THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Covert Dreams, Michael Meyer {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Michael Meyer‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Covert Dreams:

THIS INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED SUSPENSE THRILLER by Michael Meyer has been compared to Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series, and the writing style has been compared to that of Dean Koontz. #2 on Recommended Thriller/Suspense list at Goodreads

Imagine waking up remembering intimate details about a country in which you have never traveled and fluently speaking a language that you have never spoken. B.J. is living the ideal life. He has a great wife, a wonderful job. And yet he is experiencing life-like vivid dreams of Munich, a city he has never visited.Stan Halsey is a professor in Saudi Arabia, who sends for his wife to join him. She arrives, and, in the blink of an eye, she vanishes, leaving no trace of ever being alive in either the United States or in Saudi Arabia.COVERT DREAMS is a fast-paced international suspense thriller that moves from Munich to the burning sands of Saudi Arabia. What is real, and who is responsible for the terrifying nightmare?

 

Accolades:

“I highly recommend this book to all readers who like to be totally captivated and swept away.” – Marilou George, THE KINDLE BOOK REVIEW

“Don’t start reading this book on an evening when you have to get up early the next morning, because you’re going to find it hard to put down!” – Nick Russell, author of BIG LAKE

“This story will not disappoint as it sucks you right into these lives from page one and doesn’t let go until the last page is turned.” – D. Everetti, author of PUNISHING

“Covert Dreams is “I got captured”-reading, as opposed to “escape”-reading.” – George Wier, mystery and crime writer

“Covert Dreams had me from the gripping opening scene to the satisfying conclusion.” – Dale Roberts, author of IRREFUTABLE

“I felt I was in the hands of a master. Terrific book. I would recommend it to anyone.” Christine Swinson

“Written with a gripping suspense, this story is sure to keep you up at night, as it left me desperately needing to know what happens next.” BTS eMag

 

Amazon Reader Reviews:

Covert Dreams currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4 stars, with 49 reviews! Read the reviewshere!


Excerpt from Covert Dreams:

The Munich all around her was bustling with activity. She could hear it from all directions. Munich was a wonderful city, a fun-loving place, the live and let live ebullience of the city emanating from its every nook and cranny. She had had a lovely stay here. All of it had been so adventurous, so new, so unlike life back home in Arizona. She could vividly recall the first time she had ventured into a Munich beer garden, where the liter mugs had been so huge that she had had to lift hers with both hands, and the giggles, from him, until he too had had to use both hands.

The fumbling noises he had been making came to an abrupt halt. He began stroking her cheek again. Gus looked so happy, so young, so full of life. It was so hard to imagine that he could be so heavily involved in all this horror.

Gus smiled at her once more. His eyes were soft, so gentle, so caring, so loving.

Maybe this was some kind of huge mistake. Maybe he wasn’t going to kill her after all. Maybe everything would turn out happily ever after. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

But then suddenly she saw it clearly. It was no fairy tale. There would be no maybe. This was real, as real as the mixture of sadness and fear that now flooded her brain.

And then she died, with her eyes wide open, challenging, piercing his to the end.

 

Covert Dreams is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/ Prime!


Connect with Michael Meyer:

Website: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005E7M8CW

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelMeyersWritingLife

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Zen Man, Colleen Collins {FREE!}

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Colleen Collins’ Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Zen Man:

Semifinalist Best Indie Books of 2012, The Kindle Book Reviews

Just as washed-up criminal defense attorney, life-long Deadhead (nickname “The Zen Man”), and current PI Rick Levine decides to get relicensed as a lawyer, he’s charged with killing one and ends up in the slammer with a half-mil bail.

Released on bond, Rick and his girlfriend Laura have 30 days to find the real killer. In the course of their investigations, they dig for dirt among Denver’s shady legal backrooms to its tony corporate centers. Dodging bullets, a kidnapping, trumped-up charges and the FBI’s unwanted intervention, Rick and Laura continue tracking key suspects who have motive…eventually learning that true redemption begins at home.


Accolades:

“A brilliant mystery novel…I eagerly await the return of the Zen Man.”

~Becky Sherriff, The Kindle Book Review

“What I didn’t expect were the touches of romantic language, as delicate and erotic as a glance by Humphrey Bogart from under his hat. I also didn’t expect the humorous touches in what is essentially one man’s life-or-death fight to save his soul, his business and the love of his life.”

~Bonnie Ramthun, multi-published mystery and YA author

“Move over Sam Spade, Nick and Nora; make room for a Denver who-dun-it, Colleen Collins’s The Zen Man. Brilliant and fast-paced writing. I couldn’t put it down.”

~ Donnell Ann Bell,
 Award-Winning Author of The Past Came Hunting

“Readers of mystery are going to love Colleen Collins’s novel THE ZEN MAN. It is a fast paced who-done-it that will keep you turning pages and guessing to the very end.”

~Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews

“I loved every single word of The Zen Man!”

~ Delores Fossen, USA Today Best-selling Author


Amazon Reader Reviews:

The Zen Man currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.1 stars, with 22 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

The Zen Man is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for FREE!

 

Excerpt from The Zen Man:

One

“The next person who says Merry Christmas to me, I’ll kill ’em.”—The Thin Man, 1934

The obstacle is the path.—Zen proverb

Five years of being clean and sober nearly tanked as I watched a bad piece of my past trudging across the parking lot in my direction. She was far enough away that I couldn’t make out her features, or her companion’s for that matter, but I knew the car parked behind them better than I knew my own soul. Losing that car had hurt worse than losing the house, the marriage, maybe even my career. Funny how a lump of tricked-out metal can do that to a man.

I glanced at the clock. In an hour, Laura and I would start greeting a school of fifty-five sharks from Colorado’s Criminal Defense Association—CrimDefs to those in the know—who were spending their annual retreat at our lodge, technically Laura’s as she’d put up the dough, the Dinosaur Foot Bed and Breakfast and Hot Springs. We’d wanted to name it something less Barney-like, but this area had been called Dinosaur Foot—after the dinosaur prints and fossils in the region—for generations, going back to the Ute tribe who’d conducted spiritual journeys to the area, so it’d seemed smart to keep the name.

“Something wrong?” Laura stood next to me at the kitchen sink, wiping dry another holly-and-berry etched wine glass for our upcoming guests. She wore tight jeans—the kind of tight that could make a man almost forget his troubles—and a blue cashmere cardigan that matched her eyes. But the best was her face. When she frothed her hair and slicked red on her pouty lips, like she’d done today, she looked like Grace Slick in her prime before Jefferson Airplane nose-dived.

Laura, at thirty-five, was definitely in her prime, too. But underneath that hot-rock-chick Slick surface, beat the heart of a geek who loved tinkering with computers, a skill she’d applied as a senior manager at the telecommunications giant TeleForce, headquartered in nearby Denver, until her recent early retirement. One of those forced situations due to company downsizing.

When I didn’t answer, she craned her neck to peer out the window over the sink, leaning so close I could smell her familiar scent, a honey-lavender perfume that, depending on my mood, could craze me or chill me.

“What, those people heading up from the parking lot?”

“Yeah.” It was a long trek from the lot, several hundred feet that included a lung-stretching hike up stairs to reach the higher ground of the lodge. I’ve been tempted to put a sign down there—“Warning 150 steps ahead”—because after making it to the top, one feels like a basketball player at the foul line toward the end of a gut-busting game. Fortunately, after reaching the grounds of the lodge, the only other exertion they’d experience might be hiking in nearby wildflower meadows during the summer, snowshoeing in the winter, or indoor sports all year around in one of the lodge rooms or rustic cabins that edged several natural hot spring pools.

“Probably early arrivals for the retreat,” Laura murmured. “Know them?”

“One of ’em.”

“You must have super-hero eyesight because all I see is a short blonde and a tall man.”

“You’re not looking at the whole picture.”

Laura glanced over her shoulder at me, her left eye squinting. “What?”

“Check the parking lot.”

We call it a parking lot, but it’s more like a monster-size circle of chewed-up gravel at the bottom of the hill. Currently, three cars were parked there—Laura’s blue Dodge Durango, my gray ‘90 Pontiac Firebird, and a sleek yellow number that glistened like a molded cube of melting butter under the late afternoon sun.

“Who in their right mind would paint a car crayon yellow?”

“That’s no mere car, that’s a 2002 Millennium Yellow Z06 Corvette,” I said, feeling a creeping tightness in my jaw. “And the color is called competition yellow, not crayon.”

A gust of wind triggered a chaotic metallic tune from the wind chimes dangling outside the kitchen window.

She settled back onto the heels of her Skechers, those plump lips forming a small “o” of realization. “So that’s…”

“Mellow Yellow.” License plate used to say that, too. MLO YLO. From what people had told me, it now read WAS HIS.

