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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Shadows in the Fog by Greg Messel

Title: Shadows in the Fog
Author: Greg Messel
Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing
Pages: 353
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON
The story begins on a stormy morning in February of 1959. The front page of the morning paper is dominated by news of the plane crash which killed rock ’n roll stars Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens. 

Private Eye Sam Slater is hired to perform what he thinks is a routine two-day job as a favor for a friend. However, it all goes terribly wrong when a young San Francisco policeman is gunned down while sitting in a parked car with Sam. 

The murder sets off a chain of events which will pull Sam and his wife and partner, Amelia, into a dangerous web of intrigue in the dark, shadowy alleys and back rooms of San Francisco’s Chinatown

In the winter of 1959, Amelia resigns as a TWA stewardess and is now Sam’s full time partner in the private eye business. 

Sam and Amelia inadvertently come in conflict with the San Francisco mob boss after helping a crusading newspaper reporter who is working to expose corruption in Chinatown. Now a mysterious dark car follows the Slaters every where they go. Sam and Amelia discover a hidden world of corrupt cops, gambling parlors, brothels and human trafficking exists right under their noses. 

At the same time, a rising California politician hires Sam and Amelia to find his daughter who disappeared without a trace three years earlier. The search is prompted by the sudden appearance of a letter from the woman, who was presumed dead. 

As Sam and Amelia pursue these cases, they discover that all the clues lead them back to Chinatown. The Slaters want to avoid taking on the San Francisco crime lords head-on. However, when Amelia is kidnapped in an alley during the Chinese New Year’s celebration, Sam plunges himself into danger desperately searching Chinatown to find her before it’s too late. 

The reader will be drawn into fast moving events which culminate in a harrowing conclusion as Sam Slater races against the clock on a foggy night in Chinatown.

“Shadows In The Fog” is the fifth book in the the award winning Sam Slater Mysteries Series but is a stand-alone thriller in the tradition of great whodunits.

Book Excerpt:

The heavy blanket of clouds that had hung on the city all day was especially thick in the Ocean Beach area near Playland. It felt like rain.

When Amelia arrived at her car, which she had parked in a side lot by the Funhouse, she opened the door before removing her trench coat and tossing it on the front seat. She had been overdressed in Cassandra’s parlor, leaving on her coat over her gray wool dress.

As she stood by her car, a slow moving large blue car caught her eye. She froze. There were two lines of parked cars in the lot.  Amelia noticed that the driver of the car seemed to be watching her as he slowly drove through the parking lot. 
She watched the man suspiciously and wondered if he might be looking for a parking spot. Maybe the man in the blue car was waiting for her to vacate her spot. Amelia continue to watch him and thought if he tried something she could always turn and run into the Funhouse.

The large blue car then stopped as it entered the row where Amelia was parked. 

Amelia leaned in to place her purse on the seat and thought of taking the handgun out of her purse. It was then that the blue car suddenly accelerated and then slammed on it’s brakes with a screech right behind Amelia’s car. 
Amelia had been concentrating on the slow-moving car and never saw the second man rapidly approaching her from behind.  The assailant put a black hood over Amelia’s head and grabbed her arm, painfully twisting it behind her before pushing her into the back seat of the blue car. The swiftness of the attack was so unexpected that Amelia had no chance to cry out before she felt herself being held down on the back seat by the large powerful man.

She heard the car door slam. “Let’s get outta here!” the man said to his partner and the car began to drive away. 

Book Trailer:

About the Author

Greg Messel has spent most of his adult life interested in writing, including a career in the newspaper business. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist and has contributed articles to various magazines. Greg retired from the corporate world and now lives in South JordanUtah with his wife of over 40 years, Carol Madsen Messel. They have three adult children who are married and have 11 grandchildren.

Greg has written eight novels. His latest is "Shadows In The Fog" which is the fifth in a series of mysteries set in 1959 San Francisco. "Fog City Strangler," "San Francisco Secrets," "Deadly Plunge" are sequels to the first book in the series "Last of the Seals." His other three novels are "Sunbreaks," "Expiation" and "The Illusion of Certainty."

Greg is currently working on his ninth novel--the sixth in the mystery series--"Cable Car Mystery"--which will be published in late 2015.

For More Information


Greg Messel is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway begins December 1 and ends February 13.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, February 1i6.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Spotlight: Charlotte Mysteries Series (Run & Stand) by Becky Johnson

Title: Run
Author: Becky Johnson
Publisher: Becky Johnson
Pages: 160
Genre: Mystery Suspense
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON
A decades old mystery and a deadly game of cat and mouse will change Charlotte Marshall forever.

Charlotte has a good life: friends, family, a successful career. Her perfect life is destroyed when research for a book and a connection from her past plunges her into the middle of her worst nightmare.

On the run, with no one to trust, Charlotte begins to unravel the work of a sadistic murderer. Afraid and alone, she will learn the meaning of trust and just when to run.

Book Excerpt:
It’s ironic really, the chain of events that led me here, kneeling in the dirt with a gun to my head.
My tale of woe, if I can be so bold as to call it that, started innocently enough. It started with spelling words and dinner.
As a student I was smart but a horrible speller. (Dyslexia will do that to you.) In order to get me through my spelling test every week, my mother, who naturally was a school teacher, worked with me every night on my spelling words. While I sat at the table working on my spelling, she watched the news and made dinner. It would not be an understatement to say it was the least favorite part of my day. I would sit at the kitchen table wanting to be outside or really just about anywhere else, and write out my words for the week ten times each, then in a sentence, then test myself with flashcards.
Certain, certain, certain. I am certain I do not want to be doing this.
However, however, however.  However, I don’t have a choice…
“Earlier today, police in Cherry Hill responded to a call from local kids at the park…”
Balance, balance, balance. What sentence could I use for balance…? The seal balanced a ball on his nose. Stupid but it would work.
“…the body of an unidentified female adolescent was discovered…”
My attention was caught. Spelling words forgotten.
“…sources say the victim was raped and tortured before she was murdered. Her body was mutilated. Police are asking that anyone…”
What? The words of the newscaster left me feeling unsettled. I knew something bad had happened; for the first time, the world was scary. I knew enough to put that together, but the why left me shaken. Why would someone kill a girl?
“I don’t get it, Mom, what happened?”
Once my mom realized I was talking about the news, the TV was turned off and I was redirected back to my spelling words. I bent back over my spelling words while my mind whirled. I knew there was something different about this story. The unknown girl stuck in my head.

Title: Stand
Author: Becky Johnson
Publisher: Becky Johnson
Pages: 160
Genre: Mystery Suspense
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON
Nine months ago Charlotte Marshall survived a nightmare when she was hunted by a sadistic killer. Now routine, ritual, and a vigorous self-defense schedule barely keep the fear at bay.

Desperate to move on Charlotte finds hope in volunteering with FindMe, an organization dedicated to finding missing people and helping their families. Her first case ends up being more than she bargained for, and she soon learns that a little hope can be a dangerous thing.

While Charlotte unravels a mystery, an old enemy circles waiting for just the right moment to strike. Charlotte will have to choose to stand and fight, or to give in to the fear that waits for her.
Book Excerpt:
My own scream woke me.
Zero to sixty in less than a second. One second I was sound asleep, and the next I was bolt upright in bed with the sound of my scream still echoing across the bedroom. My heart thundered in my chest, and my panting breaths sounded loud in the silence. My shaking hands gripped the blanket in tight fists. Kitty looked up at me from her cozy spot at the end of the bed. Yellow eyes blinked. Then she meowed in sympathy and dropped her calico head back down onto her paws. She used to love sleeping curled right up against me. But my regular nightmares disrupted her. Unfortunately nightmares are not an uncommon occurrence. I have suffered from them ever since Lawrence Pheares.
Nine months ago I faced a monster, a murderer responsible for the deaths of twenty-three innocent girls. At night he haunts me. Sometimes the dreams are a reenactment of the events. I see Pheares choking me. Or I remember Jack and Pheares fighting. Sometimes the nightmares are filled with images of my lost girls. I watch helpless as Emily runs from a mad man. I cannot save her. The worst ones though, the dreams that make it impossible for me to go back to sleep, are the ones like the nightmare I just woke up from. They leave me with a jumble of images and tangled feelings. Nothing concrete that makes sense. When I wake up screaming, I am overwhelmed with terror. That’s the only feeling or sense I get from these dreams, bone deep fear.
According to my therapist I am suffering from PTSD. Simple letters for a life that is changed by trauma. Nine months ago I had lived the nightmare. It all began so simply. I was doing research for my next novel when I stumbled onto a serial killer and twenty-three girls who were abducted, raped, tortured, murdered, and then thrown away. When I found the killer, he found me. I almost didn’t survive. In the end I beat Lawrence Pheares, but in doing so I was forever changed.
Without conscious thought, my hand reached over to cover the E tattooed on the inside of my right arm, a daily reminder of what I had survived and a tribute to those innocent girls who did not.
In the months since I discovered evidence of a serial killer and my life became entwined with those lost girls who were heartlessly killed by a madman, I had become a different person, scared of my own shadow. At first it wasn’t so bad. I was still cruising on adrenaline. Now every day is a battle.
When I let myself really think about it, thoughts of Georgia frighten me the most. I never learned from Pheares what role she played in the killings, but I knew in my heart that she had one. Pheares was dead. But I knew Georgia was still out there. There was no evidence of this, but my gut told me different. I knew she was alive. I could feel her watching me.
I looked over at my bedside clock. It was four forty-three in the morning. There was no point in trying to go back to sleep. My body was slick with sweat and the hands I ran over my face shook. Max, my black Pit Bull mix, looked at me from his spot beside my bed. His ears were perked. Brown eyes focused on me. He looked ready to get up with me or go back to sleep, depending on my next move. These days Max rarely leaves my side. He is a good friend.
I swung my legs over and sat on the edge of the bed. A few deep breaths later my heart was no longer racing, and I was ready to get up.
I start every morning with yoga. It is one of my therapies. Sometimes I think if I don’t do the little things like yoga, running, and journaling, I will plunge into a well of terror that will dominate me. So every morning, no matter what, I make myself stick to my routine, as though that alone will save me. That morning my poses were a little shaky from my nightmare, but I made it through them. Mountain pose. Forward bend. Down dog. I could feel myself steadying. Warrior two. Down dog. Tree pose. I finished with two sun salutations then stood in mountain pose just breathing.
Max knows my new pattern. When my routine was finished he was ready to go. He leaned his big body against me and gave that look dog owners everywhere know – outside please.
I will admit I am afraid of becoming agoraphobic. It would be so easy. But I make myself go outside. If I didn’t, I think I could live a very content and safe life, never leaving the safety of my home. But that would mean that Pheares won. I can’t let him win. So, every day I force myself to venture outdoors. I stand outside and consider it a small victory in the midst of many battles. Max helps.
I grabbed Max’s leash from the hall closet and layered on warm winter gear. Coat, gloves, hat, boots. December in New Jersey is cold. It was so early that it was dark outside and very still. It had already been a rough icy winter. There were several inches of snow on the ground. I paused at my front door, Max waited patiently on his leash beside me. A few deep breaths, and I was able to convince myself to open the door.
My last home burned down, part of the drama I endured nine months ago with Pheares. He burned my home and destroyed everything I owned. He took so much from me, but at the end I was still standing. After a brief stay in a temporary condo, courtesy of my agent, my new home is comfortably located in a quiet development with lots of space between the houses and a big fenced backyard for Max. The small two story home has a nice open floor plan downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. It backs up to trees and a lake, so it is quiet.
It feels like too much quiet sometimes, but I like it.
The only nice thing about taking Max outside in the winter is that he is as happy to move quickly and get back inside as I am. He is not a fan of the cold. My breath left cold puffs of fog in the air and I shifted in place to stay warm. It was eerily quiet out, still too early for most of the world to be stirring. As I waited for Max to finish his business, headlights flashed over my front door. A car turned the corner onto my street. I tensed. As it rolled closer I recognized the logo of the security company hired to patrol my neighborhood. It was one of things that attracted me to this development. I was looking for a sense of security, wanting to feel safe. It hasn’t worked, but I gave the security car a wave as it slowly moved past my house. Looks like Carl. I had made a point to know every guard that patrolled. I know everyone who is a help or a possible threat in my fragile world.
Max finished his business, shivered from the chilly air, and whined to go back inside. We ran toward the door. After the cold the first wave of warmth was almost too much. I didn’t really relax until I heard the locks click. I was glad to be out of the cold and the dark. I always breathe a little easier when I am safely locked inside my home.
I striped off all the winter gear I had piled on and put them back in their respective places in the hall closet.
After a shower to wash away the sweat from my nightmare and yoga, and then a bowl of Cheerios, I felt almost ready to face the day.
I stood facing the mirror wearing a pair of yoga pants and a sports bra, my other daily ritual. I took stock of my body and its changes. Same long light blonde hair pulled back into a sensible ponytail, same dark blue eyes and overbite. The differences from nine months ago are obvious. I’ve lost over twenty-five pounds. Anything less than a hundred and twenty on my frame is too skinny. I was too skinny. The dark circles under my eyes were almost permanent. The biggest change though is my eyes. I used to be innocent, innocent to murder and cruelty. I’m not anymore. My eyes now are old. The changes were obvious. However, they were not all negative. I was strong. My arms had muscles they never had before. I was tough, inside and out. Looking at my reflection I repeated the same positive mantra I said every morning. You are strong. You are a survivor. Then I finished getting dressed and drove into Philly.

About the Author

Books are Becky Johnson’s passion and always have been. She used to get in trouble in school for reading during class!
Becky has Master’s degrees in social work and history, and for her day job she is a social worker. In her writing she tries to answer a question that is important to both social work and history:  Why? She always wants to know why people do the things they do or feel the way they feel.
When not reading or writing she enjoys yoga, cooking, and makes a pretty mean chili!
Her latest books of the Charlotte Marshall Mysteries series are Run and Stand.
For More Information

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Broken Bonds by Karen Harper

Title: Broken Bonds
Author: Karen Harper
Publisher: MIRA
Pages: 384
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Hardback, Paperback, Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON

Haunted by the past…
Cold Creek is a place with a dark history, especially for the Lockwoods. Now adults, the three Lockwood sisters are still recovering from the events that led to the destruction of their family when they were children. Determined to move forward, Tess and Kate are making fresh starts, ready to put bad—even deadly—memories to rest and settle happily in the small but booming town. And they're hoping their older sister, Charlene, can do the same.
Char is back in town seeking comfort as she figures out her next move. A social worker used to difficult situations, she soon runs afoul of some locals who think she's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong. She's certain something sinister is being covered up, and when she witnesses Matt Rowan being run off the road, she knows she's right.
Working together, Matt and Char figure uncovering the truth will be dangerous, but living in Cold Creek won't be safe for any of them until its secrets are revealed.

Book Excerpt:
Excerpt # 1
As she made the next sharp turn, Char gasped. A white truck with Lake Azure, Inc. painted on its side was tipped nearly off the cliff, right where the school bus stopped for the kids who lived above. She’d heard a horn honk long and loud a few minutes earlier. Maybe the truck missed the last turn and spun out, since its rear, not its front, was dangling over the edge, propped up by two trees. No other vehicle was nearby to help.
She put her emergency blinkers on and pulled as close to the cliff face as she could. She jumped down from her truck and ran across the road toward the truck. A man was inside!
“What should I do?” she shouted, her voice shrill. It sounded like a stupid question. She had to get the man out of his truck before it crashed over the edge.
The bitter, strong wind ripped at her hair and jacket. What if a blast of air tipped him off? Or maybe even if he moved. She’d swear the two tree trunks that held his truck were shaking as hard as she was.
She could hear the engine was still running. The driver opened an automatic window.
“A guy in a truck shoved me off,” he shouted. “Meant to. I don’t have any traction. I’m afraid if I shift my weight or open a door to jump out, I’ll send it over.”
The fact someone had done this on purpose stunned her. What was going on? If her cell phone worked up here, she’d call her brother-in-law, the county sheriff, for help, but she was on her own. It wouldn’t help to go back up for help from Elinor and Penny.
“Don’t move until I get something you can hang on to if the truck goes. I have some jump ropes I can tie together. Those trees are shaky.”
I’m shaky. Hurry!”
She ran to her truck and knotted together the three jump ropes she had, tying square knots because she knew they would hold. But she’d never be able to balance the man’s weight if the truck went over the edge.
“I’ve got ropes here, but I’ll have to tie the end to a tree. I don’t dare drive close enough to you to tie it to my truck. It would never stretch that far.”
She knotted it around the trunk of a pine tree that looked sturdy enough, though that almost took the length of one rope. This wasn’t going to work.
A grinding sound, then a crunch reverberated as the truck seemed to jerk once then settled closer to the cliff edge.
“Now or never!” he shouted and opened his door fast.
Excerpt # 2
Matt grabbed her—almost tackled her—and rolled them off the low concrete single step into the wet leaves. He pulled her around the corner of the cabin, where they huddled, kneeling with her pressed between him and the outside wall.
“I—I can’t believe that,” she whispered. “We could have—could have been hit.”
“And I’m the common denominator. Either someone’s been following me, looking for another chance at me, or someone’s staked out your place, knowing we’re together.”
They were whispering in each other’s ears. “The headlights made us the perfect target,” she said. “If we hadn’t stepped apart…the arrow came head high, not chest level.”
“Either way it could have killed one or both of us.”
She was not only scared but furious. Someone had ruined her new place, ruined this beautiful night.
“Stay here,” he said. “I’m going to get to the car, turn it around so the headlights shine into the trees where the arrow must have come from. It’s sticking in the wood at an upward angle—like it was shot from the sky. Probably just arced up, then hit.”
“Should we call Gabe?”
“Not unless we spot someone. My bet is we’ll find no one out there. And it’s late. Let’s give him a break and call him in the morning. Tonight you can go down to stay in one of the guest rooms at the lodge where—”
“It’s my first night here! I’m not running, even if some stupid hunter or even worse wants to scare me off.”
“Char, just for the night!”
“I’m not going to leave. I’m going to get that arrow for evidence, tape up the hole and lock my doors.”
“Then I’m staying, too.”
“I’ll sleep on the couch, just in case.”
“And if it’s you the shooter’s after? That could have been the second attempt on your life.”
Excerpt # 3
She started to get out until she saw the driver of the truck was really covered up for the weather. She could see through his windshield that he wore a ski mask, leaving only his eyes visible. He climbed down and started toward her truck, holding up his hands as if to apologize.
Could this be the man who nearly ran Matt off the cliff?
She turned the ignition back on, put the truck in Reverse, yanked the steering wheel and tried to back up to get some maneuvering room, but she was held tight by the tree, and her wheels spun. She laid on her horn, but saw no other vehicle on the road.
The man went back to his truck and returned, holding a metal carjack, the kind needed to change a flat tire. He walked now with swift, strong strides. She knew he was going to use it to smash her window. Was this guy desperate or crazy? They were on a public road in broad daylight.
She waited until he came close and raised the car jack. He hit the glass of the driver’s-side window, which only cracked on the first blow. She had to do the unexpected and fast, run for help. She’d seen a car parked at her childhood home if she could make it there. She dug in her big purse for her phone. Too much in here—couldn’t feel it. She had to go now or he’d have her!
In an instant, she unlocked her doors, tried to grab her heavy purse, but he reached for it, too, yanked it and tipped her toward him. She slid away from the steering wheel and clambered out the other side, forced to leave the purse, the phone. She had no illusions he just wanted the purse. She slipped to her knees in the ice-crusted snow, then clawed her way up and raced toward the trees.

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Karen Harper is a former college English instructor (The Ohio State University) and high school literature and writing teacher. A lifelong Ohioan, Karen and her husband Don divide their time between the midwest and the southeast, both locations she has used in her books. Besides her American settings, Karen loves the British Isles, where her Scottish and English roots run deep, and where she has set many of her historical Tudor-era mysteries and her historical novels about real and dynamic British women. Karen's books have been published in many foreign languages and she won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for 2005. Karen has given numerous talks to readers and writers across the county.
Her latest book is the romantic suspense, Broken Bonds, the third book in the Cold Creek Trilogy.

For More Information


Karen Harris is giving away 10 sets of the Cold Creek Trilogy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway