Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guest Blogger: Lynda Drews, Author of Run at Destruction

Deeply immersed in the close-knit culture of long-distance running, Pam and Bob Bulik were avid competitors. To all appearances, they were also a happily married couple, devoted to each other and their two young children. Then, Bob made a fateful decision. He began an extramarital affair that led to his wife’s tragic death and to one of the most sensationalized and heavily attended trials in Green Bay’s history.

Candidly written by Pam’s best friend, Run at Destruction exposes the irresistible human passions that make us so vulnerable, and the ultimate price we pay for choosing to act on them. You’ll relive every detail of the crime and the exhaustive police investigation, and watch the courtroom drama from a front-row seat as a major homicide case unfolds in a small town where everyone knows all the players. Then, when you’ve heard all the evidence, you can decide for yourself – was Pam Bulik’s death a terrible accident, intentional suicide, negligent homicide or premeditated murder?

I Knew I Had a Story to Tell by Lynda Drews

Ever since my best friend and running companion mysteriously drowned in her bathtub, I knew I had a story to tell. One of my reviewers said, “I cannot help but think that Run at Destruction: A True Fatal Love Triangle is a rarity in the true crime genre simply by virtue of the fact that Lynda Drews was one of the closest confidants of the murder victim. This gives the book a level of personal insight and authenticity seldom reached by investigative journalists and big-time writers who later try to elbow their way onto a crime scene.” So… I didn’t just hear about the death of Pamela Bulik, I lived it. Publishers Weekly said: “passages about [the author and victim’s] shared moments, and Drews's feelings of emptiness in the decades since, are remarkable.”

Normally, football is Green Bay’s only obsession… but that changed when Pam died. Our city prided itself on its extraordinary low crime rate, fifty percent below the national average. There’d never been anything like Pam’s tragedy - “somebody up on the hill with a fancy bathroom.” Because Pam was one corner of a three-teacher love-triangle, the bizarre details surrounding her death ignited community suspicion and speculation, leading to an extensive police investigation and a first-degree murder arrest. A sensationalized trial followed, deemed to be the most heavily attended in Green Bay’s history, where I took the stand. Its outcome remains controversial.

My book takes place during a historical U.S. time period – the running boom of the 80s. Pam and her husband, Bob, were members of our close-knit running group and two corners of a three-teacher love-triangle, while Linda, a charismatic teacher/runner, completed the third. To write Run at Destruction my goal was to make a non-fiction account read like a suspenseful novel. I alternated between first person and third, layering portrayals of our running community’s friendship, detective work, and courtroom drama, within Pam’s baffling murder mystery. I had to wear two hats. First, I played a major character in the story immersing myself in the turmoil I’d felt at that time, but second, I had to become an unbiased narrator, removing my emotions, from the equation, while analyzing the evidence and taking a reporter’s approach. What I shockingly discovered was that the story I had planned to write had changed.

Ann Rule, the best-selling true crime author of The Stranger Beside Me, Small Sacrifices, and Mortal Danger, has endorsed my book saying: “Readers will find themselves walking along with Drews as she describes an enviable friendship, her grief when it ended suddenly, and the layers she peeled away to find the truth. Wonderfully written. A must for true-crime readers.”

I hope you agree!

Lynda Drews, a Wisconsin native and dedicated runner, recently gave the commencement speech at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, her college Alma mater. One lesson she shared with the graduates was: “to journal your life.” When Lynda, an IBM marketing executive, made the decision to retire after her thirty-year career, she returned to an earlier passion. Run at Destruction is the outcome.

Even though this is Lynda’s first book, she has inside knowledge about the victim and the accused. One of the book’s themes is the impact her best friend’s mysterious death has on Green Bay’s close-knit running community. Lynda and her husband, Jim, a retired teacher and guidance counselor, helped launch the local running movement. Green Bay now hosts the nation’s fifth largest 10K, attracting more than 15,000 participants.

Along with a golden retriever named Bailey, Lynda and her husband have two sons, Collin and Chris. After they reached sixth grade, the author let them pick a yearly one-on-one trip with just their mom. One son chose exotic places like Cancun, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, and skiing in Oregon, while the other went to the bathroom sized PEZ Museum in San Francisco, and to eight different locales where the Dave Mathews Band played. Lynda may be the oldest person in the world that’s been to fifteen DMB concerts!

Visit Lynda online at and

This guest post first appeared at The Book Connection.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review: Dispel the Mist by Marilyn Meredith

In this latest installment of Marilyn Meredith's award-winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, a Tulare County supervisor dies under suspicious circumstances. With her Mexican and Native American roots, Lilia Quintera was certainly a person to have on your side. Because of Tempe's ties to the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, she is called in to investigate Lilia's death. Tempe soon discovers that several people, including Lilia's husband, might have wanted her dead.

Tempe's unsettling dreams bring back memories of her grandmother's stories about the legend of the Hairy Man. Wishing she had thought to ask her grandmother more about the Hairy Man, Tempe wonders if these dreams predict the future. Once again, Tempe finds herself in danger. Only now, she fears no one will come to her rescue in time!

Dispel the Mist is an excellent new addition to the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. I have been a fan of this series since Judgment Fire--the first of these books that I read--and they just keep getting better.

Hutch and Tempe are on track with their marriage, but that certainly doesn't mean life is dull. A new golf course and hotel project planned at the Bear Creek Reservation could threaten the amount of business heading to Bear Creek Inn, owned by Tempe's friend, Claudia Donato, who also runs the inn with the help of Nick Two John. The opening up of a home for women with disabilities in the new gated community of Shadow Hills has some of the residents up in arms. And Lilia Quintera had connections to both projects. So, again, Tempe doesn't expect things to go easily when Detective Morrison asks her to investigate the possibility that Lilia died under mysterious circumstances.

The unsettling dreams that Tempe experiences, along with continued involvement at the reservation, bring in the Native American elements that flow through the Crabtree books. One can certainly tell the level of research Meredith has undertaken in order to create this series. In addition, the author's past experience as a caregiver may have played into this book as well.

If you're looking for an excellent fall read, look no further than Dispel the Mist by Marilyn Meredith. Filled with suspense, mystery and legends, you'll keep turning pages until you reach a satisfying conclusion.

Title: Dispel the Mist
Author: Marilyn Meredith
Publisher: Mundania Press
ISBN: 978-1-59426-402-3
SRP: $12.95 (U.S.)

This review first appeared at The Book Connection.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: Killer Career by Morgan Mandel

An intriguing and suspenseful mystery awaits readers in KILLER CAREER by Morgan Mandel.

Julie McGuire and Dade Donovan are like brother and sister. Together Dade and Julie have built a succesful law practice and business is booming. But in order to build up their practice, Julie had to push aside her dream of becoming a writer.

When Julie attends the Love to Murder Mystery Conference, she comes face-to-face with New York Times Bestselling Author Tyler Jensen. He's handsome and sexy, and manages to push all Julie's buttons. So when Julie gets the chance to partake in a workshop run by Tyler, she decides to go for it. But Julie gets more than she bargained for. Tyler isn't only interested in her writing ability.

Convinced that she can't be dedicated to the practice and her writing, Julie decides to leave her law career. Dade isn't too thrilled about finding a new partner, especially when he's convinced that he and Julie should never have agreed to remain just friends when they started their practice; and Tyler is fairly certain that Dade is standing in the way of him being able to get all he wants from Julie. How far will Tyler go to get his way?

Once in a while you find a book that forces you to steal moments away from work, the kids and all your other responsibilities just so you can sit down and read it. Killer Career is that book. From the very first word, Mandel draws you in and you never want to push this book aside. So captivated are you by Julie and Dade's story that you just have to keep plugging away, even though the dryer buzzed an hour ago and your clothes are probably a wrinkled mess. It's not a totally new type of story, but it's unique in the fact that you're not quite sure exactly what is going on with Tyler Jensen until the very end.

There is so much conflict that moves this story forward. Never once did Mandel slow the pace, it just kept coming at you. Julie and Dade are fighting their feelings for each other--without the other person knowing--and Tyler is pushing for more of a relationship with Julie and she's not sure what to do. Julie's also conflicted over her career choice. She's a darn good lawyer. Can she give that up to follow her dream? And there's so much more going on that I can't share or I would risk giving up something good.

If you like romantic suspense novels, you have to get your hands on a copy of Killer Career by Morgan Mandel. I eagerly await this talented author's next release!

Title: Killer Career
Author: Morgan Mandel
Publisher: Choice One Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9819916-0-3
SRP: $13.95 (U.S.)

This review first appeared at The Book Connection.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Guest Blogger: J.D. Seamus, Author of Last Call

Manhattan newcomer Nathan Melton is looking for a place to connect. Lucky for him, Jimmies is just around the corner--Jimmie Collins is a man with connections! From beat cops to Mafioso, career women to former linebackers, Jimmies patrons take care of each other and their neighborhood barkeep. A beloved priest needs some thugs taught a lesson? No problem! Trouble with your love life? Let Jimmie apply his matchmaking skills. Need a place to sell some merchandise that might have fallen off a truck? No questions asked. Nathan has found his home away from home. Jimmie has an ailing wife and disabled daughter nestled in Florida, and his bar family is all he s got. They understand about the childrens charity balancing out the part time smuggling job, that offshore accounts are necessary when medical bills arent covered by health insurance. When Jimmie reveals his own terminal diagnosis, his friends vow to help him recover the millions he has in foreign bank accounts. Somewhere between that promise and Jimmie's death, things go terribly wrong. The money is gone, their friend is dead, and it s up to this close-knit cadre to track the cash.

Mixing It Up in Last Call by J.D. Seamus

How did I combine hard-hitting crime, mystery with a splash of action, adventure and humor? Great question.

Almost impossible to do if you’re using major narrative but I write ‘in dialogue’ for the most part so I can pull it off. The narrative form would be too cumbersome and boring as hell.

A good friend gave me a tip that I’ve continued to use. His tip was to pick a star to use in character building.

My choice was easy in Last Call. A tough, sensitive, New Yorker who could do comedy. Fuhgetaboutit. Robert Freakin’ De Niro! Forget he’s not Irish but he’s perfect for the role of Jimmie Collins. Bar owner, tough guy, made enough money to go in business by stealing bearer bonds with a couple of rising mafia stars. Close to the church. Treats his bar patrons like family, all around nice guy but will ‘knock you on your ass’ if you cross him.

It was actually fun. My wife would hear me laughing loudly and come into my office to see what the hell was going on. I’d try to explain that it’s how De Niro interacts with Nathan, a small town guy (Randy Quaid-did I mention the guy was a lovable dufus)relocating to New York? She’d just stare and I’d explain it’s how he deals with a big mouth, short Italian (Danny DeVito—just too easy) bar regular who has the worst tailor in the world? Or how he would interact with two Manhattan North cops with career paths heading south-anyone from the old Barney Miller show. Or a long time bar patron who is witty, tough and has a problem picking men (Annette O’Toole from 48 Hours). De Niro lines her up with Nathan after telling Nathan to not hurt her in any way or he’s coming after him. My wife generally walks out around then and closes the door quietly. I guess unless you’ve banged out a book you can’t possibly comprehend.

Last Call was easy with De Niro. Even the slow times when you’re building characters. Even making his sick wife breakfast in bed is an adventure. Picture De Niro fussing over breakfast and toast is way over his head. He’s trying and trying hard. Got to be perfect-the De Niro way. Picture him walking out of the kitchen, remembering the sweetener at the last minute and putting it on the tray. He puts the whole box on the tray, takes a step then stops. He worries that the box is screwing up his presentation. He frowns. Throwing a leftover rose on the tray, he grabs a soup spoon and shrugs, “It’ll have to do. What the hell? I ain’t Martha Stewart.”

Forget narrative. With De Niro, it’s all dialogue. And that’s my favorite. That’s where I stick it to the competition in my genre. Me and De Niro. Those suckers don’t have a chance.

JD Seamus is happily at work on his sixth book in South Florida and dividing his time between his family and Braves and Jaguar games. You can visit his website at

This guest post first appeared at The Book Connection.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Spotlight: Shadow of Betrayal by Brett Battles

The meeting place was carefully chosen: an abandoned church in rural Ireland just after dark. For Jonathan Quinn—a freelance operative and professional “cleaner”—the job was only to observe. If his cleanup skills were needed, it would mean things had gone horribly wrong. But an assassin hidden in a tree assured just that. And suddenly Quinn had four dead bodies to dispose of and one astounding clue—to a mystery that is about to spin wildly out of control.

Three jobs, no questions. That was the deal Quinn had struck with his client at the Office. Unfortunately for him, Ireland was just the first. Now Quinn, along with his colleague and girlfriend—the lethal Orlando—has a new assignment touched off by the killings in Ireland. Their quarry is a U.N. aide worker named Marion Dupuis who has suddenly disappeared from her assignment in war-torn Africa. When Quinn finally catches a glimpse of her, she quickly flees, frantic and scared. And not alone.

For Quinn the assignment has now changed. Find Marion Dupuis, and the child she is protecting, and keep them from harm. If it were only that easy.

Soon Quinn and Orlando find themselves in a bunker in the California hills, where Quinn will unearth a horrifying plot that is about to reach stage critical for a gathering of world leaders—and an act of terror more cunning, and more insidious, than anyone can guess.

Fast, smart, sleek, and stunning, Shadow of Betrayal is vintage Brett Battles: a gritty, gripping masterpiece of suspense, a thriller that makes the pulse pound—and stirs the heart as well.


Quinn could see them now. There were two of them, crouched low and half-hidden by the thick brush. As Quinn and Nate watched, one of the men sprinted forward, stopping only when he reached the outside of the church wall. He then moved down the wall until he came to what had once been a doorway, and peered inside.

"Are we going to play games, or are we going to meet?" It was Otero. He was still standing in the middle of the church, not concealing his presence. When there was no response, he said, "Two minutes and we're leaving."

The man who had been looking into the church from the doorway glanced back at his partner and waved for him to come over.

"Quinn," Nate said.


"I thought they were only allowed one companion."

Quinn shot Nate a glance, then looked at a monitor Nate was pointing at. It was the one covering the north approach to the church, the way Otero and Ownby had come.

"I don't see anything," Quinn said.

"In the tree," Nate said. He leaned forward and touched the screen.

For half a second, Quinn still didn't see anything, then a slight movement revealed the form of a man lying prone on one of the branches, facing toward the church.

A quick glance at a monitor that gave a broader view of that side of the church confirmed Quinn's suspicion that the man was high enough to see through the missing roof into the abandoned structure.

Quinn pushed the mic button again. "Peter, we have a problem."


"Check the feed to camera six. In the tree, near the top of the image."

There was a pause.

"Do you see him?" Quinn asked.


"Is he one of yours?"

"I played by the rules. Only two," Peter said. "He must be one of theirs."

Quinn wasn't convinced of that, but there was no time to argue the point. On another monitor the two newcomers stepped through the doorway, entered the church, and walked a couple paces before stopping. They looked nervous, like this was the first time they had ever done anything like this.

"You need to abort right now," Quinn said.

"We need that information," Peter said.

"Peter," Quinn said, "if you don't abort, you might not get anything."

At the church Otero said, "You guys are going to have to come a little closer."

The taller of the two men shook his head. "We are fine here. I think you have something to show us."

Otero smiled, then tossed a coin in the air so that it landed a foot in front of his counterparts.

"Your turn," Otero said.

The tall man tossed his own coin toward Otero. This was the prearranged recognition signal. Otero had been carrying a fifty-yen Japanese coin, and the informant a 1998 Canadian half-dollar.

"Peter!" Quinn said.

"The meet's already started," Peter said. "They won't answer their phones until they're back in their car."

"They might not even make it back to their car," Quinn said, then let go of the button.

"We can start the van," Nate suggested. "That should throw everyone into a panic. We could even fire off a shot."

It was an excellent idea, Quinn thought. He relayed it to Peter.

There was a pause, then Peter said, "Do it."

Quinn pulled his SIG Sauer P226 out of the holster under his left arm as Nate moved toward the back door to open it.

Several rapid flashes from one of the monitors caught Quinn's eye. It was the one showing the close-up of the man in the tree. He glanced at the view of the church. Otero, Ownby, and the man who had been talking for the other party were all on the ground and not moving.

The final man had just exited the church and was making a run for it. Then there was another flash. The man jerked to the left, his momentum dropping him into a bush at the side of the trail. Like the others, he didn't get up.

"Stop," Quinn said to Nate.

The door was already half opened.

"Close it. Quietly."

Nate shut the door as Quinn sat back down.

Quinn pushed the button. "Your op is blown."

"I can fucking see that," Peter said. "Goddammit! You need to keep whoever that is from getting to the bodies. One of those guys is carrying something we need."

"Don't know if you noticed," Quinn said, "but your men are probably dead. That guy in the tree's got a silenced rifle, and I'm not really interested in walking into his range."

"Do what you were going to do before! Scare him off. He's not going to want to get caught."

Quinn took a deep breath, then nodded at Nate to open the door again. He checked monitor six. The assassin was holding his position, waiting to see if anyone else was going to show up.

Quinn pulled one of the remote communication sets from a bag near the recorders. He slipped the receiver over his ear, then climbed out of the van.

"Talk me in," he said to Nate.

"You're going to try to take him out?" Nate asked, surprised.

Quinn shook his head. "I'm just going to convince him to go someplace else."

"You want your suppressor?" Nate asked.

Quinn paused for a second. If things went as planned, he'd need the noise of the shot to scare the guy off. But if things got off track?

"Toss it to me," he said.

Nate disappeared for a second, then stepped back into the doorway and threw a dark cylinder to Quinn.

Quinn stuffed it in the front pocket of his jacket as best he could. Once it was secure, he nodded back at the van. "Talk me in. You're my eyes, so try not to get me killed."

Praise for Shadow of Betrayal:

"The best word I can use to describe his writing is ADDICTIVE. Razor-sharp prose bites deep, cuts to a raw nerve, and leaves you… craving more. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you." – James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author

Brett Battles lives in Los Angeles and is the author of two acclaimed novels in the Jonathan Quinn series: The Cleaner, which was nominated for a Barry Award for Best Thriller and a Shamus Award for Best First Novel, and The Deceived, which was nominated for a Barry Award for Best Thriller. He is at work on the fourth book in the series.

You can visit Brett Battles online at

This spotlight first appeared at The Book Connection.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Spotlight: Undone by Karin Slaughter

In the trauma center of Atlanta’s busiest hospital, Sara Linton treats the city’s poor, wounded, and unlucky—and finds refuge from the tragedy that rocked her life in rural Grant County. Then, in one instant, Sara is thrust into a frantic police investigation, coming face-to-face with a tall driven detective and his quiet female partner…. In Undone, three unforgettable characters from Karin Slaughter’s New York Times bestselling novels Faithless and Fractured collide for the first time, entering an electrifying race against the clock—and a duel with unspeakable human evil.

In the backwoods of suburban Atlanta, where Sara’s patient was found, local police have set up their investigation. But Georgia Bureau of Investigation detective Will Trent doesn’t wait for the go-ahead from his boss—he plunges through police lines, through the brooding woods, and single-handedly exposes a hidden house of horror buried beneath the earth. Then he finds another victim.…

Wresting the case away from the local police chief, Will and his partner, Faith Mitchell—a woman keeping explosive secrets of her own—are called into a related investigation. Another woman—a smart, upscale, independent young mother—has been snatched. For the two cops out on the hunt, for the doctor trying to bring her patient back to life, the truth hits like a hammer: the killer’s torture chamber has been found, but the killer is still at work.

In her latest suspense masterpiece, Karin Slaughter weaves together the moving, powerful human stories of characters as real as they are complex and unforgettable. At the same time she has crafted a work of dazzling storytelling and spine-tingling mystery—as three people, each with their own wounds and their own secrets, are all that stands between a madman and his next crime.


She squinted her eyes at the road ahead, deciding she should have her vision checked again. She was not so far from seventy herself, and her eyes seemed to be getting worse every year. Dusk was a particularly bad time for her, and her vision tended to blur on objects that were at a distance. So it was that she blinked several times before she was sure of what she was seeing, and only opened her mouth to warn Henry when the animal was right in front of them.

“Jude!” Henry yelled, one arm shooting out in front of Judith’s chest as he wrenched the steering wheel to the left, trying to avoid the poor creature. Judith thought, oddly, about how the movies were right. Everything slowed down, time inching by so that each second seemed to take an eternity. She felt Henry’s strong arm bolt across her breasts, the seatbelt biting into her hip bones. Her head jerked, slamming into the door as the car swerved. The windshield cracked as the animal bounced against the glass, then hit the roof of the car, then the trunk. It wasn’t until the car shuddered to a stop, spinning a full 180 degrees on the road, that the sounds caught up with Judith: the crack, thunk, thunk, all overlaid with a high-pitched screaming that she realized was coming from her own mouth. She must have been in shock, because Henry had to yell at her several times, “Judith! Judith!” before she stopped screaming.

Henry’s hand was tight on her arm, sending pain up her shoulder. She rubbed the back of his hand, saying, “I’m all right. I’m all right.” Her glasses were askew, her vision off-kilter. She put her fingers to the side of her head, feeling a sticky wetness. When she took away her hand, she saw blood.

“It must’ve been a deer or . . .” Henry put his hand to his mouth, stopping his words. He looked calm but for the telltale up and down of his chest as he tried to catch his breath. The air bag had deployed. A fine, white powder covered his face.

Her breath caught as she looked ahead. Blood had spattered the windshield like a sudden, violent rain.

Henry pushed open the door but did not get out. Judith took off her glasses to wipe her eyes. The lenses were both broken, the bottom part of her bifocal on the right side missing. She saw that the glasses were shaking, and realized that the tremor came from her own hands. Henry got out of the car, and she made herself put on her glasses and follow him.

The creature was on the road, legs moving. Judith’s head ached where it had smacked into the door. Blood was in her eyes. That was the only explanation she had for the fact that the animal–surely a deer–appeared to have the shapely white legs of a woman. “Oh, dear God,” Henry whispered. “It’s–Judith–it’s–”

Judith heard a car behind her. Wheels screeched against asphalt. Doors opened and closed. Two men joined them on the road, one running toward the animal.

He screamed, “Call 9-1-1!” kneeling down beside the body.

Judith stepped closer, then closer yet. The legs moved again–the perfect legs of a woman. She was completely nude. Bruises blackened her inner thighs–dark bruises. Old bruises. Dried blood caked around her legs. A burgundy film seemed to cover her torso, a rip at her side showing white bone. Judith glanced at her face. The nose was askew. The eyes were swollen, lips chapped and split. Blood matted the woman’s dark hair and pooled around her head as if in a halo. Judith stepped closer, unable to stop herself–suddenly a voyeur, after a lifetime of politely looking away. Glass crunched beneath her feet, and the woman’s eyes shot open in panic. She stared somewhere past Judith, a dull lifelessness to her gaze. Just as suddenly, her eyelids fluttered closed, but Judith could not suppress the shudder that went through her body. It was as if someone had walked over her grave. “Dear Lord,” Henry mumbled, almost in prayer. Judith turned to find her husband gripping his hand to his chest. His knuckles were white. He stared at the woman, looking as if he might be ill. “How did this happen?” he whispered, horror twisting his face. “How in God’s name did this happen?”

“Slaughter’s plotting is brilliant, her suspense relentless.” – The Washington Post

Karin Slaughter is the New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including Beyond Reach and A Faint Cold Fear, which was named an International Book of the Month selection; she contributed to and edited Like a Charm. She is a native of Georgia, where she currently lives and is working on her next novel, which Delacorte Press will publish in 2010.

You can visit Karin Slaughter’s website at

This spotlight first appeared at The Book Connection.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Guest Blogger: Norm Applegate and Blood Bar

Vampires don’t exist...yet, on the brownstone back alley side streets of New York, a vampire dies. Desperate, his lover turns to Kim Bennett, author Norm Applegate’s quintessential heroine whose passion for S&M led to celebrity status as a hell-and-back murder mystery sleuth who’s been there, done that, and then some. This time, Kim finds herself caught between a secret vampire society’s attempts to locate The Black Testament (a sacred document written by Jack the Ripper), the modern-day vampire hunters bent on their destruction, and a white knuckled journey of self-discovery that catapults her into the bowels of hell and the arms of the ultimate vampire.......courtesy of The Haven, New York’s ultimate BLOOD BAR.

A Glimpse at Blood Bar by Norm Applegate

You’re becoming a vampire, that was the premise to my recent novel Blood Bar with former S and M dominatrix Kim Bennett, a hell-and-back murder mystery sleuth who’s been there, done that, and then some.

With vampires we expect murder, erotic romance and adventure. To deliver that, we need a sensual male or female lover, Blood Bar delivers both. For adventure, Kim is placed in a murder, a search for the Black Testament a secret document written by Jack the Ripper which exposes the genealogy of the modern day vampire, and along the way some crazy distractions.

In creating dynamics with characters I look for opposites or at least something unexpected. In Blood Bar, I’ve placed a North American Indian Detective, Cheyenne Billings Montana, a vampire hunter who bonds with Kim, but is chasing the vampire she falls in love with Nicolai Avelli, a handsome Italian.

Adding to the cast, we have Erin Roberts, who like her father, never smiled a day in her life except when she was killing someone, and she is killing vampires.

For gore, we have vampire, Holger the beast Weinmar, who had the reputation of a primal animal, evil and aggressive, who would tear people and animals apart just for the pleasure of feeding violently.

To make the vampire killing somewhat different this is a paragraph from the novel.

Nicolai witnessed the removal of seventy-two choice chunks of fingers, toes, arms and legs, spread from largest to smallest on a white linen table like meat in a butcher shop, as the Beast meticulously went to work on the poor soul. The blade thick with yellow stringy fat carved through the soft flesh to the white of the bone leaving behind a mass of quivering wet carcass that heaved with each breath it took. Slice seventy-three was the delicate removal of the larynx, and with a suction sound it popped out releasing a gush of red spray and a hissing whisper of air.

The humorous part, all my characters are composites of friends and family, and when you study people, look deep, we’re all a little strange.

Norman Applegate is an author and consultant, with a growing body of work to his credit. Born in Glasgow Scotland, growing up in Toronto Canada and now residing in Florida with his wife Cheryl, Norm Applegate works and travels for an international consulting company, then occasionally scares the “heck” out of his family with his thoughts and writings.

His early years in Toronto were filled with aspirations of the late 60’s hippie music scene, and as a drummer in numerous bands led to a short lived career playing the bars and clubs in the Toronto area. The band Photograph, signed to a recording studio, made some noise on the coast to coast CBC radio show, the Entertainers, and after the legal issues strangled them into submission, they went their separate ways. The life of drugs, sex and rock and roll were over, sad but true.

His first novel, Into the Basement, a raw dark thriller introduced us to his unlikely heroine Kim Bennett and is scheduled for a movie release in 2009 with Triad Studios. The cast for the movie includes Courtney Gains, Naama Kates, Jonathan Breck, Two Foot Fred, Nicola Fiore, Jamie McCall, and a seasoned crew of horror and TV actors.

His follow up novel, Into the Spell, continued with Kim Bennett and the dark world of hypnosis, the paranormal and murder. Early 2008, Norm released a short story called “Jumpers”, with a Twilight Zone feel to it in the horror anthology “From the Shadows”.

Currently Mr. Applegate is a resident of Sarasota Florida, where he is working as a principle for the movie Into the Basement, a new horror thriller, and a sequel to Blood Bar.

For more information about Norman and his upcoming projects go to

This guest post first appeared at The Book Connection.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Review: On the Grind by Stephen J. Cannell

Mystery, suspense, corruption, and a family torn apart are combined to create a riveting, fast-paced piece of crime fiction in On the Grind by Stephen J. Cannell.

A veteran of the LAPD, Scully finds himself charged with felony misconduct in a high-profile murder-for-hire case. Accused of having an affair with the suspect and getting rid of evidence, Scully is faced with a tough choice: resign quietly or face prosecution. His wife, Alexa, the chief of detectives, asks for a divorce and his son, Chooch is so hurt he won't even talk to him.

Unable to find work in any other police department, Scully seeks employement from the Haven Park P.D.--a department known for hiring cops other departments have rejected. He soon finds out that the Haven Park P.D. is as crooked as a dog's hind leg. His new partner, Alonzo Bell, might be the dirtiest cop ever to wear a badge. It soon becomes apparent that the entire department is merely the enforcer and collection agency for the town's mayor, Cecil Bratano.

When a Mexican prizefighter decides to run for mayor of Haven Park and promises to end the corruption, Scully is ensnared in a plot to make sure that things stay just as they are. Under constant scrutiny by his new colleagues, the situation for Scully becomes critical, and his wife, Alexa, might be the only one who can ensure he makes it out of Haven Park alive.

Already familiar with some of Cannell's television work--The Rockford Files, The A-Team, Silk Stalkings and The Commish--I eagerly agreed to review On the Grind when contacted by the author's publicist. This latest release in the Shane Scully series has left me wanting to collect all the previous books.

On the Grind is not cluttered with a great deal of backstory, so it moves along at a fast pace, drawing the reader in immediately and leaving her hanging on the edge of her seat until the very last page. While some of Scully's past is interwoven into the current plot, the only details provided are those that assist the reader in connecting the dots, making this a great stand-alone book. The mystery deepens, the suspense builds, and the reader will unconciously find herself biting her nails as the story races along to its satisfying conclusion.

Cannell's masterful storytelling is evident right from the start and never disappoints, keeping the reader engaged and pushing forward, afraid of what he might find, but unable to stop turning the pages.

Some might classify this as a "guy" novel, as the writing is edgy and tough in many places; but I contend that many women will also be fans of Shane Scully after reading On the Grind.

If you are looking for crime fiction at its best, look no further than On the Grind by Stephen Cannell.

Title: On the Grind
Author: Stephen J. Cannell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN-10: 0-312-36628-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-36628-5
SRP: $25.95 (U.S.)

This review first appeared at The Book Connection.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Spotlight: Cabal of the Westford Knight by David S. Brody

While trying to help an elderly couple save their home, attorney Cameron Thorne is thrust into a bloody tug-of-war involving secret societies, treasure hunters and keepers of the secrets of the Jesus bloodline. Joined by Amanda, a beautiful British researcher with secrets of her own, Cam races around New England with only two choices, unravel the 600-year-old mysteries encoded in the ancient Templar artifacts or die trying.

Praise for Cabal of the Westford Knight

An excellent historical conspiracy thriller. It builds on its most famous predecessor, The Da Vinci Code, and takes it one step farther—and across the Atlantic. — Mysterious Reviews

A comparison to The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure is inevitable….The story rips the reader into a fast-paced adventure. —Fresh Fiction

Intrigue abounds in this wonderfully written mystery. — Armchair Reviews

David S. Brody is a Boston Globe bestselling author named “Best Local Author” by the Boston Phoenix newspaper. He is a Director at Large of the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA). A real estate attorney, he resides in Westford, Massachusetts with his wife, novelist Kimberly Scott, and their two daughters. He coaches youth sports and Special Olympics and plays in adult hockey and softball leagues.

You can visit David online at and

This spotlight first appeared at The Book Connection.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review: No Sanctuary by F.M. Meredith

Riveting, fast-paced, and filled with twists and turns, No Sanctuary by F.M. Meredith is a crime fiction reader's dream.

Officer Stacey Wilbur is the first on the scene of a one-car accident. A green Toyota has smashed into an oak tree and the female driver is dead. But it soon becomes obvious that the accident is a cover up for murder.

The victim is the wife of a popular local minister, and her preacher husband soon becomes the most likely suspect. Gossip in town tells of trouble in their marriage, but as Stacey and Doug start putting pieces together, they find several other likely suspects who could have wanted Mallory Cookmeyer dead.

Called away from the case to work on a special assignment, Stacey is faced with decisions that will impact her career and her budding romance with Doug Milligan, and most likely, put her in harms way.

When we last heard from Stacey Wilbur in Smell of Death, she had broken her long-standing rule of never dating anyone she works with and entered into a relationship with Doug. This gives an already strong character even more depth. A widow, she has been caring for her son Davey with the help of her parents, while trying to juggle a challenging and dangerous career. Having lost her husband in the line of duty, a relationship with Doug offers similar dangers, but it's really their difficult work schedules that make nurturing their relationship tough on Doug and Stacey.

One of the things that Meredith does best with the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is show not only the official side to her characters, but also how working in law enforcement impacts these people's lives--not just the members of the police force, but also their families. I could easily see these books being turned into a television crime series.

Meredith is also wise in making each one truly a stand alone book. These stories focus on different members of the Rocky Bluff P.D. These aren't just Stacey's stories; they are Doug's, Gordon Butler's, Abel Navarro's, Ryan Strickland's, and others who are or were part of the Rocky Bluff P.D.

There are many twists and turns in No Sanctuary, as the reader is led to believe it might be the husband, but then it might be someone on his staff or someone from the church. And this mystery propels the story forward to an exciting and satisfying conclusion.

As with Smell of Death, Meredith breaks up all the seriousness with a bit of humor. This time it is mostly brought on by Officer Gordon Butler who rents a room from Doug and who happens to walk in on Doug and Stacey at the worst times. In addition, the banter between Doug and Stacey about the outfit she chooses for her special assignment lightens things up and makes the reader want to see more of these two together in the future.

A fast and suspense-filled read for crime lovers. Pick up a copy of No Sanctuary today!

Title: No Sanctuary
Author: F.M. Meredith
Publisher: Oak Tree Press
ISBN: 978-1-892343-55-0
SRP: $12.95 (US)

This review first appeared at The Book Connection.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Guest Blogger: Doug Hewitt, Author of The Dead Guy

Jack Thigpen works in Detroit, nicknamed The Motor City, the perfect place for a fraud investigator who specializes in car insurance scams. He is on a case he believes is a typical, low-level crime, but it quickly turns into a situation with ominous international consequences. Ironically, as he is targeted for death because of his investigation, Jack is diagnosed with a fatal disease that is untreatable, a disease that will end his life within months. And instead of killing Jack, the hit man shoots Jack's best friend. Struggling to come to terms with his impending death, Jack vows to track down his friend's killer.

Jack plunges into the world of corrupt car dealerships, chop shops, and fraudulent auto repair shops. He is soon swept into the darkness of Detroit's criminal underbelly to uncover the truth about power struggles within organized crime rings. Death is staring him in the face, but Jack doesn't back down. He pushes ahead, plowing through perilous roadblocks planted by his enemies, propelling himself toward the finish line and a teeth-gritting, heart-pounding conclusion.

Researching My Main Character’s Occupation
by Doug Hewitt

When I set out to write The Dead Guy, I wanted to write a good mystery novel, and the standard advice to authors is: write what you know.

That advice is very sweeping, though. What does it mean? One of the basic questions an author faces when laying out a new novel is where to set the action. I decided that I would place my mystery in Detroit. I grew up in a Detroit suburb (Mt. Clemens, to be specific), and I wanted my mystery to have a sense of place.

Okay, I was off to a good start. I would be writing about a place that I knew very well. Another thing I learned about writing is that in the best novels, the setting plays an active role in the storyline. So, I knew the ideal role that Detroit (the Motor City) would have in my novel would involve cars.

Now I was getting somewhere! Now, what about my main character, Jack Thigpen? What possible occupation could he have in the Motor City that would tie into the automobile theme and the sense of Detroit as a place in which cars carry more meaning than in other cities? Cars are the lifeblood of Detroit, and I wanted Jack Thigpen to have his fingers on the pulse of the city.

And so I decided he would be an investigator of car insurance fraud. This fit in perfectly with what I wanted, an amateur detective. Jack would know about investigative techniques, but murder would be way out of his league (or so it would seem, at first).

I began reading Internet forums that were dedicated to insurance fraud. I was surprised to find there were plenty to choose from! I also looked at online resumes. After reading these forums for a few weeks, I looked at some employee descriptions of insurance fraud investigators, and I found a few resumes online.

And so Jack Thigpen’s occupation was born! Jack was born to the job (of course), and it suited him perfectly. He finds himself investigating a low-level insurance scam, and suddenly there’s a murder attempt on his life. Instead of killing him, though, the hit man kills his best friend. Avenging his friend’s death becomes the driving force of The Dead Guy.

Doug was born and raised near Detroit, Michigan and now lives in North Carolina. Along the way, he did a four-year stint in the Marine Corps and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. He has been writing short stories for over 20 years and has been getting them published for most of that time, with over 80 stories in print. His stories have appeared in anthologies such as The Dead Inn and 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories. He has appeared in the premier issue of Apex Digest and has seen his chapbook, Slipstream, published by Scrybe Press.

He turned his attention to longer works and had his first novel Spear published in 2002. The Midwest Book Review calls Spear “a thrilling and deftly crafted novel.” After remarrying in 2004, he and his wife, Robin, founded HewittsBooks. In addition to authoring a non-fiction parenting book, The Practical Guide To Weekend Parenting, Doug and Robin teamed up to write The Joyous Gift of Grandparenting.

Doug returned to his original passion, writing fiction, and wrote The Dead Guy, which St. Martins author Lynn Chandler-Willis calls a “high-octane, pedal-to-the-metal ride through the criminal underbelly of the automotive world.”

This guest post first appeared at The Book Connection.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Guest Blogger: F.M.Meredith, Author of No Sanctuary

Two churches, two ministers, two wives, one murder.

While on patrol in the central California foothills near Rocky Bluff, Officer Stacey Wilbur spots a car crashed into a giant oak tree. A woman is slumped against the steering wheel, blood pooling on the floor mats. Stacey calls the incident in to her colleague and special friend, Detective Doug Milligan, then secures the scene and waits for emergency crews. The rescue squad confirms Wilbur s judgment. The woman is dead, but it's soon apparent the crash had little to do with her death. The car belongs to the minister of a local church with an upscale congregation, and the dead woman on the front seat is his wife. When Wilbur gives the minister the bad news, it is met with aloofness bordering on unconcern. The typical suspect the spouse first theory ratchets up a few ticks in Stacey Wilbur s analytical mind. Before that jells, however, Wilbur learns there is a potential other woman in the mix. As she sorts through the elements of the case, Stacey tries to find enough time to explore her feelings for Doug Milligan.

Romance in Mystery Novels by F.M. Meredith

Though I write mysteries and crime novels, I’m a firm believer that romance needs to be in every book, no matter the genre.

In my latest Rocky Bluff P.D., No Sanctuary, which I wrote as F. M. Meredith, there is an ongoing attraction between Detective Doug Milligan and Officer Stacey Wilbur.

In earlier books, Stacey had a strict rule not to date anyone who worked on the Rocky Bluff P.D. Because she was the only female police officer, her fellow police officers at first weren’t thrilled when she turned up as back-up for them because of her small stature. However, it didn’t take long for her to prove herself. Of course the single guys flirted with her, and the bumbling Officer Butler actively pursued her to no avail. A widow with a young son, she didn’t want a relationship to complicate her life.

When she first worked with Doug Milligan she found herself attracted to him, but didn’t break her rule. Though they enjoyed each other’s company, Doug was still hurting from his divorce and the fact that his ex-wife quickly remarried and took their children to live in San Diego.

In Smell of Death Stacey and Doug succumb to the attraction and begin dating, though many obstacles pop up—including the fact that Doug rents a room of his house to Officer Gordon Butler. Gordon still has feelings for Stacey though it’s apparent her affections are directed toward Doug.

The romance heats up in No Sanctuary as Stacey helps Doug investigate a murder case. They continue to find it difficult to have any time alone as their jobs interfere, and she needs and wants to spend time with her young son and her parents.

Having Doug and Stacey fall in love has added a dimension to the Rocky Bluff series and is definitely influencing the way things are going to develop in future books. Doug is the perfect man for Stacey—-he misses his own children and will love helping raise Davey—that is if Davey embraces the idea of having a step-father.

Stacey is a fun heroine to write about. She’s gutsy and works on being the kind of police officer who helps people. She also is willing to take chances—-chances that in No Sanctuary give her the opportunity for a new and better paying job—-and another that will nearly cost her life.

To order No Sanctuary you can get it through the publisher at or or for an autographed copy, from my website:

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F.M. Meredith

This guest post first appeared at The Book Connection.