Book Tour & Giveaway: Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy by Marlene M. Bell – Genre: Mystery/ Suspense @ewephoric @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Welcome to the book tour for Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell! Read on for details and the fantastic giveaway at the end!

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Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy 

Publication Date: November 4th, 2021

Genre: Mystery/ Suspense

To outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, action-packed adventure, and the occasional dead body.

When Alec schedules an overseas trip to show Annalisse his mother’s birthplace in Bari, Italy, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s international corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.

Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The search for the truth sends the trio straight into riddles, secrets, and an historic set of rosary beads. Annalisse leads Alec toward a discovery that is unthinkable, and events that will change their futures forever.

Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

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Excerpt

The reception area is completely empty, and there’s a smell like metal in damp dirt circulating overhead. Farther in, the ceiling fan is hovering on high speed, and the windows are open.

A dead body inside a warm office leaves an unmistakable odor behind, as did the body Ethan found inside the stall at Walker Farm. Decomp is one smell that sticks with you forever. Adding to the office creepiness, who chose the interior’s decor? We’re surrounded by limestone walls painted an ugly shade of ochre, slightly more yellow and definitely more unappealing than the building’s exterior. The rooms will need another coat of fresh paint to cover a harsh stench known to stick to the walls like cigarette tar does.

No one is nearby, not even the receptionist.

The office cubicles are silent but for a few flapping papers. Not a single desk phone is ringing. It’s like the office decided to have a fire drill midday, and the employees left their computers on and didn’t bother to close folders—open to anyone passing by. Frames holding pictures of sweethearts and children stand by as guardians for the people who are absent from their high-back swivel chairs.

Officer Raffa returns and mutters in heavy Italian brogue, “Il signore is waiting for his… avvocato difensore.” He points to the room with a closed door. “Come, Mr. Zavos. Your friends stay here.”

“Josh is in there waiting for his defense attorney. Back soon.” Alec touches my arm and looks at Bill, sending him a private message.

Alec’s led to a side office, and the solid door closes behind them.

“Is Alec signing autographs, or should I even worry about what’s going on in that room? Has Josh been here the entire time messing with evidence?” I ask Bill.

“Alec’s prepared for all contingencies. I’m surprised they haven’t taken Jennings down to the station by now.”

A few minutes later, Alec emerges by himself. “They weren’t going to allow us to talk to Josh, but I persuaded him. It shouldn’t be much longer.”

For what feels like an eternity, we sit in ladderback pine chairs with brown cushions while Alec keeps adjusting his watch. I don’t know what Alec had to promise the officer. Autographs are fine with me, but if he had to pay him off, I’d rather not know.

“I hope Brad is parked in the shade somewhere.” Alec looks at his watch for the eighth time in twenty minutes and turns to me. “Now that we’re here, they seem to be in no hurry to get rid of us. I’m sorry, Anna. Hold on a little longer.” His smile is an honest one full of regret.

I’ve heard the sentiment from him so often it doesn’t even register with my brain anymore. We both have a lot of work to do in the I-promise-to-do-better department.

The closed door at the back wall opens, and a guy pokes his head out, surveying the room. He’s fiftyish and, with his reading glasses, reminds me of Gen’s studious accountant.

Alec pivots, and his earlier smile vanishes.

“That’s Jennings,” Bill says quietly.

“Yes.” Alec waves to draw the man’s attention.

A confused Josh looks at us and then the floor as if he’s embarrassed. Eventually he settles his eyes on Alec. “I wasn’t sure you’d come. My attorney should be here soon. Come back to the conference room.”

Bill asks Alec, “Is it okay to go on ahead?”

Alec must have compensated the officer well to allow us entry this close to the crime scene.

“Let’s get this over with.” Alec seems queasy.

The three of us move through the aisle between desks and toward the room with a door left open for us. Josh has already gone inside. For someone who wants Alec’s help, he sure doesn’t appear happy or grateful for his effort. A huge effort. This had better not be Josh’s way of buying himself out of the woman’s death. The disgrace of being fired from Signorile after Pearce’s tragedy has to hurt his pride.

There’s news of a deadly virus moving through Europe, and the typical handshake is no longer being used between business execs.

Bill lifts his arm and catches himself. “Mr. Jennings? My name is Bill Drake, an associate of Mr. Zavos. You’ve asked to see him, and we also have some questions for you on another matter.”

“Wonderful.” The man in a sweaty, slept-in polo isn’t thrilled with us staring him down. There’s frost in the room as testosterone flies between glances. No one wants to be the first to break the sheet of ice forming around the presumed blue-eyed killer. Alec hasn’t made any assumptions yet until we talk to him, but Josh’s cool facade feels calculated to me. A superior to Alec, or something like that. For an innocent, I don’t like his peculiar behavior in the presence of a man who’s here to keep his neck from a noose.

“I asked to see Alec. Who are the rest of you?”

He’s behind a chair, using it as a shield to save himself from a CEO who wants to take his livelihood from him again. Or is it because he’s guilty of ending a woman’s life?

Alec pulls out the chair for me, and we all sit at the long conference table with a fancy letter F embellished in the center.

Josh’s temples bead with sweat, and he’s wringing his hands next to a wool felt fedora hat with a band. They seem to be popular in Italy. The guy’s bloodshot eyes and dark circles are sure signs of insomnia and stressing to the max. Wet ovals hang beneath the armpits of his beige shirt.

Alec’s unshakable gaze lands on Jennings, who abruptly turns away.

This meeting isn’t opening well.

Bill addresses Josh. “We don’t have a lot of time. Authorities aren’t thrilled with us questioning you, but they were… let’s say, swayed. Tell us what happened here?”

“She was tied and tortured in my office after I left night before last. I opened the building in the morning at seven and found her lying on her side, strapped to a chair and wrapped in wire near my desk. Lots of blood.” Josh holds a paper towel over his mouth, then uses it to wipe away perspiration. “When I left the building, she was in the conference room. I have no idea how she ended up in the office. Maybe the cat went in there.” He slides the fedora into his lap.

“Who is she?” Alec asks.

“Benita Alvarez.”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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“Mystery at a killing pace”

Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer, artist, and sheep breeder who resides in beautiful East Texas. Her renown sheep photographs grace the covers of many livestock magazines.

The third book in the Annalisse Series releases in 2021. Scattered Legacy is an international mystery with light touches of romance. Stolen Obsession and Spent Identity, books one and two, received numerous awards including the Independent Press Award for Best Mystery in 2020. Her mysteries can be found at marlenembell.com.

Marlene also writes children’s books. Her first children’s picture book, Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! is based on true events with Natalie from the Bell’s ranch. It’s a touching story of compassion and love between a little girl and her lamb. Mia and Nattie is honored to be a Mom’s Choice Gold Award winner.

Marlene shares her life with her husband and a few dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep: a large Maremma guard dog named Tia, and cats, Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks. The cats believe they rule the household—and do.

Marlene M. Bell | FacebookTwitter 

 

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December 20th

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December 23rd

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Giveaway US Only:

A Signed Copy of Scattered Legacy – The Annalisse Series

Annalisse Series Flashlight (red)

Biking in Tuscany Wooden Puzzle

Tessilechiti Italian Designer Throw Blanket (51×67 inches) Made in Italy

 

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Book Tour: Rain City Lights by Marissa Harrison Genre: New Adult/ NA Mystery @marissa_hrrsn @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books

Welcome to the book tour for Rain City Lights by Marissa Harrison! Read on for more details and enter to win a fantastic giveaway!

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Rain City Lights

Publication Date: October 1st, 2021 (Hardcover Edition)

Genre: NA/ NA Mystery

Coming of age and mystery blend in this stark, yet atmospheric tale of love and loss. A young woman is pushed onto the streets where she learns the harsh realities of what it means to survive, to serve justice, and to fight for the man she loves. As they navigate their way through Seattle’s Underground, Monti & Sasha will break and warm your heart!

In the summer of 1981, a serial killer preys on black, teenage prostitutes working Seattle’s arterial highways. But the eyes of youth are blind to danger, and Montgomery “Monti” Jackson is distracted by her own problems. She’ll be starting high school soon, and the return of her mother’s boyfriend heightens the tension in her fractured household.

To add to her worries, Monti fears she may be in love with her best friend Sasha. But as close as they’d once been, now they couldn’t feel further apart. Sasha is a burnout punk rocker, and has befriended the neighborhood drug dealer. And when an eviction notice is posted on Monti’s door, a strange dynamic forms between them.

One night, an altercation leaves her family penniless. So Monti turns to the very streets where a killer stalks and ensnares young women, beginning her journey towards understanding one, simple truth – sometimes your only choices in life are to love and survive.

Rain City Lights is a gritty, urban love story that explores how poverty, addiction and abuse is passed from one generation to the next.

