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, July 29, 2015

Guest Author Post: Maris Soule - EAT CROW AND DIE

The Book Diva's Reads is pleased to host another visit from author Maris Soule. Ms. Soule is the author of a host of books and today she'll be discussing crafting the story Eat Crow and Die.



Thank you, Vivian, for once again inviting me to your blog. Eat Crow and Die is the other book I have out this summer. It's the third book in the P.J. Benson Mystery series.

It took me a long time to write Eat Crow and Die. I knew how I wanted the story to start—Sheriff's Deputy Wade Kingsley's boat would blow up on Lake Michigan not far from the South Haven lighthouse, with Wade, Wade's six-year-old son Jason, Wade's ex-wife, and her new husband aboard. I also knew I wanted P.J. Benson back at the farm house she inherited from her grandfather, wondering if she might be pregnant and worrying that if she was whether she'd become a schizophrenic, as her mother did while pregnant for P.J..

Okay, fine. But what happens next? Why does Wade become the prime suspect? Is P.J. pregnant? Who did put a bomb on Wade's boat? When? Why? And how does P.J. end up figuring it out?

One thing I love about writing is the research. I have a friend who recently retired from the  Coast Guard Auxillary. I bought his breakfast, and he took me step by step through the rescue procedure. I attended the Writers' Police Academy and viewed a session on underwater procedures by crime scene investigators. I called the local sheriff's department for information, read about boat explosions, and played with a variety of ideas on how to make a bomb that would be believable. I also had to learn about algorithms. (You'll have to read the book to find out why.)

In addition to my research, I needed to come up with several others who might be suspects. Each needed a motive to want to harm Wade or someone on the boat. And I needed to make things happen in just a few days.

I'm often asked how long it takes to write a book. I guess the answer is as long as it takes to find answers to all of your questions and then put it all together so it makes (or seems to make) sense. I hope I succeeded with Eat Crow and Die



About the author:

Award-winning author of 25 romances, 2 mystery and 2 short stories, with 2 suspense novels coming out 2015. Maris Soule was born and raised in California but moved to the midwest two years after her marriage. She is a member of MWA, MMRWA, Sisters-in-Crime, RWA, FWA, and Authors' Guild. Soule is still married to the same man, has two grown children, and two granddaughters. She is currently working on another mystery, this one set in Skagway, Alaska.


Connect with the author: 

Website      |     Facebook      |     Twitter      |     Google+ 




Eat Crow and Die by Maris Soule
ISBN: 9781432830762 (hardcover)
ASIN: B00XK2DUR0 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Publication Date:  August 5, 2015

P.J. Benson knows Sheriff's Detective Wade Kingsley wouldn't blow up his own boat to kill his ex-wife and her new husband, Michael Brewster. Sure, Wade wasn't happy that his ex was taking their six-year-old son, Jason, to live in California, but Wade and Jason were also onboard the boat when it blew up. Wade would never have endangered his son that way.
Nevertheless, the investigating detectives consider Wade their prime suspect,and Wade's ex in-laws loudly accuse him and threaten to file for custody of Jason. Under the circumstances, P.J. is certain this isn't the right time to tell Wade she's pregnant, but bouts of morning sickness give her away. Wade is upset by the news. P.J. wonders if it's because he's afraid he'll be put in prison for a double homicide he didn't commit, or if he's afraid the new baby will cause P.J. to become schizophrenic, as was the case with her mother. Even P.J. is worried about that. Although Wade doesn't want her playing detective, P.J. soon discovers that Michael Brewster wasn't as great a guy as everyone thought. But did anyone hate the man enough to kill him?


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Monday, July 27, 2015

2015 Book 224: WHEN THE MOON IS LOW by Nadia Hashimi

When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi
ISBN: 9780062369574 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062369628 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OY3STN4 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow


Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power.
Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba makes a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family.
Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives.


Fereiba is a teacher, wife, and mother. Her adult life in Afghanistan is better than even she expected until the Taliban came into power. In a short time she's lost her job and then her husband. Her sole concern is to make a better life for all of her children, the two that are already born, and the one she is carrying. Her eldest child is a boy, Saleem, and he agrees with his mother that they need to leave Afghanistan. Their struggles and quest for freedom are revealed in When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi.

Fereiba had a sad childhood. Her mother died in childbirth and she was raised by her stepmother. The only real love she received was from her paternal grandfather. Her stepmother convinced Fereiba's father that she was needed at home to help with her younger half-siblings. Even when her sisters were older and all attending school, her stepmother felt there was no need for Fereiba to attend school. It is a testament to Fereiba's will that she began first grade at age 13 and quickly advanced to graduate on schedule. Unfortunately for Fereiba, her mother's death was seen as a negative in Afghani culture. Her first fiancé, an ugly bully, died shortly after the engagement. She had met a young man in her father's orchard and it was presumed that he would seek her hand in marriage, but he marries her oldest half-sister. Just when thought all was lost, she becomes engaged to Mahmoud Waziri. His family ensures she furthers her education and she becomes a teacher. Their marriage was childless for a number of years before she had two children and became pregnant with a third child. Then war breaks out and she is no longer allowed to teach. And then the Taliban comes for her husband, he subsequently disappears and is presumed dead. Without a husband, brother, or father as a protector and no income, the only option Fereiba sees for herself and her children is to immigrate to England. The journey is long and arduous, as the family travels from Afghanistan to Iran, onto Turkey, and then Greece. Fereiba is forced to rely upon her son Saleem and his efforts to work and provide for this family of four. Will they be able to make it to England?

