Book Review: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner

Unsub

 

 

 

A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An Unsub—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?

 

 

 

 

My Review

 

A Damn good thriller!

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and definitely the best crime fiction. Absolutely amazing. A must read. Caitlin Hendrix, a narcotics detective joins an investigation to catch one of the nations worst serial killers that her father failed to catch. In fact, her father Mack Hendrix now a retired cop, tries to persuade to stop investigating since it ruined his life nearly driving him insane. 

I loved what Meg Gardiner has done with detective Caitlin Hendrix. She’s not necessarily an expert, but joins the homicide division due to her father’s connection to the case. Determined, focused, bold, not to mention brillant; she works with law enforcement to catch the UNSUB.

Meg Gardiner does a spectacular job creating the twisted M.O. of the serial killer, UNSUB. He was such a formidable opponent it made for a JUICY conflict. Meg crafts his motivations perfectly.

The suspense is so thick you can cut it with a steak knife. So if you like edge-of-your-seat thrillers, THIS IS IT. Look no further.

In the crowded arena of crime fictiob UNSUB is quite unique. Don’t miss it!!

 

 
Five golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

 

Pre-order the next book here: Into the Black Nowhere: An UNSUB Novel

 

 

Into the Black Nowhere

 

 

Release date is Jan. 30th 2018!

 

Inspired by real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, an exhilarating thriller in which FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix faces off against a charming, merciless serial killer

In southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.

Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style–posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.

To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.

 

 

I already have this title and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it!

 

 

 

Hungry meat-eating man

 

 

 

 

 

Connect with Meg Gardiner

 

 

Meg Gardiner

 

 

Meg Gardiner is the author of thirteen thrillers. UNSUB, her latest novel, features homicide detective Caitlin Hendrix. Don Winslow says, “Like The Silence of the Lambs, this novel scared the hell out of me. I dare you to try putting it down.” The novel has been bought for development as a TV series by CBS.

Meg was born in Oklahoma and raised in Santa Barbara, California. A graduate of Stanford Law School, she practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. She’s also a three time Jeopardy! champion. Meg lives in Austin, Texas.

She’s the author of the Evan Delaney series and the Jo Beckett novels. China Lake won the 2009 Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Paperback Original. The Dirty Secrets Club won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Procedural Novel of 2008.

 

 

Amazon Twitter | FacebookGoodreadsWebsite

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t be a stranger!

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

MTW Blog Cover Image by Eva

 

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Celebrating Perseverance in the Writing Community

 

 

 

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Today I am happy to be part of Writers Persevere!, an event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their release of their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.

 

 

 

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Because Angela and Becca have spent the last year exploring painful
human struggles, they wanted to highlight a very important aspect of
overcoming difficult circumstances: it can make us stronger. I promised to let Angela hijack my blog today, so please read on!

***

Hi everyone! When you set out to find examples of inner strength, you don’t have to go very far. Right here in the writing community we see it every day. Writers more than anyone understand the swirl of emotions as we work toward publication. We dream of making it and seeing our books in the hands of readers…yet doubt and frustration can be a constant companion. For us, there is a lot to learn, much to steel our nerves for, and unfortunately, a host of real-world problems that can try to derail us. And, even as we slowly move forward and grow, we can sometimes feel like impostors. This is a tough road.

 
But the fact that writers face this battle, day after day, and KEEP GOING…this should be celebrated! We need to be reminded that we are much stronger than we sometimes believe. We dream, create, and force ourselves to keep striving. Through the ups and downs, we persevere!

 

 

Have you encountered something on the writing road that made you question yourself? Have you faced an obstacle that required a force of will to get past?

 

 

 

If so, we want to hear about it! Join Becca and me at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th,  where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell us about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, join this event by writing a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere. Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.

 

 

 

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GIVEAWAY ALERT!

We also have a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost, so stop by Writers Helping Writers. I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!

If you struggle, remember to reach out to others. We are in this  together, and by supporting one another, we cross the finish line together (and then keep going!).

Happy writing!

Angela & Becca

 

Author Mary Angela Introduces Passport to Murder

 

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Death never takes a holiday, but it certainly can take away one. Will Professor Prather find out who killed her Parisian plans before the end of spring break?

 

 

 

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

About the Author

Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic mystery series, which has been called “enjoyable” and “clever” by Publishers Weekly. She is also an educator and has taught English and humanities at South Dakota’s public and private universities for over ten years. When Mary isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. For more information about Mary or the series, go to MaryAngelaBooks.com.

 

 

Book Blurb

Passport to Murder (Professor Prather Mystery #2)

 

Start with an unlucky number. Throw in a romantic location. Include a dashing Frenchman and an uncompromising professor. And you have all the ingredients for a passport to murder.

This semester, it seems that Professor Prather’s dreams are about to come true. Ever since she was a young girl, she’s imagined going to France, and her French colleague, André Duman, has finally made that trip possible. Over spring break, she and André are to lead a group of students and faculty to Paris to explore the City of Light. But before she can utter her first bonjour, a professor dies, and they are stuck in Minneapolis. She returns to Copper Bluff with an unstamped passport and a mystery to solve.
When André becomes the prime suspect, Emmeline puts her research skills to good use, determined to find out who really killed the professor and spoiled their spring break plans. With thirteen travelers assembled, the possibilities are varied and villainous. Luckily, her dear friend and sidekick, Lenny Jenkins, is close by. Together, they will sort through the conflicting clues even if it costs them time, trouble, or tenure.

 

 

 

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  1. What was your process for creating English professor Emmeline Prather?

I knew I wanted to set my series in a small college town in South Dakota, so I imagined a young professor relocating to the area. The landscape had to be a draw for my protagonist because the pay is definitely not. I like that she’s an outsider looking in. It heightens her awareness of the region.

 

 

 

 

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  1. What do you like about an amateur sleuth versus a professional one? 

I like that an amateur sleuth is not paid to solve crimes. It’s not her job, so she doesn’t have any police experience to help her. The amateur sleuth allows me, as a reader and a writer, to become intimately involved. I like to imagine what I would do in the same circumstances.

 

  1. What are some characteristics of Emmeline that help her solve crimes?

She is an excellent researcher, which helps her dig up information. She also has a degree in French literature, so she’s great at analyzing stories. Combined, these characteristics make her a tough sleuth to beat!

 

 

 

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  1. You affectionately call her “Em.” Describe your relationship to the protagonist. 

Em is so much fun, and I do think of her as Em as I’m writing. I enjoy writing her because she can be incredibly passionate when it comes to education, students, and crimes. Sometimes I get a chuckle out of her antics.

 

  1. What are the dynamics like between Emmeline and her sidekick Lenny Jenkins? 

There is a strong dynamic between Em and Lenny; they balance each other nicely. Em can take herself too seriously, and Lenny—doesn’t. They both challenge each other to see the world from another viewpoint, which is incredibly advantageous for crime fighting.

 

 

 

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  1. Describe some challenges writing Passport to Murder. 

Moving a group of thirteen characters was hard. I had to talk to the airport police in Minnesota and South Dakota. I also had to read about police procedures and what can and can’t be done when police investigate a suspicious death.

 

 

 

Distracted businessman distracted

 

 

 

  1. What did you learn while researching this book? 

I learned that the FBI has jurisdiction involving any crime committed in the air. I thought that was pretty interesting! I also learned that a plane can’t land on a full tank of gas.

 

 

 

Seriously, Just Ahead Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Sky, Clouds and Sunburst.

 

 

 

  1. Is it challenging writing a mystery? 

Yes, it is challenging, but that’s exactly what I like about the mystery genre. It works both sides of my brain. I spend lots of time making my characters and settings interesting, but I also spend an ample amount of time creating a clever and believable plot. All loose ends have to be tied up by the end of the novel. It takes great attention to detail.

 

 

 

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  1. Do you outline your novels? 

No, I don’t, but I do create a timeline and plot some events before writing them.

 

  1. Imagine yourself as Professor Emmeline.  Given the criminal circumstances, would you make the same choices as her? Why or why not?

That’s a tough one! I think I would. I might try to reveal the murderer in a less obvious way, but if I thought I could solve the crime, I would have to try, especially if it benefited my campus or friend.

 

 

 

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  1. Have you ever been to France? 

Yes, I have been to France and loved my time there. I would like to go back and spend the summer in a little French village. That’s my hobby: looking at vacation rentals in wine country. Maybe some day!

 

 

 

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  1. What’s next for you?

I’m writing book three in the series, A Very Merry Murder. It’s a holiday mystery, so I’ve been spending most of my days dreaming about baking sugar cookies and eating fudge. Not a good omen for the impending holidays!

 

 

 

Connect with Mary Angela

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Maryangelabooks.com

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin the train folks! Come back and see us. Peace out.

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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Between the Shadow and Lo by Lauren Sapala

 

Lauren Sapala

 

 

PLEASE WELCOME LAUREN SAPALA 

 

Lauren Sapala is a writing coach who specializes in coaching introverted, intuitive writers. She founded the WriteCity writing groups in Seattle and San Francisco and currently blogs about writing and creativity at www.laurensapala.com.

 

 

My fellow creative friend on the east coast just released another book August 29, 2017. Check it out!

 

 

Between the Shadow and LO

 

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BOOK BLURB

“A voice that was strong and cruel came from somewhere deep within me. When the voice split away and talked to me all by itself I started calling her Lo…She’d watched me at my lowest points and saved up a thousand slights, a million minor offenses. She forgave nothing, and now she wanted revenge.”

Leah is an alcoholic. She’s antisocial, self-destructive, and deeply damaged. She’s also battling a voice in her head she calls Lo, who wants to take over her body. Lo is everything Leah isn’t—beautiful, charming, confident, and ruthless in her desires.  She commandeers Leah’s will whenever Leah gets too drunk, and acts as her escort through the rainy Seattle underworld.

As a misfit bibliophile, Leah’s conception of reality has never been rock solid, but as she spirals deeper into addiction the “real world” of bars, bikers, dealers, and addicts slowly dissolves into Lo’s dark vision. As Lo steadily tightens her hold, Leah prepares to make one last bid for survival, knowing her only chance is to transcend Lo’s terrifying drive toward death.

 

 

 

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In the beginning you addressed this book to your Uncle John. Who was he to you, and what impact did he have on your life?

My Uncle John is my dad’s identical twin brother. One of the issues I explore in the book is the death of my younger brother, which occurred when he was six years old and I was eight. My younger brother battled leukemia for three years before his death and my Uncle John was the one who drove us to his chemotherapy appointments two hours away, each month. My uncle had a bad hip, so being in the car for long periods of time like this wasn’t ideal. But he did it anyway. I have always carried that memory of my uncle soldiering on through the physical and emotional difficulty of ferrying us back and forth to those appointments. I watched his example and learned from it. That’s why I say in the dedication that he taught me that “the only way out is through.” It’s a well known saying that means, “the only way to get through it is to get through it.” My Uncle John always got through things, he didn’t run away from them. This is a lesson that the narrator of the book, Leah, needs to learn.

 

 

 

*What does the “shadow” represent from the title of your book?

The “shadow” refers to the shadow self, that psychological dark side that exists in each of us, but normally remains buried in the subconscious. The narrator, Leah, is a normally introverted, bookish type of person who doesn’t know how to express her true self, or how to express her real needs. When she gets drunk, her shadow self comes roaring to the surface, the wildly extroverted, aggressive, domineering personality who has absolutely no awareness of anyone else’s needs other than her own.

For those who are interested in MBTI, I’m an INFJ personality type, so my shadow side is an ESTP. However, because our shadow side usually stays hidden in our subconscious, it also stays relatively undeveloped. A personality expert I love said that using your conscious side is like signing your name with your dominant hand—it’s smooth and fluid from using it so much. But using your shadow side is like trying to sign your name with your left foot—everything comes out distorted and barely recognizable because that part of you hardly ever sees the light of day.

When Leah gets drunk she goes into her shadow side and becomes Lo and, consequently, everything in her comes out as distorted and barely recognizable. It’s definitely a Jekyll-and-Hyde type of situation.

 

 

 

 

Shadow

 

 

 

 

*What does the “Lo” represent? 

Lo is the personality that Leah, the narrator of the book, becomes when she gets drunk. I was an alcoholic for many years and this book is based on my experiences during that time. To this day, I’m fascinated by the personality changes that people undergo due to addiction. It’s quite common to hear people say that a family member is the most loving, compassionate person when sober, but when they’re drunk or high it’s the complete opposite. And of course, people do things when intoxicated that they would never do sober, like lie, cheat, and steal. I find this so intriguing and so I wanted to explore how that process worked for me when I was an active alcoholic.

I also believe that, as a society, we use a lot of different addictions to lower consciousness on a regular basis— that is, to make ourselves less alert, less empathetic, less compassionate, less emotionally sensitive. Alcohol and drugs are obvious choices, but we also use things like shopping, sex, the internet, gossip, an oversaturation of news and media, exercise, and food. In my book, Leah is just one extreme example of someone who systematically and purposefully tries to lower her consciousness whenever she can (through alcohol) because she doesn’t want to deal with her emotionally painful past, or her energetically sensitive present.

 

 

 

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*There are two very interesting quotes at the front of the book. Can you describe what they mean to you?

The first quote actually comes from one of my clients, a writer named Ritu Kaushal. She has a blog called Walking through Transitions (http://www.walkingthroughtransitions.com) which is just fantastic. I was reading some of her work and stumbled across that quote from her and it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Especially the last few lines:

Maybe, that’s what hurt does. It cuts us into different people. There are some parts with their gaping holes that break off from the core, and then they roam inside us, reminding us of our own poverty.

I thought, “Yes! Ah-ha! That’s EXACTLY the way I felt during all those dark years when I was drinking!” Ritu very graciously let me use the quote from her and I am so grateful because it’s just perfect.

The second quote is from Jean Genet:

Worse than not realizing the dreams of your youth, would be to have been young and never dreamed at all.

He’s one of my very favorite writers, and that quote from him sums up how I felt about those years. They were dark and difficult, but I’m so glad they happened and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. As painful as that time was, I still saw it all through my writer’s imagination (my “dreaming eyes”) and I treasure those experiences.

 

 

 

 

Dreaming eyes

 

 

 

 

*After suffering some hardship you turned to books. What led you in that direction?

Oh, I’ve always been a book nut. In fact, that was something I really wanted to emphasize in this memoir/novel. Because of some painful experiences in her childhood, Leah has a lot of trouble connecting with people. She feels separate from everyone all the time. One of the main ways she relates to the world and figures out how to navigate life is through books. For example, there’s one instance in the book where Leah meets this couple who run a nightclub together. She immediately compares them to characters out of a Fitzgerald novel and wonders to herself if she should “plan” to feel about them the same way she felt about those characters. This is extremely dysfunctional—but that’s actually how I was at that time. I had no idea how to even have spontaneous emotions toward people because I was so guarded and shut down. So, I often categorized people as characters from books I had read, and then treated them accordingly.

Leah (who is obviously me as a character) does this all through the novel too. She becomes involved with a guy who reminds her of Prince Myshkin from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot and so she instantly puts herself in the role of the tragic female character of that novel to support that fantasy. At the end of the book Leah flees her disastrous life in Seattle to start over in San Francisco, and the only way she can process that decision is by comparing herself to Anna Karenina jumping in front of the train. You’ll see this over and over again throughout the book. Leah is so frightened by “real life” that the only way she can interpret her experience of it is through story.

 

 

 

 

The Idiot

 

 

 

 

*What were some challenges writing this book.

Um, wow. I could write ten pages on this. Well, the first draft took me over two years to write. It came out to about 800 pages, and it then took me another nine years to cut and rewrite and revise. I probably rewrote the whole book at least five times. Putting it all together structurally was kind of a nightmare.

Beyond the actual process of writing it, the book contains really, really personal stuff. And a lot of it is super embarrassing. I detail incidents in that book that I hadn’t told my closest friends about. There are sections that are sexually explicit, and other sections that are incredibly emotionally intimate. I was terrified of what people would think of me.

I resolved to bury the manuscript in the backyard and never think about it again at least 20 times. And then I finally published it.

 

 

 

 

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*Name the rewards of writing it.

Ha, I could write ten pages about this too! Well, first of all I felt a huge sense of relief once it was out of my desk drawer and into the world. I do believe that releasing your work into the world is the essential last step in the creative cycle for any writer. If you have a ton of work stuffed away that no one has ever seen, it’s just as mentally unhealthy as it would be if you were a hoarder and living in a house stuffed with piles of newspapers.

