Tag Archives: thriller

A day in the life of DSS Agent Raisa Jordan by Chris Goff

Diplomacy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Case in point, an hour ago I was babysitting the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel en route to five days in a luxury hotel while she attended an international women’s conference. Then, five minutes after wheels down, I was waylaid by three Marines from the Ukraine embassy. I was really looking forward to some light duty, but now the Regional Security Officer in Kiev, the RSO, had a job for me. Technically he’s my superior and I couldn’t say no. As it turned out, People’s Republic Flight 91 had gone down in eastern Ukraine with a Diplomatic Service Special Agent onboard.

That’s what I do. I’m a DSS Agent.

A lot of people don’t realize how difficult it is to earn the badge. First, you have to earn a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited university. It could be a B.A. in Underwater Basket-weaving for all they care, but you have to prove you graduated. After that you have to pass a physical, obtain a Top Secret Security Clearance, a medical clearance, and then be determined to be capable, stable, resourceful, trustworthy, and able to assume responsibility by a Suitability Review Panel.

Once you clear all of those hurdles, you’re sent to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) where you must prove proficiency in job-related subjects that include criminal law, federal court proceedings, use of firearms, personal defensive tactics, driving skills, security techniques and criminal investigation. And it doesn’t hurt if you can speak multiple languages.

That’s what I do. My official title is ARSO-I, which stands for Assistant Regional Security Officer-Investigations, and I speak five languages.

Most people think all DSS Agents do is check for visa and passport violations and oversee the Marine details protecting our embassies. But, in fact, we are the Department of State’s security and law enforcement arm abroad—the only law enforcement agency with representation in nearly every country in the world. Among other things, we investigate the activities of foreign intelligence agencies, look into terrorist incidents and threats, and assist in apprehending fugitives who have fled the United States.

That’s what DSS Agent George McClasky was doing on board PR Flight 91. He was escorting a U.S. citizen wanted for treason out of China, along with a packet of sensitive documents. My job is to secure the package and ensure the Top Secret information isn’t compromised. Much easier said than done.

So why become an agent? you ask.

When I was eleven, my father was shot dead in St. Petersburg Square. I am the daughter of a highly acclaimed Russian hockey player and an American mother. They met while she was attending the Russian Academy of Arts. Eleven years and two kids later, he was murdered during a botched assassination attempt on the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. That’s the official story, anyway. I never believed it, and I’ve made it my life’s mission to find out the truth.

I tend to be a “color inside the lines”-kind of girl. As a rookie agent, I was serving my requisite three years in a domestic post when my boss opened fire on a terrorist. The only problem was the man’s feet were firmly planted on the grounds of the Lebanese consulate. When asked what happened, I told the truth. My boss was demoted, while I was promoted and shipped overseas. I’m still on the fence about whether it was punishment or a reward.

Just weeks after my arrival in Tel Aviv, my predecessor was gunned down in Dizengoff Square. I was tasked with finding out why he was still in Israel instead of back home in Washington D.C., and why someone had shot him. The answers were complicated and I learned a few things I’d rather not know. I also learned that sometimes, in order to get to the truth and nail the bad guys, it’s necessary to color outside the lines.

The case in Israel was difficult, but I worry it’s nothing compared to what I’m facing. Parking the car, I can see the remains of PR Flight 91. Small fires still flare in the rubble, and the stench and devastation are overwhelming. Fragments of the plane’s fuselage along with luggage, computers, pillows and clothing are strewn across the ground for miles. Bodies litter the wreckage, scattered like rag dolls on the scorched earth. When my gaze falls on an orange teddy bear propped against a tangle of twisted metal, I can’t check my tears.

Behind me I hear a voice, speaking a language I don’t know. Ukrainian? Brushing away my tears, I turn around to find a soldier. I get the gist of what he’s saying. He thinks I’m a member of the press.

Vy govorite po-russki?” Do you speak Russian, I ask. I lift the card and lanyard hanging around my neck. “Ya ne is pressy. Ya zdes’ po gosudarstvennym delam.” I’m not press. I’m here on government business.

It’s what I do.

You can read more about Agent Raisa in Red Sky, the second book in the “Raisa Jordan” thriller.

When People’s Republic Flight 91 crashes in northeastern Ukraine with a U.S. diplomatic agent onboard, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service Agent Raisa Jordan is sent to investigate. The agent was escorting a prisoner home from Guangzhou, China, along with sensitive documents, and it quickly becomes apparent that the plane was intentionally downed. Was it to silence the two Americans onboard?

To avoid a diplomatic incident, Jordan must discover what the Americans knew that was worth killing hundreds to cover up. With Russia deeply entangled in the Ukraine and the possibility that China could be hiding reasons to bring down its own plane, tensions are high.

