29 September, 2023

September 29, 2023 0

Read an Excerpt from Dead West by Linda L Richards - #Thriller #Noir #Suspense @lindalrichards @partnersincr1me


Dead West by Linda L Richards Banner

Dead West

by Linda L Richards

September 4 - 29, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Dead West by Linda L Richards

Still struggling towards the light, this time the assignment is to save, not kill.

Taking lives has taken its toll. Her moral justifications have faltered. Do any of the the people she has killed — some of them heinous, but all of them human — deserve to die?

Her next target is Cameron Walker, a rancher in Arizona. When she arrives at his remote desert estate to carry out her orders, she discovers that he is a kind and beautiful man. After a lengthy tour of the ranch, not only has she not killed him, she’s wondering who might want him dead.

She procrastinates long enough that a vibe grows between them. At the same time, she learns that he’s passionate about wild horses and has been fighting a losing political battle to save the mustangs that live on protected land near his property. He’s even received death threats from those who oppose him.

She finds herself trying to protect the man she was sent to kill, following a trail that leads from the desert, to the Phoenix cognoscenti, to the highest offices in Washington, DC. Along the way she encounters kidnappers and killers, horse thieves and even human traffickers. Hopefully she can figure out who ordered the hit before they hire someone else to execute the assignment.

Praise for Dead West:

"Linda L. Richards delivers yet another riveting entry in her hired killer series. Set mostly in Arizona desert country, Dead West is a dust devil of a story, twisting in wildly unpredictable ways and with a powerful emotional center. But this book isn’t just a marvelously compelling thriller; it also cries out passionately for protection of the endangered wild horses of the West. Kudos to Richards for seamlessly weaving an important message into the fabric of a terrific tale."
~ William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author

"When a contract killer’s wounded conscience begins to awaken, it only heightens the dangers of her profession. In Dead West, the incomparable Linda L. Richards poses the possibility of redemption and recovery for her tragic heroine, all while sending her – and us – on a deadly thrill ride through the stunning Arizona wilderness."
~ Clea Simon, Boston Globe bestselling author

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Noir, Suspense
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: September 2023
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781608095124 (ISBN10: 1608095126)
Series: The Endings Series, Book 3
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Oceanview Publishing

Read an excerpt:


I’m sitting on a beach. It’s a ridiculous proposition. Fluffy white clouds are scudding through a clear, blue sky. Surfers are running around carrying boards, often over their heads. Then they plunge into a sea that looks deadly to my non-surfing eyes. Palm trees are waving, and the air is so neutral, you don’t have to think about it. Soft, welcoming air. You just float right through.

The view is beautiful. It’s like a movie backdrop. A painting. Something skillfully manufactured to look hyper-real. Textbook paradise, that’s what I’m talking about.

I’m sitting on this beach, trying not to think about the reason I’m here. But it’s hard. Difficult. To not think about it, I mean. I’m here, in paradise, because someone has to die.

Someone will die.

I got the assignment a few days ago. I flew to this island to pull it off.

My target is a businessman who lives on this island in the South Pacific. He is the kind of self-made guy who has achieved every goal in life and would seem to have everything to live for. Only now, apparently, someone wants him dead because here I am, ready for business.

So I stake him out. You need to understand at least the basics of who someone is before you snuff them out. This is the idea that I have. I’m not going all sensitive on you or anything, that’s just how it is. In order to do the best possible job in this business, you need to understand a little about who they are. It’s not a rule or anything, it’s just how I feel.

His name is Gavin White, and I researched him a bit before I got here. He made his fortune in oil and wax, which is an odd enough combo that you perk up your ears. Only it doesn’t seem to matter: the source of the income would seem to have nothing to do with the hit. Would seem to, because there is only so much I can learn about that, really. On the surface, anyway, I can find no direct connection between Gavin White’s livelihood and the death that someone has planned for him and that I am now further planning.

I follow him and his S560 cabriolet all over the tropical island. He makes a few stops. I watch what he does, how he moves and who he interacts with. Some of it might matter. I’m not doing it for my health. I’m watching him so I can determine when I might best have advantage when I go to take him out. There are always multiple times and different places to fulfill my assignment and usually only one—or maybe two—that are virtually flawless. Sometimes not even that. So I watch.

And it’s more than an opportunity I’m looking for, though that can play a part. It’s also a matter of identifying what will make my job not only easier, but also safest from detection. And so I watch. And I wait.

As I follow him, he stops first at a bank. Does some business— I’ll never know what. After that he visits his mom. At least, I guess it is his mom. An older woman he seems affectionate with. From my rental car, I can see them through a front room window. There is a hug and then a wave. It could be a bookkeeper for all I know. But mom is what I guess.

After a while he heads to the beach. He sits on the sand, contemplative for a while. I think about taking him there; full contemplation. But it is crude and much too exposed.

More time passes before he takes off his shoes, leaves them on the beach, and walks into the surf. I leave my car and take up a spot on the sand, just plopping myself down not far from his shoes.

I watch him surreptitiously. It is obvious he did not come to the beach to swim. He is fully clothed and he hasn’t left a towel behind there with his shoes. There is none of the paraphernalia one associates with a visit to the beach, even if this were one that is intended for swimming, which it is not. Signs warn of possible impending doom for those who venture into the water.

“Strong current,” warns one sign under a fluorescent flag. “If in doubt, don’t go out.”

“Dangerous shore break,” warns another. “Waves break in shallow water. Serious injuries could occur, even in small surf.”

I don’t know if Gavin White read the signs, or noticed them, but even though he is still fully clothed, he steps into the water anyway.

First, he gets his feet wet. Not long after, he wades in up to his knees. He hesitates when the water is at mid-thigh, and he stops there. For a while, it seems to me, it is like a dance. He stands facing the horizon, directly in front of where I sit. His shoulders are squared. There is something stoic in his stance. I can’t explain it. Squared and stoic.

Waves break against him, push him back. He allows the push, then makes his way back to the spot where he had stood before.

Before long, he ventures deeper still. The dance. I watch for a while, fascinated. I wonder if there is anything I should do. But no. The dance. Two steps forward, then the waves push him back.

And now he is in deeper still, and further from shore. I see a wave engulf him completely, and I hold my breath. He doesn’t struggle, but then I see him rise, face the horizon, square his shoulders.

The waves are strong and beautiful. And they are eerily clear, those waves. Sometimes I can see right inside them. Careful glass tubes of water, I can even observe that from shore.

For a while he stands like that, facing the horizon—a lull in the action of the waves. And then he is engulfed once again. I hold my breath, but this time he doesn’t rise.

I sit there for a long time, considering. And waiting. My breathing shallow. But he doesn’t reappear.

After half an hour, I text my handler.
“It is done,” is all I say, just as I know she will expect.
It was not my hand, but the mission has been accomplished regardless. No one knows better than me that there are many ways to die.


There are many ways to die.
I think I have died many times. Certainly, I’ve wanted to.
I died when I lost my child. Died later when I lost my husband, even though by then there was little love left between us. Still. I died.

I died the first time I took someone’s life. At the time it felt like living, but I didn’t yet know the difference. And then there was the time I had to kill someone I loved. I died that time, too.

Sometimes I believe I have died so much that I’ve forgotten how to live. That I should most correctly walk into a waiting undertow just like Gavin White did. I don’t know what stops me, honestly. I don’t. Though there are days when it’s a very close thing.

This isn’t one of those days.

When my phone rings, it tells me the call is coming from Kiribati, a place I’ve barely heard of before. All of her calls are like that. Routed through some other place. They might be chosen for their convenience, but I think they are also selected for the mirth they might provide. I’m not certain she has a wicked sense of humor, but I suspect it, pretty much.

She never used to call me. For a long time, it was text and email only, secure channels always. And then the calls began. I imagined that it meant we had developed some sort of connection. I no longer wonder about that now.

Whatever the meaning, the calls have never been from normal places; they don’t come from the places one might expect. And none have been from the same odd place twice. They are chosen for some reason I don’t understand. Some inside joke I stand outside of. She can be cryptic that way. Another reason I guess I imagined for a while that we belonged.

“That was efficient,” is what she says by way of greeting.

“What do you mean?” I figure I actually know, but it makes no sense to admit that going in.

“He walked into the sea,” she says. How does she know that? It makes me wonder, but not deeply. It would not be the first time I’ve wondered if there is someone who watches the hunter. It would even make a dark sort of sense.

“Yes,” I say, unquestioning. She has her ways. “That’s right. He did.”

“Hmmm,” she says. And then again, “Hmmm.”

“There are many ways to die,” I say, and by now it feels like gospel. Something sacred. And more true than true. “What I really don’t understand,” I say, sailing into a different direction, “is that you said things weren’t going to be like this anymore.”

“Excuse me?” I am put off by her tone. Surprised. It comes to me from a new place. Unexpected. And she doesn’t back away from it. Goes on just as strongly, instead. “What do you mean by that?” It’s a challenge.

“I’m trying to think how you put it,” I say. “Something about how things have been wrong with the world. How we could . . . how we could make it right.”

“Did I say that?”

“You did,” I reply.

“I do maybe remember something like that. Maybe.”

I feel my heart sink a bit at her words. And why? I can’t even quite put my finger on it. It felt, maybe, like I might be part of something. Again. And now? Now I’m not.

“You did say that,” I say it quietly though. Almost as an aside.

“These things take time, as it turns out. One can’t just flip a switch.” I can hear her pushing on, rushing through. “Meanwhile, I’ve got another one for you,” she says, and I’m relieved that she has tacitly agreed to leave the drowned man to sink or swim. Disappointed by how easily the hopeful words she’d fed me not so long ago could be pushed to one easy side. Disappointed and relieved all in one gulp. It’s an odd thing to feel. I find I don’t like it. “So if you’re ready,” she says.

“Another what?” I ask it, but I suspect I know.

“Job,” she replies, and I wonder why I wasted breath.

“I’m ready enough,” I say, though I’m struggling. I struggle every time.

“Good,” she says. “I’ll send you the details, but I think the juxtaposition of these two will amuse you.”

“How so?” And I try not to digest the irony around any aspect of a contract killing being amusing.

“Well, you’ve just been in the Pacific. Water, water everywhere.

And now you’re heading for the desert.” “I am?”

“You are. Right out into it, in fact. The target is in Arizona.” “Phoenix?” Which is all I really know of Arizona.

“You’ll fly to Phoenix, but, no: the target is near a national park.

Rural. A place you won’t have heard of before, I’m betting. I’ll send the details once I’m off this call.”

When I first get off the phone, I try not to think about it too much. It’s like my brain doesn’t want me to pay attention. Or something. But I put off checking my email. I’ll do it later. Right now, there are things that need my attention.

Okay. “Need” would be an overstatement. There are things. I choose to give them my time. Walks in the forest with the dog. Cooking succulent meals for one. And recently, I have taken up plein air painting, simply because it was there.

When I want to paint, I take the dog and my gear and we hike out to some remote spot and I set up my stuff and I paint what I see. Try to paint what I see. The dog meanwhile amuses himself— chasing squirrels, digging holes, sniffing his own butt. He’s very skilled at self-amusement. I’ve never seen anything like it.

In less clement weather we hunker down and brave it out. I make a fire in the fireplace because it’s beautiful, not because we need the warmth.

There is something idyllic to this life. Easy. After a while it gets even easier to forget . . . forget what? Everything, really. It gets easier to forget to remember.

I paint the dog. My online classes have gone well enough, and I have proven to be a good enough student—and the dog a good enough subject—that I end up with a pretty credible representation of him; something I am proud to hang. And even if I wasn’t, it’s not like anyone is ever going to see.


Excerpt from Dead West by Linda L Richards. Copyright 2023 by Linda L Richards. Reproduced with permission from Linda L Richards. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Linda L Richards

Linda L. Richards is the award-winning author of over a dozen books. The founder and publisher of January Magazine and a national board member of Sisters in Crime, she is best known for her strong female protagonists in the thriller genre. Richards is from Vancouver, Canada and currently makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona. Richards is an accomplished horsewoman and an avid tennis player. She enjoys yoga, hiking, cooking and playing guitar, though not at the same time.

You can find her at:
BookBub - @linda1841
Instagram - @lindalrichards
Twitter - @lindalrichards
Facebook - @lindalrichardsauthor
TikTok - @lindalrichards

Learn More about Linda in this #AuthorInterview!


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22 September, 2023

September 22, 2023 0

Read an Excerpt from Citizen Orlov by Jonathan Payne - #Espionage #Thriller @jon7payne @partnersincr1me


Citizen Orlov by Jonathan Payne Banner

Citizen Orlov

by Jonathan Payne

September 4-29, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Citizen Orlov by Jonathan Payne

Not every fishmonger can be a secret agent.

Journey to an unnamed mountainous country in central Europe at the end of the Great War. Enter Citizen Orlov, a simple fishmonger and an honest, upright citizen, who answers a phone call meant for a secret agent and stumbles into a hidden world of espionage and secrecy. Recruited by the Ministry of Security, he is sent on assignment to safeguard the king.

But Orlov soon discovers that his ministry handler, the alluring femme fatale Agent Zelle, is planning not to protect the king but to assassinate him. Caught in a web of plot and counterplot, confusing loyalties, and explosive betrayals, Orlov finds himself on trial for murder. Given the opportunity to clear his name, he finds that the lives of his friends, mother, and fellow citizens hang in the balance.


"A triumph—and an answer to that age-old question of what would have happened had Gogol, Kafka and G. K. Chesterton collaborated on a thriller. A timeless work which will, I fear, be forever timely."
~ Dixe Wills, author of Places to Hide and New World Order

"Jonathan Payne's Citizen Orlov is a stunning debut! A page turning, down-the-rabbit-hole delight, told with equal measure of wit and suspense. A timeless classic for our current moment; a paranoid and comic thriller with a surprise on every page. I loved it!"
~ Don Scardino, Producer/Director, 30 Rock, New Amsterdam

"Highly engaging, and written with an engaging lightness of touch, Citizen Orlov marks the debut of a comic novelist to watch for the future."
~ Dr. Adam Lively, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing & Programme Leader, MA Novel Writing, Middlesex University

"The blend of action and picaresque buffoonery flatteringly calls Conan Doyle’s Brigadier Gerard tales to mind, and Payne pulls off a genuinely surprising conclusion. This auspicious debut announces a bright new voice in comic suspense."
~ Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

[An] odyssey that seems part Kafka, part ‘Alice in Wonderland.
~ Wall Street Journal

Book Details:

Genre: Espionage Thriller
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: May 2023
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 9780744309010 (ISBN10: 0744309018)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Read an excerpt:

On a frigid winter’s morning in a mountainous region of central Europe, Citizen Orlov, a simple fishmonger, is taking a shortcut along the dank alley behind the Ministries of Security and Intelligence when a telephone begins to ring. He thinks nothing of it and continues on his daily constitutional, his heavy boots crunching the snow between the cobbles.

The ringing continues, becoming louder with each step. A window at the back of the ministry buildings is open, just a little. The ringing telephone sits on a table next to the open window. Orlov stops, troubled by this unusual scene: there is no reason for a window to be open on such a cold day. Since this is the Ministry of either Security or Intelligence, could an open window be a security breach of some kind?

Orlov is tempted to walk away. After all, this telephone call is none of his business. On the other hand, he is an upright and patriotic citizen who would not want to see national security compromised simply because no one was available to answer a telephone call. He is on the verge of stepping toward the open window when he hears footsteps ahead. A tight group of four soldiers is marching into the alley, rifles on shoulders. He freezes for a second, leans against

the wall, and quickly lights a cigarette. By the time the soldiers reach him, Orlov is dragging on the cigarette and working hard to appear nonchalant. The soldiers are palace guardsmen, but the red insignia on their uniforms indicates they are part of the elite unit that protects the Crown Prince, the king’s ambitious older son. Orlov nods politely, but the soldiers ignore him and march on at speed.

The telephone is still ringing. Someone very much wants an answer. Orlov stubs his cigarette on the wall and approaches the open window. The telephone is loud in his right ear. Peering through the gap, he sees a small, gloomy storeroom with neatly appointed shelves full of stationery.

Finally, he can stand it no longer. He reaches through the window, picks up the receiver, and pulls it on its long and winding cable out through the window to his ear.

“Hello?” says Orlov, looking up and down the alley to check he

is still alone.

“Thank God. Where have you been?” says an agitated voice, distant and crackly. Orlov is unsure what to say. The voice continues. “Kosek. Right now.”

“I’m sorry?” says Orlov.

“Kosek. Agent Kosek.”

Orlov peers into the storeroom again. “There’s no one here,” he says.

“Well, fetch him then. And hurry, for God’s sake. It’s important.”

Orlov is sorely tempted to end the call and walk away, but the voice is so angry that he dare not.

“One minute,” he says, and lays the receiver on the table. He opens the window wider and, with some considerable effort, pulls himself headfirst into the storeroom, where he tumbles onto the floor. Picking himself up, he slaps the dust from his overcoat, opens the storeroom door, and peers along the hallway; all is dark and quiet.

With some trepidation, Orlov returns to the telephone. “Hello?” he says.


“No, sorry. I’ll have to take a message.”

The caller is still agitated. “Well, focus on what I’m about to say. It’s life and death.”

Orlov’s hands are shaking. “Hold on,” he says, “I’ll fetch some paper.”

Before he can put the receiver down, the caller explodes with anger. “Are you a simpleton? Do not write this down. Remember it.”

“Yes, sir. Sorry,” says Orlov. “I’ll remember it.”

“Are you ready?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Here it is. We could not—repeat not—install it in room six. Don’t ask why, it’s a long story.”

The man is about to continue, but Orlov interrupts him. “Should I include that in the message: ‘it’s a long story’?”

“Mother of God,” shouts the man. “Why do they always give me the village idiot? No. Forget that part. I’ll start again.”

“Ready,” says Orlov.

This time the man speaks slower and more deliberately, as if to a child. “We could not—repeat not—install it in room six. You need to get room seven. It’s hidden above the wardrobe. Push the lever up, not down. Repeat that back to me.”

Orlov is now shaking all over, and he grimaces as he forces himself to focus. He repeats the message slowly but correctly.

“Whatever else you do, get that message to Kosek, in person. No one else. Lives depend on it. Understood?”

“Understood,” says Orlov, and the line goes dead.


Excerpt from Citizen Orlov by Jonathan Payne. Copyright 2023 by Jonathan Payne. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Jonathan Payne

Jonathan Payne is a British-American writer based outside Washington, D.C. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Novel Writing from Middlesex University, London. His short fiction has been featured at the North London Story Festival and in magazines including Turnpike, Twist in Time and Fiction Kitchen Berlin. Before moving to the United States, he worked for the British government on matters of national security. When not writing or reading, he can be found in the boxing gym.

Catch Up With Jonathan Payne:
BookBub - @jon7payne
Instagram - @jon7payne
Twitter - @jon7payne



Tour Participants:

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16 September, 2023

September 16, 2023 0

Read an #Excerpt from Facing The Enemy by DiAnn Mills - #Romance #Suspense @diannmills @partnersincr1me


Facing The Enemy by DiAnn Mills Banner

Facing The Enemy

by DiAnn Mills

September 4 - 29, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Facing The Enemy by DiAnn Mills

For the past five years, FBI Special Agent Risa Jacobs has worked in the violent crimes against children division of the Houston FBI. She’s never had reason to believe there’s a target on her back . . . until now.

When the long-awaited reunion between Risa and her brother, Trenton, ends in tragedy, Risa is riddled with guilt, unable to cope with the responsibility she feels over his death. On leave from the FBI, Risa returns to her former career as an English teacher at a local college, only to see her past and present collide when one of her students, Carson Mercury, turns in an assignment that reads like an eyewitness account of her brother’s murder, with details never revealed publicly.

Alarmed by Carson’s inside knowledge of Trenton’s death, Risa reaches out to her former partner at the FBI. Special Agent Gage Patterson has been working a string of baby kidnappings, but he agrees to help look into Carson’s background. Risa and Gage soon discover their cases might be connected as a string of high-value thefts have occurred at properties where security systems were installed by Carson’s stepfather and children have gone missing. There’s a far more sinister plot at play than they ever imagined, and innocent lives are in danger.

DiAnn Mills delivers romantic suspense fans a heart-pounding thriller about loss, betrayal, and finding the strength to trust again!

Praise for Facing The Enemy:

"Riveting! In her signature style, Diann Mills expertly weaves a gripping tale of ever-increasing danger. Captivating, authentic characters along with surprising twists and turns drew me deeper into this engrossing thriller and kept me on the edge of my seat until the last page. I still can’t stop thinking about it!"
~ Elizabeth Goddard, bestselling author of COLD LIGHT OF DAY

"I’m a longtime reader of suspense thrillers, but DiAnn Mills’ latest, FACING THE ENEMY, made me gasp with surprise. The issues involved in the story—adoption and the families who long to love children—are close to my heart, and that emotional connection held me by the heartstrings. Not to be missed! "
~ Angela Hunt, author of WHAT A WAVE MUST BE

Facing The Enemy Trailer:

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 2023
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 9781496451941 (ISBN10: 1496451945)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | ChristianBook

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Houston, Texas
July 29

Twelve years ago, my younger brother fell into an abyss of drugs and alcohol. He chose his addictions over Mom and Dad—and me. Prayers for healing fell flat, but none of us gave up, proving our belief in unconditional love. Then yesterday he called, and my hopes skyrocketed. Trenton said he missed me and wanted to make amends with his family, beginning with his older sis. We chose to meet at a popular restaurant for a late dinner within walking distance of my apartment.

A knock on my cubicle jolted me back to reality. Gage, my work partner, towered in the entryway and grinned. “Hey, what’s going on?”

The sound of his voice caused me to tingle to my toes. “Thinking.”

“Obviously, you were a million miles away.” His blue-gray eyes bore into mine, the intensity nearly distracting me.

I leaned back in my comfy, ergonomic chair. “My brother called.”

“Trenton? The guy you haven’t seen in years?”

“The same.”


“He wants to meet tonight for dinner, to talk about making amends.”

Gage shook his head. “Risa, he has a record a mile long. He’s planning on manipulating you, squeezing every penny he can get.”

I picked up an old photo of Trenton and me as kids. Dad had snapped it while we were in our tree house. I swiped at a piece of dust, then replaced it beside my photo of Mom and Dad. “I must give him a chance. He’s my brother.”

“What if he’s gotten himself in over his head and needs his FBI agent sis to bail him out?”

I bit into my lower lip. Gage’s words had a level of truth, even if I didn’t want to admit it. “I want to hear him out.”

Gage stepped closer. “I don’t want to see you hurt. Remember three years ago when he called you from a bar demanding money, cursed you until you hung up?” The soft gentleness in his whispered tone said more than friend to friend. “Think about canceling the dinner or let me go with you.”

Emotion rose thick in my throat. “You mean well, and I—” Catching myself, I nearly said love. “I appreciate your concern. But I’ll be fine. Want me to call you afterward?”

He nodded. “I can run by if you need to talk.”

I peered into the face of the man I adored. “I will. Promise.”


I arrived early at the restaurant to meet Trenton, anticipating his contagious smile perfected by an overpaid orthodontist. The phone attempted to keep my attention, but my mind swirled with how I wanted tonight to move forward against the reality of what had happened in the past.

The host approached me. Trenton walked behind him, towering several inches above the short man. I held my breath and stood, not feeling my legs, only my pulse speeding at the sight of my brother.

Trenton chuckled low, the familiar, dazzling, heart-crunching expression that had always touched me with sibling love. Clear brown eyes captured mine. Gone were the dilated pupils and bone-thin body. My brother held out his buff arms, and I rushed into them.

“Risa, you look amazing,” he whispered. “Thanks for seeing me on such short notice.”

“Nothing could have kept me away.” I stepped back, noting the miracle before me. Telling Mom and Dad wasn’t a part of tonight’s plan, but I wished they were here. We’d all be blubbering. I swiped at a tear and feared a humiliating sob would replace my already-fragile composure. “I want to remember this moment forever.” Please stay strong this time.

“Me too, Sis.” He gestured to the booth. “Sit, and let’s talk and eat.”

I slid in and he took the opposite side of the table. A server presented us with menus and asked for our drink order.

“We’ll have two Dr Peppers,” Trenton said.

He remembered my favorite drink. No mention of alcohol. I breathed in deeply to steady myself. I wanted our reunion to be special, not me a weeping mess. “I’ve missed you.”

Trenton cocked his head, and the mischievous brother from days gone by appeared. “I’ve been clean for four months. Working steady and enrolled in night school for the next college term.” He took my hands, and his features grew serious. “But before I say another word, I’m sorry. I promise you, I’ll never hurt you, Mom, or Dad again. Please forgive me for the mess I made of my life and dragging my family through the stench of it.”

I’d heard this before, from his teen years into his twenties. Dare I believe our prayers had been answered? “I forgave you years ago. All we ever wanted for you is a healthy body and mind.”

“Thanks, Sis. I know you’ve heard this ‘I’m sorry’ junk before, but I’m well on my way.”

His words warmed me like a quilt on a chilly night. “I can see it, feel it. Why tell me first instead of Mom and Dad?”

“Great times with you growing up that never left me.”

Memories rushed over me . . . The time we went camping by ourselves and it snowed. Birthdays. Christmases. All the treasured times I believed had vanished into the chasm of addiction.

The server returned with our drinks, and Trenton released my hands.

“Have you decided on your order?” the server said.

Neither of us had picked up our menus, but I often frequented the restaurant and ordered a vegan dish. Trenton opted for their pork chop and fixings.

“And I’ll take the bill.” He pointed at me. “No arguments.”

“My treat when we have dinner again.”

“Got it.”

“You were about to tell me something about us.”

He rubbed his palms on the thighs of his jeans. “Two things stand out. The first one happened when I was four, so that made you ten. You were watching me trying to climb an oak tree in the back yard. I was crying because my short legs couldn’t swing high enough. Then I felt your hand on my shoulder. You boosted me up onto the branch. Climbed up with me. No long after that, Dad built us a tree house.”

“I loved that tree house. You had your space and I had mine.”

“What I’ll always remember is what you said to me. ‘Trenton, I’m your big sis. I’ll always help you. I promise.’”

I blinked back the ocean of hopeful tears. “Thanks. I remember our times in the tree house, our private little world.”

“One more reason I contacted you. I was six and you were twelve. For three summers, Mom and Dad put me in swimming lessons, but I couldn’t put my head underwater. Not sure why. You convinced Mom and Dad that you could teach me how to swim. So every day we went to the neighborhood pool, and at the end of two weeks, I was swimming. I trusted you.”

I took a deep breath. Be aware of manipulation, Risa. “Thanks.” I raised a finger. “I remember being a high school junior and this jerk of a guy followed me home. Wouldn’t leave me alone. You punched him in the nose.”

Trenton laughed. “My voice hadn’t changed yet, but I wasn’t going to let him bother you.”

“That’s love, Brother.” Oh, Trenton, let this be for keeps. I’m afraid to believe the nightmare is over.

“And we’ll make many more crazy times together. Do you have plans for Saturday morning? I volunteer at a community center for kids at risk. We have a mixed basketball team, and I could use some help with the girls.”

I shivered. What a blessing to have my brother back. “All I need is a time and place.”

“You never fail me, Sis.” He took a long drink of his Dr Pepper. “Are you writing?”

I grinned. “Dabbling here and there.”

“I never understood why you left a safe job as a college prof and writer to the dangers of the FBI?” He shrugged. “Other than your wild side that you kept more in check than I did.”

“Teaching and writing short stories with a few successful publications failed to fill my adventure deficit. Every time I read about a crime, I wanted to be the one working the case. Dad said I couldn’t create a crime and solve it—I had to be actively involved.”

“Your personality better fits law enforcement. Still married to the FBI?”

I wiggled my shoulders. “Of course. Five years ago, I moved to the Violent Crime Division, specifically Crimes Against Children. It’s stressful and emotional, but protecting children suits me.”

He frowned. “Because of me?”

I blinked. “A little. My main reason is what happened to the little girl who lived across the street from us.”

“Right.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry her death still bothers you. Isn’t there a special team for finding missing kids?”

“Child Abduction Rapid Deployment or CARD. They’re an elite, specialized team, and that’s all they do. That’s not my role, but we often work together.”

“What do you investigate?” Trenton seemed interested in my job, another first.

“My partner and I investigate kidnappings, pedophiles, pornography, online predators, human trafficking, involuntary servitude, parental kidnapping, and any other situation that fell into the ‘violent crimes against children’ bucket.”

“I remember you were the neighborhood babysitter.” He gave me his unforgettable impish grin. “And I also remember how much fun you had learning how to handle a car at high speeds.”

I couldn’t conceal my laughter. “Guess I’m part daredevil. Blame Dad for that. I remember loving to watch him race cars.”

“He’d still be at it if Mom hadn’t insisted his speed-loving days were over.”

“When he taught me to drive, I learned a lot of tricks,” I said.

“He already knew I was danger on wheels and asked Mom to teach me.” He laughed. “Any potential brothers-in-law?”

I waved off his remark. My thoughts swept to Gage. Maybe I had found him, but that was a future conversation. “Nope. My job scares them off. I had more dates during my stint as a dull college professor.”

“You dull? Never. You just haven’t found the right guy. Pray about it, and if there’s a guy good enough for my sis, he’ll appear.”

I startled. “Did you say pray?”

“Think about it. Who but God could have turned me around? Helped me walk away from drugs, alcohol, and so-called friends?”

Even in his good days, Trenton had steered away from mentions of faith. Maybe he had changed. “I don’t know what to say.”

“That’s a first.” He chuckled. “You always had more words in one day than I had in a week. But honestly, no more jail. No more being tossed out of an apartment because I couldn’t pay the rent. No more waking up and not remembering the night before.”

Wow. A true miracle. I swiped at happy tears. “I can’t wait to tell Mom and Dad.”

He leaned over the table as though to tell me a secret. “I’ll do the honors very soon.”

When our food arrived, he asked to say grace. I was so glad our eyes were closed, or he’d have seen a leaky faucet. We chatted through dinner. Laughed about some of the goofy things we’d done as kids. Time seemingly stopped, and my half-full cup of blessings spilled over with joy.

“Will you tell me about your healing journey?” I said.

“You can hear for yourself when I talk to Mom and Dad.” He moistened his lips. “Do you trust me enough to walk you back to your apartment and call them from there? I mean, does your building have a lobby area with a little privacy?”

“It does, but you can call from my apartment. Trenton, they will be incredibly happy.”

“I hope so.”

I was so focused on our conversation that I didn’t think I tasted my favorite dish. We finished and he paid the bill. Outside the restaurant, a few people mingled, and the night sky hosted a half-moon, alerting me to how long Trenton and I had talked. I breathed in thankfulness and expectations for a positive tomorrow. At the crosswalk, we waited for the pedestrian sign to signal our turn.

“How long have you lived in this fancy high-rise?” he said as we ambled across the street.

“Two years. I like the busyness and excitement.”

“It must be in your DNA. One day, I want a small place in the country where it’s quiet.”

“Never for me. I’ll visit you though.” The humid heat mixed with exhaust fumes spiraled around us. “What are you taking in college?”

“Psychology. See if I can’t help a few kids understand life and avoid pitfalls.”

“Incredible. I’m so pro—”

Trenton grabbed my shoulders and thrust me several feet ahead next to the curb. I landed on my side and rolled over. What—?

A horrible thud.

A woman screamed.

Tires squealed.

Horns blew.

Stinging pain radiated up my leg, side, arm, and head. In agony, I managed to roll over and glance at the street.

My brother’s body lay in the intersection, a twisted mass of flesh and blood.


Excerpt from FACING THE ENEMY by DiAnn Mills. Copyright 2023 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 is a storyteller and creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. 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, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers, Jerry Jennings Writers Guild, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. 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:
BookBub - @DiAnnMills
Instagram - @diannmillsauthor
X - @diannmills
Facebook - @diannmills
YouTube - @diannmills



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04 September, 2023

September 04, 2023 0

Read an Excerpt from At the Ready by Sharon Michalove - #RomanticSuspense #Romance #Suspense


At the Ready by Sharon Michalove Banner

At the Ready

by Sharon Michalove

August 28 - September 22, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


At the Ready by Sharon Michalove

What happens when a hunky French-Canadian security executive falls for a feisty Chicago lawyer?

Micki Press and JL Martin both have complicated lives, but when they come together, the sparks are undeniable. Micki is trying to make it to the top of one of the most conservative corporate law firms in Chicago. JL is the CEO of WatchDog Inc., a successful security company, and is struggling with his own family complications. When Micki's former lover stalks her, JL steps in to protect her, and the two soon realize their feelings go beyond friendship. But with their complicated pasts and the struggles of the corporate world, are they ready to take the next step, or will the twists and turns have them singing the Chicago blues?

If you enjoy a story of complicated love and corporate ambition, you'll love At the Ready. If you enjoy fast-paced action, romance, and a dash of karaoke, you'll fall for At the Ready.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Coffee and Eclairs Books (self-published)
Publication Date: August 2023
ISBN: 978-1-7369187-6-0
Series: Global Security Unlimited, 3
Book Links: Amazon | Book Bub | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chicago, February 2014

One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.—Benjamin Disraeli


Today’s the day. Best suit. Flawless hair and makeup. Every inch the polished senior associate. No four-inch heels, though. Frederick Lanscombe, managing partner, is a little sensitive about his height and this meeting is the crucial first step in the campaign to be the next partner at Miller, Lanscombe, Baker, Francis, Masters, and Hargrove.

The door to the small conference room is wide open, Fred at the head of table, eating a donut. My mentor, Rebecca Masters smiles and gives me a small thumbs up. Tyler Miller nods to acknowledge I’m there. More than there. After a hundred years, this firm is still a boys’ club but I plan to crack into top echelon and become just the second woman to make partner.

I fly through the door and end up on hands and knees when Hayden Forbes-Cartwright barrels into me. When I look up, Fred’s donut is poised at his open mouth. Rebecca’s hand is over her mouth. And Tyler laughs. “Great entrance, Micki.” The censure I hear pricks my balloon of confidence.

A snigger erupts from Hayden as his big hand reaches down to pull me up. “So sorry, Micki. Couldn’t put the brakes on in time.”

Upright, balanced a little precariously on my toothpick heels, my glare has the heat of the Milky Way. Not that Hayden pays any attention. His bogus concern is yet one more layer of deceit. Still, points to him. I’m the klutz and he’s the chivalric hero.“Have a seat, Micki, Hayden.” Fred gives each of us a once over. Dressing well is one of the unspoken rules. Hayden’s navy blue pinstripe is comparable to my silver gray jacket and matching pencil skirt—points even on wardrobe. My phone is in my lap and I pull up my spreadsheet. I’ve kept score since the first time we met. The advantage has seesawed back and forth, but we’re competing for the pinnacle in the stakes race, so I’ll have to up my game.

Hayden and I were adversaries from the get-go. We started here, on the same day eight years ago. Me half an hour early. Hayden fifteen minutes late strolling in with his uncle. All my muscles clenched when he looked me over with his trademark devil-may-care smile.

“I know you received the memo. With Sonny Philips’ retirement, the firm will promote one associate to partner this year. As the two seniors, you will be the leading candidates.”

Hayden stops fiddling with his Chicago Yacht Club tie. “Does that mean other associates might be considered?”

“Technically, yes, but in reality you two are the only ones qualified right now. The partners will evaluate you on several criteria besides the competencies you’ve shown in your time here.”

He pauses.

Hayden rushes into the short silence. “Does every partner get a vote?”

“You know they do,” Tyler chides his nephew impatiently.

“And are some votes weighted more heavily than others? Like seniority?”

“No.” Rebecca’s response is explosive. “Please go on, Fred.”

When I glance toward Hayden, he shows no embarrassment, not even a slight flush. We all learn to put on a neutral face. I permit myself a very small smile. Minus five to Hayden.

Fred looks at the sheet in front of him, then from Tyler to Rebecca. They nod. “The criteria include enthusiasm, treatment of others, the opinion of your mentor, maintaining personal control, commitment, successful building and protection of your reputation and that of the firm, consistent hard work, always available, constant improvement, and most important— being perceived as trustworthy.”

Hayden’s eyes dart like tiny silverfish, his tell when he’s scheming. on how to get the edge. While I put in the long hours and never turn down a request, Hayden skates by, taking credit for the work of junior associates. Boasting about staying late when he disappears in the middle of the day. When your uncle’s name is on the door, you have an extra pass. Tyler Miller will definitely push for Hayden to be the next partner.

Fred is still talking and I wrench my attention back to his droning monotone. “Besides the formal evaluation, the other piece will be assisting Rebecca with a high-profile insider trading case. It’s more than usually sensitive because our client is a candidate for a Senate seat. He says he’s been set up. Not necessarily a strong or provable defense. You’ll be combing emails, social media, accounts, and documents to see what evidence you find.”

Bucket of nightcrawlers? Come on, Micki, try to show some enthusiasm. Can’t jump up and down.

“What a great opportunity for us to show what we’re made of.” Hayden’s wide smile and crackling delivery is phony as a carney barker’s come on.

Our managing partner nods his head approvingly. Hayden is his favored candidate too. Fred and Tyler have some kind of mutual admiration society and Hayden benefits.

Yeah, he’s a suck up.

My turn. Say something but avoid the gush. “This is a amazing challenge. I really appreciate the chance to work on a case so important to the future and reputation of the firm and, potentially beyond, Fred.”

Rebecca produces a small smile, so I hope I’ve hit the right note.

As we walk out, she stops me. “Micki, I have a lunch appointment, but let’s have a drink after work.” She looks around but doesn’t see anyone in lurking mode. “We haven’t had a good chat for a while.”

“Great, Rebecca. Just come by my office when you’re ready to leave.”

Then I cancel my date for the evening. Work comes first, always.


The Gage is lively at five thirty. After-work drinks have replaced the three-martini lunch, unless you’re Hayden Forbes-Cartwright. He indulges in both.

Rebecca manages to get us a quiet table in a corner near the tile fireplace. We won’t have to shout and have less likelihood of being overheard.

After the drinks are ordered, she pulls out a legal pad. “Thought we could go over some strategies for the work. My thought is that you’ll work on the emails, social media, anything online and whatever documents we can upload. That way, while you’re traveling, you’ll have plenty of material to access.”

“That would be great. I’ve been anxious about being away at such a crucial point in my career.”

The pencil between Rebecca’s fingers moves up and down like a seesaw. “Thanks to technology. Years ago we were tied to the office, the library. I’m glad you can go to the awards ceremony. Kind of like the Oscars for authors.”

“Yeah. Still five working days away…”

“Our new legal research assistant is already busy organizing everything as documentation comes in.”

A Paris Rose is put in front of Rebecca, who pushes her legal pad to the side, but not before a few drops splash onto the paper, leaving a light pink trail. My Jabberwock is in a coupe. She takes a sip just as the cheese board is deposited in the middle of the table along with a basket of fried pickles. Cheese is a magnet for me. My grabby fingers snatch some almost before the server gets the platter on the table.

“Simon Greenberg is an attorney with Talcott, Maier, and current Republican candidate for Senate from Illinois. The SEC received a tip claiming he made use of private information to trade stocks from several companies he represents. After an investigation, the Commission decided on civil charges. Unfortunately, because his candidacy has made him a public figure, criminal charges are pending as well. Maybe some questions about election finance too.”

“Wait. Shouldn’t Hayden be here?” Not that I want him, but if we’re a team, he deserves the same explanations.

“Hayden has already been briefed.”

Be professional. In control. Pretend it doesn’t matter.

“Oh. I see.” But I don’t. Not at all.

Rebecca takes a huge swallow of the pink liquid. “Not by me. After our meeting, Tyler and Fred took Hayden to lunch and briefed him there.”

How does she know? Or is this an assumption? My heated protest escapes before I can rein it in. “But it’s your case.”

She waves the comment away. “He was so full of himself when he got back. Swanned into my office. ‘Simon Greenberg, huh. I wondered after the rumors flying around. Good for us.’ Then he laughed and walked out.” Her scowl could freeze the Chicago River. “I was sure Tyler at least would make sure he’s up to speed and I wanted to get you in the loop right away. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fred and Tyler didn’t give Hayden some instruction on how to handle things and he will take advantage of the time you are away in April.”

