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

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Book Spotlight: THE CODEBOOK MURDERS by Leslie Nagel


The Codebook Murders:

The Oakwood Book Club Mystery Series
by Leslie Nagel

About the Book

The Codebook Murders: The Oakwood Book Club Mystery Series
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Alibi (May 21, 2019)
Print Length: 250 pages
ASIN: B07JR9VXCQ




Amateur sleuth Charley Carpenter discovers a coded journal that could crack her small town's most infamous cold case wide open in this charming cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of The Book Club Murders.

As the owner of Old Hat Vintage Fashions, Charley Carpenter supplies retro apparel to the residents of Oakwood, Ohio, but she's been known to set business aside to play detective when a mystery rears its head. And there's no bigger mystery in Oakwood than the murder of Regan Fletcher—a case that's haunted the town for decades.

Regan's boyfriend, Carter, did time for the crime—until another man's confession freed him. But did the "real killer" really do it? Or did Carter walk away with blood on his hands? When Charley stumbles on an old journal written in code, it only complicates the case by revealing a blackmail scheme that targeted dozens of Oakwood's citizens, giving them all a motive for murder.

Now, with a spate of new suspects to pursue, plus a fresh murder and the abduction of her sleuthing partner, Charley must dig deeper still into the past—even as she risks being buried by her shadowy prey. Joining forces with Detective Marcus Trenault and the newly formed Oakwood Mystery Book Club, Charley turns to a classic whodunit for clues on catching a killer—before more lives are lost, and the truth dies with them.

Leslie Nagel's delightful Oakwood Mystery novels can be enjoyed together or separately:

THE BOOK CLUB MURDERS • THE ANTIQUE HOUSE MURDERS • THE ADVICE COLUMN MURDERS • THE CODEBOOK MURDERS

Purchase Links

Amazon B&NKobo –  Google Play





About the Author



About The Author


Leslie Nagel is a writer and teacher of writing at a local community college. Her debut novel, "The Book Club Murders", is the first in the Oakwood Mystery Series. Leslie lives in the all too real city of Oakwood, Ohio, where murders are rare but great stories lie thick on the ground. After the written word, her passions include her husband, her son, and daughter, hiking, tennis and strong black coffee, not necessarily in that order.

Author Links

Website – http://www.leslienagel.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LeslieNagelAuthor/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/@leslie_nagel

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/leslie_nagel/


TOUR PARTICIPANTS

May 20 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 20 – I'm All About Books – GUEST POST

May 21 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

May 22 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

May 23 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

May 23 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

May 24 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW

May 25 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

May 26 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – REVIEW

May 27 – Mallory Heart's Cozies – REVIEW

May 28 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 29 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST

May 30 – The Book Diva's Reads – SPOTLIGHT 

May 31 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 1 – Elizabeth McKenna's Blog – SPOTLIGHT

June 2 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW



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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Book Showcase: JUST ONE BITE by Jack Heath



Just One Bite, Timothy Blake #2, by Jack Heath
ISBN: 9781335952844 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781335997456 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781488098697 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488206399 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07HG798FT (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  Hanover Square Press
Release Date: June 4, 2019



The shocking, fast-paced and queasily funny follow-up to Jack Heath's international bestselling thriller, Hangman 

Timothy Blake, a former consultant for the FBI, now moonlights in body disposal for a local crime lord. One night he stumbles across a body he wasn't supposed to find. When the FBI calls Blake back in to investigate the man's disappearance, Blake is the only one who knows the man is dead and in his freezer.

Then another man goes missing. And another. And another.

There's a serial killer in Houston, and Blake is the only one who knows it for sure. As they hunt the killer together, his handler, FBI agent Reese Thistle, starts to warm to Blake—but she also gets closer and closer to discovering his own gruesome secret. This is cause for anxiety for the criminal kingpin who employs Blake. It would be better to murder Blake than to risk exposure.

Can Blake uncover the killer, without exposing himself?










Read an excerpt from Just One Bite:



CHAPTER ONE

What has a neck but no head?


If Charlie Warner wants you dead, first she steals your shoes. 

Not in person. She has people all over Houston. 

One of them is James Tyrrell, a pudgy guy with Coke-bottle glasses and scar tissue on his arm where the number 88 used to be. A coded white-supremacist tattoo—H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. The 88 means Heil Hitler. "I'm no Nazi," I heard him say once. "But if you want to survive Huntsville prison, you gotta pick a team." 

Tyrrell will open your front door with a police-issue lock-release gun and go to your bedroom wearing latex gloves and a hairnet. He'll steal your most expensive pair of shoes. Usually black, always shiny—the kind you might wear to a funeral. He'll take some socks, too, but won't touch anything else on his way out. 

Two more guys will drive a white van with stolen plates to wherever it is you work. Their names are Jordan Francis and Theo Sariklis. They both have thick necks, square jaws and crew cuts. It took me a while to tell them apart. Sariklis is the one with the drooping eyelid and the Ramones shirt. He's been working for Warner longer than me. Francis is new—just moved here from San Jose, California. He's the one who cracks jokes. Even in winter he wears a wife-beater to show off his biceps. He might go to the gym after killing you. 

Francis will park the van next to the driver's side of your car. Sariklis will open the sliding door on the side of the van and wait. 

You'll walk out of the office and approach your car. When you go to open the door, Francis will grab you and drag you into the van. It takes seconds. He's had plenty of practice—in San Jose he worked for one of the SureƱo gangs. You won't even have time to scream before Francis shuts the van door. 

You'll know who they work for. Warner doesn't target bystanders. They're here because you stole from her, or lied to her, or informed on her. Or maybe you didn't pay your tab at one of her businesses. An underground casino, a bordello, a drug den. 

They'll ask you questions. The first few are a test; they already know the answers. If you lie, Francis will hold you down, while Sariklis forces a water bottle into your mouth and pinches your nose shut so it feels like drowning. They do it like that because they're still in the parking lot. There aren't many quiet ways to torture someone. 

Just when it feels like you're gonna die, Sariklis will take the bottle out. You'll throw up. Then Sariklis will ask you some more questions. The real ones. Whatever Warner needs to know. Who have you told? What are their names? Where do they live? Show us the messages. 

The final question is always about the PIN for your bank account. You'll answer that one gladly. You'll think it means they only want money. You'll think they're going to let you go.

After you give them your PIN, Sariklis will stick the bottle back in your mouth. This time he won't let up. He'll drown you, right there in the parking lot. Three minutes until your heart gives up, four until brain death. 

Francis will stay in the van with your body while Sariklis takes your car, your phone and your wallet to an ATM. He'll withdraw as much as he can, then drive to a secluded stretch of beach in Galveston. 

There he'll meet Tyrrell, who has your shoes. Sariklis will place your shoes side by side on the sand, your wallet and keys tucked inside like frightened mice. Tyrrell will do a factory reset on your phone, switch it off and hurl it into the sea. They'll abandon your car on the side of the road, within sight of the gray ocean, and take Tyrrell's car back to Warner's office to give her the cash. 

I've only been to Warner's office once, and I had a bag on my head for the whole journey. But I was memorizing the turns, and counting the seconds. Afterward I got them to drop me off someplace else, and I memorized that journey, too. Later I looked at a map, and narrowed it down to four city blocks near Market Square Park. 

They usually take you on a Friday. If you live alone, you may not be reported missing until Monday. The police will find your car and shoes around Wednesday. Some of them will say you drowned accidentally while swimming. Others will suggest that it was suicide. The shoes are too classy for a normal swim, they'll say, and there's no towel. Plus, your bathing suit is still at your home. 

Because of the ATM withdrawal, still others will say that you faked your death. You did have some powerful enemies, after all. Your missing phone lends credence to this theory. But anyone who suspects Warner will be smart enough not to say so. 

All this is assuming you're one of the lucky ones, and Warner doesn't want the credit for your death. Sometimes she kills someone to send a message. No stolen shoes, no water bottle. The body turns up in dozens of pieces, each removed from a living person. 

Once upon a time Warner's men would have just thrown your body into the ocean. The water in your lungs would make sense on the autopsy report. But the bruising around your lips and wrists, plus the damage to your gums, might raise some eyebrows. Now they have a better way. 

While Sariklis and Tyrrell bring the cash to Warner's office, Francis will take the van onto State Highway 12, alone. Your body will be in the back under a sheet, slowly going cold. Francis will drive through the dark, watching the buildings disappear and the trees get taller and taller. 

Then he'll see a beat-up Toyota Corolla parked on the shoulder, miles from anywhere. He'll pull over. Despite what he's seen and done, he'll shudder before he gets out of the car. 

Then he'll slide open the van door, and give your body to me.


Copyright © 2019 Jack Heath. All rights reserved. 
Reprinted with permission from the publisher.



Meet the author



First published as a teenager, Jack Heath is the award-winning author of more than twenty fiction titles for young adult and middle-grade readers. In the course of his research, Jack has toured morgues and prisons, performed as a street magician and traveled through eleven countries, including Russia. His previous day jobs—in which he met many interesting characters—include fry cook, music teacher, TV salesman, call center worker, and bookseller. He plays several musical instruments and lives on the land of the Ngunnawal people in Gunghalin, Australia. 


Connect with the author via his website, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Book Spotlight: SOUTHERN SASS AND KILLER CRAVINGS by Kate Young

Southern Sass and Killer Cravings
(Marygene Brown Mysteries)
by Kate Young


About the Book




Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Kensington (May 28, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Print ISBN-10: 1496721454
Print ISBN-13: 9781496721457
Digital ISBN: 9781496721464
Digital ASIN: B07H1VWGBS



Life has always been sweet on Georgia’s Peach Cove Island, but a case of murder has Marygene Brown down in the pits . . .

For generations, the women of the Brown family on Peach Cove Island have been known for their Southern sass and sweet homemade desserts at their beloved Peach Diner. Since their mother's passing two years ago, Marygene has been stuck in Atlanta while her sister Jena Lynn has been running the family business. Now Marygene has left her husband and returned to her hometown, where she can almost feel Mama's presence.
But all is not peachy back home. Marygene has barely tied on an apron when a diner regular drops dead at the counter. When it turns out the old man's been poisoned, Jena Lynn is led away in handcuffs and the family eatery is closed. Now, to save her sister and the diner, Marygene must find the real killer. With some startling assistance from her Mama's spirit, Marygene will be serving up a special order of just desserts . . .
Includes Seven Recipes from Marygene’s Kitchen!


The author is hosting a pre-order giveaway!



About the Author


Kate Young writes humorous southern mystery novels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter. Kate lives in a small town in Georgia with her husband, three kids, and Shih Tzu. When she is not writing her own books, she's reading or cooking.

Author Links

Website - https://www.kateyoungbooks.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKateYoung/

Twitter - https://twitter.com/KAYoungBooks

GoodReads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6527572.Kate_Young

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kate-young-b3339e9c-d2e4-482d-a637-5afd7b064d73

Purchase Links: IndieBound | BookDepository | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Nook | Books-A-Million | eBooks | iBooks | Kobo 



TOUR PARTICIPANTS

May 18 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW

May 18 – Moonlight Rendezvous - REVIEW

May 18 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 18 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

May 19 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

May 19 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

May 19 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder - REVIEW, RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 19 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

May 20 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

May 20 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

May 20 – ⒾⓃⓉⓇⓄⓈⓅⒺⒸⓉⒾⓋⒺ ⓅⓇⒺⓈⓈ - SPOTLIGHT

May 20 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

May 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

May 21 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

May 21 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 21 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT

May 22 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

May 22 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 22 – 4covert2overt ☼ A Place In The Spotlight ☼ - SPOTLIGHT

May 22 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews - RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 23 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 23 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

May 23 – ❧Defining Ways❧ - RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 23 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

May 24 – The Book's the Thing – REVIEW

May 24 – Brooke Blogs - RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 24 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

