THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Nirvana Plague, Gary Glass {$3.99}

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Gary Glass’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Nirvana Plague:

What if perfect peace and happiness were a contagious disease? In this fast-paced, thought-provoking thriller, a schizophrenic scientist, an ambitious Chicago psychiatrist, and a hard-driving Army colonel are at the center of a frantic international struggle between the powers of government and a mind-bending outbreak of cosmic consciousness.

A bizarre illness spreads through a Chicago psychiatric hospital. Dr Carl Marley, a bored but ambitious psychiatrist, seizes the chance to grab some attention by “discovering” the new disorder. But when an Army colonel summons him to a government-sponsored taskforce to investigate the syndrome, he learns the disease he thought he’d discovered is already so widespread in the military that it threatens to undermine the foundations of power. A high-stakes race to understand the disease takes the team from the NIH campus in Bethesda, to a war zone in the Kashmiri highlands, to a high-tech biodefense facility near Juneau, Alaska.

As the outbreak spreads around the globe and desperate governments impose increasingly severe measures to contain it, Marley begins to suspect that what is happening is not the apocalypse they fear — but something far more radical. Marley’s star patient, a brilliant but profoundly psychotic scientist named Roger Sturgeon, escapes from the facility into the city, and Marley attempts to bring him back before the government sends in troops. Only then does he learn the truth about what is happening.

Before it’s over they will all be forced to choose between the precarious comfort of the world they know and the mysterious wonder of a new reality — between their commonplace fears, ambitions, and loyalties, or the hope that lies in The Nirvana Plague.

 

Accolades:

A difficult book to put down. Your attention is grasped continually with ever growing suspense and mystery. The author captured the essence of James Michener incorporating facts into the saga; and the essence of Steven King’s art of timely and mounting suspense. And the ending – what an ending! ~ Amazon reviewer

The Nirvana Plague is a mile-a-minute race to understand and contain an outbreak of…what? Is it a virus, bioterrorism, a movement, or the next stage of human evolution? Well-drawn characters will lead you on a wild chase in a thriller based on a great what-if premise. The book is written with authority, imagination and intelligence. ~ Amazon reviewer

It has been thirty years since I read any Vonnegut, but this book reminds me of his work. It also reminds me a bit of Don Delillo’s ‘White Noise.’Gary Glass manages to create a thought-provoking, philosophical, thriller that takes place on a global scale while also focusing on a core set of characters in a very intimate way. Well done. ~ Amazon reviewer

Reviews:

The Nirvana Plague currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.6 stars from 9 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from The Nirvana Plague:

Chapter 1

It is well past blackout. Starlight silvers the empty campus. A fresh snow has fallen, and a hungry wind drives in off the lake. A lone student hurries home between the dark buildings.

From a doorway, a thin jet of breath streams out and is shredded by the wind.

She looks up.

“Wait!” comes from the doorway. The sound is raw, guttural.

She puts her head down and walks on, fast, her boots striking hard on the packed snow of the sidewalk.

He calls after her:

“Wait!” he says. “Come back!” His voice is a hiss on the air.

She looks ahead — there’s no one else around, but it’s only another block to the street. Then she hears his footsteps behind her.

He sees her look back and calls after her again, urgently, trying to keep his voice down:

“Wait! Please! I have to talk to you!”

She runs. Her boots slip, slowing her, but the unpacked snow off the sidewalk is too deep. Her backpack bounces from side to side, throwing her off balance.

“Stop!” the man calls, running after her. “Stop! For God’s sake!”

She comes to a crossing and cuts to the left — instantly realizing her mistake: she should have kept on and just outrun him. She loses her footing, her boot slides under her, and she goes down hard on her side. Her parka cushions the blow a little, but the glazed snow is almost as hard as the concrete under it, and she catches her arm under her weight, wrenching the elbow.

Before she can get to her knees, he’s on her. She wriggles and kicks, but he straddles her hips and pins her down. He grabs her by the shoulders and thrusts his face toward hers. His short hair and short beard are grizzled, his lips pallid, his eyes bright, glassy, and crazed.

“Listen to me!” he hisses, bending over her. “Listen! I’m trying to warn you! They’re coming here! They’re coming—”

He looks suddenly confused.

“They’re—”

The girl screams, as loud as she can, screams with her whole body.

The man is startled and claps his bare hand over her mouth.

“No! No! They’ll hear you! That’s how they—”

The girl jerks her head back and forth. His hand comes loose — she catches it in her mouth and bites it, hard.

He stifles a yelp of pain: “Ahhh!”

He gets his hand free and jams it under his arm, grimacing.

“No!” he says. “Don’t! You don’t understand!”

The girl screams again, and twists her body violently.

The man loses his balance, falls sideways. He puts out his hand to catch himself, the hand she’s just bitten, and with a yelp of pain he goes down on his elbow.

The girl squirms away from him, kicking at him with her boots. One of them connects, she hears him grunt and feels him fall away. She scrambles to her feet and runs. She’s lost her bearings now and doesn’t know which way she’s going. But in a few seconds she comes to a street. There are still a few cars moving, but no pedestrians. She stops and waves, trying to flag someone down.

The man slams into her, knocking her over. They sprawl on the sidewalk, the girl flailing and kicking at him again, yelling bloody murder, the man desperately trying to make her stop and listen.

* * *

“Slow night,” Marley said, twizzling the lime in a vodka tonic. It was his third. Or fourth. He cupped his hand over the glass as if to measure it. Felt like the third. His hand, like the rest of him, was square and meaty. His bulldog build made his mild voice and easy manner seem practiced, and there was something in his eyes, when he let it show, that could stop a person cold.

“Yeah, Mondays are slow,” the bartender said.

Susan something. He could never remember her last name. But she was his favorite bartender, and this was his favorite bar. Bernie’s. Barry’s. Something like that. Clean and dark and cozy. Close to the hospital. And tonight it was empty: downtown bar on a frostbitten weeknight.

“At least we’re here,” Marley said.

“Yup. But I’m working. What’s your excuse?”

“I’m in recovery.”

“From Monday?”

Marley frowned. “Yes. I told you that one?”

“Yesterday you were in recovery from Sunday. Tomorrow you’ll be in recovery from Tuesday.”

“And Wednesday’s child is full of woe,” he said. “I guess I’ve exhausted my repertoire of not-so-wisecracks.”

“You’re all right. Always nice to see you again.”

“Thanks, but I—”

Marley’s phone buzzed. He plucked it out of his jacket pocket — it looked like a gold fountain pen — and checked the caller ID on the barrel.

“Looks like I’m busted,” he said. “It’s the cops.”

“Really?”

“They must have found out I’m a criminal bore.”

He laid one end of the phone against his ear, and when he squeezed it the other end curled in toward the corner of his mouth.

“Carl Marley.”

“Doctor Marley?” said the caller.

“Yes,” Marley said.

Susan drifted down to the other end of the bar and watched TV.

“Dr. Marley,” said the caller, “this is Sergeant Wissert, Evanston Police. I think we have a patient of yours in custody. Roger Sturgeon?”

Marley sighed wearily.

“Yes. Paranoid schizophrenic.”

“Northwestern University security officers apprehended him this evening. They turned him over to us about twenty minutes ago. Seems he’s been chasing students all over campus. He didn’t have any ID on him, and he wouldn’t talk to us. We ran a rid on him and came up with his record. That’s how we got your name, doctor.”

“Ran a what?”

“Retinal ID.”

“Right. OK.” Marley was feeling the vodka a little. “Did he hurt anyone?” he said, trying to sound especially professional.

“Not really. Scared the panties off a couple of girls though. Northwestern police are pretty pissed about the whole thing. I guess they’ve been getting reports and trying to find him for hours.”

“Well, he’s smart.” Marley waved at Susan for a refill. “Reload, please.”

“What?” said the caller.

“Nothing. So what can I do for you?”

“We need to get him off the street. I see on his record that he’s done a few turns in Joplin Psychiatric. He’s obviously delusional. So, if you wanted to sign a commitment order tonight, we could maybe avoid locking him up on an assault charge.”

In the background, another voice: “I’m not delusional. I’m perfectly lucid! I’m trying to help you! Try to understand—”

“Be quiet!” someone else said.

“That’s him,” the sergeant said.

“Yes,” Marley said.

“So what do you want to do, doc? We’re about done here.”

“Where?”

“We’re in the emergency room at General. He got a nasty bite on the hand from the last little girl he jumped.”

Marley could hear him smiling.

“She was pretty shook up, but she’ll be all right. Cute little thing too.”

“So?”

“So, if you want to commit him, we might be able to convince Northwestern to drop charges.”

“He’s married. Have you talked to his wife?”

“Not yet. The number we have on record for him is wrong.”

“Did you check his phone? Her number is probably on his cell phone.”

“I’ll check on that.”

Susan returned and set a fresh drink in front of him, spilling some of it.

“Thanks.” Then to the officer: “Wife’s name is Karen. Different last name. I forget what it is. But if you need it you can get it from my office in the morning.”

“So what do you want us to do with Mr. Sturgeon here?”

Marley took a drink, getting his sleeve wet. He rolled up his sleeves as he talked, revealing tattoos on both forearms. “OK, let’s put him back in Joplin. Why don’t you message me the order to sign.”

“All right. I’ll call the precinct and have them send a three-day commit over to you. Should they use this number?”

“Sure.”

Marley hung up and clipped the phone back in his pocket. He took out his mini-tablet and started scribbling orders: 24-hour isolation, restraints PRN, resume meds (see hx for specs), maintain standing orders, call if changes…

“Everything all right?” she said.

“Just another day at the office.”

“Thought you were off the clock.”

“Trouble with a patient. He goes off his meds now and then. Usually gets in trouble when he does.” He took a drink. “Interesting fellow, this patient. You’d like him. He was a scientist before he got sick. Really brilliant. His delusions are very sophisticated.”

“I have a few clients like that myself.”

“You do?”

“Sure. Bartender, shrink, same thing basically.”

“I’ll drink to that. Cheers!”

“I never drink with patients.”

“Ha! I’m just doing this till I make it to the big time. What about you?”

“Same here. My plan is to hit the lottery. What’s yours?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

The commitment order came. He signed and dated it — February 15, 2027 — and sent it back. Then he fired off his orders to Joplin’s admissions office and put his mini-tab away again.

“That’s that,” he said. “Where were we?”

“You were telling me how you plan to get rich and famous.”

“That’s right. Thousands of adoring fans. A gaggle of groupies at my beck and call. And flights of angels to sing me to rest.”

“Sounds great. What’ll your wife think of all that?”

“I think she’s resigned herself to the inevitable,” Marley said stiffly, and took another drink.

Susan saw she hit a nerve and changed the subject. Pointing at his arms with her chin, she said, “Nice tats.”

He turned his arms out so she could see them. A Chinese dragon curled down the inside of his left arm, a Chinese tiger down his right.

“Get those at shrink school?” she said.

“Before shrink school. In the navy. I think I was compensating.”

“For…”

“For being a lowly communications officer. I was a runt of a kid then. Not the fine figure of a man you see before you now.”

She looked around the empty bar. “Really? Where?”

“Touché.” He raised his glass to her. She smiled. Still holding the glass, he extended one finger and ran it down the dragon on the other arm. “I got them in Taiwan. They’re Shaolin temple brands. But actually that’s bullshit. There’s no such thing.”

“They’re high quality though. Very good work.”

“Young, dumb, and et cetera. Long time ago.”

“Did you like the navy?”

“Loathed it. But it paid for shrink school.”

“And those tattoos.”

“Yup. Three months’ pay. And now I have to go to work in long sleeves.”

“You don’t really like your job, do you?”

He pulled his chin in, ducking a punch. “Now and then. When I get an interesting case or an interesting patient. Like this fellow the police just called about. He was brilliant before he got sick. He was on the team that found the first proof of extrasolar life. I think they were considered for a Nobel prize. There are videos of him lecturing and giving talks about it. He’s still brilliant. Much smarter than me anyway. I would like to be able to help him get his life back.”

“Can’t you?”

“It’s hard. I’ve been treating him for years. We still know so little about how the brain gets broken. Sometimes I think we don’t want to know really.”

Susan leaned back against the counter behind her, studying him.

He admired her figure. The bartenders here all dressed in tight black shirts and slacks.

“So here’s my question for you, doc,” she said, an impish light in her eye. “What’s a shrink with bad ass tats doing hanging out in a dead bar on a weeknight flirting with the bartender rather than going home and getting busy with his lovely wife? If you don’t mind me asking.”

Marley didn’t like it. “You ask some questions.”

“I’m just curious.”

“Curiosity killed the cat.”

“But you like your wife, don’t you?”

“Crazy about her actually.”

“So you’re iffy on your job and crazy about your wife, but you work late and you drink later. I’m just curious.”

“Do I need to call my lawyer, officer?”

“Why, are you guilty of something?”

“I think my wife thinks so.”

“Ya think? Husband comes home late every night…”

“Not about that,” he said, waving the idea away. “It’s not that.” He felt the alcohol loosening his reserve, but he didn’t fight it. “She’s disappointed in me.”

Susan’s expression changed. She saw the guilt in his face.

“Things were supposed to be different,” he said, not looking at her. “Life wasn’t supposed to be this easy.”

“Can you fix it?”

“I don’t know.”

 

The Nirvana Plague is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $3.99

 

Connect with Gary Glass:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gary.glass.31

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Children of the Fog, Cheryl Kaye Tardif {$0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Cheryl Kaye Tardif ’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Children of the Fog:

• International & National Bestseller
• A Top 100 Paid Best Seller on Amazon
• #4 in Amazon Top 100 Paid Best Sellers overall (March 2012)
• Top 100 Bestseller in Thrillers, Suspense, Horror, Occult
• #1 Horror & #1 Occult

YOU HAVE 10 SECONDS TO MAKE A DECISION: Let A Kidnapper Take Your Child, Or Watch Your Son Die. Choose!

Sadie O’Connell is a bestselling author and a proud mother. But her life is about to spiral out of control. After her six-year-old son Sam is kidnapped by a serial abductor, she nearly goes insane. But it isn’t just the fear and grief that is ripping her apart. It’s the guilt. Sadie is the only person who knows what the kidnapper looks like. And she can’t tell a soul. For if she does, her son will be sent back to her in “little bloody pieces”.

When Sadie’s unfaithful husband stumbles across her drawing of the kidnapper, he sets into play a series of horrific events that sends her hurtling over the edge. Sadie’s descent into alcoholism leads to strange apparitions and a face-to-face encounter with the monster who abducted her son–a man known only as…The Fog.

*CHILDREN OF THE FOG has a unique tie-in to Tardif`s newest thriller, SUBMERGED.

 

Accolades:

“A chilling and tense journey into every parent’s deepest fear.” ―Scott Nicholson, author of The Red Church

“A nightmarish thriller with a ghostly twist, CHILDREN OF THE FOG will keep you awake…and turning pages!” ―Amanda Stevens, author of The Restorer

“Reminiscent of The Lovely Bones, Cheryl Kaye Tardif weaves a tale of terror that will have you rushing to check on your children as they sleep. With exquisite prose, Children of the Fog captures you the moment you begin and doesn’t let go until the very end.” ―bestselling author Danielle Q. Lee, author of Inhuman

“Cheryl Kaye Tardif knows the mind of a parent and makes us all want to believe the impossible…” —Eileen Schuh, author of Schrodinger’s Cat

“Cheryl Kaye Tardif has written the novel to launch herself into the company of best-selling authors. With Children of the Fog, she has taken her writing and her readers to another level…Ripe with engaging twists and turns reminiscent of the work of James Patterson, Tardif once again tugs at the most inflexible of heartstrings. True to form, she has created believable characters so tangible that you expect to see them at the local store. Complete with Canadian flavour, Children of the Fog possesses you from the touching beginning through to the riveting climax. Kudos to Ms. Tardif for bringing the world a read truly worth staying up all night to finish.” —Kelly Komm, author of the award-winning YA fantasy novel, Sacrifice.

“There are so many great things about this story…you won’t guess what happens. This wasn’t predictable and I ate it up.” —NovelOpinion

Reviews:

Children of the Fog currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.4 stars from 626 reviews. Read the reviews here.


An excerpt from Children of the Fog:

prologue

May 14th, 2007

She was ready to die.
She sat at the kitchen table, a half empty bottle of Philip’s precious red wine in one hand, a loaded gun in the other. Staring at the foreign chunk of metal, she willed it to vanish. But it didn’t.
Sadie checked the gun and noted the single bullet.
“One’s all you need.”
If she did it right.
She placed the gun on the table and glanced at a pewter-framed photograph that hung off-kilter above the mantle of the fireplace. It was illuminated by a vanilla-scented candle, one of many that threw flickering shadows over the rough wood walls of the log cabin.
Sam’s sweet face stared back at her, smiling.
Alive.
From where she sat, she could see the small chip in his right front tooth, the result of an impatient father raising the training wheels too early. But there was no point in blaming Philip―not when they’d both lost so much.
Not when it’s all my fault.
Her gaze swept over the mantle. There were three objects on it besides the candle. Two envelopes, one addressed to Leah and one to Philip, and the portfolio case that contained the illustrations and manuscript on disc for Sam’s book.
She had finished it, just like she had promised.
“And promises can’t be broken. Right, Sam?”
A single tear burned a path down her cheek.
Sam was gone.
What reason do I have for living now?
She gulped back the last pungent mouthful of Cabernet and dropped the empty bottle. It rolled under the chair, unbroken, rocking on the hardwood floor. Then all was silent, except the antique grandfather clock in the far corner. Its ticking reminded her of the clown’s shoe. The one with the tack in it.
Tick, tick, tick…
The clock belched out an ominous gong.
It was almost midnight.
Almost time.
She drew an infinity symbol in the dust on the table.
“Sadie and Sam. For all eternity.”
Gong…
She swallowed hard as tears flooded her eyes. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you, baby. I tried to. God, I tried. Forgive me, Sam.” Her words ended in a gut-wrenching moan.
Something scraped the window beside her.
She pressed her face to the frosted glass, then jerked back with a gasp. “Go away!”
They stood motionless―six children that drifted from the swirling miasma of night air, haunting her nights and every waking moment. Surrounded by the moonlit fog, they began to chant. “One fine day, in the middle of the night…”
“You’re not real,” she whispered.
“Two dead boys got up to fight.”
A small, pale hand splayed against the exterior of the window. Below it, droplets of condensation slid like tears down the glass.
She reached out, matching her hand to the child’s. Shivering, she pulled away. “You don’t exist.”
The clock continued its morbid countdown.
As the alcohol and drug potpourri kicked in, the room began to spin and her stomach heaved. She inhaled deeply. She couldn’t afford to get sick. Sam was waiting for her.
Tears spilled down her cheeks. “I’m ready.”
Gong…
Without hesitation, she raised the gun to her temple.
“Don’t!” the children shrieked.
She pressed the gun against her flesh. The tip of the barrel was cold. Like her hands, her feet…her heart.
A sob erupted from the back of her throat.
The clock let out a final gong. Then it was deathly silent.
It was midnight.
Her eyes found Sam’s face again.
“Happy Mother’s Day, Sadie.”
She took a steadying breath, pushed the gun hard against her skin and clamped her eyes shut.
“Mommy’s coming, Sam.”
She squeezed the trigger.

1

March 30th, 2007

Sadie O’Connell let out a snicker as she stared at the price tag on the toy in her hand. “What did they stuff this with, laundered money?” She tossed the bunny back into the bin and turned to the tall, leggy woman beside her. “What are you getting Sam for his birthday?”
Her best friend gave her a cocky grin. “What should I get him? Your kid’s got everything already.”
“Don’t even go there, my friend.”
But Leah was right. Sadie and Philip spoiled Sam silly. Why shouldn’t they? They had waited a long time for a baby. Or at least, she had. After two miscarriages, Sam’s birth had been nothing short of a miracle. A miracle that deserved to be spoiled.
Leah groaned loudly. “Christ, it’s a goddamn zoo in here.”
Toyz & Twirlz in West Edmonton Mall was crawling with overzealous customers. The first major sale of the spring season always brought people out in droves. Frazzled parents swarmed the toy store, swatting their wayward brood occasionally―the way you’d swat a pesky yellowjacket at a barbecue. One distressed father hunted the aisles for his son, who had apparently taken off on him as soon as his back was turned. In every aisle, parents shouted at their kids, threatening, cajoling, pleading and then predictably giving in.
“So who let the animals out?” Sadie said, surveying the store.
The screeching wheels of shopping carts and the constant whining of overtired toddlers were giving her a headache. She wished to God she’d stayed home.
“Excuse me.”
A plump woman with frizzy, over-bleached hair gave Sadie an apologetic look. She navigated past them, pushing a stroller occupied by a miniature screaming alien. A few feet away, she stopped, bent down and wiped something that looked like curdled rice pudding from the corner of the child’s mouth.
Sadie turned to Leah. “Thank God Sam’s past that stage.”
At five years old―soon to be six―her son was the apple of her eye. In fact, he was the whole darned tree. A lanky imp of a boy with tousled black hair, sapphire-blue eyes and perfect bow lips, Sam was the spitting image of his mother and the exact opposite of his father in temperament. While Sam was sweet natured, gentle and loving, Philip was impatient and distant. So distant that he rarely said I love you anymore.
She stared at her wedding ring. What happened to us?
But she knew what had happened. Philip’s status as a trial lawyer had grown, more money had poured in and fame had gone to his head. He had changed. The man she had fallen in love with, the dreamer, had gone. In his place was someone she barely knew, a stranger who had decided too late that he didn’t want kids.
Or a wife.
“How about this?” Leah said, nudging her.
Sadie stared at the yellow dump truck. “Fill it with a stuffed bat and Sam will think it’s awesome.”
Her son’s fascination with bats was almost comical. The television was always tuned in to the Discovery Channel while her son searched endlessly for any show on the furry animals.
“What did Phil the Pill get him?” Leah asked dryly.
“A new Leap Frog module.”
“I still can’t believe the things that kid can do.”
Sadie grinned. “Me neither.”
Sam’s mind was a sponge. He absorbed information so fast that he only had to be shown once. His powers of observation were so keen that he had learned how to unlock the door just by watching Sadie do it, so Philip had to add an extra deadbolt at the top. By the time Sam was three, he had figured out the remote control and the DVD player. Sadie still had problems turning on the TV.
Sam…my sweet, wonderful, little genius.
“Maybe I’ll get him a movie,” Leah said. “How about Batman Begins?”
“He’s turning six, not sixteen.”
“Well, what do I know? I don’t have kids.”
At thirty-four, Leah Winters was an attractive, willowy brunette with wild multi-colored streaks, thick-lashed hazel eyes, a flirty smile and a penchant for younger men. While Sadie’s pale face had a scattering of tiny freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheekbones, Leah’s complexion was tanned and clear.
She’d been Sadie’s best friend for eight years―soul sistahs. Ever since the day she had emailed Sadie out of the blue to ask questions about writing and publishing. They’d met at Book Ends, a popular Edmonton bookstore, for what Leah had expected would be a quick coffee. Their connection was so strong and so immediate that they talked for almost five hours. They still joked about it, about how Leah had thought Sadie was some hotshot writer who wouldn’t give her the time of day. Yet Sadie had given her more. She’d given Leah a piece of her heart.
A rugged, handsome Colin Farrell look-alike passed them in the aisle, and Leah stared after him, eyes glittering.
“I’ll take one of those,” she said with a soft growl. “To go.”
“You won’t find Mr. Right in a toy store,” Sadie said dryly. “They’re usually all taken. And somehow I don’t think you’re gonna find him at Karma either.”
Klub Karma was a popular nightclub on Whyte Avenue. It boasted the best ladies’ night in Edmonton, complete with steroid-muscled male strippers. Leah was a regular.
“And why not?”
Sadie rolled her eyes. “Because Karma is packed with sweaty, young puppies who are only interested in one thing.”
Leah gave her a blank look.
“Getting laid,” Sadie added. “Honestly, I don’t know what you see in that place.”
“What, are you daft?” Leah arched her brow and grinned devilishly. “I’m chalking it up to my civil duty. Someone’s gotta show these young guys how it’s done.”
“Someone should show Philip,” Sadie muttered.
“Why―can’t he get it up?”
“Jesus, Leah!”
“Well? Fess up.”
“Later maybe. When we stop for coffee.”
Leah glanced at her watch. “We going to our usual place?”
“Of course. Do you think Victor would forgive us if we went to any other coffee shop?”
Leah chuckled. “No. He’d start skimping on the whipped cream if we turned traitor. So what are you getting Sam?”
“I’ll know it when I see it. I’m waiting for a sign.”
“You’re always such a sucker for this fate thing.”
Sadie shrugged. “Sometimes you have to have faith that things will work out.”
They continued down the aisle, both searching for something for the sweetest boy they knew. When Sadie spotted the one thing she was sure Sam would love, she let out a hoot and gave Leah an I-told-you-so look.
“This bike is perfect. Since his birthday is actually on Monday, I’ll give it to him then. He’ll get enough things from his friends at his party on Sunday anyway.”
Little did she know that Sam wouldn’t see his bike.
He wouldn’t be around to get it.

 

Children of the Fog is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Cheryl Kaye Tardif:

Website: http://www.cherylktardif.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cherylktardif

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheryl-Kaye-Tardif-novels/29769736630

THEN LIKE THE BLIND MAN: Orbie’s Story, Freddie Owens Wegela {FREE!}

A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a spirited wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Rich in authentic vernacular and evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered up with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the sudden death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Since the marriage, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking, fitful new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; this fact lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky, when Victor decides to move the family to Florida without including him. In his new surroundings, Orbie finds little to distract him from Granpaw’s ornery ways and constant teasing jokes about snakes.

As Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers, he finds his world views changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion, and the true cause of his father’s death. He befriends a boy named Willis, who shares his love of art, but not his skin color. And, when Orbie crosses paths with the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of a power that could expose and defeat his enemies, but can’t be used for revenge. When a storm of unusual magnitude descends, he happens upon the solution to a paradox that is both magical and ordinary. The question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s both rich in meaning, timely in its social relevance, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the grand Southern tradition of storytelling.

What readers are saying:

Reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird, this “sensitive and gripping” coming-of-age story evokes backcountry Kentucky in the troubled 1950′s in prose that’s spare yet lyrical — a “special” novel worthy of joining the ranks of an illustrious Southern literary tradition.
- Kindle Nation

Every once in awhile, you read a book in which every element fits together so perfectly that you just sit back in awe at the skill of the storyteller. Then Like the Blind Man is one of these books. …[It] grabs you from the very first page and carries you along, breathless and tense, until the very last, very satisfying sentence. Freddie Owens has created something special.
- The San Francisco Book Review

In an American coming-of-age novel, the author presents a stunning story with clarity and historical accuracy, rich in illuminating the Appalachian culture of the time period. …[It] brings history alive, depicting American union labor practices and the racial prejudices that were so prevalent in the 1950′s.
- Publisher’s Weekly

Then Like the Blind Man is an electrifying porthole to the south of the ’50s, where, though inane prejudice may have dominated, kindness and justice also had a place. Orbie’s sharecropping grandparents, by defying convention with unnerving grace, become founts of colloquial wisdom whose appeal is impossible to resist, and the Orbie they nurture — the best version of a boy who may otherwise have been lost — is someone the reader comes to love.
- Michelle Schingler / ForeWord Book Review

The average Amazon Reader Review Rating is currently 4.2 stars {109 reviews}.

 Click here to read more about and purchase THEN LIKE THE BLIND MAN: Orbie’s Story for FREE!

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: THE ORANGE MOON AFFAIR (A Thomas Gunn Thriller), AFN CLARKE {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Description of THE ORANGE MOON AFFAIR (A Thomas Gunn Thriller)

The Orange Moon Affair - by the bestselling author of CONTACT - is the first book of a compelling new thriller series, an action-packed conspiracy with a hero and heroine you hold your breath for. If you enjoy the action of Robert Ludlum, the intensity of Brad Thor and the international intrigue of Daniel Silva, then this book’s for you!

Ex-British Special Forces soldier Thomas Gunn is drawn back into his old life of international intrigue and danger following the murder of his billionaire father. The deeper he digs the more complicated the puzzle becomes until he finds himself working for MI5 uncovering a global conspiracy that puts the freedom of the western world at grave risk. His unlikely accomplice becomes his girlfriend Julie who constantly surprises him with her loyalty, insight and abilities and whose actions directly affect the outcome of the plot in a significant and unexpected way.

While traversing the globe being shot at, shot down and losing loved ones – a haunting question tears at his soul – was his father really at the heart of this evil conspiracy? Or was he a pawn in a larger more insidious game that even he could not control?

Seeking the final answer could cost Thomas dearly, ripping from him all that he most loves and cherishes and leaving him questioning his past, his future and what kind of person he is or wants to become. The final outcome depends on him. Or does it?

As a former Captain of Britain’s elite Parachute Regiment and son of an MI6 operative the author brings his own unique and eye-opening experiences to the character and exploits of Thomas Gunn, as well as an unsettling blurring of the lines between fiction and reality when exploring the ruthless abuse of power and position for personal gain.

Don’t miss the book trailer:
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AFN Clarke is the author of the bestseller Contact as well as CollisionsAn Unquiet AmericanDry TortugasThe Book of Baker Satire Series (Dreams from the Death Age; Armageddon; Genesis Revisited) and The Orange Moon Affair, the first of the Thomas Gunn series with more coming soon. Please visit afnclarke.com for more information and to leave your email address for further updates.  Deep appreciation for any reviews you post for this or other AFN Clarke books.

 

Accolades:

Brian 5 stars.
The Orange Moon Affair is a suspenseful cloak and dagger thriller. The book is well-written, containing unforeseen twists and turns as well as characters you find yourself cheering for. It is the first in a series of novels featuring Thomas Gunn. I look forward to those works as I really enjoyed this story very much. 

5 Stars Ric Down. Absolutely magnificent. 
AFN Clarke is a writer who can really pull you into a story. Is it his writing style? Is it his characters? Is it his captivating plot? Whatever, it grabs you by the collar and never lets you go until the end.

Thomas Gunn looks to be a runaway success as a character and hero, and with it being just part 1 of a series, it could be mega. It has “make me into a movie” written all across it, and you can’t help wondering if its just a question of when not if it happens. Clarke is one talented writer, and I already await his next novel.

4 Stars, giri. The pacing and weaving of the story is marvelous.
The author does a good job of slowly twisting and revealing just enough of the story to keep you wanting to learn more about the main character Thomas Gunn and how he has got himself and girlfriend Julie into such a difficult situation. 

The intensity of the action also compels you to read on. Mr. Clarke manages to make the stakes high, then raises them further. This is a master storyteller at work who keeps your adrenaline pumping along much of the whole way. I was not surprised to learn he is already a Best Seller author through his earlier novel Contact.

Reviews:

THE ORANGE MOON AFFAIR (A Thomas Gunn Thriller) currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.7 stars from 39 reviews. Read the reviews here.


An excerpt from THE ORANGE MOON AFFAIR (A Thomas Gunn Thriller):

THE ORANGE MOON AFFAIR by AFN CLARKE
In Memory of my Brother-in-Arms, Terry Forrestal

© 2013 by AFN Clarke. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author and publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. All characters appearing in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This eBook edition published by Clarke-Books LLC in 2013. ISBN: 978-1-938611-12-4

ONE

Mojave Desert – October 2012

Flying a helicopter requires a clear mind, concentration, balance and a delicate touch.
Flying a helicopter you are unfamiliar with, in the dark, with two nasty bullet wounds in a body that has not slept in thirty hours, is an exercise in surreal survival. I had ten hours flight time in this model MD 902 Explorer, so it wasn’t total guesswork.
I made sure Julie was strapped in tightly and flipped on the switches. There wouldn’t be enough time to sit and let the engines warm up completely. We needed to get airborne before the local police showed up. In the distance beyond the factory building, where the car exploded in the arroyo, a pall of smoke billowed into the moon lit night sky.
Once I got the machine off the ground, stabilised and then flying on the heading Danny had given me, I asked Julie to call him and write down the co-ordinates of the destination, then talked her through entering the figures into the GPS navigation system while I concentrated on the instruments. All I had to do was make sure I didn’t hit anything flying at an altitude of fifty feet across the desert, following the route on the EFIS from Mojave to Desert Rock airstrip, wherever the hell that was in the vast expanse of the Nevada desert.
As we flew, the rising sun glimmered just below the horizon to our left. Dark sky turning light blue just before the sun appeared as an orange-white ball throwing shadows across the desert. The distant terrain rose in craggy rock mountains, rising ever higher to about five thousand feet, and I had to fly the aircraft through the narrow gorges maintaining the pretence of a special operations training flight at ultra-low level.
“Can you see if there are any sunglasses in the side pocket,” I asked Julie, feeling my left arm begin to stiffen.
“Here you go.” Her voice sounded strangely distorted in my headphones. Or perhaps it was just my mind beginning to shut down as my body leaked valuable blood onto the seat from the wound in my side.
“Thanks.” I tightened the lock on the collective and flexed my left arm, ignoring the pain, just trying to get some feeling back into it.
Estimated flight time was just under an hour and a half, and I wasn’t confident of being able to last that long.
“I’m sorry I got you into this,” I said stupidly, as if what I said would make any difference.
“I could have said no.”
“But you didn’t.”
“Nope. Don’t ask me why, but I didn’t.”
“Did you get the bug into the computer before they ambushed us?”
“I did.”
“Well at least one of us accomplished something today. How’s your head?”
“Hurts like hell. How’s your…?” she paused looking across at me. “Everything?” She laughed. A desperate sound hurled against a bleak outlook.
We hurt more than either of us could describe.
We didn’t know what the future held for us, but we laughed anyway as the sun rose across the desert, and I banked the helicopter into the first of the rising mountain ravines.
After an hour throwing the helicopter through the narrow canyons and rocky gorges, I could feel my strength and concentration ebbing slowly away. But that seemed inconsequential in the surreal experience that was the excuse for reality.
Julie massaged her temples, and when she spoke her speech was slow and slurred. I knew she was concussed and slipping into shock.
By ‘red-lining’ the helicopters engines I could force more speed, but as the sun came up the temperature would rise, and everything could go very wrong very quickly.
But there was no choice.
I inched up the collective, dropped the nose and advanced the throttle a touch, watching the gauges creep toward the danger zone.
Waves of nausea blurred my vision, so I used the only tool I had to sharpen my mind.
Pain.
By wriggling in the seat I could press against the wound in my lower abdomen, not too much, but enough pain to sting my sagging consciousness into wakeful concentration. Now was not the time to sink into peaceful, blissful oblivion. I had a precious cargo to deliver, a woman I loved more than my own life.
At any other time, flying low level through the desert canyons as the sun rose above the horizon, would have been an extraordinary experience. One of those almost vivid adventures that stays in the memory forever. But I wanted this experience to be over as soon as possible.
Every part of my body and soul willed the airstrip into view.
Flying is a slow inevitability.
You know you’re going to get there, and yet the more desperate you are to arrive, the more time drags.
Another rising ridge after fifteen minutes of undulating desert, and the sweat dripped down my face, arms and back, seeping into the wounds and causing more pain as my body salts stung raw flesh. I glanced quickly at Julie who sagged forward against the seat harness, semi-conscious, head flopping as the helicopter rose, fell, and banked through the ravines. I just wanted to take her in my arms, hold her and tell her everything was going to be fine, but now was not the time to drift into sentimentality, there was still the task of getting this machine on the ground.
The gauges swam in front of my eyes as I struggled to pick out the speed dial. That and the vertical speed indicator were my guides as we crested the ridge and Desert Rock airstrip lay in front of us just beyond a dry lake bed.
Was it a lakebed or a mirage?
I dropped the collective and pulled back slowly on the cyclic, slowing the aircraft down, establishing an approach to the runway. The speed bled off and I nosed down a little to keep the aircraft’s forward speed at forty knots, but my eyes refused to focus properly, and darkness appeared at the corners of my vision as if I was looking through a telescope at an image that kept getting smaller. No matter what my mind was telling my body it wasn’t responding, running out of blood and slowly shutting down.
But not before I got this machine on the ground.
Only a few more feet.
Maybe twenty-five, maybe thirty-five, maybe….
I didn’t know anymore.
Then I saw the FIM-92 Stinger ground-to-air missile spearing up toward us from a far ridge.
My reactions were slow and for a fatal moment I watched the white smoky trail from the rocket motor arc its way through the sky. I pulled on the collective and kicked the anti-torque pedals to port, almost escaping the oncoming death, but the rocket slammed into the tail boom.
The earth spun in a lazy arc as the helicopter arched over backwards at fifty feet above the rocky desert as I lost control, spiralling to the ground, pieces flying in all directions, the only section remaining relatively intact being the forward cockpit, saved because the main rotor head deflected the impact.
There was no pain, just a smashing, grinding, splintering sound. I felt a violent lurch as my head slammed into the side door, then silence. Almost lying on top of me, held by her seat harness, Julie stared into my eyes, blood dripping from her nose and ears, trying to speak.
“Julie,” I gasped trying to reach up and touch her face, but my arm wouldn’t move.
Car engine noises.
Voices.
I was struggling with consciousness.
With reality.
Where was I? What had happened? I didn’t know.
Images from the past flashed through my mind.
My father’s dead face.
Julie naked on the catamaran.
Julie. My Julie.
Then nothing.

TWO

Belfast – Six Weeks Earlier

It was an odd experience to look down on the dead face of the man who had once been my father. Not that I was unfamiliar with seeing dead bodies, I’d seen too many in my previous job, it’s just that I never expected I would be staring at him.
A single shot to the forehead had killed him instantly.

 

THE ORANGE MOON AFFAIR (A Thomas Gunn Thriller) is available for purchase at:

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

 

Connect with AFN CLARKE:

Author Website: http://www.afnclarke.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AFNClarke

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AFNClarkeInc?fref=ts

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Paris Secret, Angela Henry {$2.51}

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Angela Henry‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Paris Secret:

Less than twenty-four hours after fleeing to Paris, Maya Sinclair is the prime suspect in a brutal murder—and targeted by the real killer. When she’s viciously attacked in the gardens of Versailles, Maya barely escapes with her life thanks to sexy French journalist Simon Girard.

Simon has been investigating the mysterious death of his brother, an art forger with ties to the woman Maya is suspected of killing. Still healing from heartbreak of his own, Simon reluctantly joins forces with Maya, who has awakened feelings within him he thought long dead.

Their search for answers uncovers the existence of a secret society, and puts them on a quest to find a missing crucifix rumored to hold the key to everlasting life. Together, Maya and Simon race through Paris one step ahead of a killer who will do anything to ensure some secrets remain buried forever…

86,600 words

 

Accolades:

“This book has it all—a phenomenal setting, long-buried secrets, a present-day murder mystery and a dash of paranormal intrigue, not to mention a cast of characters that leap off the page. And while it is so much more than a romance book, the two main characters are absolutely unforgettable.”
—The Romance Reviews Top Pick (Nominated for Best Action Adventure Romance of 2011!)

“The Paris Secret by Angela Henry grabbed me from the first paragraph and kept me turning pages long into the night. The novel offers the perfect blend of adventure, mystery, and romance. The pace is swift, the characters likable, and the mystery rich and interesting, without being too complex or detailed. The blend of history and intrigue in Paris was irresistible.”
—Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

Reviews:

The Paris Secret currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 3.9 stars from 15 reviews. Read the reviews here.


An excerpt from The Paris Secret:

I looked around for a place to put in the extra batteries I had packed. The few stone benches in the garden were taken. I went past the statues lining the walkway to the Apollo fountain and noticed an entrance to the garden hedge maze. Hoping there might be someplace to sit in the maze, I ducked inside. It was cooler and quieter there. Nobody else was in sight. I didn’t have to walk far before coming upon an open gate, through which I could see a pond.

In the very center of the pond was a large golden statue of a man struggling to free himself from the pile of black rocks. One golden, muscled arm reached out toward me. He was holding something in his hand that I couldn’t make out. A quick peek at the brochure I picked up inside the palace identified it as the Encelade Fountain depicting the fall of the Titans.

Something sailed over my head and landed with a loud splash in the pond. I jumped and bumped into someone.
“I’m so sorry—” I began before I saw it was the cop from the train. My blood started to boil. He dropped the large pebbles he’d been holding.

“Look, you can follow me around all you want but you’re wasting your time. I didn’t kill Juliet Rice and I don’t know what happened to the damned corkscrew. So you can tell Bernier and Bellange to kiss my ass.”

“Where’s the crucifix, Ms. Sinclair?” he asked, shocking me more by the fact that he was American than the fact that he knew my name.

“You’re American? I thought you were with the French police.”

“I’m not going to ask you again.” There was an edge to his voice that made me uneasy. I hadn’t realized just how isolated the spot we were in was until that moment.
I decided to play it cool and just walk away. But he grabbed the strap of my bag and yanked if off my shoulder, knocking me off balance. He shook the bag upside down, emptying the contents on the ground.

“Hey! What the hell is your problem? Give me my bag back!”

He dropped the bag and stood His brown eyes were cold and hard in the bright sunlight. After shoving up the sleeves of his polo shirt, his hands curled into fists. That’s when the small red mark on his arm jumped out at me. It wasn’t a birthmark. It was a tattoo of coiled snake, a cobra. I suddenly realized there could be another reason why he would smell like he’d spent time at the police station, and it wasn’t a good one.

“Who are you?” Every hair on my body stood up in alarm.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he punched me hard in the stomach. The pain was immediate and intense. I doubled over, clutching my stomach. He grabbed my throat and slammed me up against the side of the lattice walkway. Leaves, vines of ivy and the hard latticework pressed into my back.

“Where’s the crucifix?” Tattoo Man hissed at me, bathing my nostrils with his funky breath.

“Wha…what?” was all I could get out. Between the pain in my stomach and the tight grip of his hand around my throat, I could barely breathe, let alone talk. I struggled to free my hands, which were trapped between our bodies.

“Don’t play games with me! I know Juliet gave it to you. It wasn’t in the hotel room! Where is it?” He shook me by my throat like a rag doll.

“I barely knew her,” I gasped. “She never gave me anything. I swear. Please…don’t hurt me anymore!”
I managed to press myself back just enough to free my right knee and drove it toward his groin.

But he anticipated the move and deflected it by turning sideways, then spun me around pressing my face against the latticework as he tugged my arms up painfully behind me.

“You barely knew her, yet you shared a hotel room! You barely knew her, yet you showed such concern for her when you saw her being harassed by that Frenchman on the bridge.”

“Please! We didn’t know each other! We didn’t!” How did he know about what happened on the boat?

“Don’t lie to me!” he screamed in my ear and pulled my arms up higher. It felt like they were about to break.

“I’m not lying. Please! Please, stop!” Tears streamed down my face and snot ran from my nose.

“I followed you yesterday. I know you didn’t have the crucifix then. She must have given it to you after she got back to the hotel.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about! I swear!”
“What I did to Juliet Rice is nothing compared to what I’ll do to you if you don’t give me what I want! Where is the crucifix?”

The world started to spin. This was the man who took my bag. This was the man who took my key card and used my corkscrew to kill Juliet. My legs gave out and I slid down his body to the ground. He jerked me back to my feet, turned me around to face him and punched me again, this time in my right side. The explosion of searing pain caused me to fall to the ground and curl into a ball. He grabbed a handful of my hair and jerked my head back.

“Tell me!” he screamed.

My vision began to blur. My attacker let out a grunt. The last thing I heard before passing out was the sound of fists on flesh.

When I came to, I was lying on my back. The most intense pair of green eyes I’d ever seen stared down at me. I’d seen those eyes before.

“Are you okay? Can you stand?” asked the man with the green eyes.

His English was tinged with a French accent. Sunglasses poked out of the front pocket of his faded jean jacket. His white shirt was ripped and his pants were smudged with dirt. This looked like the guy I’d bumped into when I’d arrived earlier. But those eyes made me realize that hadn’t been the first time I’d seen him. This was also the man who’d seen Juliet arguing with on the Pont de la Concorde. What was he doing here? I struggled to my feet and felt a wave of nausea wash over me.

“Easy.” He reached out to steady me. I pushed his hand away and took long, deep breaths to keep from throwing up.

“We need to get out of here before he comes to.” He gestured toward my unconscious attacker lying inside the latticed walkway who had started to groan.

“Come on! Let’s go!” he commanded impatiently, grabbing my hand. I pulled away.

“No! We need to call the police! What’s the number?” I fumbled around on the ground for my cell as I tossed as much of my stuff as I could back into my bag.
Tattoo Man groaned again, louder this time.

“Are you crazy? He’s coming to! We’ve got to get out of here!”

“It’ll only take a minute!” I tried to turn my cell phone on. But my hands were shaking so badly I could barely push the buttons.

“We don’t have time. Come on!” He grabbed my hand again.

He took off running, pulling me behind him. I tried my best to keep up but the pain in my side slowed me down. A bullet whizzed past my head and another hit the fencepost near me. Tattoo Man was firing a gun as he staggered behind us.

“He’s got a gun!” I screamed at my rescuer.

“No shit! Shut up and keep running!”
We emerged from the maze to see an old, beat-up maintenance truck parked about ten feet away. A workman stood on a scaffold cleaning a nearby statue.

“Get in!” Green Eyes shouted, shoving me into the truck on the driver’s side. I scooted over and he jumped behind the wheel. There was no key in the ignition and he slapped the steering wheel in frustration.

“Merde!”

The man on the scaffold, yelling at us in French, began to climb down. Tattoo Man lumbered out of the maze and ran smack into the scaffold, sending it and the statue cleaner crashing down. While the two cursing men tried to extricate themselves from each other and the wreck of the scaffold, Green Eyes frantically looked for the keys in the glove box and under the floor mat.

“Don’t just sit there! Help me!” he yelled, jolting me into action.

I checked the ashtray and under the seat, then reached over and pulled down the driver’s sun visor. A set of keys fell into his lap. He started the truck just as the back window exploded. I screamed. Tattoo Man was back on his feet and about to fire again.

“Get down!” Green Eyes shouted, pushing my head down as another bullet whizzed through the truck and shattered the front windshield.

He threw the truck into reverse. Thud! I sat up and turned to Tattoo Man on the ground. His gun had been knocked out of his hand. We sped off at top speed and minutes later were on the highway.

“You okay?” he asked, squeezing my shoulder. I wasn’t but I nodded yes anyway.

“You were on the bridge with Dr. Rice yesterday, weren’t you?”

He looked at me and gave me a disarming half smile, but didn’t answer. I had the feeling he used that smile to his advantage quite often. And I bet it worked most of the time.