Her eyes glistened with a you-poor-little-boy look a thirty-six-year-old man shouldn’t like.

It’d been Laura’s idea to host the CrimDefs’ retreat because it’d be a great way to kick off our grand opening, but I think she was more interested in my having an opportunity to pitch Levine Investigations to potential clients. I mean, what better investigator for a lawyer to hire than a former lawyer? Nevertheless, I’d fought the idea of hosting the retreat at our place with all the fury a decades-long Deadhead can muster—which meant I’d mumbled and shrugged a lot. The problem is ninety percent of the CrimDefs feel one of two ways about me—they either hate my guts or view me as rabidly unstable—so the whole notion of my pitching anything to them was akin to defending myself by tossing veggie burritos to fend off bullets from a firing squad.

But Laura kept reminding me no PI in the state had my credentials, namely eight years experience as a high-profile trial attorney, and that although I couldn’t give legal advice to clients, I could anticipate most lawyers’ legal needs before they arose. All of which meant I could charge more per hour than my gumshoe competitors. Such money logic inspired me to pitch my services.

That is, until that blonde, my ex-wife, arrived on the scene in Mellow.

In the years since we’d been divorced, one of her favorite pastimes had been announcing loudly and often what an exceptionally irresponsible, deranged asshole I was. I’ll cop to some past behaviors, but now that I was clean and sober I liked proving to the world that I had it together again.

“So this means the blonde who’ll soon be at our door is Wicked.”

Short for Wicked Wench of the West, my favorite reference to said ex. The bad piece of history who’d make damn sure dirt stuck to my rep this weekend just when I’d hoped to sway a little professional sentiment my way. I rinsed another soapy wine glass under the kitchen faucet. Oh, if rinsing off the debris of my past were so easy.

“Who’s that man she’s with?” Laura accepted the dripping glass from me.

“Some dude headed down a feelin-bad road.” They’d finally reached the top of the stairs, undoubtedly winded, which accounted for their snail’s pace along the curving cement walk to the lodge’s front door. As they drew closer, a wave of betrayal mixed with pity washed over me.

“Sam Wexler,” I muttered.

Laura froze, holding a half-dried glass mid-air. “Your former law partner?”

I grunted affirmatively.

“Wicked is Sam’s date this weekend?” She frowned. “Isn’t he married?”

“Guess wifey’s out of town.”

I thought about Sam’s wife Fern and her uncomplicated, small-town ways. She canned peaches, knitted sweaters, raised the children. Just add water and mix the perfect housewife, which is why I’d always thought he’d married her. She was the earth while he played with fire.

Laura shook her head slowly as she set aside the dried glass. She despised people who cheated on their partners, a fact I knew ‘cause that’s how we met. Almost a year ago, she’d found me in the online yellow pages under “private investigators” and hired me to follow her fiancé, whom she suspected of cheating. He was, she dumped him, and I promptly asked her out. Best snap decision I ever made.

“Wicked’s a lawyer, right?”

“Criminal defense, just like Sam and everyone else registered for the retreat.” Just like I used to be.

“Considering how many CrimDefs didn’t want to attend because of—”

“My drug-addled rep—”

“Actually I was going to say due to winter travel…anyway, considering Wicked’s unresolved anger over your divorce, it surprises me she decided to show up. Of course, there’s plenty of room.”

With six chalet-style cabins that accommodated four to six people each, and twelve guest rooms upstairs, all with fold-out couches, we could’ve easily fit another dozen or so attendees.

“No wonder Sam reserved an entire cabin for himself,” I mumbled. Poor Fern.

“If Wicked plans to stay for the entire retreat, I’ll add an extra charge to his room.”  “Make it enough to cover the mortgage.”  Laura laughed, a throaty, unrestrained sound that always gave me a rush.

“I’m sorry she and Mellow showed up.” She brushed a light kiss against my cheek. “Didn’t you say a few days ago that the world is ruled by letting things take their course?”

“Stole that line from Lao-Tzu, who obviously never had Wicked steamrolling toward his front door.”

Laura smiled knowingly. “This weekend will be okay. Trust me.”

Anxiety did a mean little tap-dance on my nerves.

 

 

The Zen Man is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for FREE!

 

Connect with Colleen Collins:

Author Website: http://www.colleencollins.net/

Author Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/writingpis

Book website: http://thezenman.com/

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Dream Slayer (The Dream Slayer Series), Jill Cooper {$1.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Jill Cooper’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Dream Slayer:

Two girls. Two worlds. One Destiny.

Natalie Johnson has always dreamed she’s someone else; calm, beautiful, in control. A chosen warrior with a maniacal arch nemesis and a dreamy boyfriend, the type that can make your knees melt and your heart quiver.

Real life is much different. She’s tormented by a bully and endures the sharp tongue of her father, but finds solace in her dreams.

When her bully ends up dead, de ja vu from a dream hits her hard as everything around her begins to fall apart. Whatever killed Sarah in her dreams is now in reality, hunting her from the shadows. And it wants her dead.

Somehow as the lines between reality and nightmare blur, Natalie must discover hidden strength to pull her friends and family back from the brink of madness.

 

Accolades:

Jill Cooper’s debut novel offers a lot of *punch.* Bam, kapow, hiyaaah! Witty dialogue, memorable characters, and hilarity in the face of certain doom all make for a stunning read. 

Natalie,is nothing like Buffy.Shes better. Ms.Cooper gives us a much needed reality check and a breath of fang-tinted air.

I don’t know if I’ve written enough words to convey how addictive this world Jill Cooper has created is.

 

Review Ratings:

The Dream Slayer currently has a review rating of 4 stars from 16 reviews. Read the reviews here.


The Dream Slayer is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $1.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

An excerpt from The Dream Slayer:

Her foot pumped the brake pedal, but still the bus would not be slowed. It would not be stopped. They were on a crash course with death and destruction.

Natalie’s least favorite D words.

The tires were long blown out on the yellow school bus. Its rims mulched a groove into the pavement and vibrated against the brake pads. Out of control, it veered left and accelerated until it rode up on its right-side wheels, the left wheels leaving the ground.

The bus driver was slumped on the floor, and in his place behind the steering wheel, Natalie gritted her teeth. The teenage girl shouted, “Hang on!” Her knuckles gripped the steering wheel, turning the speeding bus wildly to the right.

Her classmates screamed and jostled in their seats. Apparently, they didn’t appreciate her high-speed tour through the mountains of Meadow’s Creek.

Why don’t these buses have seat belts anyway?Natalie wondered to herself. There was no time to consider the answer. Just as she turned the corner, a pedestrian stepped out into the middle of the street.

Natalie swerved to avoid hitting him and narrowly missed the oncoming traffic. “This is the type of stress that causes wrinkles,” she muttered. Her pulse raced and the palms of her hands were sweaty. The bus jolted as it clipped the sidewalk, nearly ramming into a wooden bench.

When she’d left her house with café mocha in hand that morning, the last thing on Natalie’s mind was being cast in the “Speed” reboot. She let out a slow breath, beads of sweat clinging to her forehead, and kicked her boot to the brake. Except for a lot of squealing, nothing happened; the bus continued at top speed—right toward the high school.

Natalie could use a day off from homeroom and bad cafeteria food, but not like this.

She glanced down at the unconscious bus driver. “I really wish you were doing this.” With a rushed breath, Natalie throttled into neutral and applied the emergency brake.

Metal squealed against metal, and the steering wheel vibrated in her hands. The vibration traveled up her arms and down her spine like she was at the loudest rock concert in history. When she cranked to the left, the gears gave a high-pitched whine and smoke began to waft through the heat vents. The metal fought against her with everything it had, and Natalie just prayed she’d be strong enough.

The metal grinding itself into mulch was loud, but the students’ screams were louder. Fearing for their lives, their voices reached a new fevered pitch of wails and sobs. The bus spun, spiraling toward Meadow Creek High.

Natalie had spent half her high school career training for situations like these, but her stomach still churned, spinning out of control with vertigo. She could barely make sense of her surroundings but heard the bristle of tree branches and felt their twigs scrapping against her cheek. She swatted at them and held her arms up defensively as the bus lurched forward.

The front bumper caught on a fire hydrant and yanked the bus to an abrupt halt just inches from the school wall. The bus rocked onto two wheels before slamming down onto its final resting place, moaning like a dying t-rex.

The school was close enough to touch. Outside smelled like freshly cut lawn, but it was just the bus using its rims to till the earth. Natalie Johnson’s landscaping bus, at your service. She lowered her shaking arms from her face and took a deep breath, removing the keys from the ignition for some reason.

Her eyes trained on the fire hydrant. Everyone knew you weren’t supposed to park next to one of those, especially in a loading zone. I sure hope I’m not getting a ticket for this. As if my day isn’t going bad enough.

“Everybody okay?” Natalie’s voice was unsteady. The question sounded false to her; of course no one was okay.

Her classmates since elementary school remained seated. Some were green, others held their hands to their faces like they might puke, while a few clung to each other in terror. Marcy, a girl from homeroom, sobbed into her bundle of magazines repeating, “I’m not ready to die.”

Natalie stood on jelly legs and turned to face the group. “Everyone, we’ll be okay—”

ThumpThump. She was interrupted by a noise from above.

She gazed up and saw the roof vibrate from the weight of something heavy above her head. He was still on the roof.

 

The Dream Slayer is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $1.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!


Connect with Jill Cooper:

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Zen Man, Colleen Collins {FREE!}

Sponsored Post

Colleen Collins’ Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Zen Man:

Semifinalist Best Indie Books of 2012, The Kindle Book Reviews

Just as washed-up criminal defense attorney, life-long Deadhead (nickname “The Zen Man”), and current PI Rick Levine decides to get relicensed as a lawyer, he’s charged with killing one and ends up in the slammer with a half-mil bail.

Released on bond, Rick and his girlfriend Laura have 30 days to find the real killer. In the course of their investigations, they dig for dirt among Denver’s shady legal backrooms to its tony corporate centers. Dodging bullets, a kidnapping, trumped-up charges and the FBI’s unwanted intervention, Rick and Laura continue tracking key suspects who have motive…eventually learning that true redemption begins at home.


Accolades:

“A brilliant mystery novel…I eagerly await the return of the Zen Man.”
~Becky Sherriff, The Kindle Book Review

Semifinalist Best Indie Books of 2012, The Kindle Book Reviews

“I loved every single word of The Zen Man!”
~ Delores Fossen, USA Today Best-selling Author

“If you love banter like The Thin Man, with plenty of nods to noir mysteries, and an overall sense of fun, The Zen Man is your book.” -best-selling author Cathy Yardley


Amazon Reader Reviews:

The Zen Man currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4 stars, with 15 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

The Zen Man is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for FREE!

 

Excerpt from The Zen Man:

One

“The next person who says Merry Christmas to me, I’ll kill ’em.”
—The Thin Man, 1934

The obstacle is the path.
—Zen proverb

Five years of being clean and sober nearly tanked as I watched a bad piece of my past trudging across the parking lot in my direction. She was far enough away that I couldn’t make out her features, or her companion’s for that matter, but I knew the car parked behind them better than I knew my own soul. Losing that car had hurt worse than losing the house, the marriage, maybe even my career. Funny how a lump of tricked-out metal can do that to a man.

I glanced at the clock. In an hour, Laura and I would start greeting a school of fifty-five sharks from Colorado’s Criminal Defense Association—CrimDefs to those in the know—who were spending their annual retreat at our lodge, technically Laura’s as she’d put up the dough, the Dinosaur Foot Bed and Breakfast and Hot Springs. We’d wanted to name it something less Barney-like, but this area had been called Dinosaur Foot—after the dinosaur prints and fossils in the region—for generations, going back to the Ute tribe who’d conducted spiritual journeys to the area, so it’d seemed smart to keep the name.

“Something wrong?” Laura stood next to me at the kitchen sink, wiping dry another holly-and-berry etched wine glass for our upcoming guests. She wore tight jeans—the kind of tight that could make a man almost forget his troubles—and a blue cashmere cardigan that matched her eyes. But the best was her face. When she frothed her hair and slicked red on her pouty lips, like she’d done today, she looked like Grace Slick in her prime before Jefferson Airplane nose-dived.

Laura, at thirty-five, was definitely in her prime, too. But underneath that hot-rock-chick Slick surface, beat the heart of a geek who loved tinkering with computers, a skill she’d applied as a senior manager at the telecommunications giant TeleForce, headquartered in nearby Denver, until her recent early retirement. One of those forced situations due to company downsizing.
When I didn’t answer, she craned her neck to peer out the window over the sink, leaning so close I could smell her familiar scent, a honey-lavender perfume that, depending on my mood, could craze me or chill me.

“What, those people heading up from the parking lot?”

“Yeah.” It was a long trek from the lot, several hundred feet that included a lung-stretching hike up stairs to reach the higher ground of the lodge. I’ve been tempted to put a sign down there—“Warning 150 steps ahead”—because after making it to the top, one feels like a basketball player at the foul line toward the end of a gut-busting game. Fortunately, after reaching the grounds of the lodge, the only other exertion they’d experience might be hiking in nearby wildflower meadows during the summer, snowshoeing in the winter, or indoor sports all year around in one of the lodge rooms or rustic cabins that edged several natural hot spring pools.

“Probably early arrivals for the retreat,” Laura murmured. “Know them?”

“One of ’em.”

“You must have super-hero eyesight because all I see is a short blonde and a tall man.”

“You’re not looking at the whole picture.”

Laura glanced over her shoulder at me, her left eye squinting. “What?”

“Check the parking lot.”

We call it a parking lot, but it’s more like a monster-size circle of chewed-up gravel at the bottom of the hill. Currently, three cars were parked there—Laura’s blue Dodge Durango, my gray ‘90 Pontiac Firebird, and a sleek yellow number that glistened like a molded cube of melting butter under the late afternoon sun.

“Who in their right mind would paint a car crayon yellow?”

“That’s no mere car, that’s a 2002 Millennium Yellow Z06 Corvette,” I said, feeling a creeping tightness in my jaw. “And the color is called competition yellow, not crayon.”

A gust of wind triggered a chaotic metallic tune from the wind chimes dangling outside the kitchen window.

She settled back onto the heels of her Skechers, those plump lips forming a small “o” of realization. “So that’s…”

“Mellow Yellow.” License plate used to say that, too. MLO YLO. From what people had told me, it now read WAS HIS.

Her eyes glistened with a you-poor-little-boy look a thirty-six-year-old man shouldn’t like.

It’d been Laura’s idea to host the CrimDefs’ retreat because it’d be a great way to kick off our grand opening, but I think she was more interested in my having an opportunity to pitch Levine Investigations to potential clients. I mean, what better investigator for a lawyer to hire than a former lawyer? Nevertheless, I’d fought the idea of hosting the retreat at our place with all the fury a decades-long Deadhead can muster—which meant I’d mumbled and shrugged a lot. The problem is ninety percent of the CrimDefs feel one of two ways about me—they either hate my guts or view me as rabidly unstable—so the whole notion of my pitching anything to them was akin to defending myself by tossing veggie burritos to fend off bullets from a firing squad.

But Laura kept reminding me no PI in the state had my credentials, namely eight years experience as a high-profile trial attorney, and that although I couldn’t give legal advice to clients, I could anticipate most lawyers’ legal needs before they arose. All of which meant I could charge more per hour than my gumshoe competitors. Such money logic inspired me to pitch my services.

That is, until that blonde, my ex-wife, arrived on the scene in Mellow.

In the years since we’d been divorced, one of her favorite pastimes had been announcing loudly and often what an exceptionally irresponsible, deranged asshole I was. I’ll cop to some past behaviors, but now that I was clean and sober I liked proving to the world that I had it together again.

“So this means the blonde who’ll soon be at our door is Wicked.”

Short for Wicked Wench of the West, my favorite reference to said ex. The bad piece of history who’d make damn sure dirt stuck to my rep this weekend just when I’d hoped to sway a little professional sentiment my way. I rinsed another soapy wine glass under the kitchen faucet. Oh, if rinsing off the debris of my past were so easy.

“Who’s that man she’s with?” Laura accepted the dripping glass from me.

“Some dude headed down a feelin-bad road.” They’d finally reached the top of the stairs, undoubtedly winded, which accounted for their snail’s pace along the curving cement walk to the lodge’s front door. As they drew closer, a wave of betrayal mixed with pity washed over me.

“Sam Wexler,” I muttered.

Laura froze, holding a half-dried glass mid-air. “Your former law partner?”

I grunted affirmatively.

“Wicked is Sam’s date this weekend?” She frowned. “Isn’t he married?”

“Guess wifey’s out of town.”

I thought about Sam’s wife Fern and her uncomplicated, small-town ways. She canned peaches, knitted sweaters, raised the children. Just add water and mix the perfect housewife, which is why I’d always thought he’d married her. She was the earth while he played with fire.

Laura shook her head slowly as she set aside the dried glass. She despised people who cheated on their partners, a fact I knew ‘cause that’s how we met. Almost a year ago, she’d found me in the online yellow pages under “private investigators” and hired me to follow her fiancé, whom she suspected of cheating. He was, she dumped him, and I promptly asked her out. Best snap decision I ever made.

“Wicked’s a lawyer, right?”

“Criminal defense, just like Sam and everyone else registered for the retreat.” Just like I used to be.

“Considering how many CrimDefs didn’t want to attend because of—”

“My drug-addled rep—”

“Actually I was going to say due to winter travel…anyway, considering Wicked’s unresolved anger over your divorce, it surprises me she decided to show up. Of course, there’s plenty of room.”

With six chalet-style cabins that accommodated four to six people each, and twelve guest rooms upstairs, all with fold-out couches, we could’ve easily fit another dozen or so attendees.

“No wonder Sam reserved an entire cabin for himself,” I mumbled. Poor Fern.

“If Wicked plans to stay for the entire retreat, I’ll add an extra charge to his room.”

“Make it enough to cover the mortgage.”

Laura laughed, a throaty, unrestrained sound that always gave me a rush.

“I’m sorry she and Mellow showed up.” She brushed a light kiss against my cheek. “Didn’t you say a few days ago that the world is ruled by letting things take their course?”

“Stole that line from Lao-Tzu, who obviously never had Wicked steamrolling toward his front door.”

Laura smiled knowingly. “This weekend will be okay. Trust me.”

Anxiety did a mean little tap-dance on my nerves. I might quote the cool dudes, but I’m a worrier at heart.

The doorbell rang.

Our Rottweiler Mavis, named after Mavis Staples of the Staples Singers, ran helter-skelter into the kitchen, her nails scrabbling against the linoleum floor, barking and snarling. If looks could kill, Mavis would be a serial murderer, but she was actually the biggest wuss I’d ever met, human or canine.

“We can’t have Mavis greeting all our guests like that,” Laura murmured, wiping her hands on a dish towel.

“No, just select ones.”

Mavis continued the vicious-beast act as all three of us headed into the adjoining room, the foyer of the B&B where people checked in. Laura had decorated this entrance-way with a dinosaur motif—Jurassic foliage wallpaper, dinosaur foot stools, even a 3D T-Rex coming out of the wall. Within the opening of its mouth she’d inserted a red-covered table which looked liked the dino’s tongue, on which she’d laid brochures and giveaways for guests. In somebody else’s hands, this could’ve looked like Jurassic Park on Crack, but ever-capable Laura had managed to give it, as well as the guest rooms and cabins, a classy prehistoric ambiance.
I plastered on my best smile and opened the door.

Winter breezes swirled through the doorway, carrying scents of pine and Sam’s pricey cologne, an oriental cedar number I recalled from our shared law-office days. I’d never needed to ask our receptionist where Sam was because that scent had always announced his comings and goings.

He towered over us at six-three, maybe four. But then when you’re five-eight, anything over six foot is gratuitous. He wore a designer look that screamed I’m hip and make big bucks, which meant Sam had come straight from court. He’d always had the tall, dark, handsome angle going for him, although if I wasn’t mistaken he’d started dying his thinning hair. Made me feel smug about the thick, curly mass on my head, even if it was prematurely gray.

“Hey, Zen Man.” Sam smiled sheepishly as he put his arm around Wicked’s shoulders.

She wore cream-colored slacks that didn’t match her beige sweater, which was too low cut and clingy for court so I guessed she’d gussied up for her date, tryst, whatever was going on with Sam. I almost felt sad seeing the bloat in her face and the watery red in her eyes. Drinking too much again, chased with a favorite pill or three. Used to be one of our favorite pastimes, getting plastered as an antidote to the stress of trying tough cases and managing demanding clients. Or so we’d told ourselves.

“Zen Man?” asked Laura, a funny smile on her face.

I shrugged. “You know how I sometimes toss off Zen quotes.” Hadn’t been called the nickname in so long, I’d almost forgotten about it.

“But it wasn’t just the quotes, it was the je ne sais quoi you gave them that made you the Zen Man.” Sam’s wide mouth elongated into a smile. “Remember?”

“Sort of.”

“Oh.” The smile leveled out. “I guess you were too…”

“Yeah. Probably.”

I watched Mavis sniff the pocket of Sam’s jacket as he introduced Wicked to Laura, explaining how it was a last-minute decision for her to attend the conference, she’d be staying in his cabin, blah-dy blah-dy.

“Nice to meet you,” Wicked cooed, extending a red-nailed hand to shake Laura’s. A stack of bracelets on her wrists jangled, reminding me how she’d always worn too much jewelry, as though to show the world how successful or loved she was. When our gazes snagged, I swore I caught a frightened look in her eyes. Took me by surprise. Couldn’t recall ever seeing Wicked frightened of something, except the possibility of missing a shoe sale at Nordstrom. But the look quickly disappeared, like the flash of a shark’s fin in deep waters.

 

The Zen Man is available for purchase at:

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Connect with Colleen Collins:

Author Website: http://www.colleencollins.net/

Author Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/writingpis

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Death in the Saddle, Not a Western!, A. J. Harris {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

Sponsored Post

A. J. Harris’ Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Death in the Saddle, Not a Western!:

When Billionaire Real Estate Developer Peter Bruxton is found murdered – shot in the head in his hotel room – it comes as no surprise to anyone who knew him. In fact, the biggest challenge facing the detectives charged with solving Bruxton’s murder may be finding someone who is NOT a suspect.

Also not a surprise is the fact that Bruxton was shot while presumably having sex. His sexual escapades (with everyone except his wife) were the subject of open conversation at cocktail parties throughout the Coachella Valley social scene (as was his general tendency to offend anyone he met within five minutes of meeting them). Bruxton was universally disliked, but he was particularly despised by several of the women he had bedded (as well as by their husbands).

Was Bruxton’s murder a crime of passion or a premeditated act of revenge? It’s a case that crosses state lines, exposes the excesses of the very rich, and brings wartime secrets to light. Join detectives Mannheim and Oliver as they seek to solve the case of the philandering fat cat in Death in the Saddle (Not a Western).

 

Accolade:

A raucus good time! Kept me guessing until the very end. Another remarkable work by A. J. Harris, M.D. — Mark E. Anderson


Death in the Saddle, Not a Western! is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!

 

An excerpt from Death in the Saddle, Not a Western!:

“You know, Josh, I swear I’m going to kill that sonofabitch one day. I can’t stand having him around. The very sight of him nauseates me.” Mary Bruxton said abruptly as she adjusted her skirt after the examination in Dr. Josh Harrington’s office.

Dr. Josh sat, taking notes, then looked up. “Mary, you’re upset and your aching back isn’t helping your disposition. I’ll order physical therapy, and give you a few samples of muscle relaxants, as well as some mild pain medication.  Hang on.”

Dr. Josh got up, walked over to the cabinet, pulled open a drawer, and took out some sample packets. “Yes, these should work,” he said, handing the packets to his patient. “And take this too.” He added, handing her a note. “These are the dosages and instructions.”

Her edginess subsided as she placed the samples and the note in her purse. She smiled. “Josh, you’re sweet as ever to give me these freebies. But you know I can well afford to buy my own medication. It’s not like it was twenty five years ago when we were all neighbors, without a pot between us.”

Mary Bruxton, prominent socialite, the doyenne of charitable institutions in the Coachella Valley and wife of the lumber baron, Peter Bruxton, was recalling a time of profound penury. “Do you remember how the four of us—you and Sally, God rest her soul, Peter and I struggled so damned hard to eke out a living? And how we dreaded the bills that came due on the first of the month? Looking back, I think, what a wonderful time that was. We were in love, we struggled, we had great hopes for the future, we had our babies….” She stood up then, leaving the sentence unfinished as she drifted off with her memories.

Standing erect increased Mary’s low back pain, and she gripped the edge of the examining table, then took two labored steps toward Josh and embraced him. “You’re just as kind and considerate now as you were as a young doctor trying to make enough to keep your little family together.” She released her grip and leaned against the table, shaking her head before continuing. “And look what’s happened to Peter and me. Can you believe he’s become the largest private owner of forested land in the country? Rich as Croesus, but it’s changed his personality. He went from being a considerate loving husband and father to one rotten, depraved money-grubbing sonofabitch.”

She put her hand up. “And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to defend him. You can’t possibly know what it’s like living with him. It’s as though he made a pact with the devil and traded his soul and sanity for all that money. He treats me like dirt, or worse. He’s become a womanizer; no one in a skirt is safe around him, that filthy lecher. I won’t let him touch me. God only knows what he’s been exposed to. I suppose my hands-off treatment has made him even more resentful, but hell, he brought it on himself. I’m sorry, but I just can’t deal with that, anymore.”

Josh listened, dismayed to hear Mary castigate his old friend. But he knew that what she said was most probably true. Although reluctant, he asked, “Has he been abusive?”