I read When the Moon is Low in one sitting because I couldn't wait to find out what happens next. I found it to be a captivating and wholly engrossing read. I became invested in the trials and tribulations of Fereiba and her son Saleem. I felt despair when times were hard and cheered them on when they moved on against all odds. The reader is given Fereiba's backstory featuring her childhood and the circumstances of her marriage. We're also given a fascinating glimpse into the present with Saleem's story as a migrant, teenage refugee seeking work in Turkey and Greece. Ms. Hashimi has provided an extraordinary glimpse into the hardships that Afghan refugees faced in their attempts to find freedom. I felt all of the characters in this story were well developed and realistic. There are plenty of people that helped Fereiba and Saleem out of the goodness of their hearts, and there are those that took advantage. At its heart, I felt that When the Moon is Low was a story of a search for a better life and survival. This isn't an overly sad story although there are plenty of sad elements, yet it remains a story of hope. If you enjoy reading about other cultures or are simply seeking a good story, then I strongly urge you to grab a copy of When the Moon is Low as soon as possible (yes, it is just that good!).

Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015 Book 221: THE OTHER DAUGHTER by Lauren Willig

The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig
ISBN: 9781250056283 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781466860131 (ebook)
ASIN: B00PF818YY (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Raised in a poor yet genteel household, Rachel Woodley is working in France as a governess when she receives news that her mother has died, suddenly. Grief-stricken, she returns to the small town in England where she was raised to clear out the cottage...and finds a cutting from a London society magazine, with a photograph of her supposedly deceased father dated all of three month before. He's an earl, respected and influential, and he is standing with another daughter-his legitimate daughter. Which makes Rachel...not legitimate. Everything she thought she knew about herself and her past-even her very name-is a lie.


Still reeling from the death of her mother, and furious at this betrayal, Rachel sets herself up in London under a new identity. There she insinuates herself into the party-going crowd of Bright Young Things, with a steely determination to unveil her father's perfidy and bring his-and her half-sister's-charmed world crashing down. Very soon, however, Rachel faces two unexpected snags: she finds she genuinely likes her half-sister, Olivia, whose situation isn't as simple it appears; and she might just be falling for her sister's fiancé...

From Lauren Willig, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Ashford Affair, comes The Other Daughter, a page-turner full of deceit, passion, and revenge..



Rachel Woodley is a somewhat shy and unassuming young woman working as a nursery governess in France. When she receives a telegram five days late about her mother being ill, she finally stands up for herself and quits her job to return to England. Upon her return home she finds out that not only has her mother died, but she's missed the funeral. To add insult to injury, she then finds out her presumably deceased father is still alive with another daughter. What follows is Rachel's quest to find out more about her father and his other family in Lauren Willig's latest, The Other Daughter.

Once Rachel learns the truth about her father, she has the opportunity to change her life view from behind the stairs as a nursery governess, to that of an estranged cousin to Simon Montfort. With Simon's assistance, Rachel soon becomes Vera Merton and enters the world of her half-sister, Lady Olivia Standish. The only person in this upper-crust world that Rachel/Vera seems to have anything in common with is Olivia's fiancé, John Trevannion. The longer Rachel stays in her role as Vera, the more she realizes that her search for the truth just might end up hurting one of the people she's come to admire, her half-sister.

I found The Other Daughter to be a fast-paced, enjoyable, and engrossing read. The story is set in the mid-1920s after WWI. Ms. Willig mentions some of the problems of British society at the time, lack of jobs, lack of sufficient pay, and the ongoing psychological trauma for those that fought in the war, but none are discussed in great detail. I enjoyed Rachel's role as Vera Merton and was somewhat surprised by how well she adapted from the shy, unassuming young woman from the country to a popular and witty Bright Young Thing in the city. The Other Daughter provides tons of drama: daughters beholden to their mothers, sons beholden to their families and estates, etc. There aren't any bad guys in The Other Daughter, just plenty of interesting characters and situations making for a good read. If you enjoy reading historical fiction or about family drama, then you'll want to add The Other Daughter to your reading list.


Read an excerpt from The Other Daughter here



Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guest Post - Maris Soule



The Book Diva's Reads is always pleased to host a visit from an author, and today's guest author is Maris Soule. Ms. Soule is the author of more than 25 books in the romance, romantic-suspense, and mystery genres. Ms. Soule will be discussing the characters from one of her newest books, A Killer Past.








Vivian, thank you for inviting me to write a guest post and tell you a little about A Killer Past. It was fun writing about Mary Harrington. She's the sort of person I wish I could be. She's kept herself physically fit by going to the gym regularly. (I'm lucky if I make it to my yoga class twice a week.) I did try to make her realistic. After all, she's seventy-four years old. In the opening chapter, she puts two teen-aged gang members in the hospital. I've never done that, but I knew her body wasn't going to respond as nimbly as it did when she was in her twenties, and that she was going to have bruises and aches and pains the next day.

I enjoyed writing how her son thinks she gets those bruises because she's old. He's sure she should move into a retirement home. She tells him she ran into "something" because, of course, she can't tell him that "something" was two gang members.

Mary is fluent in several languages, poised, feisty, and protective, especially of her eighteen-year-old granddaughter. I know a few words in other languages, but that's it, and I can't imagine anyone describing me as poised, or even feisty. (I tend to avoid confrontations, but I do think I would have been protective of my children when they were young.)

I also enjoyed writing Jack Rossini's character. He's a good police officer and lonely, now that his wife has passed on. He's been a good father to his two grown sons and adores his granddaughter, who lives far away. He finds Mary fascinating and confusing, and he worries about her safety. The more he discovers about her, or rather can't find out about her, the more his curiosity is piqued. Theirs isn't a romance, but Jack develops a true affection for Mary, as well as an admiration.

Writing this book forced me to read several articles about older men and women who have kept physically fit and are still doing amazing things in their eighties and nineties. Their stories are inspiring, and I hope I can remain active way into my eighties (or maybe nineties). I also researched Latino gangs, and that wasn't inspiring. It's scary how they're everywhere, even in rural areas we once considered safe. I hope we have a few Mary Harringtons around to protect us.


About the author:

Award-winning author of 25 romances, 2 mystery, and 2 short stories, with 2 suspense novels coming out 2015. Maris Soule was born and raised in California but moved to the midwest two years after her marriage. She is a member of MWA, MMRWA, Sisters-in-Crime, RWA, FWA, and Authors' Guild. Soule is still married to the same man, has two grown children, and two granddaughters. She is currently working on another mystery, this one set in Skagway, Alaska.




