Saralyn Richard was already an award-winning children’s book author when she started her first police procedural. She hadn’t set out to write a series, but when she began crafting the story of an elegant birthday party gone wrong, Detective Oliver Parrott emerged as a character she wanted to explore more deeply. Smart, professional, and determined, Parrott was someone readers could root for. It wasn’t long before they started clamoring, “More Parrott, please,” and Richard was happy to oblige.
Asked what she enjoys about the genre, she says, “I’ve always loved mysteries, mostly for the intellectual and emotional puzzles they offer. In no other genre are authors and readers so tightly bound together in the thinking process. I also love the endless variety of plot structures and writing strategies that keep mysteries fresh and creative.”
Richard’s series gives readers a glimpse into the lives of the privileged and powerful in America’s Brandywine Valley. In the first book, Murder in the One Percent, someone comes to an elaborate birthday party “with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket.” The second, A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER, involves a theft in Brandywine’s prestigious art community.
Ohio, 1926: For many years, the railroad track in Moonvale Tunnel has been used as a shortcut through the Appalachian hills. When an elderly woman is killed walking along the tracks, the brakeman tells tales of seeing a ghostly female figure dressed all in white.
Newly elected Sheriff Lily Ross is called on to the case to dispel the myths, but Lily does not believe that an old woman would wander out of the hills onto the tracks.
With the help of her friend Marvena Whitcomb, Lily follows the woman’s trail to The Hollows—an asylum in northern Athens County—and they begin to expose secrets long-hidden by time and the mountains.
The Big Thrill got a sneak peek into the mind of author Jess Montgomery about the second book in her historical Kinship mystery series, THE HOLLOWS:
By George Ebey
David William Pearce brings us the second book in his Monk Buttman series, A TWINKLE IN THE EYES OF GOD.
Having successfully survived the Marshan affair, Monk Buttman is looking forward to nothing more than a peaceful life filled with days at the beach. However, an unexpected call from his estranged daughter, Rebekah, pulls Monk back to Virginia and back through his past, something he doesn’t want to do. But family ties run deep, and before Monk can think it through, he, Agnes, and Rebekah find themselves on the road searching for Rebekah’s runaway husband, encountering ghosts and angels, God and love, and murder along the way.
The Big Thrill recently checked in with Pearce to learn more about Monk Buttman and his ongoing series of adventures.
By Terri Nolan
The team behind the Renee Patrick pseudonym—Rosemarie and Vince Keenan—grew up in Queens, New York, separated by a few subway stops, but met for the first time in Florida. The married authors are self-described lovers of movies, cocktails, and the New York Jets. Their first novel, Design for Dying—set in 1937 Los Angeles—was published one month before their 25th wedding anniversary. Sounds like a terrific bit for a screenplay, right? It is.
And even more exciting is their third novel.
SCRIPT FOR SCANDAL defies the subgenre box and offers something juicy for every type of mystery lover, be it cozy, noir, suspense, thriller, or the classic whodunit. It takes place in Los Angeles, 1939. World War II is coming. Global political maneuvering is of everyday interest to the populace. Going to the theatre to watch a movie is a favorite entertainment and an escape from reality. The desire of many men and women to make it big in Hollywood is a proverbial dream. Gossip about the rich and famous is an anticipated cocktail party pastime. The Los Angeles Police Department is at its crimefighting best and corrupt worst. Gangsters want a piece of Hollywood glitz and the payday that comes with success. Unions flex their muscle and power. Glamorous movie stars are on parade and we readers get to experience the inner workings of moviemaking. All this and more is wrapped in a neat and thrilling package more commonly known as a novel that should be made into a big screen movie.
Nikki Garcia, former international fraud auditor turned private investigator, escapes to Spain to avoid death threats on her last assignment in Mexico. A week later, Nikki and her fiancé, Eduardo, find themselves caught up in a terrorist attack at one of Barcelona’s major tourist attractions.
As events unravel, Nikki discovers she is being stalked, worse, she may have been the target of the deadly bombing. To find out who has plotted against her, they consider international connections to people she encountered in her past investigations in Latin America.
Weaving their way through Barcelona in an attempt to get facts, Nikki and Eduardo further endanger their lives upon discovering a series of suspects, from flamenco dancers to foreign nationals.
Will they be able to outsmart the would-be assassin’s attempts on Nikki’s life?
Kathryn Lane spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing the next installment in the Nikki Garcia series, REVENGE IN BARCELONA:
One night in Rome. One car. One dead scientist. Italian police investigate, but in the end, all they have are kind words for the new widow. Months later, a video emerges challenging the facts. Had he stepped into traffic, or was he pushed? The widow returns to the police, but they have little interest and no answers. Exit the widow.
Enter Diamond. One name for a woman with one purpose. Resurrecting her CIA cover, she follows the shaky video down the rabbit hole. Her widow’s run unearths a plethora of suspects: the small-time crook, the mule-loving rancher, the lady in waiting, the Russian bookseller, the soon-to-be priest. Following the stink greed leaves in its wake reveals big lies and ugly truths.
Murder is filthy business. Good thing Diamond plays dirty.
WIDOW’S RUN author T. G. Wolff spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller:
When reclusive, retired silver screen actress Barbara Lace dies in her bed, only the young widower of Cedarville suspects a crime. But Samson Delaware has always been something of an outsider, and his wife’s death hasn’t exactly improved his reputation. In fact, the local gossipmongers think he might be losing his mind. Their bless-your-heart manners can’t disguise their distrust, which makes his amateur attempts at an investigation even more difficult.
When Lace’s assistant is found decidedly murdered, the town starts to change its tune, though, and soon Samson finds himself in the thick of an improbable chase. Hollywood hotshots and small-town law enforcement make strange bedfellows—especially when secrets are getting women killed.
The Big Thrill caught up to author Erica Wright just in time to discuss her latest mystery, FAMOUS IN CEDARVILLE:
Emily Burton found happiness in a small, picturesque town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Her sense of peace and security is shattered when she’s brutally attacked, and an innocent person is murdered. The authorities believe the incident is random, until Emily becomes the target of further violence and threats.
With the help of her enigmatic neighbor, she uncovers an eerily similar crime that dates back 60 years. Could there be a connection between the two attacks? Did malevolence stretch its deadly arm across generations?
Emily is convinced there’s a link, but she needs to find it before it finds her.
Author A. J. McCarthy spent a few minutes with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery, LEGACY OF FEAR:
By Don Helin
Between fending off the advances of her parole officer and trying to get by in 1978 San Francisco, private investigator Colleen Hayes struggles to put her life back together so she can reconnect with her runaway teenage daughter. She accepts a case from a wealthy, retired industrialist dying of cancer who is desperate to solve the brutal murder of his own daughter that took place in Golden Gate Park 11 years earlier—during the Summer of Love. Colleen must find the killer so that her client might die in peace.
The investigation turns deadly as Colleen digs in. But there is little to go on. Until a song on the radio makes her wonder—did the murdered girl leave a clue others may have missed?
The Big Thrill had the opportunity to talk to author Max Tomlinson and ask him a few questions about his latest release, VANISHING IN THE HAIGHT.
State Trooper Jim Duncan’s quiet overnight shift turns deadly when fire destroys a ski lodge at a local resort and the first responders find a man’s body inside. What starts as a suspicious accident quickly becomes sinister when the autopsy proves the victim is not the man who rented the cabin. Jim’s left with three questions. Who is John Doe? Why was he at the ski lodge? And who hated him enough to kill him?
Assistant Public Defender Sally Castle, still reeling after the events of several months earlier, tries to bury her feelings of guilt and fear in her work. When an anonymous note from a secret admirer arrives at the courthouse, she brushes it off as an empty threat. As the missives, each one darker than the last, continue to arrive at her office as well as her home, Sally is forced to review all of the possibilities. Is the letter writer a person from her legal past? Or is the threat closer to home?
As the questions multiply, Jim and Sally are thrown into a race to find a murderer as well as a stalker…before Sally ends up facing more than an unwanted pen pal.
The Big Thrill caught up with author Liz Milliron, and she was kind enough to take a few minutes and discuss the second installment of her Laurel Highlands mystery series, HEAVEN HAS NO RAGE:
By George Ebey
Robert J. Randisi takes us into the world of a private detective in his latest outing, THE HEADSTONE DETECTIVE AGENCY.
John Headston is a private detective who, early in his career, was very successful, running a 12-man operation called the Headstone Detective Agency, mainly because the guy who painted the name on the door added the “e” at the end without realizing it was wrong. As the book opens, however, Headston is now 50, and the agency is down to just him. In his past he had run-ins with not only the law, but also the New York State agency that had licensed him. As a result he spent some time in jail and had his license revoked. Now he has it back, and he’s trying to get started again. His first case is a missing persons case, a wealthy woman whose husband just seems to have vanished from his Wall Street stockbroker job. Headston finds the man, who is now living under very odd circumstances, but the missing persons case quickly turns to murder. Aided by a tattooed young lady who decides she should work for him, Headston decides to work on the murder case while attempting to avoid running afoul of the law and having his license revoked again—possibly for good this time.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with Randisi to learn more about this story and his insights into suspense fiction.
The Giants are hanging on to the slim hope of a spot in the Major League baseball playoffs.
The Forty-Niners are hoping for their first win of the season after three losses.
Vinnie “Strings” Stradivarius is in the intensive care ward at St. Francis Memorial Hospital—and Jake Diamond is hoping Vinnie will both survive and avoid a homicide indictment if he pulls through.
Vinnie has been double-crossed, shot, and left for dead at a crime scene, and he is the chief suspect in the murder of one of the city’s most influential businessmen.
Anyone who knows Vinnie knew he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
But the district attorney and the San Francisco Police Department brass don’t know him—and they don’t care. There’s pressure from the mayor’s office and the public is calling for a quick indictment and conviction—and Vinnie is handy.
Jake Diamond has a strong dislike of the double-cross. If asked why the chicken crossed the road, Jake would suggest the road had crossed the chicken.
In a race against time—with the help of Darlene Roman, Detective Sergeant Roxton Johnson of the SFPD, Sonny “The Chin” Badalamenti, bookmaker William “Big Bill” Conway, and mob underboss Tony Carlucci—Jake frantically scrambles to find answers before the case is closed with Vinnie taking the fall.
In Abramo’s first Jake Diamond mystery since the Shamus Award-winning Circling the Runway, Jake is determined to prove that you cross the chicken at your own risk. The Big Thrill caught up to the award-winning author to discuss his latest mystery, CROSSING THE CHICKEN:
The rainbows-and-unicorns period of her friends-to-lovers relationship with Mike Finnegan officially over, Karina Cardinal is taking a tactical retreat. No way is she calling him for rescue from one of her infamous “scrapes.” Too bad trouble, if not her middle name, is a close relative.
Sadira Manon, friend and colleague of Karina’s sister Jillian, has been dropping way too much cash on designer labels for a middle school teacher. Even one who moonlights as a jewelry store clerk. But when she’s accused of theft, the loose diamond falling out of her purse is enough for the police to sing the song of their people—”Miranda Rights.”
Karina, Jilly, and Silverthorne Security join forces to investigate who’s setting Sadira up to take a fall, and why. They dig up a shady tangle of Russian mob ties and gambling debts. By the time Karina realizes they’ve dug too deep—and maybe a little too far outside the law—Jillian’s in trouble, and the only way out of this particular pot of hot water is to make that phone call…and hope Mike doesn’t let it go to voicemail.
International bestselling and award-winning author Ellen Butler stopped by The Big Thrill to tell us about book three in the Karina Cardinal mystery series, DIAMONDS & DECEPTION:
Private investigator August Riordan returns to San Francisco to avenge the death of his friend and one-time partner, Chris Duckworth. Duckworth had taken over Riordan’s old business, his old office, and even his old apartment, and Riordan suspects Duckworth’s death is linked to the missing person case he was working when he died.
An alluring young woman named Angelina hired Duckworth to look for her half-sister, but what Riordan finds instead is a murderous polyamorous family intent on claiming a previously unknown manuscript from dead Beat writer Jack Kerouac.
Following clues from Duckworth and a trail of mutilated bodies left by the family, Riordan soon realizes that avenging his partner will first involve recovering the manuscript—and then saving Angelina and himself from kidnap, torture, and death. As the bodies pile up, Riordan must work with old allies and enemies to untangle Duckworth’s last case before time runs out.
The Big Thrill tracked down multiple award-nominated author Mark Coggins for a quick Q&A about his latest mystery, THE DEAD BEAT SCROLL:
Lila Maclean has successfully navigated four years as a professor at Stonedale University, but not without some detours and bodies along the way. Currently she is on the cusp of earning tenure and her focus is on her research, and its presentation and publication. She hopes to make solid gains with both at the literary conference held at the Tattered Star Ranch. But then dead bodies start turning up and someone has clearly taken the theme, Malice in the Mountains, to heart.
