Pink Slips is a riveting tale of one woman’s desperate plight to keep her loved ones safe, even in the sights of a mysterious stalker with an unsettling amount of determination. From the outside looking in, good-humored Betsy seems to have it all – a beautiful home, a dapper and doting family, a successful career as a gourmet chef, and even a fabulous little furry companion. Still, looks can be deceiving, and in the complex life of Betsy, a storm is breaking. Author Beth Aldrich masterfully weaves the unbounded strength of family and friendship into the tense mix of danger and pursuit, making this as heartfelt as it is chilling.
Truth be told, the emotional personality of this novel had me enamored immediately. The story opens warmly, inviting you directly into Betsy’s thoughts as she gleefully ponders over the fresh news of her first pregnancy. Her inner monologue is so charmingly real, and it was easy to imagine her gossiping to me with excitement for the little bean just beginning to grow within her. Unfortunately, life is often a blend of both miraculous beauty as well as senseless cruelty, and as Betsy is strolling through a parking lot, she’s interrupted by a mugger fixated on her handbag. This encounter feels as tragic as it does plausible, as raw moments like this unfortunately happen every single day. Reading along, my eyes began brimming with tears as I absent-mindedly gnawed off the tip of a fingernail. Aldrich has made such beautiful work of tapping into Betsy’s personal thoughts, gripping me with her fear in that moment. As the first chapter came to an end, I found myself hurriedly turning the pages, awaiting the fate of our beloved mother-to-be.
There is a famous saying to the effect of “What does not kill you makes you stronger,” but in tender Betsy’s case, stronger would be better replaced with “paranoid”. Years of meditation have served to soften the edges of her anxiety, but some trauma you just never fully recover from. When suspicious pink notes begin arriving in her life boasting threats, Betsy is forced to revisit the fear of that fateful night in the parking lot. She has worked diligently to create the loving and comfortable home around her, and it’s no surprise that she isn’t willing to let that be endangered twice. Again, I found myself furiously chewing at my own nails as I cheered her on, anxious of the long list of suspicious characters possibly behind the ominous pink slips. Luckily, Aldrich writes with a bright wittiness that balances the heaviness of the theme, or I wouldn’t have had any nails left by the end.
Aside from being endearing, this story is also incredibly digestible, despite being so darkly thematic at points. I read it in a mere two sittings. I really can’t pen enough praise for Aldrich’s cheeky and personal writing style. Even in the throes of a deranged stalker, each main character sports such flavorful personality that the novel stays warm and engaging throughout. I can’t wait to catch another title from this author.
Pages: 267 | ASIN: B071LKC325
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Glossolalia is a thrilling ride through the mind of a woman who is seemingly normal but her life slowly unfolds to reveal something bizarre. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?
I have a keen interest in mind control of individuals, and the way controlling each individual can effectively affect a large number of people. All my life I’ve studied in depth the methods that agencies such as the CIA has historically used, and they often have manipulated people’s interest in the occult. And that seems like a topic rich with dramatic fictional possibilities, especially for Psychological Suspense, in which gaslighting is such a common element.
I know I love that electric shudder I get when realize something is not what I thought it was, when I’m just starting to put the pieces together and it’s first making sense, grim as the truth may be. I wanted to give readers that entertainment as well.
Nancy, is like many women at first, but she suffers from narcolepsy and has an addiction to pills that she is trying to kick. How her character unfolds and develops is fascinating. What was your plan as you wrote Nancy’s character?
The only way she can explain her fugues at first is to believe she has narcolepsy, but when she discovers what she does during her periods of amnesia, she realizes her problem is something entirely different from that illness. Similarly, she thinks she’s addicted to the pills to keep hallucinations and delusions at bay, but once she manages to stop taking them, she realizes her visions have been actual memories.
My plan with her was to create an anti-hero who finds a way to redeem herself while staying true to the dubious skills she’s been taught all her life. And she gives readers a way to inhabit the sympathetic victim as well as to perhaps develop compassion for people who are compelled to commit violent acts. In a way, she stands for all of us, because everyone has fallen prey to disinformation at some point, and thus has been an unwilling promulgator of it. And all of us have some chance at heroically redeeming ourselves for that, though of course, I don’t promote violence in any way.
There are a lot of fantastic twists in this novel along with a variety of surprises that kept me turning pages. Did you plan the novel before you wrote or did the story develop organically?
I planned it out to make sure all the plot points, pinch points, act breaks and all were in proper order. However, as I wrote it, I got new ideas for twists that were great fun to conceive of. For example, Brandon the YouTube conspiracy journalist with gigantism wasn’t in the completed first draft. Just as much as I enjoy the shudder of realization, I love the feeling of coming up with new plot twists. It feels delightful.
Glossolalia is book one in the Agents of the Nevermind series. Where does book two, Remember to Recycle, take readers?
People who like Glossolalia will probably like Remember to Recycle because it falls within the same genre categories including Conspiracy Thriller and Political Thriller, and while book one focuses on how coups are created, book two focuses on how proxy wars are created. In both cases, the emphasis is on how intelligence agents deceive the public into going along with the terrible treatment of other countries for profit motive, while pretending it’s for humanitarian aid.
Glossolalia referenced our society’s history, particularly related to intelligence agencies, as a foundation for the series, as well as a pattern of coups that’s been recurring for a very long time; Remember to Recycle specifically addresses what’s happening right now. It goes into all the types of trafficking that go along with war, which is the secondary meaning of the title.
However, the first meaning of the title is more obvious, because a major character is Dave, a homeless man who survives by going through people’s recycling bins and selling the stuff, like all the other guys on the street. But he comes up with a brilliant plan. As in Glossolalia, there’s a darkly humorous aspect to it, and he provides a lot of that. He was really fun for me to write, especially as it’s first person present tense, while he describes his life moment by moment to the “character” he affectionately calls Mr. Interrogator. He’s got a hell of a personality. He likes to wear a wide variety of costumes that he keeps under the bridge, and fancies himself an actor of sorts. He idolizes the Rescuers, who are based on the White Helmets.
No one but her uncle would hire Nancy, considering her habit of snapping out of amnesiac fugues, wondering where she got her bruises and the scent of men’s cologne. When she sees a crime of poison in progress at the company, she chases the truck carrying away the chemical legally deemed too toxic to use or to dump. Her pursuit leads to a convoluted world of political intrigue, esoteric rituals and an arcane Elizabethan spy code, and assassinations she never imagined – though her imagination is what holds that world together.
This conspiracy novel introduces a young woman with an ambiguous past involving herself in a killer organization with one layer after another of her psyche. DARK, even possibly DISTURBING ROMANCE, is key to finding elusive authenticity.
The old cartoonish formula of good CIA VS bad guys no longer is fresh and relevant. Though through a fictionalized agency, the books in this series, like Barry Eisler’s spy thrillers, explore the shady side of the CIA secret psy-ops, covert experiments, illusions, coups, media theater, psychological warfare, and illicit methods of funding. The Agents of the Nevermind series dares to explore the edgiest controversies and the convoluted lives intelligence agents must endure as they create bizarre delusions for the world in order to hide the truth about their nation’s financial foundation.
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Nancy is like any woman in the prime of her life; active, engaged with hobbies, and busy with a normal day job. But underneath the surface, she is anything but ordinary. Plagued with a strange form of narcolepsy, Nancy can’t help but feel the grip of forces other than her own. With her uncle’s seemingly gracious help coming into question, she is soon exposed to the world of government conspiracy, mind control and espionage. It’s up to her to find out who’s behind it all, but can she get a grip in time to save herself and others?
Tantra Bensko’s Glossolalia is a thrilling and bumpy ride through the mind of a woman who comes off initially as relatively boring and normal. She’s crushing on a co-worker and at the mercy of jokes from her cube mates. She has her hobbies, piano and karate, and a good friendship with a girl named Alyssa. After Nancy’s parents died mysteriously when she was younger, her uncle Geoff took her into his care and provided her with a stable job at his corporation. Plagued with fugue states and narcolepsy her whole life, her uncle has also been giving her a steady supply of pills that she can’t seem to break her addiction to. She starts to question her uncle’s intentions and in an effort to break free from him and the pills, she coincidentally starts to reveal Geoff’s much darker agenda for her.
Initially, I began to question Nancy’s motives and her own sanity. The writing was quite scattered and jumped around enough to make me wonder if Nancy was just in a constant state of a psychotic break. In one moment her mind was scrambling for answers and in the next it was calm and reasonable. It took quite some time to figure out the relationship between Emily, Angela and Nancy, but the slow reveal did add to the suspense. Nancy’s tenacity and constant questioning of her life kept the book moving along at a nice pace. And there is plenty of references to the Nevermind, the CIA, MKULTRA, and other government groups which helps to build the psychological suspense of the novel.
Pages: 250 | ASIN: B01I8SLVTY
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If The Bed Falls In is a psychological thriller about a man that suffers from hallucinations and dissociative identity disorder. What research did you do on psychological disorders to get the intricacies of the condition correct?
Years ago one would have to spend days in research at libraries and relevant institutions to get the information needed. Today we have the magic of the internet. I personally use a writing program, Scrivener, that allows me to attach all my research and web pages right into my project. I am also fortunate that one of my friend’s fathers, here in Spain, is a senior neurosurgeon.
The two personalities in the story are competing; one a photographer and the other a secret agent. Why did you choose these two lifestyles to tell this story?
Tom is a depressed photographer, unhappy and stuck in a life he neither enjoys nor values. He longs for something else. And then Joseph turns up; a top MI6 assassin ready to challenge authority and change the world. Be careful what you wish for, Tom!
In this book I felt that there was a lot of exploration on the realms of hallucinations and the idea of a person beginning to lose sight of reality. What interests you in the subject?
I have suffered, all my life, with an often debilitating depressive disorder. This together with my love of Quantum Physics and the nature of reality, has lead me to write many stories about the nature of reality from a physical and philosophical perspective. It bloody fascinates me! The novel I have been working on for years, is a deep, dramatic investigation into the nature of reality. It started as an interesting short story, but is now a major novel called, Being. There is only one reason it is not available right now, I only have around twenty thousand words on paper. It is a huge undertaking, and I chip away at it from time to time. If I manage to complete it, I think it will stand as my most accomplished work whatever I have done before or will do after it.
While writing the two characters, Tom and Joseph, who were you rooting for? Was there a character you were hoping would prevail or come out as the ‘real’ person?
I can’t answer this question without spoiling the story. Tom is wonderfully complex and Joseph such a flawed hero. I love them both.
What is the next book you are working on and when can you fans expect that book to come out?
If The Bed Falls In is the first in the Bedfellow thriller series. Book two is called, As Mad as Hell, and continues to uncover the power-crazed, greedy manipulations being enacted on all of us by the banking/world government cartel. I am currently at thirty thousand words (just over a third of the book) and hope to complete it by the Spring/Summer this year (2016). As with If The Bed Falls In and my debut novel, Conversations with Eric (a comic thriller for people who take their humor seriously!), As Mad as Hell will be available in both Kindle and paperback from Amazon.
Middle-aged photographer Tom Friday’s cocaine addled brain is playing tricks on him. After a series of increasingly horrifying hallucinations, his life starts to flip between normality and a frightening alter-ego; a renegade British secret agent working against a corrupt MI6. As his psychological torment intensifies, he is plunged into a world of conspiracy, espionage and murder. He is alone and can trust nothing he sees. However, as hard as he tries he cannot remember what his plan was or how he was going to carry it out, but more to the point, is he really an MI6 agent or simply Tom? He is a man in two minds; are either of them his?
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Tom Friday is a middle-aged photographer, and an ex-cocaine addict whose mind is playing tricks on him; he has begun to experience terrifying hallucinations. He tries to cope with these delusions while also trying to make sense of them, but Tom’s cocaine-hangover plummets him into a world riddled with murder, conspiracy, and espionage. However, his alter-ego, that he becomes in his hallucinations, believes he has come up with a solution to the dire problems of the world, and unlike Tom, is willing to take the risks necessary to put things right, but his mind is as addled as Tom’s, and his plan is always a little out of focus. Slowly, Tom, the photographer, begins to believe that his alter-ego (Joseph Miller, an MI6 agent) is reality, and that Tom is the hallucination, but how can he be sure what is real. He races against time to discover who he truly is, and what he must do to succeed and come out alive.
If The Bed Falls In by Paul Casselle is the first book in his Bedfellows thriller series. If The Bed Falls In is a chilling psychological thriller that attaches itself into your subconscious and refuses to leave. Paul Casselle is a story-teller who deftly weaves his tale into a thrill ride of a page turner. He creates multilevel characters that remain with the reader long after the book has been closed. His characters leap off the page and scream to be heard.
Casselle explores the realms of hallucinations and the idea of a person beginning to lose sight of reality, as well as the world of dirty government manipulation. The novel contains graphic scenes and strong language, but those elements add a realistic depth to the story. The atmosphere of the story would honestly be altered if those elements were withheld; the story would lose its intensity. Casselle perfected a realistic world that is unparalleled in other novels. The book starts out slow, but then as it progresses through background story it begins to pick up the pace. Casselle spends a good amount of time setting up the tone and atmosphere of the story through descriptions and dialogue. The descriptions are so vivid and detailed that the reader feels as if they are amidst the turmoil watching Tom struggle to find the fine line between reality and fantasy.
I would highly recommend this book, but keep in mind there are scenes with adult content some readers may find offensive. Anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller would enjoy this book as well as anyone who likes a governmental conspiracy type of book; the magic is in the blending of the two genres. If The Bed Falls In: A Man in Two Minds; Are Either of Them His is a book that is difficult to put down.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B019MONHMM
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In this gripping psychological thriller, author Mary Ann D’Alto tells the story of a man who looks perfect on the outside but is pure evil on the inside. Aaron Stein is an incredibly successful fertility specialist, and using his unique skill set of medical knowledge and his easy access to insecure and frightened women, he is able to serially psychologically manipulate and physically harm. But his sin doesn’t come without a price: we first meet Stein while he literally stands on the edge of suicide, prompted by his guilt and shame. When Aaron’s latest victimization takes an unexpected turn, will his sweet cousin Constance be able to get him through? Or will his crimes catch up to him?
Personally, I had a very hard time putting this down. I started out thinking I’d just a read a little before bed, and before I knew it, it was four a.m. and I was finished. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the lack of complexity in Aaron’s Stein’s character: the clean-cut, successful psychopath is such a trope at this point that Aaron’s movements at times were a little predictable. Things that were maybe supposed to shock, like his callous responses to the pleading of his victims, his incredible success as a doctor and external perfection, and his internal turmoil over whether or not he’s actually evil, have all been done in Patrick Bateman, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and tons of other “perfect psychopath” roles. But while this irked me a little, it may be an attractive quality for other people. After all, tropes are tropes because they resonate with readers on some level.
What redeemed this book from a potentially predictable route was the quality of the writing and the uniqueness of Mary Ann D’Alto’s voice. Typically, literature that features the “perfect psychopath”—The Silence of the Lambs, American Psycho, etc.—tends to have the same very succinct, bare, and matter-of-fact tone that reflects how an actual sociopath thinks. Writing in those types of books tends to stay away from too much internal doubt, expanded description, or floweriness. He Counts Their Tears is a rare exception, with D’Alto sparing no ornate description: “the dark brown coffee made a huge puddle on the pale grey rug. Aaron stared at it, and in his mind it was the [spoiler!]’s blood, and he was sixteen again. Instinctively, he wiped his hands on the tablecloth, and in doing so caused the cloth to move. As it moved, one of the glass candlesticks fell onto the table, its flame creating a small bonfire in the pinecone centerpiece” (Page 51).
D’Alto is also extremely skilled at creating genuine connections between her characters, and, unlike many other psychological thriller authors, keeps her list of connections short and meaningful. Without going into too much detail, the relationship between Stein and his cousin Constance is masterfully drawn out from childhood until the end, and we are provided just enough detail to fill in the meaningful gaps ourselves.
Overall, I can’t recommend this one enough. Whether you’re a regular reader of psychological thrillers, fascinated with psychopaths, or just looking for an addictive read, this is definitely the novel for you.
Pages: 196 | ISBN: 1457541858
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