Connect with the author:  Website    |   Facebook    |   Twitter    |  Google+ 




A Killer Past by Maris Soule
ISBN: 9780719814907 (Hardcover)
ASIN: B00ZO3LQE2 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Robert Hale
Release Date: June 1, 2015

When two gang members choose Mary Harrington as their target, the quiet widow has a secret to share of her own
Most people in the town of Rivershore, Michigan view Mary Harrington as a quiet widow whose only oddity is that she spends a lot of time at the gym. Her son thinks it's time for her to move into a retirement home. Two gang members think she'll be an easy target. No one in Rivershore knows what Mary did in her younger years—really did—but the two gang members discover they've underestimated their victim . . . and Mary fears reverting to old habits may have jeopardized her future.


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Saturday, July 11, 2015

2015 Book 203: IT'S YOU by Jane Porter



It's You by Jane Porter
ISBN: 9780425277157 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780698178861 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OQSF63I (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Berkley


In the wake of a tragedy that tore her life down to the foundations, Dr. Alison McAdams has lost her way. So when she's summoned to Napa to care for her ailing father, she's not sure she has anything to offer him—or anyone else.
 
What Ali finds in Northern California wine country is a gift—an opportunity to rest, and distance from her painful memories. Most unexpectedly, she finds people who aren't afraid of her grief or desperate for her to hurry up and move on.
 
As Ali becomes part of her father's community, makes new friends of her own, and hears the stories of a generation who survived the Second World War, she begins to find hope again. In a quest to discover the truth about another woman's lost love, she sets off on a journey across oceans and deep into history. And in making sense of that long-ago tragedy, Ali is able to put together the broken pieces of her heart and make new choices that are right for her.


Alison "Ali" McAdams' world has been turned upside down. Her fiancé and co-worker committed suicide six weeks before their wedding, in their home. A few months later, her mother suffered an aneurysm and died. Ali has been struggling to be normal and continue working with her deceased fiancé’s father in their dental practice in Arizona. Just when she's floundering with what she wants and needs, she receives a phone call from her father. Her dad is living in a retirement community in Napa, California and has recently suffered a fall, breaking his wrist. Ali quickly makes the decision to take time off from the dental practice and head to California.

Ali isn't quite sure what she'll find in California, but she's desperate to connect with her sole surviving family member. Ali's Dad isn't exactly "warm" and one for public displays of affection, but over the course of three weeks they do find some common ground. Amazingly, the one person Ali seems to connect with the most is a ninety-five-year-old woman, Edie. Initially, Ali thinks that Edie is prickly and rude, but the more she talks with Edie the more she realizes that they have a lot in common.

It's You takes place over the course of just a few weeks, but Ms. Porter has packed a lot into those weeks. The story is told in alternating voices of Edie and Ali, with a portion of Edie's story taking place in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The reader learns that the love of Edie's life was a Nazi in public while secretly working with the German Resistance Movement. He was found guilty and died as a result of his involvement in the failed attempt on Hitler's life. Both Edie and Ali are grieving their losses, but Edie has found a way to move on with her life and enjoy what she can when she can. It's You is a story of deep loss, grief, self-realization, and ultimately survival. It's a story filled with sadness as well as hope. If you enjoy reading stories that combine historical elements with a contemporary storyline or just enjoy reading about strong women, then It's You is one story you'll want to read.


Read an excerpt from It's You here.


Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes via BookSparks. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Friday, July 10, 2015

2015 Book 199: BRUTALITY by Ingrid Thoft

Brutality by Ingrid Thoft
ISBN: 9780399171185 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9780698164550 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OQS4DY6 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group


Gutsy, relentless, wisecracking P.I. Fina Ludlow is back with her most hard-hitting case yet in the critically acclaimed series by Ingrid Thoft.

When soccer mom Liz Barone is attacked in her kitchen and left with a life-threatening injury, Fina Ludlow is hired by Liz's mother to identify her attacker. It's unusual for Fina to take a case that isn't connected to the family firm, Ludlow and Associates, but Liz was in the process of suing her alma mater, New England University—a suit that could be a legal gold mine. Twenty years earlier, Liz was an NEU soccer star known for her physical toughness; however, a serious cognitive decline has soured her soccer memories. She's convinced that her aggressive style of play—and the university's willingness to ignore head injuries in favor of a win—has put her health and her future in jeopardy, and someone needs to be held responsible. Was Liz attacked to stop her lawsuit, or were there other secrets in the seemingly innocent woman's life? Fina convinces her father and boss, Carl, to take the case, and discovers that wading into the financially lucrative and emotionally charged world of collegiate sports requires nerves of steel. As the list of suspects grows and hidden agendas are revealed, Fina wonders if any game is worth the price.


Fina Ludlow, a private investigator, is hired to find the person responsible for the senseless attack on a former college athlete/wife/mother. This search will take Fina into the world of college athletic departments, athletic boosters, and even the cutthroat world of science research. Fina has a host of possible attackers and possible motives. The more she uncovers, the more questions are raised than answered in Brutality, the third installment in the Fina Ludlow series by Ingrid Thoft.

Josefina "Fina" Ludlow isn't a typical private investigator. She can be a bit abrupt and has a tendency to step on a lot of toes in her quest for justice and the truth. If juggling her responsibilities to her clients and keeping everything legal isn't difficult enough, Fina also has to juggle her family responsibilities, as well as responsibilities to her father's law firm. To say that Fina is the "black sheep" of the family is putting it mildly. Fina loves her family, but says what she thinks and does whatever she knows is right. Fina has three older brothers and all are partners in the family law firm. Scott is the tough but lovable family man, married with three sons. Scott and his wife Patty, are also playing surrogate parents to their fifteen-year-old-niece Haley (read Loyalty to find out more on that situation). Matthew is closest to Fina in age and is also single. Rand is widowed and has been exiled to Miami (read Loyalty to find out more). Fina flunked out of law school and is a disappointment for her father, and she isn't demure but openly defiant with her mother. Did I mention there's a lot of family baggage and drama in addition to the drama of the investigation?

