster poaching scheme, captaining a boat for a film crew working on a movie based on a romantic legend involving a witch and a pirate, and trying to figure out whether the guy who had the job before him was really killed by a great white shark named Emma (whom Soc’s ex-girlfriend would like to see proven innocent).

When I first encountered Soc, I thought, Gee, a private eye who lives in a boathouse who’s good with the ladies and drinking buddies with the men? Obviously, Kemprecos was inspired by John D. MacDonald and the Travis McGee novels.

I was wrong.

“I was really inspired to try my hand at detective fiction by the books of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Ross Macdonald,” Kemprecos tells me. “Their detectives had a sense of humor and I thought I could pull that off.”
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A Sharp Solitude by Christine Carbo

In the darkening days of autumn, a woman’s body is found in the isolated terrain near Glacier National Park. The victim was a journalist who had been interviewing a reclusive researcher about his work for a program that trains dogs to track scientific data. Now he is the prime suspect.

Without friends or family to turn to, he seeks help from his ex, an FBI investigator and the mother of his young daughter. Though she is not assigned the case, she is deeply invested, driven by the knowledge that if she can find out what really happened, she might save her child from the trauma of losing a father.

Assuming the worst possible outcome, the researcher flees into the woods with his dog. As the evidence mounts against him and his resources dwindle, the FBI agent isn’t sure how far she’ll go to find answers.

Propulsive and suspenseful, evoking the stark, breathtaking beauty of Glacier National Park, A SHARP SOLITUDE demonstrates that we can never outrun our demons, even in the vast, indomitable wild.

Award-winning author Christine Carbo took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest installment of the Glacier National Park thrillers, A SHARP SOLITUDE:
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A Case Gone Cold by Paul Gitsham

When an open-and-shut burglary case lands on DCI Warren Jones’ desk, he suspects it’s come to the wrong detective – until he learns a tantalizing detail. Despite the suspect having admitted to the crime after being found with the stolen goods, DNA found at the scene does not match the man currently on bail – but is a match to an unsolved violent rape case dating back to 1992.

With their man in custody refusing to talk, Warren must embark on a manhunt for the mystery accomplice. And so begins a game of cat and mouse that will test Warren’s rawest instincts and resolve – and throw up a shocking twist.

The Big Thrill caught up with author Paul Gitsham to get some insight into his latest thriller, A CASE GONE COLD:
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Blood Orbit by K. R. Richardson

Eric Matheson, an idealistic rookie cop trying to break from his powerful family, is plunged into the investigation of a brutal crime in his first weeks on the job in Angra Dastrelas, the corrupt capital city of the corporate-owned planet Gattis. A newcomer to the planet, Matheson is unaware of the danger he’s courting when he’s promoted in the field to assist the controversial Chief Investigating Forensic Officer, Inspector J. P. Dillal, the planet’s first cybernetically enhanced investigator. Coming from a despised ethnic underclass, the brilliant and secretive Dillal seems determined to unravel the crime regardless of the consequences. The deeper they dig, the more dangerous the investigation becomes. But in a system where the cops enforce corporate will, instead of the law, the solution could expose Gattis’s most shocking secrets and cost thousands of lives–including Matheson’s and Dillal’s.

Bestselling author K.R. Richardson spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, BLOOD ORBIT:
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Reason to Die by Debbie De Louise

Someone is strangling disabled people in the small town of Baxter, Connecticut. Detective Courtney Lang and her ex-partner and ex-lover, wheelchair-bound Bill Thompson, are paired up again and put in charge of the investigation. During the course of their search, Courtney uncovers information that points toward a connection between the murders and an unsolved series of muggings by a masked man, the same man who shot and disabled Bill a year ago on the night he proposed marriage to her.

Complicating matters for Courtney is her guilt about Thompson’s shooting, her affair with her new partner, Mark Farrell, and her unresolved feelings over the deaths of her mother and sister who perished in a fire while she was away from home.

As the deaths accrue and the “Handicapped Strangler” as the killer is coined by the press continues to rampage the town, adding victims of different ages, sex, and disabilities to the murder count, Courtney discovers a clue that could crack open the case but may put her and Bill’s life in jeopardy.

Award-winning author Debbie De Louise stopped by The Big Thrill to discuss her latest thriller, REASON TO DIE:
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A Reason to Live by R. Barri Flowers

By George Ebey

A REASON TO LIVE by R. Barri Flowers is the first book in his emotional four book contemporary romance series, Reasons for Loving.

