31 December, 2019

#BookReview :: The Roman Hat Mystery (Ellery Queen Detective #1) by Ellery Queen

Check out the Book

Well, when you see the series name and the author name together, doesn’t it want to make you pick it up and give it a try? I found the concept very interesting when I discovered that Anthony Horowitz had written himself in as a main character in The Word Is Murder. And though the experience with the book wasn’t as pleasant as I had expected it to be, I still thought that the concept was interesting. As such, I picked up this series only to find out that Ellery Queen is the pseudonym of Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee, the original creators of the series.

Anyhow, coming to the book, it was like being transported to a completely different era and getting the glimpses of how life was then. A man is murdered amidst the latest show of a Broadway theatre and the investigative officer on scene is Inspector Richard Queen. Inspector Queen often relies on the help from his son, Ellery Queen, who writes detective novels. The father and son duo take on this case but soon finds out that it would be difficult to catch the perpetrator. The murder victim had lived a murky and unsavory lifestyle and as such there is no dearth of suspects. Everyone whose life he had touched had a motive to kill him. But the biggest mystery is how and where the victim’s top hat disappeared to! Somehow, Ellery is convinced that if they can solve the mystery of the missing hat, they can solve the murder too.

I loved the setting of the book quite a bit. The age that the book is set in is quite different from now and eerily similar in some ways at the same time. The Broadway theatre background helped add drama to the plot and the mystery was actually simple enough. The wide cast of this book made it interesting, given that any of them could be the murderer. At 230 odd pages, it was a quick read with information and red herrings peppered through it.

For the first book of a series, the book fails to make an impression on the readers when it comes to its protagonists. The Queen father and son duo have their own quirks, but they actually come across as very ordinary and even annoying at times. The other thing that bothered me about this book when I read it was its language. It felt oddly simple and even disappointing to an extent. But I had been binge reading Rex Stout and Ellis Peters at the same time. So, it could be the contrast that made it feel way too simple.

All in all, I do plan to read more of this series as I have been told that it does improve.





30 December, 2019

#Interview with Nilesh Shankar, #Author of The Feisty Rat and Other Stories


About Nilesh Shankar:

Reach out on Twitter



Nilesh Shankar hails from Nagpur. He realized his passion of storytelling when he directed his first play in 11th Grade. His academic (B.Tech- NIT Nagpur, PGDM- IIM Kozhikode) and professional journey of sales gave him a chance to explore diverse parts of the country and discover intriguing lives of its people- their society, culture, struggles and relationships.

He believes that every story deserves a suitable medium and experiments with radio and films along with books. He has pitched a story to NFDC and his first short film is under process. ‘The Feisty Rat and other stories’, is his debut book.






Interview with Nilesh Shankar:


When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
In 11th Grade when I directed my first play.

What inspires you to write?
Stories of people that I come across at various turns of life.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Mine is a collection of 11 short stories and all these were inspired by the people whom  I met during my journey.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Yes there are few and I am confident that soon they will come out of the darkness of drawer and see the light of the day.

Tell us about your writing process.
I am juggling between professional responsibilities and my passion. On weekdays I jot down the rough ideas in wee hours and on weekends give them a detailed form.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favorite scene is from the story THE APARTMENT of the collection. It`s the scene where Anurag while crossing the busy road with Bani involuntarily switches his side towards the coming traffic cautiously directing her like a father directs his child. I love this scene because it proves his love for her, because love always shows in involuntary actions.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
No, but since they are inspired from the people I came across I can definitely introduce you to few with whom the characters inherit their quirks.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
Sometimes I spend hrs thinking about that one write word which describes emotion or scene perfectly as I visualized.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
Yes, of course.  I love reading Manto, Orwell, Shakespeare. Manto definitely has some influence on my writing. I always admired his short stories and the way have ended them.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
I took inspiration from Salinger`s quote “An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
A writer only writes about things that he is emotionally attached with else you are not writing but just selling.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
I would really love to see The Treatment developing in a short movie with Manoj Bajpayee and Radhika Apte playing lead protagonists.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
A big water container, A bag of dates and a box of Books.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
Reading/Watching Movies at home or in theatre/meeting friends. Not specifically I can unwind anywhere.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I want to direct a film.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- I only eat non-oily food at nights.
- I have missed more trains than Kareena from JAB WE MET.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
Either a short film on another collection of short stories.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Hope that my book reaches to every one who loves short stories covering various aspects of India- its people, their culture and relations.


About the Book:
Check out the Book


THE FEISTY RAT AND OTHER STORIES gives a glimpse of cultural, social and political milieu of today`s India and explores changing norms of family and relationships. Adolescent Durga battles the triple evil of Casteism, Patriarchy and Poverty in titular story, Old Mariam seeks her place in the family in THE MUFFLER and little Kanak encounters the demon of superstition in THE WILD RIVER. Young Shambhu ironically doubts our Freedom on INDEPENDENCE DAY and Avik realizes that the established model of happiness is mere PLACEBO. Love strives to survive amid hate in THE DESERT ROSE, a young drifting couple learns the importance of communication in THE NEW APARTMENT and an old colonel succeeds in restoring his GRAMOPHONE and marital life.








29 December, 2019

#SpecialFeature :: #Interview with @DebleenaR, #Author of A Marketplace for Murder


*** Special Feature - December 2019 ***

Quick Recap:
22nd December - Short Story: Policy Custody


About the Book:



Is murder of human body the only kind of murder? What about murder of a dream? Or, murder of identity? This who and whydunit crime thriller explores the three questions through the unravelling of a web of lies, murder and deceit that threaten to bring crime very close home for Leena, a business journalist. The alternating first person voice of the unknown killer and third person narrative takes the story across a modern-day Bangalore and a strange discovery at an archaeological expedition with characters you would have seen around you. One of them, of course, is not who they seem to be.





Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon


An Interview with Debleena Majumdar



When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Consciously, a few years back. Unconsciously, stories have been part of my life since forever. Growing up in Kolkata, we often had powercuts. And in the flickering light of the candle, we would gather outside in the balcony, and my father, the original storyteller in my life, would share stories. Sometimes, we would sing. And when the lights blinked back to life, I would return to the real world, reluctantly. That’s the most visceral memory from my childhood. 

Of course, every book fair, every book shop, my mother’s college library, would find me a constant fixture. I read, compulsively. And our home had books as the only ornament of decoration. But, while I loved reading and admired authors, I never thought I could become one. That happened, much later.

A combination, perhaps of seeing life, a bit too closely, deciding to chuck a safe job to become an entrepreneur, in Education and Storytelling, finding my voice as an investigative journalist, a supportive husband who not only lived with my craziness but decided to chart his own entrepreneurial and discovery journey and a bookaholic daughter, who quickly ran out of books of her age, and declared that the stories I made up for, were the best, she has ever heard. Completely biased of course, but they edged me towards writing.