Now that you have a better idea of who Fina is, let's throw into the mix she has two male friends-with-benefits (Milloy - a masseuse and college buddy and Cristian - a police detective), the ongoing battle with her father and brothers to force Rand to stay away from his teenage daughter Haley, and her function as an intermediary between her friend Risa (an adoptee) and her newly found biological aunt. On the investigative side, Fina has to deal with a distraught mother that wants answers, a dispassionate husband with secrets to be uncovered, an athletic booster with a fondness for pretty young female athletes, and someone that wants to derail the investigation by putting a bomb in car driven by Fina. Yes, there's a lot going on in this story, but that is exactly what makes the Fina Ludlow stories so intriguing. The reader doesn't just get to see the professional side of Fina, but we also witness all facets of her life. Ms. Thoft provides a taut story filled with mystery, intrigue, drama, and just the right amount of dark humor to keep things interesting. I found Brutality to be a fast-paced and enjoyable read. If you enjoy reading mysteries (not cozy or hard-boiled), then you'll definitely want to add the Fina Ludlow series to your list. If you've already read Loyalty (book 1) and Identity (book 2) in this series, then you'll want to grab a copy of Brutality to read as soon as possible. I can't wait for the next installment in this series just to see what Fina will be up to next. 


Read an excerpt from Brutality here.


Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book Showcase: KISSING PERSUASIVE LIPS by Dale Wiley


Kissing Persuasive Lips


by Dale Wiley






Synopsis:


coverMick Lord had the world by the tail until his beautiful wife died. He was young, rich and handsome, a star in Hollywood and in the banking world. But when his wife was killed by a five-time loser driving drunk, everything changed. Mick is trying everything to tempt death, but nothing's working. He's even on an uncanny gambling streak that is just making him richer.

When Mick is attacked by a man claiming that Mick "stole" his home, Mick discovers that the company he sold his banks to has been forging his name in order to kick people out of their houses. Beautiful Kinley Baron wants him to keep quiet, but that's against everything Mick stands for. And when a rich old man maims a young woman right in front of him, Mick decides to use his fortune and his desire for death to settle some scores.




Book Details:



Genre:  Thriller


Published by:   Smashwords


Publication Date:   July 2015


Number of Pages:  90


ISBN:   9781310490507


Purchase Links: SMASHWORDS  Goodreads




Read an excerpt:


The Wynn Casino in Las Vegas is not flashy; at least not in comparison to the spastic neon and LED displays you find everywhere else along the strip. Its elegance and earthy style seem almost out of place. It may have vibrant red carpet running throughout the casino floor, but the shock of that regal red is covered by the acres of indoor trees (real, of course), baffling the noise and calming the senses.


At times, compared to the rest of the city, it feels like an oasis of calm and gentility.

A Tuesday afternoon in Vegas is like a Friday midnight anywhere else, but it was not usually the time for a high-stakes game like this one. But Michael Andrews Lord, known to the rest of the world as Mick, had prevailed upon the powers that be to open a blackjack table just for him, and had gotten them to agree to set the table minimum at $50,000 and the limit at one million dollars per hand. He had never played that much in one hand, but the opportunity was there.

Mick didn’t look like your typical high-roller. His wardrobe was strictly well-heeled beach bum. That day he wore a blue linen shirt, which brought out his eyes, a nice pair of Silver jeans and loafers without socks. That would come close to describing him on most days since he sold his banks and converted to his new life.

Most people would call Mick handsome, although he knew having money didn't hurt. He was six-two and a little on the skinny side, with light brown hair a little bit wavy and cut fairly short. He had a short beard he had grown six months earlier and become kind of fond of. Tabloids gushed and wondered who his next woman was. Mick was revolted by this, considering how recently his life had so dreadfully changed, but he knew that playing an absolute fortune in a blackjack game in this open fashion wasn’t going to calm any rumor mill. Sometimes his wants and his actions didn’t match up.

Although they couldn’t say as much out loud, The Wynn was not in the habit of losing as much money as they had lost to Mick over the past six months. His streak was almost uncanny; he might lose the smaller hands, but when he bet big, hundreds of thousands of dollars, his winning percentage was way above normal, and at the amounts he was playing, the casino was in no means ready to shut down, but the winning was taking its toll on all those in charge of keeping losses in line with industry guidelines. Frankly, the winning was raising eyebrows up and down the strip; it was unusual if not unheard of for someone to have his sustained winning streak at such large amounts.

And that Tuesday, with every blackjack player within ear shot standing a respectful distance back, but watching intently, Mick was winning again. He had to be up close to half a million.

He rubbed his eyes and yawned. “I’m about done,” he said to the dealer and to the floor boss who had joined him. Mick knew they were probably worried about their jobs, although he would go to whomever he needed to and make sure they knew it was not their fault.

Mick looked around. There were the Vegas old-timers, clutching oxygen tanks and players cards, working girls scanning the crowd for possible play, two French men who looked like they had walked off the set of Miami Vice and numerous tourists, wearing knee-length shorts and fluorescent t-shirts. A shoeshine man named Frank, whom Mick knew and often took care of, was off to the side, clearly rooting Mick on. Some of these he knew and liked, most of them just liked the action. Mick was giving it to them.

“Here we go,” he said in the middle of a yawn. “Let’s play for some real fun and then let’s be done with it.” His mouth smiled and his eyes didn’t.

He pushed all the chips in front of him to the middle of the table.

The dealer looked at the pit boss. He had dealt some big hands, but this was by far the highest stakes he had ever dealt. The floor boss said something into the microphone in his cuff, then nodded. The dealer indicated that there was $512,000 in play.