Such is the setting for Cynthia Kuhn’s fourth Lila Maclean Academic Mystery, THE SUBJECT OF MALICE. Within the confines of the story, Lila needs to ace her presentation and secure a publishing contract for her research while attempting to solve the murders of colleagues and deal with the machinations of her nemesis.
Lila has matured in her professional role over the series and in THE SUBJECT OF MALICE, we see her knowledge has grown about the inner workings of Stonedale University.
“She’s getting better at negotiating the dynamics of the position. Being on the tenure track can be tricky, both professionally and socially: she’s had to recognize what she’s willing to do to be successful—particularly where the limits are and when she’s willing to push past them,” Kuhn says.
Annelise Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Mattie Winston mystery series. I caught up with Annelise to chat about her upcoming release, NEEDLED TO DEATH, a spin-off from the Mattie Winston books. Ryan developed this new series with her editor to allow readers to enjoy a different, fun character in the “Mattie-verse.”
NEEDLED TO DEATH, which Kirkus termed a “provocative page-turner,” features Hildy Schneider, a social worker. Motivated by her own difficult past, Hildy has an unparalleled commitment to supporting troubled clients through grief and addiction in Sorenson, Wisconsin. But when a distraught group therapy member reveals disturbing details about her late son’s potential murder, Hildy goes from dedicated mental health professional to in-over-her-head amateur sleuth.
I asked Ryan how she avoids the “Cabot Cove” syndrome with two series set in the same small town. (Or one series, for that matter.) She laughed and pointed out that it’s a bit of a challenge given the small size of the town used as a setting for both books. In response, she developed a way for Hildy to branch out geographically with the new “Helping Hands” job she takes on in NEEDLED TO DEATH. Hopefully, Ryan says, that will keep things interesting and more realistic.
As for the murder frequency, she used significant time hops in the Mattie Winston series to spread the death around a little more. (There’s a line you won’t hear every day.) Also, both Mattie and Hildy have jobs that can take them into other parts of the county they live in, so the geographic area isn’t confined to tiny Sorenson, Wisconsin.
By George Ebey
This summer, Ann Simas brings us TAKEN TO DIE, the fifth installment in her exciting Grace Gabbiano mystery series.
Crop circles, animal mutilations, unidentified flying objects—Sgt. Grace Gabbiano is determined to find out what’s going on in Coburg, Oregon. What she doesn’t know is that the threat to her life is much more sinister than little green men.
The Big Thrill recently checked in with Simas to learn more about her series and what it has in store for readers.
For the uninitiated, can you give a little background into what your series is about?
The idea for my Grace Gabbiano mystery series came to me when I was taking a forensics class at the local community college. I decided to set the series in Coburg, Oregon, which then had a population of 1,000. I knew the Coburg PD police chief at the time, and he provided a wealth of information concerning some of the obstacles his small-town police department faced, along with what it was like policing in a city environment (he’d been a detective in the county sheriff’s department before that).
London, June 1835: In the interest of being a good neighbor, Charles checks in on Miss Haverstock, the elderly spinster who resides in the flat above his. But as the young journalist and his fiancée Kate ascend the stairs, they are assaulted by the unmistakable smell of death. Upon entering the woman’s quarters, they find her decomposing corpse propped up, adorned in a faded gown that looks like it could have been her wedding dress, had she been married. A murderer has set the stage. But to what purpose?
As news of an escaped convict from Coldbath Fields reaches the couple, Charles reasonably expects the prisoner, Ned Blood, may be responsible. But Kate suspects more personal motives, given the time and effort in dressing the victim. When a local blacksmith is found with cut manacles in his shop and arrested, his distraught wife begs Charles and Kate to help. At the inquest, they are surprised to meet Miss Haverstock’s cold and haughty foster daughter, shadowed by her miserably besotted companion. Secrets shrouded by the old woman’s past may hold the answers to this web of mystery. But Charles and Kate will have to risk their lives to unveil the truth…
Bestselling author Heather Redmond took some time out for The Big Thrill, where she discussed the latest installment of her A Dickens of a Crime series, GRAVE EXPECTATIONS:
Vanessa Westermann, author of AN EXCUSE FOR MURDER, knows a lot of words. But when she finished her first draft of her first novel, she found she’d used 128,000 of them. That’s when she knew her work had really just begun.
