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The April edition of the Big Thrill is here!

29 new thrillers this month from ITW Members, plus a Between the Lines interview with Andrew Peterson by Brett King, the Top Ten Firearms Mistakes in Fiction by Chris Grall and News from South Africa by Michael Sears. Go behind the scenes as seven bestselling authors tell you about their courses at ITW's first-ever Online Thriller School. Have you registered yet? There are still a few spots left. Classes start April 7th!

CLICK HERE to read more!

Crime Fiction

Montecito Heights by Colin Campbell

Montecito Heights by Colin CampbellBy Sidney Williams

In MONTECITO HEIGHTS, Colin Campbell’s hero, Jim Grant aka the Resurrection Man, is drawn into a confluence of the strange spheres that help make up the contemporary American scene—drug cartels, reality television, politics and the porn industry. Thankfully the displaced British cop is up to the challenge.

That swirl of disparate components came about “by one of those happy accidents that often define a story” Campbell said recently. The first Grant adventure, JAMAICA PLAIN, brought the British cop to the U.S. to interview a prisoner in Boston. After being drawn into a race against time to avert a catastrophe, Grant was asked to stay on in the U.S., officially employed by the Boston P.D. but actually working for an unnamed government agency.

Campbell never wanted that stay to be in one place.

“The idea was that he could be used across the U.S., because they could always disown him if he overstepped the mark. So, after Boston it was a case of, where do I send him next? Somewhere different to the East Coast/New England vibe. So, West Coast.”

Campbell had been to Los Angeles for Bouchercon, so L.A. seemed like a nice place for Grant to visit, or a bad place for the sake of story.

“From there it was easy. The movie industry was the obvious first choice. Then I wanted an excuse to layer in added sex. Porn movies. Once those two were in the mix, I needed a reason why Grant was sent to L.A. Protect a senator’s daughter. Then add obstacles. I knew of the Steven Seagal show and thought having a TV producer pursue Grant as the next reality TV star would be a problem for him, but also a possible help. That’s when the strands turned into a rope and the plot took shape.”
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Blood Always Tells by Hilary Davidson

Blood Always Tells by Hilary DavidsonBy Josie Brown

Hilary Davidson seems to straddle two universes at all times. Both a journalist and a fiction author, Davidson has penned award-winning novels (she’s won both an Anthony and a Crimespree), as well as shorter stories, some of which have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery, Thuglit, Beat to a Pulp. She writes the celebrated Lily Moore mystery series, but doesn’t shy away from putting out a stand-alone novel when the story and characters need to be told and heard.

Case in point: Davidson’s latest book, BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS, in which murder, betrayal, and the mystery of a missing child provide answers to a long-buried family secret for the book’s hero and his wayward sister, who has taken part in a blackmail scheme gone wrong.

How did the idea for the plot for BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS come to you?

I was writing another book that one of the characters from BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS, Desmond Edgars, made a relatively small appearance in. Only instead of accepting the role of bit player that I had in mind for him, Desmond’s backstory started taking over. So I took a step back, put that book aside, and decided to start writing a novel that would focus on Desmond and his family instead.

It was a familiar process, in that I always start with a character and build from there, but in this case, I knew a lot of the plot of the book before I started writing, because it has started out as backstory. Sad to say, I’ve got some 40,000 words from the earlier book still lying around, unfinished.
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When Smiles Fade by Paige Dearth

When Smiles Fade by Paige DearthBy Tina Wainscott

Paige Dearth and I sat down at a virtual coffee shop on the streets of Paris (hey, why not?) to chat about her new book, WHEN SMILES FADE.

We want to know about the new book, WHEN SMILES FADE. What’s it about and why do you love it?

My story is about an innocent little girl.

Her name is Emma Murphy and she is unloved from the moment she is born. Her earliest memory is of being beaten by her father, Pepper, at just eight years of age. Beatings endured as a child ultimately lay the foundation of the person Emma becomes. As she matures into a resourceful teenager, she is unwilling and unable to stifle her desire to even the score. Reaching her breaking point, she can no longer control the impulse to take matters into her own hands. Follow Emma’s plight where her menacing thoughts become the answers to her survival. How far will a child go to protect herself and the people she loves? For Emma, it meant becoming a serial killer.

The reason I love WHEN SMILES FADE is because Emma never submits to abusive people. She does whatever it takes to stay alive and doesn’t dwell on the consequences of her actions against the ruthless predators who use cruelty and manipulation against their prey. As far as Emma is concerned, the killings are justified by the crimes her victims commit.

Readers love Emma because, while she is a serial killer, she is also a woman who is desperately seeking to be loved.

I cried and cheered for Emma throughout the writing process. This was a very emotional and exciting book to write.