“Has he been abusive, you ask? Hah! Oh, yeah, big-time, physically and verbally. We got into it pretty good several weeks ago. He went absolutely berserk—started swearing and calling me his usual vile names. Smashed some of my precious antiques. He said I loved them more than I loved him. And you know what? The bastard was absolutely right.  When I tried to stop him he grabbed me and twisted my arm till I thought it would break. Then he slapped me across the face. I broke away, called the police and ordered him to get the hell out. He knows I can get a restraining order, so he packed a bag and got a suite at the Springs Hotel. I’ll allow him to come home when our daughter, Deena, comes in for a visit from U.S.C. In the meantime, he’s on his own.  And I can tell you this: if he ever lays a hand on me again, I’ll kill that sonofabitch.  I will. I swear it. I’m still pretty good with a pistol…got a few trophies to show for it.”

“Now, now Mary. When your backache eases you may feel a bit more charitable. Who knows, Peter may even put all his philandering behind him one day, and come back home to his true love.”

“Yeah, and I’m the virgin queen.”

Josh knew immediately how empty his words sounded, but he didn’t want Mary to leave without a word of hope or encouragement. “Does Deena know that you two have been at odds?”

“Of course. She enjoys a special relationship with her father, and I know she would like to see our feuding come to end.” Mary breathed deeply and sighed. “Truthfully, Josh, the prospect of a divorce, with the problems of property division and the inevitable court battles are more than I dare think about. I’ll try my best to tolerate the jackass—that is, at least until Deena finishes school or gets married.”

Josh bent over and kissed Mary on her cheek. “Try to rest and take the medication. I’ll notify PT to make arrangements to go to your home. Call me in a couple days and give me a progress report.”

Mary gave Josh a melancholy smile and held both his hands. “Why couldn’t I have married a sweet guy like you?” She took a small mirror from her purse to apply lipstick. She smacked her lips then ran her tongue around her lips before putting the mirror away. “When this back gets better I’m going to find me a virile dude for companionship.” She looked at Josh and arched an eyebrow. “Say, do you still make house calls?”


Death in the Saddle, Not a Western! is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!


Connect with A. J. Harris:

Website: http://www.murdermysterypress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeathInTheSaddle

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Vigilante (Barry/McCall Series), Claude Bouchard {$3.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Claude Bouchard‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Vigilante (Barry/McCall Series):

Book 1 of the Barry/McCall Series

Montreal . . . the long, hot summer of 1996. . .

. . . and in the dark of night, moving like a shadowy wraith, a vigilante prowls the city’s streets.

The targets of his bloody rampage: the worst of the worst.

Murderers. Gangbangers. Rapists.

Six months. Sixteen murders. The harried police are still without a clue . . .

. . . until the day they receive an email from the assassin himself.

Lieutenant Dave McCall, head of Montreal’s Special Homicide Task Force, needs help to crack the secrets of the killer’s taunting message. He calls on an expert–Chris Barry, who runs a security firm specializing in computer communications.

Together, McCall and Barry launch a grim quest to track down a man who preys on predators–an urgent quest to bring this remorseless killer to justice.

But whose justice will prevail: theirs–or the vigilante’s?

 

Accolades:

“. . . hits you like a hook to the liver, and addresses the timeless issues of murder, revenge, and the human yearning for justice . . . a witty thriller, full of passion and suspense . . . virtually impossible to put down.” — John Locke, New York Times best-selling author

“. . . probably the best mystery/thriller book I have ever read . . . The last sentence made me shiver with delight.” –Tiffany A. Harkleroad, “Tiffany’s Bookshelf”

 

Reviews:

Vigilante (Barry/McCall Series) currently has a customer review rating of 4.5 stars from 58 reviews. Read the reviews here.


Vigilante (Barry/McCall Series) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

An excerpt from Vigilante (Barry/McCall Series):

As is often the case with sensational news, the story had received extensive media coverage at the time the events had occurred. As is usually also the case however, the news had quickly grown old and the press and population had moved on to other scandals, forgetting about Margaret Slater and her abusive landlord, Peter Myers.
As the reporters had recounted, Mrs. Slater, a 72 year old widow, had been experiencing a number of problems with her apartment. The heating was inadequate, the wiring faulty and the plumbing in major need of repair. Several steps of the staircase leading down to her basement flat were broken, the wood having rotten through.
She had brought these problems to the attention of the owner and landlord, Peter Myers, on many occasions. On each of her visits, he had responded by verbally abusing and threatening the old woman. Finally, she had had enough and had submitted a formal complaint to the Rental Board.
Myers had been furious and had called Mrs. Slater, requesting that she come to his apartment to discuss the issue. Unfortunately, she had complied and, upon reaching the sixth floor, Myers had been waiting for her.
For starters, he had slapped the old woman in the face, delivering a blow of such force that it had broken her jaw. The impact had caused her to fall and tumble head over heels down the stairs to the landing below. Not yet satisfied, the enraged landlord had come after her. After kicking her several times, he had picked her up and literally thrown her down the next flight of stairs.
Thankfully, having heard the commotion, other occupants of the building had come out of their apartments and subdued Myers while someone called the police.
Mrs. Slater had been taken to the hospital with a slew of injuries; internal bleeding, a shattered jaw, cracked ribs, a broken arm, two broken legs and a hip fracture. Two months later, she remained in the hospital, in serious condition and the doctors were quite certain that she would never walk again. At her age, bones did not mend well.
Myers had quickly been arrested and arraigned. However, due to the over-crowding of the prisons and courts, his trial had not been scheduled to take place for many months. Since he had no previous record and his sole source of income was his apartment block, which he had inherited upon his father’s death, the court was confident that Myers would not be in a hurry to disappear. He had therefore been released, without bail, on his own recognizance.

Due to his rather vile temperament, Peter Myers did not have many friends, which suited him fine. He didn’t particularly like people to begin with and much preferred to be alone. His favourite pastimes were drinking beer and watching television, both of which he was practicing around 10 o’clock on Friday evening when someone knocked at the door of his apartment.
“What the fuck now,” he slurred as he dragged himself out of his easy-chair.
Taking a moment to steady himself, he was into his sixth beer since finishing dinner, he staggered uncertainly to the door. He opened it to find himself face to face with stranger, wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses.
“Whatta ya want?” he snarled angrily at the man.
The visitor grinned at him for a moment without saying a word then punched Myers square in the face, hard, with a leather gloved hand.
Casually, he glanced down the hallway in search of witnesses, but saw none. Satisfied, he entered the apartment and, after shoving Myers’ legs out of the way with his foot, closed the door behind him.

The blow had knocked Myers unconscious for a few minutes and when he came to, his first realization was extreme discomfort. Lying on his side on the hardwood floor, his ankles and wrists were bound and had been pulled together behind his back. Something had also been stuffed into his mouth. His face felt wet and when he rubbed his chin on his shoulder, he left blood on his t-shirt.
Raising his head as best he could, he saw the man who had hit him, standing behind the couch, calmly flipping through a magazine.
Detecting movement, the intruder peered down at him and said, “Oh good, you’re awake. I was hoping that you wouldn’t sleep all night. I don’t want to get home too late.”
He strolled over nonchalantly to where Peter lay on the living room floor, gazing down at him with an amused smile.
“I hope you’ll forgive me for tying you up and gagging you like I did,” he politely apologized. “I realize that it’s unpleasant. However, I have learned from experience that these things are necessary. It makes my job so much easier without the fighting back and screaming. You understand, don’t you?”
Peter stared up at the intruder, sweat streaming from every pore on his body.
The man calmly continued. “I read an article about poor Mrs. Slater in the paper a little while back, and I must tell you, Peter, frankly, I was shocked. What you did was not very nice. Nope, not nice at all. I hear that she’ll never walk again.”
He paused to light a cigarette, playfully flicking the match at Myers. “In addition, one of her ribs apparently punctured a lung. Doctors still aren’t sure if she’s going to make it. Poor Mrs. Slater. Don’t you agree, Peter?”
He watched Myers in silence for a moment, concentrating on finishing his cigarette before going on.
“Tell me, Peter? Did you ever fall down a flight of stairs? Or better yet, did you ever fall off a balcony from the sixth floor?”
Myers’ eyes widened with fear but the gag, unfortunately, did not permit him to respond to the man’s questions.
“I didn’t think so,” the man said, nodding knowingly. “There’s no time like the present, don’t you agree?”
He strolled over to the patio door and stepped out onto the balcony. Tossing his cigarette butt, he watched its glow drop six storeys to the paved parking lot below. Carefully, he examined the area behind the building for any signs of human activity but saw none. Satisfied, he returned to the living room.
“Time to go,” he announced, bending over his trussed up victim.
Peter began struggling as best he could as his assailant tried to grab him, adding difficulty to the latter’s task. Stepping back, the man stared down at Myers with a look of exasperation.
“Now, Peter, you’re being difficult,” he scolded. “We’re not going to get anywhere with that kind of attitude.”
Pulling his leg far back for maximum force, he then swung it forth, kicking Peter hard in the abdomen, knocking the wind out of him. Meeting no resistance this time, he picked up his helpless victim, flung him over his shoulder and carried him out onto the balcony.
“Say bye-bye, Peter,” he murmured softly before tossing Myers over the railing to his death, six storeys below. The only sound was a dull thud.
He returned inside and recuperated his burnt match from the floor. One could never be too careful. Following a quick self-examination for blood stains, none found, he left the apartment, making his way to the ground floor and to the mini-van parked two blocks away.
He would definitely have to send a message to the cops for this one. He wanted the credit for a job well done.

 

Vigilante (Barry/McCall Series) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!


Connect with Claude Bouchard:

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Death in the Saddle, Not a Western!, A. J. Harris {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

Sponsored Post

A. J. Harris’ Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Death in the Saddle, Not a Western!:

When Billionaire Real Estate Developer Peter Bruxton is found murdered – shot in the head in his hotel room – it comes as no surprise to anyone who knew him. In fact, the biggest challenge facing the detectives charged with solving Bruxton’s murder may be finding someone who is NOT a suspect.

Also not a surprise is the fact that Bruxton was shot while presumably having sex. His sexual escapades (with everyone except his wife) were the subject of open conversation at cocktail parties throughout the Coachella Valley social scene (as was his general tendency to offend anyone he met within five minutes of meeting them). Bruxton was universally disliked, but he was particularly despised by several of the women he had bedded (as well as by their husbands).

Was Bruxton’s murder a crime of passion or a premeditated act of revenge? It’s a case that crosses state lines, exposes the excesses of the very rich, and brings wartime secrets to light. Join detectives Mannheim and Oliver as they seek to solve the case of the philandering fat cat in Death in the Saddle (Not a Western).

 

Accolade:

A raucus good time! Kept me guessing until the very end. Another remarkable work by A. J. Harris, M.D. — Mark E. Anderson


Death in the Saddle, Not a Western! is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!

 

An excerpt from Death in the Saddle, Not a Western!:

“You know, Josh, I swear I’m going to kill that sonofabitch one day. I can’t stand having him around. The very sight of him nauseates me.” Mary Bruxton said abruptly as she adjusted her skirt after the examination in Dr. Josh Harrington’s office.

Dr. Josh sat, taking notes, then looked up. “Mary, you’re upset and your aching back isn’t helping your disposition. I’ll order physical therapy, and give you a few samples of muscle relaxants, as well as some mild pain medication.  Hang on.”

Dr. Josh got up, walked over to the cabinet, pulled open a drawer, and took out some sample packets. “Yes, these should work,” he said, handing the packets to his patient. “And take this too.” He added, handing her a note. “These are the dosages and instructions.”

Her edginess subsided as she placed the samples and the note in her purse. She smiled. “Josh, you’re sweet as ever to give me these freebies. But you know I can well afford to buy my own medication. It’s not like it was twenty five years ago when we were all neighbors, without a pot between us.”

Mary Bruxton, prominent socialite, the doyenne of charitable institutions in the Coachella Valley and wife of the lumber baron, Peter Bruxton, was recalling a time of profound penury. “Do you remember how the four of us—you and Sally, God rest her soul, Peter and I struggled so damned hard to eke out a living? And how we dreaded the bills that came due on the first of the month? Looking back, I think, what a wonderful time that was. We were in love, we struggled, we had great hopes for the future, we had our babies….” She stood up then, leaving the sentence unfinished as she drifted off with her memories.

Standing erect increased Mary’s low back pain, and she gripped the edge of the examining table, then took two labored steps toward Josh and embraced him. “You’re just as kind and considerate now as you were as a young doctor trying to make enough to keep your little family together.” She released her grip and leaned against the table, shaking her head before continuing. “And look what’s happened to Peter and me. Can you believe he’s become the largest private owner of forested land in the country? Rich as Croesus, but it’s changed his personality. He went from being a considerate loving husband and father to one rotten, depraved money-grubbing sonofabitch.”

She put her hand up. “And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to defend him. You can’t possibly know what it’s like living with him. It’s as though he made a pact with the devil and traded his soul and sanity for all that money. He treats me like dirt, or worse. He’s become a womanizer; no one in a skirt is safe around him, that filthy lecher. I won’t let him touch me. God only knows what he’s been exposed to. I suppose my hands-off treatment has made him even more resentful, but hell, he brought it on himself. I’m sorry, but I just can’t deal with that, anymore.”

Josh listened, dismayed to hear Mary castigate his old friend. But he knew that what she said was most probably true. Although reluctant, he asked, “Has he been abusive?”

“Has he been abusive, you ask? Hah! Oh, yeah, big-time, physically and verbally. We got into it pretty good several weeks ago. He went absolutely berserk—started swearing and calling me his usual vile names. Smashed some of my precious antiques. He said I loved them more than I loved him. And you know what? The bastard was absolutely right.  When I tried to stop him he grabbed me and twisted my arm till I thought it would break. Then he slapped me across the face. I broke away, called the police and ordered him to get the hell out. He knows I can get a restraining order, so he packed a bag and got a suite at the Springs Hotel. I’ll allow him to come home when our daughter, Deena, comes in for a visit from U.S.C. In the meantime, he’s on his own.  And I can tell you this: if he ever lays a hand on me again, I’ll kill that sonofabitch.  I will. I swear it. I’m still pretty good with a pistol…got a few trophies to show for it.”

“Now, now Mary. When your backache eases you may feel a bit more charitable. Who knows, Peter may even put all his philandering behind him one day, and come back home to his true love.”

“Yeah, and I’m the virgin queen.”

Josh knew immediately how empty his words sounded, but he didn’t want Mary to leave without a word of hope or encouragement. “Does Deena know that you two have been at odds?”

“Of course. She enjoys a special relationship with her father, and I know she would like to see our feuding come to end.” Mary breathed deeply and sighed. “Truthfully, Josh, the prospect of a divorce, with the problems of property division and the inevitable court battles are more than I dare think about. I’ll try my best to tolerate the jackass—that is, at least until Deena finishes school or gets married.”

Josh bent over and kissed Mary on her cheek. “Try to rest and take the medication. I’ll notify PT to make arrangements to go to your home. Call me in a couple days and give me a progress report.”

Mary gave Josh a melancholy smile and held both his hands. “Why couldn’t I have married a sweet guy like you?” She took a small mirror from her purse to apply lipstick. She smacked her lips then ran her tongue around her lips before putting the mirror away. “When this back gets better I’m going to find me a virile dude for companionship.” She looked at Josh and arched an eyebrow. “Say, do you still make house calls?”


Death in the Saddle, Not a Western! is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!


Connect with A. J. Harris:

Website: http://www.murdermysterypress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeathInTheSaddle

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Death in the Saddle, Not a Western!, A. J. Harris {$2.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!}

Sponsored Post

A. J. Harris’ Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Death in the Saddle, Not a Western!:

When Billionaire Real Estate Developer Peter Bruxton is found murdered – shot in the head in his hotel room – it comes as no surprise to anyone who knew him. In fact, the biggest challenge facing the detectives charged with solving Bruxton’s murder may be finding someone who is NOT a suspect.

Also not a surprise is the fact that Bruxton was shot while presumably having sex. His sexual escapades (with everyone except his wife) were the subject of open conversation at cocktail parties throughout the Coachella Valley social scene (as was his general tendency to offend anyone he met within five minutes of meeting them). Bruxton was universally disliked, but he was particularly despised by several of the women he had bedded (as well as by their husbands).

Was Bruxton’s murder a crime of passion or a premeditated act of revenge? It’s a case that crosses state lines, exposes the excesses of the very rich, and brings wartime secrets to light. Join detectives Mannheim and Oliver as they seek to solve the case of the philandering fat cat in Death in the Saddle (Not a Western).

 

Accolade:

A raucus good time! Kept me guessing until the very end. Another remarkable work by A. J. Harris, M.D. — Mark E. Anderson


Death in the Saddle, Not a Western! is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!

 

An excerpt from Death in the Saddle, Not a Western!:

“You know, Josh, I swear I’m going to kill that sonofabitch one day. I can’t stand having him around. The very sight of him nauseates me.” Mary Bruxton said abruptly as she adjusted her skirt after the examination in Dr. Josh Harrington’s office.

Dr. Josh sat, taking notes, then looked up. “Mary, you’re upset and your aching back isn’t helping your disposition. I’ll order physical therapy, and give you a few samples of muscle relaxants, as well as some mild pain medication.  Hang on.”

Dr. Josh got up, walked over to the cabinet, pulled open a drawer, and took out some sample packets. “Yes, these should work,” he said, handing the packets to his patient. “And take this too.” He added, handing her a note. “These are the dosages and instructions.”