“In the process of trying to find a publisher, I received some valuable feedback that helped improve my writing style,” she explains. “As with most writers, it took me quite some time to sell my book to a publisher—six years, in fact. A fellow Arthur Ellis Awards judge was kind enough to read through my manuscript and gave me constructive criticism. She pointed out that I was making the mistake many new writers make: my writing was too flowery. So, I learned a valuable lesson: less really is more. I stripped down the prose, taking out excess adjectives and metaphors, and the manuscript went from 128,000 words to 75,000 and my writing was the better for it.”
And so, as it turns out, is the reader.
AN EXCUSE FOR MURDER, which combines elements of three genres—cozy mysteries, thrillers, and romantic suspense—features Kate Rowan, the owner of a small bookstore in a borough of London, and Gary Fenris, owner of a securities firm. Kate lives with her great-aunt, and one day she stumbles across the dead body of a neighbor at the bottom of the basement stairs. At first, it’s suspected he died of natural causes but, of course, Westermann wouldn’t have much of a crime novel if that were the case. Eventually, Kate and Gary team up to find out what really happened to a man who turns out to be a little more than simply an innocent boarder.
Mystery novels have been set in virtually every workplace imaginable, from coffee shops to wineries, libraries to law firms. But Mark S. Bacon has come up with a unique setting for his series of books: Nostalgia City, a theme park that aims to recreate a small town from the ’60s and ’70s.
Over the course of his latest novel, THE MARIJUANA MURDERS, Bacon does an excellent job of making the park and the people who run it—as well as the murder investigation that unfolds there—seem real.
Maybe that’s because he’s drawing on his own experience.
As a former reporter, Bacon spent day after day on the police beat. “I learned about police work, the exciting times, and the monotony,” he says. Later, as a copywriter, he worked “in the advertising department at Knott’s Berry Farm, the big theme park just down the freeway from Disneyland.”
He knew he wanted to blend those two experiences for a story, but the question was how?
By P. J. Bodnar
At the age of 23, Lindsay’s best friend, Edie, dies during what should have been the greatest time of their lives. Ten years later, Lindsay finds out that not all of their former friends think it was a suicide.
Lindsay, now faced with the fact that her friend may have been murdered, must confront her own demons to learn what really happened—even if it means uncovering some hard truths about her personal role in Edie’s death.
A journalist by trade, THE LOST NIGHT is Andrea Bartz’s first thriller. Here, she takes time out of her busy schedule to discuss her remarkable novel with The Big Thrill.
In your other life you write freelance features. What drew you to write thrillers, and which format do you prefer?
I always loved reading thrillers, so when I decided to try my hand at fiction, I knew I wanted to write a mystery. I like exploring the dark side of things and (safely) feeling afraid—one reason I love horror movies—so I figured I should write the kind of book I’d love to read. Drafting a novel is so different from writing magazine features because with the former, there are no limits or parameters on what happens, and while that can feel overwhelming, it’s freeing, too. I’ve been a journalist for so long that I can almost write a reported feature with my eyes closed, so I’ve enjoyed the challenge of creating an entire world with its own characters and events and rules, and shaping it into a narrative.
He hasn’t been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate or a king, but Tom Savage’s resume includes a whole bunch of interesting careers, two of which come in handy in his latest thriller, THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SPY, the next installment in the Nora Baron series.
Set in the Caribbean, on both a cruise ship and various islands along the route, Nora, a former actress, and her husband, Jeff, a former CIA operative, try to track down and follow Claude Lamont, a shady French businessman who has a connection to an international terrorist known only as Diablo.
As far as we know, Tom Savage has never been a spy, but he has been an actor, which is a nice talent to have when it comes to fooling people into believing you’re someone you’re not.
But here’s who Tom Savage is: He was born in New York City and raised in St. Thomas, USVI. He and his two sisters were adopted by their maternal aunt after his mother died when he was only two years old. His aunt was a theater actress before she moved to the Islands and started a real estate company. Savage returned to the mainland to attend Hofstra University, majoring in drama and minoring in English.
Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.
Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.
It was the day she came back.
