Blown Away (The Crimes of Passion Series Book 2) by Charlene Johnson is a romantic suspense thriller about Zackary Daniels, a homicide detective in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police who also works as a security consultant at a hotel owned by his friend, where his past suddenly collides with his present. When a murder occurs at the Majestic Peacock Hotel and Casino, Zack must set aside his personal search for revenge in order to focus on his current case–discovering the identity of the killer and protecting the beautiful witness, Sonnet Banks. But Sonnet is not what she appears, and she’s not ready to reveal the secrets from her past. Can Zack gain her trust and stop the hit-man before he kills again?
I enjoyed thoroughly reading this book, but I had trouble getting into the story at the beginning. I felt that there were too many characters introduced in the first few pages (almost a dozen names were mentioned), and I struggled to keep them all straight. There were times when I had to go back and check who someone was when they were mentioned again because I couldn’t remember the details of that particular character. Part of the issue might have been that there was a lot of backstory explained all at once. I appreciated the detailed narrative of past events as it created an intricate and well throughout world, but it slowed the pace of the story prior to Sonnet witnessing the murder.
After this point the story accelerates with a consistently fast pace, engaging characters, and a gripping plot. I liked the surprises that were revealed about Sonnet’s character, which weren’t what I had been expecting and added much welcomed dimension to an already stand out character. There were several other unexpected twists in the story which kept things interesting and far from being your standard crime thriller. Charlene Johnson was able to make me care about Sasha Petrov, who seemed completely beyond redemption when we’re first introduced to him at the beginning of the story. But by the end of the book, when the truth about what really happened to Zack’s sister had finally been revealed, I wanted to read more about Sasha, and I was even hoping that there will be another story with him as the hero.
With well defined characters thrown into the middle of a perilous situation things naturally take off and go in unexpected directions. Anyone who enjoys a good crime thriller will find plenty to like.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B087NSZJRG
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Highwayman follows a highly intelligent serial killer with plans to take his rampage to the next level. What were some influences you felt guided your story?
I did an abundant amount of research on subjects with similar traits to the character I wanted to write. When I began developing the Highwayman character, I was constantly reminded of the myriad real-life criminals that inspired him. Serial murderers like Ted Bundy, Luka Magnotta, the Toolbox Killers, Roy Norris and Lawrence Bittaker, all influenced the creation of Highwayman’s character. So, when you ask, “what influences?” they weren’t the traditional works of authors I generally read. Much of my influences were police reports, documentaries, true crime literature, and that kept me grounded. Writing a story about a highly intelligent serial killer that even if they are smart, even if they have the advantage, at their core, there is still something wrong with them. Normal people don’t hunt other humans. That personality defect alone separates them from society and removes the illusion that they are somehow superhuman or impervious to mistakes.
Lance is a villain that I loved to hate. What were some ideals that guided his character development?
The preamble to your question pretty much nails the fundamental mission I had when I created Lance. I didn’t want readers to like him. I wanted them to be horrified by his lack of empathy, narcissism, and psychopathy. In other words, I wanted him to be as realistic to fiction readers as real-life serial killers are to those that read true crime.
The criminal process, as well as the details on FBI procedures, were all fascinating. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure things were accurate?
I did a lot of reading, including interviews with serial killers conducted by law enforcement, and watched 100’s of hours of documentaries on the subject and subjects. I also consulted with true crime writers about the characters they had studied like Ted Bundy. I contacted police agencies, asking questions that raised eyebrows. Nothing beats calling the police and asking strange questions. Examples: “What would happen if I found a body here?” or “Does a vehicle submerged in water still yield fingerprints?” I overdosed on research, but I don’t proclaim myself any type of an expert as I’m sure I can be taken to task on some issues.
This is book one in the Highwayman series. What can readers expect in book two?
Highwayman was a slow-burn, introducing us to Lance and his ambitions over roughly eight years. The follow-up book, FOUR, which is now available, focuses on Lance’s big project of mass murder realized. There’s a lot more action, and it moves faster because the timeline of the story is a much shorter eight weeks. Lance has elevated his status to number one on the FBI’s Most-Wanted list, but there is no more mystery. Law enforcement knows who the Highwayman is and they’re coming. Maxwell is moving with a posse of investigators to stop the Highwayman for good, and now it’s personal. Lance has left Maxwell an arrogant parting shot at one of the crime scenes. AGENT MAXWELL: COME AND FIND ME. Signed: HIGHWAYMAN.
The condescension of a fugitive, yes, but Lance is about to see his plans altered as he tries to escape a relentless force of law enforcement.
Readers can also expect visitations from characters from the first book, like Cole Abraham, Lonnie Perkins, and many others. While this book will conclude the Highwayman story, it is not the end of the series. In future books, there will be more tales of murder and mystery about the monsters who walk among us every day.
Mismatched amateur detectives Casey Alton and (former biker gang leader) Smitty have solved some tough mysteries before. But this one may push them to do some truly creative actions on the edge of what’s legal. Casey & Smitty have a dilemma they have to solve… A longtime good friend of Smitty’s has been conned out of $2,000,000 dollars. The perpetrator’s a known ruthless and murderous crook. The friend has been beaten within an inch of his life to keep him quiet.How can they get the friend’s money back without being killed or worse? Run a racket on a racketeer? Run a hustle on a hustler? Out con a con artist? How do the movies fit into their plan? For the answers to these questions and more, read STAGED!
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The Obsession is a thrilling crime novel that follows Jackie as she finds that she’s being stalked by a serial killer. What were some ideas that drove the development of this story?
Many of the stalker scenes really happened to me. It seems surreal at this point in my life, but it was terrifying and frustrating at the time. Thankfully, the murders were not true.
Jackie is a missilier in the Air Force. Why did you choose this profession as Jackie’s career?
I was one of the first female missiliers. At the time, it was the only combat role a woman could hold. The Air Force has come a long way since then. Many writers start by writing what they know. This experience was very close to home.
There is a lot of good red herrings in the book and it makes you see everyone as a suspect. Was this planned or did this happen organically while writing?
A little of both. In real life, figuring out the stalker did take a while. There were many options, and technology simply wasn’t as it is today. A phone trace was extremely complicated. There was no caller id. Some of the red herrings were added in after I got the initial draft on paper.
This is book one in the Jackie Austin Mysteries series. Where will book two find Jackie and when will it be available?
Wind the Clock is out now. In it, Jackie goes to Germany where she is working for the inspector general’s office. There is a plane crash, and the situation looks very similar to a scenario she wrote for an exercise so she gets blamed for it. She has to figure out the real culprit to get OSI off her back. (The books do not have to be read in order.)
At first, Jackie Austin tried ignoring the phone calls in the dead of the night. Fresh out of Air Force missile training and no stranger to harassment, she shrugged them off as a prank. But when the calls didn’t stop, unsigned love letters started arriving, and things in her house seemed out of place, Jackie started to worry. Were the men on base playing a trick on her or did they not realize that she wasn’t interested? And just how far would this harasser go?
In the neighboring town of Sedalia, a more ominous situation was brewing. Yet another young, single woman had been mysteriously killed in an ongoing series of grim murders. With the police on alert but without any leads, it was only a matter of time before the killer found his next victim.
Could Jackie be his next target?
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Layers of Deception is a thrilling crime novel that delves into cyber-security, the dark web and criminal gangs in the Far East. What served as your inspiration while writing this novel?
Basically I wanted to write the type of book (and movie) that I enjoy myself. As for where the actual story came from, I started writing about situations I experienced over the years and the plot emerged as I built it out. I found that when I’m in the zone and typing away the story just unfolded quite naturally.
I wanted a main character that readers would really empathise with, so while he’s a very successful businessman on one level, I think there’s also a real vulnerability to him, mentally at least. I think it’s this side of him that makes him stand out and draws the reader into his life and problems.
I began writing during my recovery from a serious fall into a storm drain whilst on business in Singapore. Stuck in hospital I found it cathartic to write. It helped with my recovery, both mentally and physically. That was the start. Once back to work, and traveling internationally, I would write everywhere: on planes, trains, staying at hotels, at any given opportunity.
What is your professional experience and how has that helped you write this novel?
I worked for over 25 years in the technology sector – mainly internet security and international fraud detection. I wanted to bring my experiences of business deals and Internet security in the heart of banking systems, where you’d never expect everything to go very wrong very quickly, combining this as a thriller where modern-day mafia and the dark net combine to corrupt the heart of the international banking system.
I think it would really appeal to people who understand the techie stuff, but my aim was to make it perfectly accessible for non technical people too.
Whilst my time in the IT industry, international travel and experiences, equipped me with many stories over the years, my subsequent work as a therapist has enabled me to study all aspects of human behavior. I specialize in treating people with issues around anxiety, phobias and trauma. We are all fallible human beings. One of the main things that therapy gives me is empathy – helping me to understand and get into the mind of the characters in my writing
Kuala Lumpur is a detailed and fascinating backdrop to your story. Why did you choose this location for the setting to you novel?
The thriller draws on my many years experience of doing business in Kuala Lumpur as an IT business entrepreneur in the computer security sector trying to land contracts in Kuala Lumpur.
Despite its challenges, Kuala Lumpur is easily my favorite city in Asia. The city is always on the move, spurred by high technology, a strong knowledge-base and capital-intensive industries. The difference between rich and poor is very stark and there are issues with crime. Traffic is a nightmare as well. All of that aside, the food is fantastic and there are very few cities that are so inherently culturally diverse.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I’m working on my second novel, a thriller set in Kuala Lumpur. It’s about a Malaysian family who illegally buy a Vietnamese child – a boy – the result of a turbulent relationship between a UK businessman and a Vietnamese woman living in Kuala Lumpur. The boy thrived in his new loving family unit, but his life and all those around him were about to be devastated when his real mother, who had since married a rich American businessman – wants him back.
In addition I have completed two more plots. A sequel to Layers of Deception where a child is kidnapped by Malaysian triads as a means to extort funds from a UK business based in Kuala Lumpur. The other novel is a thriller based on my fall in Singapore.
With international backers, big business deals and Internet security in the heart of banking systems, you’d never expect everything to go very wrong very quickly. And when things go wrong, they go very wrong! Layers of Deception is an international crime thriller where modern-day mafia and dark net combine to corrupt the heart of the international banking system.
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Billy has only ever wanted to liberate the oppressed. He worked as a cop for ten years only to leave that behind and join the priesthood. About half a decade since he left the force and last spoke to his ‘brother’, he is called upon to help with the murder of his goddaughter Julia. He can feel the heavy presence of the devil in Capitol Hill Denver. He is determined to fight with prayer. William Yeats Butler is no weak person. He is a worthy opponent. He is a warrior. Will the killers of Julia be brought to justice? Can Billy and Laskey ever get overcome the past?
Set in the 1980’s this book is the first in a two book series. It’s an account of suspenseful mysteries with a bit of a narrative on spirituality weaved in. Written by a cop, you really can feel the intensity of a police investigation. The pain of knowing the victims on a personal level. The valor required just to get out of bed each day and prepare for this job. One can also clearly see the sheer sacrifice that comes with the job. Timony McKeever is a brilliant storyteller who has mastered the art of setting the scene using simple language.
There are so many characters to love. Moving away from the obvious, Billy, one cannot help but admire the double edged sword that is McDuff. MLM can be tough and mean but she can also be sweet and charming. It is so strange yet so compelling to experience. Laskey on the other hand is a faulty human being. He is great at his job and has better fashion sense now but the cracks in his personality make for some comedic relief. The author, it seems, has developed each character for the sole reason of building a rapport with the reader. To invite the reader into Capitol Hill as opposed to just watching events unfold from the sidelines.
The prose is succinct, and the dialogue is engaging because things are kept short. It is especially fun to see Laskey and Billy fall into their old relations so quick after they are reunited.
Be warned, there is quite a bit of profanity. However, it serves to set the tone of the book and is yet another thing that paints an accurate picture of interactions between brothers in arms. This is a book worth reading. If nothing else you will appreciate what it takes for criminals to be brought to justice.
Pages: 330 | ISBN: 1513648349
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Raised on the deadly streets of New Orleans, James Johnson is displeased and disheartened by the drug game and the sickness it’s inflicting on his race. Unexpectedly, James met and has befriended, America’s most wanted and deadliest fugitive, Osama Bin Laden. Now he and Osama have joined forces in an effort to eliminate the nations drug trade.
Recently inspired by the rapid growth of ISIS; James, a legendary figure and underworld boss, has amassed enormous wealth, acquired a Harvard education, and is now poised to revolutionize the entire nation.
However, the stakes are high and many powerful people will lose fortunes if James prevails. Foreign assassins are pouring into the United States to wage war in what will become the bloodiest international war ever fought in an effort to strengthen a race.
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A small-city newspaper publisher lies on his deathbed, unable to speak, looking at his eldest son in hate and heartbreak before he dies. A phone call commences a cross-country journey to a bloody destiny for a man who has existed in the shadows most of his life. Years in the past, a man’s desire to save his family’s legacy leads to an unthinkable deal with a devil, one that will one way or another destroy lives. And private investigator Randall Arthur must race against time to discover a long-held secret and to protect a family from utter catastrophe.
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