WHO

WHO'S COMING DOWN YOUR CHIMNEY TONIGHT?




Charles Stross, "Overtime"

2017: CTHULHU FOR CHRISTMAS

Thursday, May 24, 2018

THE SURVIVING GIRLS by Katee Robert_PRE-ORDER ALERT








Have you Pre-ordered THE SURVIVING GIRLS by Katee Robert yet?

 

 

This is a must read summer read!” —Book Him Danno

 

Robert takes the story to an unexpected revelation of who the real killer is and the trip there is highly entertaining in a hang on to your chair kind of way. Every Robert book I’ve read has been filled with well defined, gritty characters and a well-paced plot. The women aren’t Cinderallas and the Princes Charming have an edge to them. Just the way I like it. —Jeep Diva

 

Pre-order THE SURVIVING GIRLS and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! Then keep reading to get a sneak peek and your chance to enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card or books from KateeRobert!

 

 

Title: The Surviving Girls

Author: Katee Robert

Series: Hidden Sins #3

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: May 29, 2018

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Print Length:  282 pages

Format: Digital and Paperback

ISBN: 978-1503902442

 


 

Synopsis:

 

A fierce survivor and a fearless FBI agent battle a copycat serial killer in a gripping thriller from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert.

 

Twelve years ago, Lei Zhang and her friend Emma Nilsson miraculously lived through the notorious Sorority Row Murders that left twenty-one of their sisters dead. Still wrestling with the trauma but finally out of the limelight, Lei and Emma are now devoted to helping other victims find closure. But most disturbing for Lei—beyond the gut-wrenching survivor guilt—is that the killer was her boyfriend. He’s behind bars, but she’ll never lower her guard again.

 

When a copycat killer targets Lei and Emma, FBI Agent Dante Young is put in charge of anticipating the sociopath’s every move. But what he doesn’t expect is his immediate and overpowering attraction to Lei. The closer they get to each other, the more desperate and terrifying the questions become: Who wants to finish what the killer started—and why?

 

Now Agent Young vows to protect Lei at all costs. If they have any chance of a future together, first they have to stay alive…

 

On sale May 29th!

Amazon:  http://bit.ly/TheSurvivingGIrlsAmazon

B&N: http://bit.ly/2HcOsUZ

 

Enter to win a grand prize of a $25 Amazon Gift Card or three (3) runner-up copies of a backlist eBook from Katee Robert!

 

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The Surviving Girls Excerpt

Copyright © 2018 Katee Robert

 

Watching the women interact was fascinating on a level Dante wasn’t prepared for. He’d known Lei and Emma lived together, but he hadn’t had the opportunity to take a step back and consider the implications of that arrangement. Emma teetered on the edge of a breakdown and used Lei to pull herself back from the ledge . . . everything made a lot more sense.

They’d formed a symbiotic relationship, of sorts.

There wasn’t much data concerning situations like this one, mostly because they rarely arose, and each case was too individual to tie together in nice, easy studies. It stood to reason, though, that coming out of that sorority house as the only two survivors would send these women into one of two futures. In one, they never saw each other and pretended the other didn’t exist rather than be faced with the perpetual reminder of what they’d gone through.

In the other, they realized that no one would ever know what they went through as intimately as the other person who survived—and leaned on each other as result.

Lei was the one who finally met his gaze, and hell if her inky-dark eyes didn’t take his breath away despite the circumstances. Clarke had pulled both women’s photos on the way over there, but they were old—from their sorority days. Both beautiful in their own way, though they were a study in opposites. Emma had the sweet southern thing going for her, all blonde hair, big innocent blue eyes, and curves that suggested southern cooking. He couldn’t tell if her soft tone was practiced or natural, but it pricked at him every time she spoke.

Lei . . . She was something else altogether. She was petite in a way that should have read frail but reminded him of a blade waiting to be unsheathed. There were muscles beneath her light-brown skin, and he guessed that she’d have no problem keeping up with the monster dog at her feet during a search. Her straight black hair was pulled back into a no-nonsense ponytail, which left her features in stark relief. Beautiful, but doesn’t like to draw attention to it. Might as well have tried to hide the sky.

Fuck, get it together. You’re here to interview them, not to lose your damn mind over Lei Zhang.

Yes, she was beautiful, but he’d dealt with beautiful women before without jeopardizing his professional persona. Dante didn’t know what it was about this woman that called to something in him, but he had to shelve it.

He couldn’t afford to be distracted.

She clasped Emma’s hand but turned her body to face him more fully. “The night of the murders, I let Travis Berkley into the Omega Delta Lambda house. We’d been dating four months and he told me he had a surprise.” Her lips twisted. “It was against the rules, but girls broke the rules all the time.”

He noted her knuckles whitening where she held Emma’s hand, but her voice maintained its steady tone. “We had sex. Approximately an hour later, something changed. I still have problems putting it into words. Travis just . . . shifted. It was like he’d taken off a mask and I didn’t recognize the man beneath. He hit me. A few times.” She absentmindedly touched the little hooked scar on her cheekbone. From Travis’s ring. “I passed out. When I woke up, he’d barricaded my door shut and I could hear their screams.”

Lei’s breath hitched, and it was almost as if she inhaled and Emma exhaled. The blonde lifted her chin. “I was in the basement studying when it started. Finals were coming up, and I was struggling in history and needed the extra study time. The first sign of something wrong was Travis hauling Sarah—” She cut herself off and flinched. “I’m sorry. It’s hard to say their names, even now.”

Clarke huffed out a breath. “You don’t have to name every single girl he killed. We know their names. We know their stories. We just want to hear how it all went down from your perspective.”

They wouldn’t find anything new here. Dante knew it, and he suspected Clarke knew it, too. These two women had told their stories countless times over the years, and if there was information they hadn’t shared before now, he highly doubted this would be the time it’d magically come out.

Hearing the story through their own voices was a whole hell of a lot more jarring than reading it in the file, however.

Emma took them through it. How Travis Berkley brought the entire house of girls into that basement, how he was charming and terrifying and told them that he’d let them go one by one . . . if they did exactly as he asked. It wasn’t until the night was over and no one had come to save them that the remaining girls realized what was happening, and even then, they were too afraid to try to overpower him.

Herd mentality. Travis had to have known he could manipulate the whole group as long as he got them scared and in a single place. They believed the pretty lie because the truth was impossible to wrap their minds around.

Emma’s voice shook. “There were still . . . ten of us left when I realized I wasn’t getting out of that house alive—that none of the girls had gotten out alive like he’d promised. When he took the next girl, I hid under the couch.”

“None of those girls saw you hide?” Clarke frowned. “I find that hard to believe.”

“I don’t know. I don’t . . .” She dropped her gaze as if she couldn’t bear to hold her head up any longer. “We were in shock at that point—just sitting there, lost in ourselves. We didn’t talk. We didn’t even look at each other. We just sat there and . . . contemplated the fact we were going to die. I don’t know if they even noticed I was gone. I hid until every single one of them was gone. And he just . . . walked out.”

“He came for me. I guess it was then.” Lei didn’t shrink in on herself. She seemed to grow taller, sit straighter. “I heard him removing the barricade and I panicked. After listening to that all night . . .” She shook her head. “I knew what would happen if he got back into my room, so I climbed out the window.”

Clarke went still. “I saw the list of your injuries. You had a broken arm, your knee was so fucking swollen you shouldn’t have been able to walk, and you had several head wounds and a handful of broken ribs on top of that. How the hell did you climb out a window?”

Lei shrugged on shoulder. “He would kill me if I didn’t. I figured falling to my death was preferable to letting Travis have me, so I took my chances.”

It was only sheer dumb luck that it was late enough in the morning that a student jogging past saw Lei. By the time he’d come back with help, Lei was unconscious in the flower bed and Travis was gone.

Dante sat back, going over the story again in his head. As he suspected, there was no new information, but they’d have been remiss if they didn’t go over it one more time. He exchanged a look with Clarke. The killings in Seattle held some key differences. He didn’t think any of the girls had willingly let the unsub in, and he had carved his message into their bodies when he was through.

A message that might or might not have been meant for Travis Berkley. Hard to believe that someone who’d gone through the trouble of researching the murders would get the killer’s name wrong, but the alternative was that the girls’ deaths were meant as tribute to someone else. Both possibilities stretched the realm of belief and didn’t make a damn bit of sense.