“Hand me twelve of that. Let’s make it simple math.”

The dealer pulled off chips totaling $12,000. As the cocktail waitress who had brought him his gin and tonics all afternoon approached again, Mick took that money and handed it to her.

“Something for you and Charlie,” he said, referring to her three-year-old son. Mick asked about and remembered almost everybody. The smile reached his eyes this time.

Her eyes doubled in size. He had already tipped her very well, a hundred dollar bill every time she brought him a drink. “I can’t …” she started, but his look stopped her.

“Mike, tell her it’s okay,” Mick said to the floor boss. Mike nodded and she took a deep breath and looked at the money that was now hers. She wanted to say something, to cry, to leap in the air, but she felt the tension of the moment too. She didn’t want to leave, but she still had a job to do, and Mick had turned back to the table.

“Five hundred thousand it is.”

The dealer gave Mick a nine and placed his own card face down. He next dealt Mick a seven, giving him the worst possible blackjack hand, a sixteen. He turned over a ten. Mick exhaled loudly.

“Great hand,” Mick rolled his eyes. He wanted to stay on the hand, but even with his agenda, he knew that he would stick to his system. Anything else, any random play, would be highly suspicious. He tapped the table. “Hit me, Carlos.”

Carlos gave him another card, almost wincing as he did. It was a deuce. The crowd sighed. He had an eighteen. Not a great hand, but still in it. Mick waved off any other cards. It was Carlos’ turn.

Carlos took his ten and used it to turn over his next card. Everyone watching strained to see what was underneath. They gasped as they saw a five. The game was still alive. This was good for Mick.

The crowd wanted Mick to win. To a man. He may have had the life that almost all of them envied greatly, and for some that envy could at times be malignant, but you never root for the house in Vegas. Even if you work for them. And the people who actually knew Mick found him to be even-tempered and kind to them, even in the midst of what had to be a hellish year in which his wife had been killed and his life had been turned into a spectacle with all that had entailed. They all knew he had turned to gambling, and they all knew he was winning there and was parading a bevy of starlets through his bedroom, coping with his grief in a public, uneven manner, doing things that even he admitted he didn’t like.

Several men called out, “face!” More than half the deck was his friend now. Carlos nodded and pulled out another card. An ace.

Everyone groaned. Carlos looked like he had killed an old woman. Was this going to be one of those hands where the little cards mounted up and won the day for the house yet again?

He turned over the next card. There it was: Jack of hearts. The room erupted. Mick had just won half a million dollars!

Mick didn’t crack a smile. He looked unsteady. He turned to the floor boss. “One more hand? Winner take all?”

The guests couldn’t believe their ears. A true million dollar hand?

Mike spoke into his collar. Even though it was marked as a million dollar table, he wanted to check with his superiors. This was obviously a big deal to everyone involved. He nodded. They would play for the million.

Carlos took another deep breath and fetched a card from the shoe. He gave Mick an ace and then dealt his hole card. He dealt Mick another ace. Everyone gasped. His second card lay face up, a six. Advantage: Mick.

Mick looked at Mike. More cuff talking. There was no need to ask what Mick wanted. He wanted to split, which was the only thing to do in his situation. Problem was, he obviously didn’t have an extra million dollars on him. Both people knew this was just a formality, that Wynn would gladly spot him the money in hopes of finally winning some back. Mike nodded. He was good for it.

Carlos pulled the next card from the shoe. An ace of clubs. The crowd erupted. He would get to split again. Holy cow! Mike spoke into his sleeve. The answer was clear, but everyone had to wait. Finally, he nodded. The casino would lend him two million dollars.

Carlos arranged the aces a similar distance from each other, and the crowd moved in a few inches more. Some of the tourists had video cameras on. They could sell this video if they could get a good shot. Mick Lord was always newsworthy.

Carlos lay down a ten of clubs on Mick’s first hand. Twenty-one. The crowd screamed. A king of spades was next. Twenty-one. Finally, the dealer gave Mick a six on his third hand. Soft seventeen. Mick pondered his next move. He always played the cards the same way, although he didn’t want to. He hit it anyway, Ten of hearts. Hard seventeen. Mick waved the dealer off.

Carlos had one hand. He could tie Mick on two hands, beat him on one. Carlos flipped up his hole card. He showed a five.

This drew a gasp from the crowd. Now a ten, the highest probability in the deck, would set Mick back a million bucks. Mick had never heard such a quiet crowd in Vegas. Couldn’t remember a single time.

Carlos thumbed the next card, slid it across in front of him and turned it over. It was a four. He now had fifteen. Once again, the odds had shifted in Mick’s favor. Carlos drew his next card. It was a seven.

Twenty-two.

The Wynn erupted like you’d expect in a World Cup match. They jumped and cheered and hugged in a show of solidarity rare anywhere, especially rare in Las Vegas.

All except Mick.

He had desperately wanted to lose.





Author Bio:


Dale Wiley is a Missouri attorney who has had a character named after him on CSI, owned a record label, been interviewed by Bob Edwards on NPR's Morning Edition and made motorcycles for Merle Haggard and John Paul DeJoria. He has three awesome kids and spends his days working as a lawyer fighting the big banks.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

2015 Book 192: SUMMER SECRETS by Jane Green



Summer Secrets by Jane Green
ISBN: 9781250047342 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9781466847743 (ebook)
ASIN: B00QQWJ0E8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press


Jane Green delivers her second blockbuster novel of 2015, a story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.
June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.
June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn't realize is that these women, her real father's daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge. 


It's the late 1990s and Catherine "Cat" Coombs is no different from all of the other twenty-somethings, or so she thinks. It's perfectly normal, in her mind, to spend her afternoons and evenings with lots of liquid libation. It's perfectly normal to black-out after imbibing a bit much. It's perfect normal to wake up in bed with your newly discovered half-sister's boyfriend. Wait . . . what?! This isn't normal behavior, but Cat talks herself into believing that her drinking binges are well within the range of normal until she wakes up naked with her sister's boyfriend in bed beside her.