Seriously speaking, I have always been a rebel, with or without a cause, mostly without a pause. And writing, I feel, is the only sphere where questioning feels natural. Even essential. 

What inspires you to write?
As I look at the world outside me, I see fragments, pieces of a giant puzzle that someone, somewhere is stacking up. It could be someone driving in a car. It could be someone splashing about in the rain. It could be a company closing down. It could be a forgotten moment from history. As I see and I read, I imagine. What could the next page hold for each of them? If the road they were travelling on, suddenly shifted, how would they react? Sometimes, some of those characters and scenarios stay with me longer than others and they become stories.

What kind of research goes into your book?
I love research and analysis. I studied Statistics and Finance and always worked in roles requiring investigation of numbers (investment management, investment banking, venture capital). Now, as an entrepreneur (I co-founded two companies, Kahaniyah, where we work on data-driven storytelling and StoryEd, where we work with youth who are out of formal education and employment systems and help them get school certification and initial income), I need to find answers to questions. As a journalist, (I write on Education and on Mergers and Acquisitions for Economic Times Prime), I need to ask questions. I also love History, and have a strange passion for reading about obscure historical events and visiting places no one has even heard of. Wikipedia would offer me a loyalty coupon if they had one.

When I write fiction, some of this ongoing research finds its way into the plot, the character development, even in the choice of characters. History and crime, my twin fiction passions, both require research. And that’s partly why I love them. Of course, at periodic intervals, I need to pause to sprinkle a dose of humor. 

What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on 2 ideas. One, actually is a suggestion from my brilliant literary agent, Suhail Mathur. My grandfather was a famous criminal lawyer in a small town near Kollkata. I am trying to write about some of his most interesting cases as remembered by my father. Mystery, intrigue, passion; these cases are no less than any murder mysteries.

The other one I am writing (actually still researching the historical aspects of this currently) deals with the idea of personal and political freedom. I am using two time periods and parallel plots here. One is the story of a freedom fighter, set in pre-independent Kolkata and the other is the story a modern day student in a premium college in the country. These stories intersect and become a quest that the characters take the reader on.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story? 
I have been an entrepreneur and working in the Impact Investment space, mainly in Education and in Financial Inclusion for quite a few years now. Through this, I have met and worked with many investors, entrepreneurs and heard about their stories, their challenges and their dreams. I also wanted to explore the idea of masks people can wear online and how our digital identities, can cast long shadows on our presence and how easily they can be manipulated. A germination of these thoughts resulted in the book. The voice of the killer is the one that popped up in my head. And the rest followed.

Please share three interesting facts about the characters in your book.
One of my characters, has a habit of sharing idioms, translating them, to hilarious results. Humor is sometimes not felt to be an important ingredient of a crime story. But I feel, crime stories, more than anything else, are an exploration of human identity at its most vulnerable. And humor from characters like the ones I have tried to develop, peek out, amidst all the darkness.

The characters in my book share different kinds of love. Though it’s a crime novel, or maybe because it is one, our strong feelings of love and hate are never far away from our thoughts. And I explore different facets of these feelings – friendship, love, across relationships, hint of possible love, hate and fear.

A lead character in the book has a habit of tripping over things. I wanted to create characters with real, identifiable quirks. And in the book, that quirk becomes an important part of the story.

If you could pick any famous author to review your book who would you pick and why?
In my dream, Agatha Christie and Saradindu Bandopadhyay, two people who wrote crime and were as fascinated by history as I am,  would be sitting together and writing  a joint review of my book. 

Have you read any books that have inspired you to improve or change yourself in any way?  
Each book I read moves me in some way. That, I guess is the real power of words. I also see a shift in my reading. Earlier, I just immersed myself in the story, in the characters. Now, if I love a book, I re-read it as writer and try to absorb more. How was a scene constructed? How were some dialogues just so sharp? How did some characters just feel so relatable? I read and try to imagine how the author would have thought about it. So yes, if I read earlier for the just the story and language, I read additionally to absorb the craft of writing that some authors have perfected so beautifully. The irony in Somerset Maugham’s writing, the dialogues in Margaret Atwood’s writing, the lyrical prose in Anita Nair’s writing. I read the books again, just to absorb the craft. And hoping to imbibe a fraction of that when it comes to my stories.

Name three things that you believe are important to character development?
1. The characters need to think, feel, talk, live like real, living people. They may be flawed. Have quirks. They may be unlikable. But you want to know more about them.
2. There is a sense as a reader that either the character knows more than you (think of the unreliable narrators) and you are caught in a game of guessing or the reader knows more than the character and you wish you could warn them, tell them of the danger you know is lurking around the corner, which they are still oblivious to
3. The author’s voice does not overpower the character’s voice. 

Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so what helps you to get over it?
One positive side effect of having multiple gigs – from entrepreneurship to writing to journalism, is that there’s always work to be done, and there are people to be met. I immerse myself in these and when the kernel of a new story idea emerges, the words seem easier to find. So, I write, once I have a sense of journey my characters will embark on.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?
It starts with the research. I love researching on history, travel, business and love finding answers. Call it a professional hazard. But the minute an idea sparks my curiosity, I have to compulsively read everything I can about it. Obviously, in writing fiction, most of that cannot appear as is. It’s that background knowledge, as filtered through the eyes of the characters that makes the process so daunting and yet so interesting. I love that process of discovery.

Do you know the ending of your books before you finish writing them?
Not completely. I have an idea of the journey the main characters would take, where it could start and some sense of where it could lead to. But, the pitstops along the way could end up leading to someplace I had never imagined. And that’s the beauty of writing fiction. The more we lose ourselves in it, the more visceral the journey is.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
This is what a writer had shared with me a few years back. Brutal, but real. “No one is waiting for your book. The world can go on without it. If you want to write it, you make it happen.”

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
If any of you hated exercising, you would remember that first day at the gym or your chosen method of torture. You felt like giving up, a hundred times over. Each sore, forgotten muscle that you suddenly called into action, rebelled and protested. And if, you returned back, the next day, and the day after, suddenly, exercise, started shapeshifting from a dreaded chore to a need, almost an addiction. Writing, is a lot like that. We can read about writing, talk about writing, but unless we start the daily, difficult task of actually writing, the writing muscles don’t really work. And they need to, overtime, for us to be considered as writers.

Anything else that you would like to share with your readers?
Read my book. At 165 pages, a plot that keeps you guessing and characters you would have met, and seen around you, its more than a crime novel. It’s a slice of life many of us could find ourselves reflected in. And your feedback makes my work real.




Giveaway:
You could win a copy of A Marketplace for Murder.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

28 December, 2019

Up Close & Personal with #Author Vivek Tejuja - @JaipurLitFest


Up Close & Personal is a series of interviews with Speakers at Jaipur Literature Festival 2020. As a preview to the big event, here are a few quick sets of warm up interviews. The main show begins on 23 Jan and runs till 27 Jan, 2020. I hope you're ready!