The tension in the room grew like it was a living thing, coiling and snapping between the four of them. Once Dante and Clarke left, things would move quickly. They had to talk to Berkley. They had to head back to Seattle to go over things again with Detective Smith and the ME. They had to track down this bastard before he continued with whatever plan he’d begun with those girls’ deaths.

Dante, at least, would have the comfort of motion to keep him distracted from the scenes that he’d witnessed. Lei and Emma wouldn’t have even that. He leaned forward, catching Lei’s attention. “We can assign a protection detail. I don’t think you’re in any immediate danger, but if it would help ease your mind, I’ll make some calls.”

Lei’s lips quirked up at the edges, but the smile never came close to reaching her eyes. “Dante—Agent Young—we were in immediate danger the second that asshole singled Travis out as someone he wanted to emulate. We’re more than capable of taking care of ourselves.”

Praise for The Hidden Sins Series

 

“…a captivating read, made all the more rewarding when good triumphs.” —Washington Post on The Devil’s Daughter

 

“Robert shows off her impressive versatility in this fast-paced and inventive new Hidden Sins series. The small-town setting is a masterful blend of quaint and oppressive, which ratchets the menace and thrill factor. The protagonists carry the full weight of their pasts with them, making their growing relationship as compelling as the mystery element in The Devil’s Daughter. With plenty of twists and betrayals, this is a book that is sure to earn Robert a wealth of new fans.” RT Book Reviews on The Devil’s Daughter

 

"Katee Robert has definitely picked up the romantic suspense genre and made it her bitch. I can’t wait to see what we get next. Given some of the books I see she’s been using for research, I know it’s going to be frightening and amazing at the same time." —Goodreads Review

 

“Every bit as complex as book one but with a totally different storyline, The Hunting Grounds once again proved Katee Robert is more than capable of spinning a thrilling romantic suspense tale that will keep readers on their toes.” Harlequin Junkie on The Hunting Grounds (recommended read)

 

“Filled with suspense and lot of unpredictable twists and turns…Gripping.” Life at 17on The Hunting Grounds

 

 

Other Books in the Hidden Sin Series

 

THE DEVIL'S DAUGHTER

Get more information at:  Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

THE HUNTING GROUNDS

Get more information at: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

 

About Katee Robert

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it 'a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension."  When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. 


Connect with Katee at: Website | Facebook | TwitterGoodReads | Instagram

 

 


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Review: Grandghost: A Haunted House Mystery

Grandghost: A Haunted House Mystery Grandghost: A Haunted House Mystery by Nancy Springer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: GRANDGHOST by Nancy Springer

I totally loved this engrossing, emotionally involving, thematically multilayered novel! GRANDGHOST deserves far more than 5 stars. It's so impacting, and author Nancy Springer covers so much territory in this tautly woven tale. Beverly Vernon is a gifted artist whose career has focused on children's book.illustrations. Widowed with two almost middle-aged daughters and no grandchildren, she has moved from New Jersey to near isolation in the rural Florida Panhandle, glorying in nature and sunsets and Art. When her agent intimates that Beverly' s acceptance as a children's illustrator may be over, Beverly, who is very much her own person, begins painting an ideal grandchild. Then while cleaning up a sudden discovery of bricks piled at the back of her property, she unearths a skeleton. The consequences, many and varied, and the character evolution (not only Beverly's) are totally engrossing, and will live on in memory. GRANDGHOST is a Best of 2018!

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 17, 2018

DANGEROUS MISTAKES by Susan Hunter_Tour

. Dangerous Mistakes Tour Banner

Dangerous Mistakes

by Susan Hunter

on Tour May 7 - 18, 2018

Synopsis:

Dangerous Mistakes by Susan Hunter

A clever killer. A smart reporter. An unexpected twist.

Small-town reporter Leah Nash investigates a murder no one else believes happened—until a second death signals the killer's first mistake. Nothing is as it seems, and the twisting trail she follows pits Leah against her police lieutenant best friend, her new boss, and even her mother. Still, the smart and smart-ass Leah can't back down. If she's right, she can save someone she loves. If she's wrong, the next victim could be her.

Independent, intrepid and irrepressible Leah Nash can't resist a good story, especially not one that ends in murder. Sharp dialogue, plots that move and storylines full of unexpected turns make this series a fan favorite.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Himmel River Press
Publication Date: November 2015
Number of Pages: 370
ISBN: 1519208588 (ISBN13: 9781519208583)
Series: Leah Nash Mysteries #2 (Each is a Stand Alone Mystery)

Click to check out Dangerous Mistakes on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Goodreads!!

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

“All of us are dying.”

“Well, yes, I guess I can’t argue with that, Betty,” I said to the slight, white-haired woman seated behind my desk in the newsroom. I had come barreling in to pick up a new notebook, late for my next assignment.

“Oops, sorry, if I could just get into that center desk drawer there.” I gently rolled her away from the desk, edged my drawer out a couple of inches, and stuck my arm into the depths until I felt cardboard. I tweezered out the spiral-bound notebook between two fingers.

“All of us. Dying. It’s not right.”

I slipped the notebook into my purse and moved to scoot Betty back into position, mentally cursing our receptionist Courtnee for sending her back to the newsroom. Again. Betty Meier was a retired nurse in her 80s. Years ago, during my first stint at the Himmel Times Weekly, she often stopped by to drop off an ad for a garage sale, or a press release for the Sunshine Girls bazaar, or to put in a notice for one of the many other groups to which she belonged. But now she suffered from Alzheimer’s, and when she came to the office, it was because she’d wandered away from home. This was the third time in the past two months that she’d ended up here. As I reached round her to slide the chair, she grabbed my arm, clamping on with almost desperate strength.

Startled, I looked down into her upturned face. The spark of life in her faded blue eyes caught me by surprise. I swallowed the placating answer I’d been about to give.

“No, Betty, it’s not right. It doesn’t matter how old we are. No one wants to go into that good night.” I pulled up the visitor’s chair and sat down so we were eye level.

“No, no, no! It’s us. Everyone is dying. Where’s Max? I want to talk to Max.” The bright light had gone out as quickly as it had come, and her eyes took on a cloudy cast again. Her fingers released their grip, and her voice became querulous.

“Max isn’t here anymore, Betty.” Max, the former owner of the Himmel Times Weekly, wasn’t just gone, he was dead. How and why he died was something I didn’t like to talk about, but never really stopped thinking about.

Just then a harried-looking woman in her early 40s burst through the door.

“Mom! I’ve been looking all over for you. Sweetheart, what are you doing here?” She knelt down and patted her mother’s arm. In an aside, she said to me, “I’m sorry, Leah. The caregiver didn’t show up. Mom’s next door neighbor went over, but then her dog got hit by a car, and she had to leave. I rushed out of work. It was only 10 minutes, but when I got there Mom was gone.”

“Don’t worry about it, Deborah. It’s OK.”

“Sometimes she seems fine, you know? The other day, out of nowhere, she said, ‘How was work, Debbie?’ It almost broke my heart. She hadn’t initiated a conversation in weeks, and then for a second, there she was. My mom. And just as quickly she was gone, and there was a confused old lady who didn’t know who I was.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, awkwardly and inadequately. Two things I specialize in, awkward and inadequate. “She keeps saying all her friends are dying.”

She nodded. “I took her to a funeral a month or so ago. I knew she’d want to be there, but I shouldn’t have. She’s been upset ever since.” She turned to her mother again. “Mom, let’s go home. Tandy’s coming over tonight, and we’ll have dinner and watch some family movies. That’ll be nice, won’t it?” She slid her arm under her mother’s and helped her up. As they left, she turned to me. “Leah, again, I’m so sorry. I know we can’t go on like this. It isn’t safe for her.”

“It’s not easy,” I said, though in truth, and thank God, I knew nothing about the pain of the parent-to-child reversal Deborah was experiencing. My mother–maddening, bossy, loving, funny woman that she is–still has full control of all her faculties, and would happily take charge of mine if I’d let her.

I followed Deborah out the door on a run, but I was already 15 minutes late for an interview with the incoming principal at Himmel High School.

* * *

“Really, Courtnee? Betty Meier sitting in the newsroom? At my desk? Why did you take her back there?”

It was nearly five when I got back to the office, and I was a little on the pissy side. Make that a lot. My interview with the principal didn’t go well. He was unhappy because I was late and even madder when I left early. I had to, or I’d have missed shooting a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new McDonald’s franchise. That’s the kind of cutting-edge journalism we do here at the Himmel Times. On the way back to the office, the iced tea I’d bought at the drive-through tipped over, and half of it ran into my purse. In fairness, I couldn’t blame Courtnee for that, but I think that fairness is far overrated.