Second of all, I made the most unlikely and unexpected connections through the book. Readers messaged me on Facebook and emailed me directly to tell me how strongly the book resonated with them. All the stuff that I was so embarrassed about and was cringing over…well, they loved it. They told me they thought it was hilarious or beautiful or just awesome. That was a really, really cool thing for me to see, that I’m not the only one that’s gone through dark times.

 

 

 

 

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*What is the message you want others to walk away with?

I want others to read this book and know that they don’t have to hide themselves. It’s okay if you have or are currently struggling with addiction, or low self-worth, or messed up stuff from your past. Other people are going through it too. We’re all human and none of us are alone in this. I also hope that people are just plain entertained by the book. Readers have told me that they read it all in one night because they just couldn’t keep from going on to the next chapter, and then the next. I think that’s something every writer wants to hear, that the book you wrote was just actually a lot of fun for people to read.

 

 

 

*Hindsight is 20/20. Put on your hindsight glasses and write a letter to your younger self. What would the letter say? What would you say to Lo?

Well, after living with her myself, I can honestly say there is no telling Lo anything. She is completely ego-based and runs entirely on fear. That’s her role in this life and that’s cool. But I would tell Leah that everything is going to work out, and that everything she’s living through is going to be in a book someday. I think that would have made her very happy.

 

 

 

 

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Connect with Lauren

Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Website

 

Don’t miss out on Lauren’s other book, The INFJ Writer

 

INFJ writer

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

THANKS FOR JOINING US ON THE WRITING TRAIN

 

Train

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

Mystery Thriller Week 2018

 

 

 

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Author Leslie Tentler & the Rarity Cove Series

 

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Please welcome Author Leslie Tentler!

 

 

On the red carpet photographers take pictures of the actress

 

 

 

ABOUT LESLIE TENTLER

Leslie Tentler is the author of six novels, including BEFORE THE STORM, LOW TIDE, FALLEN and the Chasing Evil Trilogy (MIDNIGHT CALLER, MIDNIGHT FEAR and EDGE OF MIDNIGHT). She was a finalist for Best First Novel at ThrillerFest 2012, and is a two-time finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Maggie Award of Excellence. A native of East Tennessee, she currently resides in Atlanta with her husband, standard poodle and three aloof cats.

 

 

Tell us about Rarity Cove and what bearings it has on the story.

Setting is such an important piece of any story. It sets the atmosphere and builds the mood. I first introduced readers to Rarity Cove in Before the Storm (Rarity Cove Book One). It’s a fictional seaside town about forty minutes outside of Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a small tourist town and quite idyllic, with a quaint downtown with centuries old live oaks in the square and the ocean boardwalk nearby. Rarity Cove is best known for the St. Clair, which is a four-star resort hotel that has been run by the St. Clair family for generations.

 

 

 

Before the Storm

 

Goodreads

 

 

 

What’s the St. Clair family like? 

I strongly recommend reading Before the Storm before moving on to Low Tide (Rarity Cove Book Two) in order to truly get to know the St. Clair family and especially to understand the dynamics between Mark, the eldest St. Clair sibling and the hero in book one, and Carter, the younger brother who is the hero in book two.

The St. Clair family is considered to be “old money” in the small Southern town, and Mark, who is head of the St. Clair hotel, is a business and civic leader. In book one, Carter is sort of the prodigal son who has returned to Rarity Cove while on hiatus from the soap opera he stars on in New York City. He and Mark have a bit of a contentious relationship, and the reason as to why is revealed in Before the Storm.

In Before the Storm, you’ll also be introduced to Mercer, the youngest St. Clair sibling and only daughter, and Olivia, the family matriarch, who is a socialite and a bit of a meddler in her family’s personal lives. You’ll visit all these characters again in Low Tide.

 

 

Who is Carter St. Clair?

When you first meet Carter in Before the Storm, he is an actor on a soap opera in New York City, still on the cusp of superstardom. At the end of that book, his career has taken off in a big way, and you’re just beginning to get a glimpse of his trajectory to fame.

Low Tide begins three years later, and Carter is now an A-list Hollywood leading man, very much in demand. But then the unexpected happens. Seriously wounded in his LA mansion by a deranged stalker, he leaves the glare of Hollywood and returns home to Rarity Cove to recuperate, both physically and emotionally.

A few readers mentioned to me they initially had qualms about reading Carter’s story in Low Tide, since he was a bit of an antagonist to Mark in Before the Storm, at least until the two brothers finally buried the hatchet over something that had happened years earlier. But those same readers have told me how much they ended up loving Carter in book two. Carter has matured quite a bit and the nearly fatal stalker attack in particular has forced him to really take a hard look at his life and the kind of man he wants to be.

 

 

 

Low Tide

 

Goodreads

 

 

 

Introduce us to Quinn Reese.

Quinn Reese is a physical therapist who has returned to her mother’s home in Rarity Cove after fleeing her soon-to- be ex-husband, a professional football player in San Francisco. Currently out of work, she receives a lucrative offer from the St. Clair family to work with Carter. But Quinn has her own personal history with the St. Clairs, and with Carter in particular. Mark talks her into working with Carter since he has been resistant to other physical therapists so far. Mark believes Quinn won’t be intimidated by Carter’s fame, since she was married to someone famous herself. Quinn is reluctant, but needs the money to truly get a fresh start on life.

I really enjoyed writing Quinn—she’s smart, good at her job, and empathetic. She’s also a vegetarian, a dog lover and a yoga enthusiast. But while she seems like she has it all together on the outside, on the inside, she’s kind of a mess and keeping some pretty big secrets that spill out over the course of Low Tide.

 

 

 

Top Secret

 

 

 

What was your experience like writing Low Tide?

Low Tide was my first foray into writing a continuing series. Both Before the Storm and Low Tide are also my only books that aren’t high-stakes, law enforcement oriented thrillers. I enjoyed revisiting the characters I’d created in Before the Storm in Low Tide.

 

 

Who is your favorite character?

With this series, it really is Carter. I had a lot of fun making him a bad boy in Before the Storm, and then knocking him off his throne in Low Tide. At the beginning of Low Tide, Carter is in pain, he’s depressed and he’s really struggling with the “new normal” in his life after being so seriously wounded. Until Quinn’s arrival, he’d lashed out against physical therapy, but Quinn isn’t having any of his attitude. At the point that Carter realizes he’s falling for Quinn, he really has made a 180-degree turn from the man he used to be. Carter has been a “ladies man” his whole life—his looks, the St. Clair money and later, his fame—always allowed him to have his choice of women. Having him realize that ordinary Quinn is actually someone quite special, someone he wants to protect and cherish, was fulfilling for me as a writer.

 

 

If you could be any character in this book who would it be?

Quinn, definitely. Who wouldn’t want to be the heroine in her own book? 😉

 

 

Successful Superwoman

 

 

 

LOW TIDE (Rarity Cove Book Two) BACK COVER BLURB

Hollywood leading man Carter St. Clair had it all—until a brutal stalker attack nearly takes his life. Seriously injured, he returns to his hometown of Rarity Cove, South Carolina, to recover in private, his outlook on fame forever changed by someone claiming to be his “number-one fan.”

Physical therapist Quinn Reese fled San Francisco to be free of her soon-to- be ex-husband, professional football player Jake Medero. Staying at her mother’s house in Rarity Cove seems like her only option until she can get back on her feet financially. When the St. Clair family makes her a lucrative offer of employment, Quinn sees the potential for starting over, even if it means working with Carter, who broke her heart years ago. As Carter heals under Quinn’s care, a fragile bond forms between them. Carter also recognizes a parallel between his own stalker and the possessive pro baller who considers Quinn his property. But even as Carter steps into the role of Quinn’s protector, another dangerous storm is brewing…one for which neither of them is prepared.

 

 

 

connected network

 

 

 

CONNECT WITH LESLIE ONLINE:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

Leslie Tentler headshot

 

 

 

BUY LINKS:

LOW TIDE is the second book in the Rarity Cove series, so we recommend reading

BEFORE THE STORM first. Low Tide is available at the following retailers:

Amazon |Barnes &  Noble | iBookstore |Kobo

KNOLL: The Last JFK Conspiracist  By Stephen Hillard

 

KNOLL: The Last JFK Conspiracist

By Stephen Hillard

 

 

 

Knoll

 

 

Q&A with Author Stephen Hillard

 

 

Q&A

 

 

 

1.  What led you into writing from your other fields of interest?  

Writing is one of those things that, if you want to do it, I suggest don’t hesitate and delay.  I did both for a long time and regret it.  Even a few pages here and there will keep one from abandoning it.  In my case, other, very important things in life crowded it out, but it was always there.  So a few years ago I decided I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t take the risks and jump in.

As for KNOLL, I’m with the majority of Americans that still believe JFK was murdered as the result of a conspiracy.  Some things nag at you, itch until you have to scratch and open them so they can be treated and healed.  For me, the itch was the assassination of JFK.  It got worse as I pondered over the years how something that momentous, that public a spectacle, could remain obscure and unresolved. Growing up in Louisiana with friends whose fathers were “made men” in the Mob, my brother playing in the band at the club secretly owned by Mafia Kingpin Carlos Marcello, my father as night manager at the downtown Shreveport hotel where vice was part of the room service, all went into the soup.  Teaching inmates at Rikers Island helped me understand how little ever gets known about murder.  My career as practicing lawyer (including as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.) helped me understand how things “off the record”, hidden from public view, can determine so much of what we call history.    The healing balm was writing a story based in very substantial part on true facts, including references to Dalton Trumbo, the Academy Award-winning, blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter who first had the nerve to write a movie (Executive Action) about the assassination conspiracy.  I wanted to explore how the mystery might (or might not) still be resolved in this twilight era of the last active JFK conspiracy activists.  So all my other fields of interest contributed to this story.  





JFK

 





2. How does writing compare to your previous work experience?  

I confess, I treat writing much like a fascinating legal case or business project, with the same level of passion and discipline and attention to research that I would apply to an entrepreneurial investment or a legal case.  I get “into” of all those and want to see each of them through.  Inspiration and a creative muse are the fun part.  

3. Who is Bus McIntyre?  

Bus is me in an alternative universe.  He has doubts, he struggles to get his bearings in a universe of errant stars and uncertain tides.  He is driven to know that which is probably unknowable — in this case the truth behind the murders of his father and JFK.  Yes, like Bus, I ride a Harley.


4. The plot for Knoll is very intriguing. Why did you choose this particular one?  

Depending on your source, KNOLL is somewhere between the 4,000th and 40,000th book on JFK. It is, however, one of a relative short list of fictional treatments (including movies, comics, and songs)  of those events.  It is the only one set self-consciously in this moment where the “last of the JFK conspiracists” are fading away, perhaps sealing the fate of the matter as one of the great cold cases of history. It also recognizes that the case just might still be solved.  If intelligence resources at the level that were applied to find Osama Bin Laden were applied to this case, plus a lucky break or two of new facts, the unravelling thread might well be pulled from the tapestry of mystery. That is the world into which the two key characters, Banner McCoy, the Millenial NSA fugitive, and Bus McIntyre, the Bilbo Baggins of the JFK Mystery, find themselves. Of course, there are forces out there, living and dead, that will fiercely protect those secrets.





conspiracy WORD RG





5. Tell us about your experience in researching this book. 

What great fun!  Of course, the book is a work of fiction, and I have taken liberties in names, places and events.  Behind those, I read much of the JFK literature, researched all the historical characters and places — Carlos Marcello, Elvis, Dalton Trumbo, Bossier City — and revisited all of the sites in the story.


