A small-city newspaper publisher lies on his deathbed, unable to speak, looking at his eldest son in hate and heartbreak before he dies. A phone call commences a cross-country journey to a bloody destiny for a man who has existed in the shadows most of his life. Years in the past, a man’s desire to save his family’s legacy leads to an unthinkable deal with a devil, one that will one way or another destroy lives. And private investigator Randall Arthur must race against time to discover a long-held secret and to protect a family from utter catastrophe.
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Mystery readers who love New York: this book is for you. Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery introduces 25-year-old Finn, a fifth-generation police officer from a family that reveres the NYPD. When an unlucky accident ends his NYPD career, Finn becomes the next best thing: a Private Eye. Finn’s new career is off to a rocky start, complete with threadbare office and octogenarian assistant. Luckily, Finn quickly moves beyond the so-called “cavalcade of crazies” and stumbles into his first serious case. Follow Finn as he searches for a missing person who NYPD claims is not missing at all.
In Missing, Robert L. Bryan explores duty, loyalty, and friendship. He also plumbs the depths of vice that simmer in the city: corruption, greed, and crime. Bryan hits his storytelling stride as the details of the case unfurl. The plot moves quickly with confounding clues, hints of danger, and a parade of compelling characters.
Bryan has a knack for provocative characters. Finn’s apparent lack of self-determination can be frustrating—he seemingly rode a conveyer belt from booties to NYPD blues—but he develops into a likable main character. Early client stories, like the time Finn tailed a cat, are charming but lose something in bullet point format. The reader groans when Finn’s most pressing professional dilemma involves a desk chair and cheers when he finally lands a case.
Still, Finn is inscrutable. Other characters respond to him with generosity and affection when he shows none. I think the women in Finn’s world would benefit from added nuance; they are often one-dimensional. Finn’s father is a bright spot: unwavering in his support and helpful when Finn needs it most. We should all be so lucky.
Fans of the boroughs will enjoy devoted descriptions of Queen’s minutiae. Every intersection is noted, every landmark observed. Do I see a Finn Delaney walking tour of Queens in my future? Yes, please.
The book doubles back at times with Finn uncovering clues already revealed; in one notable situation, Finn hits upon the lynchpin of the case twice in seven pages. The book is lightly sprinkled with errors in grammar and punctuation. Despite these minor distractions, Missing is a satisfying mystery and a good read.
Pages: 197 | ASIN: B07L9DBXDN
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Detective Alex Hunter stumbles into darkness after a drunk driver careens into his wife and daughter, killing them instantly. Off the force, two years pass and he lands in private investigations and the edge of the underworld. When Arthur Garland offers him just the kind of job he can’t turn down, all hell breaks loose. Not only is Garland’s past unsettling, he is also the owner of a new property Alex is buying on Crystal Creek. He’d been turned on to the sale by a mysterious figure so now with every nerve firing and red flags flying, the wiry detective has a mystery to solve – one that he is already in too deep. Discovering how this all started with a detective not unlike himself over a century ago does little to soothe his soul. Then, and now, the answer to the mystery of Crystal Creek may lay with a phantom man wearing an old black hood.
CS Caspar’s novel, Hoodie Black, starts out with a tone not unlike an autobiography told in first person. The supernatural, however, has already come knocking within the first page. Deft descriptions of street trash mingle with demons from the start, I was taken with this dark view of the world. With a distinctive noire flair, the tale unfurls smooth as a red carpet making it easy to stroll on in to this tale and take a seat.
Harkening back to the best Twilight Zone or Creepshow stories, there are ghastly legacies, surreal paintings, tales regaled and of course much of that creeping darkness to be found. And not to say that lightly, Hoodie Black starts out with so many of the genres fairest delights like this so it easily hooks any fan of mystery and horror. On top of all the modern notes this story hits, there is an ancient foundation like something from the Brothers Grimm or older fables, the storytelling quickly becomes deeply layered, making any reader curious how it is all going to converge and when. Truly one of the more remarkable tricks is creating tension simply with that idea – how will this converge and when – CS Caspar has accomplished this tension in the first fifth of the novel.
For some, the tiptoe between a hard-boiled thriller and fairy tale or religious elements may be off putting. The tone may take a little to get used to once the book is at full speed since we are so accustomed to being in one state or genre instead of three at once. For those that enjoy genre-bending dark fiction, Hoodie Black is a very fun read. Culminating in battles between the very ideas of good and evil we are taken between first person narration and a more comfortable third-person point of view. The landscapes and surreal time-bending lend themselves to being wrenched from one mode of storytelling to the other and this should keep the most finicky of readers rapt with attention.
Pages: 219 | ASIN: B07M74MVB9
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Is That Your Aunt in the Attic? is a creative fiction novel that focuses on the characters of Edna and Edith, two sisters that are private investigators. The sisters have traveled across the country to get away from the wrath of an escaped convict whose plans to murder were foiled by the sisters. The ladies travel to San Francisco to get away and visit family, but they still find themselves as a target for the mobster’s hitman. What comes out of it is a strange sequence of events that proves how resourceful the sisters are in solving problems and getting answers to their questions.
One of the aspects of this story that I enjoyed was the whimsical situations that Edna and Edith seem to get themselves into. The authors, Barbara Fletcher and Cheryl Gauthier, are mother and daughter, and at the beginning of the novel, they mention that some of the events that take place in the novel are somewhat true and have happened to them in real life. I liked that disclaimer, because as I was reading the novel I could more easily picture some of the silly events that were happening to the sisters actually happening to someone like me and my sister. Some parts of the novel induced a good chuckle as I read them.
The only thing that I thought took away from the novel was the small talk that Edith and Edna made with each other. For instance, they would bring up a memory of a saying from their father or mention something weird or funny that they did a long time ago. In a way, the small talk adds a more realistic value to the novel; however, it seemed out of place and took away from the overall plot and momentum of the story.
Overall, this was a fun book and I would love to read another novel in this series.
Pages: 262 | ASIN: B0794PB8FR
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Man with the Sand Dollar Face is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a thriller, mystery, and crime fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I wrote the rough draft for Man with the Sand Dollar Face in less than twenty-four hours without concern for where the story was going or where it would end. I have written like this before, and I have always found it to be a wild and thrilling experience similar to watching a heart-pounding adventure movie. I laughed at Hattie’s antics and cried over the tragedies she faced.
Hattie is a quirky widow in her sixties when she pursues clues that get her caught up with drug traffickers. What were some themes you wanted to explore while writing her character?
Some of the themes that came through were issues of tremendous importance; for example, compassion and personal expression. Hattie was like a quirky aunt that you could not help but love. I wanted her rambling thoughts to drive the reader crazy as they unknowingly became emotionally attached to her child-like innocence.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character to explore was Vic; he had a complex personality that was at times compassionate and other times terrifyingly brutal.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I am currently working on the revisions for an adult fiction that delves into Quantum Physics that I hope to have ready for release in 2019 along with a sequel to Man with the Sand Dollar Face.
Hattie Crumford, a quirky widow in her early sixties, takes her first job answering the phone in a private investigator’s office. Running a little late one morning, she discovers an agitated man pacing at the office door. He insists he must see the PI immediately. In the midst of his anxious demands, he clutches his chest and collapses. Shocked, Hattie runs for help. Upon returning, the man has disappeared. Detective Hugo Gabby and Hattie’s boss, Wallace C. Woodard, are skeptical and dismissive of her story. To prove it’s not her wild imagination, Hattie sets out to find the missing manusing only the cryptic note he left in his place and his last words as her clues.
Meanwhile, the private investigator is onto something and tells Hattie to retrieve a disc in his file cabinet, which must be delivered to the police immediately.
When Hattie returns to the office the next morning, she’s met by two men who usher her out at knife point and drag her into a waiting limo. Abducted and held hostage, she’s drugged by her captors who are trying to get the mysterious disc.
As the story unfolds, Hattie Crumford finds herself embroiled in an international drug trafficking ring. Everything hinges on the man with the sand dollar face.
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Dead Air follows Glenn, a security guard investigating the murder of his friend who was shot while on the air at a radio station. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
Like Beck, my high school best friend owned a radio station. He sold out before being shot, however. The only constant we have is change. Commercial radio exemplifies that change.
Radio was born to play the music that record companies were trying to sell. It soon become the primary form of entertainment for Americans broadcasting the early soap operas. Then came rock and roll. Talk radio attracts a wide range of demographics. Interestingly, I graduated from the same school as Alan Freed, who coined the iconic term Rock and Roll.
Beck struggles to put the past behind him and move forward. The murder at the station was a perfect analogy of transformation as Beck seeks the killer.
Beck is investigating the murder of his friend Zito, who we slowly learn is not who Beck thought. Did you plan this slow reveal of Zito’s backstory or did it happen organically while writing?
Beck and Zito’s friendship started as teenagers. In the decades since school, they have drifted apart. Life leads people down many paths. We become more guarded, reluctant to share the many secrets with those we depended on in youth.
The victim is an important character in a story. Murderers rarely plan to kill without a motive. There must be a reason to want that person dead. All mystery plots boil down to one of three motives, love, greed, or to cover up a crime.
The investigation of any murder, real or fiction, is a slow process. Investigators don’t know the full story immediately. People conceal secrets, they lie. The search is a painstaking pursuit to reveal the skeletons in the closet.
I think of this novel as a whodunit story that puts fascinating characters in interesting situations. Are there any scenes in your story that you had fun writing?
Beck and Irene, his romantic interest/partner, track his missing client to a hunting cabin where she is being held. Nothing in his white-collar career has prepared him for this confrontation. They are fighting through thick woods and underbrush to reach the cabin while carrying guns.
In order to survive, he must physically subdue a hired enforcer and be prepared to kill if necessary. Beck has become a hard ass with a chip on his shoulder. He comes to the epiphany that Irene is the love of his life and he must protect her at all costs.
This is the scene where he recognizes the past is behind him. What the future holds he doesn’t know.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am writing the second in the Glenn Beckert series, Dead Secrets. In this tale, Beck mistakenly dismisses a missing person case until the body is found on the river bank. Beck endeavors to track the missing time of the deceased’s final hours and find the killer. He is quickly immersed onto the dark web where the secrets of artificial intelligent are a commodity. As a further distraction, Beck’s perplexed by a startling revelation by Irene, creating further conflict for him. He’s searching for a killer in a world where secrets stay secret or you die. Dead Secrets will be available in late 2018.
I have just completed a short story, Who Swiped Bobby Bucco Bear, a Christmas mystery featuring Glenn Beckert. I plan to have this available next year.
Dead Air signals trouble at the radio station. Glenn Beckert discovers his high school best friend is shot in the head while on the air. Beck, the owner of Blue Water Security, is employed to provide security for the station.
He becomes willingly embroiled in the investigation by the not-so-innocent widow. The list of potential suspects is long, gleaned from the numerous extramarital affairs of the victim and widow. The pending sale of the radio station has created friction between his now dead friend, Richie Zito and the major stockholders. Motives for murder becomes increasingly murky after the search reveals an encrypted file on Zito’s laptop.
Beck enlists the help of an old flame, Irene Schade, to break the code, revealing a money laundering network leading to the financial and political powers of his beloved city of Pittsburgh. Their collaboration ignites the flames of passion each had considered extinguished.
A former college teammate, police Lieutenant Paglironi delivers a message to back off. Arrogantly, he ignores his friend’s advice. The threats from less friendly sources are more ominous, forcing Beck to move in an unfamiliar world. A startling revelation from his client forces Beck to deal with his inner conviction of right and wrong, challenging the gray areas of his ethical principles. Betraying his client’s confidence could expose the killer. The alternative is to confront the suspect and take matters into his own hands. Either way his life is in jeopardy.
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Sometimes the past declines an offer to stay back there. Past lives will often come right around to haunt and demand closure.
Braxton Snow left his village life behind. He often feels out of place in the big city but no matter. He loves his Furlton life. He may have been a village boy but the city has embraced him. His life is not perfect but he loves it still. His private investigation practice feeds, clothes and houses him. He is dating a beautiful white tail jackrabbit. His family would never accept Joanna, to them she would be dinner. However, this is not a matter of concern. His family is not part of his life anymore. She is beautiful, funny and she cares about him, which is all he wants out of a life partner.
Braxton’s life is pretty silent save for the occasional exciting case. One day Catharina Nelson seeks him out for his investigation services and the course of his life changes, unbeknownst to him. The red fox hires him to find Oscar Sullivan. Oscar is an archeologist who is looking into the mystery of the hairless apes which has gone extinct. The case seems pretty open and shut but in the preceding days, it gets more and more complex. For one, Braxton is not the only one searching for this man. This would not be a problem if both parties were on the quest with the same goal in mind.
With the case’s complexity comes danger. Soon, Joanna becomes a target for these dangerous characters. Braxton finds himself back in the hands of the family he abandoned and is not well received. This is a problem not only because of their treatment of him but also because they are a threat to his beloved’s life.
How far will Braxton have to go to save his fiancé? Will they survive the trip through the glacier?
Danny Estes presents a book filled with mystery and suspense. The characters are animals but the reader will barely notice their animal quality. This is due to their deeply illustrated personalities. The story is captivating and gripping and every description is vivid. The opening of the book gives us a look into Braxton’s life and grounds the background so that it becomes believable. You get a sense of his usual routine, which makes the case coming his way much more exciting, because you understand what he’s left behind.
Braxton Snow is written in first person narrative which is quite impactful to the reading experience, but it’s still an easy read that I enjoyed because of it’s unique perspective. The tone is informal and lighthearted. Conversations between Braxton and Joanna are especially heart-warming and so ordinarily special.
Braxton Snow P.I. is targeted at a wide audience exclusive of children. Don’t think that this story if for kids just because there are animals in it. This is a thrilling adult story for anyone who enjoys action, mystery and fantasy along with some steamy romance. This book is an enjoyable read. Definitely deserving of five stars.
Pages: 203 | ASIN: B073TGWGYS
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Icarus, by David K. Hulegaard, is the first book in the Noble Trilogy and is the captivating account of Miller Brinkman’s investigation into the disappearance of one Jane Emmett. When MIller, a former deputy-turned-private investigator is approached by young Jessie Fryman, Jane’s best friend and confidante, he reluctantly, and unknowingly, involves himself in an age-old conspiracy rooted in the U.S. government and spanning the continents. Brinkman, a writer himself, is reunited with his true love, Charissa Burke, after a 15-year separation and is able to easily pick up where they left off a decade and half ago while working together to find Jane, identify the men in black, and discover a truth neither of them could have imagined exists.
Set in December of 1947 in Ashley Falls, West Virginia, Icarus, has all the makings of the tale of a wayward P.I.–at first glance. Random mysterious notes appear for Miller, gradually revealing bits of information hinting at Jane Emmett’s true fate. From the greasy spoon diner to the crooked small-town sheriff, Hulegaard has managed to include it all. Don’t jump to conclusions, though. Hulegaard has knocked it out of the park with this first in a series. Even with its little homages to the private detective pieces of old, he has fashioned a unique take on the mystery and has crafted a plot like no other.
Miller Brinkman is one in a long list of memorable characters, and the author paints exceptional pictures of each and every one. Beginning with Jane Emmett, herself, Hulegaard draws the most tangible sketches of his cast. Alyssa Noble, the seemingly small cog in what becomes a much larger wheel of inconceivable circumstances, is drawn so effectively in the narrative she seems to almost stand upright on the pages before the reader’s very eyes.
Hulegaard is phenomenal with the English language–truly. I don’t often find a book of this genre I feel compelled to complete in a single sitting, but Icarus, without a doubt, takes this title. There is much to be said for an author who can rope readers in within the first paragraphs–Hulegaard does just that.
One of the most compelling elements of Hulegaard’s work is his finesse with the flashback. Placed at intentionally strategic points throughout the book, they give insight–but not too much–into Jane’s whereabouts and the seriousness of her predicament. Each perfectly-timed detail in the backstory revolving around Jane’s disappearance sets the stage for a thrilling read. In addition, the author creates a beautiful blanket of emotion around Miller and Charissa with snippets of their conversations from years gone by.
Without a second’s hesitation, I am giving Icarus 5 out of 5 stars. Any mystery fan, fan of science fiction, or lover of the private detective style of writing of the 40s will lose him or herself quickly in this piece. There is no doubt in my mind Hulegaard is going to see a huge return on the investment of time he has placed in his Alyssa Noble series. Icarus is simply stunning–a must-read.
Pages: 233 | ASIN: B01MTZZVZA
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Dead Air: A Glenn Beckert Mystery by Cliff Protzman is a thrilling mystery story. Glenn “Beck” Beckert runs the security for a radio station where his friend, Zito, from high school works. While this friend is working, he is shot in the head. Beck finds himself involved in the investigation and it turns out that the list of suspects is fairly complicated. Far more people had motive to murder his friend than he anticipated. The widow and the victim were both unfaithful, giving plenty of motive. He was also on the outs with the radio station stockholders that were looking to sell. Then Zito’s laptop uncovers a mystery all of it’s own.
Beck finds Irene, an old love, to help him unlock the mystery of Zito’s laptop. The laptop reveals even more than they both could have expected. Meanwhile, they start to realize there is still chemistry between them. Add in both mysterious and not so mysterious threats on Beck’s life, and you have the premise of this thrilling novel.
I felt like this novel did a fantastic job of utilizing a standard mystery format to deliver a thrilling and engaging story. A ‘whodunit’ novel that develops fascinating characters and puts them in some interesting situations.
I enjoyed the depth of each character, which is important in building suspense in a mystery novel. Cliff Protzman has fully realized characters with their own personal quandaries about right and wrong, which is refreshing. So many writers create characters that don’t adapt and flow through the story. It’s nice to see someone really put some thought and love into their character development.
What has really made this novel enjoyable is the way the mystery unfolds. It felt like the murder victim had many layers that Beck was slowly peeling off, one by one, only to find that the person at the core wasn’t who he appeared to be. In a way, many of the characters were that way. Each having their individual things they wanted the world to see, but as the story line and the investigation continued, we get to see the real person underneath the facade. Some of those people were nothing like what they wanted everyone else to believe they were.
Dead Air: A Glenn Beckert Mystery by Cliff Protzman is a well written dark murder mystery novel. The story was easy to follow with twists that I could follow. Get yourself ready for this novel; it was a fun read.
Pages: 321 | ASIN: B0765VNM1K
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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.
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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