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Exposure to the Underside

Brent Kroetch Author Interview

Brent Kroetch Author Interview

The Biggest Little Crime In The World is the third book in the popular Ham McCalister Series and follows the lives of two Las Vegas Homicide detectives turned private eyes. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?

This one flowed naturally from the book before. Although each is written as a standalone so that they may be read in any order, the ending of each at least hints at the start of the next. In this case, the wedding between Drew and her beloved superstar was foreshadowed and thus the book began as such. And that led to the story arc, a rather natural extension of the characters and their responses to life, incidents both good and bad. The denouement arose from the investigation and, though the why and the who were a surprise to me, the ending was at least partially suggested by the plot outline developed before writing began. And it did tie nicely to the series, I am pleased to say.

When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

I love this question because it’s the foundation that makes writing such an enjoyable endeavor. The answer is that in this book, as in each I’ve written, the players never cease to surprise me. They say and do as they please, and take the plot in directions I had not anticipated. That despite the rather extensive plot and character outlines. It’s so much fun to run the other way from that which was anticipated. In sum, the characters act it out and they and they alone dictate the plot development.

I love the dynamic relationship between Drew and Ham. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

Drew and Ham are complicated by their exposure to the underside of life. As homicide detectives for the Las Vegas police department, they saw and experienced more that most of the underbelly of society. Both are imperfect characters in that both are inherently honest and rigidly law and order, yet both are not above bending the rules when the circumstances, as they see them, warrant the dishonesty therein. And both struggle with that dilemma, the eternal battle between that which we see as ideal and that which we refuse to allow, no matter the moral cost. It is a constant struggle for both, as each seeks truth and justice, rewards for their efforts, conviction of the guilty and protection for the innocent—this while refusing to bend to niceties when evil rises before them. Erasing evil, to the both of them, takes precedence over a simple genuflect to the rules.

What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?

The next book is The Curious Case Of Ham On Wry. It follows Ham and Drew as they try to exonerate their client, U.S. Representative Harold Wry from a charge of murdering his Washington intern. I expect the book to available sometime next summer.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitter Facebook Website

The Biggest Little Crime In The WorldHam McCalister and Drew Thornton, Nevada’s most accomplished private detectives, are on the hunt again. And this time it’s personal…

Shots ring out and two find their mark, just under the arch that declares Reno “The Biggest Little City In The World.” A crime, an assassination that the press will dub “The Biggest Little Crime In The World.”

That very day Ham McCalister had walked his dearest friend and business partner, Drew Thornton, down the aisle to wed her rock superstar betrothed, Russ Porter, one of the frontmen of the legendary band Truckee River. In that happy moment, what neither he nor Drew could have foreseen was the sudden tragedy that would greet them on the streets of Reno, mere minutes after the wedding bells chimed. For there, under that iconic arch, Russ Porter falls victim to an assassin’s bullet, along with an unknown second casualty.

While Russ is tended to at Reno’s finest medical center, by the state’s finest physicians, Ham and Drew race to uncover the who and the why behind the unspeakable evil unleashed in the aftermath of the wedding of Drew’s dreams. And then exact a revenge that she will personally inflict.

What they find, what they don’t’ expect, what they finally uncover, is The Biggest Little Conspiracy In The World.

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A Dialogue For Change

Ben Burgess Jr. Author Interview

Ben Burgess Jr. Author Interview

Black and White is contemporary novel focused on interracial couples and the stigma they endure. Why was this an important novel for you to write?

I felt with everything going on in the world today, this book was needed. I want this book to help improve the world or at least get people to start talking and create a dialogue for change. The world can be an ugly place and I wanted to show that ugliness so that people can also appreciate the beauty.

The story is set in a city filled with crime and focuses on the animosity between black communities and the police. You take a balanced perspective in your story, do you feel that is something that is lacking today?

I feel there is mistrust on both sides when it comes to the Black Communities and the Police. I feel that both sides need to work on change and the only way that can happen is with dialogue. I want this book to help. I’m an NYPD Detective and I feel that it’s important that Cops acknowledge that there are some cops who are prejudice and pray on minorities but at the same time it’s important that minority communities don’t assume that every cop is corrupt and prejudice. I feel society forgets that cops are people too. I feel that sometimes some cops become so calloused from the job that they began to see minorities as bad. Balance is the key to everything. Understanding each other helps also. I talk to communities often and sometimes after I explain certain situations to the crowd, they understand things better and have less animosity. Sometimes the community members help me see things differently than I do through the lenses of being a cop. In order for the world to get better, we all have to change.

Did you put any personal life experiences in this book?

I put some personal life experiences in all of my books. “Ben”, “Ebony”, and even “Bill” and “Becky” are all parts of me. At times I felt like Ben where I felt my own race believed I wasn’t “Black” enough and I was too “Black” for some White people. I know the struggle of dealing with the public at protests like Ebony. I’m an NYPD Detective. Like Ebony, before I became a Cop, I hated cops and I became one to make a difference in the world. I’m heavily involved in urban communities and I’m in an interracial relationship. I’m similar to Becky because I wrote this book to change the world. I wouldn’t want to alter it or tone it down. I love this story the way it is and my writing is important to me. I’m similar to Bill because I grew up in Queens Bridge. Despite growing up in a low-income family, I didn’t let my environment hold me back. I’m also a huge basketball fan and play regularly. Some of the situations and even dialogues in the book I have actually had or have been involved with. I like to put some of my real experiences in my stories because I believe it helps them feel more authentic.

What is one thing that you hope readers take away from Black and White?

I want readers to understand that we all have biases, we all have assumptions and stereotype, but it’s important not to base our actions and decisions on these things. It’s important to get to know people and not assume that a certain race is all the same. I want people to read this book and understand that love is love. It doesn’t matter what race your partner is, be with anyone you love. I also want people to feel comfortable in their own skin. Ben and Simone were examples of two characters that struggled with that and it’s important to know that until you have love and appreciation for yourself, you can’t truly do the same for someone else.

What is the next novel that you are writing and when will it be available?

My next novel will be a story celebrating the strength of Mothers. I’m writing a story about three different types of Mothers in three different situations and I’m calling it “Mothers.” I hope to have the novel out in time for Mother’s Day.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Black and WhiteWhen the prestigious law firm of Wayne, Rothstein, and Lincoln catches two major cases—a rape case where a White NBA star allegedly raped a Black stripper, and a murder case where a Black rapper allegedly killed a gay couple and two policemen—Bill O’Neil and Ben Turner are tasked to handle these racially charged litigations. The cases hit emotional chords with the two lawyers and force them to reckon with their interracial relationships and families. Will the racial tension of their cases destroy them or make them stronger?

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Going Gone!: A Trackers Novel

An intricate scheme to abduct the children of the most powerful politicians on Capitol Hill gets disrupted when Kerry Branson, ex-homicide detective turned private investigator, inadvertently rescues one of the victims on a fog-laden backroad in the Piney Woods of East Texas.

When Kerry discovers the six-year-old boy is the son of a U.S. Senator kidnapped from his Austin home, her call to the FBI is just the beginning of her problems. Pursued by a ruthless band of mercenaries who seem to know her every move, Kerry is forced into an uneasy alliance with the agent assigned to the case, FBI Tracker Ryan Barr.

As the abductions continue, their search for the children will pit Kerry and Ryan against a formidable adversary who uses his wealth and political power to cloak a psychopathic obsession. His manipulation extends deep into the government even to the Office of the President.

A horrific plan slowly emerges—one that has drug cartels and terrorist groups lined up to cash in.

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Sentinels of the Night

Sentinels of the Night: A Trackers Novel by [Dickason, Anita]

Sentinels of the Night is an action packed novel based on a tracker Cat Morgan. Dubbed the “witchy woman” by others, Cat Morgan is a mysterious and alluring character that is helped by forces beyond her understanding when finding murder victims. A chance encounter with a body in a dumpster leaves her meeting a handsome and rugged police officer, Kevin Hunter. Kevin is wary of her flimsy excuses for how she finds her victims and pushes aside his attractions in order to get her out of town. But life has other plans as Cat is drawn into a killer mystery where she finds herself a potential target for a crazed murderer. Will Cat and Kevin be able to work together to catch a killer or will Cat be another victim?

Sentinels of the Night, written by Anita Dickason, is a fast-paced mystery novel that involves the FBI, rituals and killers that make your skin crawl. Mysterious owls, fragmented dreams and sexy police officers join together to form a murderous jigsaw puzzle.

The new tracking team Cat joins is a group of fast thinking, switched on agents who each have their own unique attributes that they bring to the table. Their abilities reminded me a little of “Criminal Minds” and I loved seeing how their inexplicable skills join together to fight crime. They work hard and Scott, the boss, respects their unique perspectives and theories on the killer. Cat fits right in with the team however some begin to suspect how she comes up with pieces of evidence that become crucial to the case.

The story flicks between the perspective of Cat, Kevin and the killer, giving us an insight into how the killer thinks and acts. This only serves to build tension throughout the story and helps create the creepy and sadistic image of a murderer. The switch between characters also provides a small relief when the story line begins to ramp up in the eyes of a killer as he begins to hunt for his next victim. Anita Dickason’s description of the killer is one that will play on your mind for some time!

Anita Dickason is able to mix together a plot that is sexy with a dash of action, supernatural and mystery. I found the combination made the novel easy to read and hard to put down! I thoroughly enjoyed the tension that builds between Cat and Kevin and was eager to learn how their interactions would proceed further than a professional working relationship. The dynamics between the two mean that they often think on a similar wave length, which helps when Cat is trying to slide in clues that she has discovered through alternative means.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a whodunnit style novel with a dash of romance and mystery! Sentinels of the Night is the perfect novel that will be sure to tick all of the boxes for any fan of crime.

Pages: 296 | ASIN: B06XK9PS3B

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Dead Men Walking

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

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

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

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

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Good Old Fashioned Heist

Quintin Peterson Author Interview

Quintin Peterson Author Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

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

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Dead Men Walking

Dead Men Walking (Nate & Clare Book 2)

Dead Men Walking, written by Kwen D Griffeth, follows Detective Nate Burns as he deals with the ramifications of a previous case that led him to fight for his job whilst he is suspended from the force. Meanwhile, Nate’s personal life is on the rocks as Clare, his wife, reveals that she is unhappy with their marriage and the anger that surrounds Nate on a daily basis. Between fighting for his marriage and career, Nate finds himself involved in a case involving a mysterious man, a bullet and a whole range of unanswered questions. Will Nate be able to save his relationship, his job and still solve one of the most complicated cases he has encountered?

Dead Men Walking begins with a intricately described murder scene that will leave nothing to the imagination. The reader will be walked through the exploding bullet, the impact and finally the target. You are given the impression that these details are important and the vivid imagery will be one that doesn’t leave your mind for some time.

Dead Men Walking is the second novel in the series and in this book we are shown a side of Nate that is normally hidden away. Nate starts to get in touch with his emotions as his love for his family and wife are brought to the surface. Old wounds will be exposed and history will be revisited in an attempt to heal the turmoil surrounding Nate. Dead Men Walking once again shows us that men and women in the police force are people too, who feel and experience the tragedies they encounter daily in order to protect our families. At times the story line was quite emotive and made you consider the impact of what everyday people are experiencing in order to keep us safe.

Between Nate dealing with his old demons and family problems, he is exploring a case of a mysterious man who has basically been labelled as a “well dressed homeless man” with no identity. The case is quickly slipping into being closed with the force running low with murder investigators but Nate is determined to find out more details. This launches the story into a whodunit style police investigation and the reader will be kept on the edge of their seat as clues to the puzzle are uncovered.

The story line is smooth, the writing vivid and the characters complex. Griffeth has a beautiful way of describing a scene and every intricate detail without drawing away from the plot line or boring the reader. Never been inside a police station or seen how their operations work? Dead Men Walking will take you through the inside, allowing you to visualize the physical attributes of a police station as well as the mental and emotional parts of those who serve. You will also be treated to the other side, where criminals in jail show their softer side as they desperately want to help their family.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a crime story mixed with a dash of romance and adventure.

Pages: 350 | ASIN: B071FLPQZ8

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The Assassin’s Trail

The Assassin's Trail (Sean Kruger, #2)

Once again we are plunged into the world of Sean Kruger and his particular brand of justice in The Assassin’s Trail by J.C. Fields. While reading the first novel in the series is not necessary, it does provide excellent backstory for those who like to know everything. We follow Kruger once again as he gets pulled into another debacle. While he might groan about it, Kruger is excellent at his job and his reputation precedes him. With such greatness comes great expectations. Can Kruger deliver? Or will the case be his undoing? Hold on tight for a wild ride as we follow our favorite FBI special agent as he hunts down his prey. Fields shows us crime drama at its best: twists, turns and heightened anticipation for the good guy to win. The question then becomes, at what cost?

You can tell this is not Fields’ first time writing a book. A lot of attention and care went into the crafting of this story. A complication that can arise when writing a book in a series is losing track of subtle details and hoping your readers don’t notice. Happily, there is none of that in this installment of the Sean Kruger novels. The way Fields’ crafts the world of Kruger is deliberate and very well done. There is no shortage of action and readers will find themselves glued to the pages in order to find out what happens next. Some true crime stories can lag in the middle or when there is no action present making them almost a chore to read. You won’t find that here and even if crime drama isn’t your thing, this is a hard book to pass up. It’s not filled with useless jargon or procedures and policies only die-hard fans or those who work in the field can understand. This was truly a piece meant for the reader.

What makes a good story in this genre is suspense, action and realism. If the crime is too outlandish or the way the criminal is discovered is too unrealistic it can ruin the entire experience for the reader. Fields understands this and crafts the tale to reflect that. Readers will need to prepare their hearts for the twists and turns in this book as Fields’ expertly dangles disaster in front of us. There are no complaints about this easy to read and equally easy to enjoy story.

There is so much to gain and so little to lose from enjoying The Assassin’s Trail by J.C. Fields. The action is well paced and the story doesn’t suffer for it. The realism makes our main character, Sean Kruger, that much more relatable. While he is a special agent with the FBI he really just wants to enjoy his life. That is something we can all relate to. Kruger doesn’t seem able to catch a break on the work-life balance of things. Things will come to a grinding halt though as Kruger is faced with the greatest decision of his career. Is this the end of Special Agent Sean Kruger? You’ll have to read it to find out! You won’t be disappointed.

Pages: 317 | ASIN: B01JAW1VI8

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The Fugitive’s Trail

The Fugitive's Trail

Suspense, intrigue and subterfuge. An agent chasing a fugitive who knows more than is healthy for him. What begins as a cat-and-mouse game evolves into a spectacle that is sure to entertain all readers. The Fugitive’s Trail by J.C. Fields appears to be the first book in a series centering on the skills of Special FBI Agent Sean Kruger. His son now off to college we meet Kruger as he sells his home and moves into a condo where he hopes to just relax and quietly move about his business. Relaxation is not so easily found for our agent. No sooner does Kruger make a romantic connection with his attractive neighbor than he is pulled into a man-hunt. Will Kruger catch this so-called fugitive and bring him to justice? Or is the thought of justice much more subjective than previously thought?

For a debut novel this is a fantastic piece of work. Any reader can tell that a lot of time and effort went into crafting this adventure. Fields has done his research in this area of crime fiction and it all feels quite realistic. Understanding how major organizations like the FBI, CIA or even the local police department work can be a daunting task for a new writer. Fields is clearly comfortable with this topic and has either studied or done enough research to become so. What’s unsettling with this genre is the matter of how loose-lipped certain agents can be when they are in the comfort of their home with their significant other.

Fields does a great job describing the scenery, particular points of interest and characters in general. The main characters in this particular book have their back stories fleshed out under the pretense of first-dates. Instead of feeling forced, this is a natural stage for such information to be shared. A clever trick indeed.

If there are any drawbacks it would be when Fields describes the race of a character. Using such phrases as ‘the black guy’, ‘the white guy’, or the ‘girl of Asian descent’ seems rather bland in comparison to how he describes other aspects of the book. Opportunities to describe a characters skin tone with more grace are missed here and it grates hard to read such a stereotypical and flat profile. Other parts of the character are described with more elegance which is what makes this particular aspect stand out.

If you are looking for an adventurous crime-drama where the elements of surprise and intrigue hide around the corner then The Fugitive’s Trail by J.C. Fields is a must-read. Quick-paced with easy to digest chapters and interesting characters you can’t go wrong by adding this to your collection. Besides, aren’t you curious to see just what happens when Kruger does catch the fugitive? The delectable twist shouldn’t be missed.

Pages: 307 | ASIN: B00WS00FW8

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Finding and Convicting the Killer

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

The Tenth Nail revolves around a homicide detective Nate and his new partner Manuel as they work together to solve the murder of a beautiful young woman. Where did the idea for this novel come from? 

I spent several years in law enforcement both as a civilian and military. I carry a deep pride and love for the officers of today and respect what they have to survive. Much of that challenge is to survive the emotional impact of witnessing just how ugly and cruel people can be to each other, day after day. I don’t think the story of the true impact this has on officers has ever been told. Over my years in law enforcement I witnessed too many officers die emotionally. This death could be seen through sexual affairs, abusive drinking, physical violence, reckless behaviors, and even stealing. A quick tally to illustrate this is I knew five officers who died while “on the job.” Two of them died in the line of duty, and three of them died by their own hand. The Tenth Nail is an attempt to introduce the stress of being a cop to those who don’t know.

One of my primary goals when I write a story is to get the reader emotionally involved. Via, the victim of this book is introduced as a common street walking prostitute. A kind of victim that is easily forgotten relatively quickly in our society. In these days of limited budgets and overstretched manpower, she represents the kind of crime that is soon to be a cold crime if not solved in the first few days. Nate, the lead detective assigned to the case, shares a private moment with the dead girl and due to a shared injury promises her he will bring her killer to account for her death. This sets up conflict from many directions. The fact is, if it’s not another girl, who killed her, or her pimp, the odds of finding and convicting the killer of a prostitute is difficult, at best.  The department wants Nate to shelve the case to free him to handle cases with a higher possibility of solvability. Manny, Nate’s new partner, and new to homicide, wonders if he should request another training officer. The more he is pushed to release the case, the more resistant Nate becomes.  He refuses to break the promise he made to the dead girl.

The Tenth Nail is a edgy crime novel that throws readers right into the action with a murder in the first pages. How did you balance mystery with answers with crazy twists?  

I grew up reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and I was determined to solve the case before the “great detective.” My mother and I watched hours of Raymond Burr as Perry Mason and we discussed the cases as the show progressed. To balance the mystery without giving the story away to soon requires work. Truthfully, I hope I got the job done.

Detectives Nate and Manny are entertaining and intriguing characters that I felt were well developed. What was your inspiration for their characters and their relationship?

Nate and Manny are combinations of several police officers I have known over the years. I admit that both carry a little bit of me in them, as I have been in both positions as senior and junior partner.  I wanted officers (in all cases) who represented more than just the stereotype of cops. I also expected the same from the other characters. One of my favorite scenes is when Manny arrives home after a day much too long and he is still adjusting to his first murder, his first victim, his first expose to Nate and all the rest. Selma, his heavily pregnant wife allows him to lay his head on her lap and stretch out on the sofa.  When he kicks off his shoes, she scolds him for wearing socks with a hole in the toe. To me, that is the center of the Tenth Nail, trying to balance extreme violence with complete love.

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

My next book is called Dead Men Walking and it is a continuation of the story of Nate and Clare. Several of the characters from The Tenth Nail will return though the are many new ones as well. The plan is to release the book by early summer.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Twitter

The Tenth Nail by [Griffeth, Kwen]“Nate knelt beside the dead girl. This wasn’t his first homicide, it wasn’t even the first dead prostitute he’d investigated. It wasn’t the first strangling death he’d been assigned to. But, this one bothered him.
Maybe it was her youth, she appeared to be in her early twenties. Maybe it was her looks, as death had yet to rob her of her beauty. Maybe she reminded him of his own daughter, Lizzie, who was only a few years younger. Maybe it was something else entirely.

The big detective looked over the body, careful not to touch or disturb her. He had one of the best crime scene technicians, Winston Rawls, and he did not want to make his job harder.”

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