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When Loyalty Is Betrayed

Joseph Lewis
Joseph Lewis Author Interview

Blaze In, Blaze Out follows two detectives that after putting away a crime lord are now in danger along with their families. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Up until Blaze, my books featured adolescent boys with cops as side characters. I wanted to change that up a bit and feature two/three cops that my readers enjoy. Pat O’Connor, Paul Eiselmann, and Jamie Graff. There is quite the back story on all three, and I wanted to explore that with the reader. I also wanted to give a shout out to law enforcement for their commitment, for sometimes putting the lives of others above their own. There were two spots in particular where that came out: Eiselmann’s inner dialogue about his family and the danger he and his family were in, and with O’Connor’s conversation late at night with Brian.

In previous books, there were mentions of hunting and fishing with the boys going on trips with those three cops. I used hunting and fishing as the backdrop for Blaze for several reasons, both subtle and not so subtle.

There were a lot of strong and dynamic characters in Blaze In, Blaze Out. What was your favorite character to write for and why?

Wow, great question! Trying to pick a favorite character is much like trying to determine who my favorite child is. Each is unique and special in their own way, much like my characters. However, if you had a gun to my head and asked that question, I would Brian because of the depth of the character. Having been a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator for 46 years and counting, I’ve come to know many, many kids struggling like Brian. Trying to find who they are and to be accepted for who they are. His strength, not so apparent to himself but to others, stands out.

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

I think the themes of loyalty, perseverance, family, love, and acceptance are important. They are themes all of us deal with daily. More importantly, to explore the reactions when loyalty is betrayed, when family and love are in conflict, and when acceptance is withheld. Those are themes near and dear to me, because I’ve witnessed these in my roles in education.

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

I am in the middle of a book tentatively titled, Fan Mail about a fan who takes it to the extreme. It explores some of the same themes in my other books, but as with my other books, there is a crime/thriller/mystery in it. I hope to have it available sometime in 2022.

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Working with a joint multi-law enforcement task force, Detective Pat O’Connor infiltrated a Ukrainian crime family. Headed by Dmitry Andruko. O’Connor and his control, Detective Paul Eiselmann were the lynchpins in the guilty verdict.

The two detectives thought it was over.

Eiselmann planned for a quiet weekend with his family at home. O’Connor planned on attending a high school soccer game and then head to Northern Wisconsin for a fishing trip with another cop, Detective Jamie Graff and four teenage, adopted brothers: George Tokay, Brian Evans, Brett McGovern, and Michael Two Feathers.

But Andruko is ruthless and vindictive. From his prison cell, he hires two contract killers to kill both O’Connor and Eiselmann and anyone else in the way. The killers can be anyone. The killers could be anywhere, and the killers could strike at any time.

The quiet weekend and the short vacation turn into a deadly nightmare as O’Connor’s and Eiselmann’s lives and the lives of the four boys are in peril.

Blaze In, Blaze Out

Blaze in, Blaze out by Joseph Lewis is an action-filled mystery crime novel. Two members of a law enforcement task force are the lynchpins to putting away the crime boss Dmitry Andruko. In retaliation Dmitry puts out a hit out on the two officers with the instructions, kill anyone that gets in the way. Following the trial, Eiselmann spends the weekend with his family, and O’Connor heads out on a fishing trip with a friend and his four adopted teenage sons. What should have been a relaxing weekend for both men, turns into a nightmare and a fight for their lives and those they love. Detective O’Connor’s story and attempted murder interlaces itself with Brian and Bobby’s troubled relationship in a world filled with crimes, betrayal and homophobia.

Lewis’s comprehensive writing style makes sure the reader never gets lost in this complex and fast-moving plot. The point of view alternates with the chapters so readers can experience the story through the eyes of all the characters providing them with the full picture of what is occurring and sharing the characters insights and emotions. Care is taken by the author to provide descriptions of every place visited and every clothing item worn by the characters. Readers will become fully immersed into the world created by Lewis.

Besides being a crime thriller, this novel tackles the challenging subject of coming out. Brian struggles with his identity and his relationship with his adopted father due to his sexual orientation. The perspective of a teenage boy coming out to family adds a level of drama to this thriller novel.

Blaze in, Blaze out with its engaging plot and deep themes is a riveting novel and fast read that will keep readers in suspense and hooked till the last page. I recommend this action packed book to any teenager going through a difficult time with their parents and to any reader who loves suspenseful thrillers, and crime novel.

Pages: 321 | ASIN : B09B576BPJ

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Blaze In, Blaze Out – Book Trailer

Working with a joint multi-law enforcement task force, Detective Pat O’Connor infiltrated a Ukrainian crime family. Headed by Dmitry Andruko. O’Connor and his control, Detective Paul Eiselmann were the lynchpins in the guilty verdict.

The two detectives thought it was over.

Eiselmann planned for a quiet weekend with his family at home. O’Connor planned on attending a high school soccer game and then head to Northern Wisconsin for a fishing trip with another cop, Detective Jamie Graff and four teenage, adopted brothers: George Tokay, Brian Evans, Brett McGovern, and Michael Two Feathers.

But Andruko is ruthless and vindictive. From his prison cell, he hires two contract killers to kill both O’Connor and Eiselmann and anyone else in the way. The killers can be anyone. The killers could be anywhere, and the killers could strike at any time.

The quiet weekend and the short vacation turn into a deadly nightmare as O’Connor’s and Eiselmann’s lives and the lives of the four boys are in peril.

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Heartbreaking and Tragic

Joseph Lewis
Joseph Lewis Author Interview

Stolen Lives follows a team of FBI agents on a kidnapping case that has been hard to crack, and Kelliher realizes that someone on his team may be in on it. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?

I spent a great deal of time on research, including the FBI website, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and various law enforcement sites. I interviewed several individuals who were critical to this novel’s success: Police Chief Jamie Graff (one of my characters in my book, though in my books he is a detective), and James Dahlke, a Forensic Scientist. I interviewed and received help from Jay Cooke and Dave Mirra, who are (Dave has since retired) working in IT and Technology.

Mostly, this book is based upon my work as an adjunct educator with the Wetterling Foundation, who works with missing and exploited families, and educates the public on keeping children safe. I also based it upon my work as a counselor, and though this book is fiction, it is heavily based upon fact: stories I heard from kids and parents in my counseling office and the work with the families of missing children. Heartbreaking and tragic. Still angers and saddens me.

Did you plan the mystery at the heart of this story, or did it develop organically while writing?

I am a “pantser.” I don’t plan ahead. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I let it unfold in its own way. Typically, it isn’t until I am nearing the end of any book when the actual ending “comes” to me.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?

This is a dark book, but I enjoyed the kids’ interaction with each other. I enjoyed the kids standing up to the adults and their willingness to speak their mind to them. Specifically, I enjoyed it when the ones needing to be held accountable were held accountable. I believe in justice, even if life doesn’t always have a Disney ending.

This is book one in your Lives Trilogy. What can readers expect in book two?

There were several loose ends in Stolen Lives. Several of the “bad guys” got away. But a sizeable portion of the next two books, besides catching the “bad guys” is how these missing kids, some of whom were missing and abused for more than a year, reintegrate back into their families. How do they get along without their informal “kid” network? What happens within the family? I answer those questions.

Lastly, George, Brett, Tim, and the Twins (Randy and Billy) play huge roles in Stolen. So, what happens to them? What are their lives like now?

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

“A harrowing and unforgettable FBI thriller.” –BestThrillers.com
Three fourteen-year-old boys are inextricably linked by abduction and murder.
Two of them were just abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others… dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. A fourth boy, George Tokay, a Navajo, holds a key piece to this puzzle and doesn’t realize it.
Kelliher and his team have been on this case for two years. There isn’t much to go on, and each time he gets a break, potential witnesses are found dead. The stories of these boys are like loose threads on a sweater: pull the wrong one and it unravels completely. Slowly, Kelliher realizes that there may be one or more members of his team behind it all.

Stolen Lives

Stolen Lives (Lives Trilogy Book 1) by [Joseph Lewis]

Stolen Lives, by Joseph Lewis is a fast paced crime novel in the how-catch-‘em mystery genre. It’s the story of Officers Pete Kelliher and Summer Storm who have been trying to track down a group of pedophiles. Finally, a break comes when Native American teenager George Tokay witnesses the murder of a teenage boy in the desert, and reports it to the authorities. For years, Kelliher and Storm have unsuccessfully hunted the pedophiles who kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed young boys. Through years of stumbling blocks and dead ends, the officers now have a solid lead to pursue. With the knowledge Tokay shared, Kelliher and Storm must act aggressively to capture the perpetrators.

Author Joseph Lewis clear writing keeps the focus on the story among a highly detailed world and riveting mystery. His descriptions are sharp and focused, and he creates authentic heart-tugging sympathy for the victims. We get to know the offenders, but Lewis doesn’t focus his writing on the “bad guys.” Instead, he pulls the reader into the lives of the frightened teen-age boys, and what they must endure to survive. Lewis also creates a strong bond among the boys, with Brett being somewhat of a protector of them. 

This story reminds me of the popular and much-loved author, Tony Hillerman. Set in the desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico, like Hillerman, the Native American aspect, and imagery, is significant throughout the novel. However, Lewis thrives as an author by not only dealing with the emotions of these surviving boys, but also dealing with the flood of questions and emotions of the parents of the surviving boys.

Stolen Lives is a riveting murder mystery that slowly unravels a puzzling crime that will have readers furiously flipping pages. With realistic characters a reader can relate to and sympathize with, and a fast-paced and action filled plot, Lewis has created an engaging story that is a fantastic start to his Lives Trilogy.

Pages: 259 | ASIN: B094RJ49XD

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Stolen Lives – Book Trailer

Three fourteen-year-old boys are inextricably linked by abduction and murder.

Two of them were just abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others… dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. A fourth boy, George Tokay, a Navajo, holds a key piece to this puzzle and doesn’t realize it.

Kelliher and his team have been on this case for two years. There isn’t much to go on, and each time he gets a break, potential witnesses are found dead. The stories of these boys are like loose threads on a sweater: pull the wrong one and it unravels completely. Slowly, Kelliher realizes that there may be one or more members of his team behind it all.

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Surround it with a Mystery

Joseph Lewis
Joseph Lewis Author Interview

Betrayed follows a group of adopted brothers that get sucked into a dangerous mystery with criminal elements. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?

The characters are the same from my previous books. They are a mismatched, patch worked group of adopted brothers, each carrying baggage from their previous lives. George, who is full-blooded Navajo, receives a call from one of his closest, oldest friends. It is typical for him to want to help. His two brothers, both avid hunters, see this as an opportunity to hunt elk, something neither have done before. Their parents let them go, but only because of George’s ties to his native land, and with the company of his two brothers and two officers who are both friends of the boys and friends of the parents.

It was a way for me to include much of George’s history, yet update it to present time and the present day impact on the culture and climate of the Navajo people. I wanted to further tell the story of the boys, but surround it with a mystery.

Your characters are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?

I believe plot is character driven. If a book or story does not have well-developed characters, there is no story. Think of Friday the 13th. Other than Jason, can you picture any character from that movie? I believe the reader wants to “know” the characters. As much as possible, I believe the reader wants to picture them, hear them talk, see them in action. My writing will always have solid characters defined by their situation and circumstance, and my writing will always have at its core, a thriller/mystery aspect to it.

What were some themes you wanted to focus on in this book?

I wanted to have the characters explore who they are. I wanted the characters to struggle, both from their heart and soul, and from external forces. I wanted “pressure” placed on them in order for them to develop, to grow, and to explore their feelings. You find in Betrayed a struggle with Brian, that in many respects, his two adopted brothers don’t have. George, for the most part, has dealt with the disconnect from his Navajo upbringing and the new life among white culture. George has yet to justify killing, because the Navajo respect life, and killing runs against that grain. There has been so much that has happened to Brett (previous books), that he still struggles with who he is. His trust level will always be rather shallow because of those experiences.

Given this, I wanted these three boys to be thrown into a completely foreign situation, not only in terms of setting and culture, but in terms of having someone after them for no reason they can understand. For Brian and Brett, they traveled to Arizona to hunt and camp. George traveled to Arizona to help find his friend. None of them, nor did their parents, know what they were about to face.

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

I am two-thirds through Blaze In, Blaze Out. It takes place in Northern Wisconsin during bow and arrow deer hunting season. Brian and Brett, and the two cops from Betrayed, are their to fish. Both activities they’ve done before, multiple times without incident. However, a case O’Connor had been working on catches up with him, and before anyone realizes it, all in that party are involved. Again, it is a thriller/mystery. I hope to have it completed yet this winter, and off to an agent or publisher in the spring.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Website

Integrity is protecting someone who betrayed you. Courage is keeping a promise even though it might mean death.
A late-night phone call turns what was to be a fun hunting trip into a deadly showdown. Fifteen-year-old brothers George Tokay, Brian Evans and Brett McGovern face death on top of a mesa on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. They have no idea why men are intent on killing them.
Betrayed is a contemporary psychological thriller and an exploration of the heart and of a blended family of adopted kids, their relationships to each other and their parents woven into a tight mystery-thriller.

Betrayed

Betrayed by Joseph Lewis is a contemporary psychological thriller and the third installment in a series revolving around a family of adopted brothers, some of which have had traumatic experiences in the past. George Tokay receives a panicked phone call from his childhood friend, whose brother has mysteriously gone missing. George and his adoptive brothers Brian Evans and Brett McGovern take a trip to Red Rock, Arizona, to aid the law in finding their missing friend. Little do they know, they’re playing with fire in an adventure that will suck them into a world of greed, intimidation and murder. As they focus on solving the mystery a dangerous group on men seem intent on killing them.

The novel is mainly narrated through the point of view of the principal protagonist Brian. An introspective boy, who throughout his journey questions his sexuality and contemplates his place in the world and within his adoptive family; all while keeping a promise even if it could mean his own death. This makes for a believable and relatable character. I found it easy who to understand and connect with him. The story takes place in Red Rock, a small Native-American town located at the top of the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. Lewis does an excellent job of alluding to the readers senses and creating realistic scenes, which make you feel like you are in the story. While the storyline is riveting, with action-packed chapters that make the book hard to put down, an element that was too hard to believe was the fact that the FBI not only recruited three teenage boys to aid them in an incredibly dangerous mission, but also provided them with driving permits, vehicles, and firearms. It is explained that the boys were owed a favor from law enforcement, and its understandable that it was a necessary development story-wise. All things taken into account, the setting and character descriptions were extremely detailed, the story is well paced, the tone is fun and easy to follow.

Betrayed by Joseph Lewis is an enthralling crime thriller that is persistently entertaining. I look forward to reading more books in the series to follow the characters I’ve come to love.

Pages: 339 | ASIN: B08GCTV2XH

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