As international relations and even more lives hang in the balance, Jordan races to stop a new Cold War. Red Sky, Chris Goff’s pulse-pounding follow-up to Dark Waters, is yet another white-knuckle joyride for fans of Gayle Lynds.

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Meet the author
Chris Goff is an award-winning author of eight novels. Her most recent, Red Sky, is an international thriller set in Ukraine and Asia where DSS Agent Raisa Jordan tests the boundaries of diplomacy as she races to prevent the start of a new Cold War. Goff’s series debut, Dark Waters, was nominated for the 2016 Colorado Book Award and Anthony Award for Best Crime Fiction Audiobook. For more information, visit christinegoff.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Special Agent Antara Singh by Alexandra Sokoloff

Singh sits in her cubicle and looks around the empty FBI office. It is early, some time before business hours.

So she turns away from her Bureau computer and removes her personal laptop from a drawer. She boots up and logs in. Using an alias, on an encrypted connection, she enters the Darknet and logs on to a forum titled “Rape Cara Lindstrom.”

It is the hateful brainchild of Riverside County Sheriff’s Detective Gilbert Ortiz.

Singh has been following Ortiz online for some weeks now. At first on a legal warrant, when he was a suspect for the rapes of more than a dozen teenage girls. Roarke had closed the case. But Singh has continued to track Ortiz, unofficially. And illegally.

Because of this forum.

It is a place where men who choose to do so can share their most despicable fantasies.

Singh has lived all her life with the knowledge that a random group of men can turn into a monstrous, ravening beast, with no thought, no morality, no consciousness. That any moment she herself could be seized, brutalized, left for dead or worse than dead.

So many relatives, friends, colleagues have been broken by the vile thing that slithers through the streets of her home country. The thing that terrorizes women, holds them in Its grasp. The thing she has always known is here in this country, too, but at least somewhat deeper in the shadows.

But It has free rein in these forums.

She knows Ortiz’s aliases. She knows his habits. When he tends to access the secret forums. The order that he checks in on all of the forums he does haunt.

She has created her own identities and posted by copying the grotesque, almost invariably ungrammatical writing style of the forums’ inhabitants. With her aliases, she has gained access to secret subforums on the Darknet.

There are extreme porn videos and forums with titles like “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape.”

Here also is where professional trolls recruit like-minded men to attack women who dare to post their opinions online. Scientists, actresses, journalists, politicians, game designers—anyone female is vulnerable to trolling. Online trolling has been rising in an alarming wave. Singh has seen hundreds of female celebrities and ordinary women deluged with rape threats—not only against themselves, but against their children, their mothers, their sisters. A target is posted in the forums and a harassment campaign is begun. A coordinated attempt to silence female voices.

These trolls have only been emboldened by the ascension of the ultimate troll, a sexual predator now determining national policy.

Singh left her own country in part to be free of the pervasive underlying belief that rape is normal, part of a woman’s fate. In India the attitude is that the victim asks for it and the male is nowhere in sight of blame.

She does not see these forums or postings as innocent. From attitude comes action.

So she is collecting files on the posters. Trawling for crimes. She is hopeful that the task force that Roarke is spearheading will give her a platform to go after these monsters in some way.

In the meantime, she watches.

She searches all the forums she knows Ortiz frequents. She only skims the threads. Reading closely is unbearable.

But Ortiz has not posted today. And it is not long before she has to sign off in revulsion.

She puts the computer away, sits back in her chair. She feels agitation prickling under her skin, and takes a moment to close her eyes.

She lets her workplace cubicle slip away and focuses on her breathing, identifying the sensations in her body.

They are too familiar.

Her temperature is elevated, her face flaming. She is burning up, shaking from this toxic overflow of misogyny and racism and hatred.

Not just in the forums, but in the news, everywhere.

She feels often that she is losing her grip on anything rational. And as so often happens, in this moment she has literally stopped breathing.

She makes herself inhale deeply, exhale slowly.

Then she centers, visualizes the sun, the rays warming and surrounding her, and silently recites a prayer, the ritual of light.

Light before me.
Light behind me.
Light at my left.
Light at my right.
Light above me.
Light below me.
Light around me.
Light to all.
Light to the Universe.

She sits in the visualization. And it helps, of course it helps. But her prayers do less and less to calm her.

She spends her days in a haze of anxiety. By night her dreams are ominous: of a dark force settling over the country. Paroxysms of malice. The constant sense of being hunted.

Nowhere to run. No place that is safe.

And a terrible, inescapable reality.

There is no end in sight.

You can read more about Antara in Hunger Moon, the fifth book in the “Huntress/FBI” thriller series.

Revenge has no limits.

Special Agent Matthew Roarke has abandoned his rogue search for serial killer Cara Lindstrom. He’s returned to the FBI to head a task force with one mission: to rid society of its worst predators. But as the skeletal symbols of Santa Muerte, “Lady Death,” mysteriously appear at universities nationwide, threatening death to rapists, Roarke’s team is pressured to investigate. When a frat boy goes missing in Santa Barbara, Roarke realizes a bloodbath is coming—desperate teenagers are about to mete out personal, cold-blooded justice.

Hiding from the law, avenging angel Cara Lindstrom is on her own ruthless quest. She plans to stay as far away from Roarke as possible—until an old enemy comes after both her and the FBI, forcing her back into Roarke’s orbit. This time, the huntress has become the hunted . . .

Also, the series really should be read in order, starting with Huntress Moon, which is free to Amazon Prime readers. And all four books in the series are currently on sale on Kindle for 1.99 US, 99p UK, and 1.49 AU.

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Click here to enter tour-wide giveaway of $50 Amazon gift card.
You can find the schedule here of other stops on the Xpresso Book Tour for Alexandra Sokoloff.

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About the author
Alexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning, Bram Stoker and Anthony Award-nominated author of twelve bestselling supernatural and crime thrillers. The New York Times has called her “a daughter of Mary Shelley” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.” As a screenwriter she has sold original suspense and horror scripts and written novel adaptations for numerous Hollywood studios (Sony, Fox, Disney, Miramax), for producers such as Michael Bay, David Heyman, Laura Ziskin and Neal Moritz. She is also the author of the internationally acclaimed Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks, based on her workshops and blog. Her Thriller Award-nominated Huntress Moon series follows a haunted FBI agent on the hunt for a female serial killer, smashing genre clichés and combatting the rise of violence against women on the page and screen. The series is in active development for television with Sokoloff as writer/producer. Visit Alexandra at AlexandraSokoloff.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Giada Valentina Santella by Kristi Belcamino

My Ferrari skidded into the circle driveway of the Monterey Plaza Hotel, making a group of tourists wearing khaki shorts rear back in fear. I could feel their disdain, even if I couldn’t hear their horrified whispering.

I shot them a look. Don’t get your panties in a bundle. I might’ve come in a little hot, but everything was totally under control. My father hadn’t forked over thousands of dollars to racing school at Laguna Seca for nothing.

Some action flick actor in his Porsche zipped into the lane beside me. I glanced over. He sat there like a prick waiting for the valet to come open his door. When he saw me, he did a double take.

Opening my own door, I hopped out and stretched luxuriously, ignoring the fact that my leather jacket rose about half a foot from the top of my leather pants, revealing slice of G-rated flesh, giving the actor something to stare at.

The cooler air of the Peninsula felt good after driving through the scorching Salinas Valley between here and my San Francisco home. I’d been in the car two hours straight and was ready for a stiff drink.

I stripped off my jacket, tossed it into my backseat revealing my T-shirt that said, “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” above a picture of Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. I watched the actor read it, his mouth moving as he did, like an idiot.

I tossed my keys to the open-mouthed valet who had just come around the front of my hood.

“Thanks, sailor,” I said and gave him a long, slow wink, which made red coat his freckled neck.

I was nearly to the hotel door when the valet caught up to me. “Excuse me, miss?”

I turned and gave him my most brilliant smile. He flushed, once again flustered. “Yes?”

“Do you have any luggage I can bring in?”

I shook my head slowly smiling. He was so cute, getting embarrassed this easily. I handed him a one-hundred-dollar bill, pressing it into his palm and leaned over to whisper in his ear. “I’m only going to be here about an hour. If you want, you can take her for a quick spin down Cannery Row. She purrs like a kitten.”

He gulped and walked off without answering.

Inside the hotel lobby, I headed straight to the bar. My meeting wasn’t for thirty minutes. I slid onto the bar seat and ordered a glass of Old Rip Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Ry. I savored that first glass, but must admit I guzzled the second and third.

I wasn’t looking forward this meeting.

My attorney, Sal, usually did most of his business over the phone. He was old-fashioned that way. Didn’t trust email or anything electronic. I wasn’t that much into tech stuff myself, but preferred that over talking on the phone. Who talked on the phone anymore, anyway? Only people like Sal.

But this time when he called, he said he had something to give me and it had to be done in person.

Right on time, Sal strode into the hotel bar like he owned the place, which actually come to think of it, he might. He was the very embodiment of la bella figura from growing up in the old country. Everything from his neatly trimmed hair to his manicured fingernails to his glossy polished shoes was impeccable. Refined. Like his posture and his manner.


