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The Cabin: A Murder Mystery is a twisting murder mystery that follows a homicide detective trying to solve a case in his hometown. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
Buck Woods was a character I originally created as a back woods trapper when I attempted to write a story when I was 14 years old. I liked the name so I made Buck an NYPD Homicide Detective. Since I’m a fan of James Patterson and Stuart Woods, I decided to attempt a murder/mystery novel as my first book. I choose Orono, Maine for Buck’s home town just from looking at a map of the United States.
Before publishing the book, my wife and I took a trip to Orono to check out the location. By personally checking out the setting it helped me get the facts straight, and make the story more authentic.
Buck is an interesting character that I thought was well developed. What were some driving ideals behind his character?
I tried to develop Buck into a strong caring character that people can identify with. However, I gave him obstacles he had to deal with on a daily basis. PTSD from his Gulf War days, self-blame and feelings of guilt from the death of his teenage girlfriend, Doreen Warren and the murder of his NYPD partner, Cheryl Jenkins were a few of the challenges Buck had to work through.
I enjoyed the mystery that unfolded. Was this planned or did it develop organically while writing?
The Cabin: A Murder Mystery started as a rough idea. Once I determined what the story would be about, I sat down at my computer and began to write the first chapter. I walk every day for almost two hours.
This gives me time to think and plot my story and develop characters. I find this is the best way for me to write. I don’t sit down and plot every scene on paper like other writers do.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next novel is now completed and will be edited this April. The book is called New York City Murders. Homicide Detective Buck Woods returns to New York City and teams up with a new partner, a beautiful woman named Kristie Karlsson. The novel is a stand-alone sequel to The Cabin: A Murder Mystery.
Buck Woods, a stressed-out NYPD homicide detective and former Marine Scout sniper on sabbatical, returns home to Orono, Maine.
Upon arriving back in town, Buck meets up with his old high school friend, Detective Jim Barkowsky of the Orono PD. Jim invites Buck to stay with him, his wife, and their two children.
The next morning Buck and Jim go to check out Buck’s new home, an old run-down log cabin he inherited from his grandfather on two acres of land on Punshaw Lake. Upon entering the cabin, they discover the decomposing body of an unidentified man. The victim died from a single gunshot wound. It is obvious that he was murdered.
Buck and Jim set out to solve the murder by putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Unexpected twists, turns, and obstacles abound, leading to a climax that puts Buck’s life on the line.
Posted in Interviews
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The Money Trail is another excellent edition to and Sean Kruger series. Once again we meet Sean Kruger and his band of intriguing friends. It’s obvious that Fields cares about his characters as the development of core characters that have been present throughout the series is extremely well done. There’s just enough action to get your heart pumping and just enough drama to have you on the edge of your seat.
It takes skill to keep readers coming back again and again to read about the same characters in slightly similar situations. It can get redundant and boring when executed poorly. That is not what readers will find in this book. Lovers of the Sean Kruger Series will only find more of what they’ve come to love and expect out of Fields. His characters are well developed, the action and drama are paced well and the twists and turns will have readers guessing with just the right amount of bait. It’s hard to put down a book in the Kruger series once you’ve picked it up and The Money Trail is no exception.
Fields has been writing these books for nearly five years. That’s a long time to keep characters straight and ensure that you don’t have them acting out of turn. Clearly Fields has a method to his madness as every book further develops the characters personalities and honors their growth from installment to installment. His books have won awards and are sure to influence a generation of readers. High praise for someone who began as an Indie writer making a break on their own.
Reading an installment of the Sean Kruger Series can be bitter-sweet. There is the thrill of the read: finding out what Kruger is up to now, where he will go and who he will bring with him. But there is also the disappointment when it ends because you simply want more. The Money Trail by J.C. Fields brings out that feeling effortlessly. It’s such an engaging read that is engrossing and fun. This book is an excellent installment in the series and I can’t wait for the next thrilling drama he gets caught up in.
Pages: 349 | ASIN: B07MTMCCDQ
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The Cabin: A Murder Mystery by W.D. Frolick is the story of a burned-out detective who can’t escape a murder investigation even during his vacation. Buckley Woods is a homicide detective in New York City, until his partner, Cheryl Jenkins, a married mother of two, is shot and killed when she and Buck are trying to apprehend a murder suspect two weeks before Christmas. Unable to start working with another partner, Buck takes a sabbatical and returns to his hometown in Maine to face the demons from his past. He blames himself for his high school girlfriend, Doreen’s death. Back in Orono again, Buck plans to fix up the log cabin on Pushaw Lake that he inherited from his grandfather. But when he arrives at the cabin, he discovers a dead body with a single gunshot wound to the forehead. Will Buck be able to avoid being drawn into the murder investigation? And will he find proof that Doreen’s death wasn’t just a tragic accident?
The book begins with Buck and his partner chasing after a murder suspect, which pulled me into the story right away. I enjoyed the author’s writing style, and I liked that there were several female characters in senior positions within the New York police department. Most other authors that I’ve read seem to have a primarily male cast in law enforcement in crime fiction/mystery.
The author seemed to be dropping some very broad hints in the first few chapters, and I suspected who the murderer was pretty early in the book, even before Buck and Jim discovered the body (although the motive was unclear until much later on in the story). But then, other clues and suspects were introduced, providing a number of false leads, which had me second-guessing myself. I really enjoyed that the story kept me guessing about the identity of the murderer until the very end of the book. And the truth about what happened to Doreen came as a complete surprise to me.
Although I enjoyed the book, I felt that there were too many mundane details, such as what Buck cooked for dinner, and that there were too many unnecessary details about secondary characters that did not relate directly to Buck or the mystery. This slowed the pace of an otherwise entertaining story.
Other than these minor quibbles I think this book is a solid crime novel that uses mystery and intrigue in interesting ways. Bucks character is well developed and the story keeps you guessing until the end.
Pages: 212 | ASIN: B01MR0BGG5
Posted in Book Reviews
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Project Purple by Michael Greco is a fictional story about thirteen Americans who agree to take part in a social experience (called Project Purple), with their every action filmed and viewed live for the entertainment of the world. The thirteen people will relive an authentic colonial life of American pilgrims (in the year 1613) for four months, with the viewers as the ‘fourteenth colonist.’ The thirteen colonists must build a colony with twelve other strangers, figuring out how to work together. One of the colonists is Henrietta Dobie, known in the colony as Goatwench. But the colonists were lied to and none of them know the truth about the real purpose of the Project. When Rigor, a detective in Las Vegas, is sent a video of the horrific circumstances Goatwench is forced to endure, he’s determined to put a stop to the Project. But the organizers of the Project will stop at nothing to reach their own ends.
The premise of the book was intriguing, and the story kept my interest. I wanted to know what would happen next for the colonists–would any of them survive? It was interesting to see how human nature played out as the different characters reacted to the difficult–and then deadly–situation they found themselves in. I liked that the author told the story from the point of view of several different colonists, which gave much more insight into the individual characters.
I liked the historical aspect of the story. I enjoyed reading details about the clothing, daily tasks, and customs of American colonial life.
The sadistic actions of the people who created Project Purple were detestable; putting thirteen wholly unprepared people into that situation without their full knowledge and consent for the sole purpose of so-called entertainment for the viewing audience and to further the organization’s own agenda.
The story started out slow, with a lot of set up about the detective’s life in Las Vegas and leading into the beginning of Project Purple. The book felt a bit disjointed, jumping back and forth in time, and jumping between the detective and the colonists. It might have improved the flow of the story if the author had started out with the colonists embarking on Project Purple, and once things started to go wrong, then the detective could have been introduced when he received the first video. In the end this is an intriguing exploration of human motivations that plumbs the depths of humanity.
Pages: 351 | ASIN: B07K7N5M2D
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Mystery readers who love New York: this book is for you. Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery introduces 25-year-old Finn, a fifth-generation police officer from a family that reveres the NYPD. When an unlucky accident ends his NYPD career, Finn becomes the next best thing: a Private Eye. Finn’s new career is off to a rocky start, complete with threadbare office and octogenarian assistant. Luckily, Finn quickly moves beyond the so-called “cavalcade of crazies” and stumbles into his first serious case. Follow Finn as he searches for a missing person who NYPD claims is not missing at all.
In Missing, Robert L. Bryan explores duty, loyalty, and friendship. He also plumbs the depths of vice that simmer in the city: corruption, greed, and crime. Bryan hits his storytelling stride as the details of the case unfurl. The plot moves quickly with confounding clues, hints of danger, and a parade of compelling characters.
Bryan has a knack for provocative characters. Finn’s apparent lack of self-determination can be frustrating—he seemingly rode a conveyer belt from booties to NYPD blues—but he develops into a likable main character. Early client stories, like the time Finn tailed a cat, are charming but lose something in bullet point format. The reader groans when Finn’s most pressing professional dilemma involves a desk chair and cheers when he finally lands a case.
Still, Finn is inscrutable. Other characters respond to him with generosity and affection when he shows none. I think the women in Finn’s world would benefit from added nuance; they are often one-dimensional. Finn’s father is a bright spot: unwavering in his support and helpful when Finn needs it most. We should all be so lucky.
Fans of the boroughs will enjoy devoted descriptions of Queen’s minutiae. Every intersection is noted, every landmark observed. Do I see a Finn Delaney walking tour of Queens in my future? Yes, please.
The book doubles back at times with Finn uncovering clues already revealed; in one notable situation, Finn hits upon the lynchpin of the case twice in seven pages. The book is lightly sprinkled with errors in grammar and punctuation. Despite these minor distractions, Missing is a satisfying mystery and a good read.
Pages: 197 | ASIN: B07L9DBXDN
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It is 1939 when the bullet-riddled body of an accounting clerk from a gambling ship washes up under the Santa Monica pier. As city homicide detectives tenaciously chase down their only clue—a fast, expensive, and very exclusive Bugatti—their investigation leads them into a tangle of competing gangsters all looking to muscle their way to a bigger share of illegal gambling.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County deputy district attorney Cliff Thoms is leading a special squad searching for a pair of serial killers who have already killed four young women and are on the hunt for more. Thoms, with the help of a self-proclaimed psychic he doesn’t quite trust, risks lives and careers in a desperate gamble to catch his elusive quarry. As the two investigations collide and rush to a deadly conclusion, dirty cops, DAs on the take, mobsters, grieving families, and reformer politicians must attempt to distinguish lies from the truth. Unfortunately, they are all about to discover that even the truth won’t help them now.
In this fast-paced tale of murder and gangland intrigue, a gritty district attorney and a band of detectives set out on a quest to solve two separate crimes amid a corrupted 1939 Los Angeles.
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A Most Diabolical Plot is a collection of six Sherlock Holmes stories that perfectly fit the originals style. What draws you to the Sherlock Holmes mystery novels and their style of storytelling?
I first read the Sherlock Holmes ‘canon’ (the Arthur Conan Doyle originals) when I was at Elizabeth College, a boarding school in the British Crown Dependency of Guernsey, built in 1563. I must have been around 12 years of age. Although this was many decades after Conan Doyle penned his last story, life in a boarding school on a small island off the French coast was recognisably Edwardian in atmosphere. When the prefect or housemaster
turned off the dormitory lights and warned us not to talk any more, I retrieved a torch (flashlight) from under the mattress and spent an hour or so with Holmes and Watson while they encountered mastermind criminals (Professor Moriarty) and some downright East End thugs who would kill them as soon as look at them. Perfect escape from the rigours and routine of life at the college. In turn, my full-length novels are adventures equally designed to offer readers hours of sheer escape. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Bulgarian Codex’ takes place deep in the turbulent Balkans, ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery of Einstein’s Daughter’ also takes the resolute investigators into the Balkans – Serbia – via a short stay in Switzerland. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Sword of Osman’ finds them entering the hurry and scurry and paranoia of magnificent Constantinople in the bizarre last years of the Ottoman Empire and Sultanate. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil’ takes them even further afield, into the mysterious streets and colourful roofs of Peking’s Forbidden City’
What were some sources of inspiration for you while writing the stories in this new collection?
A reader in the United States wrote to me saying he enjoyed reading my novels but how about some more adventures set exclusively in England, with London’s mists, Watson’s Gentlemen’s clubs, 221B, Baker Street and so on? So in ‘A Most Diabolical Plot’ all six adventures take place almost exclusively in England. I describe them in the Introduction as follows:
‘The title story, A Most Diabolical Plot, involves the dastardly Colonel Moran hiding away on the borders of Suffolk and Essex, plotting a grisly death for his arch-enemy Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and Watson criss-cross England during those near-fabled days when Queen Victoria sat on the throne of Britain’s immense Empire, followed by her son Edward V11 and in turn her grandson George V. The spooky The Ghost Of Dorset House takes place in London’s expensive Mayfair district. Die Weisse Frau finds the pair caught up with horses, spies and Zeppelins in the midst of the Great War in the Wiltshire countryside not far from Stonehenge. The Mystery Of The Missing Artefacts opens with Watson a prisoner of war in the Ottoman Sultan’s Palace but moves quickly to the British Museum and the small village of Battle in deepest Sussex. The Pegasus Affair, a story of treachery, begins after Watson finds an envelope on the hall table at his Marylebone Medical Practice containing a cutting from The Eastbourne. The final story, The Captain In The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, is set in an East Anglian university town (possibly Cambridge) and around Apsley House, the great Duke of Wellington’s mansion at Hyde Park Corner.’
You were able to capture Sir Arthur Conan Doyle style of storytelling, but what were some new things you wanted to bring to the genre?
I’m always keen to bring into every one of the adventures just how valuable dear old Dr. John H. Watson is to Holmes’s success. In the original Conan Doyle stories, at best Holmes seems to tolerate his amiable companion while deriding him so often, for example ‘You see, but you do not observe, Watson!’ Five or six years ago I came across a description of a real Englishman I believe is/was the perfect John Watson. I was on a train to London Charing Cross from my home in a valley in deepest East Sussex when I read The Crooked Scythe, an anthology of memories of men and women of a past era—farm labourers, shepherds, horsemen, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, sailors, fisherman, miners, maltsters, domestic servants. The introduction described the author George Ewart Evans as follows: ‘George was in his mid-fifties when I first saw him… upright and vigorous, with an open and friendly manner and a clear, piercing gaze. He looked the part of a countryman, in a tweed jacket, a hat also of tweed, drill trousers, and stout brown shoes. As I grew to know him, I discovered that he was sympathetic and generous with help and encouragement. He was intelligent and shrewd; his judgements, though seldom sharply expressed, were acute and rational. In conversation he was tolerant and unassertive, but it was soon clear he held independent views with firmness and conviction’.’
I’m certain this is how Watson’s many friends at The Traveller’s or the Junior United Services clubs and at the Gatwick races would have viewed him too, a man of gentility albeit of straitened financial means and no property. All of us should have friends who wear stout brown shoes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have just finished a further quite lengthy short story set in Crete as the First World War approaches. It’s titled ‘The Case of the Seventeenth Monk’. The first chapter is titled ‘A Visitor Arrives at Dr. Watson’s Clinic.’ ‘The Whittington chimes of the grandfather clock flooded along the hallway. It was five o’clock. I was alone in the consulting-room of my medical practice in London’s fashionable Marylebone district. If no further patients came, I could soon stroll to the In and Out Naval and Military Club for Soup of the Day and Whitebait. I walked across to the window and stared out. A light drizzle put me into a contemplative mood. Some months had passed since, to the relief of the criminal underworld, my old friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes retired at the very height of his powers. The decision had taken me utterly by surprise.’
‘The Case Of The Seventeenth Monk’ will appear in the 2019 edition of The MX Book Of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.
In the year 1903 – the exact moment is now lost to history – Sherlock Holmes proclaimed to the world he was quitting England’s Capital to go into retirement on a small, wind-swept farm in the Sussex South Downs. His shocked comrade-in-arms Dr. John H. Watson was later to write, ‘The decision took me utterly by surprise. I thought I had become an institution around Holmes, like his Stradivarius, or the old, oily black clay pipe and his index books.’ Reluctantly Watson wrote up three recent cases yet unpublished and returned to his medical practice. Holmes retirement didn’t last long. Once more his faithful Amanuensis Watson took up his pen – and his Army Service revolver. The result was three more of the most intriguing cases ever undertaken by the famous pair. All six adventures have now been brought together in this special edition.
Posted in Interviews
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Detective Alex Hunter stumbles into darkness after a drunk driver careens into his wife and daughter, killing them instantly. Off the force, two years pass and he lands in private investigations and the edge of the underworld. When Arthur Garland offers him just the kind of job he can’t turn down, all hell breaks loose. Not only is Garland’s past unsettling, he is also the owner of a new property Alex is buying on Crystal Creek. He’d been turned on to the sale by a mysterious figure so now with every nerve firing and red flags flying, the wiry detective has a mystery to solve – one that he is already in too deep. Discovering how this all started with a detective not unlike himself over a century ago does little to soothe his soul. Then, and now, the answer to the mystery of Crystal Creek may lay with a phantom man wearing an old black hood.
CS Caspar’s novel, Hoodie Black, starts out with a tone not unlike an autobiography told in first person. The supernatural, however, has already come knocking within the first page. Deft descriptions of street trash mingle with demons from the start, I was taken with this dark view of the world. With a distinctive noire flair, the tale unfurls smooth as a red carpet making it easy to stroll on in to this tale and take a seat.
Harkening back to the best Twilight Zone or Creepshow stories, there are ghastly legacies, surreal paintings, tales regaled and of course much of that creeping darkness to be found. And not to say that lightly, Hoodie Black starts out with so many of the genres fairest delights like this so it easily hooks any fan of mystery and horror. On top of all the modern notes this story hits, there is an ancient foundation like something from the Brothers Grimm or older fables, the storytelling quickly becomes deeply layered, making any reader curious how it is all going to converge and when. Truly one of the more remarkable tricks is creating tension simply with that idea – how will this converge and when – CS Caspar has accomplished this tension in the first fifth of the novel.
For some, the tiptoe between a hard-boiled thriller and fairy tale or religious elements may be off putting. The tone may take a little to get used to once the book is at full speed since we are so accustomed to being in one state or genre instead of three at once. For those that enjoy genre-bending dark fiction, Hoodie Black is a very fun read. Culminating in battles between the very ideas of good and evil we are taken between first person narration and a more comfortable third-person point of view. The landscapes and surreal time-bending lend themselves to being wrenched from one mode of storytelling to the other and this should keep the most finicky of readers rapt with attention.
Pages: 219 | ASIN: B07M74MVB9
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My job? I hunt ghosts. Not to prove they exist—because I already know they do—but to figure out why they’re still here.
My first big case leads me to a mansion on the Chicago Gold Coast, the previous home of a wealthy socialite who lived there until she accidentally fell to her death in 1927.
I’ve never been this determined—and excited—to solve a case like this one before. Pity I’m forced to work alongside a man whose sole purpose is to debunk paranormal activity. But the worst part? He’s gorgeous, and the more we work together, the more I realize I might be falling for him.
Together we’re delving deeper and deeper into the spiritual world. But the more secrets we uncover, the more pissed off these ghosts become; and that’s when I start to realize…we might be in way over our heads.
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