Book Review: FIELD OF VALOR by Matthew Betley

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Set in the aftermath of Betley’s “machine-gun pace” (BooklistOath of Honor and the discovery of a deadly global conspiracy, the president requests Logan West to form a covert task force with the mission to dismantle a nameless enemy.

With the full resources of the Justice Department, Intelligence Community, and the military (not to mention presidential pardons pre-signed), Logan must battle a secret organization with the connections and funding to rival many first-world nations. The goal of this organization is both singular and sinister—to pit the United States against China in a bid to dismantle the world’s security and economy. Back on US soil, Logan and his task force pursue the elusive foe from the woods of northern Virginia to the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, from suburban Maryland across the urban sprawl of Washington DC. The stakes have never been higher for Logan or America itself…

 

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VALOR IS FREEDOM

 

 

 

 

“Betley has quietly become an important new voice in the covert-thriller genre.” (Booklist)

“The action in Betley’s superb thrillers can come from every direction at the pace of a firefight, sweeping you from Iraq to Mexico to Africa to the corridors of power in DC. A former Marine, Betley writes with the authority of an insider who understands this world intimately, just as he knows his compelling and troubled hero, Logan West. A welcome new star!” (Peter Heller, New York Times bestselling author of THE DOG STARS)

“Suspenseful, inventive, and relentless, FIELD OF VALOR unfolds at lightning pace. The action rings with authenticity. The story brims with twists, intrigue, and secrets that will keep readers turning pages.”  (Meg Gardiner, New York Times bestselling author of INTO THE BLACK NOWHERE )

“In Field of Valor, make sure you strap in tight! Like the best rides in a theme park, this one starts FAST, and while your heart rate may occasionally approach ‘normal,’ it never truly does…and you’ll love it! Betley’s pacing, language, and presentation of situations sing the true, real notes of one who has been there. Logan West uses his considerable intelligence and fortitude to conquer the challenges presented. If you haven’t discovered Matthew Betley before, congratulate yourself for doing so now!” (Charles Davis, Fox Sports NFL Sunday Announcer & Analyst, John Madden Video Game Announcer )

“Fast, hard-hitting, and impossible to put down, FIELD OF VALOR is hands-down one of the best action thrillers hitting bookstores in 2018.” (The Real Book Spy )

 

 

 

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Better, than expected.

 

I admit this was my first tap into Matthew Betley’s blockbuster series with Field of Valor. It was definitely better than I expected it too be. I’m not sure what I expected, but exceeded whatever was in my brain! Excellent. The crafting of the scenes, including the fighting, settings, and action were off the charts. All I could say was, DAMN, that was good. It’s that kind of thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat and leaves you full when you’re done. The plot to stop a global conspiracy with the lethality, resources, and resolve that rival our own military make this a homerun. In fact, it seems like the conspiracy gets deeper and deeper as the book goes along. I jumped into this series with Field of Valor, so have to go back and devour the first two books. Overwatch and Oath of Honor. So I’ll be ready for book 4 when it comes out early next year!

 

 

 

Five Gold Stars

 

 

 

 

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Matthew Betley grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, which he considers home after his family moved there from New Jersey, where he was born and which also explains his affinity for the New York Yankees. He attended St. Xavier High School and then Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he graduated with a B.A. in psychology and minors in political science and sociology. He also spent the first semester of senior year investigating felony murder cases as an intern investigator in Washington, D.C., for the Public Defender’s Office, a formative experience that provided countless stories that could fill the pages of a non-fiction book. Upon graduation, he worked in corporate America for five years in Cincinnati before joining the Marine Corps in 1999.

Matt spent ten years as a Marine officer and was trained as a scout sniper platoon commander, an infantry officer, and a ground intelligence officer. His experiences include deployments to Djibouti after 9/11, and Fallujah, Iraq, prior to the surge, both in staff officer support billets.

Finally, and most importantly, Matt is a recovering alcoholic with nearly eight years of sobriety. He credits the Marine Corps with providing a foundation in discipline and personal accountability for his desire to initially seek help. Matt is open and direct about it and has spoken in front of large groups of people with one clear message – if he can get sober, so can anyone. He credits his recovery with providing the authenticity for Logan West’s struggle with his inner demons.

 

 

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Brad Thor’s SPYMASTER and Interesting Factoid

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The newest thriller in the #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and #1 Publishers Weekly bestselling series!

Across Europe, a secret organization has begun attacking diplomats. Back in the United States, a foreign ally demands the identity of a highly placed covert asset. In the balance hang the ingredients for all-out war.

With his mentor out of the game, counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath must take on the role he has spent his career avoiding. But, as with everything else he does, he intends to rewrite the rules—all of them.

In Spymaster, Scot Harvath is more cunning, more dangerous, and deadlier than ever before.

If you have never read a Brad Thor novel, this is the place to start!

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

See my book review  of Spymaster on one of my new sites – Harvathians.com where you’ll find all things Brad Thor.

Whenever you read a book by Brad Thor it’s always global in scope. This book is no different. The opening scene takes place in Sor-Trondelag, Norway deep in the forest.

 

Close up of Norway, Sweden and Finland on map

 

 

The breadth of the plot is well, pretty broad in its scope. Harvath is racing the clock to prevent an article 5 catastrophe involving the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He and a small counter-terrorism unit, Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) with other military operatives, discover a terrorist cell and try to shut it down. This breathtaking scene kicks off a hunt to stop a foreign adversary from advancing their agenda in Eastern Europe.

 

Interesting Factoid 

*The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) is Norway’s version of the F.B.I. *

PST is Norway’s national police security service, and its responsibilities include collecting and analyzing information and implementing countermeasures against matters that threaten national security. The service is organized as a special police service parallel to the regular police, and the service reports directly to the Ministry of Justice.

Check out their website: The Norwegian Police Security Service

 

For the rest of the plot you’ll just have to read the book! I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

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Books of the Year by Bibliophile Vikki Faircloth

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I asked fellow bibliophile, Vikki Faircloth, some questions about her favorite books and authors. Let’s see what the results are…

 

 

FAVORITE AUTHORS 

David Baldacci, Greig Beck, Matthew Betley

Lee Child, Preston & Child, Clive Cussler

Matthew Fitzsimmons

Meg Gardiner, Mark Greaney, Michael Grumley

Alex Lukeman

Luke Murphy

Matthew Reilly, James Rollins

S.L. Shelton, Jack Silkstone

A.J. Tata, Brad Taylor, Brad Thor

 

 

 

The Best Improve Great Performance Development Concept

 

 

 

 

 

BEST BOOKS READ THIS YEAR

Matthew Betley: Overwatch and Oath of Honor

Mark Greaney (was a new author to me): all Gray Man books this year

Meg Gardiner: UNSUB and Into the Black Nowhere

Alex Lukeman: Project Book 16

 

 

 

Matthew Betley: Overwatch & Oath of Honor

 

 

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Mark Greaney

 

 

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Meg Gardiner: UNSUB and Into the Black Nowhere

 

 

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Alex Lukeman: Project Book 16

 

 

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Search book

 

 

 

BOOKS IN QUE

David Baldacci: The Fallen

Jack Carr: Terminal List

David Ricciardi: Warning Light

 

 

 

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Anticipation

 

 

 

 

HIGHLY ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Matthew Betley: Field of Valor

Brad Thor: Spymaster

Robert Parker: Jesse Stone Debt to Pay

James Rollins: Hammer of Witches (the title has changed?)

 

 

 

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Crucible: A Sigma Force Novel (Sigma Force Novels) by James Rollins

The cover has yet to be revealed! Pre-order here

Available January 8, 2019. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Q&A and Book Recommendations with Bookstagrammer Laura Rash

 

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What are your favorite books?

 

 

Gone with wind new cover

 

Amazon

 

Since its original publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the bestselling novels of all time—has been heralded by readers everywhere as The Great American Novel.

Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Windexplores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years.

 

 

 

Still Alice GR image

 

Amazon

 

From New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes the definitive—and illuminating—novel about Alzheimer’s disease. Now a major motion picture starring Oscar winner Julianne Moore! Look for Lisa Genova’s latest novel Inside the O’Briens.

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship with her family and the world—forever. As she struggles to cope with Alzheimer’s, she learns that her worth is comprised of far more than her ability to remember.

At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Ordinary People.

 

 

What are the best books you’ve read so far this year?

 

Still Me book image

 

Amazon

 

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Jojo Moyes, a new book featuring her iconic heroine of Me Before You and After You, Louisa Clark

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life.

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she navigates how to stay true to herself, while pushing to live boldly in her brave new world.

 

 

 

Three days kissing

 

Available June 26, 2018 Pre-order now

 

When a child goes missing, two mothers’ lives collide in a shocking way in this suspenseful novel from the bestselling author of The Marriage Lie .

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: the call that comes in the middle of the night.

When Kat Jenkins awakens to the police on her doorstep, her greatest fear is realized. Her nine-year-old son, Ethan, is missing—vanished from the cabin where he’d been on an overnight field trip with his class. Shocked and distraught, Kat rushes to the campground where he was last seen. But she’s too late; the authorities have returned from their search empty-handed after losing Ethan’s trail in the mountain forest.

Another mother from the school, Stef Huntington, seems like she has it all: money, prominence in the community, a popular son and a loving husband. She hardly knows Kat, except for the vicious gossip that swirls around Kat’s traumatic past. But as the police investigation unfolds, Ethan’s disappearance will have earth-shattering consequences in Stef’s own life—and the paths of these two mothers are about to cross in ways no one could have anticipated.

Racing against the clock, their desperate search for answers begins—one where the greatest danger could lie behind the everyday smiles of those they trust the most.

 

 

Killed Thomas Enger

 

Amazon

 

Henning Juul sits in a boat on a dark lake. A man with a gun sits opposite him. At the man’s feet is a body that will be soon be dumped into the water. Henning knows that the same fate awaits him. And he knows that it’s his own fault. Who started the fire that killed Henning’s young son? How is his sister, Trine, involved? Most importantly, who can be trusted? Packed with tension and unexpected twists, Killed is the long-waited finale of the internationally renowned series featuring conflicted, disillusioned but always dogged crime reporter Henning Juul, and one of the most chilling, dark and moving crime thrillers you may ever read.

 

 

 

Every note played lisa Genova

 

Amazon

 

From neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice comes a powerful exploration of regret, forgiveness, freedom, and what it means to be alive.

An accomplished concert pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world in awe of his rare combination of emotional resonance and flawless technique. Every finger of his hands was a finely calibrated instrument, dancing across the keys and striking each note with exacting precision. That was eight months ago.

Richard now has ALS, and his entire right arm is paralyzed. His fingers are impotent, still, devoid of possibility. The loss of his hand feels like a death, a loss of true love, a divorce—his divorce.

He knows his left arm will go next.

Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall and hung a mirror there instead. But she still hasn’t moved on. Karina is paralyzed by excuses and fear, stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman, blaming Richard and their failed marriage for all of it.

When Richard becomes increasingly paralyzed and is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard’s muscles, voice, and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their past before it’s too late.

Poignant and powerful, Every Note Played is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.

 

 

 

Baby Teeth

 

Available July 17, 2018 Pre-order now

 

Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

 

 

How long does it take you to read a book?

1-2 days at the most. I’m a true speed reader.

 

 

Accelerated Learning Boy

 

 

Name three to five pet peeves as a reader

  • Over-hyped books that fall flat.
  • Being asked if I “really read that fast.”
  • Purses that aren’t big enough to hold a book.

 

 

What are the most anticipated books for you this year?

 

 

The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson

 

Available October 16, 2018 Pre-order now

 

Spanning the icy streets of Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is an atmospheric thriller from Ragnar Jonasson, one of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir.

The body of a young Russian woman washes up on an Icelandic shore. After a cursory investigation, the death is declared a suicide and the case is quietly closed.

Over a year later Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavík police is forced into early retirement at 64. She dreads the loneliness, and the memories of her dark past that threaten to come back to haunt her. But before she leaves she is given two weeks to solve a single cold case of her choice.

She knows which one: the Russian woman whose hope for asylum ended on the dark, cold shore of an unfamiliar country. Soon Hulda discovers that another young woman vanished at the same time, and that no one is telling her the whole story. Even her colleagues in the police seem determined to put the brakes on her investigation. Meanwhile the clock is ticking.

Hulda will find the killer, even if it means putting her own life in danger.

 

 

Hangman by

 

Available July 24, 2018 Pre-order now

 

How do you catch a killer who’s already dead?’

Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.

 

 

The Outsider by Stephen King

 

Available May 22, 2018 Pre-order now

 

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

 

 

Any other recommendations in the mystery/thriller category? 

Anything by Paul Cleave.

 

 

Killer Harvest Paul cleave

 

Amazon

 

A new thriller from the Edgar-nominated author of Trust No Oneand Joe Victim about a blind teenager who receives new eyes through corneal donation and begins to see and feel memories that he believes belong to the previous owners a detective and a serial killer.

Joshua is convinced there is a family curse. It’s taken away his biological parents, robbed him of his eyesight, and is the reason his father Logan, the detective who raised him, is killed while investigating the homicide of a young woman. The suspect, Simon Bowers, is killed by Logan’s partner Ben, whose intentions are murkier than expected.

After this tragedy Joshua is handed an opportunity he can’t refuse: a new pair of eyes. But a mishap during the surgery leads to Joshua unknowingly getting one eye from his father, and the other from Simon. As Joshua navigates a world of sight, he gets glimpses of what his eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. Memories, truths, and lies Joshua discovers a world darker than the one he has emerged from. What else has he failed to see?

Meanwhile, Simon’s accomplice Vincent is bent on revenge, going after the loved ones of those involved in Simon’s death and Vincent is drawing closer and closer to Joshua.

Thriller virtuoso Paul Cleave is back with another riveting story of hidden secrets and unspeakable horrors that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

 

There. Go read a book. 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Novelist Margot Kinberg Discusses her new book Downfall

Downfall Margot Kinberg

 

 

They Said It Was a Tragedy. They Said It Was an Accident. They Lied.

 

Second Chance is a Philadelphia alternative school designed for at-risk students. They live on campus, they take classes, and everyone hopes they’ll stay out of prison. And then one of them dies. When Curtis Templeton falls from a piece of scaffolding near the school, it’s called a tragic accident. A damned shame. A terrible loss. And everyone moves on.

 
Two years later, former police detective-turned-professor Joel Williams and two of his colleagues do a study of Second Chance for a research paper. When they find out about Curtis’ death, they start asking questions. And no-one wants to answer them.

The search for the truth takes Williams and his research partners behind the scenes of for-profit alternative education – and straight into the path of someone who thought everything would stay buried.

In the meantime, changes are coming to Tilton University. The School of Social Sciences is going to be the new home of a center for research on juvenile offenders. But not everyone is happy about it. YouthPromises, the company that’s underwriting the center, is a for-profit alternative program that has a stake in the outcome of any research the center does. What will that mean for the faculty? Williams finds himself caught in the controversy over the center, just as he’s finding out the truth about Second Chance

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Today's Guest Talk Show Microphone Discussion Interview Program

 

 

 

 

MYSTERY NOVELIST MARGOT KINBERG

 

 

*Is it easier writing about protagonist Joel Williams as the series progresses?

It actually is. As the years have gone by, I’ve gotten to know him better, if I can put it like that. So, it’s easier to see him as a complete person.

 

 

*How did you develop the plot for Downfall?

When I write my crime fiction, I always start with the victim. So, in this case, I began with fifteen-year- old Curtis Templeton. Once I imagined what he might be like, I thought about the sort of school/program he’d attend, and about his background. That gave me the context. And that led to the people in his life, and to the reason he’s killed.

 

 

*What are alternative schools like Second Chance?

Alternative schools are intended for students who can’t benefit from ‘regular’ public schools or private schools (like religious schools). For example, students who are pregnant or who are raising young children might need a school program that allows them to parent as well as attend classes. Students who have certain medical problems may also need an alternative program that allows them to meet their medical needs. And students with certain behavioral problems (this is where Curtis Templeton fits in) may benefit more from an alternative program with closer supervision and a different learning environment.

 

 

 

School

 

 

 

*What does ‘at risk’ kids mean and how do they qualify as such?

The thing about the term ‘at risk’ is that its definition varies depending on (for the US) the state and sometimes the school district. In a very general sense, an at-risk student is a student who is in danger of either failing out of school or of being expelled. Both situations make a student far more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system, so the idea of the ‘at risk’ label is to help these students before they end up in prison. It doesn’t always work, sadly, but that’s the idea. A student who’s got several suspensions from school might be considered ‘at-risk.’ So might a student who struggles academically. For instance, students who are a certain number of grade levels behind their peers in reading might be considered ‘at-risk,’ depending on other factors in their lives.

 

 

*What were the most challenging aspects about writing this book?

The thing about writing crime novels is that, in most of them, people die. That’s a devastating loss for friends, loved ones, and co-workers who grieve for them. To portray that grief in what I hope is an authentic way isn’t easy. Everyone grieves differently, and there’s nothing to say that one way of coping with loss is ‘better,’ or ‘more normal’ than another way. So, one challenge is allowing for different people to express grief
differently. Another challenge is to do so without either getting melodramatic, or not doing justice to the real-life suffering of those who lose people.

 

 

 

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*What are the most rewarding?

One of the best parts about writing this novel was seeing the characters come to life, so to speak, and letting them tell their stories. When the characters start to seem real (or close to it), the story gets more interesting. And that makes it more of a pleasure to write.

I also richly enjoyed exploring Philadelphia as I wrote. It’s a large city with a lot to it, so even though I consider Philadelphia my home town, there’s still a lot I don’t know about it. It was rewarding to learn a few things. And I did enjoy the chance to immerse myself in the city. I often get homesick, and writing the book was a good tonic.

 

 

 

Reward Rises From Risk

 

 

 

 

*Who are the members of Joel’s research team?

The other members of the research team are Dr. Jered Carr and Dr. Ben Peterson. Carr’s a former parole officer who’s gone into academia. He’s got experience working with juvenile offenders and their families, so his skills will help in getting a broad picture of Second Chance. Peterson has a background in data analysis and an interest in computer crime, so his research skills are invaluable. He’s also got a brother in prison, so he has a personal interest in whether for-profit programs are helpful.

 

 

 

laptop computer

 

 

 

*Tell us about the changes coming to Tilton University and the Social Sciences department. 

Any academic can tell you that when a foundation or corporation is willing to invest several million, a university sits up and pays attention. In this case, a for-profit company called YouthPromises is planning to donate three million (US) dollars to Tilton to fund a center for research into juvenile offenders. On the one hand, this is very good news for the School of Social Sciences. Members of the Departments of Psychology, Sociology, and Criminal Justice (that’s Joel Williams’ department) will have all sorts of opportunities. Trust me, universities everywhere love it when they get funding for research. Among other things, it means that faculty can pursue their interests, and that students interested the field can get the support and facilities they need.

 
On the other hand, YouthPromises is a for-profit company. What might this mean for the sort of research that goes on at the new center? Some people are afraid that there might be an undue amount of pressure on the faculty to research certain topics, and to support certain findings. And what might that mean for academic freedom and integrity of research findings? It’s not an easy set of questions.

 

 

*Tell us about Youthpromises and the role it plays in the book. 

YouthPromises is a company that owns several alternative programs. This company has just agreed to donate three million (US) dollars to fund a research center at Tilton. And that means both lots of opportunities, and some very difficult controversial questions.

 

While YouthPromises employees and facilities don’t appear in the book, the fact that it wants to fund a research center means that the School of Social Sciences will be paying a lot more attention to alternative programs for young people who are at risk of ending up in prison.

 

 

 

Companies Youth promise

 

 

 

*Tell us some fun facts you discovered that aren’t in the book. 

That’s what I love about researching for a book. I always learn a lot. One thing I learned is the sometimes-complicated picture of which police authority has jurisdiction in certain places. In US National Parks, it’s the National Park Service, which is a federal authority. Park rangers may be assisted by local police in nearby towns or townships, or by state police, depending on the situation. And it works better for everyone if these different groups share information and cooperate. But, when a murder occurs in a US National Park, as one does in Downfall, the US National Park Service steps in. Thanks, by the way, to Valley Forge National Park for helping me with this part of the novel.

 
I also learned some interesting things about different sorts of row homes. For those of you not familiar with row homes, they’re a very common sort of architecture in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and some other cities. They tend to be longer than they are wide, and you may see several blocks of connected row homes. Here is a link to an interesting article from Philadelphia Magazine about Philadelphia row homes. There are
some helpful photographs, for those who haven’t seen this style of home before.

Thanks again, Benjamin, for hosting me!

 

 

 

 

Margot Kinberg headshot

 

 

 

Margot Kinberg is a mystery author and Associate Professor. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Kinberg graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, then moved to Philadelphia, which Kinberg still considers home.

Kinberg had always been fascinated by crime fiction and mystery novels. In fact, she became an “addict” while still in her teens. So in 2007, she began her fiction writing career with her debut novel, Publish or Perish. In that novel, Kinberg put her experience in the world of higher education to use in creating a murder mystery that takes place at fictional Tilton University. This story introduces Joel Williams, a former police detective-turned-professor, who teaches in Tilton University’s Department of Criminal Justice. In this first outing, Williams helps solve the murder of a graduate student. The second in Kinberg’s Joel Williams series is B-Very Flat, in which Williams helps to solve the murder of a young violin virtuosa who dies suddenly on the night of an important musical competition

Kinberg, who now lives with her family in Southern California, is currently at work on her third Joel Williams novel.

 

 

 

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour: Murder in the Village by Faith Martin

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Looking for a brilliant best-selling murder mystery with a feisty female detective?

Then meet DI HILLARY GREENE, a policewoman struggling to save her career and catch criminals.

A would-be politician is found battered to death in the kitchenof his expensive home in a lovely Oxfordshire village. His wife’s alibi is full of holes and there’s another woman in the background. And what about his seemingly mild-mannered political rival?

DI Hillary Greene tries to get to the bottom of this perplexing murder. She certainly doesn’t think the prime suspect is as guilty as everyone thinks.

Just as she’s about to make a breakthrough, everything is turned upside down by a fatal development in another case she is working on . . .

Can Hillary find the murderer and will she survive a brush with one of Oxford’s most dangerous criminals? 

This is a crime mystery full of well-observed characters, which will have you gripped from start to finish.

MURDER IN THE VILLAGE is the fourth in a series of page-turning crime thrillers set in Oxfordshire.

 

 

“This is the best book in the series so far.” -Barbara 

“Another page-turning book by Faith Martin, I just couldn’t put it down.” -Viv 

 

 

 

 

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THE LOCATION

The picturesque village of Lower Heyford, set in North Oxfordshire’s Cherwell Valley, nestles close to the Cotswolds, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Farming country, the village has been in existence in one form or another for over a thousand years, providing a natural ‘ford’ for oxen over the river since medieval times. A mix of thatched and old stone and slate cottages, it is home to local families and rich ‘incomers’ alike. It’s proximity by train to both London and Birmingham make it a very desirable place to live indeed, and both the Oxford canal and the river Cherwell run close to it, making it haven for walkers, boaters and wildlife.

 

 

 

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“What the Detective story is about is not about murder but the restoration of order.”–P.D. James

 

 

THE DETECTIVES

DI Hillary Greene

An attractive woman in her forties, Hillary Greene is a police officer of many years’ experience, and came up through the ranks. Consequently, she knows how the system works, and is fiercely loyal to the force without being blinkered to its faults. She is a long-standing friend of her immediate superior officer, ‘Mellow’ Mallow and enjoys a rather enigmatic relationship with the steely Superintendent Marcus Donleavy. Popular with the rank and file for her no-nonsense attitude and competence.

 

 

 

Detective search

 

 

DCI Philip ‘Mellow’ Mallow

Mel appreciates Hillary’s first-rate ability to solve her cases, and isn’t happy about her harassment by the officers from York. Known for his sartorial elegance and laid-back manners, he has a sharp mind, and an eye for the ladies. A good friend and ally for Hillary in her recent tribulations, he’s determined to keep his best investigator focused on the problems at hand.

 

Review

I’m not sure how to put this, but Faith Martin writes page turners. Every book in the series is delightful to say the least. Every writer is different in how they tell a story, but what I appreciate about Faith Martin’s books are balance with a touch of humor. They’re the perfect balance of character, dialogue, and narrative. This makes for a very pleasurable experience.

 

Four golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

DI HILLARY GREENE SERIES

BOOK 1: MURDER ON THE OXFORD CANAL
BOOK 2: MURDER AT THE UNIVERSITY
BOOK 3: MURDER OF THE BRIDE
BOOK 4: MURDER IN THE VILLAGE
MORE COMING SOON!

 

Faith Martin

 

Author photo

 

 

Author Bio

Faith Martin has been writing for over 25 years, in four genres and under four different pen names. She was born in Oxford and sets most of her crime novels within sight of the city of dreaming spires. A real nature lover and afficionado of the countryside, descriptions of wildlife and native flora often find their way into her manuscripts. Right now, JOFFE BOOKS are re-issuing the first eleven of the DI Hillary Greene novels in new updated editions! And the first of these, MURDER ON THE OXFORD CANAL is available now, with the others to very quickly follow.

Her romance novels, written under the name of Maxine Barry, are now available from Corazon Books. IMPOSTERS In PARADISE, and HEART OF FIRE are both out, and others will very quickly become available in the future.

Her first foray into writing ‘spooky’ crime, (and written under the pen name of Jessie Daniels) comes out in November 2017. THE LAVENDER LADY CASEFILE is published by Robert Hale, an imprint of Crowood Press.

As Joyce Cato, she writes more classically-inspired ‘proper’ whodunits. So if you like an amateur sleuth, plenty of clues and red herrings, plus a baffling murder mystery to solve, these are the books for you.

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Blog Tour: Deadly Lies by Chris Collett

deadly-lies-3

 

 

 

DEADLY LIES by CHRIS COLLETT

Discover a new detective in a tough city. DI Tom Mariner thinks he’s seen it all, but now he faces an investigation which will push him to his limits.

Journalist Eddie Barham is found dead in his home. A syringe in his arm and a note by his side reading, ‘No More.’

Open and shut case of suicide? Not for DI Mariner. Hours before, he saw Barham picking up a prostitute in a bar. Mariner discovers Barham’s younger brother, Jamie, hiding in a cupboard under the stairs.

Jamie must have witnessed his brother’s death, but his severe autism makes communication almost impossible. Mariner is determined to connect with Jamie and get to the truth. And is the journalist’s death related to his investigation of a local crime kingpin?

What other dark secrets does Jamie hold the key to and can Mariner keep his relationship professional with Barham’s attractive sister, Anna?

In a nail-biting conclusion Mariner races against time to prevent more lives being lost.

Perfect for fans of Peter James, Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson. This is the first book in the DI MARINER SERIES, more books coming soon!

 

 

Silhouette of writer

 

THE SETTING
Birmingham is a city of stark contrasts with a rich cultural and historical heritage. Playing a key role in the industrial revolution, it helped shape the nation’s manufacturing industry

But with its many green spaces, Birmingham also borders on the beautiful countryside of Worcestershire and Warwickshire, is just a few miles from Stratford on Avon and a short drive from the wild country of mid-Wales.

Birmingham’s population is large and ethnically diverse, and while urban regeneration has forged a modern and culturally vibrant city, the decaying remnants of the industrial past and 1960s concrete jungle give it a unique and gritty character; the dark underbelly policed by DI Tom Mariner and his team.

 

 

 

Green Road Sign -  Birmingham, England

 

 

THE DETECTIVES

Detective Inspector Tom Mariner is, on the surface, an average dedicated policeman, but his experiences as a younger man have given him an insight into life on the dark side, and a clear sense of right and wrong. Mariner has little interest in material things. He lives in a modest canal-side cottage, enjoys the occasional (real) beer and game of dominoes and drives an old car. He is most at home in the outdoors, with an OS map and a compass, and in times of crisis, will take off and walk for miles in any weather.

Police Constable Tony Knox has recently transferred to the West Midlands force and finds himself back in uniform following an undisclosed transgression. A scouser with the gift of the gab, and an irrepressible ladies’ man, Knox is initially wary of the inscrutable DI Mariner, but, when a need arises, is grateful for his unquestioning support and the lack of curiosity about his personal life.

PRAISE FOR MARINER
I really couldn’t put it down’ Raw Edge Magazine 

‘Collett is a wonderful writer, subtle, clever, strong on atmosphere and character. This is a fitting follow-up to her debut and reassures the crime fan that the police procedural is in safe hands. More, please’ Yorkshire Post

 

 

Chris Collett really knows how to reel you into a good story. From the first page, it simply flows effortlessly until you’re lost within a world of Deadly Lies. I’ve been enjoying reading a few detective mysteries based in England recently. It’s like a breath of fresh air, new blood, and new characters to keep me satisfied.

This has everything you’d want in a book. A gripping mystery, developed characters in the midst of a well written plot ready for consumption. I’m definitely gamed for more of Collett’s work.

 

My rating

 

Four golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

Connect with Chris Collett

Twitter | Website | Linkedin

 

 

Chris Collett

 

Chris Collett grew up in a Norfolk seaside town where she worked in a boarding house (now defunct) a local bakery (closed down) and a crisp factory (razed to the ground). Graduating in Liverpool, Chris has since taught children and adults with varying degrees of learning disability, including autism. She is now a university lecturer, with two grown up children, and lives in Birmingham; DI Tom Mariner’s ‘patch’. She has published short stories, teaches creative and crime writing and is a manuscript assessor for the Crime Writers Association.

The first five DI Tom Mariner books will be released in revised editions by Joffe Books in 2017/2018.

Find out more at http://www.chriscollettcrime.co.uk

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Thank you!

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewrtingtrain.com

Blog Tour- Murder on the Oxford Canal by Faith Martin

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MURDER ON THE OXFORD CANAL is the first in a series of page-turning crime thrillers set in Oxfordshire.

Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter, or Ruth Rendell.

THE LOCATION
The Oxford Canal meanders through the beautiful county of Oxfordshire, sometimes joining up with the rivers Cherwell and Thames, and flows past the world-famous university city of Oxford. Unlike many canals which are practically ruler-straight commercial waterways, built to help transport goods and heavy traffic before the advent of the railways, the Oxford Canal is a more winding and natural-looking body of water, and is a haven for wildlife and wildflowers. It has several romantically-named locks on its length (such as the Three Pigeons Lock, and Dashwood Lock) and boasts the ominously-sounding Somerton Deep Lock, which often terrifies first-time boating holiday-makers.
 

 

Oxford thames

 

 

 

locks on the river

 

 

 

 
THE DETECTIVES

DI Hillary Greene
An attractive woman in her forties, Hillary Greene is a police officer of many years’ experience, and came up through the ranks. Consequently, she knows how the system works, and is fiercely loyal to the force without being blinkered to its faults. She is a long-standing friend of her immediate superior officer, ‘Mellow’ Mallow and enjoys a rather enigmatic relationship with the steely Superintendent Marcus Donleavy. Popular with the rank and file for her no-nonsense attitude and competence, she is currently under investigation, on account of her recently deceased, and definitely corrupt husband (Ronnie Greene). But adversity has never stopped her from doing her job.

DCI Philip ‘Mellow’ Mallow
Mel appreciates Hillary’s first-rate ability to solve her cases, and isn’t happy about her harassment by the officers from York. Known for his sartorial elegance and laid-back manners, he has a sharp mind, and an eye for the ladies. A good friend and ally for Hillary in her recent tribulations, he’s determined to keep his best investigator focused on the problems at hand.

 

 

inspector

 

 

 

Murder on the Oxford Canal is a wonderful beginning to a promising series. I love books that begin with an interesting character to invest in. Author Faith Martin does a marvelous job introducing us to DI Hillary Greene.

This story drew me in right from the beginning and kept me turning the pages full of suspense. A mysterious body was found in the lock, with even a more mysterious crime behind it.

The author does a great job painting realistic characters and excels at crafting interpersonal relationships. Writing a story is one thing. Writing an engaging, page -turner with fascinating characters is altogether different. I’m a fan of this series!

 

 

My Rating

 

Four golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

 

Connect with Faith Martin

Amazon | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour!

 

BLOG TOUR BANNER - Murder on the Oxford Canal

 

 

 

 

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Writing Combat, After Combat by John Mangan

 

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Writing Combat, After Combat

 

Like many young men I was raised on a steady diet of thrillers and military action novels. After devouring hundreds of books, ranging from Tom Clancy’s techno wizardry, to Robert Ludlum’s classics, and The Outrider series by Richard Harding, I figured that I had combat figured out. After all, I’d read thousands of action scenes that described in excruciating detail every conceivable combat move, gunshot, reload, judo chop, wound and scream. I’d lived through numerous dogfights, firefights, fistfights, bombings and ambushes. I’d sighted down my rifle, pulled the
4.5 lb match grade trigger, felt the recoil, and watched as my 62 grain, boat tailed hollow point bullet impacted a target, center of mass, at 3200 FPS. I was ready.

 
Then I was in combat, and what I realized within the first 30 seconds was that all those books had gotten it wrong. Phenomenally, epically wrong. Contrary to what I’d read, the experience of combat wasn’t just a linear series of physical events; instead, it was an enormously personal, tidal wave of primordial impulses and scalding, mind blanking fear. My  favorite authors hadn’t only missed the mark, they’d been shooting in the wrong damn direction.

 

 

aim

 

 
In retrospect, trying to understand combat by reading a thriller is like trying to understand sex by reading a medical textbook. Yes, you will arrive at a detailed understanding of what goes where, and who does what to whom, but ultimately, you won’t see the human side of the game. This is what separates pornography from explicit romance; One depicts a series of discreet physical acts, the other communicates a subjective human experience. Perhaps that’s the crux of the issue; one depicts, the other communicates. Like love, grief, or joy, combat is a complex emotional phenomenon that leaves a deep and wrenching impact upon the people who experience it.

 
So what was combat like? Imagine that you are on a rafting trip with your friends, thoroughly enjoying the adventure as you explore a new stretch of river. Suddenly, you enter whitewater and the raft begins bucking and spinning. You are tossed about and spray drenches you, but you find it exhilarating because your team responds as a well trained unit, working together, guiding the raft successfully through the chaos. You are going to make it. You are in control. Right up to the moment that you aren’t…

 

 

 

combat

 

 
With a heave the raft overturns and you are thrown into the river. You and your team are now being swept along by the power of events far beyond your control, smashing into each other and off of rocks, rolling through rapids and tumbling off of falls. Your actions become base and instinctual, you reach for your comrades, hold your breath, stroke for the surface, and try to guild yourself around obstacles both seen and unseen. But you intuitively know that the best of your efforts are merely token gestures and that you are being carried along by a force more powerful than any single man caught up in it. This force has a will of its own and your attempts to influence it are more illusion than anything else. You will be released at the time of its choosing, not yours. For me, that was combat; being immersed in a force that was terrifyingly intimate, unknowable and beyond any measure of control.

 
So how did that experience guide the creation of Into a Dark Frontier? First and foremost, I think readers have grown numb to elaborate scenes describing combat in excruciating detail. In today’s world of hyper violent entertainment, the firing of a gun has become routine, the spattering of blood trite, the death of a human meaningless. That doesn’t mean that an artist should shy away from depicting violence, for it is part of the human experience. But how do you do it in a way that stirs your audience, leaves a lasting impression and advances the story? Strangely enough, I think that the poets of old did it best.

 

 
While eulogizing World War I in his epic poem, “The Second Coming”, W.B. Yeats didn’t even mention the horrors of trench warfare, instead, he said that a “blood dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned,” and “what rough beast, its time come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?” In one short poem the entire terrible spirit of 1914-1918 is laid bare before you. By omitting physical details, Yeats swept away the clutter and unearthed the soul of the event, not only of the war itself, but what it meant for the future of humanity.

 
But a poet’s verse doesn’t always have to span continents and nations; Tennyson spoke of “men that strove with gods.”

 
Sir Walter Scott described, “The stern joy that warriors feel in foemen worthy of their steel.”

 
And who could forget Henry V’s blood curdling speech to the people of Harfleur?
(Edited for brevity)

 

 
The gates of mercy shall be all shut up
And the fleshed soldier, rough and hard of heart
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
With conscience wide as hell mowing like grass
Your fresh fair virgins and your flow’ring infants
While your pure maidens fall into the hand
Of hot and forcing violation.

 
O’erblows the filthy and contagious clouds
Of heady murder, spoil and villainy.
If not, why, in a moment look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters,
Your fathers taken by their silver beards

 

And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls,
Your naked infants spitted on pikes
While the mad mothers with their howls confused
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
At Herods bloody-hunting slaughtermen

 

 
Just look at those incredible words! Foul hands, slaughtermen, shrill-shrieking, and heady murder. Not only is the poet allowed to paint with a more vivid palette, they are also given the freedom to strip away irrelevant physical details until they find not only the humanity of an event, but its enduring meaning as well. I think that combat, like love, is too complex and forceful to be restrained by the rules of prose. That is why lovers turn to music and poetry to express themselves. Perhaps warriors can as well.

 

 

“I think that combat, like love, is too complex and forceful to be restrained by the rules of prose.”

 

 
So who describes combat best in these modern times? My favorites are Cormac McCarthy, Charles Frazier, Anthony Loyd and James Salter. They are masters of lyrical prose, telling a sharp and detailed story that swerves into poetry at times and then back again before you even have time to hear the rumble strips. The beauty of their words are a counterpoint to the horrors they describe and I find myself drawn to their stories again and again.

 

 

 

excellent

 

 

 
Having said all this, am I satisfied with the action scenes in my novel Into a Dark Frontier? No, I am not. There’s a sentence here and there that I am proud of, maybe even a paragraph or two. I have a long way to go, but I’m confident that I’ll get there someday, and that’s what keeps me writing.

 

 

 

Into a Dark Frontier

 

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Have a reply for John? Tell us in the comments.

 

 

John Mangan
Author of Into a Dark Frontier
www.JohnManganBooks.com

 

 

 

 

In the News: Law & Vengeance by Mike Papantonio

words News

 

 

Mike Papantonio is back with his second novel with Law and Vengeance and is sure to be a winner. So don’t miss out on this legal thriller!

 

Law and Vengeance

 

 

From the Author

Mike Papantonio, a leading trial lawyer and the television host of America’s Lawyer, has delivered his new action-packed legal thriller. This time his leading character is a beautiful, determined woman who built her career as a criminal trial lawyer by believing she could play by the rules and still achieve justice for her clients. But the gruesome murder of her law partner and former lover has turned her world upside down―and suddenly she’s on a playing field where there are no rules.

When Gina Romano learns America’s largest weapons manufacturer has her in its crosshairs, she realizes this time the pursuit of justice is not enough.

In her own two-pronged attack against her enemies, her strategy is to win both in the courtroom and, when necessary, outside of it.

Based on a real case, Mike Papantonio delivers the goods in his carefully drawn, likeable characters and a smart, well-told adventure.

 

 

Law and Vengeance: Introducing Gina Romano

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss this Eye opening Television Interview with Mike Papantonio.

 

 

 

Mike Papantonio is a senior partner of Levin Papantonio, one of the largest plaintiffs’ law firms in America, that has handled thousands of cases throughout the nation involving pharmaceutical drug litigation, Florida tobacco litigation, litigation for asbestos-related health damage, securities fraud actions, and other mass tort cases. “Pap” has received dozens of multimillion dollar verdicts on behalf of victims of corporate corruption.

Papantonio is one of the youngest attorneys to have been inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. In 2012 Papantonio became President of the National Trial Lawyers Association, one of the largest trial lawyer organizations in America. For his trial work on behalf of consumers, Papantonio has received some of the most prestigious awards reserved by the Public Justice Foundation, The American Association for Justice, and the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Papantonio is an author of four motivational books for lawyers. He is also co-author of Air America: The Playbook, a New York Times Political Best Seller.

Papantonio is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show “Ring of Fire” along with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Sam Seder. Papantonio has conducted hundreds of recorded interviews with guests, including Dan Rather, Helen Thomas, Howard Zinn, Arianna Huffington, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bernie Sanders, David Crosby, Merle Haggard, Morgan Spurlock, John Edwards, Bill Moyers, Rickie Lee Jones, Alanis Morissette, Pete Seeger, Jackson Browne, Chuck D from Public Enemy, Henry Rollins, Ted Sorensen, and Elizabeth Kucinich. His role on “Ring of Fire” is featured in the movie, “Jesus Camp,” which was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

Papantonio is also a political commentator who frequently appears on MSNBC, Free Speech TV, RT America Network, and Fox News.

Papantonio is married and has one daughter. He is an avid scuba diver and often dives on the Emerald Coast.

 

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