15 September, 2019

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Planning a Crime Thriller by Moitrayee Bhaduri

*** Special Feature - September 2019 ***

About the Book:
When TV actress Shagun Seth mysteriously dies in a beauty parlour in Mumbai, her mother slams murder charges on Shagun’s banker husband Chetan Seth. Chetan’s family suspects that he is being framed and requests private detective Mili Ray to investigate. As Mili and her lawyer-associate Gatha start work, Chetan is released on bail. Soon after, Shagun’s mother is killed! Is Chetan responsible for these murders?
Mili probes deeper and unravels shocking secrets buried beneath Shagun’s world of glitz that leave her baffled. An insecure boyfriend, an estranged husband, an opportunist colleague, a cunning TV producer – Shagun was surrounded by haters. Even her 12-year-old son didn’t want to see her alive. Why did everyone hate Shagun?
While meandering through dysfunctional family upheavals and dark showbiz sagas, ex-super cop Mili also struggles to tame her own internal demons. Will she be able to solve her second case as private detective or succumb to pressure and hang up her boots?
Who Killed the Murderer? is a gripping psychological thriller that will hook you right from the first page.

Book Links:
Amazon * Goodreads

Planning a Crime Thriller

Writing a crime thriller is a lot of fun but it requires a great deal of planning. I have always admired authors who are able to churn out a book or two every year! It seems like a daunting task and those who can deliver engaging content consistently, are master storytellers. Classics penned by legends like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, Patricia Highsmith, Satyajit Ray, Sharadindu Bandopadhyay, and G.K Chesterton among others, never lose their charm.

I like to plan my thrillers well and always write down an outline of each chapter, including the ending. Once I am happy with the structure, I start writing the novel. As I write and rewrite, the characters and the way they behave with one another often change and evolve into something I hadn’t imagined. As a result, the ending I had in mind changes too. For me, that’s the most exciting part of being a writer.

There are several other things to keep in mind while planning a thriller. There is no right or wrong here and every writer has their own process.

Here are a few things I keep in mind while planning my books.

The hook 

A crime writer needs to hook the readers with a fast-paced and persuasive first chapter. In today’s digital age when people have so many distractions at their fingertips, a well-written, action-packed ‘beginning’ is essential to keep the reader engaged.


While writing both my crime thrillers, I ensured that I have adequate subplots to make the narrative engaging and taut. Once the basic setting has been created, it is important to weave in subplots to the main story. The sub-stories should always take the main narrative forward and not be mere fillers. Subplots enable authors to build characters, establish motives for committing a crime, and engage readers.

Creating conflicts

Once the characters start talking to one another, there are conflicts. Stories help create conflicts and add intrigue. Readers often judge characters based on how they interact with each other. It is important to avoid stereotypes. Original characters stand out, even if they are weird and not likeable.
Twists and surprises

Complex story-threads allow the author to introduce twists that can add suspense and surprise the reader. Through a story twist, a character that your reader loved so long can become a villain. Once the reader starts abhorring this character, the author might add another twist justifying the character’s action. Readers sometimes end up empathizing with characters they dislike.

Show, don’t tell

When we have subplots in the story, it is easier to establish personality traits of the key characters. We don’t need to write sentences like ‘He was an angry, young man’ when the emotion can be established with a sub-story. 

Point of view

Stories help the author establish a point-of-view for the novel. The main protagonist who can be a detective or a law enforcement official usually unties the knots created through subplots using a point-of-view. Stories enable readers to deep-dive into the mind of the detective and connect the dots.

Nail-biting finish

If the stories within the main plot are edgy, the author can create a surprise ending, especially in a whodunit. Readers like me, who are addicted to crime-fiction, enjoy solving the case along with the fictional detective. Complex stories entwined with the main plot help authors avoid predictable endings.

To sum up

A thriller cannot be boring nor can it have suspense on every page. So, the build-up to the suspense must be exciting. An original plot, multi-faceted characters, and engaging conflicts make that possible.