Looking up from her Facebook account, Courtnee gave a shrug.

“I’m a receptionist, Leah. It’s my job to receive. So, I received her into the newsroom. You were gone, and Miguel is out, and Rebecca wasn’t here, and like always, I had to take care of things myself. She likes sitting at your desk.”

Miguel Santos is the other full-time reporter, and Rebecca Hartfield is the publisher and micromanager at the Times.

“The next time she comes in, if there is a next time, ‘receive’ her in reception. Sit her down—out here—and call her daughter. OK?”

“Okaayy.” She gave a flip of her silky blonde hair and turned to read the text that had just pinged on her phone. At the same time a loud static-filled squawk came from the scanner in the newsroom. I couldn’t make out the words, but I didn’t need to, because Rebecca was already out of her office to translate. She’s a cool blonde—calm, measured, methodical. And, oddly, not that crazy about me.

“Good, you’re still here. There’s a working fire at 529 Halston. A residence. I need you to cover it.”

“But I’ve got a Parks Committee meeting. Miguel is—”

“He’s still in Milwaukee. You can do a phone follow-up on the meeting. Is there a problem?”

“No. Nothing,” I muttered. I grabbed the camera and headed out.

* * *

My name is Leah Nash, and in the exciting, competitive, high-adrenalin carnival that is journalism, I operate the merry-go-round. I’m a reporter for a small-town weekly in Himmel, Wisconsin. It’s where I started 11 years ago, and it’s where I landed 18 months ago, after a series of bad career decisions. I had an exit strategy, but it hadn’t come together quite yet.

The fire assignment was no big deal. Except it was. Though I wasn’t about to confide my darkest fears to Rebecca, who, as far as I can tell, has the empathy and emotional range of a Popsicle. The truth is, I’m afraid of fires—to the point of hyperventilating and quaking in my shoes. Have been since I was 10 years old. I never willingly cover one. But sometimes I have no choice.

My hands were sweaty on the wheel, and I was repeating “breathe in, breathe out” in a frenzied mantra as I pulled up. Smoke billowed from the back of a small two-story house. Here and there yellow flames shot red-tipped tongues out the windows. Gray ash snowflakes floated through the air as firefighters wrangled hoses, flooding the fire into submission. Still, I sat in my car, unable to open the door and move closer to the burning house. Hard as I tried not to let it, my mind hurtled back to another fire, a long time ago. I squeezed my eyes tight to shut out the images. A second later they popped back open in surprise at the sharp rapping near my ears. I rolled down the window so that David Cooper could lean in.

“Hey, Coop.”

“Hey. What are you doing here? Where’s Miguel?”

“Rebecca sent him out of town. So, it’s me.” I struggled to put on an air of professionalism as I opened the door and hauled out my camera bag. Coop is my oldest friend and a lieutenant with the Himmel Police Department.

“So, what’s the story? Anyone hurt? What are the damages? Do they know how it started?” I fired off questions, determined not to let him know how hard it was to force myself to walk closer toward the heat of the fire, to hear the snap and pop as it ate through dry wood, the crash as a section of roof gave way.

I didn’t fool him. Coop doesn’t say much. But he sees a lot. Which I find quite irritating when it’s me he’s looking at.

“Al Porter’s over by the ladder truck. He thinks it’s just about under control. I’ll point him in your direction when he gets off the phone. No sense you going over there and getting in the way.”

I try not to let my weaknesses show. If anyone sees what hurts or scares you, it makes you vulnerable. And, in my experience, that’s not a good thing.

I shook my head. “I’m going over to talk to him.”

He looked at me, but didn’t say anything.

“Look, I’m fine.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Don’t patronize me. I hate it when you patronize me.”

“I’m not. Just saying it’s wet and slippery and crowded over there. Call Al over here, and you’d be out of the way. Suit yourself.”

“I will.”

“Oh, I know.”

We could have gone on like 10-year-olds forever—at least I could have—but the fire chief walked up just then.

“Leah.” He nodded and paused to wipe a rivulet of sweat running down the side of his face, smearing ash across his cheek. He had pulled off his yellow helmet, and I could see that his gray hair was wet and curling in wisps. Pushing 60, and about 30 pounds over fighting weight, Al isn’t going to be September in anyone’s Fire Fighters Calendar. But he knows how to run a crew, keep them safe, and put out the fire, and no one is in any hurry to tell him to hang up his turnout gear.

“You’re a little late to the party. But Matt McGreevy got some good shots and video too.”

I could’ve kissed Al and Matt both, but I played it casual. “Oh? Sure, that’d be great. Whose house is it?”

“Old gal by the name of Betty Meier.”

Al picked up on the shock I felt right away.

“It’s OK, Leah. You know her? She wasn’t home. Nobody was. Well, except for one pretty mad cat, but we got her out all right. The old lady was at her daughter’s, the neighbor said. I guess she’s got some dementia issues. Might have left on the gas burner on the stove. But don’t print that,” he hastened to add. “We’re gonna have the state fire marshal in.”

A loud whoosh of water hit the house just then, spraying the charred remains. No flames were visible, but I knew that didn’t mean the fire was out. Some of the crew would be on the scene for a couple of hours to make sure the blaze didn’t start up again.

“She’s wandered away a few times and come to the paper, asking for Max. I talked to her daughter today. I think she’s probably going to move her to a nursing home.” Poor Betty. Losing all her friends, her memories, and tonight it could have been her life. It’s true. Old age isn’t for sissies.

“Yeah. I’d say it’s past time for that. Fire can move so damn fast. People don’t realize how—” He stopped. Looked at me. Looked embarrassed. I helped him roll on past a subject I didn’t want to delve into either.

“For sure. So, who called it in? What’s the damage estimate?” I went through the standard reporter’s litany of who, what, when, where, why questions, and when I had all the information Al could give me at the moment, I asked Matt to email me his photos and video.

Then I packed it in and went back to the office to post a few pictures and a news brief on the Times website. I stopped by the front desk and checked the spike on the corner of Courtnee’s desk for messages. At 6:30 p.m. she was long gone.

I pulled off the notes for me and gave them a quick glance. Nothing looked urgent, so I stuffed them in my purse to read later. In the newsroom, I didn’t bother to flip on the light, just turned on my desk lamp and used the blue glow of the computer screen. It was kind of nice there in the semi-dark. There was no jangle of Courtnee’s unanswered phones in reception, no tap-tap-tap of other keyboards, no repeated clunking of cans of soda coming out of the Coke machine.

Before I started writing, I texted Coop and Miguel to see if they wanted to meet up for a beer and a burger at McClain’s, then I filed a quick story. I uploaded two of the photos Matt had sent to my iPhone and a short video clip. When I finished, I leaned back for a long, satisfying yawn and stretch, my chair tilted and my arms reaching as far back as possible. I was right at that almost orgasmic point of satisfaction, when every muscle was extended and just on the edge of relaxing, when the light clicked on.

“Leah.”

I all but tumbled out of my chair.

“Rebecca! Geez, how about some warning when you creep in on little cat feet?”

“Did you get the story?” Her eyes, the color of a blue-tinged icicle, blinked behind her black-framed glasses.

“Already written. Nobody hurt. Betty, the woman who owns the house, wasn’t there. Property’s totaled though.”

“Photos?”

“Yep.”

“All right, good. Pull the commission story from the front page and run with the fire above the fold—if the pictures are any good. Are they?”

“Matt McGreevy took them. They’re great. It was really nice of him to share them, especially since you fired him last month.”

“I did not fire him. Stringers aren’t employees. They’re independent contractors. Why didn’t you take the photos?”

I flashed back to my near panic attack at the fire, my dithering around the edge trying to get my nerves under control. The shaming fear that had gripped me. “I got there too late. Matt rolled out with the fire department—he does their videography. And he’s a good guy, so he shared them, even though you ‘not’ fired him.”

“I don’t cut costs for fun. It has to be done. That’s my job.” She spoke slowly, as though explaining something to a small child.

I gave in to the urge to get a rise out of her. “I thought you went to journalism school. Not bean counting academy.”

“I was hired to get the Times in better financial shape, and that requires the counting of some beans. It might be easier if you didn’t take every decision as a personal affront.”

Something in her voice made me look up from putting away my stuff. She had taken off her glasses and was rubbing the bridge of her nose. Her shoulders had sagged a little, and for a minute I saw her as a woman with a tough job, who didn’t have the luxury of casual banter with her staff or after-work drinks at McClain’s. Her role was to be the bad guy, the nay-sayer, the buzz-killer. That had to be pretty lonely. She was only 36, just a few years older than me.

“Rebecca, would you like to—”

She cut me off before I could invite her to stop by McClain’s with me. “Don’t forget to turn your mileage in tomorrow. It’s the cutoff, and you won’t get paid this month if you don’t get it in. I’ve already told Courtnee that.”

As part of the general cutbacks and reassignments in Rebecca’s lean and mean vision for the Times, Courtnee had been assigned the task of processing mileage and expense reports. It had proven to be one of the more effective cost-saving measures, because half the time Courtnee didn’t finish the reports in time for us to get paid for the month, which she always insisted was our fault. The other half of the time, she screwed them up, and they didn’t get processed correctly until the following month. I suspected there was some method to Rebecca’s madness in giving the job to Courtnee, in that to some degree, expenses were always deferred.

“Right.” I gathered my things and left before saying something I’d regret. Working at the Times wasn’t exactly a step up the career ladder, but when Max was here it was fun. I missed the camaraderie, the kidding around, the messy, lively, frustrating, fulfilling business of putting out a paper. When Rebecca first started, I thought we might be friends. She’s near my age, she’s from Wisconsin like me, and she’d even worked at the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan, like I had, though at a different time. It just seemed like we’d have a lot in common. Instead, Rebecca sucked the happy right out of the air. If it weren’t for Miguel, I might have done something stupid like I did at the Miami Star Register. Namely, leaving one job without having another waiting. I wanted to play it smart this time. But she was making it awfully hard.

***

Excerpt from Dangerous Mistakes by Susan Hunter.  Copyright © 2018 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Susan Hunter

Susan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first-place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting.

Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words.

During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain's Bar and Grill.

Catch Up With Susan Hunter On: leahnashmysteries.com, Goodreads, Twitter - @LeahNashMystery, & Facebook - leahnashmysteries!

 

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Hunter. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card. The giveaway begins on May 7 and runs through May 20, 2018. Void where prohibited.
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The Haunted Reading Room's Review:

EeDangerous Mistakes Dangerous Mistakes by Susan Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DANGEROUS MISTAKES by Susan Hunter
(Leah Nash Mysteries Book 2)

DANGEROUS MISTAKES is the second in an intriguing series set in small-town Wisconsin on the declining edge of a failing economy, starring a smart, dedicated, obstinate, sarcastic, protagonist with whom I readily identified. Leah Nash is a journalist in her early 30's, a native of Himmel, Wisconsin, with a university degree, who has worked at print journalism in Grand Rapids and Miami. Probably still would be, except she does not suffer fools gladly (not at all) and refused to let a neurotic boss unjustly accuse her of a potentially criminal act. So Leah finds herself back home in a shrinking community, covering small-town events. The six months she allotted herself for a stay in her home town has extended to more than a year, and metaphorically, a ton of water has passed under the bridge. Seems like nearly the entire town has been upended; folks have died, others moved away, secrets and horrifying crimes were revealed. Some things, though, never change: the Sheriff's Deputy and the chauvinistic police officer with whom Leah constantly butts heads, and her lifelong friendship with police Lieutenant Coop, suddenly increasingly unavailable. Fellow reporter Miguel is still trying to fix Leah up...and suddenly there's an unexpected and intrusive blast from the past.

Leah is writing a True Crime account of her youngest sister Lacey' s life and untimely death, and is suddenly presented with a new investigation, one which once again will place her at odds with the local municipal police department and Sheriff's Department as she determines to find the truth about a supposed suicide. Before she can succeed, Leah will repeatedly go "where angels fear to tread," finding herself in multiple dangerous situations and facing sociopaths with criminal connections and a remarkably clever killer who just can't resist taunting Leah as she uncovers more and more of the truth despite the killer's continued misdirections.