6. What was the most enjoyable part in writing Knoll?  

My favorites were writing the too-brief character of Banner McCoy, along with Bus’ journey on his bike to find the truth about himself and these murders, plus the final stalk in the canyon lands near Grand Junction, Colorado.



 

7.  What was the most challenging?  

Writing the too-brief character of young Banner McCoy.  My kids helped me a lot with that.  More important, Banner will be a key character in a sequel that takes all the events in KNOLL for a speed ride into a higher political dimension.



Amazon | Goodreads

 


Thanks Steve!!!



Book Review: The Newsmakers Series by Lis Wiehl

 

 

 

 

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Lis Wiehl is a prolific author of several series. East Salem, Triple Threat, Mia Quinn, and the Newsmakers series starring Erica Sparks. She is a former Federal prosecutor, legal analyst and reporter for Fox news. Lis is also one of authors participating in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week celebration. Don’t miss it! There are so many ways to enjoy this event.

 

 

 

Book One: The Newsmakers

 

 

newsmakers

 

 

Goodreads Description

 

Television reporter Erica Sparks has just landed her dream job at Global News Network. Beautiful, talented, and ambitious, Erica grew up dirt poor, worked her way through Yale, and is carrying a terrible secret. She moves to Manhattan to join GNN, leaving Jenny, her adored 7-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband. Erica’s producer at the network, Greg Underwood, is handsome and compelling. Scarred by her divorce, Erica is wary of romance, but there’s no denying the mutual attraction.

On one of her first assignments, Erica witnesses a horrific Staten Island ferry crash. Then she lands a coveted interview with presumptive presidential nominee Kay Barrish. During the interview Barrish collapses. Erica valiantly tries to save her with CPR. The footage rivets the world—GNN’s ratings soar and Erica is now a household name.

But she’s troubled. What a strange coincidence that both events should happen on her watch. It’s almost as if they were engineered. Is that possible?

Erica’s relentless pursuit of the truth puts her life and that of her daughter in danger. Her investigation leads her into the heart of darkness—where the future of our democracy is at stake.

 

 

 

MY THOUGHTS

 

 

my-thoughts

 

 

 

Surprisingly I found this to be a page turner in every regard. The motivations and characteristics of Erica Sparks spoke volumes. A die hard journalist who will seek nothing but the truth. Going up against a sadistic power hungry executive, she still shines as a true investigative journalist.

Erica is vulnerable person with a flawed past, yet has a spine of steel when it comes to finding the truth. It’s almost her weakness and strength simultaneously. Her dauntless curiosity gets her into trouble, but it also becomes her strength in the midst of life or death circumstances. You have to get to know Erica!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Two: The Candidate (Newsmakers #2)

 

 

the-candidate

 

 

 

GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

 

How far would a candidate go to become President of the United States?

In covering the presidential election campaign, star newsmaker Erica Sparks notices that favored candidate Senator Mike Ortiz seems dependent on his wife to an unnatural degree. Celeste Ortiz is a brilliant and glamorous billionaire who—along with her best friend and confidant Lily Lau—has engineered her husband’s meteoric rise. The White House is within their reach. But the more Erica investigates the Ortizes’ strange relationship, the more intrigued she becomes.

Erica begins an investigation. But everyone material to her probe ends up dead. With each death, her foreboding grows. Is she next? And can she find out in time if the country’s beloved candidate is what he seems . . . or a threat to national security?

 

 

 

 

MY THOUGHTS

 

 

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Another well written page turner adventure with Erica Sparks! My favorite journalist who constantly sticks her neck out to unashamedly discover the truth.

This time Erica gets in pretty deep covering the presidential election. The story she’s covering doesn’t get her into trouble, but what she’s uncovers in the process could cost her her life.

At this point in the game she has global recognition with a household name. But in the midst of the fame is her waning personal life with her daughter and fiance.

The Antagonists in this one were much better in my opinion. They were realistic, quirky and actually pretty creepy! Lis does a marvelous job of capturing their personalities with dark motivations. Excellent. Don’t miss this one!

 

 

 

Both of these books are going into the…

 

 

Department of Awesome

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

mtw-email-logo

 

Book Review: Midnight Obsession by Melinda Leigh

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Wall Street Journal’s Bestselling Author Melinda Leigh releases her latest masterpiece, Midnight Obsession. She’s also one of our awesome authors in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week celebration. Don’t miss out!

 

 

 

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BOOK TRAILER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

 

In Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s edgy new thriller, Louisa Hancock thought she was safe…but there’s a new killer in town.

When a mysterious package lands on Louisa Hancock’s doorstep, the Philadelphia museum curator can hardly anticipate the nightmare that’s about to envelop her. The package is addressed to her father—an expert in Viking culture—and inside is a ninth-century sword, a chilling thank-you note, and photos of two dead bodies in a tableau evoking a Nordic funeral. The gruesome images match a recent crime scene. But before the police can investigate the killer’s connection to Louisa’s father, Ward Hancock vanishes.

Sports bar owner Conor Sullivan wants nothing more than to spend his life with Louisa. Devoted and protective, he refuses to leave her side after her father’s disappearance. When a troubled young boxer he’s been coaching is suspected of the murders, Conor is pulled in even deeper. Desperate, Louisa and Conor take it upon themselves to find her father, but soon another ritualistic slaying makes it clear there’s a Viking-obsessed serial killer on the loose. And he has a new target: Louisa.

