Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Spotlight: The Tartan Shroud by Ken Dalton

A bulldozer unearths a young girl’s body on a golf course in Scotland but for some reason, Fergus Murray, the top crime officer in Tayside seems unwilling to pursue the case. Fergus contacts Willow Stone, his American cousin and pleads for help. Willow, Pinky’s favorite ex-wife, calls in all her chips and convinces Pinky, Bear, Flo, and Ettamae to go to the small Scottish town of Pitlochry to help her cousin find the killer. Along the way the American’s come across a forester with a wonky eye—haggis—the occasional bad weather spring day—various Scottish policeman all named McSomething—mutton pie—a near new, sixty-year-old Austin Taxi—a bathroom that could double for a freezer—the nearly indecipherable Scottish accent—many glasses of whiskey and beer—ancient records—a broadsword—and a real Duke! Ride with Bear, Flo, and Henry during their final mad dash across Scotland to try to stop the murderer before he kills again inside the hallowed halls of Blair Castle.

Prices/Formats: $14.95 paperback, $4.99 ebook
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780578113258
Publisher: Different Drummer Press
Release: October 1, 2012

Amazon paperback buy link ($14.95):

Barnes and Noble paperback buy link ($14.95): paperback buy link ($14.95):

Kindle buy link ($4.99):

Interview with Ken Dalton

When did you begin writing?

When I was fifty-two. During the last twenty-two years I spent eleven years writing for magazines, TV, and web blogs, and the last twelve years writing novels.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

The bulk of my writing is done during the daytime. I allot myself four days a week to write and devote six to seven hours each day. Occasionally, when plot points are whirling in my head, I wake up at 1:00 or 2:00 am and write for a couple of hours to clear my head.

What is this book about?

A bulldozer unearths a young girl’s body on a golf course in Scotland but for some reason, Fergus Murray, the top crime officer in Tayside seems unwilling to pursue the case.

Fergus contacts Willow Stone, his American cousin and pleads for help. Willow, Pinky’s favorite ex-wife, calls in all her chips and convinces Pinky, Bear, Flo, and Ettamae to go to the small Scottish town of Pitlochry to help her cousin find the killer.

Along the way the American’s come across a forester with a wonky eye—haggis—the occasional bad weather spring day—various Scottish policeman all named McSomething—mutton pie—a near new, sixty-year-old Austin Taxi—a bathroom that could double for a freezer—the nearly indecipherable Scottish accent—many glasses of whiskey and beer—ancient records—a broadsword—and a real Duke!

What inspired you to write it?

I love Scotland and knew I would eventually set one of my Pinky and Bear series in that country. While played a round of golf at the Pitlochry Golf Club, I crossed a wee burn (that’s a little creek to American’s) and suddenly the murder scene of The Tartan Shroud popped into my head. From that point on, my golf game went to hell because the part of my brain that should have been concentrating on my swing was spinning through potential plot twists and turns.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

If you want free shipping and a personalized inscription, my book can be ordered from my web site:
Or ordered on line at:—Paperback and Kindle editions (England) (Australia) (New Zealand)
All my books can be ordered online or at any book store in the world.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere? 

The worst enemy of the new writer is isolation. The new writer needs the eyes and counsel of successful writers who can offer positive advice on the craft of writing. As soon as possible, new writers need to join a writer’s group, in their genre, and learn how to carry out the constructive criticism of the group.

What is up next for you?

I am working on a non-fiction book concerning the great polio epidemics that raged through America from 1915 to 1955. As a polio survivor who was struck down at the age of five in 1943, I have the personal knowledge to chronicle the life changing effects of the disease during that era.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Yes. Thank you for inviting to share my thoughts with the fans of The Book Connection.

More books in the Pinky and Bear series:

The Bloody Birthright (Book 1)

J. Pincus Delmont is the most successful, and ethically challenged attorney north of Las Vegas, and he's Richard Page's only hope to escape execution by lethal injection. Pinky quickly determines his client's tale of betrayal and murder leads to Southern California and demands investigative help from Bear Zarbarte who owes him a sizeable chunk of money. The Bear is as big as a tree, street wise, sort of trustworthy, and not averse to cracking the occasional head when the need arises. A grumbling Bear drives south where he discovers, and falls for Flo Sonderlund-a woman with a body to kill for, and a mouth as caustic as a bucket of lye. By hook and by crook, Pinky, the Bear, and Flo pry a solution to the murder from a string of chumps and patsies that stretches from the fertile hills of Tuscany, Italy to eastern wasteland of Nevada, the home of the Loneliest Road In America.

The Big Show Stopper (Book 2)

Brady Blackstone, America's richest and favorite concert performer, dies in a tragic accident while Bear and Flo, along with thousands of northern Nevada's music lovers, look on in horror. However, before Bear can maneuver Flo back to their apartment to complete her birthday celebration, they stumble across a clue that makes them question if Brady's death was an accident. In The Big Show Stopper, Pinky, a sleazy but sucessful defence attorney, and Bear, a street-wise ex bartender, mix madness with mayhem as you meet Brady's less than grieving widow-a trigger-happy Carson City Cop named Ice Conner-travel in first-class luxury with Pinky as he follows a questionable lead to an exotic location and suffer with Flo in Bear's old pick up while they drive to another of America's armpit locations where they discover Brady Blackstone's killer.

Death is a Cabernet (Book 3)

A humorous mystery that takes Pinky, Bear and Flo into the wine country of northern California to discover who turned a famous winemaker into a purple corpse.

Ken Dalton was born in 1938 at Hollywood Hospital. He grew up with his parents, his older sister, Pat, and younger brother, Richard in Los Angeles. The year 1938 informs the quick reader that Ken’s older than a lot of people, but younger than some.

In a turn of bad luck, the dreaded Polio virus found Ken.

At the end of World War ll, Ken’s family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming for a year where he learned how to live through snow blizzards, avoid walking through the large pile of coal in the basement, and how to survive life as an Army Officer’s brat on a base called Fort Warren.

By the age of sixteen, after eleven years of operations, therapy, and braces, Ken’s luck changed dramatically when he met the girl of his dreams at a party. A few years later they married, produced three wonderful children, and settled into a happy life in Southern California.

In 1966, Ken, who worked as a technician for Pacific Bell, and his family left Southern California for the green hills of Sonoma County where they bought a home in Sebastopol surrounded with apple trees. A few years later, Ken and Arlene built a new home on three and a half acres. They raised cows, pigs, and learned how to build outstanding fences. While their children grew, they hosted two exchange students, Eva Reimers from Sweden, and Tanja Wuttke from Germany, both of whom are still loved members of the Dalton clan. Also during those years, Ken was promoted to management at Pacific Bell. He eventually ended up responsible for all the central offices, sixty-three, in an area that covered five counties.

In 1977, Ken, Arlene, Bob Wiltermood, and his wife Norma, designed, built, and operated a 2000 case winery named Pommeraie Vineyards. They produced award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. However, after Bob died, the winery was sold. Ken and Arlene moved to a hilltop in Healdsburg.

With the winery gone, and time on their hands, Ken and Arlene started to perform with the Camp Rose Players. Twenty years and forty productions later, both are still acting and singing.

Life was good. All Ken had to do was learn some lines and bow when the audience applauded.

Then, ten years ago, Ken started to write. His first article was published in Golf Illustrated in August 1996. More golf articles followed in national and regional magazines including Golf Magazine and Fairways and Greens.

After a two-year stint on the County Grand Jury, Ken felt the need to begin his first novel.

Now, after a decade of struggle to learn the craft of writing, Ken has become the publishing world’s latest overnight sensation.

Ken Dalton's Web Site:

Ken Dalton's Facebook:

Ken Dalton's Goodreads:

The Tartan Shroud Goodreads:

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The Tartan Shroud blog tour site:

This post first appeared at The Book Connection.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

First Chapter Review: Evil Water by Inger Wolf

The first chapter of this crime/mystery novel was submitted by the publisher. Inger Wolf is a Danish crime writer. Evil Water was recently translated into English and is available as a Kindle version.

BLURB:  Two women disappear without a trace, and the same autumn a farmer on the outskirts of Århus finds them murdered in suitcases under a heap of stone. The skin of one woman is filled with the letter Y and the other has a rare flower in her hair. Inspector Daniel Trokic is leading the case which goes in several directions: to a tribal population in Africa, religious insanity and a horrifying meeting with leeches. When a third woman disappears, Trokic is under pressure to find out what the killer wants to say with his macabre scenery and rituals.

COVER: The red and white are a fabulous contrast against the black cover. The red water speaks to something the reader gets a glimpse of in the Prologue, even if it doesn't make sense yet. This cover definitely catches the eye.

FIRST CHAPTER: Inspector Daniel Trokic is investigating the murder of two young women found on a farmer's property. Trokic is questioning elderly farmer Jørgen Viuff about the discovery. It's a tense meeting and Viuff is less than cooperative.

KEEP READING: I'm definitely intrigued. I found the Prologue a bit confusing, but that could be intentional. No need to give away too much information before the book even gets started. It's not known how much we will see Jørgen Viuff and his wife in the story, but since the women's bodies are discovered at the edge of his property, he's of interest to the inspector.

Wolf does a great job of setting up the characters right away. You see their personalities; get a glimpse into their quirks and how Jørgen and his wife live. Wolf provides enough information in this opening chapter to whet the appetite without giving too much away. If I weren't already overcommitted and late with reviews, I would request the full book. Between the synopsis and this first chapter, I sure want to know how the story unfolds.

  • File Size: 683 KB
  • Publisher: Black Cat Edition (December 15, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • SRP: $7.99
I received the first chapter of the book from the publisher. This First Chapter Review contains my honest opinions, which I was not compensated in any way.

This post first appeared at The Book Connection.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Interview with Brady Christianson, Author of The Devil's Garden

Brady Christianson is a former United States Marine Corps Recon Marine whose military service and Christian faith has shaped his writing.

Please tell us about your current release.

My book is titled The Devil’s Garden. It will be available on Veteran’s Day, November 11, which is appropriate because the book is dedicated to the veterans of The War on Terror. The story is centered on two main characters who are military veterans, both of whom participated in such military campaigns.

The first is Brandon Colson, who is from the wilds of Kentucky and served as a Recon Marine. The other is Sam Collier who is from Atlanta, served in the Army’s Military Police in Iraq, and then later became a detective. The two men’s paths cross unexpectedly when heavily armed Muslim terrorists from Colson’s past come back to pay him a visit in the dead of the night. Following the aftermath at his residence, and subsequently at the local airport, Colson finds himself being interrogated by Collier while the authorities are trying to sort out and understand the night’s events. The problem is Colson isn’t talking because the event is directly connected to his past service.

Due to the circumstances, the two men are diametrically opposed at first. In fact, they don’t even like each other. Colson soon decides Detective Collier takes too much pleasure with interrogating prisoners and Collier quickly decides he doesn’t like Colson’s cocky, uncooperative attitude. Of course, Collier comes to the realization that if a man is going to swim with sharks, run with lions, or fight with those special forces Recon types, then they are going to have to possess a certain kind of confident swagger about them. On the other hand, it is only after Colson discovers the detective is an Iraqi War veteran that he begins to appreciate Collier’s potential as an ally. With the stage set, the two combat veterans quickly find themselves joined at the hip and fighting for their lives.

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

I suppose the journey started when I was 17 years old and looking to join the military. I knew I wanted to serve in a specialized warfare unit like the Army Special Forces or the Navy Seals. So I did some research and talked to the recruiters. That was when I discovered the Marine Corps had this unit called “Reconnaissance.” To make a long story short, the Navy and the Army guaranteed me a spot in whatever specialized unit I wanted and offered me a hefty enlistment bonus. The Marines, on the other hand, guaranteed me nothing and I guess they decided to keep the bonus money. They only guaranteed that I would first have to prove myself against all the other Marines before I could even have a chance to try to become a Recon Marine. These words did little more than wave a red flag at a bull and dare it to charge. The Marines have a unique way of taking a young man’s pride and turning it into a work of art. Of course, I must admit not all art is pretty or pleasing.

So I went, I made it into Recon, I served and got out. After that it was the typical college, career, family scenario. Then a few years ago, a Department of Veterans Affairs laptop was stolen. It contained the names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and social security numbers of every veteran who served this country since the Vietnam conflict. The “missing” laptop was not recovered until about a month later, which was an eternity for someone to copy the information and sell it. There is a market for such information. In fact, according to the news it is not uncommon for some military personnel to sell their identification cards to people off base in order to get some extra cash. Of course, most do so not knowing to what end their identification cards will be used. Although common sense would dictate that nothing good could come of it, there are still those who do it anyway even though the military has harsh penalties for such conduct.
Considering these events and weighing them against the fact that there are those in the military services whose identities are protected — and they are protected for good reasons — the potential for disaster becomes painfully apparent. Combine all of this with one slightly paranoid, socially gruff, former Recon Marine and the story almost wrote itself.

Can you tell us about the story behind your book cover?

The Devil’s Garden is not just the title of the book. It is also an actual place in the wilderness of south-central Florida. It is a large geographic area with an old name that no longer appears on any modern maps. For the book’s cover I tried to visualize what kind of garden the Devil would keep. Instead of the Devil tending a field of crops, I see him fanning a field of flames and watching in delight as they grow toward the sky. Hence, the book’s cover is a field of flames reaching upward for its title.

What approaches have you taken to marketing your book?

The book’s website is at . There you can read excerpts and order it directly from me. The book will also be available through online retailers and bookstores. We are sending out press releases and setting up book signing events. We are also using social networking as well as my own personal network of friends who are either still in the military or are veterans of the military services.

What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?

The book could be compared on many levels to any popular action-packed mystery thriller that involves a highly-trained military operative or agent who is pitted against a powerful enemy. However, I wanted to introduce a hero unlike any other, who is much more simple and yet, much more complex at the same time. I wanted him to be exceedingly more colorful, realistic and human. As such, Colson is a man of many faults, with a unique flair that is only amplified by his intelligence and the confidence that is required to obtain the title of United States Marine. He is impulsive, compulsive, and confrontational and yet has the capacity to be loyal, loving, gentle and kind. Moreover, I believe the most significant defining difference is Colson’s pure, unadulterated killer instinct which is only balanced by his unwavering faith.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I cure writer’s block by target practicing with my knives. I can spend hours throwing them. Focusing on the target helps focus my thoughts. Not to mention the fact that it is both fun and effective.

Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.

Page 151. Colson and Collier are patrolling through a forested area to the location where two fugitive Palestinian terrorists are hiding out. Colson is advising his new “hunting buddy” as to the dangers of the Floridian woods and wetlands such as the native predatory animals, poisonous snakes and spiders, as well as the dangers associated with booby traps when infiltrating a bomb maker’s lair. Needless to say, this is a matter of great concern to Collier who quickly decides he would have been better off not knowing.

Do you plan any subsequent books?

Yes. I do have a sequel in the works. In rough draft form, it is about a third of the way done.

Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.

I am nearly finished reading Biblica, which is a social and historical treatise on the many lands and cultures of the Bible. It is a wonderful and detailed work which only fuels my desire to take my family on a tour of the ancient world from Rome to Constantinople to Jerusalem to Cairo. I’d like my family to experience the lands of the exodus, the lands of promise, and the Kingdom of David, the paths of the Apostles John, Peter and Paul, but most importantly, to see where Jesus journeyed, preached, suffered, died and arose again into glory.

Where Innocence Dies and Demons Are Born 
by Brady Christianson

The fog of war is a place where confusion rules, innocence dies and demons are born. Sometimes these demons come back to haunt a man and other times they simply come back to kill him. Few men would welcome the fight, which is to say, a proud and terrible few. The Devil’s Garden twists a Recon Marine’s worst nightmare into a deadly reality.

There is a saying in Recon: There is no life after Force. The lack of adrenaline and ensuing boredom will kill a warrior’s spirit. However, former Recon Marine Brandon Colson has a different kind of death to fear. After years spent in remote deserts and jungles on the other side of the planet dreaming of a quiet, civilian, family life, he finally has it. The problem is he has a large price on his head that even his family doesn’t know about: He is wanted by terrorists he worked to bring down. With revenge in their hearts and murder on their minds, Colson’s enemies plan to revisit his sins upon him, his wife and his children. When a heavily armed squad of assassins arrives at his home in the middle of the night, he quickly dispatches the men, but knows the identity he buried deep in his past is no longer a secret. With his family in hiding, he makes it his personal mission to eliminate the threat to his family and reclaim the life he’s made.

The Devil’s Garden captures the irreconcilable thoughts and trepidation of a military man turned family man who must now fight to protect his family. As Colson’s crucial mission leads him to the Devil’s Garden of Florida, a forgotten wasteland of swamps, collapsed shacks, and lost souls, he finds that the midnight attack on his home was simply an omen of what is to come. With his fate in the balance until the last second, Colson must navigate a trail littered with bloodshed and revenge.

Price: $14.95
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
ISBN: 9781938690167
Pages: 391
Release: November 11, 2012

Amazon buy link ($14.95): paperback buy link ($14.95):

Brady Christianson's Web Site:

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The Devil's Garden blog tour site:

This post first appeared at The Book Connection.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Spotlight: Dead on Ice by Lauren Carr

Dead on Ice is the first installment of Lauren Carr’s new series (Lovers in Crime) featuring Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton and Pennsylvania State Police homicide detective Cameron Gates.

In this Loves in Crime Mystery, Spunky Pennsylvania State Homicide Detective Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star’s roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too—because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime.

Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. Lauren’s fifth mystery, Shades of Murder has been receiving rave reviews since its release.

Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, has just been released. Dead on Ice introduces a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit her websites at and


This post first appeared at The Book Connection. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Interview with Rebecca Reid, Author of The Coop

Rebecca Reid was withdrawn from school due to illness at fourteen. Being limited in the things she was able to do, she wrote all the time − poetry, stories, feelings, thoughts. At 16 she had her own page in the local weekly newspaper, the Bangor Spectator, in which she covered anything and everything: fashion, beauty, film, teen issues etc. At 17 she became a model, doing catwalk, photographic work, and TV. In 2008 she graduated in English from Queens University, Belfast, and she was awarded an Arts Council writing grant in 2009. Married in 2007, she lives in N. Ireland with her husband and their three daughters. The Coop is her first novel, and part of the Thickets Wood Trilogy.

Follow Rebecca on Twitter:

Visit Rebecca Reid on Facebook:

Pick up your copy of The Coop at Amazon!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am just shy of thirty, happily married with three children and embarking on the scariest, most exciting venture of my life.

Where did you grow up?

By the sea in Northern Ireland.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

I was lucky enough to have teachers for parents, lucky in the sense that they had prolonged holidays, so as a family we spent our summers traveling around Europe. We would set off for months, staying with my grandfather who lived in the south of France for a few weeks before moving on. I adored my summers. They were magical.

When did you begin writing?

I fell ill at just fourteen years old, forcing me to be withdrawn from school. At such a young age, I needed a vent for all the thoughts in my head. Writing was it. I created a life for myself on paper and never looked back. It showed me that something good could come from the hardship in your life.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

As I have three children I have to be very strict about my writing time. With Granny day care and school, I work three mornings a week, 9am-1pm. At that rate it takes me around six months to complete a manuscript.

What is this book about?

The Coop is a darkly compelling piece of psychological fiction in which I manipulate the unsuspecting reader through both the conscious and subconscious mind. The convoluted intricacies of this story build from its gentle beginnings to enthrall the reader through menacing happenings and strange, disturbing characters. The Coop is not what it seems − things are never that simple.

It follows two very different storylines; that of a girl, apparently imprisoned in a room, which is the thread of mystery running parallel to the tale of Thatchbury village. There, Howard and Lilly take you on a journey through Thatchbury where Mathew, the child from the coop, shoots Jodie Tiding, and so unravels the history of his loveless raising, her innocence and the dramatic events leading them to disaster.

What inspired you to write it?

I had a fleeting thought about how life would feel if it was hopeless. It was nothing more than a flicker. As time grew that notion began to nag in the back of my mind. It irritated me. I knew nothing more than that one thought but this constant drone told me I had to write, that there was something more. That eventually became The Coop.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

It is available to download on Amazon worldwide.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

If a thought comes to you, capture it before it is gone forever.

What is up next for you?

Books 2 and 3 of the ‘Thickets Wood Trilogy’ are already written, awaiting their final edit. Once I have done that I intend to begin on what will then be my fourth novel. As yet I have no idea what it will become but the nag is there, it has been for a while now.

Is there anything you would like to add?

If you are reading The Coop, I hope you like it.

This post originally appeared at The Book Connection.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Chapter Review: Iced Diamonds by Heather Haven

When I originally reviewed this book's first chapter at The Book Connection, the title was Persephone Cole and the Christmas Killings Conundrum. Since that time, the author has issued a new version of the book with the title, Iced Diamonds. I've included both covers in this post.

BLURB: In late December, 1942, Persephone (Percy) Cole, one of Manhattan's first female PIs, has been hired to find out who killed a Santa Land elf and left the body in the storefront window of a swank 5th Avenue jewelry store. Was it the spoiled heiress whose big buck handbag was found on the scene? Or was it the rat who broke out of the big house to settle a score? Shortly after, the corpse of the Christmas Angel is discovered stuffed in Mrs. Santa's workshop. Will Santa Claus be next? With a penchant for Marlene Dietrich suits, pistachio nuts and fedora hats, this working mother finds diamonds to the left of her, diamonds to the right, and skullduggery aplenty. Armed with her noodle and a WW I German Mauser, Percy is determined to solve these crimes or it just might be the 'kiss off' for Christmas.

ORIGINAL COVER (above): I absolutely love when a cover is designed that captures the essence of a book. So many of the details from the first chapter make their way onto this cover that I already feel like I know Percy and where she lives.

NEW COVER (right): I like that the author kept the fedora for the new cover. While I like seeing people on covers, I love the new version because it captures the genre well.

FIRST CHAPTER: Percy receives a phone call from the owner of Waller and Sons Jewelry. An elf has been found dead in his storefront window and he wants to know why. Though the police are already on the scene, Waller wants to talk to Percy face-to-face about hiring her, which would be great since Pop is laid up with a broken leg and Percy is the sole support of her family right now.

KEEP READING: You betcha. In this first chapter, Haven manages to create a cast of characters you immediately connect with and care about: from Percy a street-smart, sarcastic dame with a penchant for Marlene Dietrich-style pant suits and pistachios to her boy-crazy younger sister Serendipity to her daffy mother and more. I don't always like so many characters introduced right away, but Haven did a fine job of giving them just enough interaction that the reader isn't confused.

The other thing I felt the author did well was add in the right amount of detail so that the setting and time period were clear without having to read the book blurb first. I had to chuckle at the plethora of ashtrays around the house to hold pistachio shells. Why it struck me funny I don't know, but it did.

I am eager to see how this mystery plays out. I hope to make time to read this entire book soon. Haven's style of humorous private eye stories continues with this latest endeavor. And I love it!

File Size: 372 KB
Print Length: 185 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Books We Love Ltd. (October 10, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
SRP:  $3.99

File Size: 425 KB
Print Length: 223 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0988408678
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

I received the first chapter of this book from the author. This First Chapter Review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated in any way.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Interview with Brandt Dodson, Author of The Sons of Jude

Brandt Dodson was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which he would later choose as the setting for his Colton Parker Mystery series. Although he discovered in grade school that he wanted to be a writer, it would be another twenty-one years before he would put pen to paper.“I knew in fifth grade that I wanted to be a writer. Our teacher had given each of us a photograph which we were to use as inspiration for a short story. The particular photo I was given was of several young men playing handball in New York City. I don’t remember all of the particulars of the story now, but I do remember the thrill that writing it gave me.”

Later, while in college, one of Brandt’s professors would echo that teacher’s comment.

“But life intervened and I found myself working at a variety of jobs. I worked in the toy department of a local department store and fried chicken for a local fast food outlet. Over the course of the next several years I finished my college degree and worked for the Indianapolis office of the FBI, and served for eight years as a Naval Officer in the United States Naval Reserve. I also obtained my doctorate in Podiatric Medicine, and after completion of my surgical residency, opened my own practice. But I never forgot my first love. I wanted to write.”

During his early years in practice, Brandt began reading the work of Dean Koontz.

“I discovered Dean’s book, The Bad Place, and was completely blown away by his craftsmanship. I read something like 13 or 14 of his back list over the following two weeks. It wasn’t long after that I began to write and submit in earnest.”

Still, it would be another twelve years before Brandt was able to secure the publishing contract he so desperately desired.

“I began by writing the type of fiction that I enjoyed; I wrote edgy crime thrillers that were laced with liberal amounts of suspense. Over the years, I’ve begun to write increasingly more complex work by using broader canvases and themes.

Since securing his first contract, Brandt has continued to pen the type of stories that inspired him to write when he was a boy, and that have entertained his legions of readers.

“I love to write, and as long as others love to read, I plan on being around for a long time to come.”

Visit Brandt Dodson’s website at

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm a Hoosier, born and bred, and grew up on the southwest side of Indianapolis, a blue collar, working-class section of the city. A good portion of my family was in law enforcement with police officers on both sides of my family going as far back as the 1930s. Today, when I watch television shows like Blue Bloods, I'm reminded of the dinner table conversations we had and the way in which my extended family interacted with each other. I was six years old when I met my first murderer, a sixteen year old who tortured a young girl to death. Law enforcement is in our DNA.  

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Christmas was always special in our house. We didn't get a lot during the year, but mom and dad always showered us at Christmas. Now that I'm a father myself, I understand the excitement I saw on their faces when my brother and I would slide under the tree and start the day.

It's still a big deal to me as well as the idea it represents. I'm the biggest kid in the house.

When did you begin writing?

I've always had a creative bent, going as far back as grade school.

I was in the first grade, and we were in art class. Our teacher had us paint on one side of a piece of construction paper and then fold it to make a symmetrical version of what we had just painted. I was really into it and having a great time when she suddenly paused at my desk and snatched my painting. She told all the other kids to put their brushes down. She held up my work and asked them if it was any good. They answered with a reverberating "no," and she set my painting down and walked away.

I can remember tossing my brush onto my desk with the realization I was never going to be an artist.
Fast forward to the fifth grade. Our teacher gave all of us a photograph with instructions to write a short story that matched the photo. I had a black-and-white picture of two kids playing handball in an inner city alley. I wrote a story about the ball containing a bomb that would go off and level the city if the kids quit playing. I'm not sure how I got them out their predicament, but the teacher read my story as an example of the type of creative thinking she wanted. I received my first affirmation as a writer.

What is this book about?

The Sons of Jude is about standing firm in the face of certain consequences. It tells the story of two detectives, Frank Campello and Andy Polanski, who are polar opposites and who despise each other, yet who must put aside their differences while battling ingrained corruption when investigating the murder of a young girl. Throw in a steely local reporter, Christy Lee, who has her own grudge battle with the police, and there's enough conflict to fuel a dozen stories. It was a lot of fun to write.

What inspired you to write it?

I was living in the Chicago area in the fall of 1986 and took the train into the city daily. After missing my train home one evening, I had to hang out at Union Station. I stumbled onto the set of Brian DePalma's The Untouchables when they were filming the climactic shout-out scene with Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia. It was fascinating, and I promised myself I'd see the movie when it was released. In the film, Sean Connery's character, Malone, refers to St. Jude as the patron saint of lost causes and policemen. When I was approached by a publisher about writing a police procedural, I remembered that line. A bit of research revealed that St. Jude is also the patron saint of the Chicago Police department. The concept fit well with the story I wanted to tell - that police officers fight a lost cause - and hence the book was born.                                   

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

Both. I began writing earnestly after reading The Bad Place by Dean Koontz. I was impressed by the way he got into the head of Thomas, the character with Down's syndrome. Shortly after, I began writing and submitting, but after a few rejections, I knew I didn't have what it takes. So I took time to learn to write before re-submitting. It was a twelve-year learning curve for me, but I did more learning than submitting. When I did finally break through, it came from a novel that I had written in a week. The book poured out of me, longhand. I submitted the novel the next week and it lead to a three-book contract. So the road was arduous, but when I was published, it happened very quickly.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I began my career by writing and submitting short stories because I thought it would be easier to break in and there would be less of a learning period. How wrong I was.

Short stories and novels are two different forms. Novel writing is fun. Short stories are far more difficult - for me, at least - and I would begin today by writing what I want to publish. I would begin by writing the type of novel I'd like to read but can't find.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The Sons of Jude is available in bookstores everywhere and on all internet outlets including Amazon. It is also available in Kindle format.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

I do. My website is: I also blog on the site, often writing commentary on high-profile crimes. I'm also on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it?

The trailer for The Son of Jude is the best one I've had to date. My publisher put it together and went to considerable lengths to capture the noirish tone of the book. You can view it at my website: 

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The best investment I've made - and the one I recommend to any author, aspiring or otherwise - is to take the time to write a good book. No amount of marketing will sell a book that no one wants.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Read. Read widely and deeply. If you want to write mysteries, for example, then read Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler. They are both mysteries, but very, very different. And read romance. And suspense. All good novels have elements of romance and suspense.

All of the novelists who broke through early in their careers did so by writing something that no one had ever seen. Stephen King's Carrie was a hit because he had done something no horror writer had done. He brought horror into our daily lives in the form of an average-appearing young girl.

Mario Puzo revealed the mafia as it really is. Dickens illustrated the truth behind child labor. Tom Clancy showed us the hardware on which our military depends, and in a way we could understand and appreciate. Patricia Cornwell exposed us to forensics in a way that was unique and entertaining, and still is.

The only way any aspiring writer can write something that's not been done is to read what has been done.
And then you have to write. Writing is like exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the stronger you get.

What is up next for you?

I'm working on the next book in The Sons of Jude series. Chicago Knights will take place in the CPD's 28th district, but will feature a different cast of characters although some from The Sons of Jude will make minor appearances.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for the interview and for the opportunity to meet your readers. I hope they enjoy The Sons of Jude.

Visit Brandt Dodson’s website at

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Book excerpt here

This post first appeared at The Book Connection

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Chapter Review: The Coop by Rebecca Reid

I received this first chapter through the author's publicist.

BLURB: A psychological thriller about the destruction of innocence.
Enter The Coop, a dark and mysteriously misleading psychological thriller.

A girl, apparently imprisoned in a room, is the thread of mystery running parallel to the tale of Thatchbury village.

Meet Howard and Lilly. They take you on a journey through Thatchbury where Mathew, the child from the coop, shoots Jodie Tiding, and so unravels the history of his loveless raising, her innocence and the dramatic events leading them to disaster.

The Coop is a darkly compelling vision of the layers of consciousness. Although conceived as the first novel in a trilogy, The Coop stands alone as a brilliant individual work of fiction.

COVER: Dark, Disturbing. Perfect for the genre.

FIRST CHAPTER: The chapter opens with the mysterious she. You don't know who she is or why she is there. You don't even know her name. But you know her circumstances are bad.

The story swiftly moves to Howard and Lilly. You witness a day of their life in the village and catch a glimpse of their quirks.

KEEP READING: I would need to proceed to the second chapter to be certain. Like some psychological thrillers, the style of the writing here lends itself to confusion. You're not quite sure what's going on and how--or if--any of the pieces you just read connect. If you hadn't read the synopsis of the novel before starting the book, the mysterious she in the beginning would seem totally out of place.

Reid paints great pictures for her reader with the details she includes. You feel the cold, the dampness, you get a chance to walk in the garden with Lilly, and you take a dip with Howard and Lilly in the river. The one challenge, and the reason I need to read further before making a decision on if I would read to the end, comes from the feeling that I couldn't connect with any of the characters. The girl remaining nameless means I can't fully sympathize with her. I'm frightened for her, but I don't care enough about her yet to be sympathetic. The majority of the first chapter is about Howard and Lilly. We meet them at the beginning of the day, with Lilly crawling out of bed and joining Howard, who is cooking breakfast. This portion is heavy on narrative, light on dialogue, and there is a fair amount of backstory. This works for the genre, as you really need to see where characters have come from to understand how they got where they are. For a character-driven reader such as myself, however, I was searching for something to latch onto that made me want to care about them, and didn't find it.

All that said, I would read the next chapter to hopefully find that connection I am seeking and to begin putting those pieces together that will help unravel the mystery, because the synopsis has intrigued me.

This review contains my honest opinions, which I was not compensated for in any way.

This post first appeared at The Book Connection.