My cocktail beckons and I chug it down, sputtering slightly. “Should I cancel the trip?”

She ignores that. “You’ll meet the client tomorrow, so make a strong impression. You’ll have plenty of work to do while you’re out of the office. Get your laptop set up with VPN. It will be your lifeline to the firm. Video meetings will help too. Make sure you can report on progress every day. A strong impression while you’re in Paris will give you a leg up.”

We see the waiter in the distance and Rebecca catches his attention. Once we have refills, she takes a sip, then leans forward. “Show you’re dedicated to the firm and the case and that you can work without supervision. I’ll try to schedule the meetings first thing in the morning to mitigate the seven-hour time difference.”

“And the other complications?”

“Hayden is one, as I’m sure you’ve guessed. More in terms of your selection as partner. That will be decided long before the case is finished. But he’ll push for every plum he can pluck. The other is that because of the election cycle, Greenberg is pushing to get this cleared up or buried quickly. News of the pending charges will hit the papers tomorrow.”

Why haven’t they leaked already?

Rebecca must be a mind reader. “The papers are planning front-page splashes with stories, commentary, and reactions on at least two inside pages.”

I can picture the Tribune. Huge headline and photos on their broadsheet front page. Stories about the investigation, the campaign, lots of background on the candidate, a piece where the rest of the field comments. Then an editorial on the op-ed pages. Maybe a political cartoon. The Sun-Times tabloid format will be just as comprehensive in a more compact form. “Collusion?”

“Cooperation.” Her forehead wrinkles, brows touching. The corners of her mouth turn down.

“Keeping him from making incendiary comments is going to be a job in itself. We want as little coverage as possible while we work on clearing him—if we can. The damage to his reputation is a gift to the other contenders. He’s been the front runner, the poster boy for the party.”

In two swallows, the Jabberwock has disappeared. I order another, then cram more cheese into my mouth.

“Hey, guys. Didn’t get the memo.” Hayden pushes into the tufted leather booth and reaches for a pickle, almost knocking me to the floor. “Uncle Tyler thought you might be here, Rebecca. Said it’s your usual watering hole.”

“A casual afterwork drink.” Rebecca’s voice is flat.

Hayden reaches over and taps her legal pad. “Sure you aren’t strategizing?” The twinkle in his eye shows malice, not amusement. “By the way, I met Laney this afternoon. She’s a cutie.”

“Laney?” The name is unfamiliar.

With a leer, he says, “Our legal researcher. Fresh out of her paralegal program.”

The server comes by with my third drink.

“Are you running a tab?”

Rebecca nods.

“Two Satan’s Whiskers. Need to play catch up with these two.” His smirk makes my skin crawl.

“How appropriate.”

He snickers. My snarky comment bounces off his crocodile hide.

Before the drinks guy can take off, I hold up a hand. “I’d like to order something to go.”

Pad out, he looks a bit like a bird, head to the side.

“Shrimp cocktail with no sauce, and the Apple Salad. Just put the shrimp on top of the salad with the dressing on the side.”

“You got it.”

Hayden puffs out his chest like a pouter pigeon. “Me, I have a date as soon as I finish these truly spectacular drinks.”

“Drinks named just for you.”

He grins. “You know it. Scary but seductive. And I have some seducing on tap.”

Probably with our new researcher. I push the sour feelings back. “Have fun.”

“Oh, I intend to.”

Rebecca’s warning look doesn’t make any impression either. She grabs her coat off the empty seat. “Off to have dinner with my hubby. He’s cooking tonight.”

I trudge to the office, takeout container in hand, ready for a little research of my own.


Excerpt from At the Ready by Sharon Michalove. Copyright 2023 by Sharon Michalove. Reproduced with permission from Sharon Michalove. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Sharon Michalove

Sharon Michalove writes romantic suspense and traditional mystery as well as being a published historian. After growing up in suburban Chicago, she spent most of her life in a medium-sized university town, working as an academic professional as well as teaching history. She was married to a composer and frequently uses her knowledge of music, history, and food to enrich her novels. A hockey fan, Sharon moved back to Chicago in 2017 so she could go to Blackhawks games and spend quality time at Eataly Chicago.

Catch Up With Sharon:
BookBub - @sdmichalove
Instagram - @sdmichaloveauthor
Twitter - @sdmichalove
Facebook - @sharonmichalove
AllAuthor - @sharonmichalove



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28 August, 2023

August 28, 2023 0

Read an #Excerpt from 25 to Life by John Lansing #Crime #Thriller @partnersincr1me @jelansing


25 to Life by John Lansing Banner

25 to Life

by John Lansing

August 21 - September 15, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


25 to Life by John Lansing

25 to Life is the fifth and latest installment in the Jack Bertolino series, written by John Lansing in the propulsive, cinematic, page-turning style he has become known for.

Gloria Millhouse, a beautiful African American law student, is working with the Project for the Innocent. She has done extensive research on inmate Carl Forbes, who she believes was wrongfully arrested, convicted and incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit, the sexual assault and brutal murder of a teenage girl in Los Angeles twenty-three years ago. Gloria dies in a car crash on Malibu Canyon Road after questioning powerful, politically-connected men who were witnesses at Carl's trial and knew the victim personally. Private investigator Jack Bertolino is brought on to discover the truth behind Gloria's death. Was her crash simply a random accident or a conspiracy to prevent the courts from reopening the case and granting Carl Forbes a new trial? Jack believes that Gloria was murdered, and as the body count rises, it becomes clear that if Jack can find Gloria's killer, he will also find the man responsible for the teenager's assault and murder. And Carl Forbes can walk out of prison a free man.

Praise for 25 to Life:

“Los Angeles–based private investigator delves into a murder with ties to a wrongfully convicted man in Lansing’s detective novel.”
“The author packs this latest installment in the Jack Bertolino series with new and returning characters. Gloria’s mysterious death is the catalyst, but it’s this vibrant cast that truly propels the tense narrative. The author’s incisive writing sets Jack on the investigation right away, and succinct chapters breeze by as he compiles a suspect list and looks into a host of crimes. Even as the culprits become more apparent, Jack must still prove they’re guilty. It all leads to a superb ending and the unmistakable sense that this series is nowhere close to slowing down.”
“Razor-sharp characters propel a taut, suspenseful thriller.”
~ Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Crime/Thriller
Published by: White Street Press
Publication Date: September 5th, 2023
Number of Pages: 276
ISBN: 979-8-9885 166-1-3
Series: The Jack Bertolino Series, 5
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | More

Read an excerpt:


Gloria was embarrassingly beautiful first thing in the morning. Her lively intelligent eyes, were the color of cocoa. Her perfect skin was a shade darker. She blew steam over the rim of her coffee cup, steeling herself for the day. Gloria mentally repeated the bullet points she wanted to make with her next group of interviewees.

Mug shots of Carl Forbes, a teenage African American boy, were taped to her mirror. A daily reminder of her life’s work. She quickly gathered her overflowing briefcase and iPad, and locked the apartment door behind her.

Gloria slid behind the wheel of her Fiat, the color of a pistachio, and headed for her first appointment with Councilman Mark Corcoran.

Gloria’s interview with the councilman wasn’t going well. Saying she worked with Project for the Innocent did her no good. Corcoran had agreed to give her ten minutes of his time, but the officious man had already checked his watch twice.

“I’m a big fan of your program,” Corcoran said. His unblinking eyes used to intimidate had no effect on Gloria. “But I believe your client is a guilty man. I followed the case—hell, we all knew the kid. Quiet type, lived a few blocks over, didn’t run with our set. Hard to believe him capable of such brutality, but he confessed to the crime.”

Gloria was prepared for this. “Carl says the arresting officers tortured the confession out of him. He was seventeen years old. Thirty-six hours without food or bathroom facilities. And look at the photograph, it’s clear he’d been beaten.”

The councilman glanced at the photo and handed it back. “He was picked out of a lineup.”

“Eyewitnesses are notoriously undependable. If the cops coerced the confession, it’s not a stretch to think they might have manipulated the lineup. And none of his DNA was found on, or in the victim’s body. Shelley Goldstein had been sexually assaulted before she was murdered. I believe Carl was set up. He’s already served twenty-three years for a murder he didn’t commit.”

