Mystery

Walk a Crooked Line by Susan McBride

By E. M. Powell

WALK A CROOKED LINE is the second of Susan McBride’s thrillers featuring Texas police detective Jo Larsen. It opens with the discovery of teenager Kelly Amster’s body at the base of the local old water tower in what appears to be a tragic, clear-cut case of suicide. But Jo and her partner, Hank Phelps, still need to find answers as to why a young girl would take her own life. As they delve into Kelly’s past, they don’t find ready answers, but instead the pieces of a dark puzzle that drove her to her death. WALK A CROOKED LINE is a taut, suspenseful read that keeps the reader gripped until the final pages.

There’s much to admire too about the character of Jo, who’s no shiny superwoman but rather a real-life, strong woman who possesses a dogged, admirable courage and belief in doing what’s right. McBride acknowledges that she and Jo share quite a bit in common.

“No matter how different I think my protagonists are from me,’’ she says, ‘’a little bit of myself always works its way in. Jo has a lot of traits that I admire: her strength, her persistence, her determination to get justice for victims. I’d like to think I have her grit, but I’m not sure I do! She survived a lot, yet she never gave up. She’s a detective because she wants her life to matter now in a way that it didn’t when she was a child. And she wants to give voice to those who have lost theirs.’’

There’s another aspect as well that will be familiar to many writers. ‘’I do have this sense of being an outsider looking in, no matter how on the inside I seem. Jo and I share that, for sure.’’

The book deals with some difficult subject matter. In addition to the inciting incident of Kelly’s suicide, McBride also addresses the issue of child and adolescent bullying. While she deals with them with sensitivity and without sensationalism, these aren’t easy topics to research and write about.
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Deadly Payload by Karen Randau

Dead birds raining from the sky. Poison in the water supply. Spies on the back porch.

A lifeless crow shatters the windshield as Rita Avery, her daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter arrive at Arizona’s Rim Vista Park. Rita dodges bird carcasses on the road home, where she finds her husband Cliff and son Travis gravely ill from a mysterious pathogen with no cure.

The CDC assembles a team to create a cure, but Rita doubts it will arrive in time to rescue Cliff, Travis, and dozens of her friends and neighbors.

In a race to save her family, her community, and potentially thousands more Americans, Rita launches her own investigation. She partners with a certified herbalist and a homeless war veteran dubbed Crazy Mary.

But the more clues Rita uncovers, the deeper she finds herself in the middle of a ruthless plot that could unleash a wide-ranging American disaster. And the culprits aim to stop her at any cost.

Before it’s too late for her loved ones, Rita must thwart the next attack on innocent civilians.

Murder, spine-tingling trips through Arizona’s rugged wilderness, and callous spies determined to spread havoc – this isn’t your average family outing!

Author Karen Randau spent a few minutes with The Big Thrill discussing the fourth installment of the Rim Country Mystery series, DEADLY PAYLOAD:
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Miami Days, Havana Nights by Linda Bennett Pennell

Sometimes our biggest debts have nothing to do with money.

1926. When seventeen-year-old Sam Ackerman witnesses a mob hit, he is hustled out of New York under the protection of Moshe Toblinsky, A.K.A. the mob’s bookkeeper. Arriving in Miami with no money, no friends, and no place to hide, Sam’s only choice is to do as the gangster demands. Forced into bootlegging, Sam’s misery is compounded when he falls in love. Amazingly, the beautiful, devout Rebecca wants only him, but he cannot give her the life she deserves. When Prohibition ends, Sam begs the mobster to set him free. The price? A debt, as Toblinsky puts it, of friendship. A debt that will one day come due.

Present Day. History of American Crime professor Liz Reams has it all—early success, a tantalizing lead on new info about Moshe Toblinsky, and a wonderful man to love. Life is perfect. So what’s keeping her from accepting her guy’s marriage proposals? Confronting a long-standing personal debt sets her on a journey of self-discovery. While she delves ever deeper into Sam and Toblinsky’s relationship, her understanding of her own relationships increases as well, but the revelations come at a price. The emotional and physical dangers of her dual journeys may prove too big to handle.