Her edginess subsided as she placed the samples and the note in her purse. She smiled. “Josh, you’re sweet as ever to give me these freebies. But you know I can well afford to buy my own medication. It’s not like it was twenty five years ago when we were all neighbors, without a pot between us.”

Mary Bruxton, prominent socialite, the doyenne of charitable institutions in the Coachella Valley and wife of the lumber baron, Peter Bruxton, was recalling a time of profound penury. “Do you remember how the four of us—you and Sally, God rest her soul, Peter and I struggled so damned hard to eke out a living? And how we dreaded the bills that came due on the first of the month? Looking back, I think, what a wonderful time that was. We were in love, we struggled, we had great hopes for the future, we had our babies….” She stood up then, leaving the sentence unfinished as she drifted off with her memories.

Standing erect increased Mary’s low back pain, and she gripped the edge of the examining table, then took two labored steps toward Josh and embraced him. “You’re just as kind and considerate now as you were as a young doctor trying to make enough to keep your little family together.” She released her grip and leaned against the table, shaking her head before continuing. “And look what’s happened to Peter and me. Can you believe he’s become the largest private owner of forested land in the country? Rich as Croesus, but it’s changed his personality. He went from being a considerate loving husband and father to one rotten, depraved money-grubbing sonofabitch.”

She put her hand up. “And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to defend him. You can’t possibly know what it’s like living with him. It’s as though he made a pact with the devil and traded his soul and sanity for all that money. He treats me like dirt, or worse. He’s become a womanizer; no one in a skirt is safe around him, that filthy lecher. I won’t let him touch me. God only knows what he’s been exposed to. I suppose my hands-off treatment has made him even more resentful, but hell, he brought it on himself. I’m sorry, but I just can’t deal with that, anymore.”

Josh listened, dismayed to hear Mary castigate his old friend. But he knew that what she said was most probably true. Although reluctant, he asked, “Has he been abusive?”

“Has he been abusive, you ask? Hah! Oh, yeah, big-time, physically and verbally. We got into it pretty good several weeks ago. He went absolutely berserk—started swearing and calling me his usual vile names. Smashed some of my precious antiques. He said I loved them more than I loved him. And you know what? The bastard was absolutely right.  When I tried to stop him he grabbed me and twisted my arm till I thought it would break. Then he slapped me across the face. I broke away, called the police and ordered him to get the hell out. He knows I can get a restraining order, so he packed a bag and got a suite at the Springs Hotel. I’ll allow him to come home when our daughter, Deena, comes in for a visit from U.S.C. In the meantime, he’s on his own.  And I can tell you this: if he ever lays a hand on me again, I’ll kill that sonofabitch.  I will. I swear it. I’m still pretty good with a pistol…got a few trophies to show for it.”

“Now, now Mary. When your backache eases you may feel a bit more charitable. Who knows, Peter may even put all his philandering behind him one day, and come back home to his true love.”

“Yeah, and I’m the virgin queen.”

Josh knew immediately how empty his words sounded, but he didn’t want Mary to leave without a word of hope or encouragement. “Does Deena know that you two have been at odds?”

“Of course. She enjoys a special relationship with her father, and I know she would like to see our feuding come to end.” Mary breathed deeply and sighed. “Truthfully, Josh, the prospect of a divorce, with the problems of property division and the inevitable court battles are more than I dare think about. I’ll try my best to tolerate the jackass—that is, at least until Deena finishes school or gets married.”

Josh bent over and kissed Mary on her cheek. “Try to rest and take the medication. I’ll notify PT to make arrangements to go to your home. Call me in a couple days and give me a progress report.”

Mary gave Josh a melancholy smile and held both his hands. “Why couldn’t I have married a sweet guy like you?” She took a small mirror from her purse to apply lipstick. She smacked her lips then ran her tongue around her lips before putting the mirror away. “When this back gets better I’m going to find me a virile dude for companionship.” She looked at Josh and arched an eyebrow. “Say, do you still make house calls?”


Death in the Saddle, Not a Western! is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel (Volume One), R.S. Guthrie {$0.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!}

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Description of Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel (Volume One):

“Black Beast” is the first in a series of “Clan of MacAulay” novels. Decorated Denver Detective Bobby Macaulay has faced down a truckload of tragedy over recent years. The death of his partner; the loss of his own leg in the line of duty; the companionship of his beloved wife to cancer; his faith in God to his inner demons.

After the man who ruined his leg and killed his first partner is executed, Macaulay becomes the lead detective investigating the Sloan’s Lake murders. The method of killing in this double-homicide is so heinous it leads Macaulay and his partner down an ever-darkening path–one that must be traversed if they are to discover the evil forces behind the slaughter.

Just when Bobby Macaulay is questioning the very career that has been his salvation, he will discover a heroic history buried within his own family roots: The Clan MacAulay–a deep family lineage of protectors at the very core of a millenniums-long war against unimaginable evil.

 

Accolade:

“Black Beast is the first in the series of A Clan of MacAulay novels, and establishes Guthrie as a bonafide talent. Black Beast centers around the haunted life of Detective Bobby MacAulay as he discovers secrets from his family tree just as all ‘hell’ starts to break loose. Bobby is likeable, vulnerable and just tough enough to be very real. The best super sleuths among you will not be able to predict what will happen next in this story, and you won’t want to stop reading. Black Beast is fast-paced, interesting, unique and a wild ride.” Beth E. Harris, author of “Vision”.

 

Reviews:

Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel (Volume One) currently has a customer review rating of 5 stars with 37 reviews! Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel (Volume One):

Life for a death row inmate at the CSP consisted of twenty-three hours in an isolated cell, one hour per day for shower and exercise. All meals, visitors, and bathroom functions happened during the twenty-three hours cellbound. No exceptions other than the infirmary or the morgue.

The CSP had a special segregation unit called the Execution Suite. During warrant week, a seven-day period established by the governor, the condemned prisoner was moved to the Execution Suite to await delivery of sentence by lethal injection.

Eb Durning was scheduled to ride the river at twenty-one hundred hours.

9PM.

We entered the interior of Hotel California—so called by the hacks and cons—through a large, double-shielded door with another gated checkpoint. I was asked to sign a second register and also to read a short list of dos and don’ts.

“You’re the guy,” the officer at the station desk said.

“I’m the guy,” I said. “Detective Macaulay.”

“He got your partner, too?”

I pushed the paperwork back across a pine-top desk scarred with cigarette burns. “It was a long time ago.”

“Time for the fiddler to get his. Maintain the yellow line,” he replied, the eyes falling involuntarily to where my jean fit too loose on the prosthetic.

Like skin over meatless bone.

There was a solid, faded yellow stripe that ran down the corridor, five feet from the three holding cells. The guard buzzed me in.

Ebony Durning was in the first cell, closest to the guard station. He did not get up as I stopped in front of his door but finished drawing on a small roach, extinguishing it by licking the tips of his fore and middle finger and pinching the small coal. There was an audible hiss and the aroma of bad weed: pungent, like something already dead.

“The bulls are lenient here at Hotel California on D-day,” was the first thing he said to me.

“I’m glad,” I replied.

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leeeeve,” he crooned.

“I know the song. Do we have business, Eb?”

“They’re gonna do me this time, Detective. No more appeals. The Governor ain’t too friendly to cop killers. Eleven hours and change. Ain’t much of a future.”

“More than my partner got.”

“Officer Wells, it was. And the old lady at the store,” Durning said. “I sent letters.”

He was still supine on the narrow, wall-mounted cot.

“Fuck you, Eb. You don’t get to tell me the names.”

He swung his long legs to the floor and stood. He was a full six five, all bones and loose flesh. Ganglier than I remembered. Durning’s mother was white and his father black—Eb’s skin was the color of sun-bleached cardboard.

“Bobby Mac. Basketball legend.”

He threaded his spidery arms through the rungs and leaned on the crossbar, his veins bulging beneath an aqua jailhouse tattoo that was too faded to make out.

He looked awful: afro reduced to patches and tufts, like a lawn with fungal rot. His complexion was dull and fishy.

“What is this about, Eb? I came early because of Lucinda. She said this was important.”

“They’re gonna pump my veins full of potassium chloride. Last cocktail I’ll ever have, Mac, stop my heart dead. Is that important enough?”

“You’ve earned your station, Eb, and then some. A little late for redemption, don’t you think?”

“I don’t believe in that shit.”

“Good. You have a nice trip. I won’t be losing any sleep over it.”

He was hollow-eyed, as if he had already checked out with the bellhop. His were the marble eyes of the shark: lifeless.

“Do you remember the nineteen-eighty-five State Championship, Mac?”

“Ancient history,” I said.

Durning played forward for Mullen and I played for Cherry Creek. The game exhausted three overtimes before Durning hit a running jumper with time expiring to end our run of three consecutive championships.

He bottomed out three years later when a hooker overdosed in his small apartment on Colfax and he tossed her in a dumpster at King Soopers with a case full of needles with his prints all over them.

Since doing the unlawful death time he hit a couple foul balls—county lockup stuff, mostly. Then he poked one out of the park by participating in the murder of my partner Danny Wells and an old woman—the oriental shopkeeper who ran a local market on Broadway.

Durning got into his getaway car in the parking lot, bouncing off the other vehicles like a pinball, and crashed into my patrol car, pinning me and turning my left leg to ground round.

“We were so fucking happening in eighty-five, Mac. Like shit just turning to gold.”

And for a moment I saw it: the perfection of adolescence—when the slate is clean and everything is possible; when all that mattered were how many points per game and who was getting laid.

His flat eyes flickered with the memories of a better time—a distant, furtive glow at the center of his being. It was as if he were back there: the squeaking of gum rubber on hardwood, the roar of the crowd, the perfect backspin of the ball as it arced through space, the crisp snap of the net.

It was a magical time. But it was over.

“You brought the world crashing down, Eb. No one else.”

“True enough,” he allowed. “But I never meant for it to get as fucked up as it did. You gotta know that, Mac.”

“Is this an apology for getting my partner killed and sacrificing my leg, Eb? Because if it is I think you need to spend a little more time in front of a mirror.”

“You know I never wanted it to go down like that, man. C’mon, Mac, we played ball together. It’s your leg.”

“I know damn well whose leg it is, Eb. And what about my partner? What about Danny? He had a wife and kid.”

“Well, I guess I ain’t too proud about any of it.”

“Damn. A dozen years to reach such profundity. You gotta love the system.”

“Listen, this just ain’t comin’ out right. I-I wanted to tell you if I could somehow give you your leg back, I would. This ain’t redemption because I don’t believe in that shit, Mac.

“I wake up nights and see that leg, all ruined and shit. It will be the last thing I see. I have no doubt.”

He seemed to mean it, and I had relinquished my clutch on pity years earlier, but now, standing in front of Durning, the horror show came rolling back in. All I could think was how much I wanted to see him suck that last breath; watch his body spasm involuntarily against the clutch of the chemical reaper.

Exit stage left, the curtain falls.

“Tell it to the spiritual advisor, Eb. I don’t have any more room.”

“I’m sorry,” Durning said.

“Not a chance, man. No vacancy.”

“You want to know the funny thing, Mac?” He didn’t wait for an answer.

“I play it over and over, and I don’t want it to happen, but I know if it went down the same way, I’d probably be caught up in it just the same.

“I was crazy on the shit, man, and my perceptions was not right, but that’s how it played. It’s fucked up, man, I know that. It’s hard to live with.”

“You want to know something, Eb? If they’d let me push the plunger on the syringe I’d do it right now. No hesitation; no questions asked.

“That’s some messed up shit, too, but I’ll live with it.”

“You gonna be there for the big show?”

I ignored the question.

“Hold Lucinda’s hand. She couldn’t ask you herself.”

“You could have left that in a message with the PA,” I said.

“There’s something else,” he said, fidgeting nervously.

“I’m still here.”

“Maybe nothing, but I’ve been going over it for a long time.”

“Time’s running out, Eb.”

“Something was strange that night, the night we knocked over that store. We shoulda been in and out, but Jackson took too much time. He let the old lady see him. Said that was why we had to kill her.”

He was talking about Arliss Jackson, a homeboy Durning cruised with; the only perp I had ever killed. It was Jackson who shot my partner before I could get a draw on him. At trial, Durning claimed it was Jackson who wanted to stay and finish the old Chinese woman—allegedly because the old woman called Jackson “hei gui”, meaning “black ghost”—on the streets.

Chinese slang for “nigger”.

“I heard this crap at trial.”

“We shoulda never been there, Mac. Shoulda been long gone. I think maybe Jackson wanted the cops to get there. I think he was counting on it.”

“You have any reasoning on this?”

“A week before, Jackson gets this visit from a guy. Big white dude. The two of them, they go off in the white guy’s car. I asked around when Arliss wouldn’t come clean, started acting all strange and shit. Somebody recognized the description. Guy’s a big dumb muscle-thug they call Brain. Works for Calypso.”

Calypso was a major pot smuggler from Ocho Rios, Jamaica, who ran much of the dope business in the city. Vice and the DEA had a major hard-on
for Calypso. Jackson had been small time; a neighborhood punk who stole televisions and boosted cars during Bronco games.

An arrangement between him and the big Jamaican made no sense.

“What does this have to do with anything, Eb? Jackson is dead.”

“Arliss was a gambler. Played the ponies. Owed a lot of money. No secret about that. Word was he tried to set up a dope deal that went south. Owed some even bigger scratch to Calypso.

“Dude’s henchmen carry blowtorches, Mac, they don’t fuck around. I think Arliss was scared. Maybe he cut a deal.”

“To kill my partner,” I said.

“It don’t make sense, Mac. I can’t figure out why we were still there. What the hell does Arliss Jackson care if some old woman calls him nigger? Arliss was careful, man, he didn’t want to go back to prison. It don’t figure.”

“The idea of prison does that to some people. Makes a scumbag willing to do what he has to do. It doesn’t always make sense.”

“We shoulda been gone when you got there, Mac. He took his time with that old woman. I almost booked.”

“That would have been the best decision you ever made. You’ve earned the needle, Eb. I gotta go.”

Durning lowered his head and pressed it against the bars. “My hair’s been falling out all week. I was never even scared or nothing and it started falling out just the same.”

He rubbed his left hand along the top of his head. He looked like someone had taken the shears to him while he slept.

“Do you know about Samson, Mac?”

He was looking up, tears brimming in those lifeless eyes.

“His strength was in his hair. I wasn’t even scared, Mac, and the shit started fallin’ out anyway.”

I stared at him. I could imagine the stress he was feeling but I didn’t care. Then again, maybe all this was just Durning’s way of tuning up for the long trip.

“Do you believe in God, Mac?” he said.

The question startled me. I didn’t answer.

“Do you believe he will forgive you if you’re truly sorry?”

“I believe in God, Eb. You worry about the forgiving part.”

He turned around and shuffled back to the bed. He sat down slowly, like a decrepit old man, steadying himself with shaking arms. He was sweating and I again smelled the reality of his predicament. It permeated the cell, the hoary smell of the end.

If Hell had a distinct odor, this was it. I think Eb Durning had figured that one.

“You want to know something? That thing about having anything for your last meal is bullshit. You gotta order off a menu,” he said.

“That so?”

“I’m havin’ me a plate of meatloaf, two slices of whole wheat bread, and some ketchup packets, because when I would come home from basketball practice my moms would slice me a big piece and make a cold meatloaf sandwich.

“Things was golden then, Mac. Golden.”

“I’ll be seeing you around, Eb.”

“Don’t forget about Lucinda, okay Mac? She got no one and she trusts you.”

His words were fading, as if he was getting sleepy, but he was still sitting erect, staring blankly at the wall.

“She’s my sister and now she got no one.”

“Lucinda will be fine,” I said as I moved toward the exit.

“Vaya con Dios, Mac,” he said quietly.

“Not me, Eb. You need him more.”

 

Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel (Volume One) is available to purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!


Connect with R.S. Guthrie:

Author Website: http://www.rsguthrie.com
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Author Blog: http://robonwriting.com

88 Ways to Die, Johnnie Mitchell {$2.99}

The time is the presidential election year of 1988. A year when Gary Hart’s run was cut short due to his sit down with Donna Rice. An era when big time businessmen and high level politicians found themselves caught up in “sleaze factor” scandals. Michael Douglas’ line from the movie Wall Street: “Greed is good,” seems to be typical of the 1980s.

Against this back drop, Chicago private detectives Ellis Mason and Brad Royce find themselves swimming neck deep in 1980s style murder, greed, and corruption.

Ellis becomes obsessed with finding the murderer of his partner. Royce is smitten with a wily and dangerous political consultant that knows more than she lets on about blackmail and shady business deals.

Together the detectives must wade through the muck and dodge the last bullet before they crack the case.

What readers are saying:

“It is Chicago, after all, so, its not surprising that Mason and Royce are soon swimming upstream in a river of murder, greed, and political corruption. I hope Mr. Mitchell does well enough to produce some more, as Mason could potentially be Chicago’s answer to LA’s Eazy Rawlins.” –Jack Quick Bookbitch.com

“Johnnie Mitchell tells a good story and introduces a strong character in Ellis Mason. I look forward to reading more of Ellis Mason’s adventures and will be curious to see if he teams up with Brad Royce next time around.” –Angela Henry, author of Tangled Roots

The average Amazon reader review is currently 3.5 stars {3 reviews}.

Click here to read more about and purchase 88 Ways to Die for $2.99 from Amazon

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