He kissed me on both cheeks, ordered a glass of some rare fancy wine and unsnapped his briefcase. Without saying a word, he handed me an envelope. I opened it, smoothed out a piece of paper on the bar, and stared at it. At first it didn’t make any sense. My eyes focused. I shifted gears. It was written in Italian. As what I was looking at sunk in, I realized what it was saying and what it meant. It was connected to my parents’ murders. Something I had thought was put to bed forever last year.

Apparently not.

Mother trucker.

I pushed back from the bar and stood looking out the window at the brilliant blue Monterey Bay before me. Off in the distance, a dolphin soared gracefully into the air and then dipped back into the water without leaving a trace. It was something I had always hoped to see as a child here, poised for hours on the shore staring, afraid to blink and miss it.

With my back to Sal so he wouldn’t see me fighting back tears, I spoke.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be on the next flight to Sicily.”

You can read more about Gia in Gia and the Forgotten Island, the second book in the “Gia Santella” crime thriller series.

Gia Valentina Santella is not the kind of woman to sit back and watch injustice. So when a hate group invades her San Francisco neighborhood and innocent people end up dead, Gia vows to hunt down the perpetrators. Her investigation leads her to places she never imagined in her worst nightmares. Gia finds herself in a house of horrors facing a darkness that threatens to devastate the city she loves. Gia soon realizes that if she doesn’t succeed in stopping the powerful evil seeping into the city, more innocents will end up dead. She is determined to either stop the reign of terror or die trying.

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About the author
Kristi Belcamino is a Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Award-nominated author, a newspaper cops reporter, and an Italian mama who makes a tasty biscotti.

She writes books featuring strong, fierce, and independent women facing unspeakable evil in order to seek justice for those unable to do so themselves.

Her first novel in the Gabriella Giovanni Mystery Series, Blessed Are The Dead, was inspired by her dealings with a serial killer during her life as a Bay Area crime reporter.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff is the 5th book in the “The Huntress/FBI” thriller series. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer, coming October 24, 2017

Revenge has no limits.

Special Agent Matthew Roarke has abandoned his rogue search for serial killer Cara Lindstrom. He’s returned to the FBI to head a task force with one mission: to rid society of its worst predators. But as the skeletal symbols of Santa Muerte, “Lady Death,” mysteriously appear at universities nationwide, threatening death to rapists, Roarke’s team is pressured to investigate. When a frat boy goes missing in Santa Barbara, Roarke realizes a bloodbath is coming—desperate teenagers are about to mete out personal, cold-blooded justice.

Hiding from the law, avenging angel Cara Lindstrom is on her own ruthless quest. She plans to stay as far away from Roarke as possible—until an old enemy comes after both her and the FBI, forcing her back into Roarke’s orbit. This time, the huntress has become the hunted . . .

This is a complex and all-encompassing read that pulls you in and never lets go, not even at the conclusion. Darkness abounds throughout the telling of this story where the narrative is pitch-perfect striking a cord that had me intensely rooted in all that was happening with a take on societal woes that is prevalent with only one thing left to do. . .put an end to it. And in this hard-hitting drama, a group is determined to rid this behavior and it is that action that propels this drama in the manner that I could not put this book down until I knew how this ended and the author did not disappoint me as I knew that she would leave it in such a way.

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

A day in the life with Remy Stanton by Jason Pinter

My name is Remy Stanton, and the first thing you need to know is that I shouldn’t be here.

That’s all I can think as I stand here among several of the most powerful people in the world, as the man to my left gets ready to announce that he’s running for President. Ever been next to someone while they announce a presidential run? Yeah. It’s as insane as it sounds.

A few weeks ago I was a nobody. A mid-level corporate strategist unfulfilled in my career and, really, life itself. Ever feel like you’re destined for something greater, but you’re waiting for a sign? Well, my sign came. In the shape of a bullet.

That’s right, it took getting shot for me to find my destiny. I was heading home after a nightcap when I saw a good-looking couple about to get mugged at gunpoint. Wrong place, wrong time. Without thinking, I intervened. And what kind of thanks did I get for being a Good Samaritan? A bullet in the chest and a stay in the hospital.

But that couple on the street wasn’t some ordinary husband-and-wife strolling home after a bottle of red at an Italian restaurant. No, the woman’s name was Alena Griggs. Yup, that Alena Griggs. As in the daughter of Rawson Griggs, billionaire developer, ruthless and brilliant mogul, and one of the wealthiest and most powerful men alive. Well, Rawson Griggs was pretty thankful that I saved his daughter’s life. Alena’s husband? The accountant? Rawson doesn’t seem to be overly fond of him. But Rawson’s a smart guy, and he knows a good publicity opportunity when he sees one, so Rawson offered me a job on his campaign. I was a hero. Having a hero stand beside him at rallies is media gold. And for me? It meant more money, more power, more opportunity.

