Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Showcase post & Giveaway: THE ALMOND TREE by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
ISBN:  9781859643297 (paperback)
ASIN:  B008XM0AZM  (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Garnet Publishing
Publication date:  September 30, 2012

Gifted with a mind that continues to impress the elders in his village, Ichmad Hamid struggles with the knowledge that he can do nothing to save his Palestinian friends and family. Ruled by the Israeli military government, the entire village operates in fear of losing homes, jobs, and belongings. But more importantly, they fear losing each other. On Ichmad's twelfth birthday, that fear becomes a reality. With his father imprisoned, his family's home and possessions confiscated, and his siblings quickly succumbing to the dangers of war, Ichmad begins the endless struggle to use his intellect to save his poor and dying family and reclaim a love for others that was lost when the bombs first hit."The Almond Tree" capitalizes on the reader's desire to be picked up and dropped off in another part of the world. It tackles issues that many Americans only hear about on World News or read about at The Huffington Post, such as the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the scholasticide that is being imposed upon the Palestinians in Gaza and the current Gaza blockade. But even more, it offers hope.


Click here to read some excerpts from the book.


Watch the trailer:




About the author:

Michelle Cohen Corasanti has a BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a MA from Harvard University, both in Middle Eastern Studies. She also holds a law degree. A Jewish American, she has lived in France, Spain, Egypt, and England, and spent seven years living in Israel. She currently lives in New York with her family. The Almond Tree is her first novel.

Connect with the author:

Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter



Book Giveaway:

Ms. Corasanti, via Authors on the Web, has graciously offered to giveaway two copies of The Almond Tree to readers of The Book Diva's Reads (two winners, one copy per winner). Regrettably this giveaway offer is limited to residents of the US and Canada. To enter the giveaway, please click here and complete your entry using Rafflecopter (comments are appreciated but are not considered an official entry). This giveaway ends on September 2, 2013. The winner will be announced on September 3, 2013.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Showcase post: STRONG RAIN FALLING by Jon Land







Strong Rain Falling


by Jon Land


on August 12 - September 30, 2013



 




Book Details:
Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 978-0765331502
Series: Caitlin Strong, 5 (Can be read as a Stand Alone)
Purchase Links:    




Synopsis:
Mexico, 1919: The birth of the Mexican drug trade begins with opium being smuggled across the U.S. border, igniting an all-out battle with American law enforcement in general and the Texas Rangers in particular.

The Present: Fifth Generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong and her lover, former outlaw Cort Wesley Masters, both survive terrifying gun battles. But this time, it turns out, the actual targets were not them, but Masters’ teenage sons.

That sets Caitlin and Cort Wesley off on a trail winding through the past and present with nothing less than the future of the United States hanging in the balance. Along the way they will confront terrible truths dating all the way back to the Mexican Revolution and the dogged battle Caitlin’s own grandfather and great-grandfather fought against the first generation of Mexican drug dealers. 

At the heart of the storm soon to sweep away America as we know it, lies a mastermind whose abundant power is equaled only by her thirst for vengeance. Ana Callas Guajardo, the last surviving member of the family that founded the Mexican drug trade, has dedicated all of her vast resources to a plot aimed at the U.S.’s technological heart.

This time out, sabotage proves to be as deadly a weapon as bombs in a battle Caitlin must win in cyberspace as well. Her lone chance to prevail is to short-circuit a complex plan based as much on microchips as bullets. Because there’s a strong rain coming and only Caitlin and Cort Wesley can stop the fall before it’s too late.



Read an excerpt:
CHAPTER 1
Providence, Rhode Island
Caitlin Strong was waiting downstairs in a grassy park bisected by concrete walkways when Dylan Torres emerged from the building. The boy fit in surprisingly well with the Brown University college students he slid between in approaching her, his long black hair bouncing just past his shoulders and attracting the attention of more than one passing coed.
“How’d it go?” Caitlin asked, rising from the bench that felt like a sauna in the sun.
Dylan shrugged and blew some stray hair from his face with his breath. “Size could be an issue.”
“For playing football at this level, I expect so.”
“Coach Estes didn’t rule it out. He just said there were no more first year slots left in the program.”
“First year?”
“Freshman, Caitlin.”
“How’d you leave it?” she asked, feeling dwarfed by the athletic buildings that housed playing courts, training facilities, a swimming pool, full gym and the offices of the school’s coaches. The buildings enclosed the park-like setting on three sides, leaving the street side to be rimmed by an eight-foot wall of carefully layered stone. Playing fields took up the rear of the complex beyond the buildings and, while waiting for Dylan, Caitlin heard the clang of aluminum bats hitting baseballs and thunks of what sounded like soccer balls being kicked about. Funny how living in a place the size of Texas made her antsy within an area where so much was squeezed so close.
“Well, short of me growing another four inches and putting on maybe twenty pounds of muscle, it’s gonna be an uphill battle,” Dylan said, looking down. “That is, if I even get into this place. That’s an uphill battle too.”
She reached out and touched his shoulder. “This coming from a kid who’s bested serial killers, kidnappers and last year a human monster who bled venom instead of blood.”
Dylan started to shrug, but smiled instead. “Helps that you and my dad were there to gun them all down.”
“Well, I don’t believe we’ll be shooting Coach Estes and my point was if anybody can handle an uphill battle or two, it’s you.”
Dylan lapsed into silence, leaving Caitlin to think of the restaurant they’d eaten at the night before where the waitress had complimented her on having such a good looking son. She’d felt her insides turn to mush when the boy smiled and went right on studying the menu, not bothering to correct the woman. He was three quarters through a fifth year at San Antonio’s St. Anthony Catholic High School, in range of finishing the year with straight “A”s. Though the school didn’t formally offer such a program, Caitlin’s captain D. W. Tepper had convinced them to make an exception on behalf of the Texas Rangers by slightly altering their Senior Connection program to fit the needs of a boy whose grades hadn’t anywhere near matched his potential yet.
Not that it was an easy fit. The school’s pristine campus in historic Monte Vista just north of downtown San Antonio was populated by boys and girls in staid, prescribed uniforms that made Dylan cringe. Blazers instead of shapeless shirts worn out at the waist, khakis instead of jeans gone from sagging to, more recently, what they called skinny, and hard leather dress shoes instead of the boots Caitlin had bought him for his birthday a few years back. But the undermanned football team had recruited him early on, Dylan donning a uniform for the first time since a brief stint in the Pop Warner league as a young boy while his mother was still alive and the father he’d yet to meet was in prison. This past fall at St. Anthony’s he’d taken to the sport again like a natural, playing running back and sifting through the tiniest holes in the defensive line to amass vast chunks of yardage. Dylan ended up being named Second Team All TAPPS District 2-5A, attracting the attention of several small colleges, though none on the level of Brown University, a perennial contender for the Ivy League crown.
Caitlin found those Friday nights, sitting with Cort Wesley Masters and his younger son Luke in stands ripe with the first soft bite of fall, strangely comforting. Given that she’d never had much use for such things in her own teenage years, the experience left her feeling as if she’d been transported back in time with a chance to relive her own youth through a boy who was as close to a son as she’d ever have. Left her recalling her own high school days smelling of gun oil instead of perfume. She’d been awkward then, gawky after growing tall fast. Still a few years short of forty, Caitlin had never added to that five-foot-seven-inch frame, although the present found her filled out and firm from regular workouts and jogging. She wore her wavy black hair more fashionably styled, but kept it the very same length she always had, perhaps in a misguided at-tempt to slow time if not stop it altogether. 
Gazing at Dylan now, she recalled the headmaster of his school, a cousin of Caitlin’s own high school principal, coming up to her after the victorious opening home game.
“The school owes you a great bit of gratitude, Ranger.”
“Well, sir, I’ll bet Dylan’ll do even better next week.”
The headmaster gestured toward the newly installed lights. “I meant gratitude for the Rangers arranging for the variance that allowed us to go forward with the installation. That’s the only reason we’re able to be here to-night.”
She’d nodded, smiling to herself at how Captain Tepper had managed to arrange Dylan’s admission. “Our pleasure, sir.”
Now, months later on the campus of an Ivy League school in Providence, Rhode Island, Dylan looked down at the grass and then up again, something furtive lurking in his suddenly narrowed eyes. The sun sneaking through a nearby tree dappled his face and further hid what he was about to share. 
“I got invited to a frat party.”
“Say that again.”
“I got invited to a party at this frat called D-Phi.”
“D what?”
“Short for Delta Phi. Like the Greek letters.”
“I know they’re Greek letters, son, just like I know what goes on at these kind of parties given that I’ve been called to break them up on more than one occasion.”
“You’re the one who made me start thinking about college.”
“Doesn’t mean I got you thinking about doing shots and playing beer pong.”
“Beirut.”
Caitlin looked at him as if he were speaking a foreign language.
“They call it Beirut here, not beer pong,” Dylan continued. “And it’s important I get a notion of what the campus life is like. You told me that too.”
“I did?”
“Uh-huh.”
“I let you go to this party, you promise you won’t drink?”
Dylan rolled his head from side to side. “I promise I won’t drink much.”
“What’s that mean?”
“That I’ll be just fine when you come pick me up in the morning to get to the airport.”
“Pick you up,” Caitlin repeated, her gaze narrowing.
“I’m staying with this kid from Texas who plays on the team. Coach set it up.”
“Coach Estes?”
“Yup. Why?’
Caitlin slapped an arm around the boy’s shoulder and steered him toward the street. “Because I may rethink my decision about shooting him.”
“I told him you were a Texas Ranger,” Dylan said, as they approached a pair of workmen stringing a tape measure outside the athletic complex’s hockey rink.
“What’d he think about that?” Caitlin said, finding her gaze drawn to the two men she noticed had no tools and were wearing scuffed shoes instead of work boots.
“He said he liked gals with guns.”
They continued along the walkway that curved around the park-like grounds, banking left at a small lot where Caitlin had parked her rental. She worked the remote to unlock the doors and watched Dylan ease around to the passenger side, while she turned back toward the hockey rink and the two workmen she couldn’t shake from her mind.
But they were gone.
CHAPTER 2
Providence, Rhode Island
“What’s this WaterFire thing?” Dylan asked, spooning up the last of his ice cream while Caitlin sipped her nightly post-dinner coffee.
“Like a tradition here. Comes highly recommended.”
“You don’t want me going to that frat party.”
“The thought had crossed my mind, but I’m guessing the WaterFire’ll be done ‘fore your party even gets started.”
Dylan held the spoon in his hand and then licked at it.
“How’s the ice cream?”
“It’s Gelato.”
“What’s the difference?”
“None, I guess.
They had chosen to eat at a restaurant called Paragon, again on the recommendation of Coach Estes, a fashionably loud, lit, and reasonably priced bistro-like restaurant on the student-dominated Thayer Street across from the University bookstore. Dylan ordered a pizza while Caitlin ruminated over the menu choices before eventually opting for what she always did: a steak. You can take the gal out of Texas, she thought to herself, but you can’t take Texas out of the gal.
“I hear this Waterfire is something special,” Caitlin said, when she saw him checking his watch.
“Yeah? Who told you that?”
“Coach Estes. What do you say we head downtown and check it out?”
* * *
They walked through the comfortable cool of the early evening darkness, a welcome respite from the sweltering spring heat wave that had struck Texas just before they’d left. Caitlin wanted to talk, but Dylan wouldn’t look up from his iPhone, banging out text after text. 
They strolled up a slight hill and then down a steeper one, joining the thick flow of people heading for the sounds of the nighttime festival known as WaterFire. The air was crisp and laced with the pungent aroma of wood smoke drifting up from Providence’s downtown area, where the masses of milling people were headed. The scents grew stronger while the harmonic strains of music sharpened the closer they drew to an area bridged by walkways crisscross-ing a river that ran the entire length of the modest office buildings and residential towers that dominated the city’s skyline. A performance area had been roped off at the foot of the hill, currently occupied by a group of white-faced mimes. An array of pushcarts offering various grilled meats as well as snacks and sweets were lined up nearby, most with hefty lines before them.
The tightest clusters of festival patrons moved in both directions down a walkway at the river’s edge. Cait-lin realized the strange and haunting strains of music had their origins down here as well and moved to join the flow. The black water shimmered like glass, an eerie glow emanat-ing from its surface. Boaters and canoeists paddled lei-surely by. A water taxi packed with seated patrons sipping wine slid past followed by what looked like a gondola straight from Venice.
But it was the source of the orange glow reflecting off the water’s surface that claimed Caitlin’s attention. She could now identify the pungent scent of wood smoke as that of pine and cedar, hearing the familiar crackle of flames as she and Dylan reached a promenade that ran di-rectly alongside the river.
“Caitlin?” Dylan prodded, touching her shoulder.
She jerked to her right, stiffening, the boy’s hand like a hot iron against her shirt.
“Uh-oh,” the boy said. “You got that look.”
“Just don’t like crowds,” Caitlin managed, casting her gaze about. “That’s all.”
A lie, because she felt something wasn’t right, out of rhythm somehow. Her stomach had already tightened and now she could feel the bands of muscle in her neck and shoul-ders knotting up as well.
“Yeah?” Dylan followed before she forced a smile. “And, like, I’m supposed to believe that?”
Before them, a line of bonfires that seemed to rise out of the water curved along the expanse of the Providence river walk. The source of these bonfires, Caitlin saw now, were nearly a hundred steel braziers of flaming wood moored to the water’s surface and stoked by black-shirted workers in a square pontoon-like boat, including one who performed an elaborate fire dance in between tending the flames.
The twisting line of braziers seemed to stretch for-ever into the night. Caitlin and Dylan continued to follow their bright glow amid the crowd, keeping the knee-high re-taining wall on their right. More kiosks selling hotdogs, grilled meats to be stuffed in pockets, kabobs, beverages, and souvenirs had been set up above the river walk on streets and sidewalks. The sights and sounds left her homesick for Texas, the sweet smell of wood smoke reminding her of the scent of barbecue and grilled food wafting over the famed San Antonio River Walk.
Caitlin was imagining that smell when she felt some-thing, not much and not even identifiable at first, yet enough to make her neck hairs stand up. A ripple in the crowd, she realized an instant later, followed almost immediately by more of a buckling indicative of someone forcing their way through it. Instinct twisted Caitlin in the di-rection of the ripple’s origin and the flames’ glow caught a face that was familiar to her.
Because it belonged to one of the workman she’d glimpsed outside the hockey rink back at Brown University. And the second workman stood directly alongside him, hands pulling their jackets back enough to reveal the dark glint of the pistols wedged into their belts.