Corcoran wasn’t moved. “Shelley was a lovely rich girl. None of the boys in our neighborhood stood a chance in hell with her. Sorry, but there’s nothing more I can add.”

“I was told you had a big crush on her.”

“We all had crushes on her. Who were you talking to?” All attitude now.

“I don’t reveal sources.”

Corcoran rose from his power desk, “Good luck with the case. I respect what you’re doing.”

Gloria understood an exit line when she heard one. She nodded, and walked out.

Gloria was early for her next interview. She grabbed a latte from her favorite coffee house, and took a window seat. She called Professor Ted Andrews who ran Project for the Innocent and filled him in on her less than stellar performance. Her mentor wasn’t pleased.

“It’s a little early in the game to be burning bridges” Ted said.

“I know, you’re right. I get it. But he was so arrogant.”

“Don’t beat yourself up. You’re doing a good job.” Ted counseled her to take a few days, consolidate her notes, and then they’d revisit the case. Not what Gloria wanted to hear. And then as an afterthought, “I think I’m being followed.”

That caught the professor’s attention. Gloria explained it was an SUV with tinted windows. She’d picked up a strange vibe. She made a few off-the-wall turns, and he was gone. She started questioning herself, said it was probably nothing. The professor reminded her when they exonerate one of their clients, someone else’s career and reputation sustains damage. It’s a dangerous business. He tells her to trust her instincts. Gloria took that to heart and signed off.

Hanna Cook was standing on the postage-sized porch of a tired California bungalow in Del Rey. She was pushing fifty but giving sixty a run for its money.

“So, what can I tell you about the bastard?” Hanna asked, droll.

Gloria shared a conspiratorial grin. Put the subject at ease, she’d been taught, and they might share their secrets.

“Do you remember the case? It was back in 2000. The sexual assault and brutal murder of a young co-ed.” Gloria reached into her briefcase, “This is a picture of Carl when he was seventeen.” She handed Hanna the photo.

“What did Kevin have to do with it?”

“I was hoping you could tell me. He’s on record as being part of the team who arrested the young man.”

“No,” she said wistfully, handing the photo back. “The less I knew, the better off I was. Kevin was an angry man who never should’ve been a cop. Went to his head. That, and the rye whiskey. Only thing that made him feel good … then it made him mean. When he wasn’t getting his kicks arresting dirt-bags, he’d start in on me.”

“Was he ever cited for physical violence?”

“Once or twice. It wasn’t like it is now. People with their cell phones, and cameras. And just try to arrest a cop back then for slapping around his wife…”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Gloria said, and decided to drop the hammer. “Carl claims your ex, and his partner, beat him into giving a false confession.”

Hanna considered that. “I almost shot Kevin one night. Had his gun. He woke up staring down the barrel. I started to cry and he slapped the thing out of my hands and gave me something to cry about. First call I made after they unwired my jaw was to a lawyer.”

The conversation was going nowhere. Nothing but conjecture to corroborate her inmate’s story.

It was dusk as Gloria made her way toward Twin Dragon Restaurant. She glanced in the rearview mirror and saw a gray Ford Expedition several lengths behind her. Was it the same SUV she saw before? There were lots of SUVs in LA. When she checked again, it was gone.

Gloria pulled her car onto the side street next to the restaurant. All was quiet. She draped a sweater over her briefcase in the rear compartment, locked up, and hoofed it around to the front entrance to pick up her order.

Five minutes in and out. When Gloria emerged, her hands were full and the smell was incredible. She rounded the corner—and had to look twice to make sense out of what she was seeing. Broken shards of glass fanned out around the back of her car. She took another tentative step forward and could clearly see the shattered rear window of her Fiat.

Her heart pounded, and her breath came in fits and starts. She prayed she was wrong. Yet as she neared her car, her worst fears were realized.

Her briefcase was gone.

Her throat went dry, and she stifled tears. She set the bag of food on top of her car and took in the scene. She looked around her car, checked the traffic on Pico, and the quiet side street for anything out of the ordinary.

Nothing. No one who could have witnessed the break-in. No one who cared that she was caught in a nightmare.

Gloria did a quick mental inventory of everything in her briefcase and came to the sickening realization her iPad and four months of hard work had been stolen. In some instances, information and notes of interviews that took hours to create, and hadn’t been copied. The flood gates opened and tears streamed down her cheeks. Light-headed, she had to lean against the car to keep her balance.

Was it an opportunistic crime? The thief saw an object, did a smash and grab. Could it have been that simple?

What else could it have been? The SUV? Gloria knew she was paranoid now. Scared silly. She grabbed a few napkins out of her takeout order and whisked the shards of glass that had landed on her front seats onto the curb. She turned on her headlights and pulled out, driving toward home.

Her head was still swimming. Gloria pulled to a stop, grabbed her cell phone and called her father.

After she told him what had happened, he quickly replied:

“Look, darling, don’t go home to an empty apartment,” he said with a tenderness that belied his courtroom reputation. “I don’t want you to be alone. Drive over the hill and spend the night. We can file a police report in the morning and set you up with a rental car.”

“I’ve got Chinese.”

“Shrimp with black bean sauce?”

“And Kung Pao.”

“I’ll chill the chardonnay. I don’t want you to worry. Drive safely, honey.”

“Okay, Dad. Thank you.”

Gloria clicked off, feeling loved, and headed for the Las Virgenes exit off the 101.

Malibu Canyon Road was two lanes of driving pleasure. Winding blacktop cutting through deep canyons and steep cliffs with sandstone outcroppings. It came to a dramatic end, revealing the Pacific Ocean and Malibu.

She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. The missing rear window of her Fiat created a strange whistle as she powered the small car around the curves at forty-five miles an hour. Her rumbling stomach got the better of her, and Gloria rummaged around the bag with one hand and plucked out a dumpling. She smiled, took a bite, and glanced at the rearview mirror.

A large SUV appeared around one rocky turn, moving fast, and she hoped the driver wasn’t going to be a pain, and force her to pick up the pace.

Gloria made short work of the dumpling and used two hands to maneuver around a tight curve. Her discomfort swelled as she realized the SUV was closing the distance. Headlights on high beam. Her body tensed as she realized the vehicle bearing down on her was a gray Ford Expedition.

Gloria wondered if she was going mad. It looked like the same car she’d seen before. No, it was impossible, she thought, but picked up her pace. Fifty miles an hour was pushing it around the tight curves, and as fast as she was willing to go. Screw the driver.

The SUV was tracking her now. Tight on her fender. Headlights blinding. She grabbed her cell phone and hit her father’s number with one hand. Gloria slid around the next turn, and the phone dropped out of her hand.

“Back off!” she shouted over the whine of air thundering through the broken rear window as her speedometer hit sixty miles an hour. The SUV loomed in her rearview and she instinctively pushed the car to sixty-five, white-knuckling the steering wheel.

Gloria drifted over the broken white line as a car blasted by from the opposite direction, horn blaring, scaring the crap out of her. She came dangerously close to skidding onto the narrow gravel shoulder and colliding with the sheer cliff face.

And then, oh Christ, she felt the SUV nudge the back of her car.

Gloria stomped pedal-to-metal. Her small sedan rocketed to seventy miles an hour.

The SUV tapped her rear bumper again.

Gloria’s eyes teared. She was losing it but fought to keep the car on the road.

The SUV slammed into her harder. “Stop it!” she cried.

And then the power punch. Five thousand pounds of steel rammed her compact car.

Gloria couldn’t hear her squealing tires over the sound of her own screams as she went into a death spin.

Gloria knew she was going to die a moment before her car came out of the 360 on the opposite side of the road, barreling toward the cliff at seventy miles an hour.

Her Fiat smashed into the rocky berm and went airborne.

Time stood still.

The only sound: the whistling wind and Gloria’s beating heart.

The rock-strewn riverbed grew in size, filling her field of vision as she dropped out of the sky and bore witness to her impending death.

The pistachio Fiat that had brought Gloria so much joy in life burst into flames on impact and enveloped her broken body.


Excerpt from 25 to Life by John Lansing. Copyright 2023 by John Lansing. Reproduced with permission from John Lansing. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

John Lansing

John Lansing is the author of four thrillers featuring Jack Bertolino—The Devil’s Necktie, Blond Cargo, Dead Is Dead, and The Fourth Gunman—as well as the true-crime non-fiction book Good Cop Bad Money, written with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. He has been a writer and supervising producer on Walker, Texas Ranger, the co-executive producer of the ABC series Scoundrels, and co-wrote two MOWs for CBS. The Devil’s Necktie is in development at Andria Litto’s Amuse Entertainment, with Barbara DeFina attached as a producer.

A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

Find out more on:
BookBub - @JohnLansing
Instagram - @johnlansingauthor
Twitter - @jelansing
Facebook - @devilsnecktie



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21 August, 2023

August 21, 2023 0

Read an #Excerpt from Blindsided Justice by Daniel Romanello #Contemporary #Thriller @partnersincr1me @TheDanRomanello


Blindsided Justice

by Daniel Romanello

July 31 - September 8, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Blindsided Justice by Daniel Romanello


Dylan Tomassi returns in this sequel to the original coming of age thriller, PAPERBOY. Having grown up poor, Dylan is now a successful private investor, wealthy beyond his wildest dreams and living an idyllic lifestyle on Florida’s gulf coast. Cognizant of his humble beginnings, he is committed to paying it forward as he prepares for the opening of his charitable foundation’s crown jewel.

But crime is raging out of control following the election of an opportunistic carpetbagger and Dylan and those closest to him become victims of a broken system that places them in grave danger. He utilizes his considerable resources to protect those he holds dear, but everyone and everything are not what they appear to be.

An exhilarating action thriller, BLINDSIDED JUSTICE drops you in the middle of an epic battle between justice and subversion.

Book Details:

Genre: Contemporary Thriller
Published by: Sanitas Publishing
Publication Date: August 2023
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 979-8-9863151-2-6
Series: Dylan Tomassi Novels, Book 2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


A seventy-two-year-old Hispanic man living alone in an old bungalow-style house in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood awoke in a cold sweat and turned toward the digital clock on the nightstand. It read 2:38 a.m. He had been depressingly lonely and experiencing trouble sleeping since his wife of forty-eight years passed away six months ago. Deciding to get dressed and take a stroll, he left his house, alone in his thoughts, and began walking in the direction of Nebraska Avenue. Half a block from the main thoroughfare, he was suddenly rushed by a pack of young people, ages fifteen to twenty-two, dressed in dark clothes and hoodies. They knocked the old man to the ground and took turns punching and kicking him until he lay motionless on the side of the road.

After a few moments of laughing and taunting his inert body, the youngest hoodlum sifted through the man’s pockets. “Nothing,” she exclaimed as she took a couple steps back and simulated a football placekicker attempting a game-winning field goal. Her right black army boot connected solidly with his skull, and his head bounced off the curb and struck the pavement with a loud thud before blood began pooling beneath him. The sound of police sirens could be heard in the distance as the group scattered, running in different directions.


Seven years ago, a civil rights lawyer had run for district attorney in Philadelphia. The attorney, Calvin Radner, ran on a platform of prosecutorial criminal justice reform. The tenants of the platform included a no cash bail policy, a reduction in the prison population with a review of prior convictions and sentences, and a mandate to aggressively prosecute all allegations of police misconduct. Dark money organizations were a major contributor to Radner’s campaign.

Shortly after being elected, Radner fired most of the long-term career prosecutors, including the entire homicide division, and replaced them with attorneys who had backgrounds in the public defender’s office and civil rights litigation. At his first press conference, he announced that his office would no longer prosecute theft or other property crimes where the amount at issue was less than a thousand dollars. Additionally, all drug use was decriminalized. Radner was instrumental in establishing safe injection sites around the city where drug users could obtain free heroin and sterile needles. Drugs were injected under the supervision of nurses or other medical professionals.

To carry out his policies, Radner established a new division known as the Conviction Integrity Unit. The division was the largest in the office in terms of budget, number of lawyers, and support staff. He hired Troy Eads, a former defense attorney, to run the CIU, making him the highest paid assistant DA in the office.

Violent crime, including homicide, increased in Philadelphia in each of Radner’s first four years in office. Two years ago, when he sought reelection, a well-respected criminal defense lawyer ran an ostensibly effective campaign against him, highlighted by television commercials featuring family members whose loved ones were homicide victims under Radner’s policies. Notwithstanding, Radner won reelection with 68 percent of the vote. Last year, Philadelphia set a record with 524 homicides, 30 percent more than New York City, which has three times the population. A disproportionate majority of the victims were Black.

After three years on the job, Troy Eads had advised Radner that his elderly mother, who lived in Tampa, was in poor health and he needed to relocate to assist her. Eads explained his desire to run for the top prosecutor job in Tampa with the goal of duplicating Radner’s policies. Radner had agreed to introduce him to the money machine that financed his campaigns.

Eads settled in Tampa, and one year later ran for office. The position was known officially as the State Attorney for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit and covered Hillsborough County, which included the city of Tampa.

Despite being a newcomer, Eads had run a well-financed, well-organized campaign against the sitting state attorney who had historically shunned publicity. He was a quiet, unassuming man with little name recognition. The incumbent prosecutor had been completely blindsided by the outsider from Philadelphia and was outspent by a margin of fifty to one. The state attorney race was held in an election off-year and the crime rate had been relatively low at the time. Consequently, it did not generate much attention. With just a 23 percent voter turnout, Troy Eads was elected state attorney by a six percent margin.

Eads had instituted policies similar to those of his former boss in Philadelphia. As his first order of business, he fired most of the career prosecutors and hired lawyers committed to his criminal justice reform agenda. He formed his own Conviction Integrity Unit to review past convictions and sentences. Duty prosecutors were instructed to request release on recognizance with no cash bail for most arrestees, and Eads announced a new firm policy of declining to pursue the death penalty regardless of circumstances.

Shortly after taking office, Eads had advised the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office that his office would no longer prosecute property crimes where no gun violence was involved. After two years, crime surged in Hillsborough County, particularly in Tampa. Homicides increased from twenty-one the year prior to Eads taking office, to forty-two last year and fifty-four so far this year. Further, violent crime, including muggings, robberies, carjackings, and burglaries, had increased by 150 percent. Hours earlier, an elderly Ybor City resident had been the most recent murder victim.

Last year, Tampa police had responded to a domestic call. The female complainant advised the 9-1-1 operator that a man with a restraining order against him was trying to break into her house and threatened to kill her. When police arrived, the man was pounding on the front door and screaming that he was going “to gut her like a pig.” The man ignored the officers’ commands and turned his fury toward them. A scuffle ensued, and after the man brandished a hunting knife and stabbed one of the officers, his partner shot and killed the assailant. The entire incident was captured on a doorbell camera.

Pursuant to Florida law, police-involved shootings were investigated by an independent outside office. In this case, the task had been assigned to Grant Adams, the longtime law-and-order state attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which included Saint Petersburg and Pinellas County. Adams had completed his investigation and found that the police shooting was justified. Following the decision, several days of riots and looting ensued in Tampa and Saint Petersburg. The Florida governor, Michelle Chen, suspended Adams and cited her authority under the Florida constitution, which allowed her to suspend state officials for reasons of malfeasance, neglect of duty, and incompetence. Governor Chen appointed Tampa prosecutor, Roland Beeks, to serve as state attorney in Adams’s place. Beeks was the chief assistant to Troy Eads.

Although Adams was appealing his suspension, Beeks’s appointment had caused a mass exodus of career prosecutors from the office after he announced the institution of policies that mirrored those in Tampa. In the past several months, violent crime in Pinellas County was on the rise.


Excerpt from Blindsided Justice by Daniel Romanello. Copyright 2023 by Daniel Romanello. Reproduced with permission from Daniel Romanello. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Daniel Romanello

Dan Romanello worked in the newspaper industry before attending law school at the University of Florida. After serving as an assistant state attorney, he spent more than 20 years as a partner in a boutique firm, running the trial practice group. An accomplished trial lawyer, he has litigated cases in courtrooms throughout the state of Florida. After retiring from the active practice of law, he wrote the first book in the Dylan Tomassi series, PAPERBOY. He resides on Florida’s gulf coast.

Catch Up With Daniel Romanello:
BookBub - @authordanromanello
Twitter - @TheDanRomanello
Facebook - @thedanromanello



Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!





This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Daniel Romanello. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.



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