Tag Archives: suspense

Alexa Williams takes us on a home tour by Sherry Knowlton

dead-of-springHi. I’m Alexa Williams. Can you believe that Penn’s Woods Style wants to feature my house in their Spring issue? It is a lovely old cabin – more than one hundred years old. My parents put a lot of work into it a few years back to upgrade the kitchens and the bathrooms. And, when I bought the place, I enlarged the deck. But basically, it’s still just a log cabin.

I was surprised when the magazine called me. But, I’ve been in the news quite a bit over the past few years. First, there were those shootings at the family planning clinic where I volunteered. Then, I exposed a sex trafficking ring. Who would have thought we’d have human trafficking here in rural Pennsylvania? And, this Spring, I was in the State Capitol when a Senator, make that former Senator, sailed off an upper floor balcony and ended his life at my feet. I didn’t think that being a magnet for dead bodies would enhance an attorney’s reputation. But, now my notoriety has attracted a home design magazine. Who would’ve thought?

Can I preview my house tour for you? I’ll start with the history. The original cabin has been standing for more than a century. It’s constructed in the traditional style of logs with white chinking. The living room, dining room and kitchen all have exposed log walls. My parents added the two big front windows to bring in more light. I had to replace the living room window after an incident with group of angry militia types. They shattered the window when they broke into the house. Luckily, I escaped through a back window.

I spend most of my time in the living room during the winter. It’s very cozy with big leather couches, a woodstove, and an antique oriental rug. I had to replace the previous rug after another incident. Shooting someone, even in self-defense, is a pretty traumatic experience. Replacing the rug can’t erase the trauma, but it helps a bit. That giant pillow over there in the corner is Scout’s bed. An English Mastiff, Scout is very large and loves to settle in near the woodstove in the winter.

The “new” addition to the house is up those stairs. The architect followed the slope of the mountain and elevated this bedroom wing. I love the fact that my bedroom windows look out into the tree tops. It makes me feel like I’m living in a treehouse. The previous owners did a good job of harmonizing the outside of the addition with the old cabin. This part is covered in rough hewn lumber with a live edge. Very rustic.

The best part of this cabin is the forest outside. The deck spans the entire front of the cabin and wraps around the far side. That’s where my new hot tub sits, screened from the lane. Not that privacy is a big concern. The cabin sits in the middle of many acres of uninhabited land, including a wonderful grove of old growth pines. The nearest home is miles away. So, Scout and I have the woods almost entirely to ourselves. I love to sit on the deck and listen to the sounds of the forest. Soon tiny frogs, called peepers, will begin their nightly chorus. I’ll also be moving my yoga practice and meditation out onto the deck as soon as it gets a little warmer.

I live here alone. My last boyfriend wanted to move in, but I just wasn’t ready for that commitment. He’s gone now. But Scout and I are just fine. After this last adventure in Dead of Spring, I need some time to just chill. And, this cabin is my retreat. Maybe that’s what I’ll tell the magazine: that the décor of my cabin is less important than its healing properties. Despite the incidents of violence that the cabin and I have weathered, nothing will permanently destroy the peace of mind my forest home brings me.

You can read more about Alexa’s new adventure in DEAD OF SPRING, the third book in the Alexa Williams suspense series.

When a beloved state senator plunges to his death at Alexa Williams’ feet in the Capitol Rotunda, the authorities suspect suicide. Although the powerful chair of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee was at the center of a controversial new bill to expand hydraulic fracturing, he was also rumored to be ill. Shaken, Alexa tries to move past the disturbing incident by concentrating on work. She’s leading a senate commission on sex trafficking. Plus, she’s helping an old college roommate sue a natural gas company for their role in causing her daughter’s rare cancer.

In researching the lawsuit, Alexa becomes embroiled in the high-stakes politics of fracking. As the relationship with her state trooper boyfriend drifts onto the rocks, Alexa is drawn to a charismatic state legislator who’s leading an anti-fracking crusade. Then, the police shock Alexa with the news that she could be in danger; she’s a witness to the senator’s murder, not his suicide.

When Alexa narrowly escapes a sniper’s bullet, she must discover why she’s a target and who she can trust–before the next shot hits its mark.

With Sherry Knowlton’s trademark mix of feminism, history, romance, and fast-paced thrills, Dead of Spring skyrockets from the fracking fields of the Marcellus Shale to the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster of 1979 to the rolling hills of Tuscany to the halls of Pennsylvania state government. In this suspenseful tale of corruption and runaway greed, Alexa Williams proves, once again, that she’s a formidable heroine. The twists and turns will keep you on the edge of your seat.

“A sassy alpha-female heroine” – Steve Berry

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Meet the author
Sherry Knowlton is the author of the successful Alexa Williams series of suspense novels: Dead of Autumn, Dead of Summer and Dead of Spring. When not writing the next Alexa Williams thriller, Knowlton works on her health care consulting business or travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania. Connect with Sherry at www.sherryknowlton.com

All comments are welcomed.

Dead of Spring is available at retail and online booksellers on April 22, 2017.

A day in the life of Anna Winger by Lori Rader-Day

Today’s work comes from one of my lovelorn. She’s looking for Mr. Right, but unfortunately, she’s shopping the local penitentiary. Her new pen pal has a tight-fisted scribble that leans backward, antisocially. The bowls of his o’s and a’s are narrow and closed off, the angle of his vertical strokes, short daggers. It must be a painfully slow hand. The man has all the time in the world to write a letter. How generous that he spends his time on her.

Generosity is the best thing I can think to say, but I won’t. If I produce even one positive attribute to this serial killer scrawl, that’s what she’ll cling to, and what I need her to know is that he’s hiding something in every line he writes to her. He’s a liar. And who knows what he’s actually in prison for? They never say, when they write to me. They keep all the stories to themselves when they ask me to pry into a handwriting sample. She’s even thoughtfully typed her own note to me, so I can’t take a look at the secrets she might be hiding. All I know: he’s trouble, and she’s paying me for that truth.

She’s not paying me much. I mean, these lonelyhearts make up such a small portion of my work that I probably shouldn’t bother. The meaty jobs that put money in Joshua’s college fund are for corporations looking for the right executive, the one who won’t get caught with underage girls or shoot up in his office. Human resources, that’s what I call that line of income, and it’s a good one. The other area is law enforcement: ransom notes, forgeries in things like contracts and pre-nups. Most of that work comes through my mentor and FBI contact Kent. The assignments are few and far between, and that’s fine. It’s strange working this side of the law, but then I’m just a third-party vendor when it comes to law enforcement. Better than being the victim, the one answering the door to the cops after the fuss has died down, pulling down the sleeves of my shirt to hide the bruises forming there.

Anything is better than that.

The work keeps me close to that line between order and lawlessness—too close, sometimes. Like tomorrow’s assignment, when I’m supposed to meet the local sheriff of this two-bit town Joshua and I have moved to. I saw on the news some kid is missing. He must need help with that. Kent didn’t say.

I say two-bit town as though it’s a bad thing. I tried to live in a big city. Chicago—that’s where we just moved from. And no question, it was easy to live an unexamined life there. With so many people around, no one has any time to notice you. Except someone did. We were on the Magnificent Mile that day, like tourists in our own town, when someone from up near home, I guess, wandered into my line of sight. She was wearing a Sweetheart Lake sweatshirt. And she recognized me. I must have seemed like a ghost to her.

But no one like that would ever come here. Here, to this no-name town, where they’ve stripped the land of any old-growth trees, where the only thing that reminds me of home is the roadside ice cream hut out by the highway. Just like home. And sometimes, you need a reminder or two of home. So that you don’t get comfortable, like we did in Chicago. So you don’t forget that you can never go back there. So that you don’t forget why you left.

You can read more about Anna in The Day I Died.

From the award-winning author of Little Pretty Things comes this gripping, unforgettable tale of a mother’s desperate search for a lost boy.

Anna Winger can know people better than they know themselves with only a glance—at their handwriting. Hired out by companies wanting to land trustworthy employees and by the lovelorn hoping to find happiness, Anna likes to keep the real-life mess of other people at arm’s length and on paper. But when she is called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son have recently moved to, the crime gets under Anna’s skin and rips open her narrow life for all to see. To save her son—and herself—once and for all, Anna will face her every fear, her every mistake, and the past she thought she’d rewritten.

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About the author
Lori Rader-Day, author of The Day I Died (forthcoming 2017), The Black Hour, and Little Pretty Things, is the recipient of the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Good Housekeeping, and others. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches mystery writing at StoryStudio Chicago and is the president of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter.

All comments are welcomed.

The Day I Died is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Day I Died. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends April 12, 2017. Good luck everyone!

My Musing ~ The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day published by William Morrow Paperbacks, April 11, 2017.

the-day-i-diedFrom the award-winning author of Little Pretty Things comes this gripping, unforgettable tale of a mother’s desperate search for a lost boy.

Anna Winger can know people better than they know themselves with only a glance—at their handwriting. Hired out by companies wanting to land trustworthy employees and by the lovelorn hoping to find happiness, Anna likes to keep the real-life mess of other people at arm’s length and on paper. But when she is called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son have recently moved to, the crime gets under Anna’s skin and rips open her narrow life for all to see. To save her son—and herself—once and for all, Anna will face her every fear, her every mistake, and the past she thought she’d rewritten.

Anna is called upon to analyze the handwriting found on a note and when the case turned strikingly similar to her own life, she too begins to have fear as this mystery keeps getting deeper and deeper. The narrative is so powerfully written that I become enthralled in the play-by-play action from the start in this intriguing and fast-paced drama. The author has a way with painting a story that pushes the envelope with intensity that kept me on my toes as I sorted out what was going on and had my adrenaline pumping for every corner turned with anticipation. This is another riveting and engaging read from Lori Rader-Day.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the author.

A day in the life of Dr. Greer Dobbins by Amy M. Reade

the-house-on-candlewick-laneEver since my daughter, Ellie, was kidnapped right in front of her school, life for me has been anything but normal.

I wish I had words to describe the heavy, haunting despair that fills my heart when I think what she’s going through right now. She’s only five years old. The last I saw her, she was walking across the street to Dottie’s house. Dottie is my neighbor, and most days she puts Ellie on the bus with her own children. When the school called to confirm that Ellie was absent, I didn’t think much of it at first because the school has made that mistake before. But as the minutes ticked by and no one in the school could find Ellie, I started to panic. And so did Dottie, when I called to make sure she had seen Ellie getting on the bus.

And once the horrifying truth of Ellie’s disappearance began to dawn on everyone, time simultaneously rushed forward and stood still. I couldn’t catch my breath, my head spun round dizzily.

After many long hours of gut-wrenching worry and several clues that point to Scotland, the land of my birth, I’ve arrived in Edinburgh. My sister came to stay with me, ostensibly to provide moral support (though sometimes she’s more of a hindrance than a help). Her boyfriend showed up with her. He seems nice, but he brought along some rather startling baggage of his own and I’m not entirely sure I can trust him.

My days in Edinburgh are taken up with endless frustrating and disheartening attempts to find Ellie. She’s got to be here somewhere, but Edinburgh is a big city. And it’s ancient, with hidden alleys, winding streets where someone can seemingly disappear without a trace, and nooks and crannies around every corner. In other words, a perfect place to hide.

Of course the police are involved, but leads have been elusive. I keep in constant touch with the police in Edinburgh, but I can’t sit around and wait for them to find Ellie. While they work on their end, I’ve been scouring the city, from tourist sites to playgrounds and parks, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. But so far no luck.

I know the time is coming closer when I’m going to have to face my past. I fear that the key to finding Ellie may lie in the house on Candlewick Lane, where my former in-laws live. The old house, on a farm outside Edinburgh, fills me with terror for reasons that reach back to the early days of my marriage to Neill Gramercy.

It’s all very overwhelming. All I can do is hope and pray that I find Ellie before it’s too late.

You can read more about Dr. Dobbins in The House On Candlewick Lane, the first book in the “Malice” series.

It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.

Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh—a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.

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About the author
AmyMReadeUSA Today bestselling author Amy M. Reade is a recovering lawyer living in southern New Jersey. The House on Candlewick Lane is the first of The Malice Novels, Amy’s gothic suspense series set in the United Kingdom. The second book in the series, Highland Peril, will be released in the fall of 2017. She is currently at work on the third book. Amy is also the author of Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of Hanging Jade, all standalones of gothic suspense. She loves reading, cooking, and traveling.

Connect with Amy at amymreade.com, her blog, Goodreads, Amazon author page, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

The House on Candlewick Lane is available at online retailers.

A day in the life of Detective Nan Vining by Dianne Emley

lying-blindLet me start by saying that I dislike talking about myself. But if I have to describe who I am, I’d say that first I’m a mom to Emily, who’s almost seventeen. Her dad and I divorced when she was a toddler—his choice, not mine. Next, I’d say that I’m the senior investigator in Homicide/Assault at the Pasadena, California Police Department. Then, if I’d had this conversation with you first thing this morning, I’d have said that I’m a devoted life partner and lover to Jim Kissick, who’s a sergeant with the Pasadena PD. Right now, at the end of a long and bewildering day, I’m not at all sure where things stand between Jim and me.

Jim had always been my strong, silent, standup guy. My Gary Cooper (I also love watching classic movies). Jim has guided me through dark times in my life. Terrible times and I have the physical and psychological scars to prove it. Tonight, sitting at my desk in the empty Detectives Section at the PPD, I’m wondering whether I misread those silences of Jim’s. Did I mistake them for solidity and strength when they were in reality concealing secrets? To say that my world has been rocked is an understatement.

The day started normally enough until the middle of the afternoon, when my partner, Alex, and I were called out to the scene of a mysterious death at a huge Pasadena estate. One of the homeowners, Teddy Sexton, had discovered the body of a nude young woman floating in the backyard pool. Jim had been the first officer on-scene. I was happy to see him. I always am because our schedules zig and zag so much it’s hard for us to get together. But he was acting sketchy and evasive from the get go. Things became more odd when I found out, after dragging the information from him, that he’d left the scene of a car accident with injuries to dash over to the Sexton estate because Teddy had texted him. Teddy and his wife, Becca, are old friends, Jim explained. Jim will definitely be reprimanded for abandoning an active incident–possibly even fired—and he risked that to respond to a text?

Things got more disturbing when Becca returned home. You see, the Jane Doe in the pool bears a staggering resemblance to a much younger Becca, but everyone in the Sexton household denied knowing who the victim is. After interviewing Becca, I learned that she and Jim had a close relationship years ago. Very close. Something else that Jim neglected to tell me.

Sitting here at my computer, I’m trying to identify poor Jane Doe, who nobody other than my partner and I seem to care about. I’m also trying to push away an ominous feeling that this case will tear me and Jim apart. He’d be the one I’d turn to in such a situation to talk it through, but I can’t. I’m feeling horribly alone. Em’s spending the night at her girlfriend’s. I might as well keep working because I doubt I’ll get any sleep tonight. I’m not looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. That’s enough about me. Back to work.

You can read more about Nan in Lying Blind, the sixth book in the “Nan Vining” series.

In a breathtaking infinity pool on a sprawling Pasadena estate, the naked body of a beautiful young woman floats facedown in a drift of rose petals blowing on the breeze. Police sergeant Jim Kissick responds instantly, pulling the dead victim from the water. When his longtime girlfriend, Detective Nan Vining, arrives on-scene, she’s full of questions, and not just about the Jane Doe. Why did the homeowner text Jim instead of calling 911? Jim’s explanation—that he’s simply an old friend of Teddy and Rebecca Sexton’s—doesn’t sit well with Nan. A survivor of a bizarre murder attempt herself, Nan’s instincts for deception are acute. She senses that they’re all hiding something—including Jim, which plunges a wedge deep into their once steadfast relationship.

Then a drought-ravaged lake in a bucolic Central California town reveals a grisly secret. Soon two local detectives arrive in Pasadena to interview Jim and his wealthy friends about a mysterious death from years back, and Nan realizes she has good reasons for her suspicions. Jim’s always been her rock, but suddenly he’s become a stranger. And once Nan identifies her Jane Doe, events careen out of control as darkness from the past threatens to consume the life that Nan has worked so hard to rebuild.

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About the author
Dianne Emley is a Los Angeles Times bestselling author and has received critical acclaim for her Detective Nan Vining thrillers, Iris Thorne mysteries, and The Night Visitor, a standalone paranormal mystery. She’s also published short fiction for anthologies including Literary Pasadena. Her novels have been translated into six languages. A Los Angeles native, she lives in the Central California wine country with her husband, where she’s a pretty good cook and a terrible golfer. About Dianne’s books, Tess Gerritsen says: “Emley masterfully twists, turns, and shocks.”

Connect with Dianne through her website dianneemley.com or visit her on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment for a chance to win a Lying Blind e-book (Kindle/Nook open to all) or a signed paperback (US only) of one of the first four books in the Nan Vining series (The First Cut, Cut to the Quick, The Deepest Cut, or Love Kills). The giveaway ends February 27, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Lying Blind will be published as an e-book by Alibi/Random House on February 28, 2017.

A day in the life of Cass Jennings by Matthew Iden

the-winter-overAfter a three hour, bone-rattling flight in sub-zero temperatures, an assessment is in order. But all I can say is that I can’t feel my feet or my hands and I’m not even sure I have a nose left, because that’s how cold it is.

From the “comfort” of the LC-130 military air transport, I squint at the blocky bus-like vehicle coming toward us, dipping and turning as it follows the contours of the ice leading to the runway—no, not runway. Skiway, they call it. Planes can’t have wheels here. Past it, in the distance, I make out tiny figures that emerge from the box of a building that will be home-sweet-home for the next year.

Thoroughly whacked out from lack of sleep, deaf from hours of engine noise, snow blind from the endless field of white in front of me, I feel disembodied. Hardly present. A spectator in my own skin. From moment to moment, I forget where I am and why I’m here. To remember, I have to trace things back from the beginning.

Still images, snapshot memories, pass through my head. Childhood. The nearby watch factory turned museum. Glass cases of gears and cogs, fine-grained spanners and compasses. Hugging the girth of the smoke stack, surely the biggest thing in the world, letting it radiate the sun’s warmth back through me.

My father, worried and confused. My mother, bedridden and wan. A young me by her side, wondering where the tools were to fix her. Tip-toeing, speaking in whispers. Up to and including the funeral.

College. A woman in a world engineered by men. Learning and loving, falling and breaking and coming together, then leaving. Graduating, moving on.

An adult, finally. A real job in the real world, with responsibilities and consequences. A catastrophe and a trial with its public acquittal but private tragedy. Then the years chasing peace, watching it skitter ahead to an oil rig out of Shreveport, a fishery in Sitka, a mining camp in Yellowknife.

Until eventually, short of leaving the planet, there was only one place left. Where people had to be crazy enough to go, but not enough to go crazy. Where nothing but skill and guts and merit got you through and you might be able to show yourself that you had what it took to be normal and helpful and wanted and—

Everyone jumps as a terrific BANG! jolts the plane. The cabin doors yawn wide and air—impossibly cold—rushes down the makeshift aisle. A man in a red parka waddles into view and takes a wide stance at the head of the aisle. He pushes back his fur-lined hood and tugs polarized goggles under his chin, revealing a jovial face.

“After that plane ride, you probably can’t hear me, so I hope you can read lips,” he says and spreads his arms wide. “Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the bottom of the world. Welcome to the South Pole.”

You can read more about Cass in THE WINTER OVER.

Each winter, the crew at the Shackleton South Pole Research Facility faces nine months of isolation, round-the-clock darkness, and one of the most extreme climates on the planet. For thirty-something mechanical engineer Cass Jennings, Antarctica offers an opportunity to finally escape the guilt of her troubled past and to rebuild her life.

But the death of a colleague triggers a series of mysterious incidents that push Cass and the rest of the forty-four-person crew to the limits of their sanity and endurance. Confined and cut off from the outside world, will they work together or turn against one another? As the tension escalates, Cass must find the strength to survive not only a punishing landscape but also an unrelenting menace determined to destroy the station—and everyone in it.

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Meet the author
In addition to The Winter Over, Matthew Iden is the author of the Marty Singer detective series—A Reason to Live, Blueblood, One Right Thing, The Spike, The Wicked Flee, and Once Was Lost—as well as several stand-alone novels.

Iden’s eclectic resume includes jobs with the US Postal Service, an international nonprofit, a short stint with the Forest Service in Sitka, Alaska, and time with the globe-spanning Semester at Sea program. Trips to Iceland, Patagonia, and Antarctica have given him a world of inspiration. Iden currently lives in Northern Virginia—close enough to the woods to keep his sanity, close enough to the Capital Beltway to lose it.

Get in touch: Facebook, Amazon, @CrimeRighter, or visit www.matthew-iden.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win copy of The Winter Over, either paperback (U.S. residents only), Kindle copy, or audiobook, winner’s choice. The giveaway will end February 6, 2017. Good luck everyone!

The Winter Over is available at online booksellers.

A day in the life with Maggie Gardiner by Lisa Black

unpunishedI love newspapers. I always have. So even though overtime calls are not my favorite things in life I was a little excited to enter the huge building which houses the staff, reporters and printing press of the Cleveland Herald. Usually I am entering broken-down old homes and ratty apartments with dishes in the sink and cockroaches in the corners, where the heat and/or air conditioning does not work—which can be more or less a problem depending on the season, which on the shores of Lake Erie can change every ten minutes. Or I’m picking through a vacant lot where a body has been left atop a molding mattress, or a cramped car’s interior where someone decided to end their life with a bullet to the brain. Or—well, you get the idea.

So, the well-lit, climate-controlled, spacious Herald building would have come as a welcome relief in any case, but filled as it was with images of Lois Lane, Humphrey Bogart and Lou Grant, well, I didn’t mind losing a little sleep. Yes, someone was dead, but after ten years as a forensic specialist, I’ve learned not to get that get to me.

Most of the time.

The nice printing supervisor walked me through the building, explaining and/or griping about the difficulties of print journalism today—readership that’s been declining since the 40’s, the loss of the cash cow known as classified advertising to sites like Craigslist and MSN, lay-offs left and right, the harm done a society when there’s no one watching the gatekeepers—but I didn’t get to see Lois or Humphrey. It was the middle of the night, the stories written, the reporters home, only the printing and delivery to thousands of doorsteps left to do before their workday began anew.

We arrived at the print towers. The three-story high ceiling allowed for four towers of steel machinery to function, squeezing an unbroken stream of moving newspaper between huge, horizontal rollers. The rollers were stacked vertically inside the steel-framed towers, and not all the towers were the same size. The tallest had four sets of rollers, others two or one. The paper ribbon stretched from the top of one to the bottom of the next like a spider’s web. The noise drowned out everything else as the printing manager had to shout to explain: “The aluminum sheets are wound around the rolls, there, but they print on a rubber roll next to it, which then prints on the paper. That’s why it’s called offset. There’s one on each side of the paper, so it prints on both sides at once. Every turn prints eight sheets of newspaper.”

I could see the rolls and the paper but there seemed to be much more than that, from the huge boxes feeding the paper in and suspended vats of what must be ink, feeding through metal tubes to a mechanism that ran parallel to the rollers, an array of scaffolding and even steps surrounding each tower. What appeared to be super heavy duty skateboards moved around in a set of tracks that wound around the bottoms of the roller towers. They carried the huge rolls of paper into place. The manager continued: “The taller towers with more rollers are doing the color printing, the shorter ones, all black. Four colors, of course—red, blue, yellow and black. The paper roll then feeds into the folder, where the paper is folded and cut and sent to binding.”

I could have watched the mesmerizing action all day, but my gaze faltered when I saw the body. An unlucky copy editor hung from a long strap tied to the railing at the highest tower. A sad, silent figure against the cacophony of the press—and perhaps, given all the stresses in the industry which had just been described to me, not that surprising.

But then my empathy turned back on myself when I saw who else awaited on the highest tower—Jack Renner. I stopped in my tracks and my heart began to pound in time with the pounding of the huge metal rolls.

Because Jack Renner is a killer.

You can read more about Maggie in UNPUNISHED, the second book in the Gardiner and Renner suspense series.

Maggie Gardiner, a forensic expert who studies the dead, and Jack Renner, a homicide cop who stalks the living, form an uneasy partnership to solve a series of murders in this powerful new thriller by the bestselling author of That Darkness.

It begins with the kind of bizarre death that makes headlines—literally. A copy editor at the Cleveland Herald is found hanging above the grinding wheels of the newspaper assembly line, a wide strap wrapped around his throat. Forensic investigator Maggie Gardiner has her suspicions about this apparent suicide inside the tsunami of tensions that is the news industry today—and when the evidence suggests murder, Maggie has no choice but to place her trust in the one person she doesn’t trust at all . . .

Jack Renner is a killer with a conscience, a vigilante with his own code of honor. In the past, Jack has used his skills and connections as a homicide detective to take the law into his own hands, all in the name of justice. He has only one problem: Maggie knows his secret. She insists he enforce the law, not subvert it. But when more newspaper employees are slain, Jack may be the only person who can help Maggie unmask the killer– even if Jack is still checking names off his own private murder list.

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About the author
Lisa Black has spent over 20 years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into 6 languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s List and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series. Connect with Lisa at lisa-black.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Unpunished. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends February 1, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

A Day in the Life with Linda Varner by Elizabeth Heiter

stalked“What happened to Haley Cooke?” asked one of Haley’s classmates, wearing a cheerleading outfit.

“Kidnapped. Probably dead,” a newscaster answered, her voice low and somber, like she was sharing a secret.

“No!” Linda Varner wanted to scream. Her daughter wasn’t dead. Her daughter was missing. She was out there somewhere, just waiting for the police to do their jobs and find her. Just waiting for some good Samaritan to recognize her and call the hotline.

“She ran away,” Linda’s ex-husband – Haley’s father – said, shaking his head.

He looked so matter-of-fact, so blasé about the whole thing that Linda wanted to scream. She wanted to run over to her ex’s house and slam a baseball bat through his window the way he’d once threatened to do to her head. She wanted to shut him up, stop him from talking to the cops and the reporters and social media, telling his lies.

Haley hadn’t run away. Some maniac had grabbed her, stolen her away, and since no one else seemed to be able to find her, it was up to Linda.

“Haley!” Linda jolted upright in bed, breathing fast, tears clouding her vision.

Her husband sat up more slowly and she could actually hear him swallow back a sigh. “Honey, you’re having another nightmare.”

No, she wanted to argue. This was real. This was her life now. Her only daughter missing for almost a month and no new leads.

“Did you take the medicine your doctor prescribed?” Pete persisted, wiping the tears from her cheeks.

She nodded. It was the only way she could get any sleep at all. Usually the pills sent her into a blissful darkness where Haley wasn’t missing and Linda’s sole purpose wasn’t a non-stop mission to find her. But every once and a while, they seemed to just turn her life into high-def, a blaring movie she couldn’t escape.

Pete tugged her to him and she let herself relax in his embrace. “You need to sleep,” Pete reminded her. “Maybe you should think about going back to work.”

“No.” Going back to work meant eight fewer hours every day where she could be doing something to help find Haley.

She’d worked in Human Resources for a huge corporation, earning promotions faster than she’d ever thought possible when she’d returned to work after her divorce from Haley’s father. She’d loved it more than she’d expected to, but it had been simple to walk away when Haley went missing. When days turned into weeks and still there were no answers.

How was it possible for a seventeen-year-old girl to walk into her high school for cheerleading practice and then simply disappear?

The truth was, it wasn’t possible. Someone must have seen something. Someone knew where Haley was. So, every day, Linda searched for that person – by making pleas on whatever news stations would have her, on social media, at the police station.

She knew how many cases the police had. She’d seen their stacks of case files when she visited the station every day. And she knew the best way to keep them invested in finding Haley was to keep the pressure on: make sure that the whole country was watching.

Linda pushed away from her husband and climbed out of bed.

“What are you doing?” Pete asked. “It’s four in the morning.”

“Someone’s awake now,” Linda replied. “I’ll try social media, see if anyone has any leads.”

“You know how many wackos are on the Internet,” Pete said, throwing off his own covers even though she knew he was exhausted. “You’ve got to stop doing this to yourself.”

She spun to face him, willing him to understand. “I have to do this, Pete.”

Furrows formed between his sensitive eyes, the feature that had drawn her to him in the first place. “I know. I’ll make you some coffee.”

As he trudged down the stairs, she tried to feel grateful for his support. She knew she was lucky to have him, especially with Haley’s father making his crazy accusations. And she knew he wanted his step-daughter to be found unharmed.

But as much as he loved Haley, it was different. Linda had carried Haley in her belly for nine months, rejoicing in those little movements, even the morning sickness because she’d wanted a baby so badly. The years had passed too quickly: Haley had gone from diapers to pigtails to cheerleading pom poms in the blink of an eye. But there was supposed to be so much more to come: Watching Haley graduate. Walking her down the aisle at her wedding. Holding Haley’s hand as she brought her own baby into the world.

Linda couldn’t give up on those dreams any more than she could give up on Haley.

But day after day, as the news stations slowly lost interest as there was nothing new to report, everyone around her was beginning to accept something Linda could never believe.

Haley was never coming home.

Stalked is the fourth book in the Profiler suspense series, published by MIRA, December 2016.

If you’re reading this, I’m already dead. . .

That’s the note seventeen-year-old Haley Cooke leaves behind when she disappears from inside her high school. FBI profiler Evelyn Baine is called in to figure out who had reason to hurt her. On the surface, the popular cheerleader has no enemies, but as Evelyn digs deeper, she discovers that everyone close to Haley has something to hide. Everyone from estranged parents to an older boyfriend with questionable connections to a best friend who envies Haley’s life.

Secrets can be deadly. . .

One of those secrets may have gotten Haley killed. If she’s still alive, Evelyn knows that the more the investigation ramps up, the more pressure they could be putting on her kidnapper to make her disappear for good. It’s also possible that Haley isn’t in danger at all, but has skillfully manipulated everyone and staged her own disappearance. Only one thing is certain: uncovering Haley’s fate could be dangerous—even deadly—to Evelyn herself.

Read an excerpt at elizabethheiter.com/stalked

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About the author
Critically acclaimed author Elizabeth Heiter likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range.

Elizabeth writes a suspense series called The Profiler series and a romantic suspense series called The Lawmen series. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages; they’ve also been shortlisted for the Daphne Du Maurier award, the National Readers’ Choice award and the Booksellers’ Best award and won the RT Reviewers’ Choice award.

Learn more about Elizabeth and her books at elizabethheiter.com, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest or on Goodreads.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Stalked. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends December 31, 2016. Good luck everyone!

My Musing ~ Stalked by Elizabeth by Elizabeth Heiter

Stalked by Elizabeth by Elizabeth Heiter is the fourth book in the “Profiler” series. Publisher: MIRA, December 27,  2016

stalkedIf you’re reading this, I’m already dead. . .
That’s the note seventeen-year-old Haley Cooke leaves behind when she disappears from inside her high school. FBI profiler Evelyn Baine is called in to figure out who had reason to hurt her. On the surface, the popular cheerleader has no enemies, but as Evelyn digs deeper, she discovers that everyone close to Haley has something to hide. Everyone from estranged parents, to an older boyfriend with questionable connections, to a best friend who envies Haley’s life.

Secrets can be deadly. . .
One of those secrets may have gotten Haley killed. If she’s still alive, Evelyn knows that the more the investigation ramps up, the more pressure they could be putting on Haley’s kidnapper to make her disappear for good. It’s also possible the teenager isn’t in danger at all, but has skillfully manipulated everyone and staged her own disappearance. Only one thing is certain: uncovering Haley’s fate could be dangerous—even deadly—to Evelyn herself.

From beginning to end, the fast-paced and frenzied action never stopped and I was rewarded with a solid plot with plenty of twists and turns to keep me engrossed all that was happening within the pages. With the intensity of this multi-plot tale moving at a good pace, it was hard to put this book down, quickly becoming a page turner. The narrative was explicitly detailed giving me enough supposition to see into the role that Evelyn and the other cast were playing that set the tone of this well-written drama. The author did a great job in telling this story and the more I read, the more I came to understand what Evelyn and Kyle do, and how it related to their daily life as well. I also liked watching both these characters grow into their own. This was an enjoyable read and I look forward to more adventures with Evelyn, Kyle and their friends.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.