Author Bio:
Jon Land is the author of more than 30 thrillers, including the bestselling Caitlin Strong Texas Ranger series that includes Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance and, coming this August, Strong Rain Falling. This past fall he resurrected his longtime series hero Blaine McCracken in the E-Book Original Pandora’s Temple, which became a bestseller on both Apple and Amazon and was nominated for a Thriller Award as Best E-Book Original. A follow-up, The Tenth Circle, is slated for release in time for the holiday season. Jon’s first nonfiction book, BETRAYAL, meanwhile, was a national bestseller and was named Best True Crime Book of 2012 by Suspense Magazine. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com.


Catch Up With the Author:  




Tour Participants


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Showcase Post: THE RED QUEEN DIES by Frankie Bailey







The Red Queen Dies


by Frankie Bailey


on Tour August 1 - September 30, 2013


 




Book Details:
Genre:  Mystery & Detective
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: Sept 10, 2013
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-0-312-64175-7 / 978-1-250-03717-6
Purchase Links:    




Synopsis:
The first in a new high-concept police procedural series, set in Albany with an Alice in Wonderland theme.

Frankie Bailey introduces readers to a fabulous new protagonist and an Alice in Wonderland-infused crime in this stunning mystery. The year is 2019, and a drug used to treat soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder, nicknamed "Lullaby," has hit the streets. Swallowing a little pill erases traumatic memories, but what happens to a criminal trial when the star witness takes a pill and can't remember the crime? Biracial detective Hannah McCabe faces similar perplexing problems as she attempts to solve the murders of three women, one of whom, a Broadway actress known as "The Red Queen," has a special interest in the story of Alice in Wonderland. Is the killer somehow reenacting the children's tale? This smart, tough mystery will appeal to fans of high-concept police procedurals.