In this first installment, Nora Sheridan, a loving wife and mother and talented artist in the countryside of Akers Ridge, Oregon, sees her world shattered by a senseless crime, one that takes the lives of those dearest to her. Years later, she reunites with her first love, Robert Logan, at a 20-year high school reunion in Portland. A successful art dealer, Robert is dealing with a failed marriage and has custody of a precocious teenage daughter. Slowly, but surely, Nora and Robert try to reclaim their long ago romance, get past their difficulties, and find a reason to live again.

The Big Thrill recently checked in with Flowers to learn more about this emotionally-charged story.

What first drew you to writing crime fiction?

With a B.A. and M.S. in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University, I began my writing career as a criminologist, writing criminology textbooks. This evolved into writing historical true crime books. The natural next step was to use my knowledge on real crime and criminals to turn to crime fiction.

Combining insight into criminality with verisimilitude in my storylines and three-dimensional characters has made my crime, mystery, and thriller fiction stand out from the crowd. Of course, my latest novel, A REASON TO LIVE, is a favorite, as I take a look into the dangerous, deadly, and addictive world of methamphetamine use and its devastating consequences.
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Trigger Switch by Bryon Quertermous

Dominick Prince has been a magnet for trouble his entire life. A series of poor life choices and his natural tendency to attract the wrong kind of people have resulted in two failed bids at grad school, a failed writing career, and a failed marriage to the contested successor of a crumbling criminal family. These failures persuade Dominick to accept an offer he SHOULD refuse from an old high school classmate, Dutchy Kent, who wants to mount a stage version of one of Dominick’s stories in New York City. In reality, Dutchy is trying to track down a missing $1.2 million, and needs someone else to do the dirty work, someone who attracts trouble and is easily manipulated. Cue Dominick…

Unfortunately for Dutchy, the Dominick who shows up at his office is not the kid he used to know. Because for 29 years Dominick has played the role of patsy, fall-guy, cautionary tale, understudy, and joke. But he’s about to break character and go off script to show the world the true effect of violence and bullying. His old dreams may be dead, but a million dollars and the satisfaction of making an old bully suffer seem like a fair trade-off.

Author and editor Bryon Quertermous stopped by The Big Thrill to discuss his latest novel, TRIGGER SWITCH:
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Ana Rocha: Shadows of Justice by Ammar Habib & Glenda Mendoza

Ana Rocha is a woman on fire. Being talented and from a well-off family, Ana could have become anything. But driven by her sister’s murder, Ana chose the path of an undercover narcotics officer. Ana has made a vow to help clean up the streets of Houston. The journey her duty takes her on forces her to confront her worst nightmares and face the city’s most ruthless criminals. The further she goes down this path, the more the line between her two lives begins to blur. And soon, this journey brings her face-to-face with a monster from her past.

The Big Thrill was fortunate to catch up with award-winning author Ammar Habib to & discuss the thriller, ANA ROCHA: SHADOWS OF JUSTICE, co-written with Glenda Mendoza.
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Albatross by Ryan Sayles

Two nuns murdered. Two elderly, wonderful women brutally stabbed to death outside their ghetto mission as they went into the streets to gather the addicts and human waste for a night’s rest. Motive? None. If scum are willing to come out of the shadows just to kill, they get paid in little more than blood. In this neighborhood, blood is gold.

Private detective Richard Dean Buckner aids his best friend and former homicide partner Graham Clevenger in working the case. The local priest sees Buckner’s handiwork—and rage—firsthand and hires him with the intention of hopefully saving the killer from the worst of the bare knuckle detective’s rampage.

Buckner develops a lead and hunts the suspect down, but as Clevenger develops a second, less likely and more earth-shattering suspect of his own, friend is pitted against friend as they race to prove who really did it. All the while Buckner is trying to ignore a similar case from his past where he allowed his pride to railroad the suspect into an early grave. Fearing Clevenger is about to do the same thing, Buckner realizes just how bleak his mistake was.

To hunt a man who slaughtered two nuns, Buckner needs to use a junkyard dog as a landing cushion, make a victim remember the worst night of her life and undo years of therapy, smoke PCP and use a barnyard blow-up doll to strangle a man. So be it. Just another day.
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Vice Enforcer by S. A. Stovall

By George Ebey

Author S.A. Stovall brings us the next installment in his Vice City crime series featuring ex-mob enforcer Nicholas Pierce.

Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.

Eight months ago, Pierce faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy-enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.

Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.

The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.

But he’s not going out without a fight.

The Big Thrill recently caught up with Stovall to discuss his book as well as what it takes to craft great suspense.
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Tushhog by Jeffery Hess

By David Healey

Florida and crime fiction go together like windshields and bugs on a summer night while speeding down Alligator Alley. A good plot is like that oddly satisfying smack against the glass, leaving an imprint on the mind.

One such book that hits with a satisfying smack is TUSHHOG by Florida native Jeffery Hess, who continues the adventures of his protagonist, Scotland Ross. Ross is a veteran who finds himself caught up in the underbelly of the Fort Myers area, and tries to do the right thing, even if there are a few bodies along the way.

So what exactly is a Tushhog? To set the record straight, the term is defined in a note at the start of the novel. Rather than give that away here, the definition is best left up to Hess.

Recently, Hess took some time out from his favorite writing spot on the screen porch of his Tampa home to talk about his own brand of Sunshine State noir.

Hess is a Florida native and has set his novels in the early 1980s, a period that was just starting to see meteoric development. At that time, Hess was a teenager.

“Back in the ’80s it was kind of the Wild West,” he says. “Florida was half the size in terms of population. The growth has been nonstop.”

Back then, the popular TV show Miami Vice glamorized the East Coast lifestyle of fast cars, Ray Bans, and pastel-colored clothing—often paid for with drug money. Hess recalls that the West Coast—of Florida—wasn’t like that, but had its own vibe, which is why he chose to set his novels in that time and place.
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Texas Two-Step by Michael Pool

Cooper and Davis are a couple of jam band-obsessed Texas ex-pats growing some of Denver’s finest organic cannabis and living the good life on tour. Or, at least they were, until legal weed put the squeeze on their market and cramped their playboy lifestyle.

When their last out-of-state distributor gets busted by an Illinois task force, they’re left with no choice but to turn to their reckless former associate Elroy “Sancho” Watts to unload one last crop down in Teller County, Texas.

But Sancho Watts has troubles of his own in the form of Texas Ranger Russ Kirkpatrick, tasked under the table with nailing Watts for anything that will stick because of his involvement in the drug-induced suicide of a state senator’s son.

Not to mention his infamous new business partner, Heisman quarterback and NFL burnout Bobby Burnell, a man working to rise from the ashes of his self-destructed football career by making a name for himself in his criminally inclined Teller County family, no matter who he has to double-cross to get there.

What ensues is a pine-curtain criminal jamboree where everyone involved keeps their cards close to their vest, and all the high-stakes two-stepping is sure to result in bloodshed.

TEXAS TWO-STEP author, Michael Pool, met with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest novel:
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Call to Arms by Rachel Amphlett

Kay Hunter has survived a vicious attack at the hands of one of the country’s most evil serial killers.

Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn’t the only victim of that investigation.

DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil.

Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser.

But as she gets closer to the truth, she realises her enquiries could do more harm than good.

Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay’s enquiries will reach far beyond her new role…

Bestselling author Rachel Amphlett spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing the latest installment in her Detective Kay Hunter series, CALL TO ARMS:
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Malicious by Jacob Stone

No one takes down deranged killers like L.A. detective Brick Morris. But a crazed maniac is savagely murdering Hollywood starlets and sending Morris grisly calling cards. And that’s just the first phase of a fiendish “death machine” the relentless killer plans to unleash on Los Angeles. Every move Morris makes triggers another step in the psychopath’s doomsday scenario. Morris has only one choice to stop the killings: the one the killer never expected…

Author Jacob Stone recently met with The Big Thrill to discuss the third Morris Brick thriller, MALICIOUS:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I’m hoping readers will find MALICIOUS an exciting and terrifying thriller that will keep them turning pages late into the night. MALICIOUS is the third Morris Brick thriller, and as such, readers will also get to revisit Morris, his charming wife Natalie, his bull terrier Parker, and the rest of the MBI (Morris Brick Investigations) team.

The killer in MALICIOUS has built an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine, and this forced me to construct an equally elaborate and intricate plot that I hope will keep readers guessing until the very end.
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Wrath by Tom Lowe

By Tim O´Mara

I had just finished WRATH by Thomas Lowe, checked out his website, and did some research. We’d decided via email when a good time to talk would be, and I call him at the mutually agreed-upon time.

“Hey, Tim,” Lowe says as he picks up the phone. “Let me just move from the den to my office so we can talk.”

“Wait a second,” I say. “You have a den and an office?”

He pauses for a beat, then says—and I can almost hear the shrug—“I live in Northern Michigan.”

Nice, I think. I live in Manhattan and the closest I’ve got to a den and an office is when I move my laptop from my wife’s desk in our bedroom to our couch in our bedroom. Anyway…

I remember from his website that Lowe says he enjoys the “loneliness” of the writing process. Now that I know he has a den and an office, I ask him to elaborate.

“It’s not the loneliness I really like,” he explains. “It’s just that I have to go to my office, close the door, and shut myself off from the distractions of home. I need to be able to read my stuff out loud and hear the dialogue, hear the rhythm of the sentences. Once I get started, the writing takes over. I usually produce about ten pages a day. I don’t stop writing. I fly through, get about ten pages done a day, and figure I can put the band-aids on later.”

Ten pages a day? Nice day at the office. Now I wonder why the creator of the Sean O’Brien series and the Paul Marcus trilogy has decided to start a new thriller series with a female protagonist, Elizabeth Monroe.
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Precious Cargo by Linda Sands

By Charles Salzberg

Linda Sands talks fast, the words spilling from her mouth in a torrent, as if there isn’t enough time to get everything said, much less everything done. You won’t find grass growing beneath her feet, that’s for sure. And if it seems as if she’s in perpetual motion, well, that’s because she is.

For instance, if you’d been looking for her the last Sunday in February, you’d have found this Georgia Author of the Year and two-time Silver Falchion winner in Atlanta attending a NASCAR event. It’s not so much that she’s in love with fast cars, although she can probably take one apart and put it back together (I’m not sure about the blindfolded part); it’s that she’s heavily into researching her next Jojo Boudreaux novel, Checkered Cargo, while the second in the series, PRECIOUS CARGO, is ready to hit bookstores in April.

In PRECIOUS CARGO, Boudreaux and her co-driver and boyfriend, Gator Natoli, are at a truck stop in Austin when they’re approached by a frightened young girl who begs them for a ride. After delivering her to safety, they run into her again in Oklahoma City. Only this time, she doesn’t want to be saved and Jojo and Gator wind up getting involved with the Somali Mafia, where powerful people manipulate a hundred-billion-dollar industry of prostitution, drugs, and international sex trafficking.

The Cargo series came about accidentally. Sands, who became fascinated by truckers and the life they lead, had been working on a nonfiction photo essay book on them. She was living in Northern California at the time, and her neighbor was a long-haul trucker. Tired of being awakened by the noise of his truck parked in front of her house, Sands knocked on his door to ask him to park it elsewhere.

“He was this very large man who looked kind of mean, but he turned out to be just the opposite,” she says. “His name was Grisly, and he became my pal. He showed me his truck, and I was hooked. I photographed the cab and the area where he slept, and realized this would make a wonderful coffee table book.”
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Phoenix Burning by Isabella Maldonado

The battle between Veranda Cruz and the Villalobos cartel turns Phoenix into a war zone.

Homicide Detective Veranda Cruz will stop at nothing to take down the Villalobos cartel. But when a wave of violence in the city escalates, she fears that the secrets of her past will take her down instead.

Adolfo Villalobos is a crime boss who’s determined to stake his claim. To prove that he’s ready to run his family’s sprawling criminal empire, he devises a plan to silence his siblings and destroy Veranda, leaving a trail of destruction through downtown Phoenix that makes national headlines. Veranda believes the task force she’s been assigned to lead will end the cartel’s reign of terror, until Adolfo’s revenge takes a cruel—and highly personal—twist.

Author Isabella Maldonado spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, PHOENIX BURNING:
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Exacting Justice by TG Wolff

An unknown killer is waging a war on drugs. The murders are horrendous but with a silver lining—now stop signs are the only objects lingering on corners in the city’s toughest neighborhoods. Half the city calls for the police to end the killer’s reign. The other half cheers the killer on, denouncing the tactics but celebrating the progress police haven’t been able to achieve.

The gritty details of Cleveland’s drug underworld are nothing new to Homicide Detective Jesus De La Cruz. Two years earlier, Cruz worked undercover narcotics and was poised for a promotion that would have placed him in a coveted position within the drug organization. The deal went bad. Now he has a new face, a new job, and a new case.

The killer moves through the streets with impunity, identity still unknown. Demands for progress from his superiors, accumulated grief of the victims’ relatives, growing pressure from the public, and elevated stress from his family quietly pull Cruz apart. With no out, the detective moves all in, putting his own head on the line to bait a killer.

The Big Thrill caught up to author TG Wolff to discuss her soon-to-be-released thriller, EXACTING JUSTICE:
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Bluff by Michael Kardos

At twenty-seven, magician Natalie Webb is already a has-been. A card-trick prodigy, she took first place at the World of Magic competition at eighteen and has never again reached such heights. Shunned by the magic world after a disastrous liaison with an older magician, she now lives alone in a New Jersey apartment with her pigeons and a pile of overdue bills. In a desperate ploy for extra cash, she follows up on an old offer to write for a glossy magazine and pitches the editor a seductive topic: the art of cheating at cards.

But when Natalie meets the perfect subject for her piece―a poker cheat who dazzles at sleight of hand―what begins as a journalistic gamble soon becomes a test of everything she thinks she knows about her talent, and herself. Natalie soon finds herself facing a dangerous proposition that could radically alter her fortune―to help pull off a $1.5 million magic trick that, if done successfully, no one will ever suspect happened. With Kardos raising the stakes chapter after chapter, BLUFF is a breathtaking work of suspense from a writer at the top of his game.

The Big Thrill caught up with award-winning author Michael Kardos to discuss his latest thriller, BLUFF:
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Last Seen by Rick Mofina

By Austin S. Camacho

Not all great thrillers are about global threats. Rick Mofina has created a pulse-pounding nail-biter focused on a single family’s trials in his latest standalone, LAST SEEN.

The story centers on Cal Hudson, a reporter who seems to be living the dream: he’s got a great job, a devoted wife, a loving son, and a home in a tranquil suburban community. That dream becomes a nightmare when the unthinkable happens, and his nine-year-old son is snatched. Hudson is a regular guy and a good man who, as it turns out, has done some terrible things and managed to keep them secret.

“His heart’s in the right place,” Mofina says, “but he’s far from perfect and when all seems lost he’s uncertain he can do the right thing.”

That may not make Cal a hero in the traditional sense, but it certainly makes him interesting. That’s one way this is not your typical thriller. Another is that the reader does not learn who the villain is until late in the narrative.

“We have a lot of suspects and a lot of threads that are tied to all the characters,” Mofina says. “The antagonist is woven into the fabric of the situation and emerges near the end.”

That doesn’t mean that LAST SEEN is totally plot driven. Along with that strong storyline there is no shortage of interesting, engaging people. Mofina clearly feels that a good story must have both: compelling, realistic characters and threatening situations that test them. The author may have a unique perspective on good people in menacing circumstances thanks to his own extensive career as a reporter.
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The Song of Geneva Chance by Keith Dixon

Paul Storey likes the idea of being a private detective, especially when his first case is to find two missing guitars belonging to a pop group who were big fifteen years ago. How hard could it be?

But he quickly learns the case isn’t really about a petty theft. Pretty soon there’s a murder, and a connection to large-scale drug smuggling, and to a pair of Albanian crooks who are looking to expand their operations and don’t care how they do it. In addition he finds himself drawn to the mysterious singer Geneva Chance, who has secrets of her own.

What seemed straight-forward becomes both complicated and dangerous.

THE SONG OF GENEVA CHANCE author, Keith Dixon, sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest thriller:
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In Silence Sealed by J. R. Lindermuth

Lydia, daughter of Swatara Creek Police Chief Aaron Brubaker, is accused of murdering her boyfriend, Jason Russell, handsome but feckless stepson of Clay Stoneroad, a famous writer who recently moved to a farm outside town.

Daniel ‘Sticks’ Hetrick, now a county detective, is determined to prove Lydia’s innocence. His job is made more difficult when the weapon her father insisted she carry is found missing.

Mysteries surround the Stoneroad family. Vickie Walker, a strange young woman also recently arrived in town, insists Nan Calder, the writer’s secretary, is her sister, a claim Calder denies. Then Diana Wozniak, reporter for a sleazy tabloid, is the victim of a hit-and-run accident and police learn she attempted to blackmail the writer.

The sudden disappearance of Lydia and Vickie puts Hetrick and his friends in a desperate race against time to find them, unravel secrets and apprehend the real killer.

The Big Thrill caught up to author J. R. Lindermuth to discuss his latest novel, IN SILENCE SEALED:
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