“Aren’t you even going to tell me who you are and what the hell is going on?”

“Aren’t you even going to thank me for saving your life?” He smiled at me in an infuriatingly smug way.

“You first.” I glared at him. He laughed.

“All in due time, Maya. But first things first.” How the hell did he know my name?

“What do you mean? Where are we going?” I demanded while carefully picking shattered glass out of my hair and shaking it out of my clothing.

“Back to Paris. You’re not the only one needing answers,” he replied cryptically.

 

The Paris Secret is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $2.51

 

Connect with Angela Henry:

Author Website: http://www.angelahenry.com/paris-secret.php

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MystNoir

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paris-Secret-Novel/117737431624494?ref=hl

Dangerous Desires, C J Lyons, Debra Webb, Vicki Hinze, V.R. Marks, Peggy Webb, Regan Black, Kathy Carmichael {$0.99}

Seven bestselling authors…five full length edge-of-your-seat novels…two killer novellas…one thrilling ride!

Don’t miss the summer’s best collection of romantic suspense, mysteries and thrillers from masters of the genres!

Chasing Shadows by CJ Lyons
Dirty by Debra Webb
Mind Reader by Vicki Hinze
The Informant by VR Marks
Witch Dance by Peggy Webb

With BONUS novellas!

In the Interest of Security by Regan Black
My Favorite Corpse by Kathy Carmichael

What readers are saying:

CJ Lyons – “Everything a great thriller should be–action packed, authentic, and intense.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child

Debra Webb – “A master storyteller.” Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestseller

Vicki Hinze – “A tense, action-filled story of suspense that will keep you turning the pages.”- Affaire de Coeur

VR Marks – “The best new romantic suspense voice of 2012!” ~Debra Webb, USA Today bestselling author of the Faces of Evil series

Peggy Webb – “Peggy Webb has outdone herself with Witch Dance. The fast-paced suspense kept me thoroughly entertained.” -Royt

Regan Black – The Shadows of Justice series is “A perfect blend of mystery, paranormal, and suspense to create a pleasure of a reading experience.” 5/5 stars from Johnna, Fallen Angel Reviews

Kathy Carmichael – “If you like cozy mysteries, you’ll enjoy this summer read.” -T. Spicer

Click here to read more about and purchase Dangerous Desires for $0.99 at Amazon

Dangerous Desires, C J Lyons, Debra Webb, Vicki Hinze, V.R. Marks, Peggy Webb, Regan Black, Kathy Carmichael {$0.99}

Seven bestselling authors…five full length edge-of-your-seat novels…two killer novellas…one thrilling ride!

Don’t miss the summer’s best collection of romantic suspense, mysteries and thrillers from masters of the genres!

Chasing Shadows by CJ Lyons
Dirty by Debra Webb
Mind Reader by Vicki Hinze
The Informant by VR Marks
Witch Dance by Peggy Webb

With BONUS novellas!

In the Interest of Security by Regan Black
My Favorite Corpse by Kathy Carmichael

What readers are saying:

CJ Lyons – “Everything a great thriller should be–action packed, authentic, and intense.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child

Debra Webb – “A master storyteller.” Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestseller

Vicki Hinze – “A tense, action-filled story of suspense that will keep you turning the pages.”- Affaire de Coeur

VR Marks – “The best new romantic suspense voice of 2012!” ~Debra Webb, USA Today bestselling author of the Faces of Evil series

Peggy Webb – “Peggy Webb has outdone herself with Witch Dance. The fast-paced suspense kept me thoroughly entertained.” -Royt

Regan Black – The Shadows of Justice series is “A perfect blend of mystery, paranormal, and suspense to create a pleasure of a reading experience.” 5/5 stars from Johnna, Fallen Angel Reviews

Kathy Carmichael – “If you like cozy mysteries, you’ll enjoy this summer read.” -T. Spicer

Click here to read more about and purchase Dangerous Desires for $0.99 at Amazon

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Girl From Long Guyland, Lara Reznik {$0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Lara Reznik‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Girl From Long Guyland:

-Includes Reading Group Discussion Questions-     

Ranked the #1 spot in both Suspense and Contemporary Fiction, during it’s Amazon kindle select promotional days.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

MEMOIR MEETS THRILLER:  

Laila Levin enjoys a successful marriage and a thriving career as an I.T. executive in Austin, Texas, but she can’t quite shake her lifelong sense of not truly belonging anywhere.When her company announces a major layoff, Laila finds herself caught between an unscrupulous CEO and her promiscuous boss. Then news of her college roommate’s suicide stirs up a dark secret involving three devious friends from her past. One has betrayed a vow, another wants to rekindle their romance, and the third is out for revenge.Suddenly for Laila, it’s 1969 again. She’s only seventeen, and she’s left her sheltered home in Long Island for college in Connecticut. Amid protests of the Vietnam War, she’s tempted by the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll that rule her generation. Laila gets swept up in a deceptive love triangle with two older locals and initiated into their unethical hippie family. Too late she realizes her search to belong has led to tragedy.

Laila must now juggle the demands of her perplexed husband and her baby boomer past forcing her to make choices that endanger her survival and challenge her conscience.

She learns that the lines between right and wrong are often blurred, and sometimes you have to risk everything to be true to yourself.

 

Accolades:

“In Reznik’s debut novel, a woman confronts long-buried secrets when an old college friend commits suicide. . . . While effective as a page turner, the novel also tells a timeless, universal tale of a woman’s journey toward self-acceptance. An exciting tale of past crimes and dangerous friendships.” –-Kirkus Reviews

★★★★★ “I love a mystery and I love stories about the late 60′s/early 70′s and this book has both! Really fun read.” –Barbara Gaines, Executive Producer, The Late Show with David Letterman

★★★★★ “Lara Reznik masterfully creates a story that brings the past and present together seamlessly. . . . I can honestly say it is not often that the plot of a book surprises me the way this one did. This book is truly timeless. I would recommend “The Girl from Long Guyland” to anyone who likes to read no matter what their preferred genre.” Katherine Bennett, Reviewer, Readers Favorite

Reviews:

The Girl From Long Guyland  currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.1 stars from 196 reviews. Read the reviews here.


An excerpt from The Girl From Long Guyland:

CHAPTER ONE

Lost in Texas

Austin, Texas, 2012

A couple dozen stars and the eye of a yellow moon pierce light through a sky filled with smoke. I look out the broken window to the ground below. Crumpled in the weeds is a lifeless body with red-flecked eyes, a bushy mustache, and sweet smile.

Vapor seeps into the room. I can barely breathe. Ben wraps his arms around me as I weep. Denise lies in a catatonic state perched on the bed. Why is she only wearing her bra and panties?

Chris stumbles inside the room. His eyes glow like diamonds. He cranes his head out the window. “We gotta do something, man.”

“I’ll call for an ambulance,” I say. Ben gulps, “That’s not a good idea.” “We have to,” I insist. “For Godsakes.”

He’s dead, Laila,” Chris says.

Tears sting my eyes.

WITH A JOLT, I awake whimpering. The nightmare has infested my dreams for years. It may be time to see a shrink.

The anxiety subsides when my husband Eduardo arrives with a cappuccino and the morning paper. “Are you okay? It sounded like you were crying.”

I clear my throat. “No, no, I’m fine. Just a dream, I guess.” I’ve never discussed these recurring nightmares with him. Eduardo’s got his own problems. He was recently laid off in a corporate downsize and refuses to talk about it. There’s lots of tension in our home right now. Maybe we should both see a shrink.

From our king-size Tempur-Pedic bed, I sip the coffee and stare at a cloudless sky and the sapphire water of Lake Travis. The serenity of the moment is interrupted by the sound of NPR news blaring from my alarm clock. Time to go to work. I shower and dress for a managers’ conference forty miles away.

AN HOUR LATER, I enter a pavilion filled with mounted animal heads and good old boys, and wonder how this counter- culture Long Island girl ended up in Texas. Yes, it’s Austin, home of tree huggers and music lovers, but I’m mystified by the path my life has taken.

The Hobbs brothers, proud owners of the Burnet County Landfill and Exotic Park where LBJ Electric holds its annual manager retreat, greet me with toothy Texas grins and matching Stetson hats. “How y’all doing today, darlin’? Welcome to our home.”

I flash a smile but it pains me to know these men are the proud hunters of the dead animals in the hall. It gives me pleasure imagining their heads mounted next to the trophies.

As I head to a long pine table and retrieve my white-sticky badge with the letters LAILA LEVIN printed in magic marker, Darlene McIntire, dressed business-gorgeous in a navy suit and cleavage-leaking blouse, approaches me and waves. Darlene is an upper-level manager who advocates for women in the company and played a key role in my promotion from Database Analyst to I.T. Solutions Manager two years ago. “Meet me in the little girls room at break, hon,” she whispers. “There’s something I want to share with you.”

During the morning, two hundred LBJ managers and I feign interest in long-winded corporate presentations. One of the executives reminds us that DIVERSITY is one of our company’s “Foundation Values.” Right. As one of only twelve women in the room, I try to look at the bright side: short lines to the ladies room.

A bald guy grabs the microphone and informs everyone it’s time for a break. Conversations revolve around Longhorns and Aggies, and of course, the beloved Cowboys. Go Tony Romo!

With nothing of substance to add to these discussions, I dash to the ladies room where I find Darlene at the mirror applying a fresh coat of mascara. She smiles at me. “Nice outfit.”

“Thanks.” My reflection reveals a contrast of wild curly hair with the Ralph Lauren suit and high-heeled boots I bought at Dillard’s yesterday. Like most in I.T., my preference is jeans and sneakers.

Three coats later, Darlene pops the mascara back in her purse and turns to face me. “Can you keep a secret?”

“Of course.” “John is going to announce his retirement.” John Bell is the LBJ Chief Executive Officer. Rumors of his impending retirement have been rampant for weeks. “I’ve heard talk.”

“That’s not the secret. Bob E. is the heir apparent. Not to be announced today, but it’s pretty much a done deal. And he’s promised me V.P. of Corporate Services.”

I look away hoping she didn’t see my eyebrows jump to my hairline. “Congratulations.” Darlene is important, but not that important. This promotion is a big leap from Human Resources Manager. Certainly not done often in a company like LBJ. “Wow. Didn’t realize you had the seniority.”

Darlene blushes. “Succeeding in the boardroom is not the only way to get ahead.”

Oh my God. She’s sleeping with Bob Englewood, a.k.a. Bob E., the biggest flirt alive. Darlene has a great-looking husband and two kids. Makes no sense to me. But then I’m not that ambitious.

I’m trying to think of a good response when the buzzer goes off over the building’s loud speakers indicating the end of the break. I produce a weak smile and head back to the conference area with images of Darlene and Bob E. spinning in my head. Why did she share this with me?

I take a seat at my assigned table. John Bell, a short, stocky man sporting a bolo tie and a fine pair of ostrich boots, stands onstage tapping the microphone. “Good morning, LBJ managers. It’s good to be here at our annual meeting. I have
we haven’t spoken in ages. You sound so British.”

“I lived in London for a couple years, but I’m back in L.A.
now. You better sit down.” Katie B., always the drama queen. I sit in an antique rocker and stare at the pale blue Texas sky.

Katie clears her throat. “Denise committed suicide yesterday.”

I try to speak but my mouth feels like it’s full of marbles. Finally, I gasp, “My God.”

“She was never right after—” “Don’t say it. Remember the pact,” I whisper.

“I remember it.”

I suck in my breath. “It’s kept us safe.”

“We’re gonna have to talk about it. Denise left a suicide note,” she whispers.

Fear fills the membranes of my eyeballs. “Oh, Jesus.”

“I just got off the phone with Chris. A private detective
showed up at his house in Tucson.”

“I can’t believe that son of a bitch lives in Tucson. My sister has lived there for years.” It’s been four decades since I’ve seen or heard of Chris, yet his name causes goose bumps to parade up my arms.

“I’m surprised you’ve never run into him,” Katie says.

“Tucson’s a big place.” Would I even recognize him now?

“He googled me and found my phone number. He and Ben think we should go to the funeral.”

“Ben. You spoke to him, too?”

She laughs. “Yes, Jesus still lives.”

I blush at the sound of his name. “What is he like?” “I don’t know. Same old Ben, I guess.”

“Did they find . . .?”

She swallows. “No one knows what they’ve found or what she wrote in her note.”

To think just five minutes ago I was worried about my job, trophy animals, and Darlene and Bobby E. doing the deed.

Katie takes a deep breath. “We could all go to efing prison.”

 

The Girl From Long Guyland is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Lara Reznik:

Author Website: www.larareznik.com

Author Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/lara.reznik.1

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Dangerous Past, A. Ebbers {$0.99}

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Description of Dangerous Past:

Airline Captain Frank Braden is being stalked by unknown assassins who have a deadline to make his death look like an accident or a suicide. Braden and his wife, Nicole, don’t know why he is being targeted. They don’t realize that they stand in the way of a deadly conspiracy. After several attempts on his life, Braden receives a message warning him not to attend a Senate hearing in Washington. If he agrees he will will receive a million dollars and his wife’s life.

Dangerous Past is a story of a man who must choose between doing what ought to be done or keeping his family alive.

 

Accolades:

Kirkus Reviews: “The author writes with breezy energy and is at his best when describing scenes of suspenseful intrigue. Frank and his wife, Nicole, emerge as a heroic pair. These two steal the show. Spirited, readable debut with extra points for plot and pacing.”

“A gripping page-turner to the very end.”–Midwest Book Review.

“Dangerous Past is a mystery-thriller in the spirit of both Scott Turow and Ernest K. Gann.” Military Writers of America Review.

Amazon Reviewer: “A fast-paced thriller that kept me guessing at every turn! My interest never waned once as I was reading, and I struggled to put it down” — Ruth Hill.

 

Review Ratings:

Dangerous Past currently has a review rating of 3.9 stars from 55 reviews. Read the reviews here.


Dangerous Past is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99

 

An excerpt from Dangerous Past:

It was nine at night, when the FBI agent watching Frank’s house decided to drive down the road to get a cup of coffee. He figured it would take no longer than twenty minutes. Inside the house Nicole made some coffee and gave a cup to Frank to take outside to give to the agent.

Frank went out the front door and looked for the agent’s car. He peered into the darkness and started to cross the street when he heard a voice from the side of the yard.

“I’m back here.”

Frank turned around and walked into the dark beside his house.

“Over here.”

Frank thought the voice now came from the back yard and he continued toward the rear of the house. When he got to the rear yard, Frank still couldn’t see the agent. “Hey, where in the devil are you? I got some hot coffee.”

“I think I saw someone run into the foliage near the lake. You better go back inside where it’s safe while I have a look around.”

“No, I’ll help you search. Wait a minute.” Frank jogged towards the voice that seemed to be closer to the lake now.

Standing in the shadows, John smiled. For whatever reason, whether his victim was a macho know-it-all type or just naive of the danger, many of the men he had killed had swallowed that bait. He also figured from the fax sheet he had received, that the Austin police had taken Frank’s .38-calber revolver. Under the new waiting law, John knew it was impossible for Frank to get another weapon so soon unless his intended victim wasn’t a law-biding citizen. And John was counting on Frank to be a law-abiding sort.

As Frank neared Town Lake, he wished he had brought a flashlight. He couldn’t see the agent at all. So he went toward the shrubbery where he last heard the voice. “Hey, fellow, where are you?” Frank said. He felt foolish that he didn’t know the agent’s name.

“Here, right behind you.”

The voice startled Frank and he whirled around to face a well-built man wearing all black as though he was on a Special Forces recon night team. I’m in trouble, Frank thought, as he looked down the silencer barrel of a 9mm pistol. God, this guy is really good. “Did you kill the agent that was watching me?”

“I wasn’t paid to do that. Now, Frankie boy, let’s me and you take a walk to the shoreline.”

 

Dangerous Past is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99


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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: AN UNQUIET AMERICAN, AFN CLARKE {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Description of AN UNQUIET AMERICAN:

In this provocative political thriller an ex-British SAS officer goes up against powerful conspirators who are about to regret they ever met him! Readers call it riveting, thought provoking, can’t put the book down reading; a masterpiece of psychological warfare; superior storytelling and liken it to the best of John Le Carré.
Rufus Reed, ex-British Special Forces is kidnapped, falsely accused of terrorism and taken to a secret CIA “Black Site” for questioning. He’s not only up against his captors, but dangerous elements at the top levels of government who intend to use him as part of a plan to ensure “their man” wins the Presidency of the United States. Seeking power at all costs, they set in motion a global conspiracy of unthinkable proportions.
Yet nothing is quite what it seems, and Rufus is no ordinary prisoner.
As he slowly plants seeds of doubt in the minds of his captors, related events explode on the world stage racing with unnerving twists and turns from Hong Kong, Jordan, Italy, Latvia and the USA to the highest levels of the CIA, the Knesset and the Vatican.  What’s at stake is not just Reed’s survival, but that of democracy and freedom as we know it!
And just as you think you know what’s going to happen, three powerful figures – a high-profile Iranian Muslim woman, a former Israeli Intelligence Officer, and a Catholic mining billionaire – reveal their true intentions and propel the story to a riveting and unexpected conclusion!

This web of intrigue draws on bestselling author AFN Clarke’s own experiences in the military and as the son of a British MI6 operative living in different countries, cultures and political systems around the world. It is set against the background of a U.S. Presidential election and creates dramatic tension through its politically explosive premise and controversial analysis of decisions in history that continue to impact the world today. An exciting, emotionally stirring and thought-provoking book, it reveals both the power of greed and corruption and the power of the human spirit to rise above it.

AFN Clarke is the best selling author of CONTACT (non-fiction), and various works of fiction: An Unquiet American, Dry Tortugas, The Book of Baker Series (Dreams from the Death Age; Armageddon; Genesis Revisited), Collisions and The Orange Moon Affair, the first of the Thomas Gunn thriller series. For more on the author visit afnclarke.com and leave your email for new release updates.  Deep appreciation for any reviews you post on this or other AFN Clarke books.
Book length 365 pages.

 

Accolades:

An Unquiet American is riveting, thought provoking, “can’t put the book down” reading. AFN Clarke’s writing draws me in and keeps me captivated until the very end. Intense, passionate, intelligent writing. Don’t miss this! Rebecca Fisk 5 Stars

This political thriller is superbly written and for much of it the reader could be forgiven for thinking he or she had picked up the latest from Le Carré. Certainly the main character, Rufus Read, is pure Le Carré. His toying with his captors is brilliantly written and his reminiscences packed with fascinating and very disturbing facts. As someone who has spent many years in Hong Kong, I can certainly attest to the accuracy of the parts of the book located there. As for the overall message regarding the manipulation of the US government, again, fascinating stuff well backed up with modern/historical fact. If you like thrillers with a difference, ones that make you think long and hard about the modern world, An Unquiet American is well worth reading.
I am very pleased to have discovered Tony Clarke’s work (for the conspiracy theorists who think every 5Star review is a plant, he is, I should add, no relation!) and I shall certainly be reading more. All strength to twitter where I first came across his name. David George Clarke, 5 Stars

Kept my intererst from the first page. I am looking forward to reading previous novels I have missed! I recommended it to a retired Army career person who is also enjoying the read. Mary Moret, 5 Stars

 

Amazon Reader Reviews:

AN UNQUIET AMERICAN currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 3.7 stars, with 11 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

AN UNQUIET AMERICAN is available for purchase at:

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

 

Excerpt from AN UNQUIET AMERICAN:

DAY 3 – MARCH 2008 FCTIS INTERROGATION CENTRE – ROOM 2

Rufus Reed stared at the light as if trying to assimilate it into his soul. To become the light and block out every other stimulus that had been flirting with his sanity. The after effects of the drug they had given him had finally worn off, leaving a lingering feeling of disconnect with the real world.
‘What difference would it make in the totality of time?’ he thought idly as the light burned deep into his mind, shining onto memories that had long been left in the dark recesses of a life few people would ever know. ‘This is an interesting experience and what matter if I should die as a result? I’ve lived well, loved deeply, fought hard…’ he paused his thinking and sighed. ‘But perhaps I haven’t been the father I should have been.’
Normally he was not given to reminiscing about the past, except perhaps to enhance the quality of his work, because the future always had so much to offer in the excitement of the unknown. Besides, he knew that a few unforgivable mistakes, some bad behavior and two ill-advised marriages, had no redeeming qualities under the harsh light of introspection.
‘Just what kind of ridiculous truth serum did they give me,’ he thought, knowing that the drugs were more successful in novels than in real life. ‘Except that stuff the Russians were supposed to have come up with, Litvinenko called it SP-117 before he was killed by radionuclide polonium-210. And he should have known because he said he used it himself when he was working for the Russian Federal
Security Service. Ah well, no matter, my life’s an open book.’
The silly reference to his job as a novelist made him smile as tried to clear his head. He had no memory of anything from the moment he felt the needle in his neck, just glimpses of shadowy figures and the boring murmur of his own voice, until yesterday when he began to emerge from his drugged state.
He tried to remember the events from the time of the attack in Marin to this moment, but only saw ghostly images in his mind as if he was caught in a living dream. ‘Perhaps if I can go with the dream I can piece together the puzzle. Figure out what I said, or didn’t say,’ he thought, rationalizing that fighting the remembered images and trying to sort them into a logical pattern would not reveal the truth.
The CIA was well versed in truth serums, the use of LSD, and hypnosis from their experiments during the 1950s, but what other chemical tools were in their box-of-tricks. Reed was sure he had caused his interrogators a great deal of frustration, which was why they were letting him drift back to reality so that they could progress in a more traditional way.
‘This is combat,’ he thought as his mind slowly cleared. ‘There is always a certain feeling of inevitability about combat, a feeling that you are already dead, and that surreal conviction helps get through the fear, the terror of killing and watching friends die.’
And like combat, there were certain tactics, manoeuvres and tricks that could keep the enemy guessing. It didn’t necessarily change the outcome, but it made their job much more difficult.
Rufus Reed liked that tiny sense of control, that rebellion against the inevitable.
‘According to Sun Tzu,’ he mused, ‘All warfare is Deception and If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant’.
Reed wondered if his tormentors had read ‘The Art of War’. He had been in this position before, and the training of so many years ago stood him in good stead, but he idly wondered why he should
fight instead of just succumbing to their wishes.
“You wrote that you ‘knew’ that Saddam Hussein did not possess nuclear weapons. How did you know?” The voice was as reasonable and insistent as always.
“I was born….” Rufus began.
“Answer the question,” the Interrogator interrupted impatiently.
Rufus sighed disappointedly, held the Interrogator’s gaze and allowed a slight smile to twitch his dry lips. “….Differently.”
“Really. But that still doesn’t answer my question.”
Rufus looked away from the light at the face in the shadows. It took a little time for the face to come into focus as the effects of the drug had slowed his reactions. When it did, it was a caricature American Military face; a clean-cut face with fleshy lips, and an impossibly chiseled jaw.
Rufus smiled inwardly. ‘An amateur posing as a professional,’ he thought with a glimmer of satisfaction. ‘A True Believer. Patriotic to the core, but under-educated and inexperienced. Why is it that the most Powerful Nation on Earth is politically and diplomatically the most ignorant?’
As he studied the face behind the light, his peripheral vision took in the rest of the cell. The Interrogators euphemistically called it a room, but it was a cell and each day he formed a more cohesive picture of what might be outside these walls.
The room was obviously East European. Rufus could smell the mould in the rough cheap wall plaster tinted with ageing colors of green and pale yellow, and idly wondered why Government interior designers the world over, seemed to think that two tone wall colors were in any way desirable.
Perhaps he was in a Russian satellite country.

‘No not Russia, a former Russian province.’
The window behind him was narrow and quite wide, punctuated with two cheap heavy galvanized steel bars that rusted in the damp winter, beyond the bars mildew formed on the concrete that blocked any view there might have been. The heavy steel door in front of him, was set into the rotting walls, and he smiled inwardly at the thought that perhaps the people who constructed this prison imagined that the door itself was deterrent enough for a determined prisoner. But then maybe this had been the house of an aristocrat long since deceased as the Russian revolution swept across Eastern Europe. The mildew was a clue, and he smiled at the thought that the room was in a cellar and the bricked up ‘window’ was a bluff.
‘It is going to be very undignified, dying in a foreign cellar at the hands of sadistic amateurs.’ He brushed the musings away.
“You have the rudeness and arrogance of youth, and none of the finesse of experience,” Reed said quietly. “I was born in a foreign land, just after the Second World War…”
“We know that. Kowloon, Hong Kong.”
The Young Interrogator felt secure in the knowledge he had digested for four days before starting the interrogation and that he had control. The experimental drug they had injected Reed with produced nothing more than garbled reminiscences, so now it was time to move to the next phase of interrogation. It was difficult because the man opposite him, this ‘Master Terrorist’, had the ability to shut him down with a few, well-chosen, words. He could feel the sweat beginning to pool in his lower back and soak through his underwear, and feared it would appear as a small ‘V’ shaped stain on his immaculately pressed pants. It was a fear he had never been able to shake. An irrational fear based on the thought that anyone he met was secretly scrutinizing him in detail and would surely notice that telltale sign of his lack of confidence.
Rufus Reed leaned forward and stared into his eyes, and saw the uncertainty.
“You know nothing,” Rufus said slowly. “You only know what you think you know, but you know nothing. You have a list of dates and times, of names and places but that tells you nothing. Only that I existed in those places at those times. You do not have the thoughts, the emotions, the smells, the experiences of touch and sensation. You do not have the ability to understand why something happens…..,” he paused again and waited, watching the young man’s eyes until they flickered down to the table, “…differently.”
The Interrogator tried to smile, feeling that maybe he could fool Rufus Reed into thinking that he was playing with him.
“We have everything you ever wrote,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “We’ve studied your books, emails, everything.” He leaned forward as if explaining to a child. “We know you. We have all the facts,” he whispered and leaned back again smiling smugly, feeling a little more confident.
“The facts,” Rufus Reed said quietly. “What facts? Do you know what a man is thinking when he stares at a woman’s breasts? Could it be that he is a sculptor thinking of Venus, a predator thinking of rape, or a homosexual thinking of his mother? Or do you assume he is thinking what you would think and what you want him to think? What do you know when a man writes satire that is interpreted as literal truth? Fiction that is interpreted as fact? Know me? You know nothing. I can tell you more about yourself right now than you will ever know about me.”
There was a sudden fear in the young interrogator’s blue eyes. An unconscious flicker that Rufus was looking for, and the impossibly square cleft chin thrust forward antagonistically.
“I doubt that,” the younger man said aggressively.
“You were born in the mid west, your accent gives that away,” Rufus carried on smoothly.
“Your father was probably a middle manager for a local company, Westinghouse maybe, and your mother a pillar of the PTA. You were a High School quarterback but failed to make a college team so you went into the military. After all, your Daddy was a cook in some training camp, maybe in Biloxi, never saw combat and voted conservative no matter what the issues were because that’s what ‘Good ole country boys do’. And whatever America did in the world was a-okay, providing it kept the dollars flowing in and you didn’t have to think about the poor Blacks down the road and starvation in Bangladesh, or that fact that you were ripping off the resources of the oil producing countries as fast as the tankers could sail. That’s what this country’s all about. Overthrow a democratically elected Government, put a Dictator in power and bribe him to give away his country’s wealth for a Swiss Bank Account and an apartment in the Big Apple. This is a pale copy of the Roman Empire with all of the self-centred, militaristic arrogance and yet none of the art. We let the Government do anything it wants as long as we don’t have to think about the consequences as we wallow in luxury.”
The Interrogator’s eyes widened before he recovered and attempted a weak smile that was supposed to impart denial. Rufus Reed allowed himself a moment of smugness before he went back to staring at the light, but not before he looked directly at the mirrored wall behind and to the right of the Interrogator.
“You want to know me, then listen. But I fear that you will not hear. It’s not in your nature. Any of you.” His eyes flickered back to the light.

 

AN UNQUIET AMERICAN is available for purchase at:

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