Flash forward sixteen years and Cat has finally become sober. She knows that she's a recovering alcoholic and that she'll always be a recovering alcoholic. Rock bottom for her was when her husband, the love of her life, left her and took their daughter with him. Cat knows that she has to take it one day at a time, and she has taken great strides in doing the program, or AA. Her last major hurdle is making amends with her half-sisters across the pond. Is it possible for someone to forgive the unforgivable or is Cat setting simply setting herself up for disaster?

I'm sure the big question you're asking is did I enjoy reading Summer Secrets? The answer is a resounding YES! I know I've said it before, but this book pulled me in from the beginning and I read it in one sitting over one afternoon. Okay, I took a small break to talk to my mother on the phone for a few minutes, but that was the only interruption I allowed (it was my elderly mother people; I couldn't ignore her phone call). Ms. Green has the amazing ability to create characters and situations that are incredibly realistic and wholly believable. I may not be a recovering alcoholic, but I could empathize with Cat and her problems. I don't have any sisters and have never slept (drunk or otherwise) with anyone else's significant other, but I could relate to the horror of the situation. Younger Cat romanticized her life and the situations around her; older Cat may have periodic romantic daydreams but deals with reality, no matter how much it hurts. Summer Secrets is an amazing story about self-discovery, recovery, and forgiveness. This story incorporates personal recovery with family drama, teen drama, family secrets, and much more set in scenic Nantucket, Massachusetts and London, England. I've used the term "hopeful-ever-after" about other books and Summer Secrets is just that . . . a story about hope for a better tomorrow while dealing with today. If you haven't read any books by Ms. Green, then grab a copy of Summer Secrets soon, as this is the perfect story for a lazy summer afternoon. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future, and something tells me I'll probably be rereading Summer Secrets soon (yes, it was that good!).


Listen to an audiobook excerpt of Summer Secrets here.


Disclaimer: I purchased a digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Showcase: DROP DEAD PUNK by Rich Zahradnik


Drop Dead Punk


by Rich Zahradnik


on Tour July 2015






Synopsis:


coverColeridge Taylor is searching for his next scoop on the police beat. The Messenger-Telegram reporter has a lot to choose from on the crime-ridden streets of New York City in 1975. One story outside his beat is grabbing all the front page glory: New York teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, and President Ford just told the city, as the Daily News so aptly puts it, "Drop Dead." Taylor's situation is nearly as desperate. His home is a borrowed dry-docked houseboat, his newspaper may also be on the way out, and his drunk father keeps getting arrested.

A source sends Taylor down to Alphabet City, hang-out of the punks who gravitate to the rock club CBGB. There he finds the bloody fallout from a mugging. Two dead bodies: a punk named Johnny Mort and a cop named Robert Dodd. Each looks too messed up to have killed the other. Taylor starts asking around. The punk was a good kid, the peace-loving guardian angel of the neighborhood's stray dogs. What led him to mug a woman at gunpoint? And why is Officer Samantha Callahan being accused of leaving her partner to die, even though she insists the police radio misled her? It's hard enough being a female in the NYPD only five years after women were assigned to patrol. Now the department wants to throw her to the wolves. That's not going to happen, not if Taylor can help it. As he falls for Samantha--a beautiful, dedicated second-generation cop--he realizes he's too close to his story. Officer Callahan is a target, and Taylor's standing between her and some mighty big guns.

Drop Dead Punk is book 2 in the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.




Book Details:



Genre:  Mystery


Series: Book 2 in the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.


Published by:   Camel Press, 


Publication Date: ~ Aug. 15, 2015


Number of Pages: 254 


ISBN: 978-1603812092  


Purchase Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Goodreads




Read an excerpt:


NOTE: FROM UNCORRECTED PROOF (ARC):

The great headlines of other newspapers were always to be despised. Not today.
The three ancient copy editors were on their feet, with Copydesk Chief Milt Corman in the middle. Taylor stopped his walk through the newsroom to find out why. If someone had made a mistake, it must be a colossal one to get those fat asses out of their seats. He looked over Corman’s shoulder. The copy chief held the Daily News. It was that day’s edition, Oct. 30, 1975. The 144-point front-page headline screamed up from the page.
FORD TO CITY:
 

DROP DEAD
Corman rattled the paper violently. “That’s a work of art. Tells the whole story in five words. He gave the city the finger yesterday.”
Jack Miller, one of the other old farts, moved back to his seat. You could only expect him to stand for so long. He settled into 
his chair for another day of slashing copy. “What do you expect from our unelected president? Veepee to Nixon. Goddamned pardoned Robert E. Lee two months ago.”
“Didn’t pardon him. Gave him back his citizenship.”
“Same thing. The barbarians are running the country and now they’re at our gates. We’re the biggest, most important city on the planet, and he’s going to leave us hanging to get himself actually elected to the job.”
Corman flipped open the paper to the Ford speech story across pages four and five. “Just listen to this bullshit. ‘I am prepared to veto any bill that has as its purpose a Federal bailout of New York City to prevent a default.’ He blathers on about using the uniform bankruptcy laws. On and on and on. How do you police the streets and pick up garbage under the uniform bankruptcy laws? A Federal judge trying to run the whole damn city? Chaos.”
“Ford’s from Grand Rapids.” Miller shook his big round head. “He doesn’t know from anything about this place. He’s talking to all the flatlanders—a nation that hates us.”
“Will you listen to this at the end? ‘If we go on spending more than we have, providing more benefits and more services than we can pay for, then a day of reckoning will come to Washington and the whole country just as it has to New York City. When that day of reckoning comes, who will bail out the United States of America?’ He’ll kill this city to keep his job.” Corman looked from the paper to Taylor. “You’re the crime reporter. Why don’t you go after this? Write the story about the man who murdered New York.”
Taylor laughed. “You can’t kill New York.”
“Rome fell.”
“Rome wasn’t New York. You know this is the same political bullshit. Made up numbers and budget magic and threats from Washington. New York will still be here long after. It’s a great headline, though. You guys should try writing ’em like that.”
He left the horseshoe copy desk before they could protest that wasn’t the style of the New York Messenger-Telegram. He knew all too well the three of them would kill to be headline writers at the Daily News. That paper wasn’t perpetually on the verge of failing like the MT.
Taylor gave New York’s financial crisis about thirty seconds more thought as he wound his way around the maze of the newsroom. To him, the crisis was background noise. The city had become a dark place since the Sixties decided to end early, round about 1968. Crime lurked in the darkness, and he covered crime. He was too busy with New York’s growth industry to pay attention to the mayor’s budget problems.
Heroin everywhere.
Corruption in the police department.
Buildings in the South Bronx torched by the block.
Those were the stories he went after, not failed bond sales and blabbering politicos. Problem was the damn financial story had pushed everything else off the MT’s front page. Taylor hadn’t had a decent story out there in three weeks. He needed the quick hit of a page one byline, needed it particularly bad this morning. The cops had called him at home last night. Not about a story this time. They’d arrested his father, reeling drunk in his underwear outside his apartment building. Taylor had been up until three a.m. dealing with that mess. A good story—a good story that actually got decent play—and a few beers after to celebrate. Now that would pick him up. For a day or two at least.
Make the calls. Someone’s got to have something. Now that Ford’s had his say, there must be room on page one.
He’d almost slipped past the city desk when Worth called out his name. Taylor tried to pretend he hadn’t heard and kept going, but Worth raised his high-pitched voice and just about yelled. Taylor turned and went back to the pristine maple-topped desk of City Editor Bradford J. Worth, Jr.
“I’ve got an assignment for you.”
That was always bad news. “Haven’t made my calls yet.”
“Doesn’t matter. Need you down at City Hall.”
Taylor brightened. Crime at City Hall. A murder? That would be big.
“What’s the story?” He sounded enthusiastic. He shouldn’t have.
“You’re to go to the pressroom and wait for announcements. Glockman called in sick.”
“C’mon, Worth. Not babysitting. You’ve got three other City Hall reporters.” Who’ve owned the front page for weeks.
“They’re all very busy pursuing the most important story in this city’s history. Your job is to sit at our desk in the pressroom and wait for the mayor to issue a statement on Ford’s speech. Or the deputy mayor. Or a sanitation worker. Or a cleaning lady. Anybody says anything, you phone it in. Rumor is they’re working on using city pension funds.”
Worth’s phone rang, and he picked up. “Yeah, I’m sending Taylor down. No, he’ll do for now.” He set the receiver lightly on its hook. “You’ve been down in the dumps since your friend Laura left us. Was it her going or the fact she got a job at the New York Times? Because you’ll never get there, not with the way you dodge the biggest stories.”
“Hey, you and I are both still here.”
Worth frowned. Ambition rose off the man like an odor as strong as the cologne he wore. He’d made city editor at thirty without ever working as a reporter. Everyone knew he wanted more, and to him, more meant the New York Times. He’d almost been as upset as Taylor when Laura Wheeler announced she had the gig, and Worth wasn’t the one in love with Laura. He had been sure he was leaving next.
“Both here, but I’m the one doing his job. Now get to City Hall.”
“You have to be able to find someone else.” Exasperation through grit teeth. “Crime is big for this paper.”
“I decide what’s big.” He picked up the phone, dialed an inside extension, and showed Taylor his back.
Sitting at City Hall waiting for a press release was the perfect way to ruin Taylor’s day, something the city editor liked doing so much it had become a bad habit.
Taylor arrived at his own desk to find the other police reporters gone, probably making their rounds.
The desk that had been Laura’s reminded him of her—of her dark brown eyes, her black hair, her beautiful face. She’d left an aching emptiness inside him. They’d lasted a month after she’d moved to the New York Times, and then she’d broken it off. She said she realized the only thing they had in common was the MT. She hadn’t been mean about it. And she wasn’t wrong. The paper had been their life during the day and their conversation at night. He wondered if it also had to do with his age, 34, and where he was—or wasn’t—in life. He pushed his hand through his short brown hair. He’d even found himself considering his thin, angular face, something he’d never done before. Was that it? Laura was beautiful. Taylor couldn’t think of a word for what he was.
He recently heard she’d started dating a guy on the foreign staff, Derek something. He wondered how old Derek was. Late twenties and optimistic, he guessed, unbowed by life. From a good family too, probably. It was always going to end. So why did it hurt like this?
Truth was Taylor had been living with emptiness for years before he met her. Over that time, he’d gotten used to it, let the job fill his life. Only, having her and losing her made him understand how much he disliked this lonely hole inside.
Really should leave right away.
The black phone in front of him was too much temptation. Worth couldn’t see Taylor from the city desk. He picked up the receiver, pushed the clear plastic button for an outside line, and dialed the number for Sidney Greene at 1 Police Plaza. Greene was perhaps the most discontented, dyspeptic minor civil servant Taylor had ever encountered. He leaked stories not to expose injustice or right a wrong, but to screw his bosses. He simply loved watching them deal with the chaos he created by tipping off Taylor.