 

 

 

MY RATING

 

 

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You won’t find any dull moments in this one. Melinda Leigh does an excellent job of building suspense, action, and mystery to keep the pages turning!

When I first began this book I knew it was going to be a great read. I could feel it in my gut. Gotta love those guts, eh? YES. I was right!

The tension, pacing, characters, plot, romance, antagonist were perfect. Conner Sullivan is every woman’s dream of a gentlemen who is hell-bent on protecting the love of his life, Louisa Hancock.

Louisa is a vulnerable yet strong individual who is no pushover despite her circumstances. I can’t say more without spoilers.

Louisa’s father is an renowned Viking culture expert who has a demented secret admirer. It all begins when Louis starts receiving strange packages at her doorstep. Her father’s life is at stake and possibly her own…You’ll never guess who the killer really is until the very end! And the ending is exquisite to the last drop! A must read!

 

 

 

 

 

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CONNECT WITH MELINDA LEIGH

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

mtw-email-logo

Wings of Mayhem Book Review

wings-of-mayhem

 

 

 

 

 

Author Sue Colleta 

 

 

sue-coleta

 

 

Sue is one of many great authors participating in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week. Don’t miss out on the fun…And spread the word!

 

 

 

GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

 

A SERIAL KILLER STALKS THE STREETS…

Cat burglar Shawnee Daniels always believed her “fearlessness rules” mantra would keep her on top and out of jail. When she hacks a confiscated hard drive at the Revere P.D., she focuses on a white-collar criminal accused of embezzlement. To teach him a lesson and recoup the funds she breaks into his massive contemporary in Bear Clave Estates. Jack has even more secrets, deadly secrets, secrets worth killing over.

A CAT BURGLAR PICKS THE WRONG HOUSE TO ROB…


Shawnee thinks she made it out clean until a deadly package arrives at her door soon after. He’s found her. As a glowing eagle taunts her Skype screen, Jack tells her she stole his precious trophy box — and he wants it back!

THEIR LIVES COLLIDE…


When her “helpful” best friend convinces her to date charismatic Detective Levaughn Samuels, her two worlds threaten to implode. Ordinarily Shawnee keeps a firm line between her professions, but dating Levaughn might help her get this psycho off her tail.

AND NOW, NO ONE IS SAFE…


In this lightning-fast-paced psychological thriller of secrets and lies, Shawnee juggles being stalked by a serial killer, dating the lead detective on the case, and tap dancing around her librarian best friend.

If she doesn’t find the trophy box, the killer’s coming for her. If she doesn’t expose her secrets and lies, more will die. And if she does, she could lose her freedom and everyone she holds dear.

If you’re a fan of Lisa Jackson, Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter thrillers, crime fiction with an edge, or psychological thrillers, mystery, and suspense, then Wings of Mayhem is for you.



Praise for Sue Coletta’s novels…

“The heart-stopping descriptions are so jarringly real that there are several scenes I will never forget.” ~ Eliza Cross, Award Winning Author

“Sue Coletta isn’t going to spare you the gory details or an honest look behind the crime scene tape. She’s a well versed author in all things crime who indelicately dumps you into the middle of a life which has been disrupted, disturbed, and marred by the evil acts of a solitary man.” ~ Beaux Cooper, Author and Amazon Reviewer

“Sue Coletta’s writing style is bold. It’s riveting.

 

 

 

 

 

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First thoughts….

The idea and plot to this book really grabbed me from the beginning and wouldn’t let me go. A Cat burglar doubling in law enforcement, steals a ‘trophy box’ from a devious serial killer. Who wouldn’t read that!

I found it to a very refreshing and original plot. Especially from the overdone cliches in the crime thriller category.

 

Shawnee Daniels

The lead character Shawnee Daniels was also a treat. Instead of being the poor, vulnerable victim we usually see, she daring! She’s a snarky bold character with a chip on her shoulder.

She’s a good anti-hero type who blurs the line between good and evil. Working for law enforcement as a computer analyst, professional cat burglar by night. Love it!

 

Shawnee vs. the serial killer

Finally! A serial killer with a worthy opponent. This made the book extremely entertaining and compelling to read. The killer was devious, smart and capable. But Shawnee Daniels was just a formidable. When these two clashed the conflict was awesome.

 

Can’t wait to read the next book! Kudos Sue!

 

 

 

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CONNECT WITH SUE COLETTA

Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Youtube | Twitter | Amazon

 

Great Interview with Marc Rainer Author of the Jeff Trask Crime Series

 

Prosecutor job title on nameplate

 

 

 

Everyone Please Welcome

Marc Rainer Author of the  Jeff Trask legal thriller series

 

 

 

 

 

welcome-home

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author:


Marc Rainer is a former prosecutor in the federal and local courts of the District of Columbia, and a former circuit prosecutor for the U.S. Air Force’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, he has more than thirty years experience in the prosecution of major cases. He is married to a former Air Force OSI Special Agent, and lives in a suburb of a major American city.



A Winter of Wolves will be available via Amazon and in select brick-and-mortar retailers as of October 2016.




 

winter-of-wolves

According to Goodreads

Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask and a team of investigators are on the trail of what they believe is a lone wolf terrorist who is murdering law enforcement officers in the nation’s capital. Their investigation leads them into a firefight with a cell of radical Islamic terrorists who have something much more terrible in mind. If successful, the terrorists’ plan will threaten the entire eastern seaboard of the United States. The fourth book in Marc Rainer’s Jeff Trask crime drama series is a contemporary historical novel incorporating issues associated with many current events.

A Winter of Wolves is also the 4th volume in the series.  Check out the first three volumes on Goodreads.



          Let’s begin….

          What led you to become a writer?

          After 30 years of service as a federal prosecutor, I had collected hundreds of professional “war stories” from cases. Told correctly, these are also known as “plot lines.” My wife kept saying, “You should write a book,” so I did.

          There’s no better fuel than life experience. Excellent!




          Which authors inspire your writing the most?

          If any served as inspiration, it would be the W.E.B. Griffin  father-son team and series, since it showed me how characters could be developed over the course of a series of novels. I also love the way Michael Connelly writes.

          Haven’t heard of W. E. B. Griffin, but I also love Michael Connelly. Great source of inspiration! 




          inspiration




          What’s your goal in becoming a writer?

          I honestly just wanted to see what I could do. Nothing beyond that. The modest success (about 40,000 sales as a self-published author) has been a pleasant surprise.

          Wonderul. I believe it’ll only get better. The reviews are great!




          What three things have hindered your writing?

          I don’t have three. The only obstacle before I retired was the day job; in other words, having enough time. Since then, the retail bias against self-published authors may have hindered sales, but not the writing itself.

          Having enough time is always a struggle. 




          time-clock




          What keeps you motivated?

          I just like to write.

          That’s good enough motivation for anyone.





          “Good writing is clear thinking made visible.” -Bill Wheeler




          What is my antagonist?

          I don’t allow those, don’t have one.

          Oh, I love that attitude. Excellent.




          Compared to my previous work, what’s it like being a writer?

          First, I like my boss a lot more. Second, since I was a career prosecutor, I miss the cops and agents – real-life heroes – with whom I had the pleasure of working for years. Third, my schedule is my own now, and being comfortably retired, there’s no pressure. I’m very fortunate in that way.

          This sounds like a very sweet experience. I wish I had it! 







          home




          What would I say to a writer who has given up?

          Find something you believe in enough to NOT give up on. Examine yourself. Why did you give up on writing? Lack of financial success? Self doubt? One can be overcome with perseverance. The other is a sign of some deeper issues. Identify them and start to deal with them.

          Perseverance is the name of the game. I needed to hear this myself. 





          What are the key elements to a legal thriller?

          I try very hard to avoid formulas. In real-life legal work – especially in solving criminal cases –  formulaic approaches can lead to “tunnel vision.” By that, I mean that if you approach a case the same way every time, trying to solve a case using the same method that happened to work the last time, you can miss a lot of clues, make a lot of serious mistakes. Each case involves different people with different motivations. Some criminals act without rational motivation at all; they are creatures of impulse. A crime-based legal thriller by definition has to involve a crime, or series of crimes. After that, I climb on board with my characters for the investigative “ride,” to see where that leads. The solution can occur in or out of the courtroom.

          I agree wholeheartedly. Formulas can be quite boring.  






          justice





          Introduce us to the Jeff Trask series.

          Trask is my fictional alter-ego. A lot of my plot lines are based upon actual cases, and I use trial transcripts from actual cases in the books, with the usual name changes “to protect the innocent” (and guilty). While Trask and I share a lot of experiences, he probably learns faster on the job than I did. I strive for realism. There aren’t any Hollywood gun fights where the good guys snapshoot someone off the roof of a building a hundred yards away with a handgun, then outrun a string of machine gun bullets. I also try not to use the hackneyed lone, tortured soul, alcoholic detective approach. Complex crimes are not solved by rogue superheroes acting alone. They are solved by teams of good people – cops, medical examiners, forensic specialists, and then prosecutors and their staffs – all working together. I’ve been fortunate enough to earn praise from professionals in these fields who say,  “Finally, somebody got it right.” Some critics have said that Trask is “too perfect,” in that he is NOT the typical tortured hero. We all have some demons, but I don’t seek readers who have to look down on a character in order to feel better about themselves. I don’t write literary fiction, and don’t have to apologize for that. The series is about how real teams solve real cases, facing criminals or criminal organizations posing real threats. It also has a lot of dark humor in it, which is also real, in that the guys and gals who do this work for a living have to have that sense of humor to do their jobs without going nuts.

          I love the whole team idea to solving crimes. Not conforming to the typical hero complex is a great way to step outside the box. 





          Outside the box.jpeg





          What are the chief characteristics of Jeff Trask?  

          Smart. Occasionally a smart-ass, in fact. He does not, however, talk down to anyone or use his brain for anything other than finding solutions. He loves classic rock, and always has a jukebox playing in his head, usually providing a theme-based tune to any situation in which he finds himself. For example, in one book, he encounters a crime scene with about a dozen victims – gang members – shot to hell by a rival criminal element. Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” starts playing in his mind. Trask works well with others as long as they are interested in being part of the solution and not the problem.

          The characteristics of the protagonist help readers fall in love with them. 





          Any planned releases for 2017?

          The next book in the series has already started to take shape in my head. It will find its way to a keyboard some time next year.

          Looking forward to it! it’ll give me some time to catch up in the series.





          coming-soon-1604663__340





          Favorite quotes:




          “Government’s never react well, but they over-react superbly.” Robert Lassiter, Trask’s fictional mentor.





          Connect with Marc Rainer

          Facebook | Goodreads | www.marcrainer.com | Amazon




          Thanks Marc!

          Begin 2017 with a challenge. Join the Book Hoarders Bucket List Reading Challenge.

           

          Join the Goodreads group: Book Hoarders Bucket List Challenge.

           

          A Challenge for Book Hoarders Like Me at SallyAllenBooks.com

           

          Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!! Check out Mystery Thriller Week on my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

          Thanks for ridin’ the Train folks!  Come again!

          toy-train-2

          Benjamin Thomas

          @thewritingtrain

          http://www.thewritingtrain.com