Book Trailer:

About the Author
Moitrayee Bhaduri is an author, screenwriter, and content specialist. Her first book, The Sinister Silence (Srishti Publishers, 2015), is an edge-of-the-seat murder mystery that introduced the feisty private detective Mili Ray. Her second book Who Killed the Murderer? (TreeShade Books, 2019) is a fast-paced psychological thriller that revolves around the murder of a TV actress in a beauty parlour.
Moitrayee also writes screenplays for TV and freelances with IT firms as a content consultant. Before switching to a full-time writing career, she worked with organizations like IBM, Deloitte, and Oracle, among others, in various writing and people-managerial roles, for 15 years. An alumna of Loreto College and Jadavpur University, Moitrayee also has a certificate in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford.
Moitrayee enjoys conducting writing workshops for children and adults, encouraging them to cultivate a habit of reading. She is passionate about music, enjoys reviewing books and films, and loves dogs. Currently, she lives in Kolkata.

Contact the Author:
Blog * Facebook *  Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads 

Giveaway Details:
3 paperback copies of ‘Who Killed the Murderer?’ for Indian residents

a Rafflecopter giveaway

14 September, 2019

#BlogTour :: Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills

Fatal Strike

by DiAnn Mills

on Tour September 1-30, 2019


Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills
There’s a killer on the loose in Galveston, targeting law enforcement officials and using a fatal injection of snake venom to take them down. Authorities have reasons to believe the Veneno gang is behind the hits, and FBI Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert team up to track down those responsible. Their best lead is an eyewitness who identifies a young man dumping the third body on a church doorstep. But their suspect has gone into hiding, and those closest to him are reluctant to reveal anything that might help investigators find him.

As Leah and Jon check connections among the victims and dig deeper into motives, they discover appearances may be deceiving. Someone is desperate to keep their secrets hidden, and Leah and Jon must face their greatest fears in order to stop the next fatal strike.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 3rd 2019
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 1496427106 (ISBN13: 9781496427106)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

SPECIAL AGENT LEAH RIESEL scanned the headlines on her phone. A prosecutor from Galveston had been found murdered behind a construction site, the second apparent victim of gang violence in two days. Both deaths were caused by rattlesnake venom injections to the heart. Before she could pull up additional reports on the woman’s untimely death, Leah’s phone
“Riesel, hostage situation in Galveston,” the SWAT commander said. “Grab your gear. The chopper takes off in five.”
“On it.” She took a last lingering look at the half-eaten blueberry donut and coffee on her cubicle’s desk.
Could this have anything to do with the two murders in Galveston?
Before most of the city began the workday, Leah boarded a Little Bird helicopter beneath whirling blades and the pressure of a critical operation. Dressed in full camo and shouldering her sniper gear, she inhaled the rising temps. Feverish Houston. With the familiar air transport sounds ushering in memories of past missions, her adrenaline kicked in.
A pilot from the tactical helicopter unit lifted the chopper into the air for the twenty-minute ride to Galveston. She recognized him from previous assignments involving aircraft used to deliver SWAT and the elite hostage rescue teams to crisis incidents. This morning her focus eliminated any chitchat.
Leah grabbed sound-canceling headphones and contacted the SWAT commander already on the ground. “Riesel here. Special Agent in Charge Thomas briefed me on a home invasion that’s turned violent.”
The SAC would be watching the operation at the Crisis Management Operations Center.
“Negotiations have gotten us nowhere.” The SWAT commander’s voice rose above the chopper’s blade-snap. “Two unidentified men are holding two women and three children at gunpoint. Galveston PD estimates they’ve been inside the home for at least an hour. Demanding we leave the area after giving them five hundred grand and a gassed-up speedboat.
Clock is ticking with forty minutes max. We’ve backed off as far as they know.”
Leah swiped through pics taken with telephoto lenses and sent to her phone. Each ski-masked man held a child as a shield. Leah detested the savagery and the horrific emotions the hostages
must be feeling.
“We’re located on San Luis Pass Road on the western section of the island. Nearest house is five hundred yards away. Owners are in Europe. We’re in contact with the agency managing it.”
She didn’t need a key to access the home.
The SWAT commander continued. “One of the hostages is the owner of the home, Amanda Barton.”
“Is there a Mr. Barton in the picture?”
“Divorced. Lives in California.”
Unlikely the ex-husband was behind this.
“Agent Jon Colbert will be on scene shortly,” the commander said. “He had a deposition early this morning in Texas City and drove on to Galveston. Over the weekend, his SWAT partner had emergency knee surgery. Out for six weeks.”
And Leah’s partner had left the city yesterday on vacation.
The luck of the draw meant she and Jon would be working together. “I’ll contact you as soon as we land.”
Jon Colbert, a sniper who had excellent marksmanship and a stellar reputation, also worked organized crime. But she and Jon had never worked together. The idea of teaming up with an agent she barely knew made her uneasy. If a sniper mission required a partner, she preferred an established relationship where she would know how the person processed information.
Shoving aside her doubts, she narrowed her thoughts on what lay ahead. The precarious situation and local law enforcement’s inability to negotiate added up to why she and Jon had
been assigned to the case.
She grasped her backpack, lighter than usual with only a spotting scope, ammo, water, communication equipment, extra batteries, granola bar, and a handheld radio. Her Glock, as comfortable in her right hand as a toothbrush, found its spot in her back waistband. She touched her H-S Precision heavy tactical rifle.
The sooner she got to Galveston, the sooner she could provide intelligence and help neutralize the circumstances. Her priority was seeing the women and children freed from these ruthless men.
* * *
Jon received a text from Special Agent in Charge Thomas that Leah Riesel had left the Houston FBI office and was en route to Galveston. He’d met her a few times, and they’d qualified
together. Attractive woman—dark-brown hair, light-olive skin, New Yorker with the accent to prove it. Her professionalism in the violent crime division wavered between exceptional and extraordinary. A touch of toughness. Jon had heard not to make her mad—she had earned the nickname Panther for a reason. He remembered her stats—number three in the US for distance shots. Good thing he wasn’t easily intimidated.
Once the chopper landed, Leah would be transported in an unmarked car to a vacant house more than a quarter of a mile away from the Barton home. No point in making the two men more trigger-happy when they’d warned law enforcement to back off.
The SWAT commander spoke through Jon’s radio attached to his collar. “Thermal imaging confirms four adults and three children inside the Barton home. The men claim they’ll kill the
children first. We have fifteen minutes.”
In Galveston, Jon stopped at Broadway and Sixty-First Street. Tourists persisted in the middle of the thoroughfare, pushing strollers, riding surrey bikes, and enjoying the day. Some were dressed for the beach and others clutched what they needed for their excursion. All hindered his turn. Obstacles in his mission. If they knew the situation not far from them, they’d grab their loved ones and speed home. Each moment delayed his shot and shoved the hostages closer to death. A chilling composure took over his emotional, mental, and physical reactions. The busy street finally cleared. Jon turned west onto Seawall Boulevard and drove on to San Luis Pass. The hostage site was four and a half miles beyond there.
Were the two men inside the Barton home wannabes looking to make a name for themselves? Strung out on drugs? Was this a personal vendetta? No matter how this ended—either a surrender or he’d be instructed to take a shot— their moment in history would likely be the lead story on tonight’s news. His phone alerted him to an incoming call. He responded
before the first ring ended. “Colbert.” The chopper’s rhythmic whir reverberated through his phone.
“Riesel here. Landing in five at Galveston Island State Park. SWAT commander has given me a location on the west side of the Barton home.”
“I’ll be on foot by then. Taking a position on the east, beach side.”
“I’ll need seven minutes to get into place,” she said.
“Okay.” No need to remind her of the ticking clock.
He touched End and whipped his truck onto a beach-access road where police officers had instructed residents to shelter in place. He switched off the engine. Grabbing his gear, he bolted
down the beach. A Galveston police officer stopped him, and Jon handed him his ID. Seconds later, he moved toward his site.
A sultry breeze blew across the water, and he recalculated his shot.
Crouching low, he moved past police SWAT standing guard.
FBI SWAT held the position Riesel was headed for. They were racing against time, a commodity that stopped for nothing or no one. At any moment, one of the armed men could pull the
trigger on those inside the Barton home.
Tense muscles relaxed. His heartbeat slowed.
A clear head laid out the steps before the kill shot.
No mistakes.
A chance for the women and children to live another day.
Near a sand dune, he tuned out the occasional seagull and the waves rushing against the shore. After wiping the sweat from his hands on his pants, Jon set up his rifle and scope,
activated his radio, and spoke to the SWAT commander and Leah Riesel.
Excerpt from Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills. Copyright © 2019 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on:
diannmills.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for DiAnn Mills. There will be 2 winners each winning one (1) Gift Card (choice of Amazon or B&N). The giveaway begins on September 1, 2019 and runs through October 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.
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13 September, 2019