Besides being an avid bibliophile, Vivek loves food and cats. An accidental writer, he indulges and wishes there was more time to write and read. A Bombay boy through and through, the sea is one of his loves. Men are also a part of his existence on and off. Vivek believes in the complete providence of fate. So Now You Know is Vivek’s debut novel.

Up Close & Personal with Vivek Tejuja


What is the one question you are tired of answering?
What was the inspiration to write your book?

What is the one question you secretly wish people would ask you?
Why a memoir and not a work of fiction?

Tell us your favourite literary quote.
“To be running breathlessly, but not yet arrived, is itself delightful, a suspended moment of living hope.” - Anne Carson

Recommend just ONE book.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Do you think that Literary Festivals help encourage the love for reading and help lure more readers into the fold?
I think they set the foundation stone, so to say. I think literary festivals are needed because people are curious about who attends and why and who are these authors and it results in people picking up a book or two. May be they won't read them immediately, but they will for sure and that's a huge change, resulting in more readers and mindful discourses.

What are you looking forward to the most at JLF 2020?
These specific sessions: Bookends: The Writer's Craft, Akbar and Dara, On Susan Sontag, This Land is Our Land, On Memoir, and Jaipur Journals. I could go on and on and on but you wouldn't want that for now.

If you could invite any author (living or dead) to be on a panel with you for the fest, who would you choose and why?
It would have to be Elizabeth Gilbert (given she is also going to be there) because there is this grace, intelligence, and a different perspective to life and living in her books. Would love to discuss her writing.

What can we expect from you 2020?
Well, honestly, even I don't know that. I am just going with the flow.


Check out the Book:

So Now You Know


26 December, 2019

Up Close & Personal with #Author Ann Cleeves - @JaipurLitFest


Up Close & Personal is a series of interviews with Speakers at Jaipur Literature Festival 2020. As a preview to the big event, here are a few quick sets of warm up interviews. The main show begins on 23 Jan and runs till 27 Jan, 2020. I hope you're ready!



Ann Cleeves is an English crime-writer. In 2006 she won the inaugural Duncan Lawrie Dagger, the richest crime-writing prize in the world, for her novel Raven Black. The Vera Stanhope novels have been dramatised as the TV detective series Vera and the Jimmy Perez novels as the series Shetland. In addition to her crime novels, Cleeves has written a number of ghost stories to be read at Newcastle upon Tyne's Literary and Philosophical Society.


Up Close & Personal with Ann Cleeves


What is the one question you are tired of answering?
I don’t think there are any boring questions.  For example, some writers dislike being asked where they get their ideas from, but I think it’s very interesting to unpick a story or a character, to dig back into my memory for the trigger to the book.  I do have to answer lots of questions about the television adaptations of my novels, but the experience has been very positive, so it’s no hardship to respond.

What is the one question you secretly wish people would ask you?
This is very hard!  I think I’ve been asked questions on so many aspects of my writing that it would be difficult to come up with anything new.  I’m always delighted when there’s a question about libraries; I wouldn’t be a writer if I hadn’t been given the chance to borrow books for free as a child.  

Tell us your favourite literary quote.
‘Only connect.’  This is from E M Forster’s Howards End and I’ve loved it since I first read it.  The willingness of people with different views and ideas to come together, to listen to each other and to connect with each other seems even more important today.

Recommend just ONE book.
Any of the Maigret books by Georges Simenon.  As a mystery writer, I love the exploration of a crime, but Simenon provides a master class for any aspiring novelist; his work is so spare and tight and he can set a scene, explain a character and move on the plot in just one sentence.

Do you think that Literary Festivals help encourage the love for reading and help lure more readers into the fold?
Absolutely!  Reading doesn’t have to be a secret or solitary activity. Festivals give us all a chance to share our reading passions and to come across authors who might be unfamiliar to us.  Reading gives us the opportunity to step inside another person’s shoes and that takes us back to ‘only connect.’

What are you looking forward to the most at JLF 2020?
Having my first taste of India.  My husband visited many times – he was a professional and amateur ornithologist and loved the country’s diverse wildlife – and we always planned to go together.  Unfortunately, he died before we could make the trip, so this is a wonderful opportunity for me to finally experience the country.  I’m also very excited to meet readers and to find authors new to me.

If you could invite any author (living or dead) to be on a panel with you for the fest, who would you choose and why?
Another hard question… I think I’d choose the Golden Age mystery writer Dorothy L Sayers.  We have a view that those authors who wrote between the world wars were all rather wealthy and conventional, but Dorothy was a strong-minded woman who had to work for a living.  She also had a child out of wedlock, which must have been very, very difficult at the time.  I’d ask her if her creation Lord Peter Wimsey represented her idea of a perfect man.

What can we expect from you 2020?
Another Vera Stanhope novel will be published in the autumn, and I’ll be touring with that in the UK and the US.  There’ll be more television; a new series of Shetland starts filming in the spring.  But of course, the highlight will be my participation in the Jaipur Literature Festival in January.  I was so delighted to be invited.


Check out the Books:
Vera Stanhope Series
Shetland Island Series
Inspector Ramsay Series
  

25 December, 2019

#BookReview :: Murder in Montague Falls by @AuthorDudeRuss, @SawneyHatton & @I_PatrickThomas - @partnersincr1me

 

Murder in Montague Falls

by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, Patrick Thomas

on Tour December 1-31, 2019

Synopsis:

Murder in Montague Falls by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, Patrick Thomas

WHITE HOT THRILLS! PITCH BLACK DEEDS!

3 TALES OF TEENS TACKLING THEIR DARKEST RITES OF PASSAGE

Acclaimed storytellers Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, and Patrick Thomas each present an original novella brimming with enough danger, intrigue, and murder to get readers’ blood pounding and hearts racing.

In Colchamiro’s RED INK, a paperboy with an overactive imagination witnesses a brutal killing on his route—or has he taken his fantasy spy games a step too far?

In Hatton’s THE DEVIL’S DELINQUENTS, a trio of teenage misfits in pursuit of success, power, and revenge practice amateurish occult rituals… with deadly consequences.

In Thomas’s A MANY SPLENDID THING, a sultry high school teacher enrolls one of her students to get rid of her husband. But will the young man really graduate to murder?

Book Details:

Genre: Crime
Published by: Crazy 8 Press
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 0998364185 (ISBN13: 9780998364186)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Review:

This book is a collection of three novellas set in a town by the name of, you guessed it right, Montague Falls. Each novella is written by different authors and elements in it, but are connected by the single element of murder.

Red Ink by Russ Colchamiro is the story of a paper boy called Isaac. He discovers that a murder has been committed on his route. When the authorities involved pays no attention to Isaac’s input about the case, he decides to take matters into his own hands. But do we really know what Isaac is up to or what really happened?

The Devil’s Delinquents by Sawney Hatton features three teenagers and satanic rituals. The three teenagers find each other due to common situations and experiences. Derry and Cal almost immediately feel a pull towards Nat. But they are up to no good as they are on the hunt for revenge and they plan on using satanic rituals to get it. Do they know what they are doing or are they way in over their heads?

A Many Splendid Thing by Patrick Thomas is about a forbidden relationship. Like most of us, Jethro is a teenager who is infatuated with a teacher. Only, in this case it is reciprocated by Ms. Carmine. The excitement of a forbidden romance catches up with them soon enough as there’s a murder to be accounted for.

All the three stories are very different from each other and each has their own appeal for the readers. For instance, in Red Ink we are not only involved in the plot, but we also see our first glimpse of Montague Falls. Isaac is a character whose voice keeps you engaged throughout. When we get into The Devil’s Delinquents, we learn a bit more about the town, but I found the stark contrast in Nat’s home life to be really interesting. The story also had an almost unexpected ending that left me very satisfied in some ways and forlorn in other ways. A Many Splendid Thing was the most surprising story for me in the book because for some very odd reason I did not expect to like this story as much as I did. It may have been because the blurb of the story didn’t make much of an impression on me and had me in its grasp with its opening lines.

All three stories are fast paced and the noir feel of it only adds to the reading experience. The difference in narrative styles of the authors and the added elements in each story manage to keep it interesting and make it a page turner. Overall, the book made for a really entertaining read.





The Turnback - You Kill Me:

"You Kill Me" is the official soundtrack to the book MURDER IN MONTAGUE FALLS (Noir-Inspired Novellas by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton & Patrick Thomas). Russ Colchamiro (a long time friend and fellow creator) asked the band to write what would be considered a closing credit tune for the book. We were happy to do so!



Read an excerpt:

RED INK

An infrared scope cut through the suburban tree line.
Perched on a high-angle branch in the neighbor’s spruce tree, Isaac could see her through the living room window, six houses away.
The M21 semi-automatic sniper rifle with fiberglass stock and 20-round box magazine was snug against his shoulder.
One bullet. One body.
Though camouflaged within a thicket of evergreen leaves, he had a clean shot.
“Come on,” he whispered, his eye against the scope. “Give me the signal.”
In perfect synchronicity, Isaac’s earpiece crackled. “Target confirmed. Kill shot approved.”

THE DEVIL'S DELINQUENTS

Natalie exits her room with the ritual kit, locking the door behind her.
Her father, swathed in a cornucopia-pattern quilt, sits in his wheelchair in the den, positioned near enough the window so that he can be in the daylight. Maybe he enjoys it, but one cannot tell for certain since his face registers no enjoyment, nor any other emotion.
Natalie kneels down before him, flips up the quilt, and undoes the bottom three buttons of his shirt, exposing his stomach. Between her fingertips, she wields the double-edged blade for a safety razor. She carefully nicks the skin above his father’s belly button. She looks up at him, detects no reaction.
She makes intersecting six-inch-long slices into his stomach, then carves a large circle around the lines, working around the seeping blood. Upon finishing, she evaluates her work and nods.
“I’m going to bring you back, daddy,” Natalie says to him, kissing his knuckles. “I promise.”

A MANY SPLENDID THING

Rosa went from smiling to bawling in less time than it took to blink. I pulled her in and held her against my bare chest. She pounded my ribs with her closed fists.
“Why won’t you understand! There is no other way! If we don’t kill him soon, you’ll come to school one day and find that he killed me. How are you going to feel then? Especially if he figures out that you’re my lover! You would follow me to the Pearly Gates.”
“Rosa, this talk of killing is crazy.”
She pushed herself back and slapped me hard across the face. “You think I’m crazy?”
***
Excerpt from Murder in Montague Falls. Copyright 2019 by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, Patrick Thomas. Reproduced with permission from Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, Patrick Thomas. All rights reserved.



Russ Colchamiro:

Russ Colchamiro
RUSS COLCHAMIRO is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the zany sci-fi backpacking series Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, editor of the sci-fi mystery anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, and contributing author for his newest project, Murder in Montague Falls, a noir novella collection, all with Crazy 8 Press.
Russ has contributed to several other anthologies including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, They Keep Killing Glenn, Altered States of the Union, Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Brave New Girls vols. 3&4, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, and Footprints in the Stars.
He is now finalizing the first in an ongoing SFF mystery series featuring his hard-boiled private eye Angela Hardwicke and has several other SFF, crime fiction, and children’s book projects in the works.
Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, their twin ninjas, and their crazy dog, Simon.

For more on Russ’s works, visit:
russcolchamiro.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!



Sawney Hatton:

Sawney Hatton
SAWNEY HATTON is an author, editor, and screenwriter who has long loved playing in the dark. His published works include the Dark Comedy novel Dead Size, the YA Noir novella Uglyville, and the Dark Fiction short story collection Everyone Is a Moon. He also edited the Sci-Fi Horror anthology What Has Two Heads, Ten Eyes, and Terrifying Table Manners?
Other incarnations of Sawney have produced marketing videos, attended chili cook-offs, and played the banjo and sousaphone (not at the same time). As of this writing, he is still very much alive.

For more semi-unseemly insights into Sawney, visit:
sawneyhatton.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!



Patrick Thomas:

Patrick Thomas
PATRICK THOMAS is the award-winning author of the beloved Murphy’s Lore series and the darkly hilarious Dear Cthulhu advice empire.
His 40+ books include Fairy with a Gun, By Darkness Cursed, Lore & Dysorder, Dead to Rites, Startenders, As the Gears Turn, Cthulhu Explains It All, and Exile and Entrance. His is the co-author of the Mystic Investigators series, The Santa Heist, and the Jack Gardner mysteries.
Patrick is the co-editor of Camelot 13 (with John French), New Blood (with Diane Raetz), and Hear Them Roar (with CJ Henderson), co-created The Wildsidhe Chronicles YA series and is the creator of the Agents of the Abyss series.
He has had more than 150 short stories published in magazines and anthologies, with his work for YA and children including the Ughabooz books, the Undead Kid Diaries, the Joy Reaper books, and the Babe B. Bear Mysteries as Patrick T. Fibbs.

Visit him online at:
patthomas.net, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!




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22 December, 2019

#SpecialFeature ::#ShortStory - Policy Custody by @DebleenaR



*** Special Feature - December 2019 ***

About the Book:



Is murder of human body the only kind of murder? What about murder of a dream? Or, murder of identity? This who and whydunit crime thriller explores the three questions through the unravelling of a web of lies, murder and deceit that threaten to bring crime very close home for Leena, a business journalist. The alternating first person voice of the unknown killer and third person narrative takes the story across a modern-day Bangalore and a strange discovery at an archaeological expedition with characters you would have seen around you. One of them, of course, is not who they seem to be.





Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon



Policy Custody


I can hear the police siren from here. People are shouting. Indistinct words are floating up to me. I know he must be lying there on the concrete street, looking like a broken rag-doll with red paint staining his face and his body. The police are coming up to the terrace. I can hear their footsteps. The door is opening. 


. . . . .


“Fall from this height. No chance he could have survived.” Suraj was panting heavily. The five flights of steps they had taken to reach the terrace had not gone easy on him. His face was plastered with beads of sweat; his shirt was sticking to his body, one button threatening to fall off.

“Too much exercise for you?” Arun was leaning over the naked edge of the terrace, looking as fit as if they were just taking a leisurely stroll in the park. At 5 feet 10 and with his lean physique, he probably could have sprinted another five flights of stairs.
Suraj tried to speak but he was still breathless. 
“Just what we needed, man. Crazy. This junction’s all choked up now.” 
“He’s dead, you know. A little sympathy won’t hurt.”
“Sympathy for the dead? I don’t remember to save it for the living.”
“Under construction apartment. Fall from the open terrace. The doctor said he’s been dead for the last few hours. That places time of death late in the night. What does that tell you?”
“Suicide, obviously. We’re wasting our time.”
“No suicide note found near the body.”
“Wasn’t his partly cracked phone found in his pocket? Check that. Must have made a last selfie. Today’s kids. Always taking the easy way out.”
“You don’t think it could be….”
“What…murder? You are looking for problems when there are none.”
“Hey…is that…” Suraj was staring below from the terrace to see if he could find anything suspicious.
“Come on, let’s finish up here quickly. Yes, Sir?”  Arun walked off to a corner to speak to the police chief. More policemen combing the terrace now. 
“Yes, boss. We identified the victim. Arpit Singh. Age 33. Medium Height. Wheatish Complexion. Suicide, it looks like. Fell from a vacant building, 5 storeys. Yes, we are looking.” Arun snapped the phone shut and walked back to where Suraj was standing.
“Say what, Arun, the tech team has been scooping through his digital life. Seems he was searching for options on how to commit suicide. And looking for unfinished construction sites in Bangalore. You might be right on this.”
“Ha, didn’t I tell you? Plain and simple suicide. Young people these days…I tell you.”

. . . . .


In a few hours, they will swoop into the thirty-three wasted years of Arpit Singh’s life. But unless they talk to me, they will never know that he was murdered.  I wish I could stop them right there. But then, will they listen? Arpit Singh was a charmer. He had charmed everyone, including Delia. She never realized when he had become a habit with her. She used to love running her hand through his hair. Loved watching him speak. Loved hearing him say how much he loved her. Loved having him propose to her and dreaming of their new life together.

Till that call came that night. From another woman he had charmed. And married. She didn’t believe it. She had just gone shopping. A beautiful new, lace jacket was draped over her chair. She knew Arpit liked her to be daintily dressed. I saw her cry into her pillow that night, her eyes red and burning. I saw her frantically going through Arpit’s Facebook profile and his emails and even his interviews to check how she could have missed the tell-tale signs.
When Arpit called the next day, and asked her to meet her here for a surprise he had planned for her, her voice trembled on the phone. But she said yes. And he brought her up here. To kill her. You have to admit it. He tried to make a good plan. 
Those searches on the Internet. He wanted to frame her death as a suicide. And finally, he chose this method. An under-construction apartment, deserted, in the dead of the night. No security, no cameras, no people. Quiet and effective. He had planned his story well. 
I saw him standing there, facing the flickering night street lights when she walked up quietly and entered the terrace. Delia’s face was grim. She was dressed in dark jeans and a shirt and she had donned her thin, dainty, blue, new lace jacket.
“Delia!” he rushed towards her when she walked in. Did he notice that she tried not to flinch back from his embrace?
I think so. His smiling face showed the harsh lines of cruelty against the soft moonlight.
“See Delia - this is it. My surprise.  This is it, our dream home.”
“What do you mean, Arpit?” Delia’s voice was flat, cold. She hugged the jacket close to herself as if trying not to give away her secret.
“I am booking this. For us. Aren’t you happy?”
Delia gulped back her tears. A few days ago, she would have been ecstatic. But now, she just cringed at his deception. She squared her shoulders and looked at him.
“Arpit, stop. I can’t do this anymore. Stop this charade.”
He closed the gap between them in two long steps and dragged her back to where he was standing. Anger distorted the perfect features of his face as he shook Delia with both his hands. The thin lace jacket stared ripping off her shoulder.
“Arpit, that hurts. I know what you did.” Delia spoke quietly but firmly trying to move away. They were standing dangerously close to the edge of the terrace now.
“What do you mean?”
“I know about Ishani. Don’t pretend that I don’t understand. And I will expose you. Don’t forget that I am a reporter.” 
Arpit had pushed her to the corner now. The jacket had come off her shoulders. The lace had torn. Delia’s eyes were blazing with anger.
 “You want to expose me??” Arpit repeated shaking her, his eyes narrow slits of rage.
“Yes. People like you need to be. If Ishani had not called me…..”
Arpit laughed. It was quite unlike his usual, gay laugh. Delia shivered. Her jacket was now torn off her body. 
“Ok, that’s good.  I can stop pretending now. This good guy act was starting to wear me down.” Arpit laughed again in the darkness. A hollow laugh. Delia shivered. The jacket had fallen to the ground between them. Neither made a move to pick up.
Delia winced in pain when Arpit squeezed her hand tightly but she held her ground. She looked down at the new, torn jacket once but didn’t bend down.
“You think I fell in love with you? You were just a distraction.”
 “Your game is over, Arpit Singh. I am not scared of you.”
Arpit stepped back from Delia as if seeing her again, for the first time.
“You should be. Didn’t you wonder why I didn’t call you from my mobile yesterday? Why I called you so late from drunk Avinash’s mobile? He won’t even know that I used his phone. Didn’t you ask yourself why I called you here? You really think I would buy this damn apartment? For you?”
Delia stood quietly staring at Arpit’s face.
“No can trace this call to me Delia. And no one knows you are here.” He searched her face for traces of fear but Delia stared back at him without flinching.
“You don’t seem scared.” He spoke finally. “Didn’t you hear what I said? No one knows you are here.”
“Well, that goes for you too then right, Arpit?” Delia’s soft voice had a hard edge when she spoke.
“What? What do you mean?” His confident voice shook just a little at her answer. Arpit’s hands had closed around Delia’s neck by now. He was pushing her closer to the edge of the balcony. 
“Killing me won’t solve anything.”
“You are the only person who knows the truth about me Delia. Ishani will never say anything to anyone. And when you die, the truth dies with you. Just a convenient suicide. Kids these days! No strength to go through life. Police will shake their heads. No one will know anything.”
Arpit was whispering now but his words were like bullets that cut the night air with their coldness. Delia looked like she was losing her balance. She tried to clutch him closer.  
In a snap, Delia suddenly straightened up, looked down at the ground before her once and smiled. Before Arpit could slow his pace, he slipped on the lace jacket that was still on the ground and fell over the ledge. I got a last glimpse of his face before he went hurtling down. It was a look of pure horror. 
She stared down for a long, silent moment after he fell down. As the first sounds of people rushing towards the body floated up, she stepped back and left the balcony, quietly.
I don’t think I will meet Delia again. The only thing that could have linked her to the crime is me. And she knows that.

. . . . .


“Hey, come on guys, there’s nothing else at the crime scene. Let’s go and file up the report. These kids these days! No strength to go through life.” Arun was walking back towards the door of the terrace. He had not noticed me.

Suraj was standing near the edge peering down at the ground below.
“Did he come here to kill himself? I am just wondering - did he trip over something? Or did someone push him you think? If only we had any evidence!” He spoke softly and clearly but no one else was listening. Everyone else had started walking back. Suraj stared down intently again for a long minute and then walked back to his team. 

. . . . .



So that’s my story. Wonder who I am now and how I know so much? I am that new lace jacket Delia had worn. The jacket that Arpit had slipped on. Murder weapon you could call me. But you won’t find me now. I fell too with Arpit when he fell on me. He had tried clawing back to the terrace using me but I had slipped from his hand. I didn’t reach the ground. When I slipped from his hand, I fell into a ledge. And there I am now. Stuck now on a ledge between the 3rd and the 4th floors. Suraj had almost seen me. But not quite. If the police had found me and taken me into custody, they might have known the truth about Arpit. And Delia. But no one will find me now. 



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21 December, 2019

#Spotlight :: The Old Gilt Clock by @MahurinPaulette

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About the Book:
During one of the darkest times in human history when millions of innocent Jews and others deemed “undesirables” were being sent to concentration camps to be brutality worked to death or slaughtered, a group of Dutch resistance workers rose up against the atrocities. Their resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands created a vast counterintelligence, domestic sabotage, and communications network to help hide Jewish people from German authorities. The Old Gilt Clock is the story of how one Dutch resistance member, Willem Arondéus,  risked his life to defy the Nazis’ plans to identify and deport hundreds of thousands of Dutch Jews. Arondéus’ courage is largely forgotten by history, but not by the Jewish and Dutch people. Written by the award-winning international Amazon bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, comes a story of Arondéus’ courageous struggle to stand up to the unimaginable evil designs of Hitler. It is also a story about friendships formed in the Dutch resistance movement, their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, their loves and betrayals, and ultimately their resilience to oppose tyranny and oppression when millions stood silent condoning heinous behavior. Thousands are alive today because of these brave, compassionate men and women.


About the Author:
Paulette Mahurin is an international best-selling literary and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science. 

Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015.  Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the top ten bestseller lists on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K. and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird, was released in 2017 to rave reviews. Her sixth book, A Different Kind of Angel, was released in August, 2018, also to rave reviews.

Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue. Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.


Check out the Author's other BOOKS


17 December, 2019

#Spotlight :: How Deep is the Darkness by Mary Anne Edwards - @partnersincr1me

How Deep Is The Darkness by Mary Anne Edwards Banner

 How Deep is the Darkness

A Charlie McClung Mystery

by Mary Anne Edwards

December 17, 2019 Book Blast

Synopsis:

How Deep is the Darkness by Mary Anne Edwards
Charlie McClung has always known about darkness, it’s part of being a police chief.

But now it’s spreading throughout the town and creeping into his life.

With each body found, the killer deepens the darkness and McClung must put an end to it.

Now.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: Sellem Books
Publication Date: December 2, 2019
Number of Pages: 247
ASIN:B081MYBYG8
Series: The Charlie McClung Mysteries Book 6
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

This story begins on Monday, June 20, 1983, in Lyman County, Georgia

Chapter 1

Chief Charlie McClung stared at the pale, bloated body of Myron Wagstaff lying next to his own swimming pool. He’d seen enough bodies to know when dead is dead. And Myron was dead.
McClung glanced at his wife standing near the diving board at the far end of the pool. Marian’s white tee shirt clung to her body and her wet hair was plastered to her head and neck. Hugging herself, she managed a pitiful grin.
Not only was Myron Wagstaff a neighbor and the president of their Homeowners Association, but he was also Marian’s archnemesis.
McClung knelt beside Myron, grabbed his thick wrist, and checked for a pulse. His fingers sank into doughy flesh. Myron’s waterlogged polo shirt looked as if it had been spray painted on his belly, now bloated more than normal.
While McClung held his fingers in place waiting for a beat, he scanned the area. The patio furniture was jumbled together with the garden hose, snaking between the chairs, and stopping at the spot where Myron lay.
That, combined with the fact there weren’t any signs of bruising on Myron, perhaps meant this was an accidental drowning.
“Boss?” Sergeant Thayer asked as he stood behind McClung.
He shook his head as he moved aside for the paramedics to perform their magic. But McClung realized not even Doctor Frankenstein could reanimate poor Myron.
As the emergency team worked on Myron, Charlie hurried toward Marian.
“Are you okay?” He kissed her forehead and pulled her into his arms.
Marian’s body trembled against his chest.
“Thayer! Get Marian a blanket.”
The young sergeant ran full blast and quickly returned.
“I’m okay just, um, just, um.” Marian fought hard to keep her tears in check.
“Here.” Thayer’s breath pounded the back of Marian’s neck as he laid the blanket across her shoulders.
Charlie released Marian, secured the blanket then blotted a tissue under her eyes and nose. “Here’s a clean one.”
“Love the magical tissues.” A weak chuckle tumbled from Marian as she pulled the blanket tighter. “You’d think I’d be sweating in this June heat.”
“Well, it’s not even ten o’clock. It’s cloudy, and you’re soaking wet.” Charlie glanced at her feet. “Where are your shoes?”
“They were muddy, so I took them off before I went into Myron’s house to call 9-1-1 after I failed with CPR.” Marian sighed. “I was afraid that if Myron survived, he’d send me a bill to have the muddy floors cleaned.”
Pointing at the patio doors, she winced. “My shoes are over there.”
“What’s wrong?”
Marian massaged her lower back. “I guess I hurt my back getting Myron out of the water. I’ll be okay.”
Charlie squeezed her hand. Ever since Marian had the terrifying encounter with the Paper Heart Stalker and fell from a second-floor balcony last year, he worried about her health.
When McClung came face to face with the Paper Heart Stalker, Marian almost lost her life to save his but unknowingly sacrificed their unborn child.
He crossed over to the diving board and beckoned for her to follow. “Sit down. Here. Back toward me.”
She eased down on the hard plank.
Charlie’s strong hands ran across her shoulders and down her back.
“Does it hurt?”
“No, not really.”
“I guess nothing’s broken, dislocated, or cracked.”
He crossed over the board and sat down. “When I get home tonight, I’ll give you an intense massage once you’ve soaked in a tub of hot Epsom salt water.”
“Sounds good.” Marian watched the paramedics work on Myron.
The team’s jaws were tight as they knelt over Myron’s body. One paramedic rubbed the back of his neck as he stood in defeat while the other one closed Myron’s eyes and pulled a blanket over his face.
“I didn’t think they’d have much luck reviving him. I’d hoped, but…” Marian's voice trailed, her head heavy as she leaned on Charlie’s shoulder.
“You did everything by the book. I still don’t see how you got Myron out of the pool.”
Marian sighed. “I did what I had to.” She studied Charlie’s face, then swallowed hard and grimaced. “I tried to revive him. CPR but maybe if—.”
“Don’t even go down that path.” Charlie scratched his eyebrow. “Dispatch said you saw a man run from the scene.”
She sat up. “Yeah. Do you think he had something to do with this?”
“Possibly, but we won’t know for sure until we’ve gathered the facts.” Charlie shrugged. “To me, every death is suspicious. Been fooled before but never again.”
A year ago, two weeks after Charlie McClung had moved to Lyman County, he was called to the scene of a fatal shooting, Dianne Pannell. Without an investigation, the then chief of police ruled Dianne’s death a suicide, but Charlie proved it was murder after Dianne’s irritating neighbor, his now-wife, Marian, pressed him to look further into the case.
“Yeah.” Marian murmured.
Charlie stood. “Could be the guy got spooked when he saw Myron in the pool and ran away.” He held out his hand. “Come with me. The paramedics need to give you a quick check.”
“Why? My back isn’t hurting that bad.”
His hand cupped her cheek. “Sweetie, please just humor me.”
Marian avoided looking at Myron and let her husband guide her to the ambulance.
They met officers Willard and Marsh at the gate. Photographer Sam Goldstein wasn’t far behind.
“Ma’am, are you okay?” Marsh’s voice quivered, and his eyebrows drew together.
Marian looked at him for a moment. “I’m fine. Just a bit damp.” She bit her bottom lip and blinked several times. “Maybe a little shaken.”
Both officers were like sons to Marian.
A tentative smile eased the furrow between Marsh’s eyes. “Thank goodness.”
Willard scratched his head. “Where are your shoes, ma’am?”
McClung answered. “They’re outside the patio door. One of you get them for Marian.”
“Consider it done, Boss.” Willard took off.
“Marsh, I want you and Willard to help Thayer process the scene.”
“Yes, Boss.”
Willard returned a few minutes later, holding the less-muddy sneakers. His hands were filthy. “Here you go. I cleaned them up the best I could.”
“Thank you, Willard.” Marian took the shoes.
“No trouble.”
“You two. Go assist Thayer.” McClung barked.
“Wait.” Marian held up her hand. “I scratched the running guy’s tag number on the sidewalk.”
“Marsh go find it. Willard, you report to Thayer.” McClung directed his trusted men.
The two young men hurried off on opposite paths.
“Sam, how did you know I needed you?”
The silver-haired man tapped his temple. “Didn’t take me long to figure you out. You’re a cop that sees murder everywhere.”
“But Sam, how did you know to come here?” Marian blurted.
Charlie and Sam answered. “Police scanner.”
Marian frowned. “Just anybody can have one?”
“Yep!” Charlie sighed. “In this case, it’s a good thing but mostly it’s not.”
Sam coughed. “I’ll just take a picture or two of that tag number.”
“Yeah, do that. Plus, there’s a lot going on behind the house.” Charlie watched the older man trudge down the sidewalk. Camera bags banged against Sam’s body with each step he took.
One of the paramedics joined McClung and Marian at the ambulance.
“Ma’am don’t fret. There wasn’t a thing you could’ve done for that guy.” The bear of a man shook his head. “I ain’t no coroner, but I’ve been at this job for a long time. He’s been dead too long to be revived.”
The reassurance that she wasn’t a factor in Myron’s death didn’t make Marian feel any better.
“Mel, do you mind giving my wife a quick once-over to make sure she’s safe to go home?” Charlie stroked Marian’s back as he spoke.
“Sure.”
Mel removed his latex gloves and put on a fresh pair. He tilted his head toward the rear of the ambulance. “Just sit there.”
“Boss.” Thayer called to McClung from the open gate.
Charlie looked at Marian.
“Go on. Do your job.” Marian kissed her husband's cheek.
He didn’t move from her side.
“I’m fine, just a tweaked back. Besides you’re making me nervous watching me like a hawk.”
“Boss.” Thayer repeated more urgently.
Charlie smiled and gave her a casual salute. “As you wish.”
McClung hurried toward Thayer. “Found something?”
“I think I figured out what happened.”
McClung disappeared behind the fence.
♦♦♦♦♦♦
“What is it, Thayer?” McClung followed him into Myron’s house as he pulled a pair of latex gloves from his pocket. “I was hoping I could go a whole year without having to use these.”
“Makes for a mundane job.” Sergeant Thayer said flatly. “Here sir, in the kitchen. There’s a half-empty bottle of whiskey and one glass.”
McClung arched an eyebrow as he leaned over to study the bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey. About three fingers of liquid was left inside the bottle, a few drops coated the bottom of the tumbler.
He walked to the sink and smelled the drain. No lingering odor of alcohol. Then he carefully picked up the tumbler. “Thayer, flip on the overhead light.”
The fluorescent tubes buzzed to life.
McClung held up the tumbler to the harsh light. On the rim, was a faint lip print. “Hmm, make sure you dust this for prints and bag it.” He set it back in its original position.
Marsh squinted as he entered the kitchen. “Boss, put me to work.”
“Where’s Sam?”
“Taking pictures of the deceased before they cart him away.”
McClung rubbed his earlobe. “Tell Mel to instruct the hospital not to release the body until I say so. I want Jack Jackson to do the autopsy, if he’s available.” He snapped his fingers. “And tell Sam I’ll need him in here when he’s finished.”
“Will do.” Marsh headed outside.
McClung studied every inch of the kitchen: the floor, inside the cabinets, oven, and refrigerator. He examined everything as he searched for possible clues. There was no hint to what may have led to Myron’s death.
“Boss, I don’t think it’s murder.”
McClung raised an eyebrow and replied sarcastically, “Yeah? Well then, enlighten me with your hypothesis of poor Wagstaff’s watery demise.” He strolled toward the open patio door and headed for the pool.
As Thayer spoke, McClung studied the jumbled furniture.
“Myron was drunk, got tangled up in the patio furniture, stumbled around, and then fell into the pool. He was too drunk to get himself out of the water.”
McClung pushed out his bottom lip and nodded. “Hm. He was in the shallow end. All he had to do was stand up.”
Thayer rubbed the top of his head. “Maybe he hit his head on the bottom. Knocked himself out.”
McClung wandered around the pool. He stopped where the garden hose lay beside the pool.
The concrete was soaked, and the grass drenched to the point that a small stream had flowed down the incline, out the gate and onto the street.
“What do you think Myron was doing with the hose?”
Thayer hunched his shoulders. “Topping off the pool?”
“Yeah, sounds right.” McClung pointed to the water-logged grass. “The hose had to be on for a long time to have created that miniature creek rolling down the hill and into the street.”
“That goes to show I’m right. He was drunk standing here. The hose got tangled in the furniture. He yanked it. Lost his balance. Dropped the hose. Hit his head on the concrete and fell into the pool. Accidental drowning.” Thayer crossed his arms and grinned.
McClung pulled on his bottom lip. “Plausible.” Something on the concrete caught his eye.
“What does this look like to you?” McClung knelt close to the spot.
“It looks like blood. Must be where he hit his head.”
“Yeah, and what about this?”
McClung touched a hard, yellowish, rectangular-shaped chip, like a half of a Chiclet. He looked around for Sam Goldstein.
The EMTs were talking to Sam as he photographed Myron’s body.
McClung yelled over his shoulder. “Sam, get over here.”
The paramedics began moving Myron’s body.
“What do we have there?” Sam held the camera to his eye, snapping pictures as McClung pointed toward the areas.
“That appears to be blood.” McClung pointed to the yellowish object. “And that, my friend, doesn’t belong here. Possibly a clue.”
Thayer knelt beside McClung. “Yep, could be. It looks like old ivory?”
McClung thought the odd chip looked familiar, but the vague memory faded away.
Sam zoomed to get a few tight shots of the chip and the blood spatters.
McClung glanced at the EMTs. “Thayer, bag it and look for more spatters and anything else in this area. I want a chat with Mel.”
“Mel, where’s Marian? Is she all right?” McClung moved out of the way of the paramedics while they loaded Myron onto the stretcher.
“She’s fine. Just hurt her back. Understandable.” Mel groaned as they lifted Myron’s body. “Even for me this guy is hefty. I’m surprised your wife got him out of the water. She’s a tiny lady. What 5’3’ and 125 pounds?”
McClung snorted as he nodded. “Yep, but she’s stubborn. If she’s got it in her mind to do something, consider it done.”
“Is Marian still sitting in the back of the ambulance?” McClung followed the gurney.
“No, sir. She’s sittin on the front stoop waitin on you.”
Officer Billy Crawford met them inside the gate.
McClung couldn’t help but smile at his oldest officer. Crawford was always in a jolly mood.
But not this morning.
“Boss, sorry it took me so long to get here.” Crawford wore a rare frown.
“What’s the matter?” McClung waved the paramedics to go on.
Crawford shifted the criminal investigation kit from one hand to the other. “Ah, the missus got news her favorite uncle isn’t doing so good and her dad’s not taking it none too well. If her uncle dies, my father-in-law will be the last one left in his family.”
McClung gripped Crawford’s firm shoulder. “I’m sorry to hear that. Are you sure you should be here? Your wife needs you.”
“Thanks, but I’m not much help. Best thing for me is to stay out of her way.”
“Okay, but don’t be shy about asking for time off. Understand?”
“I appreciate that, Boss.”
“If there’s anything we can do, don’t hesitate to ask.” He shook his index finger at his officer. “I mean it. Ask. Marian will make sure you’re fed, you got that?”
“Yes, Boss. But I saw her sitting out front, and she doesn’t look so good.”
McClung’s eyes widened. “What?”
“You didn’t know she’s here?” Crawford pulled back his head.
“Yeah, but she said she was fine.” McClung patted the officer’s back. “Let me go speak with her. I’ll catch up with you later.”
Charlie hurried to find his wife, but stopped a few yards away to observe her.
So many questions he needed to ask, but he was worried about her. Marian didn’t need this stress. Not now.
Marian looked like a triangular-shaped lump of coal. The dark gray blanket was wound tightly around her body and she was resting her forehead on her knees, which she’d pulled up to her chest.
Charlie wondered how she was able to breathe. He sat beside her and rubbed her back. “Sweetie?”
Marian’s head popped up. “Hey! I didn’t hear you come up. I must’ve dozed off as I was praying.”
“Yeah? Are you sure you’re okay? You don’t look so hot.” Charlie wrapped his arms around her.
Marian winced. “You’re such a sweet talker.”
Charlie released his embrace. “Sorry.” His fingers massaged her lower back.
“That’s okay.” Marian pulled off the blanket and neatly folded it. “I’m tired. I want to lie down. Is it okay for me to walk home, now?”
“Nope, it’s at least a mile and a half. I’m driving you home.”
She straightened her legs. “Might as well. These sneakers are ruined. Not good for anything but stomping around in the yard.”
Marian tucked the thin blanket under her arm. “What about the investigation? Aren’t you going to question me?”
“Your well-being is more important to me. Besides, Thayer’s opinion is this is an accidental drowning. My best team is on this. They don’t need me telling them how to do their job. And you can tell me what happened when you feel like it.”
“Now?”
“Do you honestly want to talk about it now?”
Marian whispered. “I need to, but—”
“But means later. Tonight?”
“Yeah, tonight.”
Charlie held her hand as they walked toward the gate. “Let me tell the guys I’m taking you home.”
McClung passed the EMTs as he disappeared behind the fence.
Marian shuddered as she watched the paramedics load Myron’s body inside the ambulance. “I’ve witnessed this scene too many times in the past year.”
***
Excerpt from How Deep is the Darkness: A Charlie McClung Mystery by Mary Anne Edwards. Copyright 2019 by Mary Anne Edwards. Reproduced with permission from Mary Anne Edwards. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Mary Anne Edwards
Born in Mercedes, Texas, Mary Anne has lived in Georgia for most of her life. A life-long fan of authors such as Agatha Christie, Anne Perry, Caroline Graham, and Elizabeth Peters, it wasn’t until a few years ago that Mary Anne listened to the voices in her head and began writing her own series of traditional mysteries featuring Detective Charlie McClung.
The first book in the series, Brilliant Disguise, was released to critical acclaim in January 2014. The next three in the series, A Good Girl, Criminal Kind, and Sins of my Youth were released soon afterward. The fifth book in the series, Flirting with Time, was released on June 30, 2017. The sixth book, How Deep is the Darkness, will be released on December 2, 2019. She is working on the seventh book, Complex Kid, with at least three more to follow.
Mary Anne and her husband live in Smyrna, GA with an ill-tempered Tuxedo cat named Gertrude. Mary Anne is a member of Sisters in Crime and sits on the advisory board of Rockdale Cares, a non-profit advocacy group for the developmentally challenged.

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