Making Emma a killer can be tricky business as far as reader empathy. Did you worry about that aspect, and have you received any feedback on it?

Indeed! It was very tricky to make my protagonist a serial killer. In my initial draft, my editor felt there were two kills where the punishment wasn’t justified by the crime and thought my readers could lose empathy for Emma.
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Stay Dead by Anne Frasier

staydeadBy Dawn Ius

Some things refuse to STAY DEAD

After being kidnapped and tortured, homicide detective Elise Sandburg retreats to her aunt’s Georgia plantation to recover from her ordeal only to find herself pulled back into the darkness she thought she’d left behind.

That’s the haunting premise behind STAY DEAD, the latest Anne Frasier suspense novel, and the sequel to the successful, PLAY DEAD, featuring Sandburg and her partner, David Gould.

The two detectives are reunited in STAY DEAD, but Frasier says this is definitely “Elise’s book.”

“Elise, the mother of a teenage daughter, finds herself questioning the choices she’s made in her life, especially the choice to become a homicide detective,” she says. “We also see growth in the David and Elise relationship.”

But will the duo finally connect?

“I won’t give anything away,” Frasier says. “But there’s definitely more tension between the two characters.”
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Getting Warmer by Alan Carter

Getting Warmer by Alan Carter
Cato Kwong is back in Boom Town and back on a real case – the unsolved mystery of a missing fifteen-year-old girl. But it’s midsummer in the city of millionaires and it’s not just the heat that stinks.

A pig corpse, peppered with nails, is uncovered in a shallow grave and a body, with its throat cut, turns up in the local nightclub. As a series of blunders by Cato’s colleague brings the squad under intense scrutiny, Cato’s own sympathy for a suspect threatens to derail his case and his career.

*****

“GETTING WARMER is replete with such gems. It’s a winner.” ~THE SATURDAY AGE, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, CANBERRA TIMES

“… compelling crime drama …” ~OUT IN PERTH

“Descriptive, … witty, well researched and confident, this tale of crime in Australia’s ‘boom town’ is a rollicking good read for those who enjoy a thrilling story.”  ~MINESTYLE MAGAZINE

“GETTING WARMER is a great read …” ~THE WEST AUSTRALIAN

*****

Carter-Alan-headshotAlan Carter has been shortlisted for the prestigious UK CWA Debut Dagger Award and won the 2011 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction. He is a television documentary director and currently works for Who Do You Think You Are? on SBS1. Carter wrote his first book, PRIME CUT, while living as a ‘kept man’ in Hopetoun, on the south coast of WA. His new book is GETTING WARMER.

 

 

 

Stone Cold by C.J. Box

Stone Cold by C.J. BoxBy Jeff Ayers

In C.J. Box’s new thriller, STONE COLD, everything about the man is a mystery: the massive ranch in the remote Black Hills of Wyoming that nobody ever visits, the women who live with him, the secret philanthropies, the private airstrip, the sudden disappearances. And especially the persistent rumors that the man’s wealth comes from killing people. Joe Pickett, still officially a game warden but now mostly a troubleshooter for the governor, is assigned to find out what the truth is, but he discovers a lot more than he’d bargained for. There are two other men living up at that ranch. One is a stone-cold killer who takes an instant dislike to Joe. The other is new—but Joe knows him all too well. The first man doesn’t frighten Joe. The second is another story entirely.

C.J. Box utilizes the Wyoming landscape to create compelling stories, and his novels are some of the best thrillers currently being published.  If the situation is dire, Joe Pickett should be the first person to call.

THE BIG THRILL spoke to C.J. about his new book, STONE COLD.

What sparked the idea for Stone Cold?

I get ideas from all over, from headlines to snippets of conversation.  Several years ago, I met a third-generation family who ranched in a very remote (at the time) section of Wyoming.  They told me it was common knowledge that a local rancher had a lucrative side job as a professional hit man.  According to the family, the hit-man rancher would fly off in his private plane and return a few weeks later loaded with cash.  The locals kept it quiet, though, because the rancher was a great benefactor to the community.
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Chain Reaction by Diane Fanning

Chain Reaction by Diane FanningBy Dawn Ius

CHAIN REACTION is the explosive new novel from Diane Fanning—literally. It opens with a bomb.

The explosion kicks off the seventh book in Fanning’s crime series featuring Lt. Lucinda Pierce—a tough small-town cop with a troubled past and an admirable inner strength.

“I often model my characters after someone I wish I could be,” Fanning says, crediting a dear friend as the inspiration for Pierce. “Susan Murphy Milano was one of the pioneers in the fight against domestic violence. When she was in her early twenties, her father came home and shot his wife and then shot himself. I borrowed Susan’s strength and ability to cope for Lucinda.”

Pierce has a similar violent backstory, compounded by a number of fictional on-the-case traumas. While on the scene of a domestic violence case, Pierce dives to knock the potential gunshot victim out of harm’s way. The woman survives, but the bullet scrapes across Pierce’s face.

The resulting facial disfigurement—including a missing eye—really ramped up the character’s personal conflict.

“Not only did Lucinda have to deal with the comments and stares, but there was a political component to it as well,” says Fanning. “She had to adapt to shooting with one eye, and some people in law enforcement thought she should be behind a desk rather than out in the field.”
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The Lost Girls by Wendy James

The Lost Girls by Wendy JamesBy Cathy Clamp

Angie’s a looker. Or she’s going to be. She’s only fourteen, but already, heads turn wherever she goes. Male heads, mainly, and that isn’t a good thing. When Angie goes missing and is eventually found murdered, police have no leads and the case goes cold. Thirty years later, a journalist arrives with questions about the tragic event. The shocking truth of Angie’s last days will force her cousin Jane to question everything she once believed. Because nothing—not the past or even the present—is as she once imagined. A thought-provoking new novel by Australian author Wendy James, called “haunting” and “powerful” by early reviewers, is grabbing attention for the strong blend of suspense and drama. The winner of the Ned Kelly award for Best First Crime Novel knows her way around thrillers and this one will definitely gain her new international fans. Contributing editor Cathy Clamp sat down with the author to talk about THE LOST GIRLS.

You’ve mentioned that this book is loosely based on a murder in the 1940s. What grabbed your attention about the original crime that sparked the idea for this book?

The story was an interview—fifty or so years after the event—with a woman who had been a school mate of a young girl who went missing girl after going to the local milk bar one afternoon to get a loaf of bread for her mother. The girl’s body was found in a local cemetery the next day. She’d been murdered, strangled. The interviewed woman had a theory about what had happened all those years ago—a theory that was a long, long way from the direction the original police investigation had taken. It got me thinking about the idea of children knowing far more about such events than they let on, as well as the long term emotional impact of such knowledge, especially when added to the grief and trauma of losing a beloved family member in such circumstances.
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Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers by Robert S. Levinson

Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers by Robert S. LevinsonBy Austin Camacho

In his eleventh novel, Robert S. Levinson has crafted a thrilling, moving and very entertaining story. FINDERS KEEPERS LOSERS WEEPERS has enough twists and turns to keep even the sharpest mystery fan guessing to the end.

The story kicks off in 1989 when rock star Nat Axelrod is jailed on a bogus rape charge. He turns up nine years later searching for the girl whose false story landed him in prison. Nat’s life may drive this story, but Levinson wouldn’t describe him as a protagonist, but rather, as the catalyst.

“A crippled rock star, Nat’s release from prison sets him on a journey in pursuit of a lost love and brings into his orbit a diverse cast of characters—good, bad and evil—but none without sin and a few past redemption,” says Levinson. “Is Nat a hero? No, but he takes on something close to heroic proportions.”

The book is set in Indianapolis, but it is the music industry that really serves as the backdrop for this drama. In Levinson’s hands it shapes up to be a dangerous place where betrayal is a constant. Levinson comes by that view of the business honestly, through personal experience.
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The Barkeep by William Lashner

The Barkeep by William LashnerBy John Raab

William Lashner is back with his latest book THE BARKEEP. For readers just finding out about William, he is the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling creator of Victor Carl, who has been called by BOOKLIST one of the mystery novel’s “most compelling, most morally ambiguous characters.” William is coming off his last book THE ACCOUNTING which the Portland Book Review called “Fear and tension build from the start of the tale…a thrilling story cracking with suspense.” Readers will find this same type of suspense and thrills inside THE BARKEEP and in fact this is a good time to see a little peek inside the book.

Justin Chase is the perfect barkeep, tending bar as he lives his life, in a state of Zen serenity. At least until Birdie Grackle, a yellow-haired, foul-mouthed alcoholic from Texas, walks into his bar, orders a Mojito, and makes a startling confession.

Six years ago Justin’s life was ripped apart when he discovered his mother’s bludgeoned corpse in the foyer of the family home. Now Justin’s father is serving a life sentence and Justin, after a stint in an asylum, drowns his emotions in a pool of inner peace. But when Birdie Grackle claims to be the hit man who murdered Justin’s mother for the money, Justin is hurled back to the emotions, the past, and, most frightening of all, the father he tried to leave behind.

Who hired Birdie Grackle to kill Justin’s mother? Was it Annie Overmeyer, the sexy young woman with whom Justin’s father had been having an affair? Was it Justin’s brother, who took advantage of his father’s conviction to take control of the family business? Was it someone from his mother’s secret life, the shocking details of which Justin is only learning now? Or was it maybe his imprisoned father, to whom Justin is suddenly growing dangerously close? For all of Justin’s efforts to banish emotion and attachment from his life, this searing journey into his past affects him in ways he could never have anticipated.
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The Contractors by Harry Hunsicker

The Contractors by Harry HunsickerBy Jeremy Burns

Harry Hunsicker made a name for himself as the author of the Lee Henry Oswald detective series a few years ago (note the middle name), but now he’s back with a new protagonist, a new series, and a whole new take on a controversial topic: private military contractors. THE CONTRACTORS, the first book in his new Jonathan Cantrell series, releases this month, and Hunsicker sat down with THE BIG THRILL to take new and returning readers behind the curtain of his latest thriller.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m the former executive vice president of the Mystery Writers of America. My fourth novel, THE CONTRACTORS, was published in February 2014. My work has been shortlisted for the Shamus and Thriller Awards. I live in Dallas.

Tell us about your new thriller, THE CONTRACTORS.

My new thriller imagines what would happen if private military contractors operated inside the borders of the United States.

The story is about two law enforcement contractors working as DEA agents who confiscate the wrong shipment of drugs and end up with the witness in a big cartel trial. Everybody wants the witness dead as well as whomever she’s been in contact with. In order to stay alive, the main character and his partner have to safely transport the witness across Texas to a courthouse in the Big Bend area.
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Final Justice by Rick Reed

Final Justice by Rick ReedBy Christine Goff

Killing has become a team sport. To play the game, Detective Jack Murphy has to identify all the players. He is definitely having a bad day when his ex-wife Katie announces her engagement to Eric Manson, the Chief Deputy Prosecutor, and the body parts of a young woman show up in the town landfill. Then it’s learned the body parts belong to Nina Parsons, who was not only a deputy prosecutor, but the rumored lover of the man Jack’s ex-wife is about to marry. Thirst for greed and power can drive good men to commit evil acts. Political interference twists and turns the investigation, but it’s up to Jack and his partner, Liddell Blanchard, to keep the heads from rolling. Literally. Jack knows the criminal justice system sometimes fails, but he has no doubt that this time there will be FINAL JUSTICE.

FINAL JUSTICE, the third book in the Jack Murphy thrillers, was released in January to great critical acclaim.

“Rick Reed, retired homicide detective and author brings his impressive writing skills to the world of fiction. This is as authentic and scary as crime thrillers get.” —Nelson DeMille

“A jaw-dropping thriller.”—Gregg Olsen

Rick Reed is a retired crime fighter. In thirty years on the job, he worked in Criminal Investigations, Internal Affairs, and as a Crisis Management/Hostage Negotiator and a U.S. Secret Service-trained handwriting expert. He knows of what he writes. During his career he successfully investigated numerous high-profile rapes, robberies, and murder cases, including the capture of a serial killer who claimed thirteen victims before strangling and dismembering his girlfriend. Reed’s acclaimed true-crime book, BLOOD TRAIL, is the account of that story.
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Dying to Know by Alison Joseph

Dying to Know by Alison JosephBy Christina Ironstone

Alison Joseph ’s new novel DYING TO KNOW hit bookstores on December 11th.  She’s known for her work on the Sister Agnes series.  Sister Agnes is a nun with a knack for solving crimes.  However in Joseph’s newest novel readers are introduced to an entirely new protagonist to cheer for, Detective Inspector Berenice Killick. Below Alison tells THE BIG THRILL about her new novel and a few neat facts about herself too. Enjoy!

Please tell us about DYING TO KNOW.

DYING TO KNOW is a crime novel about particle physics. It starts with what seems to be a serial killer of physicists, based at a (fictional) particle collider in Kent. The police get involved, in particular D I Berenice Killick, who is put in charge of the investigation. But other characters get drawn in too; the first physicist to be killed has a wife, Virginia, who seems strangely unmoved by his death. And there is a clergyman to whom she turns, and who, for reasons of his own, also gets entangled in the investigation.

How does Berenice Killick differ from Sister Agnes? What inspired you to make such a jump?

Sister Agnes is a lovely character to write, and I shall return to her. But I have become interested in trying to write about the reality of a murder enquiry, and, of course, a detective nun is all very well, but in real, contemporary life, it’s the police who are the ones investigating murder. So, it was a matter of time before I jumped in and began to tackle the realities of a police murder enquiry. Berenice is very interesting. She’s mixed race, from Yorkshire, and the collapse of a very unsuitable relationship with a married man has caused her move to Kent. She is an outsider, but then I think the archetypal detective always has that about him or her.
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Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells

Dirty Magic by Jaye WellsBy Michael Haskins

Jaye Wells is the bestselling author of urban fantasy. Her new book, DIRTY MAGIC, is released this month from Little, Brown & Co., as a trade paperback original.

Jaye graciously agreed to sit down with THE BIG THRILL and answer some questions about the new book and her work.

Can you give us an elevator pitch for DIRTY MAGIC?

DIRTY MAGIC is the first book in my new Prospero’s War speculative crime fiction series. Kate Prospero, a former coven member turned cop, gets promoted from walking the beat to a federal task force that’s trying to track down the source of a dirty magic potion that turns its users into werewolf-like creatures. The top suspect is a member of her old coven—and her former lover—who’s determined to bring Kate back into the dirty magic game.

What led you to create Kate Prospero? Any autobiographical in her?

I wanted to write about a cop because I wanted to write an episodic crime fiction series, but as it happens there is some autobiography in that my mother was a cop. When I was in preschool, she spent her days working at a bookstore and her nights tracking down perps as a reserve officer. She was also a single mother, which is similar to Kate’s situation as the guardian of her little brother, Danny. I didn’t take any specific details from her experiences, but it’s nice to be able to call her up and ask research questions.
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Leverage by Dan Doeden

Leverage cvr“You either find my kid, or lose your own.”

It’s an offer private dick Frank Via – reformed mobster and failed father – can’t refuse, when his former capo summons him to find his estranged stepdaughter, who has disappeared with the Mob’s books.

*****

Leverage is a character-driven, action-packed thriller peppered with the kind of adult language, realistic violence, and black humor that makes Mob stories so exciting—and so much fun . . .
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The Price of Innocence by Lisa Black

The Price of Innocence by Lisa BlackBy Sandra Parshall

Lisa Black could never be accused of writing the same story over and over. Her thriller series featuring Cleveland forensic scientist Theresa Maclean has tackled topics ranging from serial killers (including Cleveland’s version of Jack the Ripper) to a hostage situation in a bank to the murder of a former escort to a little girl nicknamed Ghost who has witnessed her mother’s murder – and more.

As a working crime scene and death investigator, first in Cleveland and now in Cape Coral, Florida, Black uses realistic procedural details in her fiction and doesn’t bend the truth the way television crime shows often do. A string of rave reviews praising her quick pacing and absorbing plots indicate that realism doesn’t have to slow down a story.

Black’s latest novel, THE PRICE OF INNOCENCE, begins with Theresa caught in an explosion that might have been intended to kill a local inventor/entrepreneur. When federal investigators take over the case, Theresa tries to settle back into the normal run of cases at work, only to have a police officer murdered in front of her. Theresa’s investigation draws her into the world of methamphetamine production, where she uncovers a circle of new money and power, a conspiracy of silence going back twenty years – and connections between the explosion and the cop killing.

What inspired her new book? Was it a situation, a person, an intriguing real-life crime?
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Until Death by James L. Thane

Until Death by James L. ThaneBy Lee Lindauer

It’s summer in the Valley of the Sun; the temperature’s rising and so is the body count. One of the city’s most exclusive escorts has misplaced her little black book and someone’s turned it into a hit list. Now Phoenix homicide detective Sean Richardson must stop a clever and elusive killer who’s bent on administering a very personal form of justice, until he can, some of the city’s most affluent citizens will pay the ultimate price for their sexual indiscretions…

Now that the jacket excerpt to the novel, UNTIL DEATH, has my attention, I really wondered how hot it would get in Phoenix snuggled up with this whodunit. So what better way to answer that question than to get a few answers from the author himself, James L. Thane.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your assortment of interesting jobs you’ve held over the years? From gas station attendant to PhD is pretty impressive, care to elaborate?

I went to work at a very early age as the janitor in my father’s dry cleaning plant and as I got older, I graduated through most of the other jobs in the plant, including delivery boy, dry cleaner and presser.

Once in college, I held a number of jobs including selling parts at an auto dealership and working at a couple of gas stations. I also worked the swing shift at a lumber mill where I was a sawyer and also the ambulance driver on my shift. That was the hardest physical work I’ve ever done, as well as the scariest. Being nineteen years old and having to first race some poor guy to the hospital and then call his wife at 1:00 in the morning to tell her that her husband had just cut off some vital body part was absolutely no fun at all.
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Chilled to the Bone by Quentin Bates

Chilled to the Bone by Quentin BatesBy George Ebey

Quentin Bates’ latest thriller, CHILLED TO THE BONE, is the fourth book in his series featuring Iceland-based police sergeant, Gunnhildur Gisladottir.

When a ship-owner is found dead, tied to a bed in one of Reykjavik’s smartest hotels, Sergeant Gunnhildur Gisladottir of the city police force sees no evidence of foul play but still suspects things are not as cut and dried as they seem.  As she investigates the ship-owners untimely – and embarrassing – demise, she stumbles across a discreet bondage society whose members are being systematically exploited and blackmailed.

