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The Reader Can Feel Her Pain

James E Smith
James E. Smith Jr. Author Interview

1989: What Happens When A Killer Returns For Revenge is a haunting crime thriller that follows a woman who is determined to find the man that murdered her husband. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I wanted to create this vision of accomplishment and happiness, while also providing some background for Nicole, to get the reader to feel the joy and happiness that she felt at the beginning of the book, so when she finds her husband dead, the reader can feel her pain and understand why she went on this journey.

I also, wanted show how his death not only affected her, but how it impacted his partner as well. I wanted to show that not only was Sgt Allen close to Marcus, but how he was equally, if not even closer to Nicole. The goal was to show the internal struggle as he dealt with not only the death of his friend, but also the re-emergence of the Penny Murderer, and a new partner who doesn’t trust him.

Nicole is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

She is a combination of both fictional characters and people I know. I wanted her to be both strong and vulnerable. I wanted to showcase her strength and determination, while also showing that she is a “real” person, hopefully creating someone that readers could relate to. I wanted her to be a “normal” person, someone readers would leave saying, I know someone like her or could see how she could be real. This was the same model I applied to all my characters.

I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Was the mystery planned or did it develop organically while writing?

It was a combination of the two. I started with a general outline, it was pretty basic, because I didn’t want to write myself in a corner. I wanted to give myself the ability to adapt the story as I went along. The story ended up playing out in real life. Every event that occurred, did so from the characters perspective. I tried to immerse myself in them and take on their behaviors and tell their story not how I thought it should, but how I thought they would react and act.

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

I am working on the follow-up to 1989: What Happens When A Killer Returns For Revenge. This was just the beginning, there is still so much more left of the story to be told. It will potentially be available towards the end of the year.

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For three years a serial killer known as the Penny Murderer terrified Monroe, Georgia. His signature was leaving a note on the body starting with “A penny for your thoughts.” Detective Mike Allen and his team tracked down and arrested Samuel Johnson for twelve murders. Throughout the trial and even after his conviction Johnson always proclaimed his innocence. The controversial trial divided the city, and things exploded when he was found dead in his cell shortly afterward. A cover-up?
Old ghosts are awakened almost thirty years later when Allen’s original partner on the Johnson case, Marcus Jones, is found dead. Attorney Nicole Jones, Marcus’s wife, starts to be suspected of his murder, so she goes on a dark journey to find out who really killed her husband and why. She experiences a roller coaster of emotions upon learning that both he and former partner Mike Allen had kept many disturbing secrets from her.
Meanwhile, Allen’s own investigation takes him in a different direction as he tries to solve who murdered Marcus, all while dealing with a new partner who not only questions his every move, but also the actions taken during the original investigation. Is this a new killer? Or did they get it wrong all those years ago and send an innocent man to jail…?
In this page-turning novel, complex characters and unexpected plot twists will keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out what will happen next.

One Way In, No Way Out

One Way In, No Way Out by Malcolm Boyd is an adult urban fiction novel following the fierce Mann Walker. Mann used to do drugs, tried to quit, but was unsuccessful. Eventually he decides to embrace the lifestyle and start selling. One day while hanging out with a local radio DJ who is “wild” to put it politely, a series of events unfold that lead him back stage at a concert. There he finds the District Attorney’s daughter doing drugs along with some adult entertainment. He freaks out because she is both underage and she is related to a certain cop that hates him. He takes off running, gets outside, and gets sucker punched by an off duty, out of jurisdiction, cop. The whole thing reeks of abuse and police corruption and his drug and weapon possession charges are dropped if he agrees to never say anything about it. Mann is more than happy to do that, and decides it would be best to get out of town to relieve his stress. He flies to Las Vegas with his girl (he calls her his wife to others, but she has no memory of him proposing) to relax for a bit. He’s winning big, enjoying some drinks, but trouble follows him. First in the form of a gang out to get his new friend, and then the DA’s daughter shows back up. His attempts to escape trouble land him right back in the thick of it in a very entertaining way.

What I liked most about this compelling book is the wild turns that the novel often takes, which ratchets up the thrill factor, but never feels forced, and always feels like it’s just another day in the life. Author Malcolm Boyd provides a gritty and irreverent look at drug culture. While I found the novel to be consistently entertaining, be warned that this story is full of sex, drugs, and a criminal life style that is not for the faint at heart. The story is propelled forward by the always captivating protagonist, Mann Walker, who can always get himself out of trouble, but never seems to escape it altogether.

One Way In, No Way Out is a suspenseful urban fiction novel that delivers action in heavy doses. Recommended for readers who don’t mind dark topics and want a unique look at life on the streets.

Pages: 378 | ASIN: B01N37P508

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Trigger Point

Trigger Point: A Luc Fortesque Adventure by [Douglas Misquita]

The third Installation of the Luc Fortesque series, Trigger Point by Douglas Misquita is an action-packed thriller. The novel follows the journey of Luc, who has acquired secret knowledge about an impending terrorist conspiracy. Forces are sent to get hold of Luc, as his knowledge puts the Holy See under the criminal radar. A former agent Raymond Garrett is on a mission to expose the EI Fantasma, but the drug mafia also has some plans in store for Garrett. Now the question is, will they be able to pierce through the veneer of rampant internal corruption, barbarism, and history of betrayal? Or will they be defeated in the face of intense corruption within the government and religious bodies? 

Douglas Misquita’s use of lucid language complements this intricately woven story. Trigger Point does an amazing job at keeping the reader glued to the pages from the beginning till the very end with action that is easy to follow and a story line that is deeply intriguing. Although the novel contains a plot that can easily stand on its own, you should definitely check out the previous two novels in the same series–The Apocalypse Trigger and The Immortality Trigger. Written in the same vein as the works of Dan Brown, this story aptly captures the nuanced deception running through various international, political and religious institutions.

This is an action thriller written for action thriller fans. It contains all the high points I wanted in a high stakes crime fiction novel, and one of the best character developments I’ve seen in a series in this genre. There are multiple twists throughout, leading to a tense reading experience. However, the incidents, while highly entertaining, are still grounded in reality, possibly due to the thoughtful descriptions and exposition throughout the novel. The author has brilliantly executed an array of ideas into a comprehensive whole, utilizing a unique writing flair that I’ve come to expect in Douglas Misquita’s novels.

Combine the intricate nature of Dan Brown novels, add the intensity and political web of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series, with the world building of Michael Crichton and I think you’ll understand what Trigger Point has to offer readers. The characters in the novel are as intriguing as the storyline itself. Never for a moment, did I feel that these are not real-life human characters. They come alive with their virtues and vices combined, giving them a human touch. The author has put extra attention towards the development of each character, making them even more appealing to the readers. 

The complex yet easy-flowing storyline, the rounded characters, and the infusion of action make Trigger Point an enthralling read that immerses readers in a tumultuous world full of adventure.

Pages: 417 | ASIN: B08S7Q8JSD

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The Human Toll of Superpower

Vahid Imani
Vahid Imani Author Interview

In The Shadow Of The Kingmakers follows a British spy plotting to sabotage American interests in Persia finds when an international scandal foils his plot. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Many years ago my uncle told me about the main event of the story. After extensive research, I decided to tell the story and explain the human toll of superpower roles in the lives of their prey.

James is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thank you. I studied the lives of many spies of the period, their skill sets, and how they merged within their surroundings. One of the examples was Lawrence of Arabia or T.E. Lawrence.

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

In my opinion 1920s were extremely important years in the development of our modern world. From the superpower’s race to modernizing Navy ships, to the expansion of the Bolshevik USSR and push for the export of communism and rapid discoveries of oil countries and political systems were tested against the rapid changes. These changes resulted in the world we currently live.

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

In May 2020 I published my memoir, LIKE THE WIND I GO, A memoir of Iran, America, my struggle to freedom. Which is a more modern history of the event in Iran in 1978. Currently, I’m working on a sci-fi novel.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

When James Malcolm, a British spy stationed in Iran, plans his plot to sabotage American interests in Persia, he anticipates an easy promotion and a mission to the new Bolshevik Russia. But when his plot takes a detour in the wrong direction, an international scandal erupts. A Persian teenage boy’s accidental involvement raises the stakes and becomes a distraction. Malcolm’s clandestine investigation entangles him with unwitting American diplomats, treacherous double agents, and murderous Soviet spies all seeking to foil the oil grab of the British in 1924.

1989: What Happens When A Killer Returns For Revenge

Nicole Jones has her work cut out for her. Her life hasn’t been easy, but she has managed to achieve great things and has done so despite the tragedies that haunt her. When she loses her husband, the secrets they have been hiding for years begin to rise to the surface and threaten Nicole’s very future. A murderer has made an appearance and seems hell bent on ruining the lives of everyone associated with a case from the past. Nicole, lonely and confused but determined, makes it her mission to find out who is behind these copycat killings and who stole her husband from her.

James Smith’s 1989: What Happens When a Killer Returns for Revenge, takes readers on a thrill ride that unfolds over decades and through the lives of everyone involved with the Penny Murders. The trail of despair left by these murders has inched its way into the lives of Nicole, her husband Marcus and everyone around them.

Right out of the gate, Smith hits the mark with this fantastic thriller. I enjoy a mystery with as little fluff as possible, and Smith delivers that and much more. This dark and engaging thrill ride draws readers into the lives of Nicole and Detective Howard. The steps the two take to find out who is responsible for killing Nicole’s husband are extensive and keep readers on their toes. When I can predict the killer in the first half of a book, I am disappointed to say the least. Smith, however, has managed to keep me guessing to the very last page–definitely a page-turner.

Smith’s characters are written with an intensity that keeps readers invested in every move they make, and he balances their appearances well throughout the plot. I appreciated the glimpses into the past, and the character development moves along at a nice clip. Readers will become attached to Nicole and her plight from the first chapter of Smith’s work.

James Smith’s 1989: What Happens When a Killer Returns for Revenge is a haunting crime thriller that will appeal to murder mystery fans. While it stands as a fairly long novel at just shy of 400 pages, Smith’s writing is a quick read. Readers will find themselves devouring the mystery surrounding this new onslaught of murders. The ending of Smith’s work will leave readers guessing and, as I have become fully invested in the characters, I am hoping to see more from Smith in this series.

Pages: 392 | ASIN: B08R6G856J

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In the Shadow of the Kingmakers

In The Shadow Of The Kingmakers by Vahid Imani is a thrilling historical fiction novel set in 1920s Iran. We follow James Malcolm a British spy stationed in the Middle East during a tumultuous time in history. Malcolm plans on sabotaging American interests in Persia, but before his plan can unfold an international scandal erupts. Malcolm is thrown into the middle of a dangerous fight for oil and power between American diplomats, double agents and soviet spies.

Author Vahid Imani’s writing captured my attention from the start of the story and held it to the very end. The book is a little over 300 pages but because the story is so enthralling the pages go by quickly. The reader immediately travels back to 1920s Persia. The setting of the story is vividly described and expertly sets up an exotic backdrop to this rousing story. The plot of the story is complex, as international politics usually are, but Imani’s writing is smooth and gently eases the reader into the plot, making the story and the various characters easy to follow.

Throughout the story you begin to sympathize with Persian people and their families because they are in the middle of a political battle and are essentially collateral damage. The characters are expertly developed, grounded and easy to empathize with. I was able to easily connect with Malcolm because I understood his motivations. This leads to some really hair-raising scenes as you get fully invested in the character and the dangerous situations he finds himself in become much more suspenseful.

Author Vahid Imani has shown readers a different side of the petroleum industry as well as the key players involved. In The Shadow of the Kingmakers is an explosive and gripping read, with intense characters all set against a turbulent historical backdrop. Readers looking for a fast and complex historical thriller will find themselves lost in this story.

Pages: 322 | ASIN: B07NHC5XGX

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Death in the Cloud – Book Trailer

A commercial airliner departing Moscow is missing over France. Two days later, with world tensions at an all-time high, that same plane is headed for the White House.

Soon after, following a mysterious breach of the launch codes, US nuclear missiles aimed at Russia are poised for attack. A reciprocal attack is readied by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. The world is on the edge of a nuclear apocalypse.

Since his murder in a Queens restaurant, Alex Nicholas has been living a virtual life in cyberspace. Suddenly he finds himself on the big screen in the White House’s underground bunker, facing the President of the United States. He may be the only one who can save the world from mutual mass destruction. But to do so, he will have to allow himself to be “deleted” – this time permanently.

This latest addition to the Michael & Alex Nicholas series – which also includes Death Never Sleeps, Death Logs In, and Death Logs Out – features all the mystery, artificial intelligence, humor, food, and travel that fans have come to expect, but with even more twists and turns. Buckle up!

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Save Me From The Dullness Of Reality

Harry Old
Harry Old Author Interview

Operation Bluebird is an intense thriller following a young police officer who goes undercover to bust the mysterious, affluent and criminal Park family. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?

Operation Bluebird was never supposed to be a book. It started out as the backstory to a character in a roleplay game with my sisters – our characters were detectives and I wanted mine (Carrie) to have something interesting in her past. I’m an auditor in my day job and was working on a very busy, stressful client at the time so Bluebird was my escapism when I finally got to bed in the evening, really coming to life in my mind to ‘save’ me from the dullness of reality. I wanted to be daydreaming about exciting and emotional situations, which is how the intensity of the story started to come about. I was listening a lot to Lana Del Rey at the time, and her songs really shaped the feel of the decadent gangster lifestyle and the underlying bittersweet knowledge that such things are eventually doomed to fail. The occasional lighter-hearted moments were also inspired by the album “Time for Us” by GFriend – these songs still make me cry.

Then the characters basically took charge of themselves, making things occur without me really even thinking about it. For example, a lot of the events in the story were an intentional chain reaction planned by Soju (the manipulative third Park brother). These scenes popped into my head as exciting things to daydream about, and I only realised later that they were all his doing!

In short, I think the main inspiration for the intense, immersive world and the thrilling things that happen in it stem from my own frustrated desire for an exciting, dangerous life, along with the understanding that such things which appear exciting on the outside are sensationalised in our minds, perhaps by the media, and are actually darker and more painful than we comprehend.

Carrie is a well developed character that I enjoyed following. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

In a way, Carrie developed as I did. She first came into being at the beginning of 2019 and continued to grow until I eventually decided to write it as a novel in summer 2020. To begin with, she was a hardworking detective with a secret past, then as more and more detail entered my mind I became more emotionally invested in the goings on of Operation Bluebird and so did she. What started as a deliberate plan and a bit of fun stole us both into its world, tempting us and tugging at our heartstrings.

My life also, completely accidentally, started to mirror hers, which I think is a large part of how I could write her so realistically. When Covid isn’t around, I work contracts and travel in between, rejecting the ordinary world and doing expensive and impulsive things that most of my family and friends aren’t too pleased with. This polarity between sense and disorder, and my increasing resentment of the sensible side, reflected Carrie’s split between her police work and the crazy life she lives with the Parks. I, too, began my adult life very unsure of myself – determined to succeed but at the expense of really letting go and acting on my true feelings – so I really understand the thrill of finally finding a chance to go wild and not wanting to give it up, even when it is obviously temporary and potentially incredibly damaging.

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

Addiction is a main theme that is very important, both on the surface through Taehwan’s substance abuse and as an underlying metaphor through Carrie’s fascination with the world of Paradise Casino. The book showcases how easy it is to get carried away: she begins with a curiosity that she believes she can dabble in with no consequences and doesn’t realise how dependent she is becoming on it until it’s too late, then can’t get out even if she wants to. The effects on herself and Taehwan are catastrophic, but perhaps the most tragic aspect of this theme is David. He is intentionally understated, as Carrie’s attention is focused more and more on Paradise, and is an example of how a person’s addiction not only affects themselves but also those who care about them, while being so absorbed in it they hardly notice the impact they’re having.

The other main theme is the struggle between two worlds; that which feels real and alive, and that which eventually has to prevail for what the majority would see as the greater good. It’s up to the reader to decide which they believe to truly be the ‘right’ way to live, but I think to some extent it is a struggle we all face – the requirement to conform to society and the common understanding of ‘good’ versus a frustration at the box it keeps us in and a secret desire to break out. Carrie’s reluctance to return to a normal life and Taehwan’s intense fear of being trapped, preferring to live in the most destructive way possible, is a reflection of these feelings and the different extents to which people accommodate or are destroyed by them. I’m very interested to see the opinions of different readers on which characters they sympathise with and if they agree with their choices.

Of course there are many other smaller themes too, such as family, honesty and the excesses of the upper class. Every character has at least one goal or insecurity that plagues them, and I personally find Margot’s sacrifices for a comfortable life a poignant side-plot.

On reflection, perhaps the most important theme of all is that nobody is perfect, but if you look hard enough everybody has their reasons to be so.

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

Honestly, I have no idea! I have a few things that have been floating around for a while but don’t want to force myself into any one of them until I feel that I can really put my heart into it and do it justice. Perhaps this will be in a few months, perhaps over a year – or perhaps something new will burst in and recruit a lot of coffee and Red Bull to get a first draft completed in a matter of weeks! Either way, based on my track record it will be very character-based and probably involve alcohol and fake names…

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website | Instagram

“I’m not an addict,” he scowled, still running his hands over the floor. “I can stop any time I want; I just don’t want to yet.”
~
Carrie Hart became Cara Parry for three reasons: to prove herself as an undercover detective; to bring justice to the people who killed Lucy Flynn; and to trial a life of letting go, with no consequence for her real self.
But under the intoxicating lights of Paradise Casino, lines are blurred and letting go becomes a question she had never thought to ask:
Who is the real Carrie Hart, and where do her loyalties truly lie?
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