Trigger Warnings: Adult content and some violence

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Prologue 

Christmas Eve, 1972 

The rain pelt so hard it sprang up from the porch like bullets. The detective removed his hat,  water dripping down his face, hiding tears but for his red-rimmed eyes. He couldn’t help crying,  after what he had seen and for the scene before him. The Christmas tree lit with multi-colored  lights and draped with silver tinsel. The cookies on the mantle. Frank Sinatra crooning “Jingle  Bells” from the record player. And a small boy wearing red pajamas. These were the reasons the  detective wiped his nose like a baby, and steeled himself to bear the bad news. 

* * *  

Mikael Sasha Coen already knew why the detective had come. Someone once said he could  smile with only his big, blue eyes. He tried this by focusing his eyes hard into the sadness that  seemed to hunch the detective’s shoulders. He curved the corners of his mouth upward just a  little. It was enough to make the detective smile back. 

“He should leave the room,” the detective said.  

Daan shook his head. “The sooner he gets used to hearing bad news, the better.”  The detective scratched his sideburn.  

“Mr. Coen, I’m so sorry to say this, tonight of all nights. But there’s been an accident. Your  wife’s car went over the Ballard Bridge. She didn’t make it.”  

Daan Coen keeled over and keened, a sound more piercing than nails dragged against a  chalkboard. The detective described what happened. The grates were slick. His wife had been  speeding to beat the drawbridge, raised to let a party yacht into the Fremont canal. She skidded  and lost control. Daan sobbed and asked the Lord why. But Mikael thought he knew that, too.  

After a moment, Daan asked,  

“But wouldn’t she have seen the warning lights? Wouldn’t the gate have dropped? I don’t  understand how this could happen.”  

The detective pursed his lips. He spoke in the way adults sometimes did that made Mikael feel as  if he’d been naughty.  

“Not here,” the detective said.  

Mikael watched from the porch as Daan left to identify the body. He’d promised to stay with one  of the neighbors that lived in the apartment units of The Bridgewater. As Mikael turned, he heard  a chattering sound, and it drew his attention to the stoop next door. A young girl sat with her head 

pushed between her knees, her body rocking back and forth and her arms enclosing her shivering  shins. 

“What’re you doing? It’s raining,” he said.  

“No shit,” she muttered. “I’m locked out.”  

“Why?” He bit his lip. “Also, you shouldn’t talk like that. My dad says bad words send people to  hell.”  

The girl didn’t answer. When she looked up, he saw the gray eyes of a feral cat ready to scram  into the city gutters. 

Mikael walked inside and turned up the music. He took the cookies from the mantle and went  back to the porch, holding them in the rain, in view of the girl. 

“Want a cookie?”  

“I’m fine. My mom is coming soon.”  

“You want to help me open my presents?”  

The girl shrugged and stared at her knees.  

Mikael sighed and stomped back to the Christmas tree. He moved the gifts from beneath the tree,  one by one, into his bedroom. He knew the girl would come out of the rain soon. No kid could  resist Christmas presents. On each trip to the tree he passed a photo of his mother. It was the kind  with two faces, one of the smiling front and the other a profile. The two-faced photo was  ghoulish, and each time he passed it became harder to look at because of the goosebumps that  tickled his arm. He didn’t want to open presents in front of the ghost that had once been his  mother.  

Mikael waited on his bedroom floor. The music blared from the living room, but over the  smooth, velvet voice of Sinatra came the soft pattering of uncertain footsteps. 

“I’m in here,” Mikael called. 

The girl appeared in the open doorway of his bedroom. 

“Hi,” Mikael said.  

Her eyes were glued to the presents.  

“Where are your parents?” she asked.  

“My mom is dead. My dad went to see her.”  

“What happened?” 

“A car accident.”  

He sniffled and pushed the presents towards her.  

“Here. You can have them all.”  

He handed her a football wrapped in gold paper, something he never wanted. Mikael’s father  wanted it for him, in the same way Daan wanted other things. Be a good, Christian man. Don’t  cry. Stand up straight. Don’t tell lies.  

The girl tore the paper from the gift, filling the silence with the sound of shredding paper. Her  eyes sparkled. She tossed the football in her hands as if it was something she was made to do. 

“My name is Montgomery. But you should call me Monti. I’m seven.”  

“My name is Mikael.” He paused, thinking of his Norwegian grandfather for whom he was  named, a strict Lutheran who built the walls that enclosed them now. It was a name his father  wanted for him.  

“But you should call me Sasha. I’m seven and a half.”  

Monti shoved an entire cookie into her mouth. She smiled, showing the crumbs stuck between  the gap in her front teeth. 

“Why aren’t you sad?”  

“I was sad yesterday,” he said. “My mom said goodbye yesterday.”  

She took another cookie and ogled the rest of the gifts. 

“I can’t take your presents.”  

“Yes you can. I don’t want them.”  

She sputtered cookie crumbs from her mouth. 

“Why the hell not! I’d kill for this many toys.”  

“They’re from my dad. And he’s the reason my mom’s gone.” He picked another gift and laid it  in her lap. “Also, you shouldn’t swear.”  

She nodded, as though everything he’d said made perfect sense. He felt very brave next to her, so  he whispered through clenched teeth,  

“I hate my dad.” 

Now Available

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About the Author

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Marissa Harrison is the author of her debut novel, Rain City Lights. She began her career by reading as many books as she could get her hands on, and would fondly wander the aisles of her neighborhood Target to pick the hottest reads for her enjoyment and education. She caught the bus from her job in Downtown Seattle to take classes and workshops offered around the city, and eventually completed her first novel during the early morning hours while watching the trains roll by from her apartment window. She is an avid reader of mysteries, true crime, and heart wrenching love stories, and explores these themes in her own writing.

In her spare time Marissa enjoys running, hiking, dramatic miniseries’ and a great glass of wine. She lives in Seattle with her husband and four guinea pigs.  

Marissa Harrison | Twitter | Instagram

 

Giveaway: Cozy Book Box – Includes Signed Copy, Luxe Throw Blanket, & Hand-Crafted Candles (US Only).

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November 22nd

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Book Trailer Reveal: Family Medicine by Natasha Jeneen Thomas @JeneenAuthor @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #FamilyMedicine

Check out the book trailer for upcoming release, Family Medicine, a chilling novel by Natasha Jeneen Thomas!

Family-Medicine-eBook-CvrFamily Medicine

Expected Publication Date: October 8th, 2021

Genre: Suspense/ Psychological Thriller

In one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, following your dreams could become a nightmare.
Therese Hughes-Baldwin arrives in Boca Raton with hopes of joining the most prestigious dance company in South Florida. But instead of finding ballet success, she suffers an embarrassing heartbreak and takes a boring barista job. She also inadvertently gains the attention of the woman who stalks her on every train ride she takes.

So when Therese’s favorite café customer, Dr. Dara Clemens, offers an escape to her beachside mansion, Therese can hardly say “yes” quickly enough. With her suitcase in hand and best friend Phoebe by her side, she heads to the Clemens’ oceanfront getaway. The home is gorgeous. The beach is, too. So is the stranger Therese gives her number to at the bar.

But there are voices in the vents. And there are people who stare. And Therese faces a sinking feeling that something is hauntingly off about Phoebe’s behavior. As Therese questions the motivations of those around her, she opens the door to a reality she never thought she’d find.

Pre-Order Here!

About the Author

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Natasha Jeneen Thomas is a Florida-born psychiatrist and psychological suspense writer. She has spent the past eleven years in psychiatric private practice exploring individual and collective story and the power of perception. Witnessing life from the vantage point of the human psyche’s inner workings, Natasha sees the state of the world as a reflection of the stories we tell ourselves – and allow ourselves to believe.

Natasha earned a Bachelor of Science from Spelman College, studied medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and completed residency training in psychiatry at University of Maryland and Sheppard & Enoch Pratt hospitals. In 2010, she moved to Metro Atlanta to work as an outpatient psychiatrist and has the continued honor of providing clinical care as owner & CEO of Hope Grove Psychiatry, PC. When she is not doctoring or writing, she is enjoying her family, her home, or her corner of the couch.

Learn more at http://www.natashajeneenthomas.com

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Book Release Blitz: The Perfect Murder by Kat Martin @katmartinauthor @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books

Congratulations to Kat Martin on the release of The Perfect Murder! A romantic suspense perfect for the beach or pool! Read on for details and a chance to win a $20 Amazon e-gift card and a digital copy of The Ultimate Betrayal!

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The Perfect Murder

Publication Date: Today 🎉

Publisher: HQN

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is back with her most thrilling novel yet in the Maximum Security series—The Perfect Murder.

The eldest of the three wealthy Garrett brothers, Reese Garrett is in the middle of a major purchase for his multimillion-dollar oil and gas company, Garrett Resources. The Poseidon offshore drilling platform venture will greatly enhance the company’s value.

But when Reese is on a trip out to see the rig, his helicopter crashes, leaving him hospitalized and two men dead. It’s discovered the chopper was sabotaged, and Reese is determined to find out who’s behind the crash—and whether he was the intended target. Then, when his lover, Kenzie, is accused of her ex-husband’s murder—a man with a vested interest in the Poseidon deal—clues start pointing to a connection that puts Reese, Kenzie and her young son in the sights of a killer.

From the Texas heat to the Louisiana bayous, Reese and his brothers must track down the truth before the body count gets any higher.

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Chapter One

Galveston, Texas: Last Day of July

Seconds after the chopper lifted off the pad, Reese felt the odd vibration.  Along with the pilot and co-pilot and five members of the crew, the Eurocopter EC135 was headed for the Poseidon offshore drilling platform. 

For a moment, the ride leveled out and Reese relaxed against his seat.  As CEO of Garrett Resources, the billion-dollar oil and gas company he owned with his brothers, he was always searching for the right investment to expand company holdings, the reason he was flying out to the platform.

For months he’d been working with Sea Titan Drilling, the owner of the offshore rig, to complete the five-hundred-million-dollar purchase, an extremely good value when the average price of a similar rig was around six-fifty. 

The vibration returned and with it came a grinding noise that put Reese on alert.  The men in the cabin began to glance back and forth and shift nervously in their seats.  A sharp jolt, then the chopper seemed to fall out of the sky.  It climbed again, began to dip and sway, dropped then climbed as the pilot fought for control.

The pilot’s deep voice rumbled through the headset.  “We’ve got a problem.  I don’t want you to panic, but we need to find a place to set down.” 

There was definitely a problem, Reese thought, as the vibration continued to worsen.  The chopper was out of control and the whole cabin was shaking as if it would break apart any minute.  His pulse was hammering, his adrenalin pumping.

 Along with the men in the crew who rode back and forth from the rig every few weeks, he stared out the window toward the ground.  They were no longer above the heliport.  Clearly the pilot was looking for an open space big enough to handle the thirty-six-foot blade span.  All Reese could see were the rooftops of warehouses and metal commercial buildings.

The chopper kept shaking.  The crew was grim-faced but resigned.  The pilot did something to take the pitch out of the rotors and the chopper started falling.

“No need to worry,” the pilot said.  “We’ll auto-rotate down.  I’ve done it a dozen times.”

Auto rotate down.  Reese knew the concept, the technique helicopter pilots used to land when the engine failed.  The trick was to find a safe place to hit the ground. 

Both engines went silent.  The blades were flat now, the wind whistling through them, tying his stomach into a knot.

“Brace for impact,” the pilot said.  Below them, Reese spotted an open flat slab of asphalt in the yard of a small trucking firm–the only possible landing site anywhere around.  Trouble was it didn’t look wide enough to handle the blades. 

At the last second, the pilot flared the helicopter in an effort to slow the descent, then the ground rushed up and the chopper hit with a jolt that wracked Reese’s whole body.

For an instant, he thought they were going to make it.  Then one of the spinning rotor blades hit the corner of a building and tore free.  The Plexiglas bubble shattered as the long metal blades exploded into a hundred deadly pieces, careening like knives through the air, slicing into buildings and the cabin of the helicopter. 

Reese didn’t feel the impact.  One moment he was conscious, then the world suddenly went black.

Available Now

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Giveaway: Win a $20 Amazon e-gift card (US Dollars) and a digital copy of The Ultimate Betrayal! Giveaway runs from today until June 25th!

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About the Author

Kat Martin head shot (high res)

New York Times Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.

Kat Martin | FacebookTwitter | BookBub | Instagram

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Book Tour & Giveaway: The Cuts that Cure by Arthur Herbert @HerbertWriter @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books

Welcome to the tour for chilling new thriller, The Cuts that Cure by Arthur Herbert! Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a signed edition of the book!

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The Cuts that Cure

Publication Date: May 11th, 2021

Genre: Dark Suspense/ Inverted Mystery

Publisher: White Bird Publishing

Alex Brantley is a disgraced surgeon whose desperation to start a new life outside of medicine leads him to settle in a sleepy Texas town close to the Mexican border, a town that has a dark side. Its secrets and his own past catch up with him as traits he thought he’d buried in the deserts on the frontiers of the border rise up again to haunt him.

To the citizens of Three Rivers, Henry Wallis appears to be a normal Texas teenager: a lean, quiet kid from a good family whose life seems to center around his first girlfriend and Friday night football. That Henry is a cultivated illusion, however, a disguise he wears to conceal his demons. Both meticulous and brutally cruel, he manages to hide his sadistic indulgences from the world. But with that success, his impulses grow stronger until one day when a vagrant is found murdered.

When Alex’s and Henry’s paths cross, a domino effect is created leading to mangled lives and chilling choices made in the shadows along la frontera, where everything is negotiable.

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Excerpt

          After fifteen minutes in the car, the pounding rain didn’t show any signs of letting up. Lozano sighed and hit pause. He found his glasses, zipped up the yellow rain slicker with SAPD stenciled on the back in large black letters and flipped up the hood. Swapping his loafers for rubber boots, he steeled himself before popping the car door enough to quickly open an umbrella and walked out into the pelting rain.

          He legged it around an ambulance parked in the spot closest to the trailhead, and as the backs of his thighs became damp he broke into a trot, headed in the direction of a small pavilion covering a single picnic table. Once under the pavilion, Lozano had just collapsed his umbrella when a Parks Department vehicle drove by too fast, throwing a wall of spray on him.

          A gangly young man with shaggy blonde hair that stuck to his cheeks like a Centurion’s helmet sat before him on the picnic table. His soul patch wicked water down his chin, and his gray Parks Department uniform—open to his navel and framing a puka necklace—now clung to his torso like he’d stepped out of the shower. He was shivering despite the warmth of the rain.

          The downpour thrummed on the pavilion’s tin roof, amplified so that Lozano had to raise his voice. “Morning, sir. I’m Detective Lozano. You the man who called this in?”

          A forlorn, “Yeah.”

          “Your name?”

          “Mitchell. Mitchell Gansereit.”

          “Mr. Gansereit, can you tell me what happened? Start from the beginning.”

          “Me and Colin McPherson was detailed to pick up some trash out of the crick that runs through the back side of the park. We knew it was ’posed to rain today so we wanted to hurry up and get to it so’s we didn’t get soaked.

          “We was at it for couple’a hours and was getting close to done when a man come up to us while we was working back there. He said he was jogging on the other side of the park over where all them cedars is and that he come up on a smell that was somethin’ awful, like somethin’ died.”

          “Did you get that man’s name?” Lozano asked, interrupting the man’s story.

          “No, he just took off jogging again. Me and Colin didn’t think much of it, lotta deer back in here, we figured one had died.

          “Anyway, I told Colin I’d go check it out, mostly just so’s I wouldn’t have to carry the bags of trash back out to the truck.

          “I went back up in them cedars and right off I could smell what the fella was talking ’bout. Smelled like Bigfoot took a shit on a pile of rotten eggs. I followed to where it was getting stronger, kept thinking I’d come up on a carcass, you know?”

          Lozano nodded.

          “Smell took me up to a blue tent about a hunnert feet off the trail. Once I figured out the smell’s comin’ from there, that’s when I started getting a bad feeling. Little sick to my stomach, not just from the smell. There’s ’bout a dozen homeless guys more or less live up in here full time. Generally, they don’t do no harm to nobody so’s we mostly don’t bother ’em. Figger live an’ let live.

          “So I come sidling up to that tent, calling out, like. ‘Hello? Anybody home? Knock, knock’, like that. But I didn’t get no answer. Man, I didn’t wanna go look up under that tarp for nothing.”

          His speech had been rapid to that point, but it slowed and he looked down between his feet where they rested on the table’s wooden bench, as though trying to read the graffiti carved there.

          He cleared his throat then continued, “Finally, though I decided it was time to nut up. I come ’round the back of the tent and looked inside.

          “Sir, if I close my eyes right now, I can see it perfect, just like I’m sittin’ here looking at you. I seen this fella, laying on his side, knees pulled up, hands folded under his head like this”—Mitchell demonstrated, pantomiming sleep—“like he was sleeping or something. I called out loud to him, ‘Hey! Wakey wakey!’ You know? But he didn’t move a muscle. Smell by then was so bad I had to pinch my nose and try just to breathe through my mouth, but that smell was so goddam strong I could taste it. It was like burning up in my eyes, my nose, all sick-sweet.”

          Here he gave another shiver, closed his eyes and shook his head.

          “I went to give him a shake, but when I took aholt of his leg, it was reeeeal cold. Then when I tried to turn him over onto his back, at first he wouldn’t budge, not an inch. Just stiff as a board. Finally, I just pulled hard on his leg and his whole body come up, but still without bending his arms an’ legs. They was frozen in place, just sticking out in the air like they was one a’ them dummies you see in a store window.

          “That’s when I seen his face and hands was all purple and green and puffed up, like somebody’d blowed him up all full of air or something.

          “But sir, it’s the last part that’ll haunt me for the rest of my days. God as my witness, it was somethin’ I’ll take with me t’ my grave.

          “When he come up off the ground, his mouth was open just a little bit, and dear sweet baby Jesus I heard him make this long moan sound, like he was in pain, and for a half a second I thought he was gonna open his eyes wide and reach out to grab me, gonna grab me and hug me to him.

          “Lord help me, I went ass over tea kettle backwards. I just remember gettin’ tangled up on that rope and that plastic and then runnin’ like the devil hisself was after me. Ran all the way back to the truck.”

          Now his voice cracked. He reached into his shirt pocket and took out a pack of cigarettes, hands trembling. He tapped one out and put it to his lips, but his fingers shook so badly he had difficulty lighting it.

          He took a long drag and restlessly bounced his leg. “Colin wasn’t no help. I asked him, hell, begged him to call it in. Chickenshit asshole kept saying that going to check out dead bodies ain’t in his job description. The son of a bitch.”

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About the Author

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Arthur Herbert was born and raised in small town Texas. He worked on offshore oil rigs, as a bartender, a landscaper at a trailer park, and as a social worker before going to medical school. He chose to do a residency in general surgery, followed by a fellowship in critical care and trauma surgery. For the last seventeen years, he’s worked as a trauma and burn surgeon, operating on all ages of injured patients. He continues to run a thriving practice.

His debut novel, The Cuts that Cure, will be released by White Bird Publishing in Austin Texas on May 11th, 2021. He’s begun work on his second novel, a mystery with the working title Strutting Through the Storm.

Arthur currently lives in New Orleans, with his wife Amy and their dogs. He loves hearing from his readers, so don’t hesitate to email him at arthur@arthurherbertwriter.com

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Publication Day: Weathering Old Souls by Didi Oviatt & James J. Cudney @jamescudney4 @Didi_Oviatt @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #WeatheringOldSouls

Congratulations to Didi Oviatt and James J. Cudney on the release of their novel, Weathering Old Souls!

Read on for details, an exclusive excerpt and a week full of fantastic giveaways!

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Weathering Old Souls

Publication Date: May 15th, 2021 🎉🎉🎉

Genre: Contemporary Fiction with historical interludes, metaphysical elements, past life regression, suspense & mystery.

Publisher: Next Chapter

Abigail has always struggled with strange voices appearing inside her head. From the relentless tyranny a woman faces on an antebellum plantation to the unknown prison camps in America during World War II, our heroine discovers the past in a way that forever changes her future. There are moments from previous periods that serve as guiding posts for the country’s growth, but they also mark the transitions for Abigail’s own personal history. Her best friend, Margaret, partners with Abigail to discover the identity of these voices while focusing on her passion and quest to become a United States senator. Through it all, a serial killer torments the country, romance blossoms between some of the people they meet during the journey, and secrets long thought buried come to light in devastating ways. With the twisting of elements, numerical alignments, and the trauma of spiritual entanglements, no one will be the same… and just a few might not even be around anymore.

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Excerpt

One morning as winter should’ve been transitioning into spring, an eight-year-old Abigail awakens with a piercing scream. She bolts upright and snails herself to the edge of her bed, placing a heavy hand on her chest to help steady herself and catch her breath. Her body twinges as though she’s fallen down a flight of stairs or been slammed by a double-decker trolley. The agony starts in the muscles behind her shoulder blade. From there it feels like a rocket exploded, escaping through her chest, leaving only traces of burning gases to snake their way through the rest of her fragile body. She coughs violently as her system tries to rid itself of unknown toxins.

The bedroom is dark and frigid because the pipes broke the previous day and her father was too busy sleeping off a hangover to call a contractor to fix them. Oliver has no mechanical knowledge or experience with home repair, but he tells Abigail that the Stauntons will address the issue since their heating system has also experienced problems with the winter storms that year. It’s been an unpredictable season, much more so than the usual winter in South Carolina. Some days Abigail has played outside all afternoon, hardly catching a chill. Others she wakes to a beautifully ominous layer of frost clinging to every blade of yellow grass as if its very life depends on it. 

A thin glint of light pushes through the crack between the bottom of the broken shade and the splintered windowsill. Abigail watches as the sparkly dust settles on the foot of her bed and shines brightly. It reminds her of the quartz necklace dangling on the neck of the woman in her scary dream. It was gorgeous and made the woman feel safe and comforted as it has in every dream where it made an appearance. Abigail’s told Margaret about the necklace many times, wishing she could hop out of bed today and do it again. It’s only been two months since she saw Margaret, but missing her is more than just a faint feeling. It’s soul crushing. She aches for Margaret’s companionship like any other child would her own sibling who’s grown up and gone on without her. 

In her nightmare, Abigail was stuck inside the body of an old lady running through a field, sweat pouring from her head down the curves of her hollowed and withdrawn cheeks. It was pitch black, and there were trees all around her, the wind shaking the branches such that they whispered secret directions in an unknown language. They resembled monsters with claw-like arms and vicious teeth, ready to bite her flailing limbs. Someone had been chasing her, but Abigail never saw the figure’s face.

Confusion rocks her body. Part of her is the small innocent child who wants to scream for Elizabeth, but a stronger piece of her feels much older, more mature, as if she’s lived for decades, maybe even centuries. She shakes through the aftermath of terror, unable to make sense of what happened in her sleep. All she knows is that it was horrific and made her fear something awful was destined to happen. Abigail wonders if her nightmares relate to the bits of conversation she’s overheard between Elizabeth and Bradford in the past. Elizabeth once said something about a killer coming after them again, but they’d ultimately agreed they were much safer now.

After deliberating with Imaginary May for a few moments, Abigail announces, “I can handle this on my own. I am a big girl. Margaret’s gone, but she taught me to be strong.”

She cuddles the teddy bear that Elizabeth gifted her last month for Valentine’s Day. Elizabeth had always bought one for Margaret when she was a child, the kind of mother and daughter tradition that Abigail has always yearned for. This is the first year that Margaret has been away for Spring Break during Valentine’s Day. Elizabeth missed her daughter immensely, so she purchased two identical teddy bears at the local toy store. One for Margaret, who would be home on Spring Break soon, and one for her favorite little neighbor and second daughter.

With a heavy sigh, Abigail stretches her arms above her head, extends her legs, and spreads her toes apart. Then she drops her chin to her chest, before rolling her head around in big circles. Four times each direction, one for every major element. She studied them in school that year. With each round of her neck, Abigail breathes in and counts to ten, then she lets out the air and reminds herself of everything she has to be grateful for. Margaret once taught her this morning routine, to help her ease the body tremors brought about by a nightmare, as the last doctor she saw refused to give any pain medication or advice. The stretching and breathing exercises help, and her pains slowly evaporate like a faint mist over a swamp.

An oblong mirror that’s mounted to the wall across from her window offers Abigail a dust-clouded view of her messy hair as it knots and sticks out in every direction, along with her worn-out unicorn covered nightgown. She chuckles at the sight of herself, and the last of her anxiety and spasms disappear. She imagines the body aches to have a color, a dull shade of lilac, as they lift in a swirling pattern like hazy smoke and exit out of the beam of light coming through the window.

“Stay away, you filthy bloke,” she chastises the imaginary swirl of colorful pain. 

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Weathering Old Souls

About the Author: Didi Oviatt

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Didi Oviatt is an intuitive soul. She’s a wife and mother first, with one son and one daughter. Her thirst to write was developed at an early age, and she never looked back. After digging down deep and getting in touch with her literary self, she’s writing mystery/thrillers like Search for Maylee, Justice for Belle, Aggravated Momentum, and Sketch, along with multiple short story collections. She’s collaborated with Kim Knight in an ongoing interactive short story anthology, The Suspenseful Collection. Most recently, she published her first romance novella titled Skinny Dippin’ which was originally released as a part of the highly appraised Anthology, Sinners and Saints. When Didi doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, she can be found enjoying a laid-back outdoorsy lifestyle. Time spent sleeping under the stars, hiking, fishing, and ATVing the back roads of beautiful mountain trails, and sun-bathing in the desert heat play an important part of her day to day lifestyle.

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About the Author: James J. Cudney

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James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media, hospitality, and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote short stories, poems, and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I committed to focusing my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing, and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, mind, and body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels, and suspense thrillers. I conjure characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies, or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read two books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review, and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice, and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks,” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

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