But how does all this connect to a local gangster recently returned to Iceland after many years abroad, and the unfortunate loss of a government laptop containing sensitive data about various members of the ruling party? What begins as a straightforward case for Gunnhildur soon explodes into a dangerous investigation, uncovering secrets that ruthless men are ready to go to violent extremes to keep.

I recently caught up with Mr. Bates to learn more about the background of Sargent Gisladottir and the world of Iceland-based crime fiction.
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Grey Lady by Paul Kemprecos

Grey Lady Cover_Rev02bFisherman, diver and part-time PI Aristotle Socarides is hired to help in the defense of a deranged homicide suspect from an old Nantucket family. Complicating his job is his feud with a Russian KGB mogul, a case of cannibalism on the high seas, the search for a whaling artifact with a bloody past, Cold War secrets and underwater technology with deadly potential.

*****

“What a character. Aristotle Socarides….can’t seem to stay out of trouble. He’s the brainchild of a genius-Paul Kemprecos-who knows a thing or two about writing action and adventure. I bow to the master.” –Steve Berry

“#1New York Times best-selling author Paul Kemprecos shows once again that he is the undisputed master of high-action adventure, better on his own than his former co-author Clive Cussler period. Masterfully paced and brilliantly constructed, this is reading entertainment of the highest order.” –Jon Land
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Country Hardball by Steve Weddle

Country_Hardball_coverBy Robert Rotstein

debut-authorThe title of Steve Weddle’s debut novel, COUNTRY HARDBALL, comes from a baseball term that refers to a player’s willingness to play the game at an elemental level, to inflict and absorb punishment when necessary. Weddle’s series of linked stories recounts the lives of residents of an Arkansas town who, because of the devastating economic downturn, must play “good old country hardball” to survive.

After a family tragedy and years in prison, Roy Alison returns to his rural hometown, determined to become a better person, a different person. But the town’s grim economic circumstances, along with events from Roy’s dark past, conspire to force him back into his old ways. As he chronicle’s Roy’s quest for redemption, Weddle tells the story of a single father struggling to raise a sensitive, frightened son; of parents who hope that sports will save their child from a life of poverty; of a shy teenager who misses the chance to express his love to the girl he adores, with dire consequences; and of families devastated by drugs, financial hardship, and war.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have an MFA in poetry, taught college for a while, then settled into newspapers. My family and I live in Virginia.

Give us an elevator pitch for COUNTRY HARDBALL.

A young man tries to leave behind the jails and halfway houses by moving in with his grandmother, back to his Arkansas hometown, but he’s caught up in a devastated economy and a past that won’t let go. Working with a family friend, he finds his chance to make a positive difference, a redemption of sorts. The question is whether he’ll make the right choice—or whether it’s already too late.
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Tooth for a Tooth by T. Frank Muir

Tooth for a Tooth by T. Frank MuirBy Jeff Ayers

When a woman’s skeleton is discovered in a shallow grave DCI Andy Gilchrist is tasked with finding her murderer. But a psychic’s warnings and markings on a rusted cigarette lighter found among the rotted remains take Gilchrist on a journey into his own past that brings him closer to discovering the identity of his brother’s killer from a hit-and-run case some thirty-five years before.

When dental records from an extracted tooth force Gilchrist to confront the unthinkable—that his brother was her killer—he keeps his fears to himself, only to be suspended on suspicion of destroying evidence.
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Burnt Black by Ed Kovacs

burntblack_homeNew Orleans Homicide Detective Cliff St. James and his partner Honey are still trying to piece their lives together a year and a half after a killer storm decimated the city. Having fully recovered from near death at the hands of assassins, St. James is now in top fighting form and his sideline martial arts dojo is thriving. But physical ability plays little importance in the bizarre case he and Honey are now ensnared in—a succession of baffling deaths tied to a secretive occult group.

The investigation not only proves frustrating, but also drives a wedge between St. James and Honey, putting tremendous pressure on their relationship. As they probe the puzzling, ritualistic deaths, they uncover high strangeness in the freakish New Orleans netherworld of alternative spiritual beliefs.

Pushing forward an investigation fraught with strange occurrences and brutal death, St. James and Honey catch nothing but bad breaks as they struggle to determine which of their suspects is the killer, or perhaps the next victim.

The author recently answered a few questions for The BIG THRILL:

Burnt Black is your third novel in the Cliff St. James series.  The description sounds like a mystery concerning the occult.  Is this a supernatural thriller?