May 24 – Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author – SPOTLIGHT

May 25 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – REVIEW

May 25 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – REVIEW

May 25 – The Book Diva's Reads – SPOTLIGHT 

May 25 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW

May 26 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

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May 26 – That's What She's Reading – SPOTLIGHT



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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Guest Post: Linda Lovely - BAD PICK



Good day, my fellow bookish peeps. I'm always thrilled to meet new-to-me authors and series. I'm always intrigued by how an author can take a small idea and grow it into a plot for a book. Today, I'm honored to welcome Linda Lovely, author of the Brie Hooker mystery series. Ms. Lovely will be sharing with us her thoughts on DNA and the role it plays in her latest Brie Hooker story, Bad Pick. I hope you'll all read what Ms. Lovely has to say, follow this blog tour, learn more about this book and author, and put Bad Pick and the Brie Hooker mystery series on your TBR list. Thank you, Ms. Lovely, for taking the time to stop by today and share with us. Ladies and gents I give you, Ms. Linda Lovely.




DNA Surprises
by Linda Lovely

Are you tempted to take a DNA test to learn if your genes up the odds you'll suffer from various diseases? Are you curious about your ethnic makeup? Do you view testing and DNA databases as vehicles to expand your genealogy research and learn more about your family history?

People are curious beings, and this curiosity quite naturally extends to our own bodies and family sagas DNA testing services now available can cater to an individual's specific interests, whether they're focused on health issues or ancestry. As a consequence, some 12 million American adults—about 1 in 25—paid to use DNA testing services in 2017.

However, folks who take advantage of DNA testing need to be prepared to learn things they'd rather not know. In some cases, test results and database matches yield unwelcome surprises that cause personal anxiety or family upheavals.   

Despite urging from some of my relatives, I've resisted DNA testing because my mother fought a fourteen-year battle with Alzheimer's before she died. I already worry enough that the disease may loom in my future without a test saying "yeah, your odds are above average." That would make me even more concerned any time I forget a word or a name. As long as there's no cure for Alzheimer's, my saliva won't be making an airmail trip to a DNA lab.

Yet, as an author of mysteries, DNA testing intrigues me. I've been especially interested in news stories describing how detectives have used "familial DNA" to solve cases where they'd run out of leads to pursue. In such cases, the detectives have samples of a suspected killer's DNA but can't find a match in any law enforcement database because the suspect's never been arrested or convicted of a crime. In many states, these detectives now are allowed to search for "near" matches of first-degree relatives.  Each person's DNA contains about 20 critical markers. If software can find a DNA result that matches 10 of these 20 markers, the person with that DNA is most likely the suspect's parent, child or sibling. This technique has yielded some headline-making arrests in previously hard-to-solve cold cases.

Of course, it's not just law enforcement use of familial DNA that has the capacity to reveal surprising results. Individuals who give consumer testing services permission to put their DNA in databases that search for relatives may discover one or both of their biological parents are strangers and not the people they've always called Mom or Dad. In fact, a Facebook support community for people who've discovered unexpected parentage already has more than two thousand members.

The relative-matching software also can reveal that a person has one or more half-brothers or half-sisters previously unknown to them. This could be the result of prior hushed-up marriages, infidelity, or adoptions. When such a discovery is made, what can happen if contact is made or parents are confronted about long-held secrets? 

In Bad Pick, my latest cozy Brie Hooker Mystery series, a familial DNA surprise plays a key role in the plot. But that's the only hint I'll give you. You'll have to read Bad Pick to discover why the consequences can lead to murder.



Author Bio:



Hundreds of mystery writers have met Linda Lovely at check-in for the annual Writers' Police Academy, which she helps organize. Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn't a huge stretch given the years she's spent penning PR and ad copy. She writes a blend of mystery and humor, chuckling as she plots to "disappear" the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there's no need to pester relatives for bail. Her new Brie Hooker Mystery series offers good-natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin. Bad Pick is her eighth published mystery novel. She served as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter for five years and belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Catch Up With Our Author On:


lindalovely.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!



Bad Pick

by Linda Lovely

on Tour April 1-May 31, 2019


Synopsis:


Bad Pick by Linda Lovely


Vegan Brie Hooker lives and works with her feisty Aunt Eva at Udderly Kidding Dairy, a hop, skip, and jump away from South Carolina's Clemson University. Brie's fun farm outreach attempt backfires when religious extremists decide goat yoga is a form of devil worship. Believing one of the zealots might be persuaded to see reason, Brie's free-wheeling friend Mollye convinces her they should call on the young woman. Big mistake.

Picketers at Udderly's gates soon become the least of Brie's troubles. Not only is she accused of murder, she worries the death might actually be her fault. Danger mounts when an old family friend's visit ensnares Brie in a high-stakes feud between a U.S. Supreme Court nominee and the woman determined to expose his secrets. In her personal life, Brie's still torn between the town's two most eligible bachelors. While she's edging toward a decision, she must first survive a cunning killer adept at crafting murders that look like tragic accidents. Will Brie be another "accident" victim? Pay a visit to Udderly Kidding Dairy and find out!


Praise for Bad Pick



"There's such a lot to enjoy in Linda Lovely's third Brie Hooker mystery Bad Pick. Of course, I came for the goat yoga and the religious extremists (I'm only human), but I stayed for the love triangle, the female friendships, the family members rubbing along so realistically, the sidelights on vegan cooking and the rich depiction of small-town life. And what kept me flicking the pages fast enough to cause a draft? The twisty, knotty, killer plot underneath all that charm. Bad Pick is a good un!"—Catriona McPherson, Multi-Award-Winning Author of the Last Ditch Mysteries.


"Wow! In Bad Pick, Lovely wrote an amazing novel only to see one part of the plot come to life in headlines all over the country. A fringe religious cult, a Supreme Court nominee, and goat yoga combine together in a tale that fans of mysteries won't want to miss." –Sherry Harris, Agatha Award Nominee and Author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries.


"The Brie Hooker mysteries from author Linda Lovely continue to entertain, this time with extremists who really don't like the farm's new goat yoga offering. You'll find yourself muttering, "What the feta?" as you follow the action around not one but two murders from the edge of your seat. Fix yourself a chevre sandwich and sit down to enjoy a delightful - and suspense-filled - read."—Edith Maxwell, Author of the Local Foods Mysteries and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries.



Book Details:


Genre: Cozy Mystery
 

Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Number of Pages: 270
ISBN: 9781635114744
Series: Brie Hooker Mystery Series

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads



Tour Participants:


Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!






Enter To Win!:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Linda Lovely. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 1, 2019, and runs through June 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Book Showcase: ALL QUIET ON THE MIDWESTERN PLAINS by Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

All Quiet On The Midwestern Plains: a Tale of Deception, Betrayal and Vindication by Dorothea Shefer-Vanson
ISBN: 9781723871801 (paperback)
ASIN: B07HJCXJRF (Kindle edition)
Release Date: September 19, 2018


It is 1985 and Israeli paleontologist is spending a year at a university in Nebraska. He encounters hostility from the head of the department and anti-Semitism in the local paper. Events seem to conspire to prevent him achieving his aim of attaining academic success, and his family is on the verge of breaking up, until he is finally able to unmask the plot to wreak havoc throughout America.






Purchase Links:  Amazon  |  Kindle 



Read an excerpt from All Quiet On The Midwestern Plains:

Wielding chisels and hammers, the two men busied themselves prising sections of rock away from the hillside till the sun was low on the horizon, by which time their hands were blistered and sore.

Avi carefully recorded the original position of each rock as he placed it in one of the sacks he had brought along for the purpose. They spoke little, each of them absorbed in the task at hand. After they had been working for some time Avi lit the camping gas ring he had brought along and brewed some coffee. They drank it slowly, savoring the warmth and the aroma.

"I'd like to get a few more specimens from up there," Avi said, pointing to a higher part of the hillside. "Once I've done that I'll be ready to head back into town."

"That's fine with me. I've got enough stuff here to give me years of analysis. Besides, I must confess, I don't seem to have the stamina I once had for roughing it in the open and hacking away at rocks."

Tom stopped working and watched anxiously as Avi balanced himself on the rocks in his efforts to prise part of the rock-face away. The effort involved in maintaining his balance while engaging in the strenuous yet delicate physical effort showed on Avi's face. He improved his foot-hold and began to wield his tools, at first slowly, then, as his confidence increased, with growing rhythm and speed.

As Tom watched his friend he was reminded how much he enjoyed being out in the open, where the air was fresh and he could feel the earth beneath his feet, seeing everything from a different perspective. The elements seemed so docile, after the violent storm of the morning, making him think of Nancy, with her sudden violent mood-swings. One moment she would be as quiet and sweet as a dove, the next a screaming harridan. He often did not know why. Whether it was because of some imagined slight on his part or some error of omission or commission.

Avi strained to insert his chisel at an awkward angle into the rock face, lost his balance, and fell, not far but heavily. Without uttering a syllable he bumped down the jagged edges of protruding russet-colored rocks, landing close to where Tom was standing, helpless and unable to move. Suddenly Avi was lying motionless at his feet, his eyes closed, blood oozing from a gash in his forehead.

Tom's heart began pounding at an alarming rate. He bent down and took Avi's limp hand, trying to find his pulse. He wondered if he was badly wounded and whether he should try to staunch the blood, though he did not know what with. He did not know if any bones were broken, consoling himself with the fact that at least Avi was still breathing. After a moment he was relieved to find that his pulse was steady.

Avi groaned and opened his eyes. He put his hand to his forehead, then stared at the blood on his fingers.

"I fell, didn't I?" he asked.

"You sure did."

"Is it a deep cut?"

"Maybe. I can't really tell," Tom screwed his eyes up and peered at the wound.

"There's a first-aid kit in the jeep," Avi's voice was weak. He sat up slowly, wincing in pain. The blood had drained from his face, so that his dark eyes stared out at Tom from sockets that seemed suddenly to have sunk deep into his skull.

"Don't get up. Stay where you are. I'll go and get the things."

When Tom came back with the first-aid box, he found Avi sitting on a rock, dabbing his wound with a blood-stained tissue. His face was still pale, but he looked as if he was recovering from the initial shock.

"Here. Let me do it," Avi said, and took the box from Tom. With deft fingers he cleaned his wound, dressed it, and wound a bandage around his own head. Tom nodded in admiration.

"I've seen medics treat battle wounds a few times. I reckon I know what to do," Avi explained as he tightened the bandage and secured it with a safety-pin. "Sometimes we had to dress one another's wounds ourselves when the medic wasn't around. I could do with something to drink, though. My mouth feels very dry. I'm probably in shock. Is there any water left in the jeep?"

Once again Tom clambered down to where the vehicle was standing, and came back with their last container of water. He handed it to Avi, who gulped the tepid liquid down, then washed his face and hands, careful not to wet the bandage.

"I'm OK now," his voice sounded stronger. "Luckily I don't seem to have broken any bones. I really wish I could have got some rocks from up there, but I don't want to take any more risks."

"I could try," Tom ventured.

"No, I wouldn't dream of letting you. But thanks for offering. It's funny, you know," he added after a moment, "being here with you, like this, is a bit like being back in the military. I didn't realize it till now, but I'm glad you're here with me. I don't know how I'd have managed without you. We make a good team. I'm sorry I spoiled things with this stupid fall."

"That's OK," Tom recognized that this was the highest compliment Avi could give. He felt that he really ought to reciprocate in some way, tell Avi he was glad they had made the trip together, but somehow the words just would not come. Instead, he busied himself with practicalities, fussing over his friend like a mother-hen. "Here. Take my arm. I don't want you falling down any more rocks till we're safe in the jeep. You gave me quite a shock just now."

With unaccustomed docility, like a newly-tamed animal, Avi took Tom's arm, and together they made their way slowly down the hill. When they reached the road, Avi made for the driver's seat.

"Don't make me laugh, Avi," Tom said. "You're in no fit state to drive. Besides, you've driven all the way so far. Now it's my turn."

Again without demurring, Avi went round to the passenger seat and let Tom take the wheel.

"It's years since I've driven a vehicle with a manual gear," Tom said. "I guess it'll take me a while to get used to it. Still, I've got to do it. So here goes."

He engaged the engine and started to drive, raising a cloud of dust.

He was not sorry to be leaving that spot, but glad he had not let Avi go on his own. Realizing that anything could have happened if he had, he imagined how proud of him Nancy would be and gave himself a metaphorical pat on the back.

"We'll soon have you back in civilization," he said to Avi, who winced each time the jeep jolted on the uneven road. "We'd better get you to a doctor as soon as possible."

"I'm alright," Avi protested. "I just want to get home."

Home. The magic word that since time immemorial has given fighting men the strength to endure hardship. The word that has kept soldiers going through the most rigorous training, field exercises, battles, gun-fire and falling bombs.

Avi recalled how, though still a teenager when he was doing his compulsory military service, the thought of his mother's worn face and comfortable form, had kept him going. He would envisage her busy in the kitchen, making the food he liked, or bringing him a cup of coffee and a slice of home-made cake when he came home on leave. He imagined himself sitting in the big armchair, his legs stretched out in front of him, his boots on the floor beside him, as he read the paper.

He shook his head despite the pain and reminded himself that home was no longer his mother. Home was Rachel and the twins, who were all doubtless just carrying on with life, unaware of what had happened to him. He wondered whether his wife would spare a moment to wonder where he was and what he was doing. He glanced at his watch and calculated that she was probably making lunch for the twins, tidying the kitchen, or enjoying one of the interminable television comedies

"There's no chance of getting back to Seabrook tonight," Tom said. "We'll stop at the nearest gas station and ask where we can find a doctor. Chances are that there'll be a motel where we can stay tonight. Then we'll be able to leave tomorrow morning and get to Seabrook by noon."

"Couldn't we make it back to Seabrook tonight?" Avi's voice was wistful.

"Not if I'm driving. And you're certainly not going to. I'm not taking any more risks. Unlike you, I don't like living dangerously."

"Don't lecture me, for heaven's sake, Tom."

"OK. Sorry. End of sermon," Tom said.

"Besides," Avi continued, "What's the point of living if you don't take a risk or two now and again? We'd all die of boredom."

"That's fine with me. I get enough excitement from working with Harold Anderss and watching the Huskers playing. What more can a man want?"

"Ah, yes, the football team. I've heard about them. The twins said something about the game the other day. I didn't know that you were interested in that too."

"Interested?" Tom exclaimed, negotiating a pile of small stones that the storm had deposited on the road. "I don't think that ‘interested' is the right word. Everyone in the state supports the Huskers. They're a damn good team. One of the best in the country. If not the best. Everyone's a fan. Some people are just enthusiastic supporters, while others are real fanatical supporters. But no-one's indifferent. I'll have to take you to a game some day."

"I can't wait." Avi said, then winced and put his hand to his head as the jeep lurched over a pot-hole in the road.

The teenage attendant at the gas station chewed gum languidly as he filled their tank, all the while leaning against their mud-encrusted vehicle. He told them that they'd find a doctor and a motel in the nearby town of Spurling.

The light was beginning to fade as the two men checked into the motel on the outskirts of the town. The clerk at the desk looked at Avi's bandaged head with some concern. The blood that had oozed out of the wound had dried into an ugly, rust-colored stain that resembled the map of some unknown country.

"That looks real bad," he said. "How d'ya get that?"

"He fell. I'd really like to get him to a doctor," Tom said. "Where can we find one?"

"Well now, let me see," the clerk closed his eyes and sucked his teeth, evidently to aid concentration. "Doctor Thompson lives out over on the other side of town, and I think you'll find he's a real good doctor. There's another one, Doctor Harris, who's nearer but ain't so well thought of. But he's out of town right now anyway. He goes out of town a lot. Mostly on fishing trips. Though he does some hunting too sometimes. That's why people prefer Dr. Thompson. Anyhow, you just take the main road through the town and you'll find him right at the other end."

Tom looked anxiously at Avi, who was standing next to him at the counter and beginning to sway. His face had now turned a delicate shade of gray, and the bloodstain on the bandage round his head was spreading gradually.

"You'd better get your friend over to the surgery real quick," the clerk said. "He looks real bad to me."

"Thanks, I will," Tom said, taking Avi's arm and steering him back to the jeep. Avi leaned on him for support, causing Tom to struggle with his considerable weight.

By the time Tom had located the surgery Avi could barely sit upright in his seat, so that Tom had to come round to the passenger seat and haul his friend's half inert body out. The effort made his arms ache and left him breathing heavily.

The doctor took one look at the dusty, blood-stained pair on his doorstep and helped Tom bring Avi into his office. He lay Avi down on his examining couch and went over to the sink to wash his hands.

"How did it happen? Hunting? Climbing? he asked while he checked Avi's pulse and eyes, then gently unwound the blood-soaked bandage.

"He fell down some rocks. We were out at Horseshoe Rock collecting specimens. We're paleontologists from the university in Seabrook," Tom said.

"A dangerous profession," the doctor said.

Avi groaned gently, his eyes closed.

Tom watched, both fascinated and repelled. Once again the vulnerability of the human body was brought home to him. One minute Avi had seemed almost god-like, clambering over rocks like a mountain goat, and the next he was a frail bundle of blood, flesh, and potentially brittle bones.

"It's a deep gash. He's lost quite a lot of blood," Doctor Thompson said, examining the wound. "He'll have to have stitches. And he'll need plenty of rest. He may even have concussion, though at least he doesn't seem to have broken any bones. You'll have to get him to hospital."

"Can't you stitch it, doctor?" Tom asked. "How far is it to the nearest hospital?"

"No. I can't. The nearest hospital is in Seabrook, which is where you're headed anyway, isn't it?"

"I don't want to go any farther tonight," Tom said. "We've driven a long way today. And worked in the hot sun for hours. Got drenched in that rainstorm this morning, too. I'm tired. I need to rest. And my friend certainly can't drive."

"I don't like it, but I suppose I could apply a temporary dressing. That should get him through the night. Do you have somewhere to stay?"

Tom nodded, and Doctor Thompson cleaned and dressed Avi's wound. When he had finished, Avi opened his eyes, looked from the doctor to Tom, and gave a weak grin. The color was gradually returning to his face.

"Come back to me in the morning. And if there's any change in his condition, call me in the night. Though of course I'd prefer it if you didn't. The main thing is to keep him as still as possible. Here's my card. That will be thirty-five dollars. I'll give you a receipt so you can get a refund from your medical insurance."

After Tom had paid the doctor Avi stood up unsteadily and mumbled some words of thanks. Once they were in the jeep he reached into his pocket, took out his wallet, and thrust thirty-five dollars into Tom's hand.

"I can't have you subsidizing my foolishness," he said as Tom tried to push the notes away. "Anyhow, give me the receipt and I'll get the refund."

Tom relented, shivering in the chilly night air. The two men drove back to the motel, stopping only to get some pizza on the way.

Excerpt from All Quiet on the Midwestern Plains by Dorothea Shefer-Vanson. Copyright © Dorothea Shefer-Vanson 2018. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission from the author.





Meet the author

Born and brought up in post-war London, the daughter of refugees from Hitler's Germany, Dorothea Shefer-Vanson now lives in Israel and has worked most of her life as a translator, editor, and writer. She has a B.A. from the London School of Economics and an M.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Now retired from translating, she devotes her time to writing and has published five novels to date. 

She writes a weekly blog containing reviews of books, concerts, and exhibitions, as well as traveling, general topics, politics and anything that interests her at the time.

She is married to an Israeli physicist, and together they have three children, eight grandchildren, and one grand-dog. She also enjoys painting in watercolors, and her pictures adorn the covers of her books. She is an avid fan of classical music, attends as many concerts as possible and every room in her house – including the smallest – has a radio tuned to the classical music program. She enjoys traveling and her books reflect her experience of living in England, Israel, France, and the USA.


Connect with the author via her website or blog, as well as Goodreads and Amazon