Read an excerpt:
[CAUTION:  Strong Language]
Excerpt:

DATE: Thursday, 24 October 2019
TIME: 0700 hours
WEATHER TODAY: Mid 90s. Air quality poor. Evening storms.
DISPLAY ON WALL: Wake-up News

“Good morning, everyone. I’m Suzanne Price.
 “First, the news from the nation. The federal government says, ‘No hoax, no conspiracy, but still no definitive answers.’
 “The administration denies suppressing portions of the commission report on the November 2012 close encounter between NORAD fighter jets and the black boomerang-shaped UFO that appeared over the Mojave Desert, creating worldwide awe and panic before disappearing in a blinding flash of light.
 “In Las Vegas, preparations are underway for the now-annual spectacular celebration of that close encounter.
 “However, a warning from alien invasion survivalists, who say this seventh anniversary will be the year the spacecraft returns leading an armada. Survivalists plan to retreat to their bunkers on November 2. Gun shop owners report sales of firearms are up, as they are every year as the anniversary approaches.
 “Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says another eruption of solar flares could cause more communication and power disruptions early next week.
 “Forest fires in both Canada and breakaway nation New France continue to burn out of control, sending smoke southward.
 “Scientists taking part in a climate change conference in Philadelphia disagree about the explanation for the significant improvement in the acidity levels of the world’s oceans. ‘It shouldn’t be happening,’ an MIT oceanographer said. ‘Nothing in anyone’s data predicted this turnaround. But I think we can safely rule out divine intervention and UFO babies.’
 “Out on the presidential campaign trail, a political firestorm erupts as Republican front-runner Janet Cortez accuses independent candidate Howard Miller of ‘rallying angry, frightened people to commit hate crimes.’ During an arena speech yesterday, Miller called on several thousand supporters to ‘reclaim America for Americans’ and ‘restore our way of life.’ Cortez says Miller is ‘morally responsible’ for the attacks that have been escalating since he announced his third- party candidacy.
“Now, here at home . . . a chilling scenario posed by a local crime beat threader. Is there an ‘Albany Ripper’ in our midst?”
“Dammit!” Hannah McCabe jumped back as the grapefruit juice from her overturned glass splashed across the countertop, covering the still- visible display of the nutrition content of her father’s breakfast.
“Bring up the sound,” he said. “I want to hear this.”
“Half a second, Pop. Hands full.” McCabe shoved her holster out of the way and touched clean up before the stream of juice could run off the counter and onto the tile floor.
“. . . Following last night’s Common Council meeting, threader Clarence Redfield interrupted a statement by Detective Wayne Jacoby, the Albany Police Department spokesperson . . .”

In the Chief of Police’s office, Jacoby struggled to keep his expression neutral as the footage of the press conference and his exchange with Redfield began to roll.
“The Albany Police Department remains hopeful that the Common Council will approve both funding requests. The first to expand GRTYL, our Gang Reduction Through Youth Leadership program, and the second to enhance the surveillance—”
“Detective Jacoby, isn’t it true that the Albany PD is engaged in a cover-up? Isn’t it true that the Albany PD has failed to inform the citizens of this city of what they have a right to know?”
“I know you want to offer your usual observations, Mr. Redfield. But if you will hold your questions until I finish—”
“Isn’t it true that we have a serial killer at work here in Albany, Detective? Isn’t it true that a secret police task force has been created to try to track down a killer who has been preying on women here in this city?”
“That is . . . no, that is not true, Mr. Redfield. There is no secret task force, nor is there any cover-up. We . . . the Albany PD does not engage in . . .”
From his position by the window, Chief Egan said, “Stammering like a frigging schoolgirl makes it hard to believe you’re telling the truth, Wayne.”
“The little bastard caught me off guard,” Jacoby said, his annoyance getting the better of him.
The others at the table avoided his glance, their gazes focused on the wall where his confrontation with Redfield was continuing.
“So, Detective, you’re telling us that there aren’t two dead women who—”
“I’m telling you, Mr. Redfield, that we have ongoing investigations into two cases involving female victims who—”
“Who were the victims of a serial killer?”
“We have two female homicide victims. Both deaths were drug-induced and both occurred within the past six weeks. On each occasion, we made available to the media, including yourself, information about—”
“But you didn’t release the details that link the two cases. You didn’t tell the media or the citizens of this city that both women were—”
“We do not release the details of ongoing homicide investigations, Mr. Redfield. And you are not aiding these investigations with your grandstanding.”
“My grandstanding? Don’t you think it’s time someone told the women of Albany that the police can’t protect them? That they should stay off the streets after dark, get inside when the fog rolls in, and lock their doors? Shouldn’t someone tell the taxpaying citizens of this city that in spite of all the hype about your Big Brother surveillance system, a killer is still moving like a phantom through the—”
“What the citizens of Albany should know is that the Albany PD is bringing all its resources and those of other law-enforcement agencies to bear to solve these two cases. Veteran detectives are following every lead. And the citywide surveillance system the department has implemented—”
“When it’s working, Detective Jacoby. Isn’t it true that the solar flares have been giving your system problems?”
One of the captains sitting at the conference table in Chief Egan’s office groaned. “Is he just guessing?”
On the wall, Jacoby’s jaw was noticeably clinched.
“As I was about to say, Mr. Redfield, before we began this back-and-forth, the DePloy surveillance system has been effective both in reducing crime and solving the crimes that have occurred. That is the end of this discussion.”
 “You mean ‘Shut up or I’m out of here’?”
 “Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I am now going to finish the official statement regarding funding. I will only respond to questions on that subject. . . .”
Chief Egan said, “Not one of your better performances, Wayne. You let him rattle you.” He walked over and sat down at the head of the table. “Her Royal Highness, the mayor, was not pleased when she called me last night.”