No.  My heroes face some baffling events, but the killer is all flesh and blood.  New Orleans is a city rich with kind of a scary, voodoo/hoodoo/woowoo past, as evidenced that its cemeteries are huge tourist attractions.  Strange things happen there.  Since my detective hero and his pal Honey are such physically tough characters, I thought it would be interesting to place them in opposition to what appear to be non-physical threats that can’t be overcome with fists or guns.  Their investigation forces them to examine their own beliefs toward the occult, but the book isn’t fantasy or sci-fi.
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Silencing Eve by Iris Johansen

silencing eve#1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Iris Johansen is back with the shocking conclusion to the latest Eve Duncan trilogy.

This is the finale that fans have been waiting for.  In TAKING EVE, the game began.  In HUNTING EVE, the chase was on.  Now, in SILENCING EVE, the prey is cornered.  Will Eve Duncan survive?  Will those she loves take the fall with her? And will the secrets of Eve’s past ultimately become her undoing?  In Silencing Eve, all the questions will be answered in a shocking, you never saw it coming conclusion.

Iris Johansen’s 2012 trilogy, Eve, Quinn, Bonnie was a phenomenal success, reaching number one on bestseller lists nationwide.  Now, with this newest trilogy, the stakes are even higher because it’s a question of capture and escape, hunter and prey, life and death.
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Hell’s Door by Sandy DeLuca

hells_door
Detective Lacy Powers and her partner John Demmings are stalking a sadistic killer down the rainy streets and back alleys of Providence. Together they go undercover into a dark and perverse subculture, where pimps, hookers and sexual deviants gather at an underground nightclub called Hell’s Door. There they come face-to-face with their prime suspect, a charismatic and dangerous woman named Ramsay Wolfe.

But Ramsay might be working in concert with a tortured soul who calls himself Gabriel, an elusive drifter who records each detail of the killings, leaving notebook pages spattered with victims’ blood as evidence.

As the headless bodies and blood-soaked crime scenes continue to mount, Lacey and John have few leads and minimal evidence. Will they catch the real killer before it’s too late…or will they meet their demise at Hell’s Door?
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Crimes of Memory by L.J. Sellers

Crimes of Memory medBy Robert Rotstein

L.J. Sellers writes the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery series—a two-time Readers Favorite Award winner—as well as provocative standalone thrillers. Her novels have been highly praised by reviewers, and her Jackson books are the highest-rated crime fiction on Amazon. L.J. resides in Eugene, Oregon where her novels are set and is an award-winning journalist who earned the Grand Neal. When not plotting murders, she enjoys standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She’s also been known to jump out of airplanes.

In CRIMES OF MEMORY, the eighth in her Detective Jackson series, Jackson returns to the Eugene, Oregon Police Department after a leave of absence resulting from a personal tragedy. He’s immediately assigned to investigate the homicide of a man who lived in a storage unit. Another homeless man is on the scene, his face covered in blood. Jackson soon learns that the murder victim was involved in an old bank robbery that hasn’t been fully solved. While Jackson is off investigating the crime, his troubled daughter runs away from home. Without a full taskforce, distracted with worry, Jackson must work the homicide around the clock.

Across town, a firebomb explodes at a bottled water factory. Undercover FBI agent Jamie Dallas suspects a violent eco-terrorist group of committing the crime and fears that the group is about to strike again.

In the course of investigating the homicide, Detective Jackson discovers a shocking connection between the murder and the eco-terrorist crimes.
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Firefall by J. H. Bográn

FirefallBy Don Helin

In FIREFALL, J. H. Bográn unleashes a plot so exciting that Joe Moore, international bestselling co-author of THE BLADE and THE PHOENIX APOSTLES says, “From the power plays of an international band of car thieves to the behind-the-scenes of insurance fraud cases, all topped with a riveting and suspenseful climax, FIREFALL is an action-packed thriller. The small-dosed chapters, amidst exotic locations, won’t let you put the book down until you reach the end of this hell of a ride!”

After losing his wife and son in an air crash, former NYC firefighter Sebastian Martin is spiraling downward into alcoholic oblivion. Then his brother sets him up with a last-chance job investigating insurance fraud, but his first case takes a deadly turn as he crosses paths with an international ring of car thieves.  Sebastian ends up strapped to a chair facing torture at the hands of a former KGB trainee who enjoys playing with fire on his victims to get answers.

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the Short Fiction Writers Guild and the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator and contributing editor for their official e-zine, THE BIG THRILL.

I had a chance to catch up with Jose and ask him a few questions.

Is there anything special you’d like to tell us about FIREFALL?

Although FIREFALL is not my first novel, it is in fact the first one where I use my home country as a setting. For a long time, the working title of the book was Highland Creek which is an actual place in Tela, Honduras. It is also the place where the events of the climax occur.
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Chasing Charlie Chan by J. L. Abramo

Chan Front FinalRESURRECTING JIMMY PIGEON

“Mr. Diamond, I came here to talk about my husband.”

