08 September, 2012

Special Feature:: #Spotlight on Finding Jennifer by DaveFolsom

*** SPECIAL FEATURE - September'12 ***
The ending will surprise you and a fast paced story that will keep you glued to the printed page and hoping for more as you turn the last page and read the dramatic ending. ~~ Fran on Amazon.

Charlie Draper only took the job of finding the missing girl as favor. He approached it convinced that the hot desert sun had likely eliminated another unprepared hiker rather than a part of the Border Wars. It didn’t take long to realize his error. Then it became complicated. In less than a day he discovers that drug cartel members shot her and threw her into a volcano vent. The resulting trail leads into Mexico where his actions bring on the wrath of the cartel. The bodies start to pile up with a vengeance as he and his helicopter-flying Apache friend attempt to rescue the young women and prevent the revenge determined drug alliance from killing them all.

An Excerpt

Chapter Four

Tuesday Afternoon

ust after two in the afternoon, after an hour and twenty minute flight, Draper listened to DeCollado talking to Phoenix Radar, adjusting his flight plan to include low level flight, meaning less than five hundred feet, in an area close to the Mexican border.  The huge expanse of the Sonoran Desert, including most of the southern part of Arizona, except the very eastern edge, extends north nearly to Las Vegas, where it merges seamlessly with the Mohave Desert.  It reaches south into Mexico for hundreds of miles creating an immense sandy and rugged mountainous playground for an estimated ten to nineteen billion dollar combined drug and people smuggling trade.  Its size alone makes policing it effectively almost without a solution.
“Lot of room down there to get lost in,” DeCollado said.
“That’s why I invited you along.  Finding Jennifer Hollings is going to take an enormous amount of luck.  All I told her mother was that we’d give it a shot.”
During the flight the two men discussed their approach and Draper outlined his initial attack plan.  He wasn’t proud of it, but there didn’t appear to be any other options.  The desert was simply too big.  Truth be known, he realized there was little chance he could find her if had an army of Apaches.  And he only had a single old one.
“When I was flying around this morning, I’m pretty sure I saw movement.  I don’t think it was a deer and it was too large for anything else,” Draper said, his voice elevated to compete with the helicopter’s engine noise.
“You mean it might have been a polecat that didn’t want to be seen?”
“Exactly.  There’s a ridge of low hills a couple of miles to the east where we could set down and you could let me out for an on-foot look see,” Draper suggested.
“And let you trample all the sign?  We’ll both go.  Besides, kid, you white folks get lost in a cardboard box.  Apache familiar with the desert, find paleface girl easily.”
“I wish I was as confident of that as you are,” Draper responded.
DeCollado dropped the Bell down onto its ground cushion, holding it there to see how loose the sandy ground was and if it would obscure his vision.  When it didn’t he let the craft settle to the soil, the skids touching lightly and resting full weight before killing the engine.  Draper was impressed; the old Indian certainly hadn’t lost his touch.  They stepped out and began the process of loading backpacks with the necessary water, energy snacks, flashlights, a hundred-foot coil of climbing rope each, and armament.  DeCollado lifted two Bushmaster M4A2 Type Carbines out of the Bell and handed Draper one.
“Nice.  You expecting an army?” he said.
“When you is hunting in grizzly country, a smart Injun is loaded for large bear,” DeCollado quipped.
Draper brought along his favorite Glock 23, a pistol light in weight, easy to carry, safe as hell when used properly and when its .40 S&W caliber round hit something, it went down and stayed down.  He slipped in a fifteen round magazine and shoved it into his hip holster.
“You ready?” he said to his Apache partner.
“Wait’n on you, kid.”
“Okay, let’s stop at the little rise there about a quarter mile away.  We should be able to survey the area from there.”
They separated, moving ahead, but walking apart by a couple hundred yards.  It was a tactical maneuver they both knew and understood.  A man with a rifle could only sight down on one a time.  Using the same hand signals learned in long ago jungles, they made the sandy hill in a little less than ten minutes.  Draper fished out a pair of 7x35 binoculars and crawled to the top to where he could see the country beyond.  Lying on his belly, he glassed the area ahead, slowly and methodically.  In the distance, about another quarter mile ahead, the scar of the old wagon road cut the side of a long ridge of naked mountains.  Draper’s desert camouflage shirt, absorbing the full strength of the afternoon sun, soon stuck to his back like a wet rag dipped in boiling water.  He didn’t move, continuing to watch, moving the glass slowly and studying the terrain for most of a half-hour.  Two things his training had taught him, ignoring uncomfortable surroundings and patience, came in handy.  He forced himself to think only of the young girl out in this heat alone.
He was about to signal DeCollado to go when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye.  Swinging the binoculars south across the draw from the wagon road and high up in a boulder field, the figure of a man, leapt into his view.  The man’s features weren’t discernible at that distance but there wasn’t much doubt about his actions.  Everything indicated a man relieving himself. 
“What the hell is he doing out here taking a leak?” Draper muttered to himself.
When the man disappeared, Draper carefully slid back off the hill so as not to expose himself, dropped down to the bottom and running bent over, followed the dry swale toward DeCollado.  The Indian was waiting, already down off the hill.
“You spotted him?” DeCollado asked.
“I did.  What do you suppose he’s up to?”
“Probably a lookout for drug activities, I’d say.  Maybe we should sneak up and scalp his ass.” DeCollado grinned at Draper who was dead serious.
“I have a better idea, let’s just walk up and ask him nicely,” Draper countered.
“Might be more than one.  You’re getting a little long in the tooth for hand to hand.  Best let me go first.”
“Hell, I’m younger than you, old man and still tougher than owl shit.  I’ll take the first one; you take care of any others.”
They followed the swale for several hundred yards until they were below the boulder strewn hillside where Draper had spotted the man.  “I’ll climb up until I’m behind that largest egg-shaped boulder and then I’ll signal you up,” he said, pointing up at the rocks above them.
Draper started up the hill, watching carefully where he stepped while trying to keep an eye above in case the man appeared again.  When he reached the top he signaled DeCollado to start.  He could hear faint jabber in Spanish coming from the other side of rocks.  Draper could understand a smattering of Spanish and caught a word or two but they were talking too fast for him to decipher any of it.  He waited for DeCollado to join him.
When DeCollado was alongside, Draper whispered, “See if you can draw them out.”
DeCollado nodded and said in a loud painful voice, “Hombres, ¿tiene algo de agua?”
The chatter stopped instantly, and Draper tensed.  Silence ensued for almost a minute before he saw the barrel of a rifle inching its way through the narrow opening.  He could hear DeCollado moaning softly, seductively, enticing the man further out into the open.
“¿Quién habla?” the man said, taking another step, the rifle now fully past Draper, but not quite far enough.
Draper waited, controlling his heartbeat and breathing slowly; one more step should do it.  DeCollado moaned again, his voice sounding like a gut-shot casualty, in severe pain, a practiced resonance designed to seduce the enemy into thinking it would be an easy kill.
The rifle holder took another step and Draper hit him, not hard enough to kill, but hard enough to disable for several minutes. He dropped like a pole-axed steer, and the rifle clattered on the rock.  Draper grabbed him by the back of his sweat-soaked shirt and dragged him out of the narrow walkway into the sunlight.  Both Draper and his Indian companion knew that unless this one was talking to himself there had to be more.  DeCollado reached into his shirt and produced a grenade-like canister.  Pulling the pin, he tossed it down the walkway as hard as he could while mouthing “flashbang” in warning to Draper.  The M84 disappeared and an ear- shattering explosion reverberated through the boulders.  Draper held his hands over his ears, counted to fifteen, grabbed his Glock out of its holster and followed the walkway into a room-like enclosure containing another man rolling around and moaning.  He disarmed the man and let him lay where he was, knowing he’d be blind for several more minutes and deaf as a post for three or four hours.  DeCollado came in following a stumbling captive who sat down next to his comrade massaging his neck.
No Inglés,” the second man responded to DeCollado when asked his name.  DeCollado repeated the question in Spanish.
“Well, Hector,” DeCollado said, speaking in Spanish, and translating each sentence in English for Draper’s benefit, “we are looking for a young American señorita, tall, reddish hair, that was out in this area of the desert on Sunday, and we think you might know something about her.”
No, Señor!”
“Well, Hector,” DeCollado continued, emphasizing the man’s name using a guttural tone, either you tell us or that ugly white man over there is going to pull out his .40 Glock, and starting with your knees, is going to shoot you a little a time.”
Draper knew from the look on the man’s face when DeCollado mentioned the girl, that he knew something, so he slowly drew his Glock and pointed it at a kneecap.
“What’s it going to be, Hector?”
El Jefe nos va a matar de todos modos!
DeCollado looked at Draper, “He says the boss will kill them anyway.”
“Tell you what, you tell us where she is and we’ll turn you over to the American’s and you’ll get to spend your time in an American prison.  They are like a resort club compared to Mexican prisons.  Three squares, nice cell with TV and everything.”
“You would do this?” the man said, suddenly learning English.
“Honest Injun,” DeCollado said, without smiling.
El Jefe made us do it.”
“I had to shoot her; she was taking pictures of our lookout.”
“Shit!” Draper muttered under his breath.  He was going to hate having to tell the girl’s Mother, although he wasn’t surprised.  He’d felt from the beginning that the outcome would probably be bad.  Anger surged in his gut and he almost pulled the Glock’s trigger anyway, until DeCollado, sensing how he felt, pushed on his arm gently.
“No, my friend, he’s not worth it.”
“Ask him his jefe’s name and where the girl is.”  DeCollado translated the question into Spanish and the Mexican answered.
“He says they work for a man named Carlos Armenta and they dumped the girl’s body into a cave between here and the old mine road.”
Draper felt sick in the pit of his stomach, dreading the call to Jennifer Hollings’ mother.  If he’d been alone he knew he’d have shot both men and without a single regret, left their bodies to rot in the desert.  Instead, he dug out his cell phone and called the Sheriff’s Office in Ajo.  Reception was marginal, but it went through.  When dispatch answered, he identified himself and asked for the Sheriff.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Draper, Sheriff Sorenson is not available, but I can get Undersheriff Pickett.
“That would be fine.”  Tom Pickett was Molly’s second choice for Undersheriff, but he’d turned out to be a competent administrator in addition to a damn good cop.  Draper liked him, a rarity, he knew, but he couldn’t help admiring Pickett’s quiet, unassuming, but damn tough approach to law enforcement.
“Pickett,” the voice on the phone said.
“Tom, this is Charlie Draper.  I’ve been looking for that Hollings girl out by the old Dry Mountain mine site and I’ve got a couple of Mexican nationals on the wrong side of the boarder. They’ve confessed to killing her.  You want them or should I turn them over to the Feds.”
“Hell no, we want them, Charlie.  What kind of shape are they in?
“You disappoint me, Tom; you know I’d take the very best of care of a prisoner.”
“Yeah, right; have you found the girl’s remains?”
“Not yet, but we think we know where they are.  You’d better bring a bag and some retrieval equipment.  She’s in an old mine shaft.  I don’t know how deep yet, but assume a couple hundred feet or more.
“Okay, we’re on it.  Give us an hour, Charlie.”
“Sounds good; I’ll let you know if we find out more.”
While Draper was on the phone, DeCollado zip tied the two Mexican’s and was nosing around in the lookout.  The natural placement of the huge granite boulders surrounded a ten by ten space almost impossible to detect except from above and allowed a nearly three hundred and sixty degree view of the surrounding desert from natural rock portals.
“Hey, Charlie, you should take a look at this.”
“Come here.”  DeCollado was about fifteen feet away, down on his knees tugging on something stuffed into a large gap under the boulders.  Draper walked over, squatted down and looked at a sixteen inch square wooden box about five feet long.
“What the hell...?”Draper said.
When they opened the box, inside were two brand new appearing M16 rifles.  “Where the hell did these two come up with these?  Tom will be interested in this for sure.”
Draper picked up his backpack and turned to DeCollado “You stay here and keep an eye on the prisoners and those guns.  I’m going to see if I can find the body.  I don’t dare stay here any longer; if I do I’m going to shoot the two of them.”
“No problem.”
Draper took both climbing ropes, figuring he’d need two and walked down into the coulee and up the other side to the old mine road.  The sand appeared undisturbed at first glance, but upon closer inspection he could see faint markings, like the road bed had been swept with a broom or a branch.  He walked down the road a couple hundred feet or so and started to pick up definite footprints here and there in the soft sand, small boots, with a Vibram sole.  Like William Alan DeCollado had taught him, Draper studied the boot prints so that he’d recognize the distinctive pattern.  After a couple of minutes, he walked back up the road, staying off to the side so he wouldn’t disturb any sign.  He passed the swept spot and continued up the road for another couple hundred feet looking for that same boot print.  Above the swept spot, the smooth sand was broken only by a roaming coyote’s paws, and the double grooved trail of a traveling sidewinder.  He was going to need DeCollado to survey that suspicious swept spot to see if he could discern what had happened there.  Draper dropped back into the coulee and set about finding the mine shaft.  It didn’t take long.  He’d walked right by it on the way up to road, its dark opening hidden by two tall Saguaros and thick Creosote brush.  He walked up to the edge and looked down into a dark, cavernous opening that dropped straight down about six feet to a single ledge about twenty inches wide that marked the beginning of a steep sandy slope that disappeared into blackness.  He suspected the sand was probably blow-sand and unstable as hell, but not very deep. Draper dug out his Maglite and pointed the beam into the hole.  Because of the steep angle and his position on top he could only see about twenty or twenty-five feet into the hole.  It definitely wasn’t a mine shaft, but rather Draper recognized, a very large volcano vent, one of the largest he’d seen.
Reluctantly, he tied the end of his climbing rope around the base of one of the Saguaros, tied the two ropes together and tossed them into the hole.  He wasn’t looking forward to what he expected to find, but began the decent.  The first six feet were the hardest since he had to keep nearly perpendicular to its vertical face.  Once he reached the ledge, the moving sand gave him a little trouble but shortly he dropped into total darkness lit only by the Maglite tied to his waist.  At about seventy-five feet according to his rope markers, the vent narrowed to a much smaller hole, large enough for a small person to squeeze through but too small for a body to slide through unless it was perfectly aligned, which seemed unlikely if she was sliding down uncontrolled.  Holding on to his rope, Draper stuck his head and the flashlight through the hole to convince himself.  The light shown down on a steep rocky narrowing shaft with large sharp edges jutting out from all directions making is likely that a body, even if it slipped through the opening, would hang up almost immediately.  The vent was empty.
“Those lying sons of bitches!” he said, and his voice echoed back at him.  Pulling back he studied the area just ahead of the hole.  He immediately spotted a Twinkie wrapper stuffed into a crack in the sidewall.  Right below it looked like dried blood, in two or three small pools and a broken Canon digital camera.
Someone had been here recently; Draper had no doubt about that.  The question was how the hell did he/she get out without help?  She may have been able to get back up to the top but that last six feet would be a challenge without a rope or assistance.  Draper pulled himself back up to the ledge.  Standing straight up, the lip of the vent was roughly even with the top of his head, but he was six-four and Jennifer Hollings was only five-nine according to her mother.  He stood there studying the wall of rock in front of him.  There wasn’t much in the way of either foot or handholds that stood out.  Draper tied the climbing rope loosely around his waist as kind of a safety net in case he slipped.  He found the first foot hold and pulled himself up by digging his fingers into the stone face.  His head broke over the edge of the hole and saw immediately how she did it.  Right on the edge, but firmly rooted was a large creosote bush.  Draper could easily reach the lower stems and with a little brute strength and struggling, he was able to drag himself up and out of the hole to lie panting in the dirt.  He’d never met Jennifer Hollings, but gunshot or not she must have climbed out of the vent.  Damn!  He was looking forward to meeting this young lady.  She definitely had pluck.

Book Trailer

Lesser Known Facts about Finding Jennifer:
1. My first full length novel took me twenty years to complete.  Finding Jennifer took seven months.  I’m still trying to determine if that’s an improvement. 
2. Initially I planned Jennifer would be killed by the drug runners, but as the story developed I sensed she was telling me she was capable of somehow fighting back.
3. The book cover picture by the author is an actual box canyon in Arizona that was the inspiration for the canyon that plays a pivotal role in the rescue of Jennifer.

So, I got ask Charlie Draper a few 'This or That' Questions... 
Who is Charlie Draper you ask?? 
Charlie Draper is a middle-aged man who's previous life involved much violence.  He likes the quiet solidarity of the Sonoran Desert.  He has an on/off relationship with the local Sheriff that sometimes involves him in dangerous activities. He also happens to be the protagonist of 'Finding Jennifer'. Here's what he had to say:

Fact or Fiction? 
Facts, reality is much harder than fiction.
Book or Movies? 
Books are better because I can add the details as I see fit.
Shakespeare or Dickens? 
I like Dickens better.  Life is sometimes hard.
Jack Sparrow or Mad Hatter? 
I have a bit of Jack Sparrow in me...
iPod or Mp3 Player? 
Definitely an iPod!
Baked or Fried? 
Fried is quicker.
Shaken or Stirred? 
Stirred is good enough.

He has a bit of Jack Sparrow in him... Hmmm... definitely gotta read the book and find out more :)

Stalk the Author

Buy His Books:

Now for the most amazing news! The Giveaway! Mr.Folsom has very kindly agreed to a Very Special Giveaway. This month there's going to be 2 very lucky winners.
 First winner in US only a signed copy of winner's choice any of Dave Folsom's books in trade paperback.  Second winner choice of ebook copy of any of  Dave Folsom's books - gifted through amazon in kindle or smashwords in other formats. 
So,what are you waiting for??? Go Enter NOW!!

1. There's only two compulsory entry to qualify for this Giveaway. 
2. If the compulsory entries are not completed properly, additional entries of that person will not count.
3. The Giveaway is open to US for Trade Paperback & Internationally for Ebook.
4. I will select the winner through Random.org on 30th September and will send an e-mail. They have to reply with their mailing address/e-mail id within 48 hours, or I will select another winner.
5. Please do not leave your e-mail id in the comment section.

Open Internationally

US Only
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1 comment:

  1. Mr Folsom seems like a serious man. But then, he's an author so he has got to be a little bit crazy. Especially because he says he has some Jack Sparrow in him :D

    Great feature :D

    Btw, I nominated you for the Leibster Award! Here's the link if you're interested: http://thestarsabovethegutter.blogspot.com/2012/09/beautiful-blogger-and-liebster-awards.html