5Ws with Austin Williams

Don’t miss my review and giveaway of Austin Williams latest, Misdirection,here. And today get to know a bit more about Williams and being a writer.

There’s also another chance to win a copy of Misdirection — print or e-book — your choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

williamsWHO
Who would you have dinner with if you could pick five mystery/thriller writers (and of course feel free to bring someone back from the dead)?

In no particular order: Arthur Conan Doyle, Elmore Leonard, Agatha Christie, James Ellroy, and John le Carré. I think that group would make for some pretty lively conversation, though Ellroy might feel restrained from using too much profanity in the presence of Dame Agatha. Then again, maybe he wouldn’t.

WHAT
What would you be doing if you weren’t writing thrillers?

I’d most likely be involved with writing and/or editing of some sort. I’ve done quite a bit of freelance work in the SEO field, creating online content for clients in the travel and tourism industries. It’s an enjoyable way to earn a paycheck but obviously not as challenging or satisfying as working on a book.

WHY
Why did you decide to set your novel in my favorite vacation spot — Ocean City? Are you a native or a vacationer?

I grew up in Baltimore and spent summer vacations with my family on the Delaware Shore, which included trips to Ocean City. I’ve always been impressed by the sheer scale of the place; its famous boardwalk is three miles long and certain sections are lined with condominiums the size of Manhattan skyscrapers. It struck me as an ideal location for a thriller, especially one that takes place in late fall, when all the tourists have packed up and gone home. A weird atmosphere takes hold in a resort town during the off-season. You’ve got street after street of vacation homes standing empty and abandoned for the cold weather months, creating an eerily calm and slightly ominous vibe that lends itself to all kinds of shady activity. Great place for a crime spree, at least in the pages of a fictional book like Misdirection.

WHERE
Where do you do your writing?

I have a home office that suits the purpose well. Nothing fancy, but it has a few essential features. It’s quiet, my desk faces a window allowing for fresh air and sunlight (though overcast days are the best for writing) and I have easy access to any research materials I might need, either online or in a bookcase close enough to reach from where I sit while typing.

WHEN
When did you decide you were going to be a writer?

There was no specific moment of decision. I’ve been an avid reader since childhood and enjoyed any kind of creative writing assignments in school. My original career interests lay in filmmaking, and, like pretty much everyone in Los Angeles, the first writing project I managed to complete was a screenplay. A pretty bad one. As it became clear screenwriting wasn’t going to pan out for me, I started writing short stories just for the fun of it. From there, taking a stab at a full novel seemed like the next logical step. I’m just a fan of good storytelling, whether in prose, on film, or any other medium.

5Ws with Martha Conway

Today, as part of a WOW blog Tour for her historical novel Thieving Forest, Martha Conway is answering 5Ws for me. You can find out where else Martha will be visiting from the schedule below. Come back tomorrow for my review of MarthaBookCoverThieving Forest and a book giveaway at Building Bookshelves.

Thieving Forest is the story of five sisters on the edge of Ohio’s Great Black Swamp in 1806. Seventeen-year-old Susanna Quiner watches as a band of Potawatomi Indians kidnaps her four older sisters from their cabin. With both her parents dead from Swamp Fever and all the other settlers out in their fields, Susanna makes the rash decision to pursue them herself. What follows is a young woman’s quest to find her sisters, and the parallel story of her sisters’ new lives.

The frontier wilderness that Susanna must cross in order to find her sisters is filled with dangers, but Susanna, armed with superstition and belief in her own good luck, sets out with a naive optimism. Over the next five months, she tans hides in a Moravian missionary village; escapes down a river with a young native girl; discovers an eccentric white woman raising chickens in the middle of the Great Black Swamp; suffers from snakebite and near starvation; steals elk meat from wolves; and becomes a servant in a Native American village. Help comes from unlikely characters, both Native American and white.You can read an excerpt of Thieving Forest here.

WHEN
MarthaPIcWhen would you go if you could go back in time?

Part of me thinks I should stick to a time when antibiotics and hot running water are available, but that’s not going back very far. I’ve always been intrigued with the nineteenth century. So much changed with the industrial revolution. I’d like to live through that transition in Europe or America; it must have been very exciting. Scary, too. Although I live in an urban area, I’d rather go back in time to a rural setting. I’d like to live near somewhere near a train station, but not too near. And I’ll go even further and pin the year down to 1840. I don’t want to my son to have to fight in the Great War.

WHERE
Where do you find ideas for your writing?

I like to read journals and first-hand accounts of travels. I get a lot of inspiration there. While I was doing research for THIEVING FOREST I read the account of a 16th century Spanish conquistador, Alvar Nunez Cabaza de Vaca, who was one of the first Europeans to encounter Native American tribes in the Southwest. After he was shipwrecked, he lived with different tribes for ten years, sometimes as a slave, sometimes as a healer or trader, as he slowly walked from what is now Florida to New Mexico. His description of Native Americans, their communities and their day-to-day lives, is truly eye opening. After reading his book I was inspired to create a very isolated tribe living in the Great Black Swamp (thought to be uninhabited).

WHAT
What is the most difficult/rewarding thing about writing historical fiction?

The most difficult thing about writing historical fiction is that if it’s history, it may not be around any more to observe! Part of my novel takes place in the Great Black Swamp in northwest Ohio, which used to be almost the size of Connecticut and is now almost entirely drained. Even the bits preserved as state parks have been trimmed and tamed and there are well-maintained paths to walk along—a very different experience from what my character experienced when she was lost there. But the rewarding part is that I also have a certain leeway to make things up. I made up a whole tribe. That was fun.

WHY
Why did you decide to leap from a modern day thriller to a historical novel? Will you be exploring any other genres?

I’ve always wanted to write historical novels. When I was in college I double majored in History and English because I couldn’t decide between the two. To be honest, I’m not sure how I got the idea to write a mystery—I’ve always read mysteries, but not exclusively. I am a book glutton. However writing a mystery, as it turned out, was the best thing I could have done for myself as a writer. It’s excellent training. You have to really think about the scaffolding of a storyline and make sure everything works. It’s hard work. I’m in awe of mystery writers who have long series, or even multiple series—it’s all very intricate and you have to keep a lot of balls up in the air.

My current work-in-progress is also historical fiction. I don’t have any plans to explore other genres, but you never know.

WHO
Who in Thieving Forest are you most like? Is there another character you wish you were like?

I have five older sisters, so I would most definitely say I am most like Susanna, the youngest. I’m superstitious and I don’t always think before I act. When my sisters read the novel they were of course very interested in figuring out who was which character. If you know our family, it’s not hard to identify each of us! While I was writing the novel I became more and more interested in Naomi, who is adopted into a Wyandot family and in a way changes the most. She has an interesting storyline. I also like Meera a lot, an orphaned Cherokee Indian who is practical but tough. I’d like to be practical and tough.

WOW BLOG TOUR DATES

Oct. 30
Review and Giveaway at Building Bookshelves
blogs.republicanherald.com/bookshelves

Oct. 31
Guest Post at Lisa Buske
http://www.lisambuske.com/blog

Nov. 3
Interview at Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com

Nov. 6
Guest post, review and giveaway at Escaping Reality Within Pages
http://escapingrealitywithinpages.blogspot.com/

Nov. 7
Guest post at Deal Sharing Aunt
http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/

Nov. 10
Guest post at Vickie S. Miller
http://www.vickiesmiller.com/

Nov. 11
Interview at The Lit Ladies
http://www.thelitladies.com/

Nov. 12
Guest post, review and giveaway at Kathleen Pooler
http://krpooler.com/blog

Misdirection

Misdirection:
The Rusty Diamond Trilogy

by Austin Williams

on Tour at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours October 17 – November 21, 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Published by: Diversion Books

Publication Date: June 24, 2014

Number of Pages: 266

Series: 1st in The Rusty Diamond Trilogy

ISBN: 9781626813557

Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

A street magician needs more than sleight-of- hand to survive getting embroiled in a murder case in this blistering novel of suspense, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and George Pelecanos.

