Hanging Softly in the Night
Hanging Softly in the Night by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra is about Nick Larson, a detective for the 16th precinct of the NYPD. Despite being overburdened with work and personal issues, the detective is determined to solve a suspicious case that appears to be death by suicide, but some peculiarities can’t be ignored. During a difficult time when a flu epidemic ravages the precinct and recent trauma plagues the detective, Nick realizes there may be a serial killer on the loose. He and his partner, Victor Sacco, embark on a mission to solve a mystery.
Alonso-Sierra has crafted a story that is equally intriguing and chilling, with unexpected developments, set in New York City. As more murders crop up, appearing as suicide deaths, the plot becomes more riveting, with sharp-witted characters, backstories, and an unraveling case that keeps you turning one page after another.
I thoroughly enjoyed the complexity of Nick’s history and how his experiences contribute to the story. This book is an action-packed thriller with plenty of suspense and unexpected plot twists that make it impossible to put down. I liked the dynamic between Nick and his partner, Victor, as they raided the city, looking for answers. The book also covers many important aspects vital to the story and relatable to many, such as mental illness and past traumatic experiences, with great care and compassion.
The author’s writing style is descriptive and visual, without dragging the story while keeping a good pace throughout. Hanging Softly in the Night by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra is an exciting read, and it was impossible not to be enraptured by its riveting storyline.
Pages: 436 | ASIN : B08LQXGCFN
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, crime fiction, crime thriller, ebook, goodreads, Hanging Softly in the Night, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra, murder, murder mystery, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
The Bossman’s Killer
Backstabbed on Broadway takes place in a glamourous yet menacing theatrical world where a young woman must solve the murder of her tyrannical boss and navigate the cut-throat industry. What inspired you to write a mystery novel set in the world of theater?
Many years ago I actually worked in a talent agency office, and I was shocked to the core by how insanely it was run. My boss was a screaming-and-yelling megalomaniac, but there was even more strangeness going on there than just that. I was the only one working there who wasn’t some kind of an addict and I was resented for that, which of course makes no sense. I saw lots of young people who would come to New York from all over the country, trying to break into careers in the entertainment industry, and they’d be trying to impress these wacky agents, or, many times, preyed upon by a lot of unscrupulous people who only wanted to use them as cash cows. Some got ensnared by self-proclaimed “acting teachers,” basically con artists in sheep’s clothing, who claimed they’d make “stars” out of them, and the students spend years paying for “lessons” that led nowhere. Part of the reason I wanted to write this book was as a warning. As the saying goes, “All that glitters isn’t gold.”
Was there anything about Jasmine’s character that developed organically while writing that surprised you?
There were no surprises there, really. All the way through, Jasmine has a real inner strength that her boss and co-workers lack. She’s not easily intimidated or impressed, and she doesn’t make excuses for all of the craziness she sees going on around her with the rest of these assorted nuts. She arrives at work thinking of quitting, finds her lunatic boss dead on the floor, and then learns she’s inherited his agency. It turns everything upside-down. Suddenly she owns the place and is the boss of her wacky co-workers and the phony clients she had hoped to leave behind. Furthermore, any one of them could be the bossman’s killer because he was a nightmare of a man in several different directions. So Jasmine finds herself in a dilemma. She’s debating with herself all through the story as to whether she should stick with the agency that’s been handed to her or to run the heck out of there screaming.
The book takes place in a world where many people are not who they pretend to be. How did you approach writing characters with dual identities, and what did you hope to accomplish with these complex characterizations?
I had basically seen a lot of that when I worked in show business jobs, so it really wasn’t hard to write. There’s plenty of talented people who go into the theater because they want to entertain, but there’s also some who don’t like their own backgrounds and desperately want to become someone else. I figured those types were perfect to include in a mystery story because their true selves are like unknown quantities. It makes it harder to figure out whodunit, and you have to wonder what happened to push them away from themselves in the first place.
What is the next book you are working on and when will it be available?
I tend to work on several projects at one time and I have several going at the moment. I’m particularly interested in making BACKSTABBED ON BROADWAY the start of a series and have begun work on another book featuring Jasmine and many of the same characters. With any luck, it should be ready later this year.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, Backstabbed on Broadway, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Carolyn Summer Quinn, cozy mystery, crime fiction, crime thriller, ebook, fiction, goodreads, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, murder mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, whodunit, writer, writing
Backstabbed on Broadway
Backstabbed on Broadway by Carolyn Summer Quinn is a gripping mystery novel that involves murder, high stakes, and many suspicious characters. The novel focuses on Jasmine Flannery, a young woman working at an acting agency. She stumbles upon the body of her boss, Isidore, who is cruel and widely hated. Jasmine is shocked to find out she inherited the agency. She must take on incredible responsibility as she works to maintain her innocence and solve the crime while suspicions arise. With the help of her family and the police, Jasmine must navigate the dark and seedy world of the theatre industry to solve the case, but the constant chaos at the agency leaves her wondering if her efforts are worth the trouble.
Quinn has written an enjoyable book with a likeable main character and honest, vivid developments throughout the story. The storyline is well narrated, navigating through the protagonist’s difficulties while handling the daily business of working in theatre. As the number of suspicious people increases, the plot intensifies as it becomes difficult to find the culprit, leading the reader through a maze of mystery from beginning to end.
The characters are vibrant and exciting and fit into the story perfectly, capturing my attention from the start. The run-down theatrical space and shady acting agency added a gloomy but captivating atmosphere to the book, set in New York City, with many layers of unpredictable characters, plot twists, and developments. It’s a story that will take the reader through many possibilities, keeping you guessing non-stop and considering every possible character as a suspect, including Jasmine.
Backstabbed on Broadway by Carolyn Summer Quinn is a fun story that kept me engaged. I would recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of murder mysteries and action stories.
ASIN B0BRL54YLF | Pages 305
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
Tags: author, Backstabbed on Broadway, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Carolyn Summer Quinn, cozy mystery, crime fiction, crime thrillre, ebook, fiction, goodreads, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, murder mystery, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, writer, writing
How Destructive Love Can Be
Haunt follows a young woman accused of murder who encounters a serial killer, and their lives become intertwined. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
I think the inspiration began simply; from always being enamored by the 19th century — but as much as I love westerns, all the movies and novels of that era, I wished to include further elements into this series that don’t just limit it to a historic western.
Certainly diving into the psychology of man, something which I was intrigued and inspired by to forge a character that was different than the usual “perfect white knight in shining armor”; rather one that has been dealt mental trauma at a much deeper level instead, one beyond comprehension. I simply felt intrigued to show, as odd as this may sound and seem, that even such people are deserving of understanding first and foremost — and affection, or even love — that may change someone, which is a very controversial statement and certainly doesn’t apply to just anyone. Regarding this particular serial killer and his background, I would say it is more understandable, or encourages the reader to understand. It was an interesting concept, challenging for me as a writer, and challenging for readers in a different way.
Last but most importantly, my horse, Finn, inspired the very first characters that I created; Charlotte, and her horse. The day I started writing this novel was the very day Finn came to my life as a little colt, and both he and the novel sort of grew up together. His personality blossomed the way it did in the book, so Finn is not just a horse in the story; he is his own character.
I find the world you created in this novel brimming with possibilities. How long did it take you to imagine, draft, and write the world your characters live in?
To be completely honest, I simply began writing without a plot or preset concepts of any kind. A few words every day that slowly turned into paragraphs, and into pages, and before I knew it, into a lengthy novel. There was never a planned plot at any stage; even a few chapters before the very ending, I hadn’t yet decided what would happen. Nor when I would sit down to write, did I ever know which direction the characters or story would go. Reason being, I simply lived in this world alongside the characters, and truly tried to emerge myself in this fictional environment. It kept it extremely interesting, and challenging of course, but also exciting to see my own words take a hold of thoughts I hadn’t truly formed until they were already written down.
There was never really a writer’s block, to this day — even eleven books later in the series — and I owe that to this, perhaps unorthodox, method of writing. In this peculiar way, I finished writing the first draft of Haunt within a period of three months. I simply loved the whole experience, and I couldn’t stop writing what happens next, which is why there is a whole series of it now. It was never planned. I thought H[A]UNT would be the end of it.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
That is a very interesting question, for this series covers a lot of different themes that you will find later on. But in this particular book, I do cover the aspect of religion viewed from an extremist’s point of view that was particularly interesting and common in that era. It can also be very controversial for readers, but I tried to stay as neutral as possible, for I don’t wish to influence characters or plot biased on my own beliefs.
Certainly, the theme of friendship and betrayal comes up; how easily trust can be infringed. Love; how oftentimes you don’t choose the person you fall in love with, for any sense leaves your mind the moment it happens. But with love can come enviousness, and even revulsion, and we see that in the story…how destructive love can be.
The concept of mental trauma is very prominent throughout the whole series; showcasing how it is able to morph a person, but also how a person is capable to change even having been dealt the wrong hand in life. I think it is an important subject to dissect, for many of us are able to relate to it and perhaps get encouraged for change. But overall, this psychological aspect is a leading element throughout the whole series and it touches on many different traits that challenge a character.
Can you tell us a little about where the story goes in book two and when the novel will be available?
Book two is filled with new characters that will be extremely important later on; ones who certainly will confuse the reader, or perhaps even stir their curiosity. The story will be a lot darker than Haunt, a lot more challenging, and honestly, frustrating (in a good way). Haunt has a few hints in the story that will tie in with book two, but I guarantee it will be an entirely different form of journey readers will be taken through. As with all my books, it will start slow in the beginning for the sake of character development and world building, but there is going to be tension that will keep on building upon itself. Book two is titled CUR[S]E, and will be available on the 14th of February for Valentine’s Day, in caustic taste.
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Crime Has Many Impacts
Unthinkable: Who Kills Their Grandmother? follows the murder investigation of an 85-year-old woman, and the trial of her killer. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Unthinkable was important for me to write for several reasons. First, the crime involved our home. I believed then and now that this story had to be told. It’s not every day that you purchase a home with a history. Second, the book illustrates how ordinary people can be caught up in stressful situations, see no way out and have no one to confide in, and ultimately commit a brutal crime. I am convinced that the poor decisions engaged in by this offender could happen to anyone. I wanted the readers to understand just how powerful various situational dynamics can be and how they come together to lead to a horrible act, typically out of character for the perpetrator. Third, it was important for me to take the reader’s hand and walk them through the entire criminal justice process, from the crime to the investigation, to the courtroom, and to sentencing. Finally, it was very important for me to write about my relationship with the offender, which started out very casually and over time things turned “south”. I want readers to understand that writing true crime books often involves interacting with criminals, who in turn try to manipulate anyone who will listen to them. I admit that I fell for his innocence narrative and only when I did more research on the case did the events leading up to and including the murder truly expose who the real killer was. Readers need to know that getting close to the subject matter can sometimes be risky for the author. I have been around criminals and prisoners my entire professional career; however, we are all susceptible to manipulation.
I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
Crime has many impacts, seen and unseen. By far the hardest part of the book was to have the victims, or family members, discuss the impacts of this brutal crime on them, as people. I thought the best way for the reader to understand the consequences, or to put themselves in the victims’ shoes, was to have them read the actual victim impact statements as they were read in Court. I struggled with finding the best way to convey their loss. Reading about the victims struggling to explain how deep this senseless tragedy affected them, physically and psychologically, was gut wrenching but very real. I could have paraphrased their statements and eased their dramatic effect. Instead, I used the actual statements for every reader to think about. I want readers to know the seen and unseen impacts of crime in the family.
How much research did you undertake for this book and how much time did it take to put it all together?
This book required extensive research involving such things as analysis of court records, conversations with the offender and others involved in the case, and news media. The idea for the book originated at a neighborhood Christmas party in 2019, and the book was released for sale in October 2022. The actual research and writing time involved about 12 months, throughout 2020, and plenty of rewriting and reorganization in 2021. I also had six close colleagues read draft chapters and they provided me with critical feedback on content, style, readability, and overall accuracy.
What is one thing that people point out after reading your book that surprises you?
I have studied crime and criminals and punishment decisions for 30 years. People still have a hard time trying to fathom why someone would kill a family member. Readers tell me the standard line: “I read the whole book and I cannot understand how or why someone could murder their grandmother?” I agree with that statement to a degree. On the face of it, sure, it sounds too fantastic to consider. Murder your grandmother? The crime detailed in my book is completely understandable given the situation in which the offender found him self. The offender “fell into”, by his own making, a vicious, but powerful, downward spiral within which the murder was planned and carried out. My readers seem surprised this crime occurred; but in reality, after digging into the crime and analyzing the total situation confronted by the offender, it really comes as no surprise. Crime is part of daily life and there is no magic potion or special “booster shot” that serves as an antidote to criminal behavior. Many people (neighbors, friends, work mates, family members), in a similar situation, would have behaved similarly.
Posted in Interviews
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A Perfect Place For A Murder
Murder at Amapas Beach follows an American consul living in Puerto Vallarta who discovers a murdered woman while on vacation at the beach. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
For the last several years, I have spent considerable time in Puerto Vallarta and once took a similar outing (as described in the novel) to Amapas Beach which is located about 20 miles south of the city. Walking in the jungle toward a small craft village, I was struck by the setting—the overgrown trees and bushes and ominous twists and turns of the path. It seemed a perfect place for a murder.
More generally, I have always enjoyed reading fiction set in unusual places and Puerto Vallarta seemed to be a perfect location to set my Amanda Pennyworth series. The resort has a large indigenous population in the old part of the city, a sleek and expensive section for time shares and American and Canadian tourists, and a trendy quarter with night clubs and restaurants…and a large expat community. In other words, it’s a wonderful jumble of all sorts of people in a variety of distinct areas.
How did the mystery develop for this story? Did you plan it before writing or did it develop organically?
Because this is the third book in a series featuring the same amateur sleuth (Amanda Pennyworth, the American Consul to Puerto Vallarta), I already had my main character. The inspiration for her, however, came from a stint working for the U.S. State Department on their promotion panel. There I read hundreds of job descriptions and evaluations, and I was impressed by what embassy staff did in their foreign assignments. It seemed a perfect opportunity to create a character who had to negotiate two cultures.
In terms of composition, when I conceptualize a story line, I generally have an overall idea of the plot and I am pretty certain as to how it will end. But as I write, I find that some situations and characters develop in ways that I had not originally anticipated. That’s the greatest enjoyment in writing: the surprises that your imagination springs on you!
What experience in your life has had the biggest impact on your writing?
In the course of my career as an academic historian, I had the unusual privilege of teaching in a wide variety of locations abroad. The most important aspect of those assignments was the opportunity to experience very different cultures and learn about the ways that people spoke and acted. I think that any writer is also an observer—someone who tries, above all, to understand the human motivations. Above all, this seems to me to be the source of creating characters and the stories they inhabit.
What is the next book in the Amanda Pennyworth mystery series that you are working on, and when will it be available?
I have not begun the fourth book in this series, but trouble always seems to find Amanda Pennyworth, my amateur sleuth. And I am certain that it will happen again soon, and she will find herself struggling to solve the murder of an American tourist or expat living in Puerto Vallarta.
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The Creation of Marla Adams
Marla Adams is a police officer in her local town of Hildebrant, Texas. Her career and her life are thrown into turmoil when she is chosen to lead the investigation into recent murders. The townspeople of Hildebrant are overcome with fear when members of their community are found horribly slain, along with numbers cryptically carved into their skin. Following leads that take her half away around the world, Marla must fight to beat this killer before they put an end to her career, her life and her home.
The Creation of Marla Adams by Patrick Hanford is a riveting crime thriller. I was surprised at how much depth this mystery novel had. I expected a procedural whodunit, maybe a little darker than most, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a story that methodically both builds the mystery and then removes the layers. The details in both the world and the character development will show any reader that the author obviously cares about the world he’s building here.
The plot of the story is intriguing and it adds a surprising twist to the cop/killer story that longtime fans of the crime fiction genre will appreciate. It progresses at a nice pace and always gives the reader just enough to keep them engaged and intrigued; which makes it difficult to find a place to put the book down. I liked the characters because they had depth, but also because they were all vital to the story. There were no characters that made an appearance just to fill space. The titular character, Marla, is a fascinating protagonist with a complexity that makes her alluring. She was real and authentic and I found myself rooting for her to prevail.
I think where this story shows its strength is in its writing. It’s very clear, descriptive and concise, which makes it an easy but engaging read. The Creation of Marla Adams is a suspenseful murder mystery with an engrossing plot and a protagonist that readers will love to follow.
Pages: 302 | ASIN: B0B89BBWNW
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, crime fiction, crime thriller, ebook, goodreads, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, murder mystery, mystery, nook, novel, Patrick Hanford, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, The Creation of Marla Adams, thriller, writer, writing
The Dangerous Fringe Of The City
Last Stop Slumberland follows an average guy trying to get by who gets mixed up in a horrific crime and murder thanks to his deceased sister’s cryptic message. What was your inspiration for the mystery that must be unraveled?
One of the inspirations for the mystery was the old true detective magazines and a true-life serial killer in the 1950s who posed as a photographer for these periodicals to lure young models. At the time, Hollywood desperately tried to stay relevant as television took a huge bite into the movie business. I wanted to paint this picture of the golden era of Hollywood sinking into obscurity while a darker element of the town rose to the surface. My main character works at a movie studio among movie stars, as I did for several years, while his sister lived among addicts and criminals on the dangerous fringe of the city.
Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing, or did the characters’ personalities grow organically as you were writing?
I don’t really create outlines. So, my characters grow organically. I try to make them as colorful as possible. I get a concept in my head and hear the voice of a damaged but likable character, then jump in and see where it takes me. On the main character’s journey, I try to make the characters as colorful and interesting as possible. This leads to a lot of backtracking and revising, which consumes a lot of time. But it’s the way I like to work.
How do you balance story development with shocking plot twists? Or can they be the same thing?
I do my best to make them the same thing. I think the twist in the story should propel the action, revealing something we weren’t aware of, which either explains the events or raises their stakes.
What is the next book you are working on, and when will it be available?
My next novel is entitled; You Gotta Die Sometime. Set in the 1930s, during the great depression, a mild-mannered salesman goes to Los Angeles one weekend to receive an award from his employers. But things go sideways when someone breaks into his hotel room and tries to kill him. When his assailant dies in the attack, our man goes on the run, knowing that his dark past may have finally caught up with him. TBR April 2023
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, crime fiction, crime thriller, ebook, fiction, goodreads, indie author, Jay Parker, kindle, kobo, Last Stop Slumberland, literature, murder mystery, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing