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Exposure to the Underside

Brent Kroetch Author Interview

Brent Kroetch Author Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mountain Green Corporate Blue

Mountain Green Corporate Blue

Mountain Green, Corporate Blue, by L.J. Saunders, takes readers on a journey through time with a series of flashbacks, slowly revealing both joy and heartache.This third person account opens with Matthew Reynolds as a young, wide-eyed child from an affluent but troubled New York family. Paralleling the account of his life is the retelling of Grace Collier’s experiences as a young girl in the Appalachian Mountains. Their lives become intertwined when the Dickenson Corporation, the source of the Reynolds family’s fortune, faces major legal setbacks. A chance meeting sets in place a string of events leading to more than one unconventional pairing during a time in history when social norms were beginning to see their first challenges.

L.J. Saunders has shaped strong characters within the pages of Mountain Green Corporate Blue. The unlikely relationship of Matthew Reynolds and Grace Collier, seemingly the book’s focal point, is nontraditional in a time and place when couples from varying economic backgrounds would have been discouraged from marrying. They do so, in fact, after an almost nonexistent courtship and begin a life together. Grace is an extremely powerful character, and for a while, I felt the book would be centered around her. She exudes a sense of reason, a calmness, and has an amazing sense of her own self-worth. She radiates an energy that is infectious throughout the plot and manages, without ever realizing it, to impact the lives of several of Matthew’s relatives.

Grace’s role in the book is, without a doubt, significant. The flashes back and forth between her early years in the mountains of Springdale County, Georgia to her later years as a grandmother make that clear. Her strength is evident when she is challenged by Matthew’s uppity family upon first meeting. Firm and focused, she replies to his father’s disparaging remarks, “I am not good at debate, but I excel at discussion.” She clearly affects Matthew’s parents and brother. However, I found the addition of some storylines somewhat puzzling. I read with the idea in mind that Grace was central to each subplot. While the introduction of the relationship between Trinity and Marcus made perfect sense and added an element of suspense, the storyline surrounding Trinity at the book’s conclusion did not seem to fit the rest of the book’s theme.

With regards to subplots, I found two characters to be standouts. Old man Duncan, an integral part of the main characters’ wedding, provides a type of comic relief and endears himself to readers as he cashes in many a sketchy favor. In addition, Matthew’s father, John Reynolds is a character worthy of evoking every conceivable emotion. He is vividly described and draws both love and hate from the reader. As much as I wanted to despise him, the author gave me multiple reasons to easily single out John as my favorite character.

Periodic plot twists and commentary on social injustice succeed in keeping the reader guessing and work well in preventing the book from appearing as purely a romance. Saunders has given readers a tale of love, inspiration, and courage while exposing relatable struggles and vulnerabilities via a multitude of well-developed characters.

Pages: 247 | ASIN: B071NCX77D

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Uncle Stubby Gets Married

Uncle Stubby Gets Married4 Stars

You need to be able to tap into a certain flavour of whimsy in order to write a good children’s book. Let’s not forget that the illustrations need to be catchy and colourful to hold the attention of the little ones either reading or being read to. A children’s book is most entertaining when it spins a different point of view on something that children have already been exposed to. Uncle Stubby Gets Married by S. Jackson and A. Raymond takes the idea of simple squirrels and marriage and melds them together. This book is part of a series with other animals and their lives. Perfect for children, this book draws out the marriage between Uncle Stubby and his betrothed Sparkles as their friends and family travel to help them celebrate it. The story is full of kindness, cheer and all the good feelings weddings are supposed to elicit.

The language in this book is very simple. It may be difficult for a child who is learning to read but it is perfect to read to a child. The pictures are bright and interesting, which should help keep the attention of the audience. At the beginning of the book there is a comprehensive breakdown of the entire story so parents or teachers can determine if the book will suit their needs or themes. As it takes place in the Valentine Forest, this is a good book to read around Valentine’s Day, if you are looking for theme-specific books.

The images are, for the most part, real photographs of various animals manipulated to be posed or displayed in a certain way. There are little additions like a crown or the plethora of sparkles and these add to the story. It is interesting for children to see ‘realistic’ pictures of animals they are familiar with engaging in very human activities. It allows them to have a sense of imagination and wonder just what exactly squirrels get up to when humans aren’t looking. The one downside to using manipulated photographs is that when a character appears that is either created by hand or through computer graphics they stand out a fair bit. This occurs with the Mouse Fairies in the Valentine Forest. Their appearance is a stark contrast to the other characters in that they are fully clothed with added hair. They are more anthropomorphic than a photo-enhanced squirrel with a sash around its waist.

Nitpicking aside, Jackson and Raymond know how to craft an interesting children’s tale. The story is cute and even though it is part of a series, it can stand alone quite well. Readers do not need previous knowledge of the characters to understand the story in Uncle Stubby Gets Married. For children, and maybe even adults, who have a fantastical view of the world this is a lovely tale of romance, happiness and friendship.

Pages: 40 | ASIN: B01MY5NJF0

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