After years of chasing fame and hedonistic excess in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Rusty “The Raven” Diamond has returned home to Ocean City to piece his life back together. When he finds himself an innocent suspect in his landlord’s brutal murder, Rusty abandons all hope of maintaining a tranquil existence. Acting on impulse, he digs into the investigation just enough to anger both the police and a local drug cartel.

As the unsolved case grows more complex, claiming new victims and inciting widespread panic, Rusty feels galvanized by the adrenaline he’s been missing for too long. But his newfound excitement threatens to become an addiction, leading him headfirst into an underworld he’s been desperately trying to escape.

Review:

OK, truth be told I wanted to read Misdirection because it takes place in Ocean City and that’s where my family has gone on summer vacation since…well, since we were a family. So a thriller that takes place at my beach getaway was irresistible. What would it take for you to try and get justice for a murder? for Rusty Diamond it seems cookies and eggplant casserole will do it. His landlady is dead and he’s out for justice armed with…well, magic. Magic and a lifetime’s knowledge of Ocean City.

Austin Williams has created a complex character with Rusty. He’s living with two pasts: his Ocean City past and his Las Vegas past. And people are popping up from both pasts. Rusty seems stuck between his past and his future…treading water in Ocean City wondering what to do next. And while he’s wondering he decides to help bring his landlady’s murderer to justice. But is the person who killed her enough? Williams gives us an interesting look at murder, not just at the person who “pulled the trigger” but at the entire culture that made the murder possible, even inevitable.

Read an excerpt:

The bloodstain was shaped like Florida. Rusty didn’t know much about geography, probably couldn’t point out more than a handful of states on a map. But he knew what Florida looked like, even though he’d never been there. And the mass of drying blood stretching across the hardwood floor, coming to a rounded tip a few inches from his leather boots (this tip just slightly darker than the wide stream comprising most of the stain) was a dead ringer for the Sunshine State.

He knew it was a strange thing to consider, given the circumstances. Hardly an appropriate mental response to such an intensely disturbing situation. He wasn’t in shock, exactly, but he had no idea what to do with himself. There was nothing he could do until the police arrived. Which should be any minute now. In fact, he was starting to wonder what the hell was taking so long.

Rusty wasn’t sure of how much confidence to place in the Ocean City Police Department. When it came to traffic stops and busts for disorderly conduct, open containers, public nudity and the like, the OCPD was surely qualified.

But murder? That had to fall well outside the parameters of what the local law was accustomed to handling on a regular basis. Or so Rusty mused, mainly to occupy his mind and not keep checking his wristwatch every ten seconds.

 

 

 

 

Rusty stared at the bloodstain’s surface congealing in the reflection of an overhead lamp. About two feet in width at the center, it grew wider near its source. That source was the throat of a frail silver-haired woman who lay crumpled on the floor. The upper half of her body reached into the living room while her legs protruded onto the dull yellow linoleum of the kitchen. One orthopedic shoe lay on its side next to the stove, the other still on her left foot.

Two more minutes and I’m calling 911 again, he told himself.

This house in which he was currently the sole occupant—not counting its recently deceased owner—wasn’t technically located in OC proper but in a remote enclave called Ocean Pines, separated from the main town by eight miles of salty bay water. A quiet upscale community, Rusty had a fairly complete knowledge of its character, having spent the first eighteen years of his life here and moving back ten months ago.

Next Thursday would be his thirty-sixth birthday. He had little awareness of that fact, and less interest in it.

For all Rusty knew, this was the first murder to darken the Pines’ suburban pastoral facade since the town was incorporated in 1958. And it definitely was murder, of that he had no doubt. No one could conceivably take their own life in such a manner, and certainly not a frail seventy-eight-year-old spinster.

The opening in Ms. Garrett’s throat was not long, maybe three inches at most. It looked like more of a gouge than a slash. There was no knife or sharp implement anywhere in the room, and Rusty didn’t dare step over the body to take a look in the kitchen.

The skin around the gash didn’t appear to have been torn with a blade, but hacked away by a cruder implement.

Fingernails? Teeth?

