Remember To Recycle explores a twisted state of dystopian society run rampant with political tension and censorship as experienced through the eyes of a sordid slew of characters. How did you decide on the starting point for this novel and how did that help create the rest of the story?
Thank you for asking. I based the novel on current reality based on in-depth study of foreign policy and traditional patterns of involvement by intelligence agencies who use propaganda to skew public opinion toward a military agenda.
I began the book inspired by the guys who go through my recycling bins to take what they can sell; I made a recycler character who has a clever scheme to take what he learns about the people in the neighborhood that way. The idea made me chuckle, and I wanted to see what kind of goofy brilliance he might display. I also had often joked around with a housemate about the empty buildings across the street which are owned by the church. We’d see people go in and never come out. I was also inspired by our jokes about the counter-intuitive business choices of the local ice-cream truck driver. The truck indeed broadcasts the recording of a scolding woman’s voice, just like in the novel.
Though entertainment is the ultimate point of the book, my main serious goal with the book is to balance the propaganda about the White Helmets, though characters in the United States who had hear the stories about a group like them on the nightly news or watch the Hollywood movie about them.
This novel follows the introduction to Nancy and her relationship to the Agents of the Nevermind in book one, Glossolalia. Nancy has done sordid things in her past, but she was forced into it. In this book, she’s again given the chance to be a hero and make amends for her role in political intrigue, even if it means using the dirty skills she was raised with. Some methods are so dirty, she hardly even lets herself know just how sordid she can be. But like all the other POV characters, she has a good heart.
I chose the beginning scene because it was cinematic, with the dramatic contrast arising from Nancy relaxing at her unusual dwelling, chuckling at the anomalous sound of the ice-cream truck that never seem to make any sales. That prepares us for dark humor in the book. She’s being startled by the loud sound of a hard snowball smashing the glass of the window beside her head. She puts on her costume when she realizes someone outside might be looking at her, so we see how she’s been living “underground,” hoping no one recognizes her, in a somewhat primitive location, but someone mysteriously is communicating with her.
She finds a painted rock inside the snowball and the image reminds her of herself and her one friend, a lovely artist named Becky. Nancy has followed another such anonymous note to lead her to Becky in the past. So that beginning creates questions about the dynamics of some major characters, as it sets in motion Nancy’s sleuthing, and involves the reader in the mystery.
I remember the excitement of thinking of the snowball, with ice-cream and a rock inside, at the beginning. Most of the book was already written, but that image created a colorful motif that I went back and inserted through the novel. It was gratifying the way it drew a lot of elements together.
You’re able to weave together the intricate lives of a ragtag group of characters. What themes did you want to capture while creating your characters?
I focused on the theme of the heroism of examining and exposing social engineering, and the difficult choices, nobility and sacrifice that can entail.
I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?
I appreciate that. I’ve been writing all my life, as well as studying the form, not only for my benefit but for my students, as I teach fiction writing and edit manuscripts. I’ve explored a variety of genres; psychological suspense, which is the overarching category all the diverse books in the series fall into, fascinates me because of human psychology making propaganda and other forms of deception easy and bewildering, creating the need for answers. I love the feeling of figuring out the answers to such mysteries, such a rush, a shudder. It’s the perfect genre to dramatize the ability of intelligence agents working behind the scenes to gaslight the public. So, I read and watch movies and TV shows in that genre a lot, to understand what works best. I’m always studying more about fiction and screenwriting techniques. I learn as much from the screen as the page, and organize my books like movies.
This is book two in the Agents of Nevermind series. Where will book three take readers?
It continues the theme of the Agents who combine deception, mind control, blackmail, and occult practices. I’ve been including history about that intersection in the books, returning to certain historical figures such as John Dee and Edward Kelley, and their use of Enochian language as a spy code as well as an attempt at magick.
The novel is called Encore, and is Gothic. A highly-acclaimed performance troupe has a special requirement to make their shows work: the audience can’t be aware if any of the actors are replaced by a standby (similar to an understudy.) Their resident hypnotist, Dune, who is rumored to be an Agent of the Nevermind, accomplishes that by hypnotizing the standbys to believe they’re the actors they’re mimicking, and even coat their own auras with the residuals of their actors.
His wife is the star, but must leave the troupe due to cancer. Her standby and Dune have strong chemistry. He kidnaps her while she’s hypnotized to believe she’s his wife, and takes her to an alchemist’s castle. Underlying the story is the real history of a few powerful countries’ competing mythologies meant to gain supporters for them in wartime.
I hope this book will move readers to appreciate themselves for who they are.
What if the homeless men going through your recycling know more about your life than you do? Like who is going to die. One of the recyclers, Dave, wearing disguises he keeps under a bridge, memorizes the information in people’s bins. He, like many others, idolizes the Rescuers, a supposedly neutral, unarmed humanitarian aid group in a Balkanized country, as the possibility of WWIII looms. The Nevermind Agents lie on the evening news to garner support for proxy wars. They say the Rescuers are unarmed, neutral, and giving humanitarian aid to a Balkanized country. Their movie about them is a blockbuster. Rescuer costumes are the bit hit for Halloween. But it’s time to unmask them. And that requires a plan so ingenious, even the planner can’t know how it’s done. Living not far away from Dave’s bridge, Becky donates generously to the Rescuers, making her finances even more insecure. She doesn’t know what to think when she finds things in her apartment moved slightly. The toothbrush is wet. There’s a stain on the ironing board. The cat food is nearly gone. Is it her imagination? Is someone messing with her mind? Could it be Stan, breaking in because he loves her? He certainly loves putting her body into mysterious BDSM contortions for their videos. But what’s that muffled moan she hears in the background when she calls him on the phone? Becky hires her friend to spy on Stan. The woman has gone underground since escaping from the Nevermind; she wears a wig, and a mask meant for burn victims. She has traveled across the country to befriend Becky, taking a chance on an anonymous message recommending she do so, though she doesn’t yet know the reason.
A Thriller for Thinkers
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East of Mecca,by Sheila Flaherty, details the journey of Sarah Hayes from a wife and mother of two to a woman forever changed by her time spent in Saudi Arabia. Set in the 1980s, Sarah’s story begins when her husband Max, a highly-motivated but fairly unstable man, accepts a job with Ocmara, a lucrative oil company, and moves his family overseas. Sarah and her two young children soon experience oppression, fear, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness as residents of Al Hassa. Sarah’s life in the Middle East spirals out of control as she fights to keep her family together and save the life of a woman she never expected to adore.
Though I have fought hard to avoid the cliche, I have to say East of Mecca is a book I could not put down. From the moment Max tells Sarah of his job offer and their impending move, Sarah’s experiences flowed awkwardly with all the grace of a line of shaky but properly placed dominoes. I found myself holding my breath and waiting for the next collapse of Sarah’s world. At every turn, I expected her world to crash around her and ached alongside her while she slowly realized that her passport was not her own, nor were most of her choices–least of all her ability to work or make decisions.
Flaherty paints a bleak picture of life in Saudi Arabia while at the same time giving credit to its purity and breathtaking beauty. She manages to build a type of fear in the reader that I have yet to experience in any other book. Sarah, a strong woman in her own right, is the ideal character for the setting and events Flaherty creates. As I watched her virtually unbreakable spirit tested page after page, I was able to visualize with frightening ease the true depth of suffering and shocking brutality endured by women within the culture. Watching Sarah feel herself falter and face her own vulnerabilities drove home the plight of the other wives of Ocmara’s employees and the Saudi women. The author reveals heart-wrenching details of abuse and a sense of control by males that seems to spread like a virus to those who linger long enough within the country’s borders.
Sarah’s gradual meeting and ensuing friendship with Yasmeen is stretched throughout the storyline and keeps the reader yearning for just one more tidbit–one more clue. Flaherty manages to provide an element of mystery with Sarah’s sightings of Yasmeen, aloof and lonely on the beach, and then masterfully weaves it into a tale of two friends sharing a common bond of love and tragedy.
I am wholeheartedly rating East of Mecca a 5 out 5. Within its pages lies a tale all too true and far too common. There is an education of sorts to be had from absorbing oneself in Sarah’s utter desperation and final rebellion. The first person account is a must-read for women everywhere and a reread for myself. Flaherty’s Sarah and Yasmeen represent two ends of a spectrum, two cultures, yet they are one.
Pages: 300 | ASIN: B00FMY2CWI
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Mari Reiza’s Triple Bagger is the intricately woven story of one man’s experience in a company that takes him everywhere but leads him nowhere. Triple Bagger goes far beyond the story within a story format to reveal Vittal Choudhary’s correspondence with an editor eagerly awaiting the completion of his work. Reiza’s Vittal, the main character, reveals the intricacies of the corporation for which he worked in a first-person account alongside excerpts from the story he struggles to complete. Vittal, a man determined to work his way upward through Enterprise despite his growing displeasure, gives up more than most to succeed.
Mari Reiza has bravely addressed the corporate world with her novel Triple Bagger. She includes distinct images of cities around the world–Rome, London, New York. She has completed quite the narrative on the loss of oneself within the complexities of ladder-climbing and the desire to succeed. Vittal Choudhary, the central focus of the book, is a relatable character. His confusion, his desire for more, and his dissatisfaction with the things his life has afforded him make him a character I found frustrating–a feeling that does tend to create interest for me as a reader. Anyone who has ever felt even the most temporary disdain for his or her profession will relate to Vittal as he grapples with accurately telling his experiences within his own written account.
Reiza takes both meanings of “triple bagger” and manages to fit them neatly into the multiple storylines of her very involved novel. As Vittal writes, he addresses the definition as it pertains to one’s looks. The remainder of the book, the part in which Vittal details his life with Enterprise, builds on the interpretation of “triple bagger” as a corporate success story.
Though eloquently written, I found the style of Triple Bagger to be challenging. Reiza has chosen to include Vittal’s personal narrative along with letters to and from his editor, Nuria Friedman, in addition to text from the story Vittal is constructing. The jump from one perspective to the other and back again was challenging to follow. It is almost a story within a story within a third story. The constant shift between perspectives creates obstacles that detract from an otherwise memorable main character.
In addition to a complicated format, I found the rather large number of acronyms and long list of characters to be a bit overwhelming for the book’s length. Though each acronym was appropriate to the storyline and emphasized the absurdity Vittal felt with each of his positions as he made his way through the ranks of Enterprise, I felt they were too numerous from beginning to end. Reiza expertly defines a series of supporting characters. However, I found myself floundering a bit to recall each one’s particulars as the story progressed.
The plot itself has the potential to be much more gripping. Vittal’s disdain throughout the majority of the book is obvious, and the fact that he remains bewildered as to his corporation’s overall purpose is not lost on the reader.
Pages: 414 | ASIN: B06XWT55YW
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Remember To Recycle explores a twisted state of dystopian society run rampant with political tension and censorship, as experienced through the eyes of a sordid slew of characters, each crafted to be as unique as they are controversial. Author Tantra Bensko unapologetically invites readers into the thick and gritty atmosphere of this nefarious nation on the brink of war. As seedy government organizations work through mass media to manipulate the opinions of the general public, three oddball outcasts must struggle to uncover their own personal truths, regardless of how dark and uncomfortable that truth may be.
There is an oddity and nuance to the style in which Bensko develops the story, weaving the intricate and disharmonious lives of the ragtag crew together. The characters are so individually strange, perplexing me at times to debate whose personal version of the truth I should put my stock into. What they lack in relatability, they more than make up for in personality. For instance, there is little for me to relate to in a neurotic homeless man suffering from a multiple personality disorder, but nevertheless, I found myself rushing to reach his chapters, drinking in the off-the-cuff humor and casual profanity of his perspective. Each character in the disjointed trio is unique and realized to the point of feeling authentic, boasting a well-rounded checklist of endearing qualities as well as anxieties and vices – certainly enough to make you love or hate them, respectively.
Although the modern literature lover in me appreciates the quirky and informal tone of Bensko’s writing, I do have to admit that I struggled a bit with the sporadic pace. The narrative voices are wildly different between each character, and on occasion, the sudden shift felt so abrupt that it confused me for just a moment. Bensko lovingly lingers in the details of certain interactions for quite some time, while briskly splicing other important moments into the middle of a quick paragraph. The revolving narrative among the trio is certainly a testament to Bensko’s strength in voices, but it didn’t make for the quickest read. Still a charming one though!
I felt a bit sheepish upon realizing that Remember to Recycle is actually the second installment in the Agents of the Nevermind series. Whoops! I suppose that’s always one tell of a good book though – if it can stand alone within a larger collection. Without knowing any of the events from the previous title, readers are still able to quickly grasp the tone and plot of this work, even within the steep setting of an economic fallout. Benkso poured such a generous amount of attention into the thoughts and motives of the characters, which served well to support this work standing on its own.
Overall, this was an undeniably interesting read, although the density of the political theme felt a bit heavy to me at times. I’d recommend it to readers with interests in the dystopian and psychological horror tropes, that also have an appreciation for quirky writing styles.
Pages: 285 | ASIN: B06XY4CF1S
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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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A Burning in the Darkness follows Father Michael serving at an airport when he becomes the prime suspect in a heinous crime. What was the inspiration to the setup to this thrilling suspense novel?
Essentially it was the opening set up/dilemma. An anonymous voice in a darkened confessional confesses a murder to Father Michael Kieh. Circumstance and evidence points to the Michael’s guilt but he remains faithful to the Seal of Confession and doesn’t betray the identity of a young witness. Michael’s dilemma is between remaining true to his ideals or saving himself from a long prison sentence.
Father Michael Kieh is an intriguing and dynamic character. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
In relation to Michael, I often asked myself: Is it possible to be so good that it becomes self-destructive? Is it possible to have the same degree of love and imaginative sympathy for the entire human race as one’s family and not be overwhelmed? Even asking the question seems exhausting and tiresome but the answer is self-evident. You would be overwhelmed to the point of physical and psychological destruction. Yet Michael comes close to this form of destruction.
Michael’s childhood was forged in the horrors of the Liberian civil war, but he chose a life dedicated to the Good. Michael has the moral freedom and strength to be different to his environment. He was a child witness and was protected from harm so he knows the importance of the strong protecting the weak. But we all need a little selfishness to survive. And Michael certainly has a smattering of selfishness because he is not afraid to assert his need for love as a strong-willed lover. But the reader roots for Michael because he refuses to betray his higher ideals. I wanted the novel to justify Michael’s faith in the ideals of putting the needs of others who cannot protect themselves before your own needs. It’s easy to talk the talk on this, but entirely different to walk the walk when you have to make a big sacrifice.
I wanted to write a page-turner novel, but the action explores a deep morality without, I hope, being preachy and self-justifying. It’s also important to me that whether you’re a diehard atheist or fervent believer that you will be engaged by Michael’s character, dilemma and beliefs.
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 wrote a 5 or 6 page outline which I tinkered around with for a year or so, not sure if it was working as a story. This gave me the main plot and character points. It was more like what they call in the movie/TV business ‘a treatment’. I’m a film school graduate, so it was part of my training. I spoke to a close friend of mine about the story and he encouraged me to write it. (By the way, I work as a cinematographer on TV drama.)
I find a problem in well written novels in that I always want there to be another book. Are you writing another book? If so, when will it be available?
Your kind and positive response makes me want to write another. Most of my time and effort has been spent getting A Burning in the Darkness published. Michael’s story is complete so there’s no room to revisit it. I am working on an outline for another novel. Actually, mostly researching it at this point.
A Burning in the Darkness took me a good 7 years to write. That’s too long! I’d also like to write a novella in the meantime. Maybe 80 to 100 pages. I’d like to be able to do it in about 6 months, but I’m a slow writer.
Sadly I lost my wife to breast cancer 18 months ago. I have three amazing teenage children who are the best thing about my life, but being a single dad and working to keep them fed and housed takes up a lot of time. But that’s my primary responsibility. Nevertheless, my kids are also a powerful source of moral strength and determination. And somehow writers always find the time to write.
A murder at one of the world’s busiest airports opens this simmering crime story where a good man’s loyalty is tested to its limits. Michael Kieh is a full time faith representative serving the needs of some of the 80 million passengers, but circumstance and evidence point to his guilt. His struggle to prove his innocence leads him on a charged journey that pitches love against revenge.
Michael’s loneliness was eased by a series of brief encounters with a soul mate. When she confides a dark secret, he is motivated to redress a heart-breaking injustice. Together they must battle against powerful forces as they edge dangerously close to unmasking a past crime. But Michael faces defeat when he chooses to protect a young witness, leaving him a burning spirit in the darkness.
Michael’s commitment to helping those in need was forged in the brutality of the Liberian civil war. Protected by a kind guardian, he too was a young witness to an atrocity that has left a haunting legacy of stolen justice and a lingering need for revenge. More poignantly there is a first love cruelly left behind in Africa because of the impossible choices of war. When Michael and his former lover find each other once again they become formidable allies in proving his innocence and rediscovering their lost love.
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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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One of the most interesting, and potentially terrifying, fantasies is to view the world through a serial killer’s eyes. The thought is frightening in the sense that the process of a murderer goes against the grain of those of us who are morally at odds with the desire to kill others for entertainment. Brian Gallagher explores this idea in his novel Serial K which follows the path of new-born serial killer Craig Breedlove as he embarks on his journey of perfection. A damaged individual from a relatively tame home, Breedlove has long admired the handy work of famous serial killers. He’s admired them for so long, that once he ties up a few loose ends upon his release from juvenile detention, he begins to literally carve himself a path to becoming one. Paying homage to his idols and tossing in bits of his own style he brings his reign of terror on America to the FBI. Notably agent Ryan O’Callahan and his ex-wife/current flame agent Lea Pucci. So begins the chase of cat and mouse.
Gallagher knows how to appeal to readers. The chapters are short and easy to digest while still maintaining substance and purpose. Murder-mystery-esque books can get buried in their own intrigue, but Serial K doesn’t go down that path. Every sentence is deliberate and the fractured story-telling allows readers to get both sides of the story. We see things from the eyes of Breedlove and we see things through the eyes of the agents assigned to catch him. It’s an interesting take on the serial killer idea. There are no attempts to humanize Breedlove or justify what he’s doing. He’s a young, very rich man, with a very odd sense of admiration.
However, there are a few spelling and grammatical issues that can detract from the tale and the use of vulgar language in the narrative that seems out of place. There are times when it is acceptable, expected even, and Gallagher uses it then. However, he uses some of this language in spots where if this tale were told solely from the mind of Breedlove it would make more sense. There are some questionable stylistic choices, but they shouldn’t be considered deal-breakers.
Aside from the rough patches Gallagher takes us on a wild ride with a serial killer and the FBI agents following close behind. There is an instance where Breedlove is within breathing distance from the agents yet he is able to remain undetected. Whether that is due to brilliance or sheer luck, the fact remains that our killer is still able to remain undiscovered. There are some aspects of the story that seem a little unbelievable; like Breedlove being released from juvenile detention with zero follow-up or monitoring, but that may just be a comment on the state of the justice system.
If you’re looking for an interesting take on the cat-and-mouse game you can definitely find entertainment with Serial K by Brian Gallagher. It’s an easy read with an ending that leaves an opening for more. While it may be lacking in some departments, the concept is still interesting and decently executed.
Pages: 295 | ASIN: B01N6P4RCU
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Spikes is a supernatural thriller following two detectives as they investigate gruesome murders. What was your inspiration for the character of Spikes and the serial murders through the novel?
The Spikes character is a beautiful young woman who dresses in leather. I’ve always been fascinated with attractive women who dress in leather. How leather makes them look powerful, seductive, dominant and even hypnotic. I’ve studied the world of BDSM over the years. It can be fascinating, exciting but also frightening. There are not many women in real life who are serial killers as far as I know. My thought was what if a beautiful young woman who dresses in leather has some serious issues with men because of her abusive past and she turns out to be a serial killer? A man is captivated by her beauty, by how hot she looks in her leather outfit, but little does he know she’s a psycho. In the world of BDSM, it should be played safe between partners. A man or woman should be able to fully trust their partner when participating in kinky acts. Use a safe word if it gets to be too overwhelming. Spikes likes to play but she takes it to an extreme level that turns fatal for her victims. A dominatrix almost always uses a whip for dominant sessions. So I thought what if a dominatrix like woman used a whip as her weapon of choice to beat her victims to death?
Detectives Quint and his partner Bill are well developed characters. How did you build their relationship through the story?
Detectives Quint and Bill have been partners for a few years. They’ve been through a lot together. Even though they may bicker at one another they still stick by each other and back each other up. Quint has a dark past that he struggles with every day. Bill has been there with Quint through good times and bad. They are more than just partners on the job, they have grown to be friends who care about each other. They don’t hold any grudges, and if it came down to a life or death situation, either one of them would lay his life on the line to save his partner and friend.
There is a very chilling way that justice is met out from Morrigan and her followers. How did you develop this concept and how did it change while writing?
Goddess Morrigan and her followers are an evil sadistic bunch of women. The idea was to show just how evil and powerful they are by having victims perish in various violent acts. Morrigan is based on the mythological Goddess Morrigan. Her wrath is to punish those she chooses that deserve to be punished. Her followers help her carry out these punishments in any way they see fit. Through out the story, either Morrigan or one of her followers is smiling or laughing when carrying out the punishments on their victims. That is because it amuses them in their own twisted sadistic way. It is a satisfactory evil that they live and exist for.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be published?
My next novel is going to be a different story about Goddess Morrigan. A sort of spin off of Spikes. I’m calling it, Morrigan: Phantom Queen. I hope to have it finished by some time next year. The story is about a girl named Adriana who conjures up Morrigan from the dark ages by carrying out a ritual with her best friend Elaine. She calls upon Morrigan to help her and Elaine act out revenge on a sadistic group of girls who have made their lives a living hell. Adriana wants to possess the same powers as her idol Goddess and make herself powerful and fearsome.
Detective John Quint is assigned to a brutal murder case in which male victims were beaten to death with a whip. He soon discovers that a beautiful young woman who dresses in black leather is a suspect. The murder case becomes plagued with elements of the supernatural. It proves to be something far more complex and deadly than anything Quint has ever encountered before…And he later discovers that his own life may be in danger.
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