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Designed to Frighten

Anita Dickason Author Interview

Anita Dickason Author Interview

Not Dead starts with the abduction of a little girl but slowly builds into something more ominous. How did this idea for the novel start and change while writing?

The doll on the cover exists. It’s sold as a prop for Halloween houses. Several years ago, the picture of the doll standing in a decrepit, ramshackle room was the subject for a short story contest. Intrigued by the image, I entered the contest. While the doll was designed to frighten, I wanted a different twist. That’s how NOT DEAD got started. The original story was 500 words, and the title was Not Dead, Not Dead. I won third place. And, that’s all it took to get me hooked on writing.

I have always wanted to go back to that first story and turn it into a full-length novel. With the foundation of the plot in place, it was perfect for the expansion of the characters, location, and the dolls.

I felt that the mystery and intrigue was built exceptionally well in this novel. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer for this book?

I enjoy creating a plot with twists and turns that keep the reader guessing, right up to the last page.

This novel highlights how difficult it can be to lose someone. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this novel?

I’m not certain there were any themes. It’s more my law enforcement experience and knowledge that add realism to my plots and characters. As a cop, children were the best and worst of my experiences.

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

NOT DEAD is a deviation from my FBI Tracker novels. For the next book, I am back with the Tracker team in high gear as they deal with espionage and murder. I don’t have a title yet as my titles are inspired by a phrase or idea in the plot. So far, inspiration hasn’t struck, and the file is still titled—no name. My goal is to have it ready to publish by late spring/2020.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Not Dead by [Dickason, Anita]

A small-town Texas cop who is haunted by his past.
A reporter who risks it all, even her life.
A kidnapping that crosses into an unearthly realm.

Focused on the abduction of four-year-old Mandy Norton, Chad Bishop, Meridian’s Police Chief, ignores the twinges of foreboding triggered by an eerie fog that shrouds his town. What he can’t ignore is the editor of the Tribune.

When Ashley Logan becomes embroiled in the search, nothing stops the hard-hitting, investigative reporter, including Chad’s threats to throw her in jail. She’s Mandy’s aunt.

As the mystery of Mandy’s disappearance deepens, unnerving details emerge. Chad refuses to believe they’re connected to his past until the case turns deadly. He’s forced to face the terror that haunts him. It’s waiting in the shadowy depths of the unearthly fog.

This time, it could cost Chad more than his sanity.

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Dark Times

Dark Times (EuroSec Corporation) by [Gerhartz, Michael]

In Dark Times Michael Gerhartz explores the delicate yet sadly relevant organ trade problem. In this fascinating novel readers get a glance into the complicated and cruel organ trade business. The narrative is constantly changing its perspective, from the lucky recipient to the doomed donor while following the incredible adventures of the engrossing main character, Natascha.

Michael Gerhartz creates a globe-trotting and energetic crime drama that is full of unexpected twists and deadlt turns. I felt that there was a focus on painting the bigger picture while discounting the details. The overall plot was engaging and stimulating, but at times I felt like the characters were acting against their own principles because a certain act was required to propel the plot. While Natascha was a stand out character to me, she was so well constructed that other characters felt underdeveloped in comparison. The personality that is exhibited by the characters is exceptional and authentic but I wanted to see more of it. This story reminds me of Pulp Fiction, where many smaller plots and character stories all interweave to make one complex story. Although this keeps the tension high and kept me flipping pages, it could be hard to follow at times. I enjoyed the way in which the author portrays security companies and the human face he gives to people working in Masad.

I can confidently say that I had a great time reading Dark Times by Michael gerhartz. The story is perfect for readers who like to follow clues to solve intriguing mysteries. Dark Times reminds me of Tom Clany’s Jack Ryan where agents embark on clandestine and deadly missions to overcome a terror menacing the world. Perfect for readers who embrace a bit of romance in their action adventure stories.

Pages: 738 | ASIN: B07MTQ9YWC

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The Wrath of Leviathan

The Wrath of Leviathan (The BetterWorld Trilogy Book 2) by [Weber, T.C.]

The Wrath of Leviathan is the second book in the BetterWorld Trilogy. In this book, the T.C. Weber artistically creates characters that are both enchanting and entertaining. The reader follows through the trials and tribulations of characters who, despite the evil of the world, fight to make things right. One is taken through insane and sometimes creepy locations that require the characters to be intelligent, keen on their surroundings and witty to survive. The Wrath of Leviathan covers various themes that are relevant in the real world. Political wars, state prisoners, cyber-crime, government relations, family and freedom are some of the major themes in the book. The pros and cons of technology unfold in the story as we follow characters who use their power to manipulate situations.

The reader experiences the turmoil and chaos created by individuals whose greed only gets crushed by people who have a conscience. Waylee Freid is in custody for acts the U.S government considers crimes. The good lady is charged with conspiracy, fraud, theft, assault, trespassing, and cyber crimes among many other offenses. I like how the author developed Waylee. Even with the alleged crimes, Waylee came out as a character whose aggression was necessary for her survival. Waylee was imprisoned in Sao Paolo, Brazil by the U.S government, something that bothered her sister Kiyoko. I liked Kiyoko as a character because of how passionate she was about the causes she cared about. Miranda Rossi’s character was too real, I could not picture her in any other role other than the Sao Paulo Bureau Chief, Department for Human Rights and Social Affairs. She understood her job and tried to be courteous every time.

The Wrath of Leviathan is packed with blustering adventure. Kiyoko and her squad were my favorite. Their dedication to fighting evil, and exposing and destroying MediaCorp’s plan to take over the world made the group easy to empathize with and root for. MediaCorp is almost the cliched villainous corporation with dangerous intentions and malign motivations. The yin and yang between MediaCorp and Kiyoko’s team is starkly drawn and I appreciated how easily it was to align with these characters.

I was thoroughly entertained following this inviting tale that engagingly handles trade agreements among countries, political affiliations, government operations, the lives of activists and hackers, and rebellion. T.C. Weber makes every piece of the story exhilarating as he pits well developed characters against well developed gambits. One constant thing throughout the book was the continuous action that was smartly placed to keep the story moving. Every new chapter unveils something new about the characters and a new twist to the story. I recommend The Wrath of Leviathan to readers who enjoy thrillers, cyberpunk science fiction and adventure books.

Pages: 288 | ASIN:  B07GJVHMQS

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Duty and Betrayal

Duty and Betrayal: The SS Brotherhood and the NASA Connection by [Oliver, Toby]

Duty and Betrayal: The SS Brotherhood and the NASA Connection by Toby Oliver is a smart novel that takes place in the early 1960s, following various members of the intelligence communities of the United States and Great Britain. After the end of World War II, the Western powers sought to capture/recruit former Third Reich scientists to advance their own technologies, essentially beginning the Cold War. One of these men, Bernard Zimmerman, has caught the attention of Spencer Hall of MI5 for a very personal reason. Jack Stein of the CIA is brought in to help, and the two get to work. Is the SS still active, even after World War II? Will Spencer be able to act logically and safely in his quest to uncover these men? Then, of course, there’s Joyce and all of the emotions connected to Spencer’s past relationship with her making things even more thrilling.

I really appreciated the dialogue in this novel, which was consistently sharp and nimble. With any historical fiction novel that focuses on intelligence and spying, there is quite a bit of dialogue. Oliver does well to make the dialogue both interesting and logical. The characters are well crafted that each line they speak and each choice they make, I found myself thinking, ‘Yes, of course that’s what he would do.’ It’s so well-written, I would believe the author if he told me that all of these events actually happened.

If there is any weak point in the story, I felt it would be in the first couple of chapters which are heavy on some of the characters’ back stories, but almost all of the information provided in these areas is relevant and useful in understanding who these characters are, making this a very minor issue.

This book reads exactly the way an old school spy movie would play out. No big flashes from explosions or high-tech gadgetry like we get from these stories now. Just operatives using their investigative and deductive logic skills to investigate, interrogate, and do what they can to capture the individuals they need.

This is an exceptionally well written book that is persistently entertaining and compelling.

Pages: 212 | ASIN: B01N1JLYRC

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The Haunting of Smock Hill

The Haunting of Smock Hill by [Zimcosky, Steve]

The Haunting of Smock Hill by Steve Zimcosky is a short but fast-paced thriller about the peculiar ongoings in the town of Smock, Pennsylvania. Ed Zielinski our protagonist is from Smock Hill. He is informed that The Dark Energy has returned for the first time since 1961. The Dark Energy is allegedly a daunting black cloud with red eyes and massive arms that shows up to stare at miners a few moments before their death. Having enlisted a paranormal investigator, Ed visits the town, and, with the help of a few friends, finds out that a deeper and more nefarious plot is at play. Their investigation is met with various complications, from Russian meddling to movie production crews. The story takes plenty of wild turns and ends on a climactic but satisfying note.

Although the plot is a simplistic mystery story, Scooby-Doo style, it is written in a gripping and engaging manner. I polished it off in one sitting, which is probably what it is intended for. The story is realistic and logical, and easy to follow. I felt that the characters were two-dimensional, with some having more depth than others, but this is in service of delivering a quick and satisfying story.

The book is also interspersed with a lot of spooky pictures and illustrations, which can make this a pretty fun read for children. Smock Hill is great for a weekend or holiday read, when you need an engaging story to brighten up your day without signing up for a hefty literary commitment.

Pages: 90 | ASIN: B081BG5YH9

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Kill Crime

Kill Crime: A Jeff Case Novel-Stunning crime thriller full of twists with an unpredictable ending. Book 1 by [Slavin, Mike]

Mike Slavin has written a roller-coaster of a novel in Kill Crime. The story goes from 0 to 100 when Jeff Case, an oil company businessman from Texas, finally catches a pedophile that he’d been chasing ever since his niece had been victimized. Jeff finds himself getting closer to becoming a vigilante, as criminals hurt his friends and the people he loves. The choices only get tougher, and the villains he chases only get more dangerous. Will he survive?

Kill Crime is an exceptionally thrilling novel. The book starts with the main character catching a man about to molest a young child, I thought this was pretty extreme for the first 30 pages, but things only escalate for Jeff Case. This acceleration, and the realism with which it happens, is where Slavin’s writing excels. He makes Jeff’s decisions seem probable and reasonable through his amazing descriptions of grief, pain and anger.

There are many times in the book when I felt angry alongside Jeff, almost to the point of being blinded by it. Some will want him to exact his revenge and go for the kill, but maybe some will be begging him to move on. It’s a thrilling read from cover to cover because of this struggle that the reader faces with the main character, and it will keep the pages turning. If the internal conflict doesn’t entice readers, then the action sequences certainly will. The tense, violent moments are written excellently and play out like some of the best big screen movies.

If there is one weakness in the story, it’s that some of the elements border on cliché, such as Case jamming out to “Danger Zone” on his way home from work. However, Slavin only flirts with this line and never seriously crosses it, which he manages by keeping the story believable and emotionally raw.

The language that Slavin utilizes is fantastic. His writing is never boring, and the sentences he composes are fluid and natural, which makes for a smooth read. He may have gone a little overboard with the text breaks, but it doesn’t hamper the writing. I’ll definitely be looking forward to the next installment. This is especially true, thanks to the couple of nice little hints at where the Jeff Case story might be heading in the sequel.

Pages: 358 | ASIN: B07WQNQWXR

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The Mendelian Protocol

The Mendelian Protocol by [Finkle, Raymond]

You have to know that when an author drops hints about a genetics lab, a mysterious event with test animals, and dead bodies with medical inconsistencies within the first 20 pages of a book that you are in for some bombshell twists and turns and The Mendelian Protocol delivers. One of the things I liked about this book, which is something I have found in common with other books I really like, is that it introduces you to a new field of knowledge while it explores the plot. I personally love learning more about niche topics (like highly specialized jobs, rare psychiatric disorders, and remote locations I would probably never hear about) while following along during a mystery. I feel like it makes a story unique and it is one of the things I love from authors like Dan Brown and Steve Berry. The same can be said for what Raymond Finkle does in The Mendelian Protocol.

The story starts out quick with no time wasted and you are immediately introduced to a small group of characters that pique your interest with a bit of backstory, but not the type of backstory that so many authors rely on these days which are tired and predictable. My favorite character was the female medical examiner who unwittingly found herself in the uncomfortable position of becoming a forensic expert overnight. Her whole situation keeps edging up being completely unrealistic, but Finkel continues to pull it back in to where you can say “okay… I guess that could happen” and you can keep on enjoying the story. This is no easy task when dealing in genetic mutation and medical horrors.

One thing I noticed that this book has in common with others that I have favorited is that often times really good mysteries have little oddities introduced by the author which niggle at the reader making them wonder why such a detail would be important. It makes you stop and remember the detail, want to know why it was important, and keep turning the pages to find out.). I read A LOT of mysteries and thrillers and I am not often impressed by an author the first time I read them unless it is a NY Times top ten that I grab in the airport or something. Finkle actually delivered on my first run with his stories. If you are a fan of Steve Berry or Michael Creighton you will thoroughly enjoy this book!

Pages:  226 | ASIN: B01MQ3MRR7

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The Killer’s Identity

Stacey Dighton Author Interview

Stacey Dighton Author Interview

Pale Face & The Raven follows Luke and Anthony as they try to solve a series of grisly murders while wresting with their own demons. What was the inspiration for the setup to this provocative story?

It was an idea that came to me while I was at work actually. I don’t want to spoil the way the plot unfolds for anyone who hasn’t read it yet but the whole story within a story concept really appealed to me, as did the introduction of the mythical/religious concept set against the backdrop of a character (Tony Richards) who really doesn’t know where he came from or where his life is headed. I really wanted to develop a set of characters that could interact and build their stories together, start them off on an almost cosy footing and then see how they reacted to difficult scenarios and how they dealt with each other. I hope I achieved that.

I liked Luke’s character and thought he was an interesting character. What were some ideas that you based this character on?

Luke Raven himself is a character that I really liked and whilst he isn’t based on anyone in particular you could argue that he really is a mash up of a number of Detective Inspectors that appear in both popular fiction and on TV. He seems unable to stay on the straight and narrow and makes poor errors of judgement that get him into more and more scrapes. He’s also someone who is really sceptical of the supernatural but for whom other-wordly things occur almost on a daily basis and I enjoyed exploring how much that irritates him and yet how often he has to confront his conflicted beliefs. He also has a dark past and that is something I would really like to explore further in the future.

The murder mystery fueling this story was intriguing and well developed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this case?

I wanted the supernatural element. That was number one. I’m a big fan of authors such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz and I also wanted an element of Dan Brown in there. Then I wanted the killer’s identity and the finale to be almost impossible to predict. I love the idea of using sleight of hand techniques in a story without over doing it or becoming crass. The ultimate aim is to keep the reader guessing right up to the epilogue. I wanted a strong, domineering patriarchal character that orchestrated events. And then I wanted to mix the first and third person perspectives as much as possible so that you were never really sure what point of view you were reading the story from. It can get complicated but hopefully I didn’t over do it.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be ready?

Well, firstly Pale Face and the Raven is due out in audio book format by the middle of December. I’m working with a really talented narrator, Bryan Gilmore, and I’m really excited to get that finished and out there. My next book is a collection of five short stories entitled ‘The Maidens of Fey and other Dark Matter’. I’m just putting the finishing touches to it now and my aim is to have it available on Amazon prior to Christmas. I’m really excited about it – the title story ‘The Maidens of Fey’ is a real love letter to Cornwall where I have holidayed with both my parents and my wife and children many times over the years, but it’s also a story of murder and betrayal as well as containing many mystical and fantastical themes. There’s also a story about a children’s entertainer named ‘Mister Trick’ who is really a combination of many of the entertainment acts that I witnessed as a child at children’s parties and that were the source of many nightmares and sleepless nights. After that I’m already planning the next installment of ‘The Raven’ and I’m looking forward to seeing where the next story will take me.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook

PALE FACE & THE RAVEN by [Dighton, Stacey]

A series of brutal murders … a mysterious scripture handed down through generations by an ancient race … and a cult leader hellbent on vengeance and redemption. D.I. Luke Raven’s chequered career as a police officer is on the brink of ruin after a series of ill-judged decisions and one too many drunken altercations. As a consequence, his personal life lies in tatters.

Anthony Richards, a young, aspiring author has a deeply troubled past, a fractious and volatile relationship with his mother and a family history cloaked in secrets, violence and lies. The lives of these two men become intrinsically and eternally intertwined when a girl is found on Westhampton Common, her throat slit, her naked, cold and lifeless body drained of blood. What follows is a dark, disturbing and unpredictable journey sparked by the discovery of an ancient manuscript and tales of unspeakable horrors.

Bodies are piling up in Westhampton. The elusive, pale faced killer is on a murderous rampage.

This time it’s personal and Raven must risk it all to stop him… at whatever cost.

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Murtairean

Murtairean. An Assassin's Tale: A Novel in the Dal Cruinne Series by [Lees, Jenn]

Murtairean: An Assassin’s Tale (Dal Cruinne Series Book One) by Jenn Lees is a fantasy story set in a medieval society with lords at war for power. Vygeas, a former assassin with the gift of heightened senses and perception, is locked in a cell in Lord Ciaran’s dungeon. Charged with desertion when he refused to kill innocents, Vygeas now faces hanging. But he is offered a stay of execution and a chance to win his freedom if he completes one final task–to kill a corrupt merchant on the Isle of Eilean. On the road to Eilean, Vygeas meets Leyna, a woman searching for the assassin who killed her parents. She is intent on exacting revenge. But when their convictions are tested, will either Vygeas or Leyna succeed in their aims?

Murtairean: An Assassin’s Tale is filled with intrigue and treachery, drawing me in from the very first page. The author’s descriptions of the setting and people painted a vivid picture of the story in my mind. I suspected early on in the story that Vygeas was the assassin who had killed Leyna’s parents, and I was interested to find out how she would react when she finally learned the truth. I don’t want to give away too much, but things are not what you expect. Leyna’s feelings are understandably confused, especially since she has come to like Vygeas and he has shown himself to be a good man deceived by lies.

Both Leyna and Vygeas are likable and sympathetic characters even though they have done bad things in their pasts and continue to walk a dark path. I enjoyed reading the interactions between Vygeas and Aiden, and the touches of humor that it added to the story.

But there were a few places where I would have liked more detail in order to fully understand the characters’ motivations. When Vygeas killed Elyse he did so because of Drostan’s threat to make her suffer a life worse than death. But I didn’t think there was enough details given to make it feel as though such a drastic action by Vygeas was truly justified. Why was he convinced that Drostan would follow through? I felt that it should have been elaborated on so that it was clear why Vygeas felt that he had no other choice. And it was never really explained why Drostan seemed to bear a personal grudge against Vygeas. Also, why would Lord Cairan bother with such as elaborate ruse to eliminate Vygeas when he could have just killed Vygeas outright? Needless to say, I was invested in the story.

The story ends on a happy-ish note, but Lord Ciaran is still a threat who must be stopped. The mention of dragons in the epilogue intrigued me. The series is definitely one I’m interested on continuing because of the intriguing characters and enthralling world.

Pages: 139 | ASIN: B07ZWQMZ4W

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The Lost Signal

The Lost Signal (Slaves of Zisaida Book 1) by [Fernandez Morales, J.S.]

The Lost Signal by J.S. Fernandez is a science fiction novel that explores the reality of our planet and the myth of creation. Aeons ago, the Creators had arrived on Earth and established two races: the humans and the Urukulu. The humans were to be kept subservient under the Urukulu so that the Creators could tend to their commercial mining needs on Earth. Naturally, this greedy scheme was banned by the intergalactic Federation. However, the Creators have found nefarious ways to infiltrate and exploit Earth again. Fiona is the lady in charge who has taken it upon herself to keep these creatures away for good. She enlists the help of her close friends and allies, fighting her personal demons on an already uphill battle.

The Lost Signal is fast paced without being rushed. Right from the beginning we are thrown into the middle of action. The characters are introduced in an almost Whack-a-Mole fashion, displaying flashes of their personality and the place they occupy in this world. I loved Fiona’s character fight from the introduction. She is teased about her supposed tomboyishness while she struggles with her attraction towards her close friend, Ralph. While her life isn’t particularly easy, it was admirable the way she buckled down on her principles in order to do what was right. Despite the dark and depressing premise, the lead characters were kept respectable without seeming to be on a pedestal.

Similarly, the antagonists were kept interesting without losing their believability. In this era, it’s hardly difficult to imagine a corporation doing their absolute best to achieve profit maximization. Hence, the menace of the Creators was real without seeming preachy. The physicality and characterization of the aliens also left a chill down my spine.

In certain places, the novel reminded me of a Jeffrey Archer novel. I think this was because the amount of real world-like politics involved combined with its fast pace. All of the perspectives were totally human, without verging on too scientific or political. The Lost Signal is a thrilling ride from start to finish. It is a great choice for anyone looking for a creative depiction of today’s world, offering just the right amount of escapism but remaining grounded in reality.

Pages: 454 | ASIN: B07X9147K1

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