Rusty shuddered as he pondered the options, and forced himself to stop thinking about it.

The hum of a car’s engine and pebbles crunching underneath a set of tires claimed his attention. He walked to the front door, pulling aside a sash by the adjacent window to look outside into the hazy afternoon light.

Finally.

An Ocean City Police Department patrol unit sat in the driveway, engine idling. Rusty saw the door swing open, and a powerfully built officer stepped out. He grimaced. The cop didn’t appear to be much older than a high schooler. Probably fresh out of the Academy with plenty to prove behind the badge.

Why didn’t they send a detective, Rusty wondered, unlatching the door and opening it slowly so as not to make a surprise appearance on the front porch. Well, it was possible the OCPD’s homicide unit didn’t keep more than one ranking detective on any given shift. They probably didn’t need more than that.

The young patrol cop was taking purposeful strides toward the house, fleshy face set tight as he spoke into a shoulder mic, confirming with a dispatcher his arrival at the location. His eyes widened just slightly before narrowing as he made a quick appraisal of Rusty Diamond.

“You’re the one who made the call?”

Rusty nodded.

“She’s in there,” he said, stepping aside to let the patrol officer enter the house.

The cop had not taken two full steps into the living room when he stopped abruptly, one hand falling onto the service revolver holstered on his right hip.

“Jesus Christ.”

“Yeah,” Rusty said. “That was pretty much my reaction.”

For a moment they stood there, two tall male shapes looming over a plump female form in a spattered floral dress.

“Found her just like this?”

“That’s right. I didn’t touch anything.”

“How long?”

“Can’t be much more than fifteen minutes. I called right away.”

“You know her?”

“Her name’s Thelma Garrett. She’s my landlord.”

The sound of that didn’t sit right with Rusty; it was too removed and devoid of any kind of feeling. He almost added something like, ‘She was kind to me’, but figured that was bound to come out wrong.

The cop finally looked up from the old woman’s body, seeming to peel his eyes away by an act of will.

“You live here?”

“No. She owns … owned a second house not far from here, on Echo Run. I’ve been renting it.”

Those words brought on a sudden rush of memory. Rusty could see with total clarity in his mind’s eye the day he first met Ms. Garrett. Just over ten months ago, on a frigid January morning. The meeting didn’t happen here but at the rental house he’d occupied ever since.

At the time Rusty was so disoriented at finding himself back in Ocean Pines after such a prolonged absence that he had some difficulty maintaining a conversation with the chatty spinster. He agreed to her proposed rental fee, which seemed low for a three-bedroom furnished property overlooking Isle of Wight Bay. Location alone must have made the house a highly desirable piece of real estate, and he couldn’t figure why she was willing to rent it out for such a reasonable sum.

Speaking in the kindly, crinkly voice he’d come to associate with her in all moods, Ms. Garrett replied she had no use for the property or a large boost in income. Once shared with her husband and the scene of many festive gatherings, it was too big for her current needs. And too lonely. Living as a childless widow in a modest two-bedroom tract house on nearby Heron Lane was much more comfortable.

Thelma (she’d insisted Rusty use her first name) didn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to sell the larger house in a lackluster market, and was glad to simply know it would be occupied after many dormant years. It depressed her to think of the house where she and her family had shared so many good occasions sitting dark and forlorn all this time. Rusty signed the lease, feeling halfway guilty for paying so little.

“How’d you happen to find her?” the patrol officer said, yanking Rusty back from his reverie.

A slight whiff of something Rusty didn’t like crept into the cop’s voice. A taunt, almost, most likely the by-product of youth and rattled nerves. He scanned the badge pinned to the kid’s chest.

“Tell you what, Officer Neely. Why don’t we go through the whole thing when a detective gets here. Someone’s on the way, right?”

“I’m the one you need to talk to now.”

“Officer, trust me. I’m going to give my full cooperation. Whoever did this needs to …”

He stopped. The cop was looking at him with a new kind of scrutiny. Now that the initial shock of seeing the dead woman was fading, he seemed to take a full view of Rusty for the first time. The expression on his face didn’t make much of an effort to hide a sense of disgust.

Rusty suddenly wished he’d kept his leather jacket on, but the living room had become stifling as he stood here waiting for the cavalry to arrive. The jacket lay draped on a sofa and he was wearing a black tank top, leaving his shoulders and arms open to easy view. Perusal would be more accurate, given the snaking tracks of words and symbols tattooed across much of his upper torso, coiling around the back of his neck and splitting into two vines that reached down both arms almost to the wrists.

“Latin, for the most part,” he said with a self-deprecating shrug. “Just for looks, really. I don’t know what half of it means myself.”

Officer Neely’s posture tensed visibly. His fingers once again found a place to rest on his gun.

“Turn around slowly, and show me your hands.”

Rusty tried to pretend he’d misheard.

“Sorry, what?”

“Come on, do it.”

“You’re going to cuff me? I’m the one who called this in, remember?”

“Just turn around. We’ll keep you nice and snug till backup gets here.”

“Look, I’m as freaked out as you are. But I didn’t do anything to this poor woman.”

“You’re resisting? I said let’s see those hands.”

He unsnapped the button on top of his holster. It seemed like a good moment to do something.

“For the last time, turn around!”

Rusty knew he could disarm this uniformed frat boy in just about 2.7 seconds. The task wouldn’t present much of a challenge. He could easily divert Neely’s eyeline with a lateral, non-aggressive movement of his left arm.
Momentarily distracted, the cop would never see the fingers of Rusty’s right hand extracting a one-inch smoke pellet from a customized hidden pocket in his jeans. Pinched at the proper angle, the pellet would explode in a blinding flash followed by a plume of gray smoke. Utterly harmless but highly effective for misdirection.

The span of time Officer Neely would need to recover from his surprise would offer Rusty ample opportunity to relieve him of the gun. Using his fingertips, he’d grab the wrist and isolate pressure points causing Neely’s hand to open involuntarily. From there, Rusty would simply reposition his body at a 45-degree angle and use his left hand to retrieve a sterling set of monogrammed handcuffs tucked in a different hidden pocket. One more second would be sufficient to cuff the young patrolman to a column of the bannister directly behind him.

They were only trick cuffs, but Officer Neely didn’t know that. And unless he could perform with great precision, the sequence of twisting wrist movements needed to unlatch them, the knowledge wouldn’t do him any good.
So, yes, the maneuver would surely come off. Just as successfully as it had in a thousand performances, even if those all occurred some time ago and Rusty’s reflexes were no longer quite what they used to be.

But what would any of that accomplish other than to greatly amplify a sense of suspicion for his role in a brutal murder he had absolutely nothing to do with? Plus bring on a raft of other charges for failing to comply with orders, impeding police business, assault, et cetera. Obviously it was a bad play all around, however tempting.

So Rusty slowly turned 180 degrees and lowered his hands. Audibly relieved, Officer Neely stepped forward and bound them with a pair of un-monogrammed OCPD handcuffs. They closed around his wrists more tightly then necessary, pinching hard on the skin.

Hearing the cuffs snap shut, Rusty glanced up and was startled by his reflection in a mirror above the sofa. He’d deliberately removed all mirrors from his own residence the day he moved in, and hadn’t gotten a good look at his face in many months.

Given his appearance today, he could hardly fault this overeager junior lawman for wanting to lock him in restraints. For a guy who’d once placed such a premium on maintaining a well-cultivated exterior, it was shocking to see just how unkempt he was. Had he really let himself go that much in the past year? Evidently, if the mirror was to be believed.

His long black hair, once treated daily by a personal stylist, was now a ratty mane. The two-pointed devil’s goatee, formerly a key visual hallmark of his stagecraft, looked no more than an uneven graying scrub. And all that ink: pentagrams, death’s head skulls and weird incantations etched up and down his sinewy arms.

Hell, anyone with a working pair of eyes would find Rusty Diamond a more than credible murder suspect.

 

Author Bio:

The new thriller by Austin Williams, Misdirection, is now available from Diversion Books. It is the first novel of The Rusty Diamond Trilogy.

Williams is the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Crimson Orgy and The Platinum Loop. He is the co-author (with Erik Quisling) of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Sunset Strip.

He lives in Los Angeles.

Learn More:

Stop by tomorrow for an interview with Austin Williams.

Tour Participants:


Win Your Own Copy of Misdirection by Austin Williams:

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KidLit: Double Reverse

Double Reverse

Author: Fred Bowendoublereverse

Hardcover: 144 pages (also available in paperback and e-books)

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (August 1, 2014)

Synposis:

Jesse’s freshman football team is in big trouble. The Panthers don’t have anybody who can pass the ball! Jesse is not big and strong like his brother Jay, who was the star quarterback on Panthers varsity last year. Jesse is short and he definitely can’t throw the ball like his brother. Nobody on his team can. Maybe it’s time for a brand new plan. Something even a little crazy…like Jesse playing quarterback. At least he’s fast and knows all the plays. What have the Panthers got to lose?

Review:

Let me start out by saying for 30 years men have been trying to teach me about football and for 30 years my brain has been refusing to absorb it. So football fan? No. Fred Bowen fan? Yes!

Just about every kid has a sport they like to play, watch or both. And just about the time so many kids get serious about spending hours throwing free throws they also get serious about avoiding reading. If you ask me, if all Fred Bowen’s books are like Double Reverse they could lure your sports enthusiasts back to the library. Jesse is not the star player on his team and neither are his friends. They are kids who like football and wish they were the stars but instead they’re just average kids. Bowen will draw your young readers in with a sports story full of details (many of which I had to consult my husband to get the meaning — but I’m sure your average 10 year old will know what they’re talking about). But as they read for the sports drama they’ll get a little subtle lesson. In Double Reverse it’s that you can’t judge a book (or a football player) by its cover.

Fred Bowen isn’t a one sport author. In all he’s written 20 books similar to Double Reverse about football, basketball, baseball and soccer as well as one non-fiction picture book about Ted Williams.

I Once Was a Princess by Stacy Verdick Case

Stacy Verdick Case PhotoWhat made you want to be a writer? It’s a common question for me and I never know what to say. Then the other day I watched my daughter playing dress up, which is something she does on a regular basis. I admit that sometimes I join her. As I watched her parade around in all her princess grandeur I realized that I’m still playing make believe, except now I do it on paper instead of in front of a full length mirror.

When I sit down to write I can be anyone I want to be including a princess. During the course of writing An Intimate Murder I became every character I put on the page, all of them from a Police Detective to a murderer, slipping on each persona as easily as putting on a tutu and crown to be a princess.

I have laughed as my characters and cried as them too. I’ve even held the knife of my killer and felt justified when I used it to take another character’s life.

Sometimes writing can be a very uncomfortable form of make believe. It’s a scary place to be when you can justifyprincess killing someone even if they are fictional, but that’s what writers do. We tap into parts of ourselves that everyone has buried inside, but thanks to impulse control we don’t act on. Everyone can be a killer if properly motivated. Likewise, we can all be heroes if properly motivated.

It’s so much easier to be a princess or in my case a goddess (hey, all princesses have to graduate at some point). The days that I have to dig down inside me to the dark side of my personality exhaust me and make me tense.
Then there are the days when I’m able to experience joy as my character. Or the days I get to relive something from my past like my first kiss, the day I met my husband, or the birth of my daughter. Ah, those days are worth the discomfort that comes along with writing.

I guess training for being an author starts with playing make believe. Author’s just never grow up. We are really committed to our lands of make believe. Or perhaps we just need to be committed. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. It all depends on your perspective. Either way, I was once a princess and I might be again if motivated enough.

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Review: An Intimate Murder

Are you ready for a double dose of Catherine O’Brien? Today I review An Intimate Murder, the third book in the Catherine O’Brien mystery series and tomorrow I have a guest post from author Stacy Verdick Case and a chance to win a copy of An Intimate Murder. And if that isn’t enough you can also stop by Goodreads to win a copy today — but today’s the last day!

An Intimate Murderaim cover Web Large

Author: Stacy Verdick Case

Paperback: 284 pages (also available in e-formats)

Publisher: Before the Fall Books (October 7, 2014)

Synposis:

When Jonathan and Susan Luther are murdered in their home, St. Paul homicide detective Catherine O’Brien and her partner Louise discover this isn’t the first time the Luther family has been visited by tragedy. Is it a case of bad family luck or is there something more?

Review:

Catherine is not a super hero, all-knowing crime solver. She can’t hold her tongue (with suspects, the press or fellow cops), she forgets to call her mother (and her husband), she’s grumpy, she wants to always be right (and is even grumpier when she isn’t), she’s addicted to coffee and in her own words, “short, pale, and too round in certain places to be considered slim. I’m more bumpy than curvy, and more dorky than graceful.” In other words, Catherine is me — with a gun and coffee instead of chocolate. Maybe that’s why I enjoy reading Catherine O’Brien mysteries.

This is definitely a crazy family. It starts out with a husband and wife getting murdered for seemingly no reason. And every time Catherine and her partner Louise (cheers for two female detectives as partners) turn around another crazy family member is turning up. Got to love those crazy families. Are they just garden variety crazy family or the type that resort to shot guns and ice picks?

This book is low on action and high on investigation. But that makes the few scenes of violence even more impressive. There are a few clues that I felt we readers didn’t get a fair chance at considering but for the most part you got to follow Catherine and Louise (along with a cast of humorous assistants) through their investigation and learn what they learned, as they learned it.

Need to play catch up with Catherine O’Brien? You can learn about her debut in my post about A Grand Murder and an interview with author Stacy Verdick Case here.

Review: Doghouse

Doghouse: A Gin & Tonic Mystery

Author: L.A. Korentskydoghouse-80x132

Paperback: 278 pages (also available as e-book)

Publisher: Pocket Books(July 22, 2014)

Synposis:

In the third novel in the Gin & Tonic mystery series, the stakes are raised when Ginny Mallard and Teddy Tonica stumble on an underground dog fighting ring with bloody consequences.

Even though she’s unlicensed as an investigator, the infamously nosy Ginny Mallard has begun to make a name for herself as an unofficial champion of the tongue-tied. When a mysterious stranger comes to her with landlord trouble, she convinces her bartender friend Teddy Tonica to help her once more. Soon, they realize they might have gotten themselves tied up in an underground dogfighting ring. With the help of Ginny’s pet shar-pei puppy and Tonica’s tabby cat, they have to figure out what’s going on before someone else gets hurt. Will twelve legs really be better than four?

Review:

In case the dogfighting aspect of Doghouse got you all icky inside don’t worry. There are no graphic scenes of dogfights and the characters barely talk about it, except to say how horrible the idea of it is. So it’s safe to read this book without danger of dogfighting nightmares.

I love that the Ginny and Tonica are less investigators and more…problem solvers. They aren’t caught up in pesky legal rules or even seeing that criminals go to jail. What they want is the best thing for their clients, in this case a punch drunk old fighter who just lost his home for reasons he can’t (or won’t) really explain. But it’s tough getting a house back when you can’t even figure out exactly why your client was kicked out in the first place.

It’s fun reading about the odd relationships that develop in Doghouse. Of course there’s Ginny and Tonica and Georgie and Penny. But now we’ve got Seth and Deke, Shana and Deke, even Staci and Farsi. These oddball relationships lend a feeling of reality to the book that some series don’t have. What makes Doghosue a page turner is that you’re never sure if Deke is telling the truth, lying, or just plain forgot that he did something to bring all this trouble down on his head. Unraveling all that confusion in Deke’s head is what makes this book fun.

If you want to know more about the Gin & Tonic series check out my reviews of Collared and Fixed.

The Devil’s Necktie

The Devil’s Necktie

Author: John LansingThe Devils Necktie

E-book: 295 pages

Publisher: Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing (December 31, 2012)

Synposis:

Retired inspector Jack Bertolino had strict rules when dealing with confidential informants. But Mia had the kind of beauty that could make a grown man contemplate leaving his wife, his job, and his kids. After a passionate night together, Mia is found murdered–and Jack is the lead suspect.

Facing threats from the LAPD, the 18th Street Angels, and a Colombian drug cartel, Jack delves deeper into the seedy world of drug dealers and murderers and discovers that the top players knew Mia personally. And now Jack is torn between fearing for his life and seeking revenge for his slain lover….either way, the body count will rise.

Review:

Jack Bertolino is your typical retired cop: jaded, scarred and alone. But he’s relatively peaceful. Until an old flame/confidential informant sweeps back into his life. What starts out as “for old time’s sake” rapidly devolves into a messy murder investigation. This book will keep you on edge with more bad guys popping up on every page. If you like tough guys, fast paced action and a fight for justice against overwhelming odds you’ll like The Devil’s Necktie.

Visit from L.A. Kornetsky

Decluttering by L.A. Kornetsky

I’m getting ready for a move, and part of that is decluttering. Getting rid of things – objects, old paperwork – that I don’t need to haul with me any more.

But in a folder of otherwise no-longer-needed papers, there’s a sheet I’m keeping. It’s from the ASPCA, and it LAdocuments my adoption of the kitten once known as Minna, who became my beloved Pandora, gone now a little over a year.

There’s no point to keeping the sheet of paper. All it does is say that I paid x amount for a 4 month old female tiger kitten, spayed. But throwing it out isn’t an option, either. Because this was the first connection I had to Pandora, the first contract we made with each other: I would give her food, shelter, care, and a lap when she wanted it. I would give her a home. And in return, she gave me such love and companionship, letting her go at the end was no less a pain than losing a human friend.

I don’t have documentation from Indy-J, who was found on the street as a weeks-old kitten, and lived a long and adventurous life before cancer took her in 2000. But Pandora’s adoption paper will go in the current file, along with the papers for our current residents, Boomerang (aka Boomer you idiot), and Castiel the Kitten of Thursday (aka DamnitCas).

Because you keep the important moments, the documents that say “this is how you changed my life.”
(and some of you may note that I invite disaster in the renaming of my cats. You would not be wrong. But where’s the fun of living with Sir Napsalot?)

Tell us the names of your animal friends and how they’ve changed your life.

L.A. Kornetsky is an author who lives in New York City with two cats and a time-share dog, and also writes fantasy under the name Laura Anne Gilman. She welcomes visitors to www.lauraannegilman.net, @LAGilman and Facebook L-A-Kornetsky. This week is Animal Welfare Week and Kornetsky’s latest Gin & Tonic mystery takes on animal abusers (nothing graphic, thank goodness). Come back Wednesday for a review of Doghouse and links to my reviews of Collared and Fixed.

Night Blindness: A Novel

Night Blindness: A Novel

Author: Susan Strecker

Hardcover: 304 pages (also available in e-formats)nightblind

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (October 7, 2014)

Synposis:

A future as bright as the stars above the Connecticut shore lay before Jensen Reilly and her high school sweetheart, Ryder, until the terrible events of an October night left Jensen running from her family and her first love. Over the years that followed, Jensen buried her painful past, and now, married to a charismatic artist, she has created a new life far away from the unbearable secret of that night.

When Jensen’s father, Sterling, is diagnosed with a brain tumor, she returns to her childhood home for the first time in thirteen years, and the memories of her old life come flooding back along with the people she’s tried to escape. Torn between her life in Santa Fe with her free-spirited husband, Nic, and the realization that it is time to face her past, Jensen must make a terrifying decision that threatens to change her life again—this time forever.

An emotionally thrilling debut set during a New England summer, Susan Strecker’s Night Blindness is a compelling novel about the choices we make, the sanctity of friendship, and the power of love.

Review:

Night Blindness is a very truthful exploration of family relationships. A meandering trip through the guilt, the confusion, the anger, the secrets and yes, the love. This books feels like it could be a page from any of lives because everyone makes mistakes, no one is magically transformed, people get hurt, and things are not tied up neatly with a red ribbon at the end. If you want a family drama to pass a few afternoons, try Night Blindness.