Thursday, December 6, 2018

Free for Kindle: Angela Marchmont Mystery Books 1 & 2 by Clara Benson

On his return from South Africa, Charles Knox is invited to spend the weekend at the country home of Sir Neville Strickland, whose beautiful wife Rosamund was once Knox's fiancée. But in the dead of night Sir Neville is murdered. Who did it? As suspicion falls on each of the house guests in turn, Knox finds himself faced with deception and betrayal on all sides, and only the enigmatic Angela Marchmont seems to offer a solution to the mystery. This 1920s whodunit will delight all fans of traditional country house murder stories.

Old Philip Haynes was never happier than when his family were at each other's throats. Even after his death the terms of his will ensured they would keep on feuding. But now three people are dead and the accusations are flying. Can there really be a murderer in the family? Torn between friendship and duty, Angela Marchmont must find out the truth before the killer can strike again.

For these, and other Angela Marchmont mysteries, visit the author's Amazon page.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Book Spotlight: Too Far Gone by Allison Brennan

Things finally seem to be going well for FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid. She's just finished training for Hostage Rescue, her husband's relationship with his son is back on track, and her tense relationship with her boss, Rachel Vaughn, has become much more bearable. That is, until her first hostage case throws everything off track.

When a man who appears under the influence and mentally unstable holds a group of people hostage and dies in a shootout with the FBI, Lucy is assigned to investigate what happened. His descent doesn't make any sense - he was an upstanding citizen a year ago and only started declining after a series of blackouts and strange occurrences. Even his autopsy seems suspicious, and the body has been cremated without the proper approval. As Lucy investigates, she realizes that this story may be more complicated than she thinks, and that her own life might be in danger.



FBI Special Agent Lucy Kincaid geared up in the back of the SWAT van and followed team leader Leo Proc- tor to the staging area kitty-corner to the coffeehouse that was currently under control of a gunman. Lucy wasn’t part of the SWAT team. She was the newest trained hostage negotiator, though she would be second to Proctor for a minimum of six months. She wouldn’t be talking to the suspect today; she was tagging along on her first official outing after completing Hostage and Crisis Response Training at Quantico.
As soon as she stepped out of the air-conditioned van and into the hot Texas humidity, she began to sweat. Fortunately, she wasn’t decked out with an extra twenty- five pounds of SWAT gear; she was only required to wear her Kevlar vest and sidearm.
The FBI was here to back up the SAPD, who were taking lead in the hostage situation at Java Antonio, a small but popular independent coffee shop in downtown San Antonio.

Lucy followed Leo from the van while the rest of the team checked their weapons and gear.
“Lieutenant, sit-rep?” Leo said to the man clearly in charge who was directing personnel from the back of a police communications van. There were a dozen city and county vehicles filling all four streets that led to the intersection, which now held a tactical truck. Each street had been blocked off, and all businesses in a two-block radius evacuated or locked down.
“Proctor. Glad you’re here.” He glanced at Lucy. “Agent Kincaid, hostage negotiator. Kincaid, Lieu-
tenant Jordan Young.”
They shook hands. Young was forty and had the aura of former military officer, and it was clear by how his officers spoke to him that he garnered respect from his men and women.
“I need you to negotiate, Leo—I’ve already set up a command, I’m the highest-ranking officer here.”
“My people are your people,” Proctor said. “Kincaid’s my second.”
Being second essentially meant backing up the primary negotiator. Listening to all communication, taking notes, passing along information between the negotiator and command and vice versa.
Generally the individual in charge of the scene was not the same person negotiating with the suspect. That SAPD and the SA-FBI worked well together was a tes- tament to the men and women who led each department and the teams who cross-trained together.
“I have two snipers, one on each corner building,” Young said, gesturing. “Two men in the back. If you can

spare a pair I’d like to have them tag up with my team in the alley, and if you have a sniper we can use one back there. The rear is the only exit other than the front door.” Proctor said in his radio, “Dunning, take your team and secure the back with SAPD; Ramirez, find a roost with clear line of sight to the emergency exit. From here on out, Lieutenant Young is in command of this operation and you’ll take direction from him, primary
emergency channel.”
“Roger,” the team leader said over the radio. “Suspect?” Proctor asked.
Young shook his head. “Working on an ID. No cameras inside, but we have a description from one of the hostages who escaped during the initial confusion. In fact, a dozen people got out before the shooter locked down. From preliminary statements, the guy was talk- ing to himself and acting ‘off’—weird was the word most used. He was wearing a thick windbreaker and it’s over ninety degrees and humid as hell. When the man- ager confronted him, he snapped—per a witness. An- other witness said he acted like he was quote, ‘off his meds.’”
Unfortunately, Lucy knew that mental illness was one of the leading causes of spontaneous hostage situations. But generally, if the individual was mentally ill, they took people they knew hostage—family or friends—in a residence. This situation was distinctly different.
Young continued. “He fired two shots. Per witnesses, they both went into the ceiling. No one saw anyone in- jured inside. There are conflicting statements as to how many guns he has and what kind, though I’m going

with one of the witnesses who stated he’s a gun owner and identified a nine-millimeter in the shooter’s hand, standard-capacity magazine, and a second handgun in his waistband, also a semi-auto—either a nine-mil or a forty-five.”
“Number of hostages?”
“Best guess is fourteen. Do you have thermal imag- ing in your truck? Fire can set up as well, but they’re still en route.”
“We got it,” Proctor said. “My tech just needs a minute.”
“Good. We need to know where he is, get some sense as to what’s going on in there.”
“Is this personal?” Proctor asked. “Target an em- ployee? Customer?”
“Don’t know. We asked the witnesses for the basics, everyone said that he was alone and didn’t appear to know anyone. They are all sequestered down the street, my people are working to get more information. He hasn’t called out or made demands, but this whole thing started less than an hour ago. I need you to make con- tact, develop a rapport as we gather additional informa- tion. We need to de-escalate this as fast as possible.”
Proctor listened to his com then said, “Roger, hold positions.” He said to Young, “My team is in place, Ramirez has one hundred percent visual of the rear door.”
“Excellent.” Young handed him the bullhorn. “Work your magic, Leo. Godspeed.”
Proctor took a breath, visibly relaxed, then turned on the bullhorn.

“This is Leo Proctor of the FBI. I will be calling into the coffee shop. I’d like you to answer, just to talk. Just see how you’re doing, how the other people are doing.”
He then nodded to Young’s assistant, a uniform by the name of Jones, who handed him a phone already set to dial into the Java Antonio main number and rec- ord the conversation.
They let the phone ring more than thirty times. There was no answer and Proctor ended the call.
“Lieutenant,” Jones said after listening to his radio, “we have an ID. Charles James McMahon, forty-six, ad- dress in Helotes per DMV. Two deputies are on their way now.”
“Married? Kids? Employer?” “Unknown, we’re working on it.”
“Work faster. Something triggered him, we need to know what so no one gets hurt.”
“Yes, sir,” Jones said, already on his phone.
Proctor got on the bullhorn again. “Mr. McMahon— Charles—this is Leo Proctor. I really need you to pick up the phone. I know you don’t want to hurt anyone. We need to talk. You and me. We can work this out, but I’m sure you don’t like shouting through a bullhorn any more than I do.”
He dialed again, waited. No answer. He hung up. He didn’t show any frustration, any rush. “As long as he’s calm, we can get out of this,” he said almost to himself. “Lucy, get Yancey out here. We need eyes in.”
Lucy briskly walked to the tactical van. Tim Yancey was a technology analyst in their office and in charge

of the equipment during tactical operations. He was a bit high-strung, skinny, and sharp on his feet.
“I know, I know,” Tim said before Lucy could speak. “It’s almost calibrated. Okay, okay,” he said to himself and followed Lucy over to the staging area which had a direct line of sight to the coffee shop.
“I need to expand the range,” he said as he walked up and put the thermal imaging camera on a table next to the SAPD tactical van. “Okay, okay,” he mum- bled again and pressed a few buttons to expand the field.
A blob of orange quickly took on distinct human shapes. Most were on the floor. Young immediately pointed to one on the left that was moving and had an- other shape close to him. “That’s our guy. He’s holding a hostage. I count . . . fifteen plus the gunman?”
“I concur,” Proctor said.
Young asked Tim, “Why are these three shapes faded?”
“They’re in another room,” Tim said. “Probably the storage room, a bathroom—I don’t have the exact lay- out.”
Young motioned at one of his men. “Where are the blueprints I asked for?”
“I needed them five minutes ago.” “He didn’t plan this,” Lucy said.
Everyone looked at her. She didn’t realize she’d spoken out loud.
“If he did,” she continued, “he would have made sure that everyone was in the main room. Those three had

time to hide in the back and he didn’t notice? Others es- caped? A dozen people ran out before he locked the place down. I think he would notice if he had a room full of customers and no employees.”
“Point taken,” Young said. “Don’t know if that makes him more or less dangerous. Get him talking, Leo, I’m going to push my people to get us more intel.”
Leo used the bullhorn. “Charles, this is Leo Proctor again. I’m calling you now. Please pick up the phone.”
He hit redial.
Lucy adjusted her earpiece and heard the ringing phone. She watched Tim’s thermal imaging system and saw the suspect cross the room—with a hostage in tow—and stand next to what she presumed was the phone on the wall behind the counter.
“Answer it, buddy,” Leo mumbled. “Pick it up, you want to.”
The man put a hand on his head—more like he was banging the side of his head with his gun hand, as if flustered or frustrated. He walked away a couple of feet. Leo hung up. He counted to ten. Then he hit redial.
McMahon went back to the phone. He answered.


Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels and many short stories. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, she lives in Northern California with her husband Dan and their five children.

Visit Allison online at


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving and Writing Prompt

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I thought this image might lend itself to a writing prompt. Imagine you are walking along this road and night has fallen. Write about what you see when you come around that corner. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Interview with Tom Vater, Author of The Monsoon Ghost Image

Tom Vater has written non-fiction and fiction books, travel guides, documentary screenplays, and countless feature articles investigating cultural and political trends and oddities in Asia.

His stories have appeared in publications such as The Asia Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Times, Marie Claire, Penthouse and The Daily Telegraph.

He co-wrote The Most Secret Place on Earth, a feature documentary on the CIA’s secret war in Laos which has been broadcast in 25 countries. His bestselling book Sacred Skin 
(, the first English language title on Thailand’s sacred tattoos, has received more than 30 reviews.

Tom’s work has led him across the Himalayas, given him the opportunity to dive with hundreds of sharks in the Philippines, and to witness the Maha Kumbh Mela, the largest gathering of people in the world. On assignments, he has joined sea gypsies and nomads, pilgrims, sex workers, serial killers, rebels and soldiers, politicians and secret agents, artists, pirates, hippies, gangsters, police men and prophets. Some of them have become close friends.

Books: The Devil's Road to Kathmandu, The Cambodian Book of the Dead, The Man with the Golden Mind, The Monsoon Ghost Image

Did you like crime fiction when you were growing up?

Yes, I read crime novels from a young age, starting with the classics like Arthur Conan Doyle and pulps like Edgar Wallace.

What was the first story in that genre that you wrote?

The first story I wrote in the crime fiction novel was my first novel, The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu, published in 2005 and still in print with Crime Wave Press and in a Spanish translation.

What is your favorite part of writing in this genre?

I guess crime fiction, especially Noir fiction, lends itself to explore the darker side of ourselves.

What do you find most difficult about writing in this genre?

Finding an idea good and durable enough to invest six months into.

Is there an author in this genre that you admire most?

Countless authors – David Goodis, Jim Thompson, Ross McDonald are amongst my faves.

What is up next for you?

I have just published my fourth novel, The Monsoon Ghost Image, with Crime Wave Press. One of my short stories, "To Kill an Arab", will be out in an American published anthology soon.

Do you have anything to add?

The crime fiction market is flooded with cozies and Lee Child-type adventures. I’d like to see more mysteries anchored in the real world, warts and all.

Thanks for the interview.

Monday, November 5, 2018

New Cozy Release: Clutter Can Be Deadly by Cindy Bell

The Sage Gardens residents are very excited to find out that one of the residents will be featured on a TV show. How Much is it Worth? is filming an episode in one of the villas. The TV show reveals more than they bargained for and Samantha, Jo, Walt and Eddy are glued to the screen.

But their attention shifts when someone is murdered. The four retirees immediately go into investigative mode as they search to find the truth. Not only do they like to do a little sleuthing, but with Jo as one of the prime suspects they find that they have no choice if they want to help keep their friend out of jail. The four friends find themselves in a mountain of clutter, suspects and evidence as they dig through the clues to catch the killer. It is a race to find the murderer before everything comes crashing down around them.

Will the ‘Sage Gardens Sleuths’ solve the crime before the real culprit disappears and Jo takes the fall?

Purchase here!