“Anything up?”
“Oh, a real shit show. Officer down.”
Taylor flipped open a notebook. Even in the midst of this dark age of drugs, muggings, and homicides, a police officer murdered was still a big story. A page one story. “Where and when?”
“Avenue B and East Eighth, just in from Tompkins Square Park.”
“What happened?”
“That’s all I can do for you. They’re doing the headless chicken dance down here. You’ll be ahead of the others if you get to the scene quick. Not by much, though.”
Taylor left the newsroom for the Lower Eastside. He’d check for press releases at City Hall after visiting the scene of the cop’s murder. Worthless would have his head if he missed even one minor announcement. Screw it. Taylor couldn’t ignore a big story. A real story.
He hustled from the subway across the blocks to the crime scene. The day offered near perfect New York fall weather, with the air crisp and clear, tingling with energy. He unwrapped a stick of Teaberry gum and stuck it in his mouth. The temperature had dropped from yesterday’s high of 70 and would only make it into the mid-fifties today. Jacket weather—Taylor’s favorite. Not so hot he broke into a sweat on a good walk, and cool but not cold—he wasn’t fighting the brutal winds of winter that blasted down the avenues. Easy weather put New Yorkers at ease. He could sense it as he walked. More smiles. Sidewalk trees even showed off muted reds and gold. Taylor knew it was nothing like the color upstate but it would do.
Taylor’s press pass got him inside the cluster of patrol cars guarding the ambulance. A couple of fire engines had also rolled to the scene, which was a dilapidated brownstone with half its windows boarded, a missing door, and a huge hole in the roof. The place was a true Lower Eastside wreck in a neighborhood where hard luck meant you were doing pretty well for yourself.
Taylor climbed the cracked front steps. A “Condemned Building” sign was nailed to the open door. The first floor had few interior walls, only piles of rubble from when the roof had come down, bringing chunks of the next three floors with it. The smell of must mingled with the stink of garbage. Two uniformed and four plainclothes police stood around a uniformed body sprawled across a pile of plaster chunks and wood slats in the middle of what was once probably a living room. Off to the right in the front corner was a second body, guarded by no one.
Seeing an opportunity, Taylor moved closer to the body in the corner. The man, young and apparently startled by death, had taken one shot to the chest and one in the leg. Blood soaked a black T-shirt printed with big white letters Taylor couldn’t read unless he adjusted the man’s leather jacket, which was also covered in blood. The man’s heart must have pumped his life’s blood out in minutes. Faster maybe. His right hand was on his stomach and clutched a green leather purse with a gold chain strap. Taylor knew better than to touch anything. Instead, he leaned in and was met by the iron and musk odor of blood. The top of the man’s hand was tattooed with a spiral pattern, an eye at its center. The fingers were inked with the bones of a skeleton, like an X-ray of what lay beneath the dead man’s skin.
The face was young—twenties, probably early twenties— bony and pale, with a tattoo of a spider web that started below the shirt line and crept up his neck to his chin and right ear. His hair was short and spiky, in the punk style—as was his whole look. Many of them had recently moved into this neighborhood to be near the punk rock club CBGB and the other bars that were the heart of the punk rock scene. Many were squatters.
“Don’t touch nothin’.” A short chunky cop with a gold badge in his belt walked over.
“I’d never do that, Detective.” Taylor rose from his crouch.
“I’m very sorry about the loss of an officer.”
“Yeah, thanks. And who the fuck are you?”
“Taylor with the Messenger-Telegram.” Taylor tapped the laminated pass.
“The Empty, huh? Read it sometimes. At least you’re not the fucking Times. I hate those pricks.”
Five years since the New York Times interviewed Serpico and broke the story of massive corruption in the NYPD, and the paper was still on every cop’s shit list. At the time, Taylor had gone crazy trying to follow the Times’ scoops. He’d admired what the Times had done and hated being behind on such a big story. He didn’t need to tell the detective that, though. It was fine with him if the man liked the Messenger-Telegram. Taylor himself liked cops, the honest kind at least. When he’d started at the paper, police reporters were almost cops themselves. Or adjuncts, at least. They helped the police, publicizing successes, ignoring failures and drinking in the same places. Not anymore. Trust had been lost, and it wasn’t going to be won back anytime soon.
What happened?”
“This jamoke holds up a woman for her purse when she comes up from the subway at Astor Place. Officer Robert Dodd and his partner give chase. The mugger runs across St. Mark’s Place, through the park and into this hole. They exchange shots. Both are killed. At least that’s what we can figure so far.”
“Dodd’s partner?”
“Couldn’t keep up. Poor Dodd was stuck with a meter maid. When little Samantha Callahan gets here, they’re both dead. What’s the point of having broads patrolling if they can’t back you up?” Lights flashed across the detective’s jowly face. He looked out the glassless window at the car pulling up. “Assistant chief. I’ve got to make sense of this for him.”
Taylor jotted down the name on the detective’s plate, R. Trunk. He dug out a business card and handed it to the detective. “Anything more comes up, call me. We take care of cops at the MT.” Laying it on thick never hurt. “Dodd’s a hero. His story should be told right.”
“Yeah, we’ll see. Your paper may not be awful. Doesn’t mean I trust you. Now get out of here. We got work to do.”
Trunk turned as another plainclothesman walked up. “Still haven’t got the kid’s gun.”
Well, find the fucking thing. Assistant chief ’s going to be on us like stink on shit.”
That was odd. If Dodd took out the mugger, the man’s gun would be right here somewhere. It couldn’t have walked away on its own. Taylor put that detail in his notebook. Anything odd always went in the notebook. He walked a wide arc toward the door to get a quick view of the dead officer. Dodd was a complete mess. He had to have been shot in the face. Taylor couldn’t make out the nose, the eyes, anything in the gore and blood. That meant he had to have shot the mugger first.





Author Bio:


authorRich Zahradnik is the author of the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series from Camel Press. Last Words is the first novel in the series and was published Oct. 1, 2014. Drop Dead Punk will come out Aug. 15.

He was a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter, often writing news stories and analysis about the journalism business, broadcasting, film production, publishing and the online industry.

In January 2012, he was one of 20 writers selected for the inaugural class of the Crime Fiction Academy, a first-of-its-kind program run by New Yorks Center for Fiction.

He has been a media entrepreneur throughout his career. He was the founding executive producer of CNNfn.com, a leading financial news website and a Webby winner; managing editor of Netscape.com, and a partner in the soccer-news website company Goal Networks. Zahradnik also co-founded the weekly newspaper The Peekskill Herald at the age of 25, leading it to seven state press association awards in its first three years.

Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where he writes fiction and teaches elementary school kids how to publish the online and print newspaper the Colonial Times.

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