#Spotlight :: Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr

About the Book:
When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.
A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran's counselor, is caught up in the chase.
Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa's patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield's dramatic capture.
Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon


Winner of Three Awards:
2019 American Fiction Award
National Indie Excellency Award - Best Legal Thriller of 2019
Silver Medal Winner 2019 - Readers' Favorites Awards
Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

Reviews for Justice Gone:
The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written...the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader...Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite "thumbs-up." Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.
Kim M Aalaie, Author's Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.
The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact...a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works...a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.
Crime Review 

Read an Excerpt:

Next, just as Emily had predicted, came a member of the Crime Scene Investigation Unit from the New Jersey State Patrol; however, she had been wrong about the photos because this was the time that Fiske had been planning to introduce them. They were given to the jury to pass around among themselves, and naturally the shock value was not wasted on them, most of the members displaying expressions of disgust as they looked at the graphic pictures.
The witness, a tall man in his forties with his soft brown
hair parted classically on his left side, and wearing tortoiseshell glasses, confirmed what Cavaluzzi had previously testified to regarding the evidence gathered. The prosecution took a risk by emphasizing the shoe print found in the woods outside Puente’s house, comparing it to the prints they had cast from the combat boots Darfield was wearing when he was captured. For this, the witness was allowed to get out of the witness stand and enter the “well, that empty, sacrosanct space between the bench and the jury, a space that can only be entered with permission.
As you can see, the expert said, pointing to a projected image on a screen next to the court reporters table, “If we compare the casts, were struck by the extraordinary match in patterns. They are no doubt the same type of boot, the standard issue military boots used in the Marines.”
“Thank you, Dr. Robert.”
Dr. Robert put down his pointer on the prosecution’s table and returned to his seat in the witness box.
Bodine stood up, having already made the decision to go into his Stevie Wonder–Ray Charles routine of looking off into odd angles. He started by turning his head toward the upper left, rather than the expected straight ahead, a move that practically assures throwing the witness off-balance, a shady trick Bodine learned early on in his career. “Dr. Robert, do you know exactly the date and approximate time that this shoe print was made?” he asked, looking up at the left corner of the ceiling.
“No, of course not. That’s a ridiculous question.”
Bodine swiveled his head to face straight ahead and raised his eyebrows above his dark sunglasses. “Oh, is it? I thought perhaps it would be important to know when that print was made. Wouldn’t you?”
Dr. Robert remained quiet for a few seconds, regretting his rash reply.Yes, of course.”
Now Bodine aimed his head toward the right corner of the ceiling. You have any means of determining that? Chemical tests?”
“No, not exactly…we rely on…” “Radioactive dating?”
Once again the witness was lockjawed, a tightly shut angry expression on his face. Are you trying to make a mockery of forensics work, Mr. Bodine?”
Now Bodine snapped his head back to face where he knew the witness box was, his black sunglasses focused intently on Dr. Robert. I don’t think you know the rules here. I ask the questions, you answer them. Answer the question!”
“Overruled. Witness will answer.” “No. No such testing exists.”
“What kind of soil was the shoe print found in?” “Clay-type soil.”
I should think it was dry at the time you examined the shoe print, yes?”
“In most places, yes.”
“But it was a good print though, wasn’t it? I mean in terms of depth into the soil and the details of the sole markings?”
Yes, it was an excellent sample.”
“Is clay a good material for holding shoe print samples for a length of time, let’s say, as opposed to sand?”
“Under most circumstances, I would say that is true, clay is an excellent preserver of prints.”
“But, of course, the clay would have to be wet when the print was made, yes?”
Yes, of course.”
“When it’s dry, it’s difficult to leave a good print, is that correct?’
“So, whoever made that print, made it when the ground was wet?
“That’s a fair assumption.”
Emily handed her father a sheet of paper, which Bodine then held up in the air. Your Honor, this is a copy of Defense Exhibit 1, which the State has already received during the discovery phase. I ask permission for the witness to examine it.”
The bailiff came, took the sheet of paper, and handed it over to the witness.
Bodine, now ceasing his blind celebrity pantomime, focused his head right at Dr. Robert. “That is the record of rain days obtained from the New Jersey meteorological department. I’m sure you recall that we had a very bad drought last summer; the record you are looking at shows that the last day it rained before those men were killed was thirty-three days prior. In other words, according to the discussion we just had about wet clay, the print could only have been made about a month before those men were killed. Is that the conclusion that you would reach?”
Dr. Robert squirmed in the witness chair. “Not necessarily. If there was a constant shade it might remain moist.”
“When you say constant, you mean throughout the day, from sunrise to sunset, yes?”
Dr. Robert hesitated for a second, before admitting, Yes.” “Was that the case here?”
“When I examined the print and made the cast, there was some shade, yes.”
And what time of the day was that?” “I have to refer to my notes.”
“Just tell us approximately.” About seven o’clock.”
“That’s nearly sunset for late August, isn’t it?” “I suppose so.”
“So you can’t be sure if there’s any shade there during the heat of the day?”
“Thank you. Now let’s talk about the pattern of the print you found. Do you know the brand name or model of the boots Mr. Darfield was wearing when he was arrested, based on the pattern?”
“Danner USMC, RAT, Hot Weather.” “RAT, rat?”
“Rugged All Terrain. The model is the most common one worn by our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a unisex boot. He smiled lamely, as if he just made a joke.
Tell me, Dr. Robert, these military boots, are they available in retail stores, say, what they call, Army-Navy shops?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
Gotcha, you silly liar! Are you sure?”
“Objection, Your Honor,Fiske shouted, “the witness has already answered the question.”
“Sorry,Bodine said in mock apology, I just want to be clear on this, and an I don’t think so is not enough. So let me put it in another way. Dr. Robert, are you telling me that I myself, an ordinary person, could not purchase these shoes at a retail outlet, even on the internet?”
I think they would be hard to find.”
Bodine turned and, right on cue, Emily handed him a pair of combat boots, his right hand instinctively receiving them, as if this were a practiced act, but then dropping them to remind the jury of his blindness, which was made more emphatic when Emily went underneath the table to retrieve them and tenderly put them in his wavering hands.
“Dr. Robert, I want you to examine these shoes. Permission to approach the witness.”
“Denied. Hand them to the bailiff.”
The bailiff took the shoes and gave them to Dr. Robert. “Tell me, are these boots similar?”
Dr. Robert took each shoe in turn, examining the soles while doing a lot of squinting. I would say, similar, yes, but not exact.”
“How similar?”
“Objection, Your Honor. He’s asking a vague question that can only have a vague reply, causing the witness to speculate.”
The judge scratched his chin. “Speculate? No, I don’t think so. Overruled. Witness, answer the question.”
Very similar.”
Bodine made a slight turn to face in a direction he intuitively knew was where the judge was perched. Your Honor, if it pleases the court, I would like to admit these as Defense Exhibit
2. I would further request that a cast be made of the soles for comparison with State’s exhibits 2A and B, so that the jury can examine for themselves. The bailiff took the shoes and placed them on the exhibit table.
“Objection! These items should have been disclosed during discovery!”
“My investigator just bought them last evening, Bodine said snidely. “I’m admitting the receipt as well, from Sullivan’s Fish and Game Shop in Scranton, with yesterday’s date recorded.”
Fiske snarled, but said nothing. In his head though, a little voice said, Sneaky bastard, he arranged the purchase weeks ago, with the understanding of picking them up today and asking for the receipt.
“No more questions, Your Honor.” “Witness, you are excused.”
Dr. Robert got out of the witness box, crossed the well, opened the little gate of the bar, and exited the courtroom with a briskness that displayed his foul mood.
The judge addressed the courtroom. “I’m going to order a recess for lunch. Court adjourns until one o’clock. He banged his gavel and everyone made a move to leave.

About the Author:
N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).
In 1997, while visiting Lao People's Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.
Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc.
His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.
His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.
Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Follow the Author:
Website * Goodreads * Amazon