Author Linda Bennett Pennell took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with The Big Thrill about her latest novel, MIAMI DAYS, HAVANA NIGHTS:
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Tail of the Dragon by Connie di Marco

A rare astrological event could help San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti avoid a deadly destiny

Julia Bonatti loves the freedom of working for herself as a professional astrologer. But after receiving several unexpected bills, she considers a temp job offer from her old boss a stroke of luck too good to pass up.

On her first day, the posh law office becomes a crime scene when one of the partners is found dead. Julia discovers that a series of death threats have been sent to several employees of the firm, and she uses her astrological expertise to discover possible motives. But before she can convince the authorities of what she knows, the killer strikes again. Will Julia unmask the culprit before he, or she, takes another life?

Connie di Marco, bestselling author of TAIL OF THE DRAGON, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest in The Zodiac Mysteries series:
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A Tale of Two Murders by Heather Redmond

On the eve of the Victorian era, London has a new sleuth . . .

In the winter of 1835, young Charles Dickens is a journalist on the rise at the Evening Chronicle. Invited to dinner at the estate of the newspaper’s co-editor, Charles is smitten with his boss’s daughter, vivacious nineteen-year-old Kate Hogarth. They are having the best of times when a scream shatters the pleasant evening. Charles, Kate, and her father rush to the neighbors’ home, where Miss Christiana Lugoson lies unconscious on the floor. By morning, the poor young woman will be dead.

When Charles hears from a colleague of a very similar mysterious death a year ago to the date, also a young woman, he begins to suspect poisoning and feels compelled to investigate. The lovely Kate offers to help—using her social position to gain access to the members of the upper crust, now suspects in a murder. If Charles can find justice for the victims, it will be a far, far better thing than he has ever done. But with a twist or two in this most peculiar case, he and Kate may be in for the worst of times…

Author Heather Redmond took time from her busy schedule and met with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest mystery, A TALE OF TWO MURDERS:
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39 Winks by Kathleen Valenti

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

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

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

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

39 WINKS author Kathleen Valenti took some time to meet with The Big Thrill and offer some insight into her latest mystery:
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The Case of the Missing Drag Queen by Michael Rupured

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

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

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

Author Michael Rupured spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest mystery, THE CASE OF THE MISSING DRAG QUEEN:
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Plum Springs by Dan Lawton

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

Author Dan Lawton spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, PLUM SPRINGS:
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Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer

By Azam Gill

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

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

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

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

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

Middle-aged American hypnotherapist Vernon Prescott has just finished a lecture tour of Australia in the quaint Queensland town of Bundaberg.

He awakes on the Bargara, alone, under the bluff, the morning after his last speaking engagement, recovering from a night of too many vodka gimlets and too little sleep. Moments later he is greeted by young Mindy Winthrop, who has sought him out after attending the previous evening’s lecture. After he successfully applies a hypnotic “first aid technique” for a recent trauma, Mindy convinces him to treat her for repressed memories concerning a four-year-old unsolved murder.

Beginning with a round trip to Sydney, the unusual couple are soon thrust into an intimate alliance after being subjected to various methods of intimidation from unknown but powerful persons: members of a cult with roots dating back hundreds of years in the United Kingdom. These individuals will stop at nothing to keep Mindy’s memories of the murder buried.

Award-winning screenwriter and author Jack Halliday spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, THE BIG BLUFF:
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See Also Proof by Larry D. Sweazy

Dickinson, North Dakota, 1965. It’s a harsh winter, and freelance indexer Marjorie Trumaine struggles to complete a lengthy index while mourning the recent loss of her husband, Hank. The bleakness of the weather seems to compound her grief, and then she gets more bad news: a neighbor’s fourteen-year-old disabled daughter, Tina Rinkerman, has disappeared. Marjorie joins Sheriff Guy Reinhardt in the search for the missing girl, and their investigation quickly leads to the shocking discovery of a murdered man near the Rinkermans’ house. What had he been doing there? Who would have wanted him dead? And, above all, is his murder connected to Tina’s disappearance?

Their pursuit of answers will take Marjorie all the way to the Grafton State School, some six hours away, where Tina lived until recently. And the information she uncovers there raises still more questions. Will the murderer come after Marjorie now that she knows a long-hidden secret?
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The Dark Side of Town by Sasscer Hill

Fia McKee, now officially employed by the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TPRB), is sent undercover to Saratoga Racetrack to investigate Mars Pizutti, a racehorse trainer whose horses’ wins are suspiciously lucky—and lucrative. Fia’s bosses believe Pizutti’s success is based on illegal drugs and deceitful methods, and they want Fia to work inside his barn to ferret out the truth.

But after witnessing the tragic and inexplicable suicide of a jockey, Fia discovers the rider’s death is only the tip on an iceberg involving the mob, a crooked racing hedge fund, and threats to the lives of another jockey and his young sister. Fia must find out who’s connected to who, and what shadowy forces are at play before someone else dies.

The Big Thrill caught up to author Sasscer Hill just in time to discuss her latest mystery, THE DARK SIDE OF TOWN:
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Isabella’s Painting by Ellen Butler

Peeling back layers of lies could save a masterpiece…or reveal a killer.

After a long week lobbying on Capitol Hill, all Karina Cardinal wants to do is chill with Netflix and her boyfriend, Patrick Dunne. Instead, she’s slipping her aching feet into red stilettos for his parents’ annual holiday bash. When she accidentally interrupts Patrick’s father in his study, her embarrassment is tempered by suspicion that Martin Dunne and his dapper, secretive guest are hiding something. Maybe the painting she barely glimpses right before it disappears behind a secret panel.

An internet search raises her curiosity to full-blown alarm. If she’s right, Martin is in possession of a stolen masterpiece. Infamous because everyone close to it has turned up dead. As in Mafia-style-execution dead.

As she’s chewing over which instinct to follow—back off while she still can, or dig deeper for the truth—she crosses paths with FBI agent Mike Finnegan, an old friend and not-quite flame from her college days. When she looks into his warm, mocha eyes, she’s tempted to tell him everything.

Trouble is, she’s already being watched. And the next move she makes could destroy innocent lives…including her own.

The Big Thrill caught up with bestselling novelist Ellen Butler to discuss her latest mystery, ISABELLA’S PAINTING:
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A Perfect Shot by Robin Yocum

Nicholas “Duke” Ducheski is the most important man in the eastern Ohio steel town of Mingo Junction. Nearly two decades after he made the winning shot in the state championship basketball game, he remains much adored and the focal point of community pride. Hardly a day passes when someone doesn’t want to talk about “the game.” Now approaching forty, Duke no longer wants to be defined solely by something he did when he was eighteen. So he decides to parlay his local popularity into a successful restaurant–“Duke’s Place.”

But no sooner does he get his restaurant up and running than disaster strikes. One day, “Little Tony” DeMarco, his brother-in-law and a known mob enforcer, comes into the restaurant and murders Duke’s oldest friend. Now Duke faces the hardest decision of his life. DeMarco thinks he’s untouchable, but Duke discovers a way to take him down, along with his mob superiors.

To do so, however, means leaving Mingo Junction and sacrificing his treasured identity as the town legend. And if he follows through, what will remain of his life?

Robin Yocum, the critically-acclaimed author of A PERFECT SHOT, took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his latest mystery with The Big Thrill:
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Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

By L E Fitzpatrick

Irish American, Derry O’Donnell is a talented actress looking for her next big role, but in real life show business isn’t all glitz and glamor, in fact “…as Derry’s awesomely successful mother liked to point out, show business was no kind of business at all.”

Even the cost of a cup of coffee is a commodity, so Derry also moonlights as mystic to the rich and famous, Madam Tulip. Her new persona has led her into the world of secrets, money, and murder. Now she’s back in the third instalment of the Madam Tulip series in MADAM TULIP AND THE BONES OF CHANCE uncovering more mysteries, this time in a Scottish castle.

Author David Ahern tells The Big Thrill why he was inspired to write about a crime solving fortune teller.

“Derry is a teeny bit psychic, but when it comes to solving mysteries that’s no help at all. The thing about fortune telling for the wealthy is that where you’ve got money and secrets, you’ve got trouble. In MADAM TULIP AND THE BONES OF CHANCE, Derry gets to act in a movie being shot in Scotland. She soon discovers that someone is determined to kill.

“I grew up around theatre people, and I love actors. They’re dedicated to their craft and they want so much to perform and grow. But in most places, and in Ireland especially, the work just isn’t there. So most actors are unemployed much of the time and moonlight at something. The thing about fortune tellers though is that people tell them all kinds of things they wouldn’t tell anyone else. Add secrets to celebrity and money, and a fortune teller may learn some things they’d be safer not knowing.”
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Gumshoe on the Loose by Rob Leininger

IRS agent-turned-PI Mortimer Angel is relaxing in a hole-in-the-wall bar in a Reno casino when an attractive young girl hires him to find out who left her a cryptic message demanding a million dollars. At the girl’s house, Mort finds the body of missing rapper Jonnie Xenon―Jo-X to his legions of fans―hanging from the rafters with two bullet holes in him. Mort is shocked when he learns the identity of the girl’s father―and even more shocked when the father hires him to investigate the murder.

Mort, being Mort, accumulates a few felonies as he follows the clues to Las Vegas. And along the way, he picks up an alluring young assistant who changes his life―in every conceivable way.

Author Rob Leininger took time out of his busy schedule to meet with The Big Thrill and discuss the third installment of the Mortimer Angel series, GUMSHOE ON THE LOOSE:
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The Bad Break by Jill Orr

Riley Ellison has taken a great leap of faith by giving up her comfortable job at the Tuttle Corner library for the exciting world of print journalism. Except that so far it hasn’t been very exciting. All that changes when Riley’s former co-worker Tabitha finds her soon-to-be father-in-law dead, and Riley is asked to write his obituary. And when they discover Tabitha’s fiancé’s knife sticking out of his father’s chest, Riley finds herself with a murder investigation to cover as well.

With mounting pressure from her boss, the mayor, and a bridezilla facing the possibility of a conjugal visit honeymoon, Riley is desperate to prove she can handle the increasing demands of her new job. She ends up blurring the line between reporter and investigator and winning the attention of a very dangerous criminal. Will Riley’s rookie mistakes lead to more than just her byline ending up on the obituary page?

Author of THE BAD BREAK, Julie Orr, recently spoke with The Big Thrill regarding her latest installment in the Riley Ellison mystery series:
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City of Sharks by Kelli Stanley

Miranda isn’t sure of anything at first except that Louise Crowley, the blonde who works as an assistant to Niles Alexander, San Francisco publisher, is in trouble. Despite her own preparations for an imminent voyage to a blitzkrieged Britain and a painful farewell to the city she loves, Miranda decides to help Louise and takes on her last case as a private detective in San Francisco…investigating her client, surveying the publishing world of 1940, and stumbling into murder with a trail that leads straight to Alcatraz…an island city of sharks.

Along the way, Miranda explores her beloved San Francisco once more, from Playland-at-the-Beach to Chinatown to Nob Hill and Treasure Island. She encounters John Steinbeck and C.S. Forester, and is aided and abetted by the charming and dapper San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen. And she also discovers personal truths she’s long denied…

The Big Thrill caught up to award-wining author Kelli Stanley to discuss her latest mystery, CITY OF SHARKS:
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Murder in the One Percent by Saralyn Richard

By Karen Harper

Locked room mysteries have enthralled readers since Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” effectively launched the modern detective subgenre in 1841. Everyone from Agatha Christie to Japanese mystery master Soji Shimada has tackled the tantalizing setup: someone is murdered in a confined space with no obvious access or means of escape for the killer, and a detective is tasked with unraveling the seemingly impossible crime.

Saralyn Richard pumps fresh blood into the locked room scenario with MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, out now from Black Opal Books. Richard, a former teacher and successful children’s book author, transports the familiar premise to an extravagant dinner party at a Pennsylvania horse farm, where a young African-American police detective named Oliver Parrott is called in to investigate the murder of playboy and former Secretary of the Treasury, Preston Phillips.

Richard spoke with The Big Thrill about making the transition from kidlit to adult fiction, the allure of her novel’s posh setting, and the singular demands of writing a locked room mystery in the 21st century.
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The Clown Forest Murders by A. C. Brooks and R. R. Brooks

Did clown-colored mushrooms spark the gruesome murders? Will his memories of the murders save him or kill him?

At age eight, Dave Austin witnesses his brother’s savage murder in rural Norwich, New York, but amnesia suppresses the memory, and the killer escapes. Locals suspect an itinerant, a pedophile, or a disturbed friend maddened by psychedelic mushrooms. When Dave starts college, pressures at Princeton and alcohol elicit dreams, each one revealing a bit of memory. Then come visions as Dave senses the killer return. Images of teenagers killed where his brother died precipitate a crisis, and David returns to Norwich to find his dead brother’s friend, a disturbed witness who knows something. Dave’s appearance alarms his psychiatrist, the officers who hadn’t solved the case, and especially the killer, who knows he should not have let the young Dave escape. Now the killer must correct his mistake. When a crazy farmer invites Dave to learn the killer’s name in the Clown Forest at midnight, how can he resist? He may learn what he needs to identify the murderer—if he gets the truth, and survives.

The Big Thrill caught up to the author duo of A. C. Brooks and R. R. Brooks to discuss their latest mystery, THE CLOWN FOREST MURDERS:
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A Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn

Swiss-American police officer Agnes Lüthi is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, recovering from injuries she sustained in her last case, when an old colleague invites her to the world’s premier watch and jewelry trade show at the grand Messe Basel Exhibition Hall. Little does Agnes know, another friend of hers, Julien Vallotton, is at the same trade show—and he’s looking for Agnes. Julien Vallotton was friends with Guy Chavanon, a master of one of Switzerland’s oldest arts: watchmaking. Chavanon died a week ago, and his daughter doesn’t believe his death was accidental. Shortly before he died, Chavanon boasted that he’d discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and she believes he may have been killed for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate his death. But the world of Swiss watchmaking is guarded and secretive, and before she realizes it, Agnes may be walking straight into the path of a killer.

Author Tracee de Hahn spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery, A WELL-TIMED MURDER:
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Walking the Bones by Randall Silvis

When long-buried secrets come back to the surface…

The bones of seven young girls, picked clean and carefully preserved, discovered years ago… That’s all Sergeant Ryan DeMarco knows about the unsolved crime he has unwittingly been roped into investigating during what is supposed to be a healing road trip with his new love, Jayme.

DeMarco is still reeling from the case that led to death of his best friend months ago and wants nothing more than to lay low. Unfortunately, the small southern town of Jayme’s idyllic youth is not exactly a place that lets strangers go unnoticed—especially strangers who have a history of solving violent crimes. And if there’s anything DeMarco knows, it’s that a killer always leaves clues behind, just waiting for the right person to come along and put all the pieces together…

WALKING THE BONES is a story about things buried—memories, regrets, secrets, and bodies. Acclaimed author Randall Silvis delivers another heart-stopping investigation as DeMarco finds himself once again drawn into a case that will demand more of himself than he may be willing to give.

Randall Silvis, bestselling author of the Ryan Demarco mystery series, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest installment, WALKING THE BONES:
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Testament by Mark P. Dunn

On the surface, it looks like Paul Callahan has it all. The family, the house, the job. But nothing is ever as perfect as it seems, and when a college friend contacts Paul out of the blue, he finds himself reliving his first year of college, when everything went so right, and then so very wrong. The novel skips between the present and the past, tracing what happened to Paul and his friends during college and the effects in the present day.

TESTAMENT is a story of friendship and love and of the terrible evil people are capable of doing to one another. It is the story of a man doing his best to move forward, but struggling with an emotional anchor latched firmly in the past. But more than anything, it is a story about redemption and the unfathomable workings of the human heart.

Author Mark P. Dunn took some time to discuss his latest novel, TESTAMENT, with The Big Thrill:
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Holmes Entangled by Gordon McAlpine

By Cathy Perkins

From the Edgar-nominated author of Hammett Unwritten and Woman with a Blue Pencil comes a startling meta-fiction tale told in the voice of Sherlock Holmes. Set in 1920s’ London, Cambridge, and Paris, HOLMES ENTANGLED by Gordon McAlpine leads the infamous sleuth on an adventure through labyrinths of crime and espionage in a mortally dangerous inquiry into the unseen nature of existence itself.

Sherlock Holmes, retired from investigations and disguised as a professor at Cambridge, is shaken when a modestly successful author named Arthur Conan Doyle calls upon him at the university. This Conan Doyle, notable for historical adventure and science fiction stories (but no detective tales), somehow knows the false professor’s true identity, and pleads for investigative assistance. Someone is trying to kill him.

Intrigued by how the “middling scribbler” ascertained Holmes’s identity in the first place, despite the detective’s perfect disguise, Holmes agrees to investigate.

With the assistance of Dr. Watson’s widow, Holmes persists, exploring séances, the esoterica of Edgar Allan Poe, the revolutionary new science of quantum mechanics, and his own long-denied sense of loss and solitude. Ultimately, however, even Sherlock Holmes is unprepared for what the evidence suggests.

At first glance, this story may seem like fan fiction, but HOLMES ENTANGLED can more aptly be described as a mash-up of meta-mystery with meta-biography.
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Dead Calm by Annelise Ryan

The honeymoon will have to wait for newlyweds Mattie Winston and Steve Hurley…

As deputy medical examiner and homicide detective respectively, the couple are dispatched to a grisly crime scene at the Grizzly Motel, a seedy joint for illicit liaisons on the outskirts of Sorenson, Wisconsin. A man and woman are found dead next to each other in bed in what initially appears to be a grim but straightforward murder-suicide. An affair gone sour?

But as the forensic evidence is gathered and autopsies are performed, Mattie and Hurley realize the scene has been staged. They have a double murder on their hands. The spurned spouses of both victims top the list of suspects, but as more is revealed, the case becomes increasingly complex. Dividing their time and resources between the double homicide and an ongoing investigation involving Mattie’s father, as well as caring for their toddler Matthew and Hurley’s teenaged daughter Emily, the two are stretched to their limits.

After another victim turns up dead, there’s no room for error as Mattie and Hurley stage a scene of their own to back the killer into a corner…

The Big Thrill caught up to author Annelise Ryan to discuss her mystery, DEAD CALM:
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19 Souls by J. D. Allen

Jim Bean is having a bad day. A bad year, a bad life. Sophie Evers, his latest client, has duped him in the worst possible way. Instead of a straightforward missing persons case, he’s led a serial killer straight to her most coveted prey.

Sophie’s clung to the demented belief that she and Daniel Hodge belonged together. Instead of sleeping her way to the top, she killed her way into a position to create the “perfect life” for the only man she ever loved. Except now she can’t find him. Her plan: kill Daniel’s sister and manipulate a private investigator into flushing out her man.

Despite being told to leave the case alone, responsibility drives Jim to set things straight before Sophie’s delusion shatters and more souls are lost.

Award-winning author J. D. Allen met with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest mystery, 19 SOULS:
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Death on the Vine by L. Lee Kane

Just before high school graduation, Daisy Murphy returns home from a football game and finds her mother standing over her abusive boyfriend’s body—holding a bloody hammer. In the aftermath, Daisy flees her home and eventually establishes a new life as an expert winemaker in the Central Valley of California. But as hard as she tries to get away from her past, the effects of that horrible night travel with her.

Detective Jake Frisco has unearthed a murder at the vineyard where Daisy is employed as the winery’s expert winemaker. It doesn’t take long to discover that Daisy is haunted by her past and carries a heavy burden. It seems that possible involvement in an unsolved murder is part of her life’s baggage. Does this put Daisy at the top of the suspects list? Can he put aside his growing feelings for her and follow the leads in the case, even if they take him straight to her as the murderer?

Can Daisy finally face her past and trust that the truth she offers the detective will be enough to save her? Will she find the courage to ask for a future beyond the sorrow of her youth—a future filled with love and self-worth?

L. Lee Kane took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest novel, DEATH ON THE VINE, with The Big Thrill:
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A Kill for the Poet by Simon Maltman

By Jaden Terrell

In a Wall Street Journal interview, bestselling thriller author Lee Child describes Belfast as “perfect noir.” Perhaps that explains why the past decade has seen an unprecedented surge of crime fiction authors writing in and about Northern Ireland. Among the most recent of these is musician and songwriter Simon Maltman, whose debut novel, A Chaser on the Rocks, launched in September of 2016. Its sequel, A KILL FOR THE POET, uses dark humor and haunted characters to provide a stark contrast to the beauty of the Northern Irish setting.

A fan of the original film noir movies, Maltman is heavily influenced by Raymond Chandler. This “Chandler effect” is noticeable in sharp, gritty dialogue and an economy of prose. Even the structure of Maltman’s series is an homage to his noir roots. A Chaser on the Rocks juxtaposes the exploits of modern-day private detective Brian Caskey with those of Billy Chapman, a “fiction-within-a-fiction” P.I. in 1940s Belfast.

A KILL FOR THE POET adds yet another layer to the mix, as writer Henry Flynn picks up Billy’s tale as filtered through Brian’s persona. Or so the reader is led to believe. Maltman’s authorial sleight of hand keeps the reader guessing.
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Lying, Cheating, and Occasionally Murder by Ginny Fite

Ginny Fite is an award-winning journalist who has covered crime, politics, government, healthcare, art, and all things human. She’s done communications for a governor, a member of Congress, a few colleges, and a robotics R&D company. With degrees from Rutgers University and Johns Hopkins University, she also studied at the School for Women Healers and the Maryland Poetry Therapy Institute. As with her first two murder mysteries in the Detective Sam Lagarde series, Cromwell’s Folly and No Good Deed Left Undone, her new mystery, LYING, CHEATING, AND OCCASIONALLY… MURDER, is set in the rolling hills of Jefferson County, West Virginia.

Ginny took time out of her busy schedule to sit down with The Big Thrill and discuss her latest novel, LYING, CHEATING, AND OCCASIONALLY… MURDER:
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Bad Samaritan by Dana King

Nick Forte has a hard time leaving well enough alone. He seriously injures a man for slapping a woman Forte has never seen before, so when Becky Tuttle comes to him with disconcerting letters sent to her author alter ago Desiree d’Arnaud, he does more than a cursory investigation. Following the thread of Becky’s problem leads through a local cop who takes the situation too lightly for Forte’s taste and into the disturbing world of men’s rights activists, for whom he has no use at all.

Becky’s case isn’t the only thing going on in Forte’s life. A chance meeting with Lily O’Donoghue, a former prostitute whose mother’s death Forte feels responsible for, leads to a blackmailer who has videos of Lily’s former occupation. Forte takes care of the blackmailer with minimal fuss, but learns (again) that no good deed goes unpunished. Forte’s innocent intercession brings him back into the sphere of Chicago gangster Mickey Touhy, who has interest in both Lily and Forte.

Forte’s usual cast of Sharon, Goose, Delbert, Sonny, Jan, and, of course, his daughter Caroline, do what they can to keep him on an even keel. The problem is that Forte’s keel may be permanently damaged and the only resolutions he can arrive at satisfy no one, least of all himself.

Two-time Shamus Award nominee Dana King spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest mystery, BAD SAMARITAN:
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