I found this mystery totally compelling, as I did the first in the series, DANGEROUS HABITS, and the third, DANGEROUS PLACES. If you're looking for convoluted, emotionally involving, and psychologically compelling, Susan Hunter' s Leah Nash Mysteries is a superb choice.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Review: Dangerous Habits

Dangerous Habits Dangerous Habits by Susan Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DANGEROUS HABITS by Susan Hunter
(Leah Nash Mysteries Book 1)

DANGEROUS HABITS is the first in an exciting series set in small-town Wisconsin in a community on the declining edge of a failing economy, starring a smart, dedicated, obstinate, sarcastic, protagonist with whom I readily identified. Leah Nash is a journalist in her early 30's, a native of Himmel, Wisconsin, with a university degree, who has worked at print journalism in Grand Rapids and Miami. Probably she still would be, except she does not suffer fools gladly (not at all) and refused to let a neurotic boss unjustly accuse her of a potentially criminal act. So Leah finds herself back home in a shrinking community, covering small-town events and thankful for a job for the next six months.

The author suffused this series with so much emotions. She's not afraid to peel back the layers of her characters, nor to delve into serious crime and horrifying psychological disorders {might I say, evil}. Much of this story is heartwrenching, both Leah' s backstory and the ongoing events. I hated that such horrors happened, but they're true to life tragedies, crimes, and evil (just read your daily newspaper) and the novel is so fascinating I couldn't put it down, and leaped into the second in the series immediately.

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 10, 2018

IAN MCKINNEY Guest Post

Author’s Post ‘SCOUSE GOTHIC’ and its Cocktails.’

 

When I started writing the first SCOUSE GOTHIC book ‘The Pool of Life..and Death’ I was keen that it reflected a contemporary view of Liverpool, as well as an accurate one of its past. Although I was born and brought up in Liverpool, and had visited family and friends many times, I hadn’t actually lived in the city for many years. Then a chance combination of events allowed me to stay in the city centre for several months and to discover how much it had changed since my childhood.

The Liverpool I remembered was a city of black buildings and bombsites, warm beer and urban decay. The city I now found myself living in was modern and vibrant; the old buildings had been sandblasted and restored; glass skyscrapers had been built on the bombsites and the bars sold designer lager and cocktails.

While living there I decided that I needed to conduct in-depth research of the city’s bars, clubs and restaurants. (We writers must suffer for our art!) It was during one such expedition that I was introduced to Liverpool Gin. It seemed to embody everything that my contemporary vampires would enjoy: it was local and new, but its inspiration was rooted in the past; plus it was a premium organic gin and suitably expensive - It was also excellent. Idid some more research, and found that idea for the gin came from the owner of a pub in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter, The Belvidere. At the time it was still a small batch of gin and you could buy bottles there. I visited the pub, which is small and friendly, and tucked away in a side street off Falkner Street. I knew instantly that this would enable me to link Melville’s past and present, I could imagine him drinking in the pub in the past and revisiting an old haunt on his return to Liverpool after almost a century.

Then I read a guide book that mentioned that St Peter’s Church in Seel Street had been converted into a restaurant/cocktail bar, the Alma De Cuba and a photo showed that the marble altar with the prominent Tu Es Petrus was still on view. The church was built in 1788, so once again it could have played a part in Melville’s life, both in the past and present. I’d had an idea for a scene were Melville meets another local vampire in a bar. It seemed natural to use a location that he may have known under a different guise in a previous life.

I visited the Alma de Cuba, it was perfect. The walls were painted blood red and huge chandeliers made from stag horns hung from the ceiling. A bar stretched the length of one wall and it was packed with a vibrant crowd (young blood for my vampire)The back wall was dominated by the marble altar and reinforced the sense of the past and present at one. Much of my vampires lived in the present but were a product of their pasts. What would a vampire drink if you offered to buy him or her a drink – assuming blood wasn’t available? I decided it would be a cocktail. But which? In the end I decided to create my own, which lead to the recipes in the back of the book.

Cocktail lovers will recognise them as variations of famous cocktail given a Scouse Gothic twist:

Sheryl’s beloved Liverbird is a Gin Martini with a green olive, or in her case maraschino cherries.

The eponymous Scouse Gothic is a gin Bloody Mary, or Red Snapper, with a few subtlevariations.

The other cocktails had their ingredients inspired by the characters or events in the book, and succeed to greater or lesser extent depending on your personal taste.

I hope if you enjoy the book, you’ll try a cocktail or too and get into the ‘spirit’ of Scouse Gothic.