Inside The Devil’s Half Mile with Historical Fiction Author Paddy Hirsch

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1799 New York – A Hell of a Town

 

Interview

 

What led you to become a historical fiction writer?

I became an historical novelist rather by accident. I wrote a non-fiction book called Man vs Markets in 2001 with HarperCollins. It’s a book that uses analogy and humor to explain the financial markets. I wanted to do a follow-up on how an actual financial market gets formed and why, and I wanted to focus on the US markets and the creation of the New York Stock Exchange, both of which were created in a comparatively short time after the Revolutionary War. It was very interesting in principle: the market was created with very few rules, and the result was a dysfunctional mess that was not particularly good at raising capital  – which is what the matte is supposed to do. After the markets, and the economy nearly collapsed in America’s first financial crisis, The Great Panic of 1792, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson had a debate about whether they should make some rules for traders, or just let laissez faire persist. Are you still with me? Yeah, so it wasn’t really that interesting at all. in fact it was pretty bloody boring, and I realized I was doing a lot of research but no writing. So I started to write a little sidebar to the history narrative, a fictional soupçon that involved a murder and lawyer and a bunch of Irish gangsters. That was much more interesting, and I ended up ditching the history and sticking to the novel. And here we are!

 

 

 

Wall Street road sign, Lower Manhattan, New York City

 

 

 

What interested you to write about 1799 New York?

1799 was a very interesting year for New York. The city had been the capital of the United States, but was no longer. The State passed a law for the gradual abolition of slavery that year, and it was the year before the turn of the century, which is always an interesting time.

 

 

 

5th Avenue (Ave) Sign, New York NYC

 

 

 

Describe the historical context of this time period.

Both the city and the country were on the cusp of a lot of things, politically, socially and economically. The industrial revolution had begun, but hadn’t really reached America by this point: the canals hadn’t been dug, and technology transfer from Europe was still in its infancy, which was why slave labor was so important to the economy at the time. Momentum was gathering for abolition, and almost all of the Northern States had fallen in line at this point, so the scene was set for dispute with the south. Abolition in New York drew black people  – free African Americans and runaway slaves – to the city in large numbers. That set up a good deal of tension with the Irish, as both groups were generally not educated and were shut out of society and economic advancement, which meant they competed for the same jobs. The Irish had not yet started to come in the numbers they would when the Famine hit Ireland, 50 years later, but interest was picking up, and they were probably the largest immigrant group in the city at the time. The City fathers were beginning to realize that a lot of people were going to come to New York over the next few decades, and they’d better get ready. So they began drawing up a plan of Manhattan, anticipating that they’d need to pave over the entire island. This when the city boundaries had not even reached what is now Canal Street. It was a good thing they had that foresight: in 1800 there were about 60,000 people in the city, but just sixty years later, the count was up to a million.  

Meanwhile, America was in a kind of on-again off-again war with the English, which made trade difficult, and crimped the economy somewhat. But the country’s financial markets were developing in New York and Philadelphia, and America was realizing its promise as a country extraordinarily wealthy in commodities of all kinds. Essentially, in 1799, America was about to enter a serious boom, which makes it a very exciting time to write about.

 

 

 

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What’s the story behind the name Devil’s Half Mile aka Wall Street?

I found the nickname the Devil’s Half mile in a letter that I found in the Library of Congress. I’d like to say everyone thought of Wall Street as a place that the Devil reigns supreme, but It is the only reference that I have ever found. Which is probably not surprising, as Wall Street is only about a third of a mile long, and that’s with the landfill!

 

 

What contribution did Alexander Hamilton make at that time?

Alexander Hamilton had all but retired from public life by 1799, and within five years he’d be dead, shot to death in a duel with his old enemy Aaron Burr. his influence on New York and on Wall Street can’t be overestimated. He was a forceful proponent of abolition, and he was the savior of Wall Street during the Great Panic. He engineered a bank bailout that restored faith in the financial system and prevented a run on the banks that could have brought the nascent US economy to its knees. In 1799, he was an ordinary lawyer and investor, but he was still hugely influential in New York political and  financial circles. And socially, too, even if he did live a long way up Manhattan island on his estate.

 

 

 

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Who is Justy Flanagan and what’s his role in the story?

Justy is a new American, born in New York to Irish parents. His father and uncle emigrated from Ireland after the Revolutionary War, and while his father decided to take the high road and try to carve out a career as a trader, his uncle opted for the waterfront, where he lords it over the Irish gangs, who call him The Bull. Justy’s mother  died when he was young, and his father was found hanged in his hallway in the wake of the Great Panic. Everyone assumed suicide, and the Bull took Justy in and sent him to the new Catholic University at Maynooth in Ireland. While there, Justy studies law, and dabbles in criminology. He realizes his father could not have killed himself and must have been murdered. So he returns to New York to find out whodunit and why.

 

 

Tell us some interesting facts you learned about in your research.

I was struck by the lawlessness of the United States and New York at the time. It’s not really surprising when you think about it: America broke away from Britain because it objected to all those rules, after all. It makes sense, then, that the founders wanted to design a society that was quite libertarian. And that meant very few rules. Pretty much anything went back in those days. Drugs, booze, prostitution, littering, driving on the wrong side of the road, selling dodgy investments; it was all quite legal. The only real crimes were those against person and property. I was also struck by the opposition to having a police force. I knew that the NYPD wasn’t really formed until 1845, even though the city experienced a tremendous rise in criminality starting in the 1820s, but I didn’t know why. The expense, which was considerable, was only half the reason. It turns out that there was also considerable opposition to having anything remotely resembling a standing army in the city. During the Revolutionary War, the British Army was garrisoned inside the city. At the hint of any unrest, the army was broken out of barracks and told to crack heads. New Yorkers were very resentful of this, and wanted to be sure the like of it never happened again. The concept of a police force looked a lot like an army to many, which was why it took so long to form one.

 

 

 

What’s next for you?

I’m publishing a  sequel to The Devil’s Half Mile, called Hudson’s Kill. It comes out on 17 September. And meanwhile I’m working on a couple of things: I’m building a series that my UK publisher is calling Lawless New York, which I rather like. I have ideas for as many as eight ideas in total. And I’m also working on a contemporary novel, set simultaneously in Los Angeles and Belfast, Northern Ireland. And I still have my day job, editing an NPR economics podcast, called The Indicator from Planet Money.

 

 

 

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Paddy Hirsch is an author and Murrow award-winning journalist. His first novel is The Devil’s Half Mile, an historical thriller with a financial twist, set in New York in 1799.

He is the author of Man vs Markets; Economics Explained, Plain and Simple. Publisher’s Weekly called the book ” “A straightforward, accessible, and often hilarious overview of our financial and economic systems, products, and concepts.”

He works as a supervising editor at NPR’s planet Money. He is also the creator and host of Marketplace Whiteboard, an award-winning video explainer of financial and economic terms.

 

Paddy Hirsch | Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cozy Historical Mysteries with Lee Strauss

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Interview with Lee Strauss

Author of the Higgins & Hawke and Ginger Gold mysteries

 

 

* I love the historical cozy concept of Higgins & Hawke. Why the 1930’s in the city of Boston?

Higgins & Hawke is a spin off series from The Ginger Gold Mystery series which is set in 1920s England. Both leads originally met in Boston and lived in London in the same house. Haley Higgins exits the Ginger Gold series when her brother in Boston is murdered. Higgins & Hawke begins seven years later. Since I was already writing about the 1920s with Ginger Gold, I wanted a change of scenery and tone. The 1930s is a very interesting time in world and American history.

 

 

 

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*What’s your experience writing cozy mysteries versus other genres?

I’ve been writing cozy mysteries for two years now. Before that wrote in a myriad of genres including YA, romance, and science fiction. When I finally settled on cozy historical mystery, I found my “home.”

 

 

*How important is the setting in historical mysteries?

I would say very. The historical backdrop is almost like a character in itself. Readers love the details and historical trivia. Otherwise, you might as well stick to a contemporary setting.

 

 

*What’s the historical background of Boston in the 1930’s?

That is a loaded question. Like the rest of the country, its citizens were suffering from the great depression. There were large sections specific to ethnicity, especially Italians, Irish and Jewish, who didn’t exactly get along. As the war grew closer, anti-semitism became a real problem. It’s one of the reasons I gave Samantha Hawke a Jewish mother-in-law; to make those problems real.

 

 

 

 

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*What was the relationship like between Dr. Haley Higgins and her brother Joe?

Joe was the third of 3 boys and Haley the last and only girl. They were close in age, and Haley was largely a tomboy, so they were very close as children.

 

 

*What are the duties of the city’s pathologist assistant?

Like the title suggests, the assistant is supposed to assist the chief medical examiner in instances where a death may be suspicious or the cause of death undetermined. In Haley’s case she steps in for the chief most of the time. You’ll have to read it to find out why. 🙂

 

 

*Describe the relationship between Dr. Haley Higgins and Investigative reporter Samantha Hawke.

In the beginning Haley can’t help but feel suspicious. She has a history of bad rapport with the press, especially from when her brother’s case was new. However, as the book progresses, she sees Samantha as someone much like herself: a woman trying to make it in a man’s world, and they form a friendship.

 

 

 

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*In the Ginger Gold mysteries how did you select your settings?

It was pretty simple. I adore all the British mystery authors and TV shows and I wanted to set a mystery there.

 

*Do you have plans for more Ginger Gold books?

Yes. The 9th book, Murder at the Boat Race, is releasing in June.

 

 

 

Murder aboard the flying scotsman Ginger gold

 

 

 

*What’s a typical writing day like?

It’s typical in that it’s never typical! But if I had to drill it down I’d say I tackle the business part of being a writer in the mornings and write in the afternoons. I really should flip that around, but that’s usually how it lands.

 

 

*What are the most challenging aspects of writing for you?

My husband and I started snowbirding this year, and so the warm weather, palm trees and beautiful beach is a huge distraction!  It’s a challenge I’m prepared to take on.

 

 

*How do you manage multiple writing projects?

I write one book at a time. I can’t plot and plan for future books, but when it’s time to write, I focus fully on the story in front of me.

 

 

 

Murder at the boat club Ginger gold

 

 

Ginger Gold Mystery Book 9 Murder at the Boat Club: A Cozy 1920’s Murder Mystery will be out JUNE 28, 2019 – Pre-order HERE

 

 

Death on the Tower Higgins and Hawke mystery lee strauss

 

 

The most recent Higgins & Hawke Mystery is Death on the Tower: A 1930’s Cozy Historical Murder Mystery 

 

Death by Treason . . .

When the body of a British National is found at the base of the common house tower in Boston, assistant medical examiner, Dr. Haley Higgins has no reason to believe it wasn’t suicide.

That is until Investigative Reporter Samantha Hawke gets an anonymous tip: the victim, a Mrs. Olivia Gray, was pushed from the seventh floor to her death.

The question is why?

Haley and Samantha work together to unravel secrets that go back to a time that no one wants to remember ~ when shameful acts were sanctioned, and death licked at everyone’s heels.

What did Mrs. Gray know, and who wanted to silence her?

 

 

Lee Strauss image

 

 

As Lee Strauss, I’m a bestselling author of The Ginger Gold Mysteries series (cozy historical mystery), A Nursery Rhyme Suspense series (mystery sci-fi romantic suspense), The Perception series (young adult dystopian), and young adult historical fiction. When I’m not writing or reading I like to cycle, hike and kayak. I enjoy traveling (but not jet lag :0), cashew lattes, red wine and dark chocolate.

I also write younger YA fantasy as Elle Lee Strauss.

 

Lee Strauss Books

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Historical Mystery with Karen Charlton Author of the Detective Lavender Series

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London, 1812. At a fashionable address in leafy Mayfair, a far cry from Detective Stephen Lavender’s usual haunts, a man is found dead in his room. He has been brutally stabbed, but the door is locked from the inside and the weapon is missing.

The deceased is David MacAdam, an Essex businessman with expensive tastes. As Lavender and Constable Ned Woods travel between London and Chelmsford seeking to understand MacAdam’s final hours and unearth the grisly truth, they uncover a tangled web of deceit behind his stylish facade. The unusual circumstances of MacAdam’s death are nothing compared to the shady nature of his life and it seems the house on Park Lane is at the heart of a dark conspiracy.

But when a second body turns up, everything they think they’ve learned is thrown into doubt. Can Lavender and Woods find out who’s behind these shocking murders before more lives are ruined?

 

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Interview

 

What motivated you to begin writing historical mysteries?


Many moons ago, I used to write murder mystery weekends for Raven Hall Hotel near Scarborough and I’d always been interested in crime fiction. While researching my husband’s family ancestors we discovered that he had a Regency gaol-bird roosting in his family tree; his 6 x Great-grandfather was Northumberland’s most notorious burglar. Following a massive robbery at Kirkley Hall and a very controversial trial, Jamie Charlton he was finally sentenced to transportation to New South Wales. I quickly realised that if I didn’t write about this miscarriage of justice in book, I would never fulfil my ambition to be a writer because the perfect plot had just landed in my lap. I wrote Jamie’s story in my debut novel, Catching the Eagle.

While researching this first novel, I was fascinated to discover that a Bow Street Principal Officer called Stephen Lavender had been brought up from London to investigate the Kirkley Hall Mystery. I had no idea at the time that Bow Street officers were hired out like private investigators to solve mysteries in the provinces. When it came to choosing a detective for a new crime series set in Regency London, Lavender was the perfect choice. I’d become quite fond of him and his genial sidekick, Constable Ned Woods and especially enjoyed writing the banter between the two men.

 

 

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What impressed you to write about Detective Stephen Lavender?

I enjoy writing about a real officer who was busy solving crime at the start of the nineteenth century. This was an age without forensics and fingerprints; crimes were solved with intelligent deduction and steady, plodding police work that left no stone unturned. I’ve found a lot of information about Lavender and his cases reported in the newspapers of the time and sometimes the real-life crimes he solved have inspired the plot of my novels.


 

What was the historical background of London 1812?


1812, the year of Murder in Park Lane, the fifth novel in the series was in the era we call the The Regency Period.  Mad King George III was the King and Napoleon Bonaparte was still terrorising Europe although Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, was now chasing him out of the Iberian Peninsula back to Paris. It was an era of dashing, scarlet-clad cavalry officers, women in pretty bonnets and floaty muslin gowns and a massive expansion of the British Empire. We’d lost the American colonies but Britain still had India and the powerful East India Company was opening up the Asian sub-continent, stripping it of its riches and shipping them back to London in massive cargo ships.  London was the biggest and richest city in the world and the British navy dominated the high seas.

 

 

 

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Who is David MacAdam and what role does he play in the story?


David MacAdam, an Essex businessman with expensive tastes, is the victim in Murder in Park Lane. His body is found in mysterious circumstances in his bed chamber in a lodging house in leafy Mayfair. He’d been stabbed to death but his door was locked on the inside and there was no sign of the murder weapon in the room. But as Lavender and Woods soon discover, the unusual circumstances of MacAdam’s death are nothing compared to the shady nature of his life and it seems the house on Park Lane is at the heart of a dark conspiracy. MacAdam was a man of secrets.

 

 

What is Park Lane?

Park Lane is a major road in the City of Westminster in London. It runs from Hyde Park Corner in the south to Marble Arch in the north. Hyde Park was opened in the 16th century for wealthy Londoners to enjoy and the houses that overlook it on Park Lane have been some of the most-sought after properties in London ever since. Park Lane is the second most expensive property on the London Monopoly board.

 

 

 

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What was the police department like during this time period?

There was no official police force in the United Kingdom at this time. The British police force wasn’t formed until 1829.  In the Regency Period, crimes were usually investigated by local magistrates and a few police constables attached to their office. They used the reward system or a string of informers (usually fellow criminals) to track down the villains but both of these systems were notoriously unreliable and justice wasn’t always achieved or fair in Britain at this time. The officers at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court and Police Office in London had the best reputation in the country for crime solving and, as I’ve explained above, their Principal Officers, including Stephen Lavender, were often hired out to help provincial magistrates or wealthy private landowners solve difficult crimes.

 

 

Tell us some interesting facts from researching for Murder in Park Lane.

While researching the manufacture and export ready-to-wear male garments for this novel, I was particularly intrigued by the sheer scale of trade between Britain and the United States during this period when we were supposed to be at war with each other (The War of 1812).

As most lovers of Regency fiction will be aware, women’s fashion of this era was highly ornate and dependent on a precise fit, so ready-to-wear garments for women weren’t widely available. However, the relatively simple, flattering cuts and muted tones of men’s fashion made proportionate sizing possible in mass production. I learnt from my research that by the late 1700s, the English city of Bristol, was home to over 200 businesses that exported hats, gloves, drawers, pants, stockings, shirts, jackets, and footwear, mostly to the United States. When you consider the vast array of other businesses manufacturing items for export to America in Bristol – and in London and the other cities of Britain – the breathtaking scale of our trans-Atlantic trade becomes clear.

 

 

 

 

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About Karen Charlton

 

Karen Charlton writes historical mystery and is also the author of a nonfiction genealogy book, ‘Seeking Our Eagle,’ and the joint author of the cosy chicklit series, ‘The Silver Sex Kittens’. She has published short stories and numerous articles and reviews in newspapers and magazines. An English graduate and ex-teacher,
Karen has led writing workshops and has spoken at a series of literary events across the North of England, where she lives. Karen now writes full-time and is currently working on the sixth Detective Lavender Mystery for Thomas & Mercer.

A stalwart of the village pub quiz and a member of a winning team on the BBC quiz show ‘Eggheads’, Karen also enjoys the theatre, and she won a Yorkshire Tourist Board award for her Murder Mystery Weekends.

Find out more about Karen’s work at http://www.karencharlton.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Mysteries with K.B. Owen

KB Owen

 

 

INTERVIEW

 

 

What do you enjoy most about writing historical mysteries?

I’ve always enjoyed reading historical mysteries, and writing them feels much the same (though more work, haha). I love stepping back into a different time, whether it’s through research or while plotting within the worlds of my characters. I’ve known them all for so long now, after seven books in one series and three books in another.

 

 

How important is the setting in historical fiction?

Since the term “setting” indicates both place and time, I would say that setting is absolutely crucial to historical mysteries. A given time period will influence and constrain the main characters of a story in terms of travel, communication, the interpretation of evidence, their comportment while out in society, and so on.

 

 

 

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What is the Pinkerton Agency?

It was the first major private investigation and security agency, founded by Scotsman-turned-American Allan Pinkerton in 1855. The icon is an open eye that reads “We Never Sleep,” hence the term “private eye.” The Pinkertons were mostly men, and the work was both subtle (acting as covert operatives and infiltrating criminal organizations) and brutish (strike-breaking and security). Pinkertons have broken up criminal syndicates, protected President Lincoln in one early attempt called the Baltimore Plot (this was before the Secret Service guarded presidents), thwarted bank robberies and train robberies…the list goes on.

There were a few women operatives—Kate Warne being the most notable of them—and their assignments were more of the covert variety, which is where my protagonist, Pen Hamilton, comes in.

In Never Sleep: The Chronicle of a Lady Detective #1, describe the nature of Penelope’s relationship with her estranged husband.

If it were a Facebook designation, it would read: It’s Complicated. As the Chronicles continue, I reveal more of their past, both the good and the bad. Frank Wynch is a recovering alcoholic and that of course makes any relationship difficult. The two love each other after a fashion, but whether they can make it work is another question—especially on Pen’s side, as she’s quite guarded around him. In Never Sleep, Frank asks Pen to help him with a case. It’s the first time they’ve spent any time together since their separation. She agrees, despite her discomfort—she wants to secure a job in her own right at the Pinkerton Agency, and the successful outcome of the case with Frank would make that possible.

By the way, any interested readers can get a free ebook of NEVER SLEEP when they sign up for my book news (twice yearly) newsletter: Subscribe

 

 

 

Never Sleep KB Owens

 

 

 

In The Mystery of Schroon Lake Inn: the Chronicle of a Lady Detective #2, who is William Pinkerton and what is his role in the story?

William Pinkerton, son of the agency’s founder Allan Pinkerton, runs the Pinkerton Chicago office by this time. He assigns this case (and others) to Pen. He gets a bit more involved this time around, as he comes up with a disguise Pen can use to better infiltrate the inn and keep an eye on the guests. Pen has never posed as a spirit medium before…can she pull it off? She’d have to be truly clairvoyant to know….

 

In The Case of the Runaway Girl: The Chronicle of a Lady Detective #3, what is Penelope going up against?

Pen is up against quandaries that are both professional and personal in book #3. Professionally, she’s navigating the powerful worlds of big business and back-room politics (with some anarchists thrown in) as she works to keep the two young ladies in her charge safe from unscrupulous people.

Personally, there is the complication of another love interest in the form of the dashing, somewhat-reformed Phillip Kendall. He’s very interested in Pen and she’s drawn to him despite herself, even though she doesn’t fully trust him. Is he truly reformed, or is he out for himself?

 

 

 

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What are some interesting historical facts of the 1880’s?

That’s quite an open-ended question, but I’m happy to share a fun backstory I picked up while researching THE CASE OF THE RUNAWAY GIRL. Several scenes from that book take place at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (now the site of the Renwick Gallery). The building was so grand in its heyday and housed such a wonderful collection it was dubbed “The American Louvre.”

William Corcoran, a very wealthy businessman with southern sympathies, had acquired an extensive art collection and in 1859 commissioned the gallery to be built to house it all. The site was prime real estate, at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street.

However, when the Civil War started, things got too hot for him, so he decided to move himself and his family to Europe to wait out the war. The Corcoran Gallery was mostly completed by then, though not the interior. The Quartermaster Corps seized Corcoran’s building to use as a supply depot for the Union Army, and proceeded to finish the interior with cheap materials and partition the space into storage rooms and offices.

William Corcoran returned after the war and wanted his gallery back. It was returned to him in 1869, but not the back rent that he claimed he should be paid. He worked with the original architect to have all the modifications ripped out and the gallery completed, which opened in 1874.

If you want to read more, I recommend American Louvre by Charles J. Robertson (D. Giles Ltd, 2015).

 


What’s next for you?

I just finished book #7 of the Concordia Wells mysteries…UNSEEMLY FATE. By the time this interview comes out, it will be released!

 

 

 

 

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Beware of rich men bearing gifts…

It’s the fall of 1899 and the new Mrs. David Bradley—formerly Professor Concordia Wells of Hartford Women’s College—is chafing against the hum-drum routine of domestic life.

That routine is soon disrupted, however, by the return to Hartford of the long-hated but quite rich patriarch of her husband’s family, Isaiah Symond. His belated wedding gift is a rare catalogue by artist/poet William Blake, to be exhibited in the college’s antiquities gallery.

But when Symond is discovered in the gallery with his head bashed in and the catalogue gone, suspicion quickly turns from a hypothetical thief to the inheritors of Symond’s millions—Concordia’s own in-laws. She’s convinced of their innocence, but the alternatives are equally distressing. The gallery curator whom she’s known for years? The school’s beloved handyman?

Once again, unseemly fate propels Concordia into sleuthing, but she should know by now that unearthing bitter grudges and long-protected secrets to expose a murderer may land her in a fight for her life.

 

 

Available May 1st at these online retailers:

Amazon: Amazon

BN, Apple, Kobo: books2read.com

 

 

KB Owen

 

 

 

 

About K.B. Owen

 

K.B. taught college English for nearly two decades at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC, and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature.

A mystery lover ever since she can remember, she drew upon her teaching experiences to create her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells. There are seven books in the Concordia Wells Mysteries so far.

K.B. also has another series, about the adventures of a lady Pinkerton in the 1880s, entitled Chronicles of a Lady Detective. There are three novellas/novels in the Lady Detective series so far.

 

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Author Steven Konkoly Discusses the new Ryan Decker Series

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Former CIA operative turned mercenary for hire Ryan Decker’s specialty is rescuing kidnap victims. Hired by an influential US senator to liberate his daughter from a human-trafficking ring, Decker never anticipated sabotage or that the assault could go so disastrously wrong. The hostage is dead. His team is wiped out, and so are their families, including Decker’s own wife and son—eliminated one by one by the Russian mafia. And he’s survived to take the fall.

When he’s inexplicably freed soon into a ten-year sentence in federal prison, Decker suspects another setup. And private investigator Harlow Mackenzie knows he’s right. She has evidence that a power greater than the Russian mob was behind the raid that ruined Decker’s life.

The next move in a nationwide cat-and-mouse game of high-level sedition is up to them. Fueled by revenge and an obsession to clear his name, Decker has only one mission: to destroy a growing conspiracy before it’s too late.

 

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Interview with Steven Konkoly

 

What kind of person is Ryan Decker?

Ryan Decker is the quiet professional type. Cautious, meticulous and constantly evaluating his circumstances/situation. He’s a dedicated family guy (or was, before what happened to his family), humorous in a dry and sarcastic way and loyal.

 

 

What kind of skills does he bring to the table that make him a hostage rescue operator?

Decker was a former U.S. Marine Corps field intelligence officer, who served overseas in various hot spots and conflicts. After the Marine Corps, he spent a few years in the CIA’s Global Response Staff (GRS), protecting overseas CIA assets, guarding sensitive CIA run facilities and participating in highly classified CIA missions. He got the idea to form the World Recovery Group (his VIP hostage rescue/recovery firm) while working for GRS. He met Brad Pierce, his main partner at WRG, and one of the main collaborators/recurring characters in the Decker books, in GRS.

 

 

 

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Who is the US Senator who hires Decker and what role does she play in the story?

Senator Margaret Steele is a long standing senator from Maryland, whose daughter is kidnapped (backstory for book 1) and vanished. Another senator recommends that she hire Ryan Decker’s firm to find his daughter…and the rescue attempt goes terribly wrong.

 

 

What are Decker’s strongest traits that will help him survive the odds against him?

While Decker is a meticulous planner, he’s also an excellent improviser, constantly assessing and adjusting his plan. This saves him in a number of situations. He’s a good judge of character and accepts help when he needs it. He’s not above leaning on associates and friends to get a job done or survive a situation. He’s also a quick decision maker, which allows him to maintain a quick tempo during missions…his enemies have a hard time keeping up.

 

 

What did you enjoy most about writing this story?

I thoroughly enjoyed the revenge aspect of the story, and rebuilding Decker from scratch. At the start of the story, he’s lost everything…building him up again was one of the most satisfying aspects of the story. Equally as fun…assembling a new crew around Decker. He’s clearly up against nearly insurmountable odds from the outset of the book, which required him to accept help and seek help from the most unlikely people.

 

 

What was the most challenging?

Building the relationship between Ryan Decker and Harlow Mackenzie. Getting that right and not rushing their relationship took some rewrites.

 

 

What’s next?

Book 2, THE RAID. Release date is October 5. THE RAID will bring the team back together to unravel another conspiracy and tie up some loose ends from Book 1.

 

 

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Steven is the bestselling author of ten novels and several novellas, including a commissioned trilogy of novellas based on the popular Wayward Pines series. His canon of work includes the popular Black Flagged Series, a gritty, no-holds barred covert operations and espionage saga; The Perseid Collapse series, a post-apocalyptic thriller epic chronicling the events surrounding an inconceivable attack on the United States; and The Fractured State series, a near future, dystopian thriller trilogy set in the drought ravaged southwest

You can contact Steven directly by email (stevekonkoly@striblingmedia.com) or through his blog

(www.stevenkonkoly.com).

 

 

 

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Writing Crime Fiction with Gretta Mulrooney

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Interview with Gretta Mulrooney

 

*Why do you write crime fiction?

 

I write crime fiction because I’m fascinated by motive, secrets, guilt, revenge and betrayal. The genre allows me to cover all kinds of social and cultural issues.  Psychopaths and serial killers don’t interest me. I prefer domestic murders involving people driven to breaking point by rage and disappointment. After all, most people are killed by family members. I like the past breaking into the present and taking revenge – a dish much better eaten cold. A number of my novels have female protagonists and killers. I’m tired of reading about male crime towards women and the world is full enough of that in real life. I reckon that women can be more subtle and strategic in planning to kill and in playing the long game, so you’ll find that theme in some of my books. My crime novels to date have featured a male private detective because I like playing with that genre. I’m now writing a novel with a female police inspector. I love reader feedback and try to respond to everyone who gets in touch.

 

 

*What fascinates you about motive, secrets, guilt, revenge etc.?

I’ve studied psychology and I enjoy considering what propels emotions and actions when writing crime. Guilt and anger are often two sides of the same coin and I like dissecting how these combined emotions can lead to violence and murder. Also, I like to track how every action has a consequence, particularly when the past comes back to bite a character.

 

 

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*What’s your writing process like?

I’d call my writing process organic. I do very little planning. I have the kernel of a plot, create the characters and see where they lead. I often don’t decide on the perpetrator until I’m near the end. Sometimes I’ve changed my mind about who did it at the last minute.

 

 

*What can you tell us about what you’re currently working on?

I’m currently working on my seventh novel about private detective Tyrone Swift. I’m also working on an idea for a novel about a female police detective. I’m having fun with that because I’m creating a fictitious town.

 

 

 

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AUTHOR BIO

I was born and educated in London, of Irish parents. I studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Ulster, Magee college in Derry. I have worked in education and social care.

I started writing in my thirties and I published four books for children and teenagers with Poolbeg Press, Dublin; A Can of Worms, A Nest of Vipers, A Den of Thieves and I Love You-Te Quiero. These books are available on Amazon.

I have published five literary fiction novels.

Araby and Marble Heart were published by Harper Collins to critical acclaim. They have been translated into Dutch and Spanish.  These books are available on Amazon. They are being reissued in May 2016 by Fourth Estate as Kindle and paperbacks.

Fire and Ice, Out of The Blue and The Apple of Her Eye were published by Robert Hale. These books are available on Amazon.

Out of The Blue was published by Joffe Books as an e book and paperback in February 2016 and is available on Amazon.

Lost Child was published by Joffe Books as an e book and paperback in March 2016 and is available on Amazon. (This was previously published as Fire and Ice by Robert Hale.)

Coming of Age was published by Joffe Books as a e book and paperback in April 2016 and is available on Amazon. (This was previously published as The Apple of Her Eye by Robert Hale.)

I have always been an avid reader of crime fiction and psychological thrillers. I have started a series of crime novels featuring charismatic private detective Tyrone Swift.

The Lady Vanished was published as an e book and paperback by Joffe Books in December 2015 and is available on Amazon.

Blood Secrets, the second novel featuring private detective Tyrone Swift, was published as e book and paperback in spring 2016 and is available on Amazon.

Two Lovers, Six Deaths, the third Tyrone Swift novel, was published as an e book and paperback in December 2016 by Joffe Books and is available on Amazon.

Watching You, the fourth Tyrone Swift novel, was published as an e book and paperback in June 2017 by Joffe Books and is available on Amazon.

Low Lake, the fifth Tyrone Swift novel, was published as an e book and paperback in March 2018 by Joffe Books and is available on Amazon.

Bound By Lies is a boxset trilogy of the first three  novels in the Tyrone Swift series. It was published as an e book and paperback in June 2017 by Joffe Books and is available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

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Writing Historical Mystery with Rhys Bowen

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Interview with Rhys Bowen

 

I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing historical mystery author Rhys Bowen regarding her writing, and more specifically, the 12th book of the Royal Spyness series – Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding.

 

 

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In the days leading up to her wedding to Darcy O’Mara, Lady Georgiana Rannoch takes on the responsibilities of a grand estate, but proving she can run a household just may be the death of her in the new Royal Spyness Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service.

If only Darcy and I had eloped! What I thought would be a simple wedding has been transformed into a grand affair, thanks to the attendance of the queen, who has offered up the princesses as bridesmaids. Silly me! I thought that withdrawing from the royal line of succession would simplify my life. But before Darcy and I tie the knot in front of queen and country, we have to find a place to live as man and wife…

House hunting turns out to be a pretty grim affair. Just as we start to lose hope, my globetrotting godfather offers us his fully staffed country estate. Mistress of Eynsleigh I shall be! With Darcy off in parts unknown, I head to Eynsleigh alone, only to have my hopes dashed. The grounds are in disarray and the small staff is suspiciously incompetent. Not to mention the gas tap leak in my bedroom, which I can only imagine was an attempt on my life. Something rotten is afoot—and bringing the place up to snuff may put me six feet under before I even get a chance to walk down the aisle…

 

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AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

 

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding is book #12 in the Royal Spyness series set in 1930’s London. An absolute blast to read and very entertaining on many levels. Told in the point of view of Lady Victoria Georgiana Rannoch, the story unravels seamlessly until the very end. I was very captivated by the humorous tone and style of writing by Rhys Bowen. I listened to the audiobook version and laughed out loud several times! The ability to capture each character within the time period was very impressive. Lady Georgiana, affectionately “Georgy” is so adorable as she plans for her wedding, prepares a new home, and attempts to solve a mysterious murder. This review is based on the audiobook version with exceptional new series narrator Jasmine Blackborow.

 

 

INTERVIEW

 

What do you love most about writing history?

Rhys: I love writing about the 1930’s in the Royal Spyness series because it was such a fascinating time, poised between two world wars. A time of great contrasts, haves and have-nots, Fascism and Communism fighting for control of Europe and of course my delicious Royal scandals. My big stand alone novels take place in WWI and II, times of heightened emotion, of good vs evil and the comforting knowledge that good prevailed.

And for historical mysteries all those lovely motives: I love Another but I am not free etc!

 

 

“History will be kind to me; for I intend to write it.” – Winston Churchill

 

 

Do you have a certain method for researching a story?

Rhys: it all starts with a sense of place. I do my background reading of the true historical framework then I have to go to the place and experience it myself

 

 

 

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How important is setting for historical fiction writers?

Rhys: for me setting drives many of my stories. NAUGHTY IN NICE. TIME OF FOG AND FIRE. Etc etc

And it’s important to get every detail right. I read biographies, accounts of battles, diaries, study old maps

 

 

What’s the historical context behind Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding?

Rhys:  it was high time that my protagonist got married. It is summer 1935 and as she goes to Ascot with Queen Mary and King George she realizes the king does not look well. He will, of course, die that winter. And I’m looking forward to stories when the Prince of Wales becomes king.

 

 

 

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Who is Lady Georgiana Rannoch’s godfather and what role does he play in the story?

He is Sir Hubert Anstruther, a mountaineer and explorer. Her mother was once married to him and she has fond memories of the childhood days at his house. He was fond of her and wanted to adopt her. She was one of three heirs but the other two came to bad ends in the first book of the series,

 

 

What did inheriting a country estate detail back then?

Rhys: she hasn’t inherited it as he is still alive. This is lucky as if Sir Hubert had died she’d have to pay a fortune in death duties ( estate taxes)

I imagine this is an informal arrangement between them with the understanding that the estate will be legally hers when he dies.

 

 

 

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Describe the emotional state of Lady Georgiana and Darcy O’Mara as they prepare for marriage.

Goodness, they are British! They don’t have emotional states. They just get on with things!  Actually Georgie in naturally excited. Darcy seems to be taking it in his stride. Georgie can’t believe that everything is going right for once… This is before the various roadblocks appear.

 

 

What were weddings like in that time period?

Much simpler than now. An afternoon ceremony, then cake, champagne, a few speeches and the couple drives off on their honeymoon.

 

 

 

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What’s next for you?

I have just published another stand-alone, THE VICTORY GARDEN.

 

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IN August another Georgie novel, this time set in Kenya. It’s called LOVE AND DEATH AMONG THE CHEETAHS. Pre-order now and available August 6, 2019. 

AND I’m just finishing a book about Queen Victoria.

Not idle!

 

 

 

Rhys in LA 2006

 

 

“I’m a New York Times bestselling mystery author, winner of both Agatha and Anthony awards for my Molly Murphy mysteries, set in 1902 New York City.

I have recently published two internationally bestselling WWII novels, one of them a #1 Kindle bestseller, the other selling almost half a million copies to date.

I also write the Agatha-winning Royal Spyness series, about the British royal family in the 1930s. It’s lighter, sexier, funnier, wicked satire. It was voted by readers as best mystery series one year.

I am also known for my Constable Evans books, set in North Wales, and for my award-winning short stories. “

I was born and raised in England but currently divide my time between California and Arizona where I go to escape from the harsh California winters

When I am not writing I love to travel, sing, hike, play my Celtic harp.

 

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Interview with William L. Meyers

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William L. Myers Jr. – A Killer’s Alibi – Book Review & Interview

 

 

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For attorney Mick McFarland, the evidence is damning. And so are the family secrets in this twisty legal thriller from the Amazon Charts bestselling author of A Criminal Defense.

When crime lord Jimmy Nunzio is caught, knife in hand, over the body of his daughter’s lover and his own archenemy, he turns to Mick McFarland to take up his defense. Usually the courtroom puppeteer, McFarland quickly finds himself at the end of Nunzio’s strings. Struggling to find grounds for a not-guilty verdict on behalf of a well-known killer, Mick is hamstrung by Nunzio’s refusal to tell him what really happened.

On the other side of the law, Mick’s wife, Piper, is working to free Darlene Dowd, a young woman sentenced to life in prison for her sexually abusive father’s violent death. But the jury that convicted Darlene heard only part of the truth, and Piper will do anything to reveal the rest and prove Darlene’s innocence.

As Mick finds himself in the middle of a mob war, Piper delves deeper into Darlene’s past. Both will discover dark secrets that link these fathers and daughters–some that protect, some that destroy, and some that can’t stay hidden forever. No matter the risk.

 

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BOOK REVIEW

 

This is top notch for legal thrillers and crime drama. Never a dull moment. The ride begins from the first scene when Philly crime boss Jimmy Nunzio is caught red handed with the dead body of his daughter’s lover. Criminal defense attorney Mick McFarland is never really on his feet on this one. The case blindsides him from the beginning and never lets up. Then there’s Mick’s wife, Piper who investigates an innocence project case to free a young woman from a murder case. Two cases. Two dire situations. A legal thriller laced with tension, an intricate plot, a full cast of characters–But at its core it’s about one thing, family.

 

 

INTERVIEW

 

*What kind of person is attorney Mick McFarland that made him your protagonist?

            In crafting Mick, I set out to build a character who is basically a good guy, who wants right to prevail over wrong, but who, in the pursuit of right, will do whatever is necessary, including things that are wrong. As an attorney, Mick is a thinker, a planner, and very Machiavellian. He enjoys the “game” and excels at it.

 

 

 

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*What can you tell us about the kind of case Mick is undertaking?

            Mick is in an interesting situation. His client is Philly crime lord Jimmy Nunzio—a man used to calling the shots. A Machiavellian manipulator. A man like Mick himself in many ways. What this means for Mick is that he isn’t the alpha dog as he is with most of his clients, and he finds himself having to dance with Jimmy Nunzio, for control of the case.

 

 

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*What is your method of creating characters and how do you bring out their flaws?

            I create characters by outlining them only in very general terms and then placing them into the story—putting them under stress–and watching how their flaws appear. I remember reading once that stress and conflict reveal character; you only find out core character by putting someone to the test. So, I make sure that my protagonists, and my antagonists, too, are under real threat.

 

 

 

*Tell us about Mick’s wife, Piper.

            Piper’s evolution is an interesting one. When I wrote, “A Criminal Defense,” the first book in “The Philadelphia Legal Series,” I started out with the plan simply to make a two-dimensional “wife” character for the main protagonist, Mick. But whenever I wrote Piper into a scene, she asked for more, she told me “I have more to contribute here.” By the end of the book, Piper was a fully-formed character with her own agenda, secrets and fears. In “A Killer’s Alibi,” Piper plays an even more important role—as a driving force behind one of the two main plot lines. She really comes into her own. (And, spoiler alert, in the fourth book, which I’m finishing now (in which Mick is imprisoned on charges or murder), Piper becomes THE driving force in Mick’s defense team.

 

 

 

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*Is the innocence project she’s involved with commonplace in law firms today? Would her official position be an investigative attorney?

            Most law firms which do innocence project work do so under the auspices of, for example, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Larger law firms do have pro bono practices and some have attorneys devoted solely to pro bono work.

 

 

“No man knows the value of innocence and integrity but he who has lost them.” – William Godwin

 

 

 

*What can you tell us about the kind of case Piper is taking?

            Piper is leading the charge on behalf of Darlene Dowd, a young woman who was convicted of killing her sexually abusive father fifteen years earlier. Piper learns there is exculpatory evidence the jury never heard and she has to go on a hunting expedition to find the woman who has that evidence. But the woman has secrets of her own, and has been in hiding for years. It takes all of Piper’s will and resourcefulness to win the woman over and see that Darlene gets a fair hearing in court. But nothing is black and white in my books and Piper has to pay a price.

 

 

 

 

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*Now for one of my favorite questions. What is justice?

            Justice is like pornography: difficult to define but you know it when you see it.  When something happens to a character (good or bad) and it feels right to you, that’s justice.  The character, of course, may disagree with you— fictional characters, like real people, believe they are good guys, whether they are or aren’t. Along these lines, a word to the wise: if someday you find yourself standing before St. Peter, the one thing you should never say is I want what’s coming to me.

 

 

 

*What is a jury consultant?

A jury consultant:

A jury consultant is an expert hired by an attorney to help the attorney pick a jury favorable to his side. The jury consultant helps the attorney with questions to ask potential jurors and also helps to create a profile of the type of juror the consultant believes would be most favorable to the attorney’s client. A jury consultant also counsels the attorney on how to present the case, and how to conduct himself or herself in court.

 

 

 

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*In Piper’s case, how many appeals are permitted for someone on death row?

The number of appeals:

There are two avenues to appeal a conviction. One is simply a direct appeal of the jury verdict. Here, you’re saying the judge committed errors in allowing prejudicial evidence that should not have been allowed into the record. Or you can argue the judge erroneously disallowed evidence that would have been favorable to the defendant that should have been allowed. Another branch of appeal is done through the Post-Conviction Relief Act, which allows a defendant to petition for a new trial based upon newly-discovered evidence.

 

 

 

 

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William L. Myers, Jr. is the No. 6 best-selling author for Amazon Kindle in 2017 for his debut novel, A Criminal Defense. That was the first in what has become the Philadelphia Legal Series. The third book in that series, A Killers Alibi debuts February 19, 2019.

A Killer’s Alibi has had rave early reviews including New York Times Bestselling author, Bill Lasher—

“William Myers’ riveting new novel is not just a crackerjack legal thriller, it is a wrenching portrayal of a whole range of farther-daughter relations, showing how they can damage, how they can nourish, how they go dangerously off track. A story not to be missed.”

Born in 1958 into a blue-collar family, Mr. Myers inherited a work-ethic that propelled him through college and into the Ivy League at The University of Pennsylvania School of Law. From there, Mr. Myers started his legal career in a Philadelphia-based mega defense firm. After ten years defending corporate America, he realized his heart wasn’t in it. So, with his career on the fast track to success–he gave it all up and started his own firm. It was time to start fighting for the common guy.

That was twenty-five years ago and since then, he has focused on representing railroad employees and other honest, hard-working people who have been injured by others. He has represented thousands of clients in his tenure and has become a highly-regarded litigation attorney up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

 

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Book Review: The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

Eighth sister

 

 

 

A pulse-pounding thriller of espionage, spy games, and treachery by the New York Times bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite Series.

 

Former CIA case officer Charles Jenkins is a man at a crossroads: in his early sixties, he has a family, a new baby on the way, and a security consulting business on the brink of bankruptcy. Then his former bureau chief shows up at his house with a risky new assignment: travel undercover to Moscow and locate a Russian agent believed to be killing members of a clandestine US spy cell known as the seven sisters.

Desperate for money, Jenkins agrees to the mission and heads to the Russian capital. But when he finds the mastermind agent behind the assassinations—the so-called eighth sister—she is not who or what he was led to believe. Then again, neither is anyone else in this deadly game of cat and mouse.

Pursued by a dogged Russian intelligence officer, Jenkins executes a daring escape across the Black Sea, only to find himself abandoned by the agency he serves. With his family and freedom at risk, Jenkins is in the fight of his life—against his own country.

 

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Get out the popcorn this one is awesome!

 

 

It’s been a while since I lost sleep reading a book, but I kid you not, The Eighth Sister is a pageturner in every sense of the word. It gripped me right from the beginning and wouldn’t let go until the final word. Spy games, counterintelligence, dilemma, betrayal, legal drama—it has it all. Former CIA case officer Charles Jenkins left the agency under unpleasant circumstances while working in Mexico city. Now much later, an old colleague pays him a visit when his security consulting firm is struggling due to financial distress. He is presented with a mission to locate a Russian agent linked with a U.S spy cell—The seven sisters—located in the highest levels of the Russian government. I can’t say too much more you’ll just have to read it. What an epic story! I sure hope Robert Dugoni continues this storyline with future books because there’s definitely room for it.

 

 

 

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“[Dugoni] has outdone himself here, serving up a double-barrelled blast of action mixed with espionage in what’s perhaps his most unputdownable thriller yet…Treason, moles, and plenty of misdirection…Robert Dugoni’s The Eighth Sister is a high-stakes game between spies, and he doesn’t take his foot off the gas pedal for a second.”—The Real Book Spy

 

“Exhilarating…A tightly written, flawlessly executed espionage novel that takes the reader on a refreshingly unique, white-knuckle journey through the byzantine world of modern intelligence.” —Steven Konkoly, USA Today bestselling author

 

 

 

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Robert Dugoni is the New York Times, #1 Amazon, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author of the Tracy Crosswhite series: My Sister’s Grave, Her Last Breath, In the Clearing, The Trapped Girl and Close to Home, as well as the short prequels The Academy and Third Watch. The police procedural featuring Seattle Homicide Detective Tracy Crosswhite has kept Dugoni in the Amazon top 10 for more than three years and sold more than 4 million copies. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, released April 2018. Dugoni’s first series featured attorney David Sloane and CIA agent Charles Jenkins.

He is the winner of the Nancy Pearl Award for fiction, a two-time nominee for the Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction, A two-time nominee for the Mystery Writer’s of America Edgar Award and a two-time nominee for the International Thriller of the year. His non-fiction expose, The Cyanide Canary, was a 2004 Best Book of the Year. He is published in more than 30 countries and two dozen languages.

You can sign up for his newsletter at:
http://www.robertdugoni.com and message him on facebook, twitter and instagram

 

 

 

 

Book Review: What I’ve Done by Melinda Leigh

What I've Done

 

 

Morgan Dane’s new client has blood on her hands—and no recollection of what happened—as the #1 Amazon Charts bestselling series continues.

 

Haley Powell wakes up covered in blood, with no memory of the night before. When she sees a man lying in the backyard, stabbed to death, she has only one terrified thought: What have I done?

Agreeing to take the case as a favor to her PI friend Lincoln Sharp, Morgan must scale a mountain of damning circumstantial and forensic evidence to prove her client innocent. Haley couldn’t appear more guilty: her bloodstained fingerprints are on the murder weapon, and she has no alibi. But Morgan can’t shake the feeling that this shocked young woman has been framed.

Someone out there is hell-bent on sabotaging her defense, targeting Morgan, her partner, and especially Haley. Someone who will stop at nothing—and whose next move will be deadly.

 

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Morgan Dane rocks. I always enjoy reading this series.
Criminal defense attorney Morgan Dane’s new client Haley Powell will prove to be an extremely challenging case. Private investigators Lincoln Sharpe and Lance will have their hands full with this one. Melinda Leigh deliver’s once again with a great story full of twists and turns. Never a dull moment, action packed, full of suspense, and keeps you on your toes. Great series and I’d recommend it to anyone.

 

 

 

 

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Morgan Dane book #5 is now available!

 

 

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The #1 Amazon Charts bestselling series continues as Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger fight for the innocence of a young murder suspect—if only they could find him.

When a retired sheriff’s deputy is shot to death in his home, his troubled teenage stepson, Evan, becomes the prime suspect. Even more incriminating, the boy disappeared from the scene of the crime.

Desperate to find her son, Evan’s mother begs PI Lance Kruger for help. She knows her son is innocent. Kruger and defense attorney Morgan Dane want to believe that too, but the evidence against the boy is damning. Just as the trail goes cold, another deputy vanishes. His shocking connection to Evan’s stepfather throws the investigation into chaos as Lance and Morgan fear the worst…that Evan is the killer’s new target.

With so many secrets to unravel, will Lance and Morgan find him before it’s too late?

 

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