I knew I was destined for something greater. But still, something doesn’t feel quite right. The first thing that feels off is Paul Bracewell, Alena’s husband. Alena is warm, caring—not what I expected from the heiress to an empire—but Paul is quiet. Squirrely, even. And Alena acts strange around him, like he’s changed somehow. Or like he knows something he’s not supposed to.

And then there’s Dastan Nogoyev, the would-be-robber whose plot I foiled. Dastan was arrested and incarcerated awaiting a grand jury, but we just found out that he was murdered in prison. It’s possible he was killed by some crazy inmate, or an overzealous Griggs fan, but I wonder whether he was killed because the robbery that night wasn’t just a robbery. . .

All these questions are driving me crazy. And here I stand, Rawson Griggs to my left, Alena Griggs to my right, as Rawson prepares to make an announcement that could change the face of America. I fully support Rawson. He’s a brash, take-no-prisoners billionaire running for President.

What could go wrong?

You can read more about Remy in The Castle, a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller.

Remy Stanton is a young, ambitious corporate strategist who intervenes in an armed robbery one night, saves two lives, but is nearly killed in the process. And when he wakes up in the hospital, Remy learns that one of the intended victims was Alena Griggs, the daughter and sole heir of Rawson Griggs, a brilliant, brash billionaire – and one of the most powerful men in the world. Suddenly Remy finds that he has become an overnight celebrity – and he receives an offer he can’t refuse.

Rawson Griggs is about to announce an unprecedented run for President of the United States, and he offers Remy, the man who saved his beloved daughter’s life, a position in his campaign. Suddenly Remy finds himself thrust into the maelstrom of the most controversial Presidential election in history, where buried secrets and stunning acts of violence rock the nation. And as his own star grows brighter, Remy finds himself drawn to the intelligent yet down-to-earth Alena Griggs, whose marriage is strained by the relentless pressures of fame and politics.

Yet as the revolutionary Griggs movement builds steam, shocking events cause Remy to suspect a dark undercurrent running beneath Rawson’s campaign. And when he discovers the full, disturbing truth, Remy will have to make a choice: stay the course, or jeopardize everything he cares about. And possibly lose his life in the process. Because politics is war. And nobody survives a war with Rawson Griggs.

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Meet the author
Jason Pinter is the bestselling author of five novels in his Henry Parker thriller series, which have over one million copies in print worldwide and have been published in over a dozen countries, as well as the Middle Grade adventure novel Zeke Bartholomew: SuperSpy. He has been nominated for the Thriller Award, Strand Critics Award, Barry Award, RT Reviewers Choice Award, Shamus Award and CrimeSpree Award. His novel, The Mark, was optioned to be a feature film. He has written for The New Republic, Entrepreneur, The Daily Beast, Medium, and more. He was named one of the top writers on Twitter (@JasonPinter) by Mashable and the Huffington Post, and his articles and essays have been covered in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Atlantic, Hot Air, Boston Globe, New York Observer, Baltimore Sun, Salon and Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. He lives in Hoboken, NJ with his wife, their daughter, and their dog. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Virginia Knightly by Christina Kovac

I’m Virginia Knightly, Executive Producer of the top-rated newscast in Washington, DC. (There, I said it, and still get the chills: Virginia Knightly. EP. My own show.) A dream come true. The best job in the world, doing important work—telling the truth about the lives of people and their happenings in our city, AKA, producing news—and I get to do it with brilliant people.

It’s the only job for me.

Every day is an adventure, and it’s also fun. That’s because of my staff: Ben Pearce, our evening news anchor, who’s beautiful and talented and my best friend when he’s not driving me crazy with his diva ways. (Or when I’m trying very hard not to notice how handsome he is. This happens more frequently than I’ll admit, and it’s a problem).

He shares the anchor desk with Moira Jones. Ice runs through her veins, which I admire, if you really want to know, and she’s got an androgynous beauty and calm, cool delivery that’s perfect for TV.

My second-in-command, Isaiah, is one of the first black journalists to break into DC television, back in the day. He knows everything about DC, local politics and crime stats and history of the city, the changing technology, who’s who and what’s what, and I’d be lost without him. He taught me everything I know.

There’s also Nelson Yang, our Emmy-winning photographer who looks through the camera lens with the eye of a god. And street reporter, Alexa Lopez, who can get anyone to talk. We have a new reporter-trainee, Heather, who I don’t trust. She was hired under mysterious circumstances by our new News Director. He’s a bad guy. Mind you, not as bad as that dude fired last year from Fox News—I’ve never seen or heard anything so bad as that—but our guy’s not helpful to the cause, either. For him, news is all business, only about the profits and therefore the ratings.

For me, news is so much more.

He wants to cut costs, and what he means, he wants to fire the people I just told you about. These people are the best journalists in the city, and they’re more than my staff.

They’re my family. Maybe a little dysfunctional at times, but I love them. You protect the people you love, don’t you?

A news day is long, unforgiving. It starts early. Every morning, I rise before the sun does, and during that first pot of coffee I prepare by reading local papers and news websites to see what the competition is reporting. My walk to work through the National Cathedral grounds lands me to the office by 8am. There, I got through overnight stories and faxes and emails and snail mail, looking for any story with a hook, anything that’ll stand out, something different, that might strike a nerve. It’s like an excavation.

One day, I see a press release of a missing woman. Her picture is blurry, but I feel like I’ve seen her before, somewhere, in a clip of video, but I can’t remember which. It drives me crazy. My brain is like a library for moving pictures. I remember every shot of video I’ve ever used, a terrific gift at deadline, but the picture of this woman? I can’t place it.

The rest of my crew thinks I’m acting a little obsessive, and maybe I am. Every year thousands of women are reported missing in the District of Columbia. Many of them are killed. I’m not naïve about the way the world works. And yet—why can’t I get this woman’s face out of my head?

I make a few phone calls on the sly. Nothing earth-shattering. Just to a coworker, another to the missing woman’s home, a routine call to the cop shop. The answers lead to more questions. The whole thing doesn’t make sense. And though I’ve got a show to produce, people to manage, a difficult news director to please, I think, why don’t I go out to this woman’s neighborhood and bang on some doors? What could it hurt?

When that leads to more questions, I call a few sources, including the one I swore I’d never talk to again, the guy who did me wrong.

How bad could it get?

You can read more about Virginia in The Cutaway, the author’s debut novel.

The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Harkening to dark thrillers such as Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Big Little Lies, The Cutaway is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page.

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Meet the author
Christina Kovac worked for seventeen years managing Washington, DC, newsrooms and producing crime stories in the District. Her career as a television journalist began with Fox 5’s Ten O’Clock News, followed by ABC affiliate in Washington. For the last nine years, she was employed at NBC News, where she worked for Tim Russert and provide news coverage for Meet the Press, Nightly News, the Today show, and others. Christina lives with her family outside of Washington, DC. The Cutaway is her first novel. Visit Christina at christinakovac.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Ali McGovern by Catriona McPherson

I start the morning with lemon in hot water, a probiotic yoghurt and some almonds. There’s no use a beauty therapist having dog-rough skin from bacon butties and too much coffee. Then it used to be the gym, but gym membership was one of the first things to go. After my Vogue subscription but before the shift to supermarket own-brands.

Now I push the couch back, put the coffee table up on its end and do a twenty-minute work-out with Davina McCall. Or in theory, I do. But the couch is heavy and the coffee table’s always laden. It’s been a while, if I’m honest. And I’ve started having a Pop-tart for breakfast too.

But my beauty regime is unchanged: I wash my face with plain water and a rough flannel, I spritz it with rose-water and I dab on a bit of SPF 15. All before my shower. In the shower, I exfoliate, I pumice, I brush with a bristle brush, I work my loofah toward the heart. Sometimes I think I’m trying to wipe myself out, one dermal layer at a time.

My hair gets washed once a week. That’s plenty so long as you don’t fiddle with it. Or work in a coalmine, I suppose. It’s all the touch-touch-touching with dirty fingers that makes hair greasy – nothing to do with your scalp oils, And it’s the same thing with spots and bad skin. People are always touching their faces. No wonder winter colds do the rounds. As a beauty therapist, I’ve trained myself not to touch my mouth, eyes, nose or ears with my fingers. And I haven’t been ill in ten years.

Once I’m dressed for the day – in white tunic and trousers, comfy clogs and no jewellery – it’s a bit of a blur. I’m lucky if I can grab an apple and slice of cheese at lunchtime. A single appointment is half an hour – lashes, brows, half-leg waxes – and then the full-waxes, mani-pedis and facials are all double appointments. My book’s full and I don’t like to let people down.

Except, look what just happened. I slipped right back into the past, to when Face Value was my pride and joy, when I had a book of regular clients and no time for lunch. Truth is, my whites are put away in vacuum bags and my products are oiled to keep them fresh, clingfilmed and packed in the dark. I thought it would only be for a month or so. I keep meaning to open them up and check them. They’re probably drying out, oxidizing. They’re probably useless by now.