On the wall, the anchorwoman took over.
“Detective Jacoby then completed his statement about the proposals before the Common Council. When a reporter tried to return to the allegation made by crime beat threader Clarence Redfield that a serial killer is at work in Albany, Detective Jacoby ended the press conference and left the podium.
Mr. Redfield himself declined to respond to questions from reporters about the source of his information. We’ll have more for you on this story as details become available.
“In another matter before the Common Council, a proposed emergency expansion of the existing no masks or face-covering ordinance to include Halloween night. The new ordinance would apply to everyone over eight years of age. The recent outbreak of crimes involving juveniles . . .”
“Now, they’re even trying to take away Halloween,” Angus McCabe said from his place at the kitchen table. “Well? Any truth to it? Do we have ourselves a serial killer on the loose?”
McCabe put her empty juice glass on the shelf inside the dishwasher. “Since when do you consider Clarence Redfield a reliable source, Pop?”
“He ain’t. But I’ve spent more than half my life grilling official mouthpieces, and the way Jacoby was squirming—”
“Jacoby can’t stand Redfield. You know that.” McCabe snagged her thermo jacket from the back of her chair and bent to kiss his forehead. “And you’re retired now, remember?”
“I may be retired, but I’m not dead yet. What’s going on?”
“Got to run, Pop. Have a good day.”
“Have a good day nothing.” He rose to follow her into the hall.
“Hank McCabe, you tell me what’s—”
“Can’t discuss it. I’ll pick us up some dinner on the way home. Chinese okay?”
He scowled at her, his eyes the same electric blue they had always been, the bristling brows gone gray.
“No, Chinese ain’t okay. I’m tired of Chinese. I’ll cook dinner tonight. I’ve got all day to twiddle my thumbs. What else do I have to do but make dinner?”
“I thought you might intend to work on your book. You do have that deadline coming up in a couple of months.”
“Book, hell. There ain't no book. I’m giving the advance back.”
“If that’s what you want to do,” McCabe said. “On the other hand, you could just sit down and write the book.”
“You try writing a damn book, Ms. Detective.”
“Not my area of expertise. But you've done it a few times before. Even won an award or two.”
“This one’s different. Nobody would read it even if I wrote it. And don’t ‘If that’s what you want to do’ me. We were talking about this serial killer that Redfield claims—”
“Sorry, Pop, I really do have to go. I want to get in a few minutes early this morning.”
“Why? What are you—”
She closed the door on his demand that she get herself back there and tell him what was going on. Striding to her car, McCabe tried to ignore the whiff of smoke that she could taste in the back of her throat and the sticky air, which made her want to step back into the shower. The heat was due to break to night. That would clear the air.
And Pop would pull himself out of his funk. He always did.
Of course, the other times, he’d had an office to go to . . . and no restrictions on his alcohol consumption.

“I have every confidence in your ability to get what we need, Mike boy.”
“Right.” Baxter flashed his best cocky grin. “You know you can count on me.”
His caller nodded. “I know I can.” He pointed his finger at Baxter. “Watch your back out there, you hear me?”
He disconnected, his image fading from the screen. Baxter closed his ORB and leaned back on his cream leather sofa. He stretched his arms over his head, fingers clasped. His gaze fell on the framed photograph on his desk. Himself in dress blues. Graduation day from the Academy. Baxter grunted, then laughed. “You should have seen this one coming, Mike boy.”
 He rubbed his hand across his mouth, whistled. “Well hell.”
 Baxter reached for his ORB again. He pulled up a file and began to update his notes.
 When he was done, he grabbed his thermo jacket and headed for the door.
His mind on other things, he left the apartment on cooldown and the lights on in the bathroom, but the condo’s environmental system had gone into energy-saver mode by the time he reached the lobby. In the garage, Baxter paused for his usual morning ritual, admiring the burgundy sheen of his vintage 1967 Mustang convertible. Then he got into his three-year-old hybrid and headed in to work.

McCabe was stuck in traffic on Central Avenue, waiting for an opening to maneuver around a florist van.
In Albany, double parking had always been considered a civic right. With more traffic each year and the narrow lanes that had been carved out for Zip cars and tri-bikes, Central Avenue in the morning was like it must have been when Albany was a terminus for slaughter houses, with cattle driven along Central Avenue Turnpike.
Stop, start, nose, and try not to trample one another as they moved toward their destinations.
McCabe tilted her head from side to side and shrugged her shoulders. What she needed, yearned for, was a long run. Even with geosimulators, five miles on a machine was never as good as running outside.
McCabe’s attention was caught by a flash of color. On the sidewalk in front of Los Amigos, a young black woman in a patchwork summer skirt laughed as an older man, suave and mustachioed, swirled her in a samba move. Still laughing, she disengaged herself and scooped up her straw handbag from the sidewalk. Hand over his heart, the man called out to his impromptu dance partner. Giggling, she went on her way.
Stopped by the traffic light at the intersection, McCabe lowered her window enough to hear the music coming from the open doorway of the restaurant. Before it was Mexican, the place had been Caribbean, and before that, Indian. The owners of the hair salon on one side and the discount store on the other had complained about this latest example of ethnic succession. Loud  music, spicy smells— in other words, the threat posed by “Mexs” moving into this block as they had others. Some legal, some American citizens, some neither, arriving in Albany in greater numbers during the years when the convention center was going up. Now the resentment was more vocal, the sense of being in competition greater. Even the imagined threat of an interplanetary invasion hadn't changed that dynamic. Earthlings still distrusted other earthlings. They defended what they thought of as their turf.
Since the UFO, old episodes of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone had become a cult favorite with teen “space zombies.” According to Pop, the zombies weren’t the only ones who should be watching the series. He claimed that in the event of another close encounter, Rod Serling had left instructions. Rule number one: Even if the spacecraft looks flashy, check to make sure it isn't a balloon from a Thanksgiving Day parade. Rule number two: Even if the lights do start going on and off  don’t turn on your neighbors, assuming they must be the aliens. Rule number three: Even if the “visitors” introduce themselves and seem friendly, ask for additional information about how they plan “to serve” mankind before hopping on their spaceship.
Meanwhile, daily life continued on Central Avenue, where Zoe James, the black female owner of the beauty shop, refused to patronize the Mexican restaurant next door. At least she and Sung Chang, the Korean- American owner of the discount store, had stopped calling the cops every time the music and dancing overflowed onto the sidewalk. Of course, the Janet Cortez Para Presidente sign now on proud display in Los Amigos’s front window might set them off again. Both James and Chang had signs supporting the current vice president, who was male, black (biracial, actually), and likely to be the Democrats nominee.
But according to Pop, the candidate they all needed to be worried about, should be scared to death of, actually, was Howard Miller, that smiling “man of the people.” Howard Miller, who was as smooth as the churned butter from that family- owned farm he boasted about having grown up on.
McCabe stared hard at the traffic light that was supposed to adjust for traffic flow and right now was doing nothing at all. She decided to give it another thirty seconds before she reported a problem.
Howard Miller.
They hadn't looked at that kind of hate crime because they had two white female victims. But the murder weapon . . . What if one of Miller’s crazy followers . . .
Horns blared.
McCabe was reaching for her ORB when the traffic light flickered and went from red to green.
More horns blared.
Three women, pushing metal shopping carts, had decided to make a last-minute dash across the busy intersection. White with a hint of a tan, clad in light- colored shorts and T-shirts, they were too clean to be homeless.
The women were almost to the other side when a bike messenger zipped around a double- parked produce truck.
The women darted out of his way. He skidded and went down hard. Sunlight sparkled on his blue helmet, but his work-tanned legs were bare and vulnerable.
One of the women looked back, peering over her designer sunglasses. She called out something. Maybe it was “Sorry about that.”
Then she and her fellow scavenger hunters sprinted away in the direction of Washington Park, where Radio KZAC must be holding today’s meet-up.
The taxi driver behind McCabe leaned on his horn. She waved for him to go around her.
She watched the bike messenger get up on wobbly legs. He looked down at his knee and grimaced. But the next moment, he was checking his bike. Then he grabbed for his leather satchel before a car could run over it. Hopping back on his bike, he pedaled off .
A car pulled away from the curb, opening up a spot a few feet away from Cambrini’s Bakery. McCabe shot forward and did a quick parallel park.
She got out and headed toward the intertwined aromas of fresh-baked muffins and black coffee. Maybe the day wasn't going to be so bad after all.
The line wound back to the door, but it seemed to be moving fast. McCabe glanced at the old- fashioned chalkboard that always had the morning’s “featured muffin.” Not in the mood for pumpkin, she found what she wanted on the menu and sent her order from her ORB to checkout before joining the queue.
“Good morning, sister. Is God blessing you this fine day?”
She turned toward the deep voice and beaming smile of the man in the black New York Yankees baseball cap and the white suit and white shirt, which contrasted with his chocolate brown skin.
“Good morning, Reverend Deke.”
“I said, sister, ‘Is God blessing you this fine day?’ ”
“Yes, thank you, He is,” McCabe said.
“I’m pleased to hear that.”
Reverend Deke went out the door carrying his steaming coffee cup. By high noon, he would be bringing “the message” to any of the office workers who decided to leave the climate- controlled Empire State Plaza complex to patronize the lunch wagons lined up along the street. Some of the workers would pause to listen as Reverend Deke broke into one of the spirituals that he had learned on his Georgia- born grandmother’s knee.
McCabe watched him go, greeting the people he passed.
Ten minutes later, she was jammed in sideways at the counter by the window, munching on a lemon-blueberry-pecan muffin. Half a day’s supply of antioxidants, and it even tasted like it was made with real sugar. 
The police frequency on her ORB lit up. She touched the screen to see the message that Comm Center had sent out to patrol cars.
McCabe swallowed the last bite of her muffin and grabbed her ice coffee container from the counter.
Out of the sidewalk, she spoke into her transmitter. “Dispatch, Detective McCabe also responding to that call. En route.”
“Copy, McCabe. Will advise,” the dispatcher responded.
Mike Baxter picked up the same dispatch as he was pulling out of the fast- food drive-thru. He shoved his coffee cup into the holder and reached for his siren.
“Dispatch, Detective Baxter also responding.”
“Copy, Baxter. McCabe’s headed that way, too.”
“Thought she would be. This could be our guy.”
“Happy hunting.”
McCabe pulled herself to the top of the fence and paused to look down into the alley. She jumped and landed on the other side, one foot slipping in dog shit. The man she was chasing darted a glance behind him and kept running.
In a half squat, McCabe drew her weapon and fired. Her bola wrapped around the man’s legs. He sprawled forward, entangled in the cords, crashing into moldering cardboard boxes and other garbage.
 McCabe ran toward him. He twisted onto his side, trying to sit up and free himself.
 “Get these ropes off me, bitch!”
 “Stay down,” she said, training the weapon, now set to stun, on the perp’s scrawny torso. “Roll over on your belly.”
 He looked up at her face, then at the gun. Either he was convinced she would use it or deterred by the minicam that was attached to the weapon and was recording their encounter. He sagged back to the ground and rolled over.
 She stepped to the side, about to order him to raise his arm behind his back so that she could slip on the first handcuff .
 “You got him!” Mike Baxter said, running up. He was sweating, cheeks flushed, eyes bright with excitement. “That was great.”
 “Cuff him,” McCabe said, trying not to let Baxter see that she was breathing hard.
 She was thirty- four to Baxter’s twenty- nine, and, yes, she had outrun him. But she should be in better shape than this. Today’s air-quality reading was no excuse. Baxter snapped the cuffs into place and McCabe retracted her bola. Baxter hauled the perp to his feet.
 “Hey, man, this is police brutality, you hear me?” the perp said.
 “I’m gonna sue both of you.”
 “That all you got to say?” Baxter said.
 “Say? You’re supposed to read me my rights, man.”
 “You got it, man,” Baxter said. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you . . .” He recited the words with the controlled irony of a cop who had been saying them for several decades. But he looked like a college kid. That was why he had been recruited from patrol to work undercover vice. But word was that he had wanted out of that and played a commendably discrete game of departmental politics, involving his godfather, the assistant chief, to get reassigned.
 Sirens screeching, two police cruisers pulled into the alley.
 Baxter grinned at McCabe. “Great way to start the day, huh, partner?”
 “Absolutely,” she said, scrapping her shoe on the edge of a mildewed cardboard box.
 She hoped he realized that the likelihood that this was the guy they were looking for was about zilch.
  



Author Bio:
FRANKIE Y. BAILEY is an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY). Bailey is the author of mysteries as well as non-fiction titles that explore the intersections of crime, history, and popular culture. Bailey is a Macavity Award-winner and has been nominated for Edgar, Anthony, and Agatha awards. A past executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime, she is on the Albany Bouchercon 2013 planning committee.


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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Showcase post: REESE'S LEAP by Darcy Scott




Reese's Leap

by Darcy Scott

on Tour August - September 2013
 


Book Details:
Genre:  Mystery
Published by: Maine Authors Publishing
Publication Date: March 23, 2013
Number of Pages: 216
ISBN: 978-1938883347
Purchase Links:    
Series: Island Mystery Series #2 - Can be read as a stand-alone
(You may also request/review #1 Matinicus)
Disclaimer: 
Excessive strong language

Recently, Matinicus (prequel to Reese's Leap) has won both the "Best Mystery," 2013 Indie Book Awards and the Bronze Prize for Regional Fiction from the 2013 IPPY Awards!

Synopsis:

In this much-anticipated sequel to the award-winning "Matinicus," five longtime friends—briefly freed from their complex lives for an annual, all-female retreat on Adria Jackman’s remote, 200-acre enclave of Mistake Island, Maine—are forced to put the partying on hold to host the hard-drinking, bachelor botanist, Gil Hodges, stranded there for what could be days.  A hopeless womanizer, Gil is secretly pleased at the layover, but soon finds Mistake’s deeply forested interior deceptively bucolic and the women a bit too intriguing for comfort, stirring both glorious memory and profound regret. When a diabolical stranger appears out of nowhere, insinuating himself into the fold to exact a twisted kind of revenge, it falls to Gil to keep the women safe, despite a dawning awareness that not everyone will make it off the island alive.

Read an excerpt:

I’m slow coming to in the early-morning stillness—arm slung over my eyes, something lumpy under my butt I only now realize has been digging in for some time. It seems I slept fully clothed, too—something I never do—but the damp chill beneath me makes even less sense, the fusty smell wafting from my bedclothes not quite the permeating fug of the hammock I’ve grown used to. I could crack my eyes and get a visual, I suppose, but that would involve prying the pasty things apart first—something that’s beyond me just now.
The shamelessly chipper bird sounding off just above me and the dry whisper of field grass are what tip me off. The meadow. I spent the night in the fucking meadow. 
My groan is of the just-how-big-an-asshole-did-I-make-of-myself variety, chased by the kind of creeping, morning-after dread I’ve come to know so well. I vaguely recall a bottle of tawny Port, unearthed by Adria from some secret stash of her father’s after everyone else had gone to bed—which was earlier than usual, thanks to the pall Brit and Pete cast over the evening. Just the two of us, then—well, three, if you count the bottle. Pure liquid ambrosia, if memory serves. No doubt I went a bit overboard. But it wasn’t the booze or the thought of another night crammed onto that miserable hammock that got me out here, I recall now, but the fear of what I might do about Nora’s tempting proximity while I lay in such a weakened and vulnerable state. Still, I’ve no clue how I managed it. Could have walked, could have flown, could have been wheeled in a barrow. But however I did it, I slept like the proverbial rock. 
No reason to get up now either, I figure—at least not ’til the mosquitoes find me. Another hour, I plead, rolling over, which is when I see Pete down on his haunches studying me, face not a foot from mine. 
“Jesus!” I bark, adrenaline powering my scramble to clear the sleeping bag I apparently dragged out here with me. “Don’t do that!” 
He cocks his head, rising to meet me as I stand. Not a good idea as it turns out, this standing business, considering the explosion of pain at the top of my head. At six-two, I’m five or six inches taller than this guy—something that would normally make me feel pretty good, only nothing feels good just now. My legs are so wobbly, it’s all I can do to remain vertical. I glance down at the cool breeze running over my left foot. 
My sore, bare left foot. 
Where the fuck is my shoe?
“Piece of advice,” Pete says, glancing toward the mountain, gaze flat and unreadable as he swings it back my way. Think Clint Eastwood’s slow burn, but with none of his style. “Right now we got no real beef, you and me. Keep out of this and it’ll stay that way.”
What this? There’s a this? 
“Let me guess,” I say, pinching the bridge of my nose against the vise slowly tightening at the top of my head, the forks carving out the backs of my eyeballs. The things I do to myself. “This is about your brother, right? What—you were too busy lobbing the n-word at Adria to hear her say she wasn’t around? That none of these chicks know anything about this?”
“They know,” he assures me. “Just not sayin’.”
“They—as in...”
“All of ’em, probably.”
Of course. Conspiracy among the conifers. I’ll have to remember to suggest this to Duggan for the title of whatever mystery or thriller he’s hoping to eke out of all this. 
“Come on, man. You saw the looks on their faces—total fucking surprise.” 
“Brit said they come out here every year—same women, same week in July.”
Good old Brit. “I wouldn’t know.” Nor do I care. Once around with this shit’s more than enough for me; besides, I desperately need to keep the sun from hitting my retinas just now. Shades, I think. I pat my pockets.
“Earl was killed the week they were here. July 21st.”
“July 21st what?”
“Day he died.”
“You can’t possibly know that,” I say, carefully lowering myself to rummage in my 
rucksack for those miserable Maui Jims. Sliding them on makes things marginally better, but mincing my way back to my feet brings stabbing pains from the sole of the shoeless one. Man, it hurts. What the hell did I step on, anyway? Glass, rock—what?
 “So, okay,” I say, cranking the foot up stork-like to peer at the dried brown goo stuck to the bottom. Mud? I wonder, hopping awkwardly to stay upright. Blood? “Say you’re right, and he was here. Doesn’t mean they knew he was here.” Gently probing the most tender places for lacerations, protruding foreign objects. “If Adria even suspected he was camping on the island, she’d have booted his ass off. You’ve seen the way she is about this place.” 
 “Earl don’t listen to nobody when his mind’s set. Kind of his trademark.”
 More of that unremitting Eastwood gaze, which is frankly starting to piss me off. Out of nowhere, another piece of yesterday slips along the edge of my mind—something weird about the timing of all this. And then it hits me. If Earl died two years ago, why’s this guy just turning up now? 
 “You were in prison when it happened.” Pure hunch, of course, but it fits. Explains why he seemed so hinky from the start, that vague whiff of what I now recognize as recent and intimate acquaintance with Maine State Corrections. I do the mental math, take a stab. “You and Earl were sent up together; only he got out early. Drugs would be my bet. That or a juicy little B&E.” 
“Fuck them bastards. Bullshit’s what it was. Lousy pot bust. My second time, so the judge bumped me a couple extra years.”
“So Earl gets out, comes here to revisit the old stomping grounds, and ends up dead.”
“I knew there’d be trouble, what with me not around to keep him in line. It was me always looked out for him.”
“Plus, you landed him in jail. What a bro. But hey, at least you knew where he was; there’s that.” Screwing with him like this probably isn’t smart, but I’m still kinda punchy, and I need to piss. Besides; I really, really, really don’t like this guy. 
Pete cocks his head. 
“This funny to you?”
Fucking hilarious, actually, only it’s fast becoming clear that leaving Adria et al alone while a deluded nut like this is wandering the island wouldn’t be smart. There’s my conscience to consider, what’s left of it anyway. “So you got sprung—what—a month ago? Two?” 
“Sat in that shitty jail two years knowin’ he’d been murdered, countin’ the days ’til I got out.”
“Accidents happen, pal. You’ve seen the cliffs out here—dangerous as hell in the wrong conditions.”
“Earl never went near them cliffs. Hated heights. No, somethin’ happened out here. I’m gonna know what and I’m gonna know why. I owe him that. You bein’ here just complicates things.”
“Yeah, well, only person leaving the island is you,” I say, trying to sound all bad-ass as I fight the urge to toss my cookies. “I’m not going anywhere.” 
He considers. “Your decision. Things been put in motion. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” A smirk as he nods toward the sleeping bag. “Nice.”
I glance down, following his gaze. A faded field of blue dotted with yellow and pink flowers, the darker hue of a minimally sullied ball gown and white-gloved hands—all this capped with the lemon yellow orb of Cinderella’s hair, her face lit with a saccharine smile. A little girl’s sleeping bag, I realize. Swell.
“So here’s what you do,” he says. “You and the other girls have a meetin’. You explain how things are gonna get really ugly, really fast, if I don’t find out what went down.” 
With that he trots back into the brush like something out of The Last of the Mohicans—all that bouncy action enough to set my eyeballs aching. What the fuck was in that bottle, anyway?
Nothing for it but to head to the house and fill Adria in, come up with some kind of plan. 
After I find that fucking shoe.

Author Bio:
DARCY SCOTT is a live-aboard sailor and experienced ocean cruiser who’s sailed to Grenada and back on a whim, island-hopped through the Caribbean, and been struck by lightning in the middle of the Gulf Stream. Her favorite cruising ground remains the coast of Maine, however, and her appreciation of the history and rugged beauty of its sparsely populated out-islands serves as inspiration for her Maine Island Mystery Series, which includes 2012’s award-winning "Matinicus" and the newly released "Reese’s Leap." Book three, "Ragged Island," is currently in the works. Her debut novel, "Hunter Huntress," was published in June, 2010 by Snowbooks, Ltd., UK.

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