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Murder at Macbeth

Murder at Macbeth: A gripping British crime mystery packed with twists and turns (A D.I. Robson mystery Book 1) by [Samantha Goodwin]

A crime has been committed at a theater in the middle of a Shakespeare themed play, embedded in secrets, lies, betrayal, friendship and work, every cast is on the suspect list. How far will they go to hide these secrets? Like a blockbuster crime thriller Samantha Goodwin leads us through a winding mystery of what happened to the lead actress Nicki. Her friends, the cast, all have a dark secret they are not willing to tell. The investigating officers will stop at nothing until they get justice for the victims.

This creative murder mystery that fuels this curiously compelling read is great in a way that every chapter answers one question and leaves you with the next one you have to get an answer for. I appreciated the slow build of the mystery throughout the story. It’s not dramatic, but in it’s down to earth quality it reels you in, and once the twists come their rarely expected and always surprising. Samantha Goodwin has a way of making the whole play inside a play work with ease. Murder At Macbeth is a creative detective mystery that is punctuated with provocative characters. Friends betraying friends, love, jealousy, betrayal and secrets. Each characters life unfolds in new chapters. Reality dawns on each of the cast members, they can no longer protect each other, a life has been lost. Despite going through challenges himself, Detective Inspector Finley Robson with his partner Detective Nadia Zahra are on a mission to crack this case open.

Having friends who have your back, is the best thing to ever happen to anyone, you trust your friends with secrets, you have a past that only your friends and you share but one day your very best friend is too jealous to the extent of plotting harm against you. Reading this is better than imagining how you’d feel, this book will take you right to the center of that drama, it makes you feel part of the cast which is a feeling you only get from a good book. Murder at Macbeth is an emotionally haunting and provocative thriller.

Pages: 375 | ASIN: B07QXGR13V

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Demon Heart

DEMON HEART by [David Crane, Mary Holzrichter]

Published in 2017, David Crane’s dramatic Sci-Fi novel, Demon Heart, is set in Osaka, Japan. It explores the roles of light and darkness in shaping the human experience. It is a powerful narrative about Naoko Kitamura, the protagonist who realizes that she is half-demon. Living amongst human beings, the character learns how to manage this dark side – by controlling the intensity of her powers.

Crane’s readers realize that learning one’s true identity has a significance in their life journey. All the challenges faced by Naoko, prove her strength and ability to achieve victory, regardless of all the tough circumstances at play.

I give this book a 5-star rating for numerous reasons. First, it was cathartic to read it in first person narration, as this made me feel closer to Naoko, the protagonist. It was easier to understand all the psychological battles within her mind, by progressing with her thoughts, throughout the story.

Furthermore, the book gives an account of the themes of good and evil, and the basis of human existence. Naoko reveals to her characters the importance of accepting one’s identity. Suppressing the shadows and demons within us only leads to chaos. If she wasn’t aware of her true identity, it’d be difficult for her to understand the origin of all the darkness around her.

Through the writing of Crane, the readers perceive demons from a different light. We have been taught, so often, that demons are destructive, and don’t want the best for humans. This is quite clear when Naoko is expected to keep her true identity a secret. Human beings cannot handle the intensity of divinity thus, they shouldn’t know much about this world. Keeping it a secret is also psychological since humans would not have the capacity to understand the healing powers of a demon-hybrid.

However, Naoko manages to engage the readers’ empathetic sides, as she thrives to create a balance between good and evil in the world. She is indeed one of the genuine police officers, who attempt to create this balance, while greatly fighting against evil.

This book also teaches its readers about Japanese cultures, traditions and beliefs, and it is a great narrative for readers like me, with a keen interest in the spiritual realm.

The story captured my attention, right from the title, and I’ll be sure to give it a second reading due to how much I related with the protagonist and her experiences.

Pages: 272 | ASIN: B074DSSBPY

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Aren’t We All Some Kind of Contradiction?

Michael Pronko Author Interview

Michael Pronko Author Interview

In Tokyo Traffic detective Hiroshi is once again called in, to solve a crime that involves human trafficking and crypto-currency scamming. Did you know what criminal themes you were going to use for this novel or did they develop while writing?

The theme was there from the beginning, but only in an abstract way. The concrete actions and decisions of the characters, along with the motivations and results, shaped the themes and made it something to see and touch and feel. The interesting part is how they develop inside the characters. As those broad themes became embodied in the characters, they came alive.

At first the theme of human trafficking threatened to swamp the whole story. It’s too big and too horrible. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how can they get away with that? How can something so vicious and inhumane just keep going? And who’s “they”? Part of the answer is cryptocurrency. Follow the money to where theme meets characters. Some people will cast aside all human feeling for money, and cryptocurrency makes that easier. Its hidden, digital, clean. Of course, the way of the future will probably be all kinds of digital currencies, but the downside is how people use that illicitly, and for such terrible purposes.

This being book three in your series was there anything new you wanted to introduce into Hiroshi’s character?

He moves in with his girlfriend and works at being with her and not sleeping in his office on a pull-out futon. That’s hard work for him. Overall, Hiroshi gets a bit more of his footing in this novel. His skill set is limited, so he bumps against his own limitations, but he learns to pay attention to what he stumbles onto, what he suspects but isn’t sure of, and what others tell him. An intuitive accountant may sound like a contradiction, but aren’t we all some kind of contradiction? We all have that internal division between our different sides.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

This one took me a lot longer to finish than the second one. The tricky part was having three main characters. Before I’d always just focused on two. Adding that third one made the story exponentially harder to keep track of. Braiding the three threads of the bad guy, the victim and the detective, plus the people on their side, was tricky. It was like passing a point-of-view baton. The race kept going as each character carried it a bit further. But to me, that’s very Tokyo-like, different kinds of stories flung together.

It was also a challenge to have two young women as main characters. Sukanya doesn’t know Tokyo at all and Chiho knows Tokyo all too well. So, those two different young women and their different views of Tokyo were hard to get right. But I felt their point of view was important. They see the city so differently than I do, but that’s the interesting part. I’m not sure I set those as challenges for myself, writing is enough of a challenge in and of itself, but those became the challenges to tell the story the way I wanted to.

Does Tokyo Traffic end the story for detective Hiroshi or do you have other novels planned?

I have two more in the Hiroshi series already outlined. The one I’m working on right now is titled Tokyo Overtime. It’s about the pressures of the workplace. What other country in the world has a word, karoshi, for death from overwork? After that, I’m planning to write about the whole fish industry, which is very big business in Japan. Two years ago, one of the owners of a sushi chain restaurant paid the equivalent of three million dollars for a single six-hundred-pound bluefin tuna! After that, I have notes for a standalone with sumo wrestler-turned-detective Sakaguchi and Detective Takamatsu is ripe for a prequel about his early, rough days. So, I’ll see where those lead. I’m looking forward to finding out.

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Tokyo Traffic (Detective Hiroshi Tokyo Series Book 3) by [Michael Pronko]

Running from a life she didn’t choose, in a city she doesn’t know Sukanya, a young Thai girl, loses herself in the vastness of Tokyo. With her Bangkok street smarts, and some stolen money, she stays ahead of her former captors who will do anything to recover the computer she took. After befriending Chiho, a Japanese girl living in an internet café, Sukanya makes plans to rid herself of her pursuers, and her past, forever.

In Tokyo, street smarts aren’t always enough

Meanwhile, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu leaves the safe confines of his office to investigate a porn studio where a brutal triple murder took place. The studio’s accounts point him in multiple directions at once. Together with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi and old-school Takamatsu, Hiroshi tracks the killers through Tokyo’s music clubs and teen hangouts, bayside docks and byways, straight into the underbelly of the global economy.

As bodies wash up from Tokyo Bay, Hiroshi tries to find the Thai girl at the center of it all, whose name he doesn’t even know. He uncovers a human trafficking ring and cryptocurrency scammers whose connections extend to the highest levels of Tokyo’s power elite.

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Blown Away

Blown Away (The Crimes of Passion Series Book 2) by [Charlene Johnson]

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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The Dark Trail

The Dark Trail by J.C Fields is another thrilling entry in the continuing Sean Kruger saga. This time FBI agent Kruger must try to determine who killed his friend… who happened to be the deputy director of the FBI. As part of the investigation he is granted access to the deputy director’s computer where he uncovers a spreadsheet of dates, times, and case file numbers. The deputy director started a secret project on a suspicion, and it got him killed. Join Kruger works to find the killer while piecing together his friends work to see it to its completion. This story is not a simple ‘whodunit’, it goes so much deeper than a simple assassination.

What I liked most about The Dark Trail was the healthy balance between gripping thriller and slice of life storytelling, which seems to be a knack for J.C. Fields. The primary plot revolves around the dramatic drive to solve a shocking murder, and secondarily resolving the sinister threads hanging from a dangerous knot of secrets. Just when I thought I was getting tired of the thriller genre, J.C. Fields tosses in the B plot to keep your interest piqued before ramping up into the A plot. Kruger is a man who is equally defined by what he does and how he takes care of his family. He believes it is critical to walk the line of not upending his wife’s career and his children’s childhood but also not “waste away” after his agency mandated retirement on his 57th birthday. He could take a promotion into management, but that would force the family to move. It’s a decision he views as selfish, but if he does not solve the A plot before his 57th birthday it might not get solved at all. That would be even worse. The balance of A plot and B plot was so masterfully woven together that once I started reading, I could not put this book down. I think this story could be enjoyed by any adult reader, even if you have never given the thriller genre a try before. A suspenseful political thriller to rival Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series.

Pages: 301 | ASIN: B084PZ8JZ4

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The Fluke: Sex and Crime Short Stories

The Fluke is thrilling crime story that is engaging from the first chapter. Strange things are happening around an old mansion and I was certainly intrigued from the first chapter. This short book definitely could have used some breathing room, but as it stands at 65 pages it’s packed with compelling mysteries and fascinating characters that together easily invite you into Dorothy’s gripping experience. Honestly if it was a longer book I would have kept reading, and I am actually amazed at how much of a thriller this short story was!

This type of book is not one I would usually read, having a little more sexual detail, but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and did not feel uncomfortable at all. It was very well written, and in a diary/memoir format, making it even more alluring.

I love that from the beginning it seemed just like a typical memoir and then it surprisingly turned into a murder mystery. To me it seemed like such a quick change but the story was so captivating that both themes came together really well?

I enjoyed the puzzling mystery at the heart of this story. It certainly keeps you guessing with a Twilight Zone-esque aura to the weird happenings around the alluring mansion. Usually I’m not one to uncover how a mystery could conclude but I was quite proud of myself when I found out what I assumed was correct – not many people would find a story being predictive to being a good quality but it entertained me no less. 

At first I couldn’t see where the title tied in with the content of the book but it does eventually come to light and I quite liked the way it did tie in altogether.

Overall, The Fluke is a provocative yet delightful crime thriller that fans of suspenseful mysteries will surely enjoy.

Pages: 65 | ASIN: B087P1MZRL

Tokyo Traffic

Tokyo Traffic (Detective Hiroshi Tokyo Series Book 3) by [Michael Pronko]

When bodies start to pop up in Tokyo bay detective Hiroshi is one again called in to solve the horrible case and put together the pieces to a perplexing crime that involves the grim underworld of human trafficking and crypto-currency scamming.

Pronko’s characters are always something I look forward to. This being the third book in the Detective Hiroshi Tokyo series I found detective Hiroshi to be a well established character but Hiroshi Shimizu continues to hold an allure that is subtle yet ever present. While the investigation seems to go off in many directions I was always impressed with Hiroshi’s detective skills, which were always believable, which allowed me to follow an otherwise circuitous story easily.

Sukanya is the story of a girl lost in a big city. She’s being chased by thugs but luckily for her her cunning and intelligence keeps her one step ahead of the villains. It’s always nice to see strong female leads and with Sukanya and Chiho we’re treated to a nuanced view of women contending with a dense city that cares little for them by using their own wits.

The way in which these two genuinely intriguing characters riveting story lines come together is something that I rarely see and makes Tokyo Traffic the most thrilling book I’ve read this year. We’re treated to modern versions of Japanese culture that have evolved in the shadow of Tokyo. Michael Pronko creates the backdrop to this story as if it is a character all on its own and invites readers into this colorful world in an easy yet striking way.

If you’re looking for a thrilling crime fiction set in an exotic location then Tokyo Traffic is a prime choice. The enigmatic mystery at the heart of this intriguing novel was something I swiftly gave up in trying to solve as I realized that the chaotic and dramatic journey was the fun part. Tokyo Traffic is an exceptional ending to an extraordinary series from a mystery writer that knows how to entertain.

Pages: 341 | ASIN: B087QVRXZB

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I Wanted Them to be Horrified

MJ Preston Author Interview

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.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Publisher

The most terrifying monsters are real and walk among us every day.
Meet Lance Belanger, he has only one ambition, to be the most infamous killer of all time. After murdering a single mom and her toddler child, Lance indoctrinates himself into the world of serial murder. Before long, the bodies start turning up all over the country. Each victim is incapacitated by a puncture wound to the spine, then, while still alive, they are dismembered, their arms, legs, and head are severed from the torso.

FBI investigators call their killer “Highwayman.” But beyond the multi-state dumping of staged victims, the killer has left them little else to go on. With no DNA or forensic evidence, veteran FBI agent Lewis Ash is in a race against retirement as he tracks the elusive murderer.

Meanwhile, Lance has other plans that will up his game and increase his body count. In a web of murder that reaches from the United States to Bucharest, Romania, a diabolical plan is set into motion to attract the most dangerous predators the world has to offer.

Can the FBI stop this killer before he sets his plan into motion?
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