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Vega Investigative Thriller Series

Author Interview
John Hazen Author Interview

Beyond Revelation follows a TV reporter who races against time to save her friend and stop a sinister cult. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?

Remember, Beyond Revelation is a book about a reporter, and a good reporter never reveals his or her sources.

A lot of research for this book came from news accounts I’ve read and heard over the years. Jonestown and the Branch Davidians are examples of cults that were big in the news during my life, so I had a knowledge of them as I wrote the book. I also made it easy on myself by making the two primary settings in the book places that I’ve lived during my life. Fairbrook, MA, is based on the small town where I grew up and the New York City metropolitan area is where I’d spent most of my life. I always try to do some reading on places I write about that I’ve never visited to get them as real as I can. In this book that would be Montana and Havana, Cuba.

What were some ideas that were important for you to personify in your characters?

My focus in this book and in the two books that preceded it in the Vega Investigative Thriller Series (Fava and Zyklon) must of course be the protagonist, Francine Vega. She’s a street-smart, New York City TV journalist. I try to portray her as having the qualities I want all journalists to have. I want her to be intelligent, persistent, questioning, and honest. Both she and her husband, FBI Special Agent Will Allen, are the epitome of integrity. I wanted them both to be the best examples they can be for their three kids.

It can be a bit tricky when you’re writing a series. After the first book, the author must present enough background on characters to inform people who haven’t read the previous editions but not too much background that you turn off or bore those who have read them. I think I’ve done that thus far in this series.

How do you balance story development with shocking plot twists? Or can they be the same thing?

I don’t believe any balance is required. They can, and should be, the same thing. In fact, I think that plot twists—shocking or otherwise—need to compliment and advance story development. They must be part of the whole. Otherwise, the plot twists look like they’re superfluous or simply inserted for shock value.

In discussing the difference between “surprise” and “suspense”, Alfred Hitchcock, used the example of a bomb taped under a table where two people are sitting. You could have the audience not know the bomb is there and then get fifteen seconds of surprised adrenaline rush when it suddenly explodes. Hitchcock would rather let the viewer know that the bomb was there ahead of time and be on the edge of their seats, not knowing if the bomb would go off or not. In this way, the audience experiences fifteen minutes, rather than fifteen seconds, of surprise. I agree with this approach. There are times and places for the unexpected, the surprise, of plot twists, but overall, I prefer the approach of building suspense over the course of a chapter or even over the arc of the entire book.

What can readers expect in book four of the Vega Thriller series?

Thus far in the Vega Investigative Thriller series we’ve had Francine expose and thwart plots that would have plunged the world into war (Fava), undermined a presidential election (Zyklon) and plunged the country into a race war (Beyond Revelation). All this has taken a toll on her. The events of Beyond Revelation were especially hard on her mentally and emotionally. In the next book, she’s going to still be the intrepid journalist who’s going to uncover stories—this time I think in the environmental field—but I will need to focus a little sharper on her personal situation and the burdens she is bearing.

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Is Beyond Revelation a reclusive religious order preparing its flock for the Second Coming, or is it a cult with much more sinister intentions?
When New York City TV reporter Francine Vega travels from ‘the City’ to a small New England town to hunt for a friend who has gone missing, she finds that the disappearance may be tied to Beyond Revelation and a Russian-funded nationwide conspiracy. To find the truth, Vega works with the Press, the FBI, religious leaders, civil rights leaders and even the President as she races against the clock to rescue her friend and avert a national calamity.

Blood In The Medicine Bowl

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Blood In The Medicine Bowl, by Steven Bryan Clegg, is a book that contains two pivotal stories, and both need to be told. The first is about the importance of awareness of poaching rhino horns for money, and the second is about the alertness of crime against humanity with the kidnapping of children. The story’s main setting is South Africa. A rhino having been poached is unlawfully sent to Vietnam to be prepared for illegal sale. The horn is boiling in a pot at Mr. Bui’s home when his 10-year-old son accidentally cuts his finger, the blood dripping into the boiling pot. Meanwhile, Detective Elizabeth Beyes works feverishly to track down and capture a kidnapper of children. Her search leads her to a magician who also steals rabbits called Magic Pete.

Author Steven Bryan Clegg begins his riveting story with a barrage of scenes and characters to setup his novels theme’s of the crime and consequences of poaching and kidnapping. His setting begins in South Africa, shoots to Vietnam, then to China, and back to Africa where he delves into the second plot involving Detective Liz Beyes and her partner, Detective Zahn Lin. Each scene is captivating, the locations are vivid and seem exotic. At times I found the introduction of so many characters a little overwhelming, but the story does a great job keeping the storylines separate, although I felt that it was hard to tell which storyline took priority. By the end of the novel, the story had come full circle and ends leaving the readers feeling satisfied. The dialogue is paced well and I enjoyed the conversations between characters in the story, which showcases Clegg’s talent of character creation. I found many of the characters to be relatable.

Blood In The Medicine Bowl is an intriguing story that dramatically explores the consequences of poaching and kidnapping in some creative and stirring ways. The combination of dual storylines ensure readers are consistently engaged with the story.

Pages: 297

 

Game of Bones

Game of Bones: British Detectives (Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mystery Series Book 18) by [Geraldine Evans, Nicole covershotcreations, David Burton]

At first glance, the murder of University Administrator Rupert Hunter-York seems too good to be true. All roads lead to one Professor Babbington, an alcoholic professor with a less-than-savory personality (to say the least). With the mountain of evidence falling on Detective Joe Rafferty’s lap, he thinks that this is an open-and-shut case. It could have been if it weren’t for his right-hand man ​​Sergeant Llewellyn. Now it turns out that the case is far more complicated than what anyone could ever imagine. 

Geraldine Evans’ 18th installment to the Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mysteries begins with a warning for its heavy use of British slang, and even offers a handy list in the back to familiarize readers. I’m happy to report that this is a smooth and readable novel, even for non-British readers. Anyone with a grasp of context clues can easily understand the narration and the inner workings of Rafferty’s mind.  

It’s him that we follow throughout the novel, and what a surprisingly cozy place it is for a grizzled detective. While he fusses over the case almost non-stop, we also see him worrying about his baby sister and yearning to get home to his beloved daughter Neeve. He is a flawed man, as we see how his biases can sometimes get in the way of the investigation. But that’s precisely what makes him lovable in the first place. He’s relatable and human and a well-rounded character. 

Speaking of well-rounded characters, Game of Bones is full of them. We’ve talked about Rafferty, but we can’t forget supporting characters like his partner Llewelyn and the babbling suspect Professor Babbington. Each character has such unique personalities reflected in their mannerisms and dialogue that they become imprinted in your mind despite how brief their roles may be. This applies even to minor characters like the icy Ms. Harriet Temple and the tight-lipped Professor Curtis. 

It’s the characters that truly shine in the novel, but I felt that the pacing could have been improved. While it starts in medias res and grabs the reader’s attention from the first sentence, the excitement level fluctuates. Fortunately, the characters that populate the Game of Bones makes it a worthy addition not just to the Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mysteries but to the canon of mystery fiction as a whole. This is a gripping mystery novel that I highly recommend.

Pages: 286 | ASIN: B079K6CNDM

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Unforgiven – Book Trailer

Once a victim, she’s now a vigilante. An addictive and suspenseful thriller for readers of Candice Fox and Sarah Bailey.

Lexi Winter is tough, street-smart and has stood on her own two feet since childhood, when she was a victim of notorious paedophile the Spider. All she cares about now is a roof over her head and her long-term relationship with Johnny Walker. She isn’t particular about who she sleeps with … as long as they pay before leaving.

Lexi is also an ace hacker, tracking and entrapping local paedophiles and reporting them to the cops. When she finds a particularly dangerous paedophile who the police can’t touch, she decides to gather enough evidence to put him away. Instead, she’s a witness to his death …

Detective Inspector Rachael Langley is the cop who cracked the Spider case, 18 years earlier – but failed to protect Lexi. Now a man claiming to be the real Spider is emulating his murderous acts, and Rachael is under pressure from government, media and her police colleagues. Did she get it wrong all those years ago, or is this killer is a copycat?

Lexi and Rachael cross paths at last, the Spider in their sights … but they may be too late …

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Rogue Justice – Book Trailer

Someone disillusioned with the criminal justice system has decided that there is only one option available to prevent the scales of justice from tilting in favour of those that carry out heinous crimes. Believing the system broken, he ruthlessly dispenses his own brand of retribution.

Cutting a swathe through a rural community, he subjects his hapless preys to unimaginable cruelty in twisted games of cat and mouse before executing them in escalating brutality.

Detectives Englund and Hicks are tasked with tracking down a killer amidst their close-knit community, seemingly without motive.

When a young girl is kidnapped, coinciding with the release of a notorious pedophile, Englund is forced to evaluate his own position and question what justice really means.

Will Englund and the enigmatic Hicks catch the killer before the town implodes and takes justice into its own hands?

Or will they become another statistic in an ever-increasing body count?

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Villains For Justice

A story about fictional villains seeking justice where there is injustice instead. With the lives of children and women being affected in the hands of rapists and child abusers, Nina, Cherry, and Cora, in separate but connected stories, shows what can happen when a citizen with built up anger takes justice and the laws into their own hands.

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What Drives the Serial Killer

Lynn-Steven Johanson
Lynn-Steven Johanson Author Interview

Havana Brown follows detective Erickson on a bloody case to find a serial killer preying on women in Chicago. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

Since this was a prequel to my novel Rose’s Thorn, there were only a few references to the backstory in that novel: Joe’s prior relationship with Destiny, his nervous breakdown, and the serial killer. So, when I decided to write a prequel, I had to construct the story around those things. But the story itself came strictly out of my imagination.

What were some new dimensions of detective Erickson’s character that you wanted to explore in this book?

Joe won’t let go of a case and will do whatever it takes including working himself into the ground to solve it. A paradox exists in that he decides to make a life change and begin taking good care of his physical health while at the same time ignoring his psychological health. And he begins a romance with a woman who is an intellectual and physical match for him. She will be a recurring character in subsequent mysteries. In addition, I wanted to explore his relationship with his father, since it was only touched upon in Rose’s Thorn.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Oddly enough, I don’t think of themes in my writing. I focus on characters and telling the story but not so much on theme. Now that I think about it, I guess I would say that obsession is the main theme. Joe’s fixation with catching the serial killer leads to his self-destructive behaviors. And obsession is what drives the serial killer to continue murdering young women.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I recently finished the first draft of the third installment in the Joe Erickson Mystery series. It should be published by Level Best Books next spring.

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In this prequel to Rose’s Thorn, Detective Joe Erickson discovers a clever and vile serial killer preying on women in Chicago. Only a few cat hairs provide clues to the perpetrator of six mutilation murders. Joe’s razor-sharp intuition and unorthodox methods ultimately lead him on a trail fraught with twists, turns, and close calls. But pushing himself day and night begins taking its toll, and his obsession with apprehending the killer will be his undoing.

Strife and Deadly Peril on the Open Trail

Author Interview
Henry Helbog Author Interview

United States Marshal Flint: Trailed follows a retired US Marshall who sets out to fulfill a dying man’s wish to protect his wife and daughter against a deadly gunslinger. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My intention was to depict, as much as possible, an authentic version of the Old West as opposed to an idealized, romanticised, aseptic version. The three main characters, who really don’t like each other or have much in common, have no choice but to try to make the best of it when they’re unexpectedly thrown together. Riding in a wagon together for hundreds of miles and being exposed to various dangers ultimately brings out both the worst and best in them.

Flint is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

I wanted to create a character who would frequently find himself in perilous and challenging situations. A lawman was the obvious choice, but then I thought a better idea would be to make him an ex-lawman who worked as a sort of Old West private investigator and hired gun. This way, I thought, there would be a wider range of future plot possibilities for my character than if he were just a marshal.

Although Flint is a mostly good man who abides by the law and is guided by his own personal code of ethics and fair play, there is more to him than that. Financial gain is also a strong motivating factor for him. Would he, for instance, have agreed to help the wife and daughter if there wasn’t the added incentive of receiving a share of the profit from the gems? Whether he would or wouldn’t can’t be said with any degree of certainty. However, when he does commit to helping them, he does so wholeheartedly and even at great personal risk to himself, thus showing that there is an element of self-sacrifice in his nature.

By the way, I didn’t actually think consciously about my main character’s attributes when writing this book, so being prompted to examine the finer points of his nature has been an interesting exercise for me.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Love, devotion, jealousy, rivalry, pettiness, selfishness and greed are among the themes explored.

The novel also explores the harmful consequences that can arise when a child is kept in the dark about its true origin.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The second Flint book, Blood Feud, is out now. It’s about two bitter rival families locked in an endless private war. As a result of thirty years of raids and ambushes, their numbers are depleted and both sides seem headed for eventual extinction. Flint is hired to protect the remaining members of one of the families but is inexorably drawn into the conflict. I anticipate the third book in the series, Vengeance, to be out by early August. Assuming my publisher has no objections, I think I might write perhaps six books in all before moving on to a new series.

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United States Marshal A. A. Flint, retired, comes across a dying man in a lonely mountain cabin. Shot through the stomach, he has only minutes to live. 

In that interval of time, he entrusts Flint with the task of helping his wife and daughter to find a hidden pouch of gemstones thought to be of incalculable worth. Above all, he is charged with protecting them against the death-dealing man in black: a gunfighter who’s been trailing the fast-fading cabin dweller all the way from California to Wyoming and who will stop at nothing to lay his hands on the gemstones. 

But first comes perhaps the hardest part of all: Flint must break the news of the cabin dweller’s death to his wife and daughter — and reveal to them that he himself was his killer.
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