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Good Old Fashioned Heist

Quintin Peterson Author Interview

Quintin Peterson Author Interview

LT: The Voynich Gambit follows Special Police Officer Blalock as he is put to the test when D.C.’s most infamous artifact dealers set their sights on a mysterious treasure. What was your inspiration for this novel and how did it develop as you wrote?

Quintin Peterson: The Folger Shakespeare Library was the inspiration for The Voynich Gambit, like its prequel, Guarding Shakespeare. I worked there as a special police officer with its Department of Safety and Security following my retirement from the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC on April 23, 2010. (http://tinyurl.com/jppths4)

LT: The novel is set in modern day D.C., where you describe polished skyscrapers, historic landmarks, and endless traffic. Why did you choose this as the setting for you book?

Quintin Peterson: I wanted to write a noir mystery thriller using the Folger Shakespeare Library as the backdrop. The Folger Library is located in my hometown, Washington, DC. (http://www.folger.edu/)

LT: Lieutenant Norman Blalock works at the Folger Shakespeare Library as a security guard protecting its treasures for over two decades. What themes did you want to capture as you developed Norman’s character throughout the novel?

Quintin Peterson: I just wanted to write an entertaining and enlightening good old fashioned heist story. I had the same goal for the first in the Norman Blalock Mystery Series, Guarding Shakespeare, and I have the same goal for the third installment, The Shakespeare Redemption.

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

Quintin Peterson: Right now I am working on the second installment of my Private Eye Luther Kane Series, The Last Goodbye. Afterward, I will working on The Shakespeare Redemption. Like all of my books, The Last Goodbye will be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound, et al.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

The Voynich Gambit: The Sequel to Guarding Shakespeare (Norman Blalock Mysteries Book 2) by [Peterson, Quintin]Special Police Officer Lt. Norman Blalock, who has been guarding the treasures of the Folger Shakespeare Library for 25 years, has been coerced into a plot to heist from the Folger Museum “the most mysterious book in the world,” the Voynich Manuscript, on loan from Yale University. Under threat of suffering the consequences of their involvement in the botched plot to heist another priceless artifact from the Folger underground bank vault several months earlier, Blalock and his partner-in-crime Kavitha Netram are once again under the thumb of nefarious businessman Rupert Whyte, and have no choice but to play along.

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Captive Threat

Captive Threat (The Wade Hanna Series Book 5)

You know a story is good when it makes it to the fifth installment. A story needs to be captivating, with intriguing characters and compelling action. Readers will find all of that and more in Joseph D’Antoni’s Captive Threat. This book is an addition to his ever-popular Wade Hanna series. It’s easy to see why these books have been able to sustain themselves for so long. The life that Wade leads is not typical at all. This includes his romances. Here we find a story steeped in action with heart-pounding risks and careful planning. Those who enjoy a great action-packed crime/military intelligence novel will definitely be entertained by what occurs within these pages. Where will Wade end up this time? Will he finally get to move forward in his relationship with Megan? Or will this task finally end up being too much for him?

While this is an installment in a series, it is not wholly necessary to read the previous four books. Yes, they will provide important backstory, but D’Antoni writes in such a way that a reader will not be lost. Even the complicated aspects of Wade and Megan’s relationship is not lost in this book. It is difficult to write in such a way that you can captivate newcomers without leaving them confused. A master of his craft, it is clear that D’Antoni knows what he’s doing. At first, the book doesn’t even feel like it’s about Wade at all, but about Megan. About what she is going through after her return to American soil. She has suffered an ordeal and D’Antoni takes the required time to have her move through these complicated feelings and post-traumatic experiences. This is how you capture readers.

The character development is very well planned and carefully laid out. When you have existing characters that have been carrying on for books upon books it’s easy to swap out romantic partners or close friends in favour of an exciting new character. It is clear that our author has spent the time energy required to foster and develop the relationships from existing installments. This is something not many serial authors can accomplish. Coupled with character development are the action scenes as Wade and company foray into their battlefields. Nothing feels out of place or too over the top. There is a pleasant balance between story development and a good old-fashioned fight.

If you are looking for a book that is exciting to read while giving you those complicated portrayals of human emotion then you have found what you are looking for in Captive Threat. It’s an excellent example of a crime/military novel married to dramatic elements done right. For the series to have gone on for as many installments as it has, it is clear that something is being done right here. There is even the potential for another installment into the Wade Hanna series based solely off how our adventure ends. Your heart will race for more than one reason as you devour the words in this tale. But still we are left wondering, where will Wade end up now?

Pages: 389 | ASIN: B01M3OAV36

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He Could Literally Smell Murder

John Matsui Author Interview

John Matsui Author Interview

Gravity Games follows Nathan and his sidekick as they venture through an international conspiracy full of super-humans and super-villains. What was your inspiration for a novel that turns a foodie into a detective?

About Food: I love food and became intrigued with foodie mysteries but the ones I’ve read seem to have a disconnect between the mystery and the food. Food just happens to be part of the journey. I wanted to write a novel that made food a driver of the plot and the MCs. Top Chefs always talk about tasting as you go. The sense of smell can sample with every breath so it makes sense that someone who could collect that information would have far greater control over the cooking process. The best cooks always buy their own fresh food products and allow their senses to guide their selection. No tool is better than the sense of smell.

About the Sense of Smell as a superpower: If the MC has a super sense of smell, why not put it to other uses. In Nate’s case, he didn’t have a choice because he could literally smell murder. As a youngster I bought every Batman comic and read every Sherlock Holmes story. Both detectives (that’s what Batman was known for in the beginning) sniffed every piece of evidence. Recently scientists have discovered that the sense of smell may be the most powerful if all if our senses. We can detect scents important to us as low as a couple parts per billion. Try to pick out two red grains of sand in a billion grains of multi-colored sand.

Gravity Games has a fascinating set of characters that could easily have their own novel. What was your favorite character to write for?

I have two characters that I liked best for different reasons. Bonnie and Big Ed.

Bonnie Nakagowa plays Watson to Nate’s Sherlock but rather than being merely the recorder of events Bonnie serves four key functions:
1. Guide post / moral centre: If you become a world celebrity, you can lose perspective. Bonnie grounds Nate. Bonnie humanizes Nate and the story. She does this as both his conscience and protector. I wanted a strong, non-powered female to protect a superpowered male in a credible way.
2. The best comedy in my mind comes from duos e.g. Abbott & Costello, Martin & Lewis, etc. Nate is the straight man for Bonnie’s cringe humour / attitude. Humour is important to me because it both balances and enhances the darkness.
3. Bonnie is key to advancing the plot. She has insight into Nate and can provide needed background and carry out secret missions. She can also be an unreliable narrator because she may not understand everything that’s happening in Nate’s head.
4. Bonnie, of course, is the love interest.

Big Ed is just plain nasty. I hoped everyone would hate him. My youngest daughter proofread an early draft of Gravity Games and called me one night at 11 p.m.
“Why are you calling me so late?” I asked.
“I hate Big Ed. I’m not going to sleep so I thought you shouldn’t sleep,” she said.

Was it your intention to write a fun and quirky novel that moves along quickly, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

I’m not sure that’s what I intended. It’s just the way I write. My first novel, Late Bite, features a vampirish character who has millions of social media followers and is host of the top-rated late night talk show, Late Bite. It has lots of quirky characters, laughs and lots of darkness. My projects all seem to fall in the same vein.

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

I’ve completed Lycanthrope Rising, a continuation of the saga of Dragul Mangorian, the MC in Late Bite. It will be on sale Sept. 15.
I’m well into a sequel, prequel, and spin-off of Gravity Games.

The Gravity Games prequel [working title: Where The Nose Goes] is intended to be a permanently free YA novella about secret 14-year-old crime solvers Bonnie and Nate, which I hope to release as an eBook before Christmas 2017.

The Gravity Games sequel [working title: Murder On The Menu] picks up where Gravity Games left off with a non-superpowered Nate facing the world’s top chefs. Nate faces the loss of reputation and his $10 million a year contract. One after another, his competitors are murdered. Fingers point to Nate as the key suspect. Expected release date early summer of 2018.

The Gravity Games spinoff [working title and series: The Revenants, Justice Inc. series] features quiet accountant Rick Summers who has an attack of conscience after he escapes the clutches of Big Ed. He embarks on a mission to right wrongs committed by Big Ed and others and is ably aided by Matches, a transgender teen. The expected launch date is fall 2018.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Gravity Games, a dark and delicious thriller. Nathan Sherlock is the world’s most renowned celebrity chef and wine expert. His fans know him as Nate the Nose, a culinary artist whose incredible sense of smell helps him create dining experiences that jolt the mojo transforming aged couples into hormone raging lovers. But Nathan has a dark secret. Best friend Bonnie has helped him hide the true extent of his olfactory powers. He can literally smell murder. U.S. Homeland Security and CSIS, the Canadian anti-terrorism agency, go into panic mode when a scientist disappears along with all traces of his anti-gravity research. The joint FBI-CSIS task force needs Nathan to sniff down the terrorists before they drop an iceberg the size of Manhattan on New York City. 

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Mystery Man and the Killing

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

Dead Men Walking follows Nate as he is fighting for his marriage and career while getting involved in a case involving a mysterious man, a bullet and a whole range of unanswered questions. How did you decide on the direction for this second book in the series?

Book One, The Tenth Nail, ended with several unresolved issues and questions. Book Two felt as if I was writing an additional chapter to the first book. Nate is a strong but flawed man. Just as his strength is a result of his efforts, his weaknesses are the totals of his flaws. He finds himself where he is forced to ask for help in order to survive in the world he has created from himself. Some of that sought for help has to come from people he has wronged. Mystery man and the killing involved Nate in a case that for all practical purposes was unsolvable. I felt the case assigned Nate had to be as complicated as the killing of the girl in book one. It had to be part of the stressors that pushed Nate to the brink.

Dead Men Walking begins with an intricately described murder scene. What was your inspiration for this crime and murder scene?

In truth, most crimes, especially murders, are not complicated. Most victims know their killers and in a high percentage of time are on a first name basis. Most of us really have to know a person well to hate them enough to kill them. I wanted the opening crime, the murder, to be as tough to figure out as I could make it. I hoped to detail a killing, done in broad daylight, in public view and witnessed, that yielded no easy to find clues and little evidence. I hoped to create a feeling in the reader that they, along with Nate, had to work to solve the killing. I hoped the reader would feel as if they walked along beside the big detective as he tried to solve the killing.

Between Nate dealing with his old demons, family problems, and exploring a mysterious case, we get to dig more into Nate’s character. Was there anything that surprised you about his character while you were writing all this?

Nate takes pride in being an uncomplicated man. He has always been resistant to self-examination and some of that, I think, is that he is afraid of what he’ll find if he was to risk looking beneath the superficial layer. Throughout writing the book, I felt Nate and I were in synch. There was really nothing he did that surprised me. The same cannot be said for Clare. Clare is more cerebral than her husband and she is more willing to work through mistakes than Nate. In truth, I thought she would make other choices than she did for most of the book. In fact, an original storyline was made up of different choices I expected from her. Clare, like Nate, faces challenges and is forced to make life altering decisions. She caught me off guard with some of hers.

Where does book three in the Nate & Clare series take Nate and when will it be available?

Currently, I am working on the second book of the Jack and Terri Series and as readers know, Jack and Nate become acquainted in The Tenth Nail. It is Nate’s effort to repay Jack that is a strong undercurrent of Dead Men Walking. Book three for Nate and Clare, “Dance With the Devils”, will force Nate and Jack into a closer working relationship and slightly uncomfortable friendship. The book is planned for publication in the winter of 2017.

Author Links: GoodReads Website | Twitter | Facebook

Dead Men Walking (Nate & Clare Book 2) by [Griffeth, Kwen]

There was no doubt the man was dead. A bullet through the head will do that. But, who was dead? The man had no identification, no known address, no Social Security information could be found, and the fingerprint search came up empty.

Detective Nate Burns, Albuquerque Police Department knew two things. The man was dead and he was blood type was O+. The most common type of blood in the country.

Dead Men Walking is a fast paced police drama that tells the story of Detective Nate Burns, a man haunted by his past. That haunting has suddenly appeared in the present.
His Captain wants him fired.
A friend is calling in a favor.
A convict wants to make a bargain
His wife is thinking of divorce.
It’s a good thing he’s serving a suspension. He’ll find time to work all this out.

Dead Men Walking is the follow up to the award winning first Nate and Clare novel, The Tenth Nail. The story continues with Nate being assigned to a most difficult case. At the same time, he is trying to salvage his marriage, and since his wife, Clare, has returned to college, he must make sure he is not late picking up his daughter from her summer reading class.

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Came to Life in a Strange Way

Mari Reiza Author Interview

Mari Reiza Author Interview

Room 11 is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a suspense, thriller, and medical drama as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

I must admit that Room 11 came to life in a strange way. The wife’s chapters, a mixture of yearning dreams and angry nightmare-like rants, were written separately, in an attempt to record the disparate strong emotions I felt during the few days just after I miscarried my third child, but which I had to put away at the time as I was attending a family wedding. On their own, though, these chapters were not enough for a novel, and they were almost impossible to fit in any larger narrative because they felt so mad and enraged. This is when, watching one of my favourite movies ‘Talk to Her’ (by Almodovar), I thought of putting the wife in a coma. I had also recently finished reading ‘A Kind of Intimacy’ (Jenn Ashworth), which gave me further ideas for the nurse, a character coming from a very different place to the wife, tender deep inside, but who would allow me to explore a parallel take on obsession and delusion growing in a pained soul.

Room 11 gives two women’s accounts of the same events via their own dreamlike states; a comatose woman and an increasingly stalker-ish nurse. Why did you choose to tell the story through a dreamlike filter?

I think of my characters as icebergs, living only ten percent of what they dream underwater, which to them feels more real than their everyday lives. My nurse may not get up to much in my novel, neither my wife; but their inner worlds hope to reveal humanity at its most extraordinary.

The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Most readers abhor the wife, but she was definitely my favourite character because of all her viciousness and flaws, and the easiest to write for. I liked the nurse too but found her much more demanding to get right, as if she was flitting between my fingers resisting to be nailed down.

Room 11 is a fantastic suspense novel. Was there anything that happened organically in the story while you were writing? Did it surprise you?

All along I knew how the wife had ended up in a coma and that she would reveal that by then end of the book. But what would the nurse do? I wanted the wife killed … I wanted to pretend that her cynicism could be silenced and her man could have a new start alongside the other woman. But in the end… I just couldn’t. I wonder why…

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram

Room 11: A man sits singing where a woman lies dreaming by [reiza, mari]A book about the different faces of love.

After an accident leaves a woman in a coma, her husband sits on a hospital chair day-in day-out singing to her. Nobody can pull him away from her as she threads through the dreams that could save her. Meanwhile, a delusional nurse grows her admiration for him into obsessive desire. 

***

‘I am fascinated by the way mari delves so deeply into the personality of the nurse, showing how she gradually comes to believe the man in Room 11 is in love with her, seeing all sort of small indications that may or may not be real,’ A Woman’s Write.

***

ROOM 11 is a dual narrative by strong, cynical, broken heroines (the nurse and the wife) winding passionately through hope, anger, delusion, obsession, guilt, sacrifice, resignation and eventually forgiveness, to help them re-emerge from their separate tragedies.

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The Enigma Broker

The Enigma Broker (The Enigma #8)

Who doesn’t love a good cyber-crime story peppered with intrigue and action? An excellent addition to that genre is none other than The Enigma Broker by Breakfield and Burkey. The current entry in a series that has chronicled an alternate future, this book is filled with thrills and chills. While the cast of characters is quite large, so much so that a single protagonist cannot be identified, the villains themselves aren’t quite so numerous, but their fearful plots are devious and cruel. It is not necessary to read previous installments in the chronicles, but it would undoubtedly be helpful at providing external context to the characters and their relationships. The intense nature of the crimes in this tale and the quick actions to circumvent them will leave readers breathless and waiting for more. There is truly very little to be disappointed with in this engaging tale.

The formatting and layout of the book is fantastic. The short-ish chapters make the story easy to read and take a break from if necessary. Some of the technical terms may go over the heads of readers and the authors have taken steps to address these concerns at the back of the book. You don’t have to be a computer genius to be able to understand what is happening, but it does not hurt to have some basic technical knowledge beyond pressing the power button on a computer. If you fall into the latter part, you may find yourself slightly lost while trying to follow those pieces of the story. The rest of the book more than makes up for that, however.

The relationships with the characters have some carry over from previous installments in this series. That can be difficult when you come into the series out of order, but it is dealt with easily by our authors. They give enough backstory and enough context that the present relationships are easily understood. As there seems to be a focus on romance and the development of these said relationships, this is crucial to get across to your readers who do not have the luxury of that backstory. The humor and action sequences are well thought out and planned accordingly. Nothing feels unnecessary or over the top. Everything has a place and the characters comply with their given roles.

A techno-thriller with a vast cast of characters can seem like more than the average reader is willing to take on. However, The Enigma Broker by Breakfield and Burkey is not one to be passed over. Any reader can tell that the research and partnership for this book was executed expertly. There is no clashing in the story where two authors disagree. Instead, this is a seamless book that flows as if it were written by one person. The romance and the action combine to give this book an added flair. Any reader would get a great read out of this.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: B01MQECQA9

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He Became the Danger

Aaron G. Harrell Author Interview

Aaron G. Harrell Author Interview

The Testimony of a Villain follows Manuel into the gritty alleys of the inner city as he seeks retribution. What was the inspiration that made you want to write such a thrilling novel?

Good question. My inspiration or should I say, “the book that inspired me to write” was The Adventurers by Harold Robbins. In his story, he wrote about a South American character named Dax who lost everything. The book was almost a thousand pages, it covered decades of history. It took me on a ride through time. I enjoyed it.

So, I was compelled to I start writing about Manuel Doggett a man who lost everything. I asked myself, how would it effect a black man here in the United States? So I pulled from the history of the African-American experience. Manuel is born on the tail-end of the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King is dead. Malcom X is dead. The Black Panthers and the original Nation of Islam had been dismantled.

Here comes Manuel Doggett. The future.

As a child, he shows great leadership abilities. He is smart, thoughtful, and a good speaker. Further, there’s nothing stopping him from being anything he wants to be. He has aspirations of being a judge or the first black president.

What happens?

His family is murdered in front of him. His wealth is stripped. He is forced to live in the inner-city. This young man with so much potential is now faced with dangers from the same black people that his family talked about with so much pride. He realizes that he is a cub that has become prey to a jungle of hyenas.

Manuel had two choices. Try to rise above it or become part of it.

From the spirt of a leader, he took the third choice. He became it. He became the fear. He became the danger. He became the king of the concrete jungle.

He became the villain.

For me this was thrilling to write.

Manuel Doggett is a boy who lost everything and was formed by the streets and remade in its’ dark image. How did you set about creating such complicated characters?

A loaded question. I will try to answer it the best I can. The characters around Manuel are not complicated to a person who grew up in the inner-city. You see them all the time a car thief, a pick-pocket, or a drug dealer. You see the upset aunt or the concerned mother. Manuel, on the other hand, is a complicated character. He has physiological issues and is force into different environments, his higher intellect compelled him to rise up at any cost. Further, he had become a killer. Now, as an author, I had to navigate Manuel through the streets. I had to take on the mind of a madman. What would an intelligent madman do?

The original title of the book was “Product of Environment”. I named it Product of Environment because while I was writing I noticed how Manuel had to adapt and lead others into each new environment he faced. A leader will be a leader wherever he goes.

The title changed to Product of Environment: The Testimony of a Villain and was later changed again when I sat down with my project manager, Anthony Lindo.

Anthony was putting the book cover together on a computer and I was watching him. We were discussing colors and letter sizes, and then, all of a sudden, he deleted Product of Environment out of the title. After looking it over, it made sense.

Thus, we have The Testimony of a Villain.

I found myself enjoying the book because I found a lot of truth embedded in the story about life, justice and society. What themes did you try to capture while creating this story?

The themes that I tried to capture about social justice revolved around relevant issues: abortion, race, politics and crime. I think most readers found it interesting how “living the life of crime”, didn’t seem like a crime to the people living it.

It was simply a way of life.

To me, the the biggest social issue that the Testimony of a Villain brings to light is that there are people who live like the characters in the story every day. For them, it’s normal. They never had a job and they don’t plan on getting a job. They are just waiting to go to jail or get murdered or hustle another day.

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

The next book that I’m about to release is called: Wisdom of a Dying God. It’s a crime story about a crime fiction writer who is in prison, dying. He has books floating around the prison system. He is revered by his peers because of his knowledge of the criminal underworld. As the prisoners read his books, they find better ways to commit crimes.

The book should be available in the next 60 to 90 days.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Testimony of a Villain: A True Crime Thriller Novel of Inner City Vengeance and Murder by [Harrell, Aaron G.]

Outsiders call Manuel a villain. After spending his youth entangled in inner city gang warfare, he’s lied, robbed, and murdered his way to the top of the brutal organized crime underworld. His path toward vengeance was set long ago when two killers massacred his family in front of him…

Manuel tracked down one of the murderers and exacted revenge, but his bloodlust grew for the killer who got away. When he got the chance to complete his vengeance, the city cowered beneath his thirst for retribution. As he continues to retrace his old scars, Manuel has one chance for vindication. To succeed, he’ll need to take a hard look at the street life he’s built upon the ashes of his childhood…

The Testimony of a Villain is a dark crime thriller set on the unforgiving streets of inner city Boston. If you like true crime stories, complex characters and an unapologetic look at urban reality, then you’ll love Aaron G. Harrell’s poignant psychological thriller.

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The Yoynich Gambit

The Voynich Gambit: The Sequel to Guarding Shakespeare (Norman Blalock Mysteries Book 2)

Author Quintin Peterson returns from Guarding Shakespeare with his next enthralling piece of crime heist fiction, The Voynich Gambit. The cunning mind of Special Police Officer Lt. Norman Blalock is put to the test when a slew of D.C.’s most infamous artifact dealers set their sights on a mysterious treasure of immense value, the Voynich Manuscript. Blalock must outwit and outmaneuver enemies from all angles in this gripping noir tale of mystery, motive, and deceit. True to style, Peterson beautifully weaves the rich history of The Folger Shakespeare Library and the manuscript into the gritty drive of its ruthless pursuers. The Voynich Gambit is an epic tale of cat-and-mouse, arguably fit for a play by the Bard himself.

The novel is set in a bustling modern day D.C., a mecca of polished skyscrapers, historic landmarks, and endless traffic. Peterson’s vivid imagery is infused throughout the novel, generously describing the luxury of these looming buildings. At the Folger Shakespeare Library in downtown, Lieutenaunt Norman Blalock has been working as a security guard for over two decades, protecting its treasures from the likes of handsy museum-goers and would-be theives alike. His seasoned tenure makes him a trusted employee to the security staff, but it also makes him an invaluable asset to Rupert Whyte, an aristocratic con-artist who is scheming up a heist fit for the history books. Whyte reads from the pages like a regular King Pin – a ruthless blueblood brimming with determination for ill-gotten gains. When he requests that Blalock palm the Voynich Manuscript, an ancient archive of medical knowledge, Blalock must decide where his true loyalties lie – in riches or in righteousness. This is a conflict as old as time, weighing greed against integrity, and Norman is no exception to this struggle.

To complicate matters even more, the buxom beauty Kavitha Netram has arrived at Blalock’s door, suitcase in hand. Kavitha certainly has the looks to be a trophy wife, but Norman must trust his instinct that she’s here for much more than just a cuddle buddy. As their relationship begins to develop, author Peterson injects a modest amount of cheeky pop culture into the mix, noting some current brands along with a famous U2 song. These moments of reference feel quirky and endearing, and offer a refreshing change of tone from the steep historical passages. Don’t be surprised to find yourself absent-mindedly humming along to “With or Without You” as you read along.

As it becomes obvious to Norman that Rupert Whyte isn’t the only artifact dealer dipping his hands into the cookie jar, he must strive to stay two steps ahead of this dangerous game of fidelity and fortune. Peterson’s quick writing style will keep you engaged, even through the varying pace of lavish history and casual conversation. Peterson writes confidently, and it’s admittedly impressive how far his knowledge seems to spread. Art, history, crime, action, and romance – The Voynich Gambit honestly has it all. I would heartily recommend it to any fellow lovers of the noir style.

Pages: 152 | ASIN: B072BHSNKZ

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Pink Slips

Pink Slips

Pink Slips is a riveting tale of one woman’s desperate plight to keep her loved ones safe, even in the sights of a mysterious stalker with an unsettling amount of determination. From the outside looking in, good-humored Betsy seems to have it all – a beautiful home, a dapper and doting family, a successful career as a gourmet chef, and even a fabulous little furry companion. Still, looks can be deceiving, and in the complex life of Betsy, a storm is breaking. Author Beth Aldrich masterfully weaves the unbounded strength of family and friendship into the tense mix of danger and pursuit, making this as heartfelt as it is chilling.

Truth be told, the emotional personality of this novel had me enamored immediately. The story opens warmly, inviting you directly into Betsy’s thoughts as she gleefully ponders over the fresh news of her first pregnancy. Her inner monologue is so charmingly real, and it was easy to imagine her gossiping to me with excitement for the little bean just beginning to grow within her. Unfortunately, life is often a blend of both miraculous beauty as well as senseless cruelty, and as Betsy is strolling through a parking lot, she’s interrupted by a mugger fixated on her handbag. This encounter feels as tragic as it does plausible, as raw moments like this unfortunately happen every single day. Reading along, my eyes began brimming with tears as I absent-mindedly gnawed off the tip of a fingernail. Aldrich has made such beautiful work of tapping into Betsy’s personal thoughts, gripping me with her fear in that moment. As the first chapter came to an end, I found myself hurriedly turning the pages, awaiting the fate of our beloved mother-to-be.

There is a famous saying to the effect of “What does not kill you makes you stronger,” but in tender Betsy’s case, stronger would be better replaced with “paranoid”. Years of meditation have served to soften the edges of her anxiety, but some trauma you just never fully recover from. When suspicious pink notes begin arriving in her life boasting threats, Betsy is forced to revisit the fear of that fateful night in the parking lot. She has worked diligently to create the loving and comfortable home around her, and it’s no surprise that she isn’t willing to let that be endangered twice. Again, I found myself furiously chewing at my own nails as I cheered her on, anxious of the long list of suspicious characters possibly behind the ominous pink slips. Luckily, Aldrich writes with a bright wittiness that balances the heaviness of the theme, or I wouldn’t have had any nails left by the end.

Aside from being endearing, this story is also incredibly digestible, despite being so darkly thematic at points. I read it in a mere two sittings. I really can’t pen enough praise for Aldrich’s cheeky and personal writing style. Even in the throes of a deranged stalker, each main character sports such flavorful personality that the novel stays warm and engaging throughout. I can’t wait to catch another title from this author.

Pages: 267 | ASIN: B071LKC325

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Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody

Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody

Suzy Spitfire is a take-no-bull fugitive on the run. Her best friend Aiko, who was her father’s lab assistant and is also on the run, wants to see her and she’s taking a big risk by coming back to Earth. She wastes her time at the bar flirting with Ricardo until Aiko shows up. Her friend reveals the location of a top-secret Artificial Intelligence her father developed for the government, and also informs her that her dad’s death was a murder, not an accident. Almost on cue, the bar is raided by the feds. Ricardo comes to their rescue (while stealing a case of whiskey on the way out) and they are on the run again, this time with a price on their heads and Special Forces on their heels.

With the feds, a fleet of pirates, and a criminal gang all gunning for them, this crew of outlaws has nowhere to turn. Blurr, the Special Forces commander, has no qualms about using extreme methods to get what he wants. Getting to Suzy – and the secrets she knows – would be even better.

I really got into the rapid-fire action. There’s never a dull moment in this book. Suzy is a larger-than-life antihero who would rather shoot than talk, and when she does speak, it’s usually a string of smartass remarks. Surrender is for weaklings and arguments are best ended with her pistol set on “stun” so she can mock the loser later. The action escalates through the book, with the crew of the Correcaminos Rojo bouncing between criminals, pirates, and the law, trapped on posh spaceships, hell-hole prisons, and domed spaceports. Her banter with Ricardo is fun, and her inability to keep her mouth shut gets her in trouble more than once.

Along the way, Suzy begins to second-guess her impulse to fight and starts listening to Ricardo. There may be a lot more to the guy besides his stunning good looks and bad poetry. She realizes she might be falling for him, but she can’t be sure that he’s not working for one of the factions trying to chase her down. It makes for a nice romantic subplot that may or may not involve bullets before it’s all over.

I also liked getting occasional glimpses into the stories of the people on the other side of the fight. Getting insight into what was going on behind the action provided a break between fight scenes and added a lot of scheming and intrigue. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, but getting the inside scoop on other key characters added a lot of excitement to the story.

If I had to criticize one thing, it would be that the action gets a little repetitive. Several encounters with enemies are similar, but the great thing is that none of these situations resolve in the same way. It was nice to see the characters playing to their strengths and weaknesses, and the author does a great job at blending screwball humor into the mix. There is a minor loose end concerning a secondary character, but that might be covered in a sequel.

I would absolutely recommend this for a quick, fun, summer read. It’s a great blend of over-the-top action that reads like classic pulp fiction, and characters who play their tropes for all they’re worth. Suzie Spitfire Kills Everybody will leave you smiling.

Pages: 297 | ASIN: B072PXT1P7

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