So let’s try that again. I do look for jobs. I look at Indeed.co.uk online, and I even go to the Job Centre sometimes, even though it is hands-down the most depressing place on earth. Worse than a hospital ward. Worse than the visiting room in an undertaker’s. I imagine. And it’s nice to be home when Angelo gets in from school. He’s too cool to talk to me, of course, but if there’s a sandwich made, he’ll eat it. And they do say it’s not quality time that matters, don’t they? It’s just time.


It heals. That’s another thing they say. And they’re wrong. They’re idiots. Time doesn’t heal anything. It just passes and – sometimes – it tells.

You can read more about Ali in House. Tree. Person., a novel of suspense.

The body found in a muddy grave across the street is just the latest horror threatening to tear Ali McGovern’s life apart seam by seam. She knows Angelo, her brooding teenage son, is keeping secrets. She fears he’s in danger, too. But her new job at the psychiatric hospital, the job her husband pushed her into, is using up everything she’s got every day. She can try to ignore the sounds that surely can’t really be there. And she can try to trust the doctors, who can’t be as dark as they seem. But can Ali hold herself, her life, and her family together without getting blood on her hands?

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About the author
Catriona McPherson is the multi-award-wining and best-selling author of the Dandy Gilver mysteries, set in Scotland in the 1930s, and six modern suspense thrillers, for which she has been Edgar and Mary Higgins Clark shortlisted. House. Tree. Person. (UK: The Weight Of Angels) is her twentieth novel. Catriona lives in northern California. Reach out to Catriona at catrionamcpherson.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Matt Jorgenson by Michele Drier

The day my dad’s caregiver called and told me my dad couldn’t remember how to button his shirt was the day I had to make one of the hardest decisions.

He’d developed Alzheimer’s gradually and over the past three years had been able to live in his home with a caregiver. The disease was too great now and he needed to be moved into a Memory Care facility. Locked doors, twenty-four-hour care.

This meant he’d be abandoning the home in Bakersfield that I’d grown up in, the home that my dad built for his family, my mother and me. I moved away better than a decade ago, heading for law school and a career in San Francisco, shaking the dust of the Central Valley off my shoes and not looking back. As much as I loved him, I couldn’t give up my life in the Bay Area, particularly now that I’d met Jennifer.

Alzheimer’s, the concern for my father and the gnawing fear that I may be headed for the same diagnosis, terrified me. When I heard about a memory chip that could augment your memory, maybe bring back forgotten parts of your life, I jumped at it. Now, I’m thinking it may have unintended consequences.

The other night, I was out in a North Beach bar with some friends when a woman smiled at me. I smiled back and asked the waitress to bring her a drink. As I went over to talk to her, another guy, a drunk from the end of the bar came over. I said, “Leave the lady alone. She’s not interested.”

“And who are you? Her guardian?” The guy took a step towards me and raised his hand.

I pushed the hand away and twisted the guy’s arm up behind him. “What part of leave her alone didn’t you understand?” I poked him in the ribs. Not a hard punch, just enough that he whooshed out a breath and staggered.

Now Brian, Stan and Artie were up, surrounding me to keep the other drinkers and the bartender from seeing anything. “Come on, pal, let’s get some air.” Artie put an arm around the guy’s shoulder and he and Stan walked him to the door, talking all the time about how he’d had too much to drink.

“What was that all about?” Brian watched me, an odd expression on his face. “I’ve never seen you make any moves like that. You’re a lover, not a fighter.”

“I don’t know, man. I had this feeling, this anger, come up from my gut.” I sucked in a deep breath. “Something about that guy and his cheezy moves made me see red.”

I turned to the woman, stuck out my hand. “I’m sorry if I frightened you. I don’t usually meet a woman like this. I’m Matt and this is Brian.”

The blond didn’t take it. She turned to her friend, said, “Let’s go,” picked up her purse and went out the door.

Not a night to remember, and I have strange dreams now, violent dreams of hitting people, breaking things, lashing out with anger I can’t control.

With my dad on his way to a facility that he’ll never leave, and me with dark and dangerous dreams, I worry that Alzheimer’s isn’t the only thing I have to fear.

You can read more about Matt in Ashes of Memories, a psychological thriller.

Getting what you wish for can bring unintended circumstances. Jennifer in New York and Matt in San Francisco worry that they’re losing their memories. Jennifer from an earlier trauma and Matt while watching his father succumb to Alzheimer’s. After finding a new medical technology designed to help people with cognitive disorders, they independently track down a grey-market supply, but when they meet they find unknown terrors.

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About the author
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.

She is the president of Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the co-chair of Bouchercon 2020.

Her Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, (called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review), Labeled for Death and Delta for Death, and a stand-alone thriller, Ashes of Memories, published in 2017.

Her paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was the best paranormal vampire series of 2014 from the Paranormal Romance Guild. The series is SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, Danube: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Nights, SNAP: All That Jazz, and SNAP: I, Vampire.

Visit her Facebook page, her website www.micheledrier.com or her Amazon author page,

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Afton Tangler by Gerry Schmitt

Last night was like something out of a nightmare. A medical helicopter was shot down just as it was making its final approach over the Mississippi River to land at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Two pilots killed, dozens of students injured, rotor blades carved into the side of the Science Building, debris scattered everywhere. To top it off, a cooler containing a human heart crashed through one of the dorm windows. I’m Afton Tangler and even though I’m a family liaison officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, I was one of the first responders who helped retrieve that mangled heart.

Just a few hours later, I was sitting in a meeting with a deeply troubled deputy chief, three world-weary detectives, a guy from the NTSB, and a tech from our IT Department. After watching footage hastily gleaned from three different cameras, the consensus on the crash seemed to be either terrorism or sabotage. But I thought there might be more going on here. I even ventured my opinion that the transplant patient, Leland Odin, the man who was literally lying on the operating table, waiting for his unsalvageable heart, was somehow involved.

Odin’s a millionaire, you see. A business tycoon who headed Diamond Shopping Network, a major home shopping company. On the surface Odin looks squeaky-clean, but I think someone wanted him dead. Could be a business rival or maybe even an associate within his own company. Whatever the case, I’m guessing that Odin crossed the wrong person – and made them angry enough to exact a clever and spectacular revenge. Because now, with no donor heart available, Odin will probably die within a matter of days.

Obviously we jumped on Odin’s family and business associates immediately. Met with his wife, partner, attorney, and step-daughter, tried hard to pound out some answers. They all claimed to know nothing at all, told us Odin had no enemies.

Clearly he did.

But we just lucky, we got a break. The University of Minnesota Police located what they guessed was the shooter’s nest. The third floor of the Huang Sheng Noodle Factory where the surface-to-air missile was fired. When I arrived at the Noodle Factory on the opposite bank of the river, it was a total bugout. Tactical Response’s shiny black SUV’s were parked everywhere, accompanied by a huge contingent from Crime Scene, MPD, UMPD, and even INS.

When I was finally allowed to take a peek upstairs, it looked like the perfect place to shoot down a helicopter. A narrow window afforded a bird’s-eye view directly across the river, right up a leafy green riverbank to the University of Minnesota Medical Center and their private helicopter landing pad.

There weren’t a lot of clues, but we’re going to work with what we found. A cigarette butt from a pack of expensive Chinese cigarettes, a brand called Double Happiness. And shaky descriptions of two Asian people who rented the upstairs room, but left after only a few hours. But here’s the weird thing – the occupants were a young man and an old woman.

We immediately covered the airports and bus terminals, hoping to detain our possible suspects before they made a hasty exit. Instead, things got even stranger. Because we just received word that Jay Barber, Odin’s business partner and one of the people we interviewed, has been kidnapped. Apparently, Barber went out running to clear his head and disappeared in a pouf of smoke. All that was found of him was one scuffed running shoe that was tearfully identified by his wife.

You can read more about Afton in Shadow Girl, the second book in the “Afton Tangler” thriller series.

The brutal murder of a business tycoon leaves Afton Tangler and the Twin Cities reeling, but that’s just the beginning of a gruesome crime spree. . .

Leland Odin made his fortune launching a home shopping network, but his millions can’t save his life. On the list for a transplant, the ailing businessman sees all hope lost when the helicopter carrying his donor heart is shot out of the sky.

Now with two pilots dead and dozens injured, Afton Tangler, family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, is drawn into the case. As she and her partner investigate family members and business associates, whoever wants Leland dead strikes again—and succeeds—in a brazen hospital room attack.

The supposedly squeaky clean millionaire has crossed the wrong person—and she’s not finished exacting her revenge. The case explodes into an international conspiracy of unbridled greed and violence. And as Afton gets closer to unearthing the mastermind behind it, she gets closer to becoming collateral damage. . .

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About the author
Gerry Schmitt is the author of Shadow Girl, an Afton Tangler Thriller, and Little Girl Gone, the first book in the series. Writing under her pen name Laura Childs, she is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-nine mysteries that include the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Her books have also been on the USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists as well as having won the prestigious Favorite Character Award from the Romantic Times Book Review. Gerry is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won dozens of TV and radio awards, and written and produced two reality TV shows. She and her professor husband enjoy travel and their two Shar-Pei dogs.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a hardcover copy of Shadow Girl. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends August 4, 2017. Good luck everyone!