“Of course you did, Evelyn,” I said. I think my voice may have cracked. “Have you thought about going to the police?”

“Finding my husband is already of interest to the Los Angeles Police Department, Mr. Diamond. I was hoping you could help me locate him before they do.”

“Why are the police interested in locating your husband?” I plowed on.

“They suspect he killed his business partner.”

“And why would they think that?”

“My husband’s gun was found beside the body.”

“Did he do it?”

“I don’t believe so.”

“But the murder weapon was found at the scene, and it belonged to your husband. Any theories about that?”

“My husband kept the gun in his office. The victim was killed in the office adjacent to his. The police have little else to go on.”

“And?”

“They seem unwillingly to grant that almost anyone could have taken the weapon and killed my husband’s associate.”

There you go, it could have been anyone. That should convince a jury.
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Speak of the Devil by Allison Leotta

Speak of the Devil 2By Austin Camacho

Some of the best thrillers are written by people who have stared down evil themselves.  For that reason, Allison Leotta is eminently qualified to write a bone-chilling novel about current, real-life villains.  She proves that in her latest exciting book, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL.

The novel follows Anna Curtis as she works to stop a vicious street gang before it destroys more lives, including her own family.  Curtis is an inspiring protagonist, having worked her way up out of a dark and difficult childhood to attend law school. She has become a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington D.C. dealing with some of the worst criminals.

“She handles sex-crime and domestic violence cases,” Leotta says.  “She is very intense and passionate about her career – but she can have a good time when she leaves the office.  She has a complicated love life, and doesn’t always make the best decisions about men.”

But in this novel Curtis gets engaged.  And on that same night, a terrifying man known as Diablo leads a vicious attack on a brothel. Anna is assigned to investigate and bring “the devil” to justice. The investigation soon leads Anna to MS-13, one of America’s most brutal street gangs.  This is no fictional gang of killers, as Leotta knows well.  For many years she held the job she has written Curtis into and brings her real-life experience into the novel.

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Unseen by Karin Slaughter

UnseenJacketBy L.J. Sellers

“Undercover work is a great opportunity to be somebody else and be someplace else,” says Karin Slaughter about her new thriller UNSEEN, the eighth in the Will Trent series. The title comes from the protagonist’s assignment, in which he disappears, even from his love, Sara Linton, and the novel pits detectives, lovers, and enemies against one another in an unforgettable standoff between righteous courage and deepest evil.

Slaughter says a main motivation for writing the story was to see her character in the undercover role, both for herself and her readers, who know about his background as a UC agent, but had never seen him act out that role. “It was challenging for him,” Slaughter says, because his character had “finally reached a good place and he had to temporarily walk away from all of it.”

Talented writers like to challenge themselves and their characters, so in addition to putting Will into a new role, the author also set the story in a new location, Macon, Georgia, and brought back Grant County series character Lena Adams. “Lena has a habit of making readers really pleased or really annoyed,” Slaughter says, then adds, “But there’s lots of sex and violence, so readers looking for that should be happy.”

For the uninitiated, here are two chunks of the back cover copy: Will Trent is a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent whose latest case has him posing as Bill Black, a scary ex-con who rides a motorcycle around Macon, Georgia, and trails an air of violence wherever he goes…. Although she has no idea where Will has gone, or why, Sara herself has come to Macon because of a cop shooting: Her stepson, Jared, has been gunned down in his own home. Furious, Sara finds herself involved in the same case that Will is working without even knowing it, and soon danger is swirling around both of them.
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Stranded by Alex Kava

StrandedBy Nate Kenyon

Alex Kava is the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Maggie O’Dell series of thrillers, beloved by millions of fans worldwide. Kava’s novels have been translated into over twenty-five languages and have been bestsellers in Australia, Germany, Poland, Italy and the UK. She is a founding member of the International Thriller Writers.

Tell us about your upcoming novel STRANDED. What inspired this idea of a prolific serial killer hunting the nation’s rest stops?

In the past ten years I’ve traveled a lot. A good deal of it has been driving the interstates and of course, using rest stops or truck stops. When I was researching FIREPROOF I discovered that the FBI has something called the Highway Serial Killings Initiative. They started it in 2009 in an effort to track and share data of unsolved murders along the interstate systems. That was all I needed for my imagination to take off – that, and another road trip.

After eleven novels your beloved character Maggie O’Dell is still going strong. How do you keep her fresh and interesting in your own mind—and in the minds and hearts of your fans?

She wasn’t always “beloved” by me. I didn’t start off writing a series. My first publisher and readers loved the character and insisted on a sequel and then another and another. I didn’t even read very many series novels, so the whole time I was writing those first novels, I was learning about Maggie along with the readers. Now I realize that was a good thing. It kept me poking and prodding Maggie to see what made her tick.
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