“Tudor maintains a tone of creeping dread throughout the book, of something lingering always in the background, coyly hiding its face while whispering promises of very bad things to come. In the last quarter, however, she goes for broke with outright horror, giving readers an effective jolt of adrenaline that will carry them all the way to the terrifying conclusion. Readers won’t know what hit them. Tudor came out swinging with The Chalk Man, but this one puts her firmly on the map. Not to be missed.”—Kirkus
“Tudor has crafted another fantastic horror-tinged thriller (after The Chalk Man, 2018) in the vein of John Connolly and Brendan Duffy” – Booklist
“Some writers have it, and some don’t. C. J. Tudor has it big time – The Hiding Place is terrific in every way.” – LEE CHILD
“With The Hiding Place, C. J. Tudor has proven that she is a true master at creating perfectly dark, highly propulsive, and tightly coiled mysteries that are utterly impossible to put down. From page one, the reader is pulled in with a gathering sense of dread, and taken on an addictive, thrilling ride to the very last page.” – AIMEE MOLLOY, New York Times Bestselling author of The Perfect Mother
“Dark, gothic and utterly compelling, The Hiding Place pulls off a rare combination – an atmosphere of unsettling evil along with richly nuanced characterisation.” – JP DELANEY
C. J. Tudor is the author of The Chalk Man, and lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much.
Photography credit: Bill Waters
By Azam Gill
Christina Hoag’s latest mystery, ANGEL’S LUST, has readers applauding its fast pace, deft characterizations, and unconventional take on the police procedural subgenre.
When an unidentified male body is found in an alley, LAPD Detective Verity Thrett suspects murder most foul. The investigation is burdened with the ambitions of Detective Finbar McNab, a brash new transfer who’ll stop at nothing to get his derailed career back on track. As the detectives investigate the possible homicide, they uncover the existence of a secretive BDSM club and a trail of sex trafficking that leads to solving a cold-case murder.
“I’m fascinated with people who lead double lives,” says Hoag, on the dynamics that drive her new thriller. “People often have secrets that are completely at odds with their public persona. Of course, this is a natural for all fiction writing, but especially handy for mystery and thriller writers. In this book, I explore people’s hidden sexual lives and how this led to a cover-up of a murder and formed the basis of a lucrative business. The detectives unravel these secrets in the course of the investigation, not suspecting where it will lead.”
Hoag’s two other book-length fictional works are the noir crime novel Skin of Tattoos, a finalist for the 2017 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for Suspense, and the YA thriller Girl on the Brink, named one of Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016. She has contributed stories to several anthologies, and her short stories have been published in literary reviews.
Besides her fiction work, Hoag is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, about gang violence mediation and intervention—a subject that caught Hoag’s interest years ago, when she interviewed several Hells Angels about their holiday toy drive. “I found their lifestyle fascinating,” Hoag says. “Later, I was doing a magazine story about gang members from Los Angeles deported to their native El Salvador. It struck me as an odd consequence of immigration, and that became the genesis of my novel Skin of Tattoos. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008, I worked for the Associated Press and I covered a lot of gang issues—LA being the world capital of street gangs. So, I became more interested in how and why they operate.”
Audrey Eames is happy living the wanderer’s life. After a near-death experience in her teens, Audrey can see people’s past lives whenever her skin touches theirs, and afraid of being labeled delusional, she’s never stayed in one place too long or made any deep connections.
So, when Audrey’s estranged aunt dies and leaves her the historic Soberly Inn and Public House on the scenic Oregon coast, Audrey wants nothing to do with it. She is determined to sell the inn and leave town before someone discovers the power she’s been hiding from the world, but clauses in her aunt’s will seem to block her at every turn.
Yet once ensconced in Soberly’s small town life, the people—particularly the bartender, Kellen Greene—start to grow on her, and she begins to feel that maybe she’s finally found a place of her own. As accepting as the townspeople seem, Audrey fears their reactions—and Kellen’s rejection—and decides to keep her visions a secret. But all is not well in Soberly. Soon after Audrey arrives, people in town start dying in the same manner as in their past lives—but in this lifetime it’s murder. When suspicion starts to fall on Audrey and her new beau Kellen, Audrey vows to use her gift to find the murderer and protect the people she loves—before it’s too late.
Author Nicole Bross met up with The Big Thrill to share some insight into her debut thriller, PAST PRESENCE:
Twenty-three-year-old Walter MacGregor (aka Wallie) craves adventure, her desires whetted by Sherlock Holmes tales. Her prayers are answered when her father’s rum-running brother Rory lands on the MacGregors’ doorstep, fleeing from enraged bootleggers. In quiet Gunmetal, Texas, during Prohibition, Rory’s tales of adventure charm Wallie, but appall her father, a respected judge.
When a freak accident horrifies the small town, Wallie believes she sees a crime scene that shows evidence of foul play. In short, it’s murder. Annoyed that no one agrees with her—including the sheriff and her dad—she sets out to prove her theory. Soon she is knee-deep in flappers and floozies, Chicago thugs sent south by Al Capone, and a crime lord in the sinful port city of Galveston. Her prim aunt wants her to pay more attention to her eligible suitors. Can Wallie stay alive long enough to figure out which one is her true love?
The Big Thrill caught up with author Kay Kendall to discuss the latest installment of the Austin Starr mystery series, AFTER YOU’VE GONE:
At the local ER, a battered and bruised teenage girl has been brought in by a mysterious man who claimed she’d fallen out of a car. The staff is suspicious, but while they attend to the teenager, the unidentified man slips out. Then the girl dies, but not before informing social worker Hildy Schneider that the man has her little sister as well.
Mattie’s exam reveals forensic evidence of long-term IV drug use and physical abuse, findings consistent with Hildy’s suspicion that the girl was a victim of human trafficking. They are able to confirm her identity as a teen who went missing six months ago, along with her sister—facts that are deeply unsettling to Mattie, who now shares a home with her husband’s teenage daughter.
Working closely with Hildy and Sorenson homicide detectives, including her husband Steve Hurley, Mattie delves into a dark underworld to stop the ruthless trafficking of human lives—before it’s too late for another young girl…
Here, bestselling author Annelise Ryan spends some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery, DEAD OF WINTER:
Emilia believes she has come back to life in a different body and is determined to find her family from her former life. The search takes her to Texas, to Samuel Lake’s home, her supposed husband from the former life. She tells him that she was born the day his wife died and that she has come back for a reason, which she doesn’t yet know.
How can she convince Samuel to help her find her purpose without appearing crazy? Find out in this suspenseful mystery novel.
Author C. M. Okonkwo spent time with The Big Thrill and offered some insight into her latest thriller, WHEN IT’S MURDER:
Jake Austin is a busy man. The protagonist of John A. Vanek’s latest mystery, MIRACLES, is not only a Catholic priest with a medical degree but also, when necessary, a crack detective.
The second book in the Father Jake Austin Mystery series opens as Father Jake has recently returned home after a stint as an army medic. In the midst of searching for inner peace, Jake’s life is hurled into the vortex of three storms. His sister is dying in the hospital, and Father Jake must take care of her young son; in another parish there’s a controversial bleeding Virgin Mary statue, and Father Jake is assigned to look into the matter; and there’s a comatose infant hovering precariously between life and death in the intensive care unit of the local hospital. It appears he’s a victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but suspicion arises that his impoverished parents might have had something to do with the child’s affliction.
Like Father Jake, Vanek has also been a busy man. Originally trained in a surgical specialty, he says he switched to radiology “for a saner lifestyle.” Along the way, he took up writing, the result of a creative writing class he took as a pre-med student.
“I fell in love with the craft and I was encouraged by my professor to pursue writing,” Vanek says. “After establishing myself in private practice, I tried to write but quickly discovered I didn’t have the skill set.”
Well into his career as a doctor, Vanek couldn’t shake the writing bug. He decided to learn the craft by taking creative writing classes at local colleges and attending workshops. Initially drawn to poetry, he soon “graduated” to starting a mystery series, making the heroine of his novels a poet. Like many of us, Vanek has two so-called beginner novels that he says will “remain buried forever in my desk drawer. As a proud graduate of the School of Rejection, Revision, and Hard-Knocks, I’m proof that dreams deferred are not necessarily dreams denied.”
Set in New York City, the story features Jude Dillane, owner of The Corner Lounge on 10th St. and Avenue B. When Jude finds her friend and landlord, Thomas ‘Sully’ Sullivan’s work pal, Ed Molina, dead in a pool of blood in Sully’s apartment, she’s sure it’s not suicide as the police suspect.
Going undercover at the Big City Food Coop, Jude discovers a case of major fraud. As she works through the lists of suspects, she finds herself in the killer’s sights and knows her murder might be on the menu, as well.
Award-winning author Cathi Stoler spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery, BAR NONE: