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The Truth Is More Sinister

Chris Kelsey
Chris Kelsey Author Interview

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal follows a suspended police chief who is pulled into an old unsolved case that turns into a murder investigation with ties to powerful people. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

In a somewhat oblique way, the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre inspired this one. I grew up in Oklahoma in the 1970s, a time when explicit racism in the south (and I consider Oklahoma part of the deep south) was a way of life. I was in my 40s before I ever heard of the Tulsa massacre. Can you imagine something like that being covered up for so long? The coverup in Ain’t Nothin’ Personal is similar. The only African-American family in town has their house burned down. They disappear and people think they just moved away. No one talks about if for years, until an old racist makes a death bed confession and everyone realizes the truth is more sinister.

Emmett Hardy is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

Emmett’s a mixture of crime fiction/film archetypes: the plain-spoken dispenser of frontier justice in the tradition of Will Kane in High Noon or the title character in Shane; the enigmatic, emotionally tortured detective in Phillip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels; the socially conscious righter of wrongs that you find on Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowell’s Beck mysteries. I should also mention Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn in Tony and Anne Hillerman’s books, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire, as well as all the classic hard drinkers in noir literature, from Sam Spade to Phillip Marlowe to the twisted misfits found in every Jim Thompson story. What they all have in common (with the exception of Thompson’s creations), is their drive to do what they think is the right thing, regardless of the consequences to themselves.

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

Do the right thing. Love each other, love yourself. Greed is not good. Power corrupts. Be kind; we’re all in this together.

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

My next one is the fourth Emmett Hardy mystery, Junker Blues. It’s in the hands of my beta readers as we speak. It fast-forwards from where Ain’t Nothin’ Personal ends in the late ‘60s to the day Richard Nixon resigns the presidency in 1974. The OPEC oil embargo has rejuvenated the oil industry. Emmett’s Burr, Oklahoma is now a boom town. With the boom come ingredients for the inevitable bust, however—not least, an illegal drug problem and attendant violence the small rural community is ill-equipped to deal with. It’s scheduled to be released in June 2022 by Black Rose Writing.

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After a kidnap-for-hire plot results in the death of a young boy, Burr police chief Emmett Hardy blames himself and has an alcohol-fueled breakdown. His life at a crossroads, Hardy checks into the hospital for treatment, only to discover upon his release that he’s been suspended from duty. When a dying prisoner contacts him about a long-forgotten unsolved case, Emmett-temporarily at loose ends-begins an informal investigation.

Soon he becomes a target of violence himself, as his investigation becomes a murder probe implicating the most powerful men in town. Hardy is forced to relive one of the most traumatic events of his childhood, and faces the possibility that members of his own family may have been involved in the crime.

Ultimately, with Emmett’s tenuous grasp on sobriety slipping and his moral foundation shifting beneath his feet, the answer to the question, “Who do I trust?” becomes a matter of life and death.

The Women’s Meeting

The Women’s Meeting by [J. E. London]

The Women’s Meeting by J.E. London combines crime thriller, mystery, and psychological fiction to portray the cutthroat world of insatiable men, the shocking and uncomfortable aspects of humanity, and the irrevocable effect of devious crimes on the victim. Dr. Angela Morrison, a psychologist in Washington D.C., facilitates the women’s meetings at the Church with four women who all have been victimized by sexual exploitation, intimidation, neglect, and silence they restrict within themselves. She recognizes aspects of her mother in each of these women and aims to help them find themselves and their truth; however, she finds herself searching for her own truth, with the grim truth coming out in ways incomprehensible to both her and the reader until the very end.

This is an ensemble story, and each character feels both unique but relatable. The characters relive their experiences through flashbacks, recalling some disturbing situations and scenes, but each one has an essence of truth that carries a larger message. While Earnestine, Candace, and Toni may represent hapless and forlorn victims, I personally connected with Anita and her domestic abuse, but they all inspire remorse in the reader.

The message in the book that I feel should be embraced is the practice of will and determination combined with the aid of a therapist to come out of the dark past without solely relying on prayers and divinity to get us through it. Among the devious and disturbing stories of men deceptively dressed in angelic clothing, I appreciate that the author also showcases the trustworthy and humane side of the male gender. There is not only a relief for the women in the story to be around men like Kyle and Dr. Atkins, but I also felt they brought much-needed goodness to the story, representing that evil lies in intent rather than in man.

The part of the book that is uncomfortably vivid and made me squirm is the abundance of explicit descriptions of lustful passion, rapes, and sexual interplay with women and young girls. It is hard to believe that such conduct occurs in this world, so easily overlooked, affecting the victims’ futures and souls, but it does and the truth reflected in these stories is what made me squirm, not the literature that conveyed the message so skillfully.

From beginning to end this novel is filled with drama and intrigue. The revelation of Angela’s grim and unsettling secret at the end of the story caught me by surprise. While the novel is dark and reveals the unfortunate hardships hidden behind the glamorous veil of hypocrisy, it also conveys a message to be grateful for the taken-for-granted comforts of life such as family, friends, and shelter.

The Women’s Meeting is an emotionally charged story that is ultimately uplifting and always entertaining. I would caution readers as there is mature content in the book, but if you can handle it then I believe you are going to enjoy the intriguing characters and profound themes explored within.

Pages: 412 | ASIN: B081DNQCJT

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Redemption 2

Redemption 2: Allison's Revenge (The Mike Parsons Trilogy) by [Malcolm Tanner]

Redemption 2: Allison’s Revenge by Malcolm Tanner is the first installment in the Mike Parsons Trilogy Book series, Redemption, where betrayal and lost trust pave the way for intense action. Detective Allison Branch is seeking revenge, and Mike Parsons is fully aware of her covert-like ways. Her intentions are specific, but he must stay one step ahead and devise a plan of his own to gain the advantage. It is a question of strategy and determining when she will strike next.

The author dives right into the storyline and maintains a consistent pace, picking up where Mike Parsons will inevitably face the wrath of Allison, who will stop at nothing to plot against him. He must calculate how to survive the chaos that lies ahead and decide if there is a worthwhile journey towards redemption. Character development is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this series, and how each of them is layered to reveal many details of deceit and motives beneath. No one is left unscathed, as narration does an excellent job of showing the humanity of some and the maniacal, power-hungry vengeance of others. The story’s pace will keep readers engaged, with exciting twists and shifts and characters to keep the plot exciting and intense.

This is a definite page-turner that keeps the reader guessing and eager to discover what is on the horizon. The characters are deep and complex, which only draws you in more as you read. Redemption 2: Allison’s Revenge is well-narrated, with a thrilling plot, exciting and complicated characters, and suspenseful development that keeps you glued to the book and ready for the next surprise.

This is a riveting crime thriller that is relentlessly moving forward and gives mystery fans plenty of twists and turns and details to keep them fully engaged with this fascinating story.

Pages: 399 | ASIN: B0867P9M2S

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Winterset Hollow

Winterset Hollow keeps readers on edge throughout this riveting story. The author is expressive, entertaining and writes in an intriguing manner which really benefits this alluring story. Winterset Hollow is a great book to read if you enjoy suspense, drama, and plot twists all delivered with a good sense of humor. The construction of the plot, development of characters and the style of narration were all excellent. Jonathan Durham does an amazing job with his writing as he describes events and characters in a way that the reader can visualize.

Winterset Hollow will have you experience all sorts of emotions through the chapters. The book opens with a backstory on each character which sets up the characters nicely before we get into the depths of the mystery at the heart of this dark fantasy novel. I enjoyed how the tone of the novel slowly changes as the story progresses from cheerful to somber, but does so almost effortlessly, to the point where I really didn’t think about it until the story was over and I reflected on what happened.

Winterset Hollow follows the story of a group of friends that enjoy adventure and exploring. These friends have the best of times among themselves. Certain eerie events however have them questioning reality, wondering what is real and what is not. I love how curious they were and appreciate the author for making the characters diverse and relatable.

I recommend Winterset Hollow to readers that enjoy books that easily combine action, melodrama, and engaging dialogue. While I wish the story was a bit longer, I think this novel provides a fantastically refreshing mix of dark fairytale storytelling with a contemporary edge. With a lot going on and unexpected twists around every corner, the solid writing ensures readers always know what is going on in this captivating novel.

Pages: 326 | ASIN: B09F9YKSRT

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More Realistic

Author Interview
Deven Greene Author Interview

Unwitting follows Dr. Rosen who discovers an autistic man with information on a terrorist who is bombing public places. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I wanted to write a story about an autistic individual—not the high-functioning type usually portrayed in movies and TV. I wanted my character to be more realistic, representative of those who are severely impaired in terms of communication and social interactions.

Dr. Rosen is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Being a physician myself, I think she represents the ideals most physicians hold to be important. The large majority of those who go into the field have a strong moral compass and want to help others, so her behaviour wasn’t a stretch.

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

I wanted to show a realistic view of the difficulties faced by autistic individuals, and those who care for them.

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

I am working on the third book in the Erica Rosen MD Trilogy. This book will be called Unforeseen and deals with the pharmaceutical industry. I’m hoping it will be available mid-2022.

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

Dr. Erica Rosen’s world is turned upside down after a suicide bomber explodes amidst a large crowd entering Oracle Park baseball stadium, near her San Francisco home. Many are killed or injured, and police have no leads in solving the case.

Erica becomes involved after a teacher of young autistic men calls her. The teacher believes her students are involved in the bombing but is afraid to contact law enforcement. She reaches out to Erica, who has experience with special needs children.

Erica arrives at the school but finds the police already there and a young autistic man doing a jigsaw puzzle, oblivious to his murdered teacher on the floor. The young man has information about the mastermind behind the bombing but has limited ability to speak. Erica is determined to protect him, prevent further bombings, and find his missing classmates.

The Historical Conflict

Ross Davis
Ross Davis Author Interview

Friendship’s Gallop follows two boys who’s friendship is tested when the Cavalry attempts to purge the Indian boy’s tribe from the frontier. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for the setup was largely the historical conflict between Indians and non-Indians in America, especially back in the 1800s, such as the battles of Wounded Knee and the Little Bighorn, forced assimilation of Indians in Christian missionary schools, and so on. (Aside from such unfortunate conflict, there’s been instances of cooperation, such as the Navajo code talkers of World War 2, and the contributions of Indian performing and fine artists to American culture up to the present.)

Another inspiration was my experience living in South Dakota for a couple of years, where I befriended Indians from the Sioux tribes out there. Considering the potential to look beyond one’s own race or culture, despite the differences with someone else’s, there nevertheless exists a cultural universal—friendship. And a basis for this is that we’re all ultimately of one race—the human race.

The setup was initially written to be more benign, where David would first meet up with Painting Horse and Red Owl under friendly terms. Yet revising the setup to be more dramatic, involving a physical confrontation based on a misunderstanding, provided more of a basis or contrast from which to develop the story further.

Your characters are interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

A precursor to driving ideals behind the development of David’s or Painting Horse’s character was the innocence of youth: David and Painting Horse first met when they were in their early teens, when they were still somewhat in their formative years, and not so entrenched in adult ways—good or bad–of their respective cultures. This allowed for some flexibility in developing a friendship at that age despite coming from different cultures.

Beyond that, some of the driving ideals behind each character’s development, especially while they were in their teens, were that David and Painting Horse would likely still be trying to have fun as kids or young adults, while also trying to survive the more primitive life back then out on the American frontier. Painting Horse and David were essentially two main protagonists in the story, versus a customary tendency to have just one main one. It allowed for more intricacy in the story. While their friendship was a way to show commonality, their differing cultures was a way to show contrast. To give more nuance, Painting Horse was intended to be somewhat more stoic than David, given he contended with greater challenges later in the story.

The element of music entered into the story as a common way for the characters to communicate and bond, by performing their instruments together (music—“the universal language”).

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

Some of the important themes that I wanted to explore in the book was of course friendship, in addition to courage, culture, and history. I wanted to explore the potential to maintain a friendship even under life-threatening conditions that can potentially pit two friends against each other. That’s where courage and culture comes in: How much courage it takes to overcome the risks of being stigmatized or more if one goes counter-culture to sustain a friendship if it’s really important to do so. And it becomes more of a test as David and Painting Horse meet up years later as adults, when they become more entrenched in their ways relative to their own cultures. And going back in history makes the story more interesting in an exotic yet still down to earth way: Back then it wasn’t the majesty of driving a new SUV, but rather riding a capable horse, which of course was a historical fact of everyday life back in the late 1800s. The story is loosely based on historical fact, so it also can be sort of a lesson in American history.

Ultimately, while the book invokes history involving Indians and non-Indians in the American West in the late 1800s, hopefully a reader can appreciate the themes such that they can also apply to the more recent past or even today.

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

I don’t have a next book in the works at the moment, as far as fiction. It’s conceivable that Friendship’s Gallop could be expanded beyond a short story to something approaching a full-length novel; it depends in part on the level of reader interest in an expanded version.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

A homesteader’s son and a Lakota Indian boy become steadfast friends
through music, horsemanship, and simple adventure. However, their friendship is ultimately tested as they are forced to choose sides amid the Cavalry’s attempt to purge the Indian boy’s tribe from the frontier.

A Second Time Round

Rosemary K. Tompkins
Rosemary K. Tompkins Author Interview

The Classy Squad follows a widower who hires a helper which unwittingly sets off a lustful neighbor who begins to worm her way into his life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I became inspired to write the dolls into the script after my husband who knows how much I love dolls came home with a picture of a clients dolls collection and on having a bit of writer block at the time decided to include the dolls in a novel I was writing, I’m hoping my readers will recognize my sense of humor.

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

I wanted to convey to people over 60 who lose their husbands or wives to never give up on life or loving a second time round. And that the widow/widow did not have to suffer just because his or her wife or husband has passed on.

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

At the moment I’m working on a novel called Secrets of Coventry cottage. This is a young Adult Book. I’ve nearly completed it.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

It is time to move on. You will never forget her, but you must live your life.

Floyd has been hearing this a lot lately after losing his wife Betty a few years back. So much around their house reminds him of her – from the furniture to the garden, to the beautiful dolls room she created where dolls and other toys lounge around in wait, for another adventure.

Realizing he needs help around the house, Floyd puts an advert out and hires the lovely Mabel. This sends Irene, a neighbour of Floyd’s, into a tizzy, as she has had her eye on Floyd for a while.

With Irene scheming to worm her way deeper into Floyd’s life by any means imaginable, she will soon come to realize that Floyd has protectors that no one knows about. Betty managed to bring the dolls and toys to life many years ago, and together with Jane and Jack, Mabel’s great-niece and -nephew, they work together to defeat the villainous Irene.

With love on the line, can they defeat the house sitter’s nemesis?

Beautiful Poetry And Evil Intent

H.M Roberts
H.M Roberts Author Interview

Breaking Birds is a riveting crime thriller told completely in poetic verse. What inspired you to write a story in this style?

As a mum of three I sometimes find it hard to find the time to sit down and lose myself in a good book. I’ve read a few different ‘novels in verse’ and found them really easy to read as you can dip in and read a poem in a few minutes whenever you get chance. I’ve been wanting to write my own poetic novel for a while, I just didn’t know which genre until I started to write! I loved the idea of the juxtaposition between beautiful poetry and evil intent.

What were some sources that informed this stories development?

The whole process was completely organic. I had the idea to write the book from the viewpoint of a killer. The gender in my mind was originally a male lead but I realised about a third of the way through that it didn’t need to be. I then rewrite parts so that the character was deliberately ambiguous-I’ll let the reader make their own decision.

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

I wanted to explore the contradictions between having this poetic soul and yet the overriding madness that leads to murder. To look at how what could start as well intended affection could lead to obsession and cruelty.

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

I will be writing a prequel to Breaking Birds although there is no release date yet. At the moment I’m working on a historic retelling of Greek mythology, something in a much more comical style and a light relief from Breaking Birds.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

A chilling psychological thriller written entirely in poetic verse.
Just because you have the soul of a poet, doesn’t mean you can’t have the heart of a killer.
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