Mystery

Fatal Legislation by Ellen Butler

Lawmaking can be a murderous affair.

If any day calls for a soothing glass of wine, it’s today.

One moment, Capitol Hill lobbyist Karina Cardinal is having a heated discussion with Senator Harper, who just torpedoed her latest health care legislation initiative. The next, after a cryptic remark, the senator is dead at her feet. Hours later, she’s still so rattled she wakes to a freezing apartment because she forgot to close her back door. Or did she?

When her boyfriend, FBI cybercrimes expert Mike Finnegan, is suddenly reassigned to work a new case, he’s got bad news and worse news. The bad: the senator’s death was no heart attack—it was assassination by a hacker disabling his pacemaker. Worse: Karina’s a “person of interest.”

Certain that status could change to “suspect” at any moment, Karina begins her own back-channel investigation into who could have wanted the senator dead. Of course, in Washington, that means playing politics and following the money trail. A trail that leads to more murders…and possibly leaving the door open for a killer to change her status to “dead.”

Award-winning author Ellen Butler took some time to discuss her latest novel, FATAL LEGISLATION, with The Big Thrill:
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Hearts of the Missing by Carol Potenza

When a young woman linked to a list of missing Fire-Sky tribal members commits suicide, Pueblo Police Sergeant Nicky Matthews is assigned to the case. As the evidence leads her to a shocking discovery, she uncovers not only murder but a motive with an ominous, vengeful twist that strikes at the very core of what it means to be a member of the Fire-Sky People. With an intimate knowledge of Fire-Sky customs and traditions, the killer ensures the spirits of those targeted will wander lost forever. As Nicky closes in on the murderer, those closest to her are put in jeopardy. She realizes she must be willing to sacrifice everything–her career, her life, and even her soul–to save the people she is sworn to protect.

Award-winning author Carol Potenza took some time to meet with The Big Thrill to discuss her debut novel, HEARTS OF THE MISSING:
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The Clincher by Lisa Preston

By Wendy Tyson

Lisa Preston’s latest novel, THE CLINCHER, features Rainy Dale, a spirited and outspoken farrier (horseshoer) with a troubled past. This first in the Horseshoer Mystery Series is a fast-paced, exciting ride alongside Rainy as she investigates the murder of her trophy-wife client in rural Oregon.

The Big Thrill recently had the opportunity to talk with Preston about the first in a new series, THE CLINCHER. 

Congratulations on your new mystery series debut, THE CLINCHER. Your main character, Rainy Dale, is a horseshoer—an interesting and original occupation for an amateur sleuth. Why horseshoeing?  

After a couple of standalone thriller and suspense novels, I was interested in doing a series. I wanted to accomplish two things at the outset: create a character with plenty of room to grow, and build a mystery series world that hadn’t already been done. A horseshoer accesses properties of all kinds, yet can go largely unnoticed or ignored by others while working for an hour or a day on someone else’s premises. Part of the shoer’s skillset is observation. The same mind that notices subtle changes in one hoof on one horse can notice a wound, friction between people, a car or tool out of place—and these things can be clues to a crime. 
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Absinthe Without Leave by Carole Nelson Douglas

By Cathy Perkins

Literary chameleon Carole Nelson Douglas has written bestselling high and urban fantasy, historical and contemporary mystery and romance, and thrillers.

Formerly an award-winning, truth-telling, mainstream media, real newspaper journalist, Douglas is an Agatha and Nebula nominee, a USA Today bestseller, and a four-time Rita award finalist. She’s won RT Book Reviews awards for mystery and suspense, for career achievement, and as a pioneer of publishing for her multi- and cross-genre works.

The Big Thrill caught up with Douglas to discuss ABSINTHE WITHOUT LEAVE, the latest in her Midnight Louie series featuring an unsuspected co-detective to two amateur and pro human crime-solvers.

Termed an irresistible combination of Sam Spade and Nathan Detroit, Louie is back with a new partner-in-crime solving—savvy paranormal PI Delilah Street, fresh from the urban fantasy Dark Side of Vegas. Is the notorious late 19th-century drink of absinthe, now a Las Vegas rage, responsible for a magic-act murder? Or runaway human emotions: love, hate and jealousy? Or is some secret governmental undercover mission unraveling? Louie and his human partners will be forced to nose out the killer.

The Midnight Louie series is long running, with many fans, but for readers just joining, or transferring over with this series “mashup,” Douglas shares insight into how she develops main characters and what made her decide to feature a furry sleuth.
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Beyond the Truth by Bruce Robert Coffin

By Don Helin

In this latest mystery from #1 bestselling author Bruce Robert Coffin, Detective Sergeant John Byron faces the greatest challenge of his career.

When a popular high school senior is shot by police following a late night robbery, chaos ensues. The actions of the officer are immediately called into question. Amid community protests, political grandstanding, department leaks, and reluctant witnesses, Byron and his team must work quickly to figure out what went wrong.

And when an attempt is made on the officer’s life, Byron shifts into overdrive, putting everything on the line. Was the attack merely retribution or something more sinister? The search for the truth may come at a price not even Byron can afford.

Coffin is the bestselling author of the Detective Byron mystery series and a former detective sergeant with more than 27 years in law enforcement. At the time of his retirement from the Portland, Maine police department, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine’s largest city. Following the terror attacks of September 11th, Coffin spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI, earning the Director’s Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive.

His short fiction appears in several anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories 2016.

Coffin is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. He is a regular blog contributor to the Maine Crime Writers and Murder Books blogs.

The Big Thrill caught up with Coffin to ask a few questions about his latest release in the Detective Byron mystery series, BEYOND THE TRUTH:
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Past & Present: A Marketville Mystery by Judy Penz Sheluk

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

The Big Thrill caught up to international bestselling author Judy Penz Sheluk to gain some insight into her latest Marketville Mystery, PAST & PRESENT:
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The Betel Nut Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu

What we came to think of as the betel nut affair began in the middle of a tropical thunderstorm in December 1937 . . .

Singapore is agog with the news of King Edward VIII’s abdication to marry American heiress Wallis Simpson. Chen Su Lin, now Chief Inspector Le Froy’s secretarial assistant in Singapore’s newly formed detective unit, still dreams of becoming a journalist and hopes to cover the story when the Hon Victor Glossop announces he is marrying an American widow of his own, Mrs. Nicole Covington, in the Colony. But things go horribly wrong when Victor Glossop is found dead, his body covered in bizarre symbols and soaked in betel nut juice.

The beautiful, highly-strung Nicole claims it’s her fault he’s dead . . . just like the others. And when investigations into her past reveal a dead lover, as well as a husband, the case against her appears to be stacking up. Begrudgingly on Le Froy’s part, Su Lin agrees to chaperone Nicole at the Farquhar Hotel, intending to get the truth out of her somehow. But as she uncovers secrets and further deaths occur, Su Lin realises she may not be able to save Nicole’s life – or even her own.
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Dig Your Grave by Steven Cooper

A killer is on the loose, burying his victims among the dead in Phoenix cemeteries, and leaving ghoulish signs that warn of more evil to come. It’s a crude camouflage that has Detective Alex Mills stumped. As he has done before, Mills turns to his buddy, the reluctant psychic Gus Parker. His visions, as cryptic and baffling as they sometimes are, mean something.

But just as the investigation heats up, and Mills needs him most, Gus Parker goes missing. Rock ‘n’ roll legend Billie Welch, Gus’s love interest, is frantic to find him and turns to Mills for help. Is this a case of a crazed fan who is trying to get to Billie? Is Gus’s disappearance related to the spree of cemetery killings?

There are nefarious secrets hiding in the shadows of the valley’s most well-heeled neighborhoods, and some of the most prominent residents have the most to fear.
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The Housewife Assassin’s Horrorscope by Josie Brown

Donna Stone, her mission leader Jack, and their covert ops team must decipher horoscope tips that contain clues to the names of twelve U.S.-born traitors whose individual acts are the catalyst to treason at highest level.

The Big Thrill caught up with author Josie Brown to discuss the eighteenth installment of The Housewife Assassin series, THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S HORRORSCOPE:

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

Every novel within the series must challenge both the author and her characters. This series looks at the light and dark sides of espionage. Could your neighbor be a spy? Of course—even in America. This latest Housewife Assassin novel brings home that realization yet again.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

This book is much darker than the usual Housewife Assassin novel—certainly a reflection of the times we live in.

But as history has taught us, unless we allow democracy to die in darkness, truth will prevail.
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Path of the Dead by Mark Edward Langley

Ex-marine Arthur Nakai spent years as a member of the Shadow Wolves, an ICE tactical unit tasked by the US government to hunt human traffickers and drug smugglers on the US/Mexico border. He put that life of confronting violence in the darker contours of the desert landscape behind him and settled into a quiet existence in New Mexico with his wife, Sharon, a local TV reporter.

But when Sharon goes missing after crossing paths with a serial killer who has just added to his list of young victims, Arthur’s calm world is shattered. He must return to the darkness of the life he left behind in order to save what matters most to him, and the future he and his wife plan to share together. He can only hope that she is still alive, and that his skills will be enough to find her. So begins the hunt — to find a ruthless killer and save the love of his life.

The Big Thrill caught up with author Mark Edward Langley to discuss his debut novel, PATH OF THE DEAD:
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The Devil’s Wind by Steve Goble

1723–Spider John, longing to escape the pirate life he never wanted, has an honest seafaring job at last aboard a sailing vessel, and is returning to his beloved Em and their child. But when Captain Brentwood is murdered in his cabin, Spider’s plans are tossed overboard.

Who killed Redemption’s captain? The mysterious pirate with a sadistic past? The beautiful redhead who hides guns beneath her skirt? One of the men pining for the captain’s daughter? There are plenty of suspects.

But how could anyone kill the captain in his locked quarters while the entire crew was gathered together on the deck? Before he can solve the puzzle, Spider John and his ex-pirate friends Hob and Odin will have to cope with violence, schemes, nosy Royal Navy officers, and a deadly trap set by the ruthless pirate Ned Low.

The Big Thrill caught up to author Steve Goble to discuss the second installment in his Spider John mystery series, THE DEVIL’S WIND:
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The Blue Kingfisher by Erica Wright

What happens when a master of disguise tries to be herself for once? If you’re private investigator Kat Stone, trouble seems to find you with or without your favorite wig.

Kat knows she’s living on borrowed time, waiting for her violent past to catch up with her. Still, she doesn’t expect men to start falling from the sky. On a desolate morning in Fort Washington Park, Kat discovers the body of her building’s French expat maintenance man atop the Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse. The NYPD is quick to dismiss his death as suicide, another lost soul leaping from the bridge overhead. Kat is less than convinced, especially when she learns about his dangerous side hustle, finding jobs for immigrant members of their community.

Her investigation turns up unexpected connections to Manhattan’s tony art world, not to mention a host of dark superstitions. When she goes undercover with a deep-sea fishing company, she gets a little too cozy with a colorful cast of characters and a couple of jellyfish. Will she find his killer before her past drags her under? From one of the most acclaimed new mystery writers working today comes a riveting novel of suspense that will have you guessing until the last page is turned.

Erica Wright, author of THE BLUE KINGFISHER, took some time to discuss her latest book with The Big Thrill:
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The Spying Moon by Sandra Ruttan

The unexplained disappearance of her mother left her an orphan, so Kendall Moreau became a police officer and pursued a posting in the town where her mother went missing. She is on her way to her first posting when she gets reassigned to a task force in Maple River, hundreds of miles from where her mother vanished.

Moreau doesn’t want to be in Maple River. Most of her team doesn’t want her there, either. She’s partnered with Nate Duncan, whose role on the task force raises suspicions amongst the team because of his family’s criminal connections, adding to Moreau’s sense of isolation.

They are assigned to investigate the death of Sammy Petersen but Duncan’s personal connection to the family and suspects threatens to compromise the investigation.

When a routine break-and-enter call produces a second body, Moreau suspects a connection to Sammy’s death. After someone breaks into her cabin and assaults her, Moreau is forced to decide who to trust. Although she’s still waiting to solve her own family mystery, Moreau is determined to give Sammy Petersen’s family the answers she never received. Can she solve the case before another teenager dies and another family is destroyed?

Sandra Ruttan, author of THE SPYING MOON, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery:
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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