Someone is assassinating CIA field officers and Jake Keller's name is next on the list in the latest thrilling novel from the author Publishers Weekly calls "a fresh voice in the crowded spy thriller field." Jake doesn't know who is trying to kill him and he doesn't know why. Still, it's a threat he can't ignore. When his small plane crashes in the Alps, Jake is the only survivor. A rescue helicopter soon arrives, but the men inside are not there to save anyone. They are determined to complete the murderous job they started. Jake escapes from the mountainside deathtrap, but it won't be the only attempt on his life. If he's to have any chance at surviving, he'll have to find out who's behind the killings. But the circle of people Jake can trust is distressingly small as he suspects that someone inside the Agency is feeding his every move to the very people who are trying to end his life. Jake's quest takes him to the candle-lit cathedrals of Paris and the rain-slicked streets of London. He makes contact with old friends and new enemies along the way—but his true nemesis may be closer than he imagines.
Interview With The Author Of The Rose Code Kate Quinn
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.
1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.
1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger–and their true enemy–close
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Interview with Author Kate Quinn
1. Was The Rose Code inspired by The Huntress, or The Alice Network?
Neither, really. Bletchley Park has been on my radar for a long time…about 4 years ago I saw an article about it and for some reason it sparked the notion of “Hmm, I wonder if I could set a novel there…”
- What inspired you to tell the story of three female code breakers of Bletchley Park?
Most of the books I’d read about BP were about the male codebreakers, yet women were by far the majority of the workforce by the end. I wanted to explore a story about the ladies instead!
- Does Osla, Mab, and Beth undergo a character arc?
They all do. Osla is struggling to prove herself as more than just a pretty debutante, and struggling to find a home and family–a place she belongs. Mab is struggling to find security, not just for herself but for her little sister. Beth is struggling to get out from behind her domineering mother’s shadow. By the end they’ve all found answers to these questions, though of course they’ve found more questions along the way!
- What makes them great codebreakers?
Beth–a cryptanalyst–has the kind of brain that sees and rearranges patterns, which is what makes her so good at wedging a foot in the door of seeming impenetrable code. Osla is fluent in German, which makes her a terrific translator of decoded Axis traffic. Mab has wonderful powers of concentration and attention to detail, which makes her great at operating and running the tricky bombe machines that help break ciphers.
- How much did you have to research codebreaking, or WWII Cryptography?
So much! I must have gone through hundreds of books, articles, Youtube videos, and more in the writing of this book–and I went to Bletchley Park as well. It’s a terrific historic site and visitors center now.
- What are some interesting facts about codebreaking that aren’t in the book?
Ian Fleming–creator of James Bond–was in and out of Bletchley Park, and I’d have loved to include him as a character, but there wasn’t room.
- If you had a choice to be Osla, Mab, or Beth, who would you be and why?
I’d love to have Beth’s brain. I don’t think I’d be a good cryptanalyst myself, so it would be wonderful to see it from her eyes.
- Do you speak German, or did you have to learn it for the book?
I speak opera German, which isn’t very useful for research! This book require much in foreign languages as far as research went, but when it did, I relied on online translation programs and some very helpful multi-lingual friends to aid in translating things.
- Are there any thematic elements of having three female protagonists?
They all experience different sides of what it is to be female in a workplace run by men. Overall Bletchley Park was a much more egalitarian environment–women found they were able to make their voices heard there in a way that didn’t happen as often in outside workplaces–but there were still difficulties.
- Are the three characters based upon real people or completely fictional?
Mab is fictional; Beth is a fictional composite of two real women who worked at Bletchley Park; Osla is a lightly fictionalized version of Osla Benning who was a Hut 4 translator and really did date Prince Philip through much of the war.
- I read that 75% of the codebreakers were women. Why was there such a large percentage of females?
Probably because so many men were joining the military and going off to fight–women were stepping into the shoes they left behind in the workplace.
- Is the title The Rose Code based upon real life events?
No, that’s my invention. Though there were ciphers at Bletchley Park named after birds, colors, animals…and even flowers!
- Author Fiona Davis Dubbed you “The reigning Queen of historical fiction.” What makes you so passionate about history?
My mother was a librarian and a history buff–her degree was in ancient & medieval history–so those were the stories I was hearing from a young age. The past always fascinated me, so that’s where I gravitated when it came time to tell stories of my own.
- Have you seen any good movies about the codebreakers?
The Imitation Game (Benedict Cumberbatch), Enigma (Kate Winslet, Dougray Scott, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and the Bletchley Circle TV series!
Interview with Heather Martin Author of The Reacher Guy: A Biography of Lee Child
An exquisitely written and nuanced biography of an exceptional individual and writer who has created the # 1 international bestselling hero Jack Reacher, revered by dedicated and loyal readers worldwide.
Lee Child has a great public persona: he is gracious and generous with readers and fans. But Jim Grant is a reticent and very private man.
This rags-to-riches literary and social biography is based principally on disarmingly frank personal conversations and correspondence with the author since 2016 and privileged access to archival materials. It consists almost entirely of original material, and is the nearest thing the world is likely to get to the autobiography he does not intend to write.
There are a handful of great Lee Child/Reacher stories that have been recycled over and over again. They are so good that no one has bothered to look beyond them. This book revisits (and sometimes revises) those irresistible stories, but goes back further and digs deeper. The emphasis on chronology, accuracy and specificity is unprecedented.
The Lee Child origin myth is much loved. But mostly it sees him springing fully formed from the brow of Granada Television. There are glancing references to Aston Villa and the schoolyard, but no one has examined the social and historical detail or looked closely at where Lee really came from: the people, places and period.
This is the first time someone has described the Lee Child arc: from peaceful obscurity in the Yorkshire Dales and Upstate New York to cult figure, no. 1 in America, rock star, celebrity and publishing institution through to backlash, the changing zeitgeist, and intimations of retirement. The analysis of the emotional power and significance of Lee’s work in the final chapters—the themes of happiness, addiction, dependency, loneliness, and existential absurdity—and the first-hand retrospective accounts of his life and second-act career are all exclusive to this definitive biography.
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Mystery Thriller Week – Benjamin Thomas
Heather Martin – The Reacher Guy
- How did you develop a love for reading?
Family. I was lucky. I clearly remember my father reading aloud to me at bedtime: The Wind in the Willows, The Magic Pudding, The Way of the Whirlwind, the highly coloured bush poetry of Henry Lawson. He sang a lot of songs to me, too, which are little stories in themselves. His parents had a houseful of books, including all the popular series of the day: the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, My Naughty Little Sister, What Katy Did, Anne of Green Gables. I would sit on the floor with our dog, reading, or take a book and disappear up the mulberry tree. This was in West Australia, not England where I live now!
- What was your first impression of Lee Child after reading his books for the first time?
I had no impression of Lee Child after reading his books for the first time. I gave the writer no thought at all. It was Reacher who filled my mind. When I finished one Reacher book, all I thought about was where I was going to find the next one. Which Lee would entirely approve of. I only really started to think about the writer after I met the man. It was only then that my attention was drawn explicitly to the skill of his writing. But I suspect my willingness to submit to the power of the story without stopping to think where it came from (this despite my professional background in literary criticism) is itself testament to that skill. Very quickly, however, the writer became even more interesting to me than his creation – as the origin of Reacher, because he contained Reacher within him, but also in many ways exceeded him.
- What fascinates you about why people love telling and hearing stories?
I notice you’ve adopted Lee’s preferred terminology, of ‘telling’ and ‘hearing’, which emphasises the aural, which reminds us that in one form or other storytelling goes right back to the beginning of human history, back before the invention of writing. I find his view compelling: that stories were, and remain, important because they encourage, embolden and empower us, by allowing us to see the world in new ways and glimpse new possibilities – different plot lines and alternative endings, if you like. An effective story takes us out of ourselves for the duration of our reading – like a song does, but for longer – while also inviting an intense connection, through empathy or identification, with the characters, and beyond them, even if we don’t realise it, the writer. For better or worse, we escape our own lives and live instead in the world of the book.
- What do you appreciate about the way Lee Child tells a story?
Another big question! Presumably the fact that it feels like someone’s ‘telling’ me the story! What is commonly referred to as narrative ‘voice’. His voice has an effortless quality to it, which is down to his acute sense of rhythm and timing. But the appearance of effortlessness tends to be an effect of great artistry – the accomplishment of someone who is master of his craft. And mixed in with those musical qualities you have the sweeping historical vision, the unique mix of humour and pathos, and plenty of painterly and poetic touches too, especially in the depiction of weather and the evocation of landscape. I’m always surprised by the range and rhetoric of Lee’s discourse, and his idiosyncratic turn of phrase in both speech and writing. Contrary to popular opinion, I think his voice, while very distinctive, is almost impossible to imitate without lapsing into parody.
- What was your initial reaction when Lee Child asked you to write his biography?
It wasn’t really like that. He never outright asked me. It was more an agreement we reached over the course of a long conversation. Whenever we met, which at first was a purely social thing, he would tell me stories about his life growing up in the Midlands, which was very different to mine growing up on the west coast of Australia. It was the same when we corresponded. I loved those stories in miniature, that teased and tantalised and left me wanting more. I guess I was always asking questions, with one question leading inexorably to the next, a form of research that was entirely organic, but when the idea of a biography took hold it proved impossible to shake off. It felt to me like the book I was meant to write, and I think Lee, in his empathetic way, sensed that too. But to be given formal permission to go ahead? That was a thrilling moment, and that’s for damn sure!
- What was it like working with him?
Pure unalloyed pleasure. Because of the situation I’ve just described – the ongoing conversation. And we got to meet up in all sorts of places, many of them new to me. I’d try to catch him on the wing in the UK whenever I could, and then I had the great good fortune of spending a year in New York, which made it easier to fit in with his crazy schedule. It was there I did most of the writing, and had the chance to look through family photos, which was so illuminating. He was very generous with his time, and remarkably non-interventionist. Maybe I was just good at self-censorship, but despite this being an authorised biography there were very few things he asked me not to write. He never tried to tell me how to do things, but simply encouraged me to follow my own storytelling instinct. So yes, emboldening and empowering, without a doubt!
- What were some of the challenges of writing?
The biggest challenge was structure. I wanted to tell the story in a broadly chronological way (and I did), but there was no escaping Reacher from page one. It was immediately obvious that anyone reading the book would already know that Lee Child was the author of a bestselling series, so to wait until his thirty-ninth year before introducing Reacher would be absurd. Instead I found myself telling the stories of Lee Child, Jack Reacher and Jim Grant (who created them both) all at once. But I tried not to overthink it. I just let Reacher pop up where the narrative journey took him, as is the case in the novels. And I conceived of each chapter as a self-contained story, governed by a single moment or idea or image, which I think helps the reader too. It’s a big book, but that approach makes it easy to dip in and out. If you were to ask Lee the same question, he would say the biggest problem was that of memory – how individual it is, and how different people often have differing recollections of the same event.
- After writing his biography, how has your view of storytelling, the works of Lee Child, and his craft changed?
Though all the words remain exactly the same, his books resonate with me now on a more personal level. And even as he has so spectacularly escaped his origins, as was always his wish, I see that his loyalty to the Midlands remains as fierce as ever. We’ve had some fascinating conversations since The Reacher Guy was published at the end of September, mostly in the context of all the brilliant digital festivals we’ve done in lieu of our planned live events (postponed, circumstances permitting, to next year). Reading the story of his own life has given even Lee new perspective on it, and brought certain moments and experiences more sharply into focus. At the same time, we’ve both become more conscious of the overlap between fiction and creative non-fiction – two variations on the storytelling theme.
About Heather Martin
Percivious Insomnia by J.J. Cook & A.J. Cook MD
An insomnia pandemic is sweeping the globe, leaving people unable to function and society on the brink of collapse…
Dr. Cooper Delaney believes he has the answer: Noctural, a new sleep-aid—one with absolutely no side-effects—which in early testing shows 100% effectiveness.
The only problem is, it doesn’t work. With no warning. No explanation.
Unable to accept the drug’s inexplicable failure and unwilling to concede to the competition, lines are crossed, ethical boundaries are pushed to the breaking point, and disturbing realizations come to light that could completely unravel civilization as we know it… and throw into question humanity’s place in the universe.
A jetset medical thriller meets sci-fi adventure with an unforgettable cast of characters, Percivious Insomnia presents an alternate history so compelling that it could possibly be true. The first book in the Percivious Trilogy from husband-wife author duo JJ Cook & AJ Cook, MD, Percivious Insomnia sets a unique and original course for fiction of the future, and paints a timely, prescient portrait of today’s globalized society… and what may exist beyond the realm of our current understanding.
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J.J. Cook & A.J. Cook
Behind the plot of Percivious Insomnia was a singular idea or more specifically a question. What would happen if someone or something could exploit your sleep hours for their own benefit? This question blossomed in a separate direction for each of us, likely from the beginning. For AJ Cook, the story was based in science fiction and for JJ Cook it involved exploring an idea never considered before and how it would impact people individually and society as a whole. In the first chapter the reader meets Dr. Cooper Delaney, a talented star at a leading pharmaceutical company. His place at the beginning of the novel is critical and his role is what fostered our first discussions about the storyline. What was at first a collection of ideas captured on paper, eventually became sentences, which were then fashioned into paragraphs, chapters and finally the novel itself.
Medical research is at the heart of the novel. AJ Cook’s expertise brought plausible medical science to life in what would otherwise be a story of strictly fiction. Both of us are life-long learners, always curious about the why behind the what, and the depth of the characters echoes this sentiment throughout this first book in the trilogy. Elements of science were added specifically to provide believable explanations for key elements such as the description of our ancient humanoid cousins as well as the plateau of our own evolution referred to as human pinnacle theory in the novel. As the story unfolded, the science gathered through our research continually lead and supported the story to the point where it became eerie as we found ourselves launching a novel about a pandemic in the midst of a real one.
Writing with a spouse, quite literally, is a double-edged sword; pushing for the very best from each other and simultaneously disagreeing about major facets of the plot certainly make for an interesting dialogue on many nights. What keeps us balanced is a genuine love for this story, the anticipation of where it will lead next and the exhilaration we both experience when making breakthroughs with the plot, the characters and the marriage of science and fiction. Nothing is more rewarding than creating paragraphs that scream to be believed despite not being true. Authoring something that could be possible is second only to writing those few sentences that refuse to be forgotten. The ones that stay in your head long after you have finished reading them, or writing them in our case. It is important to us both that we keep up the momentum in this next novel, the second in the trilogy, Percivious Origins. We want the reader to fall in love with a new cast of characters, a new setting and quite literally a new world that will be required to reach the depths of this story. The base line of the first novel was that question we mentioned – what if someone or something could exploit our sleep hours? In the second novel, the entire premise revolves around the exploitation of a prehistoric plant and how it changed the course history and the destiny of our ancient humanoid cousins. Percivious Origins will amplify our place within the environment and the importance of respect and stability between Homosapiens and nature.
The overarching theme of the trilogy remains intact, the definition of Percivious – the ultimate in altruism. Self-sacrifice in order to benefit others with no regard to reward or reciprocity. This is the soul of all three novels and is the true reason we as a couple are so dedicated and passionate about this adventure – about writing together. We quite literally could not have penned this novel without one another. Finishing each other’s thoughts and sentences have quite literally become, in our case – not only possible…but a dream come true.
Book Review: Predator One – Joe Ledger #7 by Jonathan Maberry
On opening day of the new baseball season a small model-kit airplane flies down from the stands and buzzes the mound, where a decorated veteran pilot is about to throw out the first ball. The toy plane is the exact replica of the one flown by the war hero. Everyone laughs, thinking it’s a prank or a publicity stunt. Until it explodes, killing dozens.
Seconds later a swarm of killer drones descend upon the picnicked crowd, each one carrying a powerful bomb. All across the country artificial intelligence drive systems in cars, commuter trains and even fighter planes go out of control. The death toll soars as the machines we depend upon every day are turned into engines of destruction.
Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences go on the hunt for whoever is controlling these machines, but the every step of the way they are met with traps and shocks that strike to the very heart of the DMS. No one is safe. Nowhere is safe. Enemies old and new rise as America burns.
Joe Ledger and his team begin a desperate search for the secret to this new technology and the madmen behind it. But before they can close in the enemy virus infects Air Force One. The president is trapped aboard as the jet heads toward the heart of New York City. It has become PREDATOR ONE.
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Well, this one literally begins with a bang to set things off. Captain Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences are caught off guard for most of the book, until they can figure out what’s causing a widespread attack. I love how Jonathan Maberry has returning villains in his stories, but no spoilers here! I will say, though, that the DMS had their asses handed to them on a silver platter. YIKES. I had no idea how they were going to pull themselves out of this one. Maberry keeps his foot on the accelerator throughout the entirety of the story, so you’ll have to read it to find out what happens! Five stars of course.
JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, anthology editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. He was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries.
He writes in several genres. His young adult fiction includes ROT & RUIN (2011; was named in Booklist’s Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults, an American Library Association Top Pick, a Bram Stoker and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading winner; winner of several state Teen Book Awards including the Cricket, Nutmeg and MASL; winner of the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards); DUST & DECAY (winner of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award; FLESH & BONE (winner of the Bram Stoker Award; 2012; and FIRE & ASH (August 2013). BROKEN LANDS, the first of a new spin-off series, debuts in 2018.
His thrillers include The Joe Ledger Thrillers from St. Martin’s Griffin (PATIENT ZERO, 2009, winner of the Black Quill and a Bram Stoker Award finalist for Best Novel; EXTINCTION MACHINE, (2013; now in development for TV by SONY); PREDATOR ONE, and others. His first middle grade novel, THE NIGHTSIDERS BOOK 1: THE ORPHAN ARMY, was named one the 100 Best Books for Children 2015, with a sequel, VAULT OF SHADOWS debuting this year from Simon & Schuster. His standalone teen science fiction novel, MARS ONE, is in development for film by Zucker Productions and Lone Tree Entertainment. His upcoming standalone suspense novel, GLIMPSE, has gotten advance praise from Clive Barker, Scott Smith, James Rollins, Heather Graham and Charlaine Harris.
His horror novels include The Pine Deep Trilogy from Pinnacle Books (GHOST ROAD BLUES, 2006, winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and named one of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium; DEAD MAN’S SONG, 2007; and BAD MOON RISING, 2008), as well as DEAD OF NIGHT, 2011 (named one of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium) and its sequel, FALL OF NIGHT, 2014. He also wrote the movie novelization, THE WOLFMAN, 2010, winner of the Scribe Award for Best Adaptation; and DEADLANDS: GHOSTWALKERS, an original novel inspired by the million-copy-selling role-playing game. He has also written the foreword to a new annotated edition of DRACULA from Writers Digest Books.
Jonathan and colleague #1 NY Times bestseller Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures) each wrote an X-FILES ORIGINS novel for teens; with Kami focusing on Fox Mulder in AGENT OF CHAOS; and Jonathan telling the backstory of young Dana Scully in DEVIL’S ADVOCATE.
Jonathan is the creator, editor and co-author of V-WARS, a shared-world vampire anthology from IDW, and its sequels, V-WARS: BLOOD AND FIRE, V-WARS: NIGHT TERRORS, and V-WARS. And he writes a best-selling monthly V-WARS comic. A board game version of V-Wars was released in 2017; and the series is in development for TV by IDW Media.
He is also the editor of the dark fantasy anthology series, OUT OF TUNE (JournalStone), a series of THE X-FILES anthologies which launched in 2015; SCARY OUT THERE, an anthology of horror for teens; and the anthologies ALIENS: BUG HUNT, NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD (with George Romero), JOE LEDGER UNSTOPPABLE (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt) and two volumes of mysteries: ALTERNATE SHERLOCKS and THE GAME’S AFOOT (with Michael Ventrella).
Jonathan was an expert on the History Channel documentary series, ZOMBIES: A Living History and TRUE MONSTERS. And he was participated in the commentary tracks for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED.
Steven James Hosts Author Alex Segura On The Story Blender Podcast
The Story Blender: Posted November 6th, 2020 with host Steven James
Duration: 40 min 26s.
How Do I Kill Thee? By Daniella Bernett
How Do I Kill Thee?
By Daniella Bernett
Murder is a shocking and terrifying taboo. The very word sends an icy frisson slithering down one’s spine. And yet, it is an occupational hazard for a crime writer. On a cerebral level, the taking of a human life is fascinating. It is a serious business, requiring cunning and sangfroid mingled with passion, anger or fear. A certain degree of luck is necessary to pull off a murder without getting caught. The faint of heart would be riddled with remorse and horror at this deadly transgression.
Setting aside the moral considerations, I find it deliciously thrilling to plot a murder. The omnipotent power to kill is a dizzying prospect. Murder is an art form, if one thinks about it. The killer must be creative. But how does an author choose from the plethora of methods available? Your character is the key to unlocking this mystery. Therefore, an author must first delve into the murderer’s psyche to thoroughly understand why he or she came to make the fatal decision. Is he or she an assassin, a spurned lover, a business partner who has been swindled, or an average individual pushed to the brink in an extraordinary situation? Once the author has sketched this character profile, the pieces will fall into place and the story will begin to flow. The author must have absolute trust in the murderer. He or she will guide you down the evil path and determine if the victim expires quickly or suffers a slow, lingering death.
In most cases, murder stems from a rupture in an intimate relationship. This personal animus is likely fueled by emotion and an overwhelming thirst for revenge. Consequently, this means inflicting pain. The thrust of a knife into the heart, stomach or between the ribs would do the job nicely. With stabbing, the murderer and victim must be at close range. Generally, stabbing ensures that the killer’s face is the last thing the victim sees in this world, satisfying a desire to mete out punishment. For this reason, the murderer in one of the books in my series featuring journalist Emmeline Kirby and jewel thief/insurance investigator Gregory Longdon slashed the throat of an unscrupulous man, who had derived malicious glee from ruining other people’s lives.
Meanwhile, shooting also would induce pain. With this method, the author has the option of killing someone instantly, forcing the culprit to hastily cover his or her tracks. This provides an opportunity to sprinkle red herrings through the story. Conversely, the dark deed can rattle the murderer to the point that he or she is no longer thinking clearly and makes mistakes. Another possibility is that the gunshot does not kill the victim outright. It may cause a grave wound, presenting the murderer with a chance to finish off the victim another way. Let’s say by poison, for example.
Ah, poison. To me, it’s so sinister and tantalizing. I believe I share this view with my hero Agatha Christie, who masterfully eliminated dozens with a soupçon of poison. Some poisons are tasteless and odorless. Then there is cyanide, which smells like bitter almonds, while arsenic, when heated, gives off an odor resembling garlic. Depending on what your story dictates, poison can work instantaneously or the victim can waste away little by little. Russian spies, and Putin in particular as a former head of the KGB, have a penchant for using poison to dispatch enemies, defectors and anyone who dares to oppose them. As a result, poison was my weapon of choice in another novel. The story dealt with a defector who recklessly pitted Putin against Russian mafia boss Igor Bronowski. At the same time, both had unsavory entanglements with a ruthless British entrepreneur. All were obsessed with a flawless blue diamond. I will confess that two victims succumbed to poison in the book. However, poison is not the exclusive domain of the assassin. An author can wield it perfectly well among those who have a personal score to settle. On this point of the professional versus the amateur (for want of a better word) killer, an assassin can employ stabbing or shooting in a pinch for expediency’s sake.
A lethal arsenal would not be complete without strangulation, drowning and smothering. But all three may prove troublesome because they require a degree of strength and the victim will most certainly put up a struggle. A murderer wants death to come swiftly with a minimum of fuss to have time to disappear before the body is discovered. On the same token, bludgeoning someone to death with a heavy object could prove messy, since several blows would likely be needed thus causing a good deal of blood to be shed. Of course, an author may want to employ bludgeoning for precisely this reason to set the stage for the murderer’s ultimate undoing. For in the haste to flee, he or she may miss a trace of blood.
Allow these diabolical musings to steep in your mind. After a while, you’ll come to realize that it’s criminally good fun to acquire a literary taste for murder.
Daniella Bernett is a member of the Mystery Writers of America NY Chapter and the International Thriller Writers. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Journalism from St. John’s University. Lead Me Into Danger, Deadly Legacy, From Beyond The Grave, A Checkered Past and When Blood Runs Cold are the books in the Emmeline Kirby-Gregory Longdon mystery series. She also is the author of two poetry collections, Timeless Allure and Silken Reflections. In her professional life, she is the research manager for a nationally prominent engineering, architectural and construction management firm. Daniella is currently working on Emmeline and Gregory’s next adventure. Visit www.daniellabernett.com or follow her on Facebook or on Goodreads. Old Sins Never Die, the sixth book in her series, was released in September.
Night Of A Thousand Authors: With Thriller Talk Hosts Ryan Steck & K.J. Howe
Get ready for an event unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
All your favorite authors, one night, five-plus hours of LIVE streaming . . . and it’s all free!
Join us on November 3 for Night of a Thousand Authors, an evening of endless interviews and appearances from some of the biggest names on the thriller and mystery scene today. Co-hosting will be author K.J. Howe (ITW Executive Director) and The Real Book Spy’s Ryan Steck, with special help from The Crew Reviews‘ Michael Houtz, Sean Cameron, and Christopher Albanese.
David Brown, Deputy Director of Publicity at Atria Books and “driver” of the @AtriaMysteryBus twitter feed, has teamed up with the Executive Director of ITW and ThrillerFest, Kimberley Howe and influential book blogger Ryan “The Real Book Spy” Steck to create NIGHT OF A THOUSAND AUTHORS,election day counterprogramming for mystery, thriller and suspense fans to escape from the stress and anxiety of that day.
BEGINNING AT 3 PM ET ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3 — STREAMING LIVE BELOW
NIGHT OF A THOUSAND AUTHORS is being described as The Jerry Lewis Telethon meets Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with the biggest names in crime fiction and NO TALK OF POLITICS.
NIGHT OF A THOUSAND AUTHORS is a marathon of 10 minutes interviews hosted by Howe and Steck—the “special sauce” is that each author will share the first two minutes of their interview on the screen with the previous guest and the last two minutes of their interview with the next guest.
“How often do you get to see this many big name authors in one place over a short period of time?” Howe asked, “The magnitude of star power makes this program unique.”
“This is going to be wild!” Steck said, “Wall to wall and back to back, rapid fire interviews complete with potential odd pairings overlapping and doing it live? It can only go right!”
Bookstores, libraries and review websites will be contacted and encouraged to stream the program from their websites.
Jesse and Jonathan Kellerman
Rachel Howzell Hall
William Kent Krueger
Joel C. Rosenberg
Andrews & Wilson
Lisa Scottoline/Francesca Serritella
The star-studded event—which will live stream across a number of platforms—will serve as the show launch for THRILLER TALK, a brand new podcast from Howe and Steck, who’ve teamed up to bring fans of the genre a fresh, innovative new show that’ll cover the thriller genre in a way that’s unlike anything else available on the web.
Night of a Thousand Authors, produced by Jeff Ayers, will feature a pre and post-game show hosted by Mr. Atria Mystery Bus himself, David Brown. The full lineup of writers who’ll appear can be viewed below, though fans will have to tune in live on November 3 to find out more about author pairings and who will appear when.
While additional details (including more participating authors) will be made in the coming days, fans excited to tune in can now go “subscribe” to the THRILLER TALK YouTube channel here.
Act Of Revenge: A Doc Brady Mystery by John Bishop MD
Plastic surgeon Lou Edwards’s life is complicated by two major issues.
One, his wife has lupus, possibly due to leaking silicone from breast implants Edwards himself inserted. And two, his malpractice insurance has been canceled, as it has been for many other plastic surgeons, due to the burgeoning breast implant problem.
But it gets worse.
Shortly after Edwards threatens an insurance company president on national TV, the president is found murdered in his penthouse.
Dr. Jim Bob Brady once again finds himself doing a bit of investigating, this time on behalf of a colleague. But how well does he know this colleague? Is the investigation worth the threat to Jim Bob’s own life? Will he discover that it was a burglary gone bad? A lover’s quarrel? Or is this an act of revenge?
Act of Revenge: A Medical Thriller
by John Bishop, MD
Excerpted from Act of Revenge: A Doc Brady Mystery. Copyright © 2020 by John Bishop MD. All rights reserved. Published by Mantid Press.
Monday, February 10, 1997
“JIM BOB! Jim Bob? Can you hear me?”
I was stunned but not unconscious. My first concern was that I had sustained another head injury. I had been mugged a year and a half ago and had spent ten days in a coma after developing a subdural hematoma, a collection of blood between my brain and skull requiring surgery. The hair on my shaved head had taken seemingly forever to grow back out to a length and texture I could brush. I wasn’t prepared to go through all that again.
“I’m okay, I think,” I said to Mary Louise. She was kneeling down over me, skis off. “Thanks for not being in front of me. I might have hit you, too. Where’s the guy I ran into?”
“He’s up the hill. I’ll go check on him.” And with that, she headed back up the slope.
Since I had landed face down in the snow, I used my corduroy cap to clean off my goggles and face in an attempt to see what was going on. I was partially buried in the foot-high drift, but when I assessed that my extremities were intact and my vision was relatively normal, I managed to turn myself around.
I sat up and saw my wife kneeling down over the man I had run into twenty yards behind me. One ski was off, and the other was twisted about 45 degrees, half-buried in the snow. Unfortunately, his leg was still attached to it. My skis had come undone, and God only knew where they had landed. Probably in someone’s condo.
I had heard of a ski accident that occurred on the same slope wherein a crash between two skiers had resulted in a lost ski sailing down the hill and crashing through a picture window into the living room of a residence. No one was hurt, at least in the home, but I’m sure it gave them quite a start. And some decent kindling.
I abandoned my ski poles, which had still been attached to my wrists with their adjustable loops, and stepped up the hill to join Mary Louise and the unknown assailant. A thought crossed my mind that perhaps I was the unknown assailant. Whatever the situation, I hoped the man had experienced enough of a shock to render him an amnesiac but not unconscious or damaged.
“Are you okay?” Mary Louise was asking him repeatedly as I arrived on the scene. Several other skiers had gathered as well and had already placed their skis in the ground, tips up and crossed, the universal sign of an injury requiring the ski patrol’s attention.
The man was on his side. His eyes were open.
“Listen,” I said, “I’m a doctor. I need to check your pupils and your arms and legs. Don’t be frightened. Okay?”
His pupils reacted normally to light. I felt his neck.
“Any pain here?” I asked as I gently moved his cervical spine from side to side. “Any numbness? Arms or legs?”
He shook his head. “My leg . . . killing me.”
“I’m sure. I’ll get down there in a minute.”
The man’s arms, chest, head, spine, and right leg all seemed to be in working order. It was time to address the crucial issue.
“Listen,” I explained, “my name is Jim Brady. I’m an orthopedic surgeon from Houston. I need to check out this left leg and try to decide if you’ve got a fracture in your femur or tibia or if you’ve got a knee ligament injury. I may not be able to tell, but I’d like to try before the ski patrol arrives.Okay?”
“I don’t want you to move it. Hurts too bad.”
“Well, the medic will have to move it to get you onto the stretcher. Your leg’s kind of twisted out at an angle. If I can figure out what’s wrong, I may be able to make you more comfortable by moving it. Let me try.”
He nodded. I gently felt his femur, the thigh bone, with both hands. No pain. Same with the tibia and fibula, the two bones connecting the knee to the ankle. When I felt his knee, however, even through his bulky, waterproof ski pants, I could feel the enlarged joint. He winced.
“It’s your knee, probably a ligament tear. If I can get your ski off andstraighten out the leg, you’ll feel a lot better. I want you to hang on for a minute.”
“Man, it’s killing me! Just leave it alone!”
I paused, then slid down toward his boot release, had Mary Louise support the ski to minimize the torque, and unsnapped his boot from the binding. He moaned for a second, but I quickly untwisted the leg, brought it parallel to the other, and laid it down.
“Damn it! I told you not to—huh. Feels better.”
“See,” I said, “you should have trusted me.”
“Sort of hard to trust a guy who runs you over, wouldn’t you say?”
I assumed amnesia wasn’t going to be a problem for him.
Two members of the ski patrol arrived on separate snowmobiles pulling stretchers. One of them had probably been intended for me. I was glad to decline it. I helped the medics get my victim onto the stretcher and bind him down to minimize the shock of the journey to Snowmass Ski Clinic. I felt obligated to accompany them.
“Are you by yourself? Is there anyone we can notify?” Mary Louise asked. “I’ll be glad to make a call. Whatever you need.”
“Guess you better call my wife, tell her I’m hurt. I hate to upset her,though.”
“Where are you staying?” she asked him.
“Wood Run Condos. Just down the hill. I was headed home.”
“So were we,” Mary Louise said. “Why don’t I just run by there. We’re at the Chamonix. You’re only a block or so away. How would that be?”
He nodded and sort of smiled. “That’d be real nice, ma’am. I’d appreciate
She looked at him for a minute, waiting. “I need your name and condo number,” she said patiently, like a schoolteacher waiting for a third grader to figure out the times tables.
“Oh, sure. Sorry. I’m Lou Edwards. Her name’s Mimi. We’re in 530 Wood Run. And thanks.”
“It’s the least I can do,” Mary Louise said, looking at me like she was very glad I was okay, but not happy that I had run over the poor man. I didn’t blame her.
About the Author:
John Bishop MD is the author of Act of Revenge: A Doc Brady Mystery. Dr. Bishop has practiced orthopedic surgery in Houston, Texas, for 30 years. His Doc Brady medical thriller series is set in the changing environment of medicine in the 1990s. Drawing on his years of experience as a practicing surgeon, Bishop entertains readers using his unique insights into the medical world with all its challenges, intricacies, and complexities, while at the same time revealing the compassion and dedication of health care professionals. Dr. Bishop and his wife, Joan, reside in the Texas Hill Country. For more information, please visit:
John Bishop Author
Guest Post: By Robert B. McCaw Author of Fire and Vengeance
(Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery #3)
Having killed his father’s nemesis and gotten away with it, Hilo, Hawai`i Chief Detective Koa Kane, is not your ordinary cop. Estranged from his younger brother who has been convicted of multiple crimes, he is not from a typical law enforcement family. Yet, Koa’s secret demons fuel his unwavering drive to pursue justice. Never has Koa’s motivation been greater than when he learns that an elementary school was placed atop a volcanic vent, which has now exploded. The subsequent murders of the school’s contractor and architect only add urgency to his search for the truth. As Koa’s investigation heats up, his brother collapses in jail from a previously undiagnosed brain tumor. Using his connections, Koa devises a risky plan to win his brother’s freedom. As Koa gradually unravels the obscure connections between multiple suspects, he uncovers a 40 year-old conspiracy. When he is about to apprehend the perpetrators, his investigation suddenly becomes entwined with his brother’s future, forcing Koa to choose between justice for the victims and his brother’s freedom.
Amazon | Goodreads | Audible
By Robert B. McCaw
Themes of Fire and Vengeance
Fire and Vengeance is a murder mystery. First and foremost, I hope readers find it entertaining, especially in this coronavirus era, when we all need relief from the grim realities of life. This novel, like the others in the Koa Kāne mystery series, plays with several of my favorite literary themes. While they are not unique, I’ve woven these themes into my narratives and hope this blog post provides some insight into the development of the Koa Kāne mysteries.
One theme is that of place as character. The Big Island is a powerful force in the story, and its unique geology and weather take on anthropomorphic roles. The Island is a place of creation and destruction, often embodied in the myth of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanic fires. The opening pages of Fire and Vengeance feature the destructive powers of the Island as a volcanic vent, flooded with rainwater, explodes beneath an elementary school on Hualalai Mountain.
The earlier books in the series—Death of a Messenger and Off the Grid—similarly explore the unique volcanic powers that created and continue to shape the Big Island. Death of a Messenger takes the reader deep underground into Pele’s lava tubes. Off the Grid features the volcanic destruction of the Royal Gardens community on the slopes of Kīlauea. The explosive events in Fire and Vengeance continue to build on this premise.
The place-as-character theme is not limited to geologic forces but also extends to the history, culture, and language of the Island. Descriptions of the landscape, often employing Hawaiian words for places or features, like pu’us for cinder cones, help convey the island setting’s personality. The way the human characters in Fire and Vengeance interact with Hawaii’s geography helps define them, giving them depth within their unique island environment. For instance, the park service ceremony honoring Nālani for her public safety work in the wake of the May 2018 Kīlauea eruption and Koa’s control of the crowd around the disintegrating school building are windows into their lives as well as the world they inhabit.
Physicists like to say that for every action there is a reaction. That is also true in human behavior with one startling difference. Physicists can usually predict a precise reaction while life is rife with unintended consequences. Take Koa’s personal history, for example. What were the likely consequences of his reckless killing of his father’s nemesis? Maybe flight, maybe jail, but not that he should become a cop devoted to finding justice for murder victims.
The human compulsion to cover up one’s misdeeds only adds to our inability to predict consequences. Lawyers frequently warn that the cover-up is worse than the crime, and that is often true. Suppression prolongs the day of reckoning, sometimes for years or even decades, permitting unforeseen events to ensue that can impact the ultimate outcome. For example, a man who sexually harassed women in the 1990s had little expectation of dealing with the blowback arising from the #MeToo era. Readers will find unintended consequences throughout the Koa Kāne mystery series. It is one of my favorite themes.
The relationship between the past and present in the development of character fascinates me. I wonder whether we can ever truly escape our past. On the surface, the answer, of course, is yes. While traumatic events may leave scars, people have escaped poverty and abusive relationships. People do change. Redemption is a core theme in many religions, and there are legions of hypocritical politicians who have seen the light and renounced their various indiscretions. Our prison and parole systems rely in part on the belief in the rehabilitation. The blessing of forgiveness covers many sins, both large and small.
On a deeper level, however, the answer is not so obvious, especially when the past involves heinous acts like murder. Can Koa ever escape the fact that he killed a man? It haunts his days and invades his dreams. It drives his compulsion to seek justice and makes him good at his job. He seeks redemption, but can he ever find it? If not, at least his efforts result in some measure of personal catharsis and public service. Unfortunately, that is frequently not the case.
Fire and Vengeance features another set of relationships between past misdeeds and present actions. In this case, the participants acted in concert but then followed dramatically diverse paths. Their collective history governs their later lives in radically different ways. Because they joined together in criminal conduct, these players affect each other, if only because each knows that the others are aware of the sins they share. Adding to the drama, the passage of time alters their interactions as each one necessarily grows and changes. Can any of them escape what they have done? Is there a path to redemption? How do these relationships play out over time?
The passage of time obscures consciousness, a theme often captured in the admonition that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. There is no more vivid example than the current coronavirus plague. Humanity has suffered many pandemics, starting at least as early as 430 BC. The world nevertheless remained unprepared for COVID-19 because its leaders ignored the inevitability of another global health crisis. The Japanese built the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant where their ancestors had previously warned of massive tsunamis. Italians populate the slopes of Vesuvius, which is sure to erupt in the future. Collective obscured consciousness is a favorite theme with virtually unlimited potential.
The imagined tragedy at the heart of Fire and Vengeance happened only because the story’s fictional characters—like many modern-day Hawaiians—remain oblivious to the fact that Hualalai Mountain is an active volcano. The passage of more than 200 years since its last eruption should offer little solace that Hualalai will not erupt again. Yet, thousands live within its shadow, flying in and out from nearby Keāhole airport built on its flows, with little or no thought of the inherent risks. These residents are mostly indifferent to warnings by expert volcanologists and disregard the Hawaiian legends of past volcanic tragedies on the mountain.
For me, these themes make creative writing fun.
Robert McCaw is the author of Fire and Vengeance, Off the Grid, and Death of a Messenger. McCaw grew up in a military family, traveling the world. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, served as a U.S. Army lieutenant, and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. He was a partner in a major international law firm in Washington, D.C. and New York City, representing major Wall Street clients in complex civil and criminal cases. Having lived on the Big Island of Hawaii, McCaw imbues his writing of the Islands with his more than 2-year love affair with this Pacific paradise. He now lives in New York City with his wife, Calli.