First Chapters

Excerpt: Deadly Tide by William Nikkel

Three inches of titanium steel separated Jack Ferrell from certain death three and a half miles beneath the surface of the ocean.

His only portal into this silent world of perpetual darkness came from a cone of light extending ninety meters into the black abyss. The sphere of titanium he and the two-man crew huddled inside of provided the only protection from the immense pressure at this extreme depth. Mounted on the front of the deep-submergence vehicle, or DSV, two manipulator arms, resembling the front legs of a praying mantis, hung secured out of the way of his viewing port.

Excerpt: Substitute by Susi Holliday

She spots him from the bedroom window. Jittery. Anxious. Cheap suit and battered briefcase. He shifts from one foot to the other. Rings the doorbell, rattles the knocker for good measure. Glances at his watch. She stands back, concealing herself behind the curtain so that if he looks up he won’t see her.

She doesn’t have time for this today – this dishcloth salesman or Jehovah or whatever he is. She’s been kind to them in the past – buying overpriced J-Cloths from ex-cons, promising to read The Watchtower thrust into her hands. But today she can’t face going through the motions of a polite, awkward conversation with a stranger.

Excerpt: Shadow Hill by Thomas Kies

Bleach.

The smell is all that’s left behind when the cleanup crew in the hazmat suits have scraped up the blood, brain tissue, and skull fragments. All the evidence of two violent deaths was wiped away.

Except for that lingering smell of bleach and ammonia.

“My father didn’t kill himself.” Eric Cutter whispered, shaking his head, his eyes wide. Ever since we’d entered the house, he’d kept his voice low. As if he didn’t want to awaken any ghosts. “And he sure as hell didn’t kill our mother.”

Excerpt: Sleeping Bear by Connor Sullivan

PAUL BRADY WOKE up with a start and went for his rifl e. Sweat poured down his face, his cotton T-shirt sticking to his sleeping bag. For nearly a minute, he sat up breathing deeply, trying to figure out where he was.

He wasn’t in Ramadi.

That was nearly fourteen years ago.

He wasn’t in the Korengal.

That was twelve years ago.

Excerpt: Lost and Found by Amy Shojai

Linda Birch raced out the back door into the snow. “Help, somebody help me!” She slipped and fell, struggled to her feet, and left pink handprints when she levered herself upright.

The butcher knife had left a three-inch gash in her calf. Her stomach burned and she held her left hand hard against the stab wound in her side.

The screen door banged open. Benny stumbled down the slick steps.

Excerpt: The Day She Died by S.M. Freedman

EVE GOLD WASN’T SURPRISED to die on her twenty-seventh birthday. The Angel of Death’s greasy fingers had been pressing against her spine for ten years — maybe longer — and in the underground of her mind where truth squirmed away from the light, she knew that it was just a matter of time before press turned to shove. No, death wasn’t much of a shock. The real surprise was everything that followed.

Ruby Falls by Deborah Goodrich Royce

I was standing with my father in the pitch-black dark—the blackest dark I’d ever seen in the few short years of my young life—and the blackest dark that I’ve seen since, which is a considerably longer span.

The surrounding air was dank with flecks from falling water.

A disembodied voice rose up from the mist, then swooped back down to submerge in it.

A Clash of Forces by Larysa Rychkova

The white Yak 42 with blue flashes touched down smoothly on the tarmac at Saratov airport in southern Russia, with barely a squeal from the tires. The roar of the engines filled the air as the pilot engaged reverse thrust to bring the aircraft down to taxi speed.

Outside of the airport, near the arrivals gate, a small crowd had gathered, many carrying flowers for their expected friends and family.

Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham

Hunter stripped off his paper gown. The autopsy, at last, had come to an end. Dr. Carver left his assistant to close up the body, and he and Hunter headed for Carver’s office for a recap of the results.

“It didn’t appear that she was sexually assaulted before the murder,” Carver said, sitting behind his desk, “but she led a very active sexual life.”

Smith by Timothy J. Lockhart

Smith shifted the rifle, squinted through the scope, and centered the crosshairs on the target.  This one looked much like the last two—a man in his mid-20s, fit, and fairly good-looking.  But unlike the last two this man was drunk and getting a blow job.

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