Book Review: The Advocate’s Daughter by Anthony Franze

The Advocates Daughter image

 

 

A Washington, D.C. lawyer and a frequent major media commentator on the Supreme Court, Anthony Franze delivers a high-stakes story of family, power, loss and revenge set within the insular world of the highest court of our country.

Among Washington D.C. power players, everyone has secrets they desperately want to keep hidden, including Sean Serrat, a Supreme Court lawyer. Sean transformed his misspent youth into a model adulthood, and now has one of the most respected legal careers in the country. But just as he learns he’s on the short list to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, his daughter, Abby, a talented and dedicated law student, goes missing. Abby’s lifeless body is soon found in the library of the Supreme Court, and her boyfriend, Malik Montgomery, a law clerk at the high court, is immediately arrested. The ensuing media frenzy leads to allegations that Malik’s arrest was racially motivated, sparking a national controversy.

While the Serrat family works through their grief, Sean begins to suspect the authorities arrested the wrong person. Delving into the mysteries of his daughter’s last days, Sean stumbles over secrets within his own family as well as the lies of some of the most powerful people in the country. People who will stop at nothing to ensure that Sean never exposes the truth.

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

Book Review - 3d rendered metallic typeset

 

 

I’ve been on a legal thriller kick recently.  Not sure if you’ve heard of Anthony Franze, a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice in a Washington, D.C. law firm, but he write’s a great book. From beginning to end, I peeled the pages in great suspense to find out what happened. A Supreme Court nominee is set to make history with the “cat in the bag”…Well, until he discovers his daughter is found dead the Supreme Court library. As he sets out to find the truth behind her murder, the plot unravels along with everything else in his life. Great book!

 

 

 

Five Gold Stars

 

 

 

 

Anthony Franze image

 

 

ANTHONY FRANZE is a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice of a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm, and a critically acclaimed thriller writer with novels set in the nation’s highest court. Franze has been a commentator on legal and Supreme Court issues for The New Republic, Bloomberg, National Law Journal, and other major media outlets. He is a board member and a Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization. Franze lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. Learn more at www.anthonyfranzebooks.com

 

 

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Justice image cartoon

Book Review: After Anna by @LisaScottoline

After Anna book cover

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Riveting and disquieting, After Anna is a groundbreaking domestic thriller, as well as a novel of emotional justice and legal intrigue. New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline keeps readers on their toes until the final shocking page.

Nobody cuts deeper than family…

Dr. Noah Alderman, a widower and single father, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie Ippolitti, and for the first time in a long time, he and his young son are happy. Despite her longing for the daughter she hasn’t seen since she was a baby, Maggie is happy too, and she’s even more overjoyed when she unexpectedly gets another chance to be a mother to the child she thought she’d lost forever, her only daughter Anna.

Maggie and Noah know that having Anna around will change their lives, but they would never have guessed that everything would go wrong, and so quickly. Anna turns out to be a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who balks at living under their rules, though Maggie, ecstatic to have her daughter back, ignores the red flags that hint at the trouble brewing in a once-perfect marriage and home.

Events take a heartbreaking turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused and tried for the heinous crime. Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her daughter, but the realization that Anna’s murder may have been at the hands of a husband she loves. In the wake of this tragedy, new information drives Maggie to search for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.

 

 

 

Time For Review Concept

 

 

This was my first by author Lisa Scottoline and it didn’t disappoint! Storytelling is great; but I realized one thing while reading this book, how you tell the story has a huge impact. It was so well written it won’t be easily forgotten, which I believe is the telltale sign of a classic. Memorable. Sticks to your ribs like mash potatoes.

Written creatively in an alternating point of view made this a riveting thriller with juicy suspense. Noah is literally in the hotseat on trial for murder having lost everything that he lived for. Maggie, reunited with a lost daughter has a second chance at motherhood and a happy family. Well, until Anna comes around.

This book is loaded with suspense with a few killer plot twists down the road! Keep your eyes peeled.

 

 

Awesome Blue Random Shapes Circle Bar

 

 

 

Lisa Scottoline author image

 

Lisa Scottoline is The New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 30 novels, including her upcoming, AFTER ANNA. She also writes a weekly column with her daughter Francesca Serritella for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Chick Wit” which is a witty and fun take on life from a woman’s perspective. These stories, along with many other never-before-published stories, have been collected in a New York Times bestselling series of humorous memoirs including their most recent, I Need A Lifeguard Everywhere But The Pool. Lisa reviews popular fiction and non-fiction, and her reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has served as President of Mystery Writers of America. Lisa graduated magna cum laude in three years from the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.A. degree in English, and her concentration was Contemporary American Fiction, taught by Philip Roth and others. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she taught a course she developed, “Justice and Fiction.” Lisa is a regular and much sought after speaker at library and corporate events. Lisa has over 30 million copies of her books in print and is published in over 35 countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

Blog Tour: Then She Ran by Charlie Gallagher

Then She Ran cover png

 

 

#1 New Release in Noir Crime on Amazon

 

Discover a crime thriller that will have you gripped from the explosive start to one of the most shocking endings of the year.

On a lazy Sunday morning, Jenny Harris is shaken awake by her panic-stricken boyfriend, Joseph. Their baby daughter lies asleep on her chest. ‘We’ve got to go!’ Joseph screams.

In their hotel room, Jenny hurriedly wraps her tiny baby up. All their belongings are left behind. There’s no time. Joseph’s panic is contagious.

Jenny sprints with her family from the hotel. And it’s clear that they are being chased. Their pursuers are indiscriminate and they are deadly.

Her boyfriend falls, caught up in the carnage, but he manages to give her one last message: ‘RUN!’

Detective George Elms is investigating a separate crime: an elderly woman shot in the stomach during a robbery gone wrong. She is left for dead in her country kitchen where she stood firm against violent thieves.

What’s the link between the two incidents? And who will do anything to silence Jenny forever?

George’s only option is to make ground on both cases. And he must move fast. Because everyone is in deadly danger and time is running out.

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

BLOG TOUR BANNER - Then She Ran

 

 

A gripping crime thriller!  Author Charlie Gallagher writes great suspense scenes! You never know what’s going to happen next. Poor detective George is dealing with a sinking marriage, attempting to keep it together to solve two crimes. The stakes are high. Can he solve the cases before time runs out? Wonderful!

 

 

Review image Faith martin

 

 

Charlie Gallagher has been a serving UK police officer for ten years. During that time he has had many roles, starting as a front-line response officer, then a member of a specialist tactical team and is currently a detective investigating serious offences.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

 

 

ALSO BY CHARLIE GALLAGHER
LANGTHORNE POLICE SERIES
Book 1: BODILY HARM
Book 2: PANIC BUTTON
Book 3: BLOOD MONEY
Book 4: END GAME

MISSING
RUTHLESS

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A and Book Recommendations with Sandra Block

Interview in progress sign on office door

 

 

 

 

Sandra Block author image

 

 

Sandra A. Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan, and lives at home with her husband, two children, and impetuous yellow lab Delilah. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals. Her debut of the Zoe Goldman series, “Little Black Lies” was nominated for an International Thriller award. “The Girl Without a Name” is her second and “The Secret Room” the final in the series. Her newest stand-alone thriller called “What Happened That Night” comes out on June 5th, 2018!

 

 

*If you could trade places with any author who would it be?

JK Rowling. Because one, she’s a terrific writer. Two, she delivers some serious burns on Twitter. And three, who wouldn’t want a theme park created for them?

 

 

Jk rowling

 

 

 

*Which top three writing awards do you covet?

I would love an Edgar, an International Thriller award, and/or an Anthony. Preferably all at once. And of course, the Pulitzer 🙂

 

 

 

Championship cup image gold

 

 

 

*Where are you now in your writing journey?

That’s an interesting question. As I writer, I feel more comfortable with my voice, and I’m more confident in my ability to write. However, I’m less optimistic and more realistic about publishing in general.

 

 

 

typewriter writing

 

 

 

*How do you recharge yourself so you’re fresh creatively?

I recharge myself with vacation. There’s nothing like a romp on the beach to get my neurons firing again.

 

 

neurons

 

 

 

*Can you tell us a little about your new book coming out?

My book coming out in June is called What Happened That Night, about a woman who is attacked in college with limited memory of the event. When a video emerges of the assault a few years later, she now knows every single person involved. And she decides to get justice. I think of it as a revenge-love story.

 

 

What Happened that night Sandra block

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

One moment Dahlia is a successful Harvard student. The next, she wakes up from a party, the victim of a brutal assault. Her life veers into a tailspin, and what’s worse, her memory of the attack has been ripped away, leaving a cold rage in its wake.

Now, years later, Dahlia is a tattooed paralegal suffering from PTSD, still haunted by that night. Until one day, a video surfaces online, and Dahlia sees her attack for the first time. Now she knows what happened to her. And she knows who to blame. Her rage is no longer cold, but burning, red hot.

And she is about to make everyone pay.

 

 

 

reading book image

 

 

 

*Do you approach each book the same, or differently?

For the Zoe Goldman series, I had a similar approach for each book. I made a detailed outline and followed it, with the ending clearly in mind. In What Happened That Night, I actually did not know how it would end until I was almost finished with it. And strangely, the ending turned out to be perfect!

 

 

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

Best psychological suspense was The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood. The ending completely threw me. It’s the kind of book where you think you hit the final twist, and realize on the last page that you were wrong. I think it takes a special kind of skill to pull that off. I also greatly enjoyed THE BLACKBIRD SEASON by Katie Moretti. Well-written with a spooky, rural, small-town setting.

 

 

The Darkest Secret image 2

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

The latest gripping psychological thriller from Edgar Award winner Alex Marwood

When a child goes missing at an opulent house party, it makes international news. But what really happened behind those closed doors?

Twelve years ago, Mila Jackson’s three-year-old half-sister Coco disappeared during their father’s fiftieth birthday celebration, leaving behind her identical twin Ruby as the only witness. The girls’ father, Sean, was wealthy and influential, as were the friends gathered at their seaside vacation home for the weekend’s debauchery. The case ignited a media frenzy and forever changed the lives of everyone involved.

Now, Sean Jackson is dead, and the people who were present that terrible night must gather once more for a funeral that will reveal that the secrets of the past can never stay hidden. Perfectly paced all the way through its devastating conclusion, The Darkest Secret is one that fans of Gillian Flynn and Liane Moriarty won’t be able to put down.

 

 

 

The Blackbird Season

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alecia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns.

 

 

 

*Which books are you anticipating reading in 2018?

I can’t wait for IN HER BONES by Katie Moretti and I KNOW YOU KNOW by Heather Gudenkauf.

 

 

 

In Her Bones Kate Moretti

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother.

Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is, until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered.

Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her.

Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…

Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, In Her Bones features Moretti’s “riveting and insightful” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) prose and “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists, and will leave you questioning the nature of guilt, obsession, and the toxicity of familial ties.

 

 

Sandra Block author image

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Website | Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Author of the Flavia De Luce Mysteries Alan Bradley

Alan Bradley image

 

 

Alan Bradley received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, his first novel, which went on to win the Agatha Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Macavity Award and the Spotted Owl Award. He is the author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. He co-authored Ms. Holmes of Baker Street with the late William A.S. Sarjeant. Bradley lives in Malta with his wife and two calculating cats. His seventh Flavia de Luce mystery, “As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust” will be published in the US and Canada on January 6, 2015, and in the UK on April 23.

The first-ever Flavia short story, “The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse” has recently been published in eBook format, as has his 2006 memoir, “The Shoebox Bible”.

 

 

 

 

Interview Key Shows Interviewing Interviews Or Interviewer

 

 

 

This is your 9th Flavia de Luce novel. What stuck out to you as you were writing this one?

Flavia’s always buoyant enthusiasm and (dare I say it?) lust for life always impresses me. She goes on from strength to strength no matter what. Even though she’s growing older, her irrepressible spirit is never quenched. I think there might be a message in it somewhere.

 

I love the titles of all your books. Describe how you came up with this one.

Most of the books’ titles reflect Flavia’s enthusiasm for tombs and graves, and what lies within. This one, of course, came from one of my favourite poets, Andrew Marvell. “The grave’s a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace”. What else is there to say?

 

 

 

The Grave's a fine and private place

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

During this book, what motivates Flavia at this point in her life?

Flavia is motivated primarily by Chemistry, and the knowledge of what it can achieve, including power. She is beginning to think about her future, too, and what lies beyond Buckshaw.

 

As your 9th Flavia de Luce novel what’s it like to write about her as a person?

I am in awe of Flavia. She is a constant surprise and delight. It is a great honour and a privilege to be allowed to sit quietly in her presence and write down what she’s thinking and doing. Does she frighten me? Yes, definitely. Those around her are not really aware of how dangerous she is – or could be.

 

If you were to meet Flavia in person what would you say to her?

“Thank you, Flavia.”

 

 

 

Thank you image with finger in background

 

 

Tell us a little about the setting where the story takes place.

The setting is a crumbling country house somewhere in England a few years after the end of WWII. Buckshaw has been handed down in the de Luce family for many generations, and contains echoes and memories of everyone who has ever lived in it. For most of its occupants, the past coexists with the present, and sometimes, the only reality is Death. Nearby is the village of Bishop’s Lacey, which provides almost everything that one could ever want in life, including a ready supply of victims.

 

 

Can’t wait for the audiobook! What is your role in the audiobook process?

The lovely folks at Random House Audio are always kind enough to allow me to point them towards interpretations which might be somewhat obscure in today’s world. We always have a lively exchange before and during the production of every audiobook. I must say that it was only recently that I had the opportunity to speak, live, to Jayne Entwistle, and I think both of us were in tears to discover the commonality of writing and becoming Flavia de Luce. We could have, as the saying goes, talked all night.

 

 

 

The Graves a fine and private place Audiobook image

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The world’s greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth” (The Seattle Times), Flavia de Luce, returns in a twisty mystery novel from award-winning author Alan Bradley.

In the wake of an unthinkable family tragedy, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is struggling to fill her empty days. For a needed escape, Dogger, the loyal family servant, suggests a boating trip for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt drifts past the church where a notorious vicar had recently dispatched three of his female parishioners by spiking their communion wine with cyanide, Flavia, an expert chemist with a passion for poisons, is ecstatic. Suddenly something grazes her fingers as she dangles them in the water. She clamps down on the object, imagining herself Ernest Hemingway battling a marlin, and pulls up what she expects will be a giant fish. But in Flavia’s grip is something far better: a human head, attached to a human body. If anything could take Flavia’s mind off sorrow, it is solving a murder—although one that may lead the young sleuth to an early grave.

 

Audible

 

 

 

Maximum Quality concept - quality level meter - 3d rendering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview with Matthew Mather

science fiction image Matthew mather

 

 

Please welcome Matthew Mather million-copy bestselling author of technothrillers Cyberstorm and Darknet, and hit series Nomad and Atopia Chronicles.

 

 

Red Carpet Festival Glamour Scene

 

 

Matthew Mather

 

 

Matthew Mather image

 

In just four years, Matthew Mather’s books have sold over a million copies, been translated into 18 languages, published in 23 countries, and optioned for multiple movie and television contracts. He began his career as a researcher at the McGill Center for Intelligent Machines before starting several high-tech ventures, everything from computational nanotechnology to weather prediction systems, to even designing an award-winning brain-training video game. He now works as a full-time author of speculative fiction.

 

 

 

 

Interview Microphone Cord Wire Word Radio Podcast Discussion

 

 

 

 

*Name at least 3 things early in life that made you a writer today. 

I only became a writer in the middle of my life, but I think the earliest spark for the idea came when I was quite young. I vividly remember reading and re-reading C.S Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and then Lord of the Rings. The stories and worlds inspired me to dream about my own stories. My grandmother nicknamed me “Dreamboat” and not because I was a good-looking kid, but more because I was always daydreaming. Later on, in high school, I had a teacher who took a particular interest in me and helped me engage in all sorts of interesting projects that were “off curriculum”. Finally, my family was a great inspiration—caring and engaged, it made me feel like sharing more with the world.

 

 

*Who are your favorite Science fiction authors?

I’m definitely an old-school sci-fi guy—so Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Vernor Vinge. When I was a teenager I would hang around bookstores and stare at the covers—I would love anything with an amazing-looking spaceship on the front. Which, now thinking on it, I should start writing some good-old-fashioned space exploring type stuff next!

 

*What do you appreciate about the Science Fiction genre?

I view science fiction as a tool we can use as a mirror to hold up to view ourselves—but from fresh perspectives. What would happen if we were stranded alone on Mars? How would the human spirit hold up, and how would the rest of humanity respond? What if we could switch gender and identity fluidly? How would that change society? The list goes on and on—I find that the most compelling dimension to science fiction. Of course, there is the pure adventure side of it as well, creating compelling new worlds and possible realities, but in the end, what interests us is how the characters respond to these new situations and react with each other within them.

 

 

 

Sci fi image one

 

 

*What are your thoughts on the singularity? 

I’ve actually written a whole series of books on the topic—check out my Atopia trilogy to get my take on what it would feel like to live through and singularity, and for one character to survive through to the other side. Regarding an actual “technological singularity” where technology keeps speeding up exponentially and thus eventually reaches a point of infinite rate of change…I think this is a nice construct, but, like Moore’s Law, will eventually break down. However, for individuals and small groups, I believe that we will witness small break-away groups that will undergo rapid and inexplicable—to outsiders—bursts of evolution. Whether these evolved organisms, biological or digital, react “nicely” with the rest of us—this is to be seen. All I can say is that it will be interesting. I already feel like I’m living in a science fiction novel, when news headlines talk about the fusion of artificial intelligence and industry and whose corporate AI will win out, and which private space launch company will dominate.

 

 

*How do you determine if an idea is good enough for an entire novel?

I usually get the seeds of ideas when I’m daydreaming, often when I’m traveling, and when I do, I just let the idea take shape and the narrative to take form. I scribble down all the ideas and the best ones I organize into electronic and physical folders. I usually have about 20+ book ideas on the go at any one point in time, and sometimes combine two or three ideas into one integrated whole. When it comes time to start a new book, I spread out all these 20+ ideas on a table and let my mind wander and see which idea gets me the most excited…whichever one seems to stimulate my imagination the most gets to be the next book.

 

 

 

light bulb moment

 

 

*How do you research for your books?

I start by doing research on the web and reading books on the topics that might be connected. I often like to have exotic settings for my books—like doing the end of the world from the perspective of a family traveling in Tuscany in my Nomad series—so I like to travel to the places I write about. The final leg is doing primary research, for instance, when I include the Mohawk tribes in my Darknet book, I actually called the elders of the Mohawk tribe and interviewed them, and even went to their summer Pow-wow events to interact and spend time with the community.

 

 

*In another interview you mentioned, “I always recommend new authors to use the serialized approach…It seems to work.” This was in relation to writing the Atopia Chronicles. Do you still recommend this approach for new authors?

It’s been about five years since I propelled myself into the self-publishing world, and I’ve noticed that it’s become much more difficult to the point of being hyper-competitive—so I’m not sure that the strategies that I used back then are still applicable to getting into the market today. Back then, the established publishers wouldn’t price their books in the low echelons, so the self-published authors had the space all to themselves, but now it’s become a free for all with competition coming from all angles and with a much more sophisticated audience. All that being said, the “momentum” strategy seems to work the best, by which I mean, publish often, one after the other. If I was starting out, I would still aim to create a six-part series that I would write ahead of time, and then publish each new installment once a month and use the Kindle Select tools to boost…so yes, I’d still recommend the same strategy.

 

 

 

STRATEGY -   3D stock image of Red text on white background

 

 

 

*What new technologies are you excited about?

I think that self-driving cars will radically alter human society in the 21st Century in ways that we can’t fully imagine yet, the same way that horseless carriages totally changed the urban and societal landscape of the 20th Century. Basically these are just robots that we get inside—in a few years I doubt they will look much like cars, but will take on all kinds of shapes and locomotion strategies including flying. Artificial intelligence is already making a massive impact, and will continue to evolve in surprising ways, including merging with human intelligence (a process that is already underway). One thing I’m really excited about is the prospect of room-temperature superconductors—added with other technologies (like AIs and advanced robotics) it will allow for super-powerful electric motors, tiny-but-massively-powerful batteries, lossless energy transmission and more. It would make possible a whole range of capabilities we can’t even imagine today, and may just be a tiny breakthrough away.

 

 

*If you had to pick one setting to survive in which one would you pick? Cyberstorm or Nomad?

Definitely CyberStorm! At the end of that books, the world basically goes back to normal—if a bit wiser. In Nomad, I literally destroy the entire solar system, and almost obliterate the Earth not just once, but twice!

 

 

Cyberstorm

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

*What next for you?

I’m writing a near-future detective series called The Lacuna Cases. The first book, The Dreaming Tree, will be out in hardcover and e-book this summer!

 

 

 

 

Awesome red grunge round stamp isolated on white Background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Worthy Villain – By Allison Brennan

 

Mask villain Hero superhero skull flat style icon logo, illustration

 

 

A Worthy Villain – By Allison Brennan

 

“The villain is the hero of his own journey.”
— Christopher Vogler

 

When I first started writing, I didn’t read any craft books. Everything I learned about writing fiction I learned through reading, falling in with a terrific critique group, and on- line workshops I took through RWA’s Kiss of Death chapter (the online chapter for romantic suspense.) It wasn’t until I sold my first three books that I started picking up craft books to see if I could improve my writing.

I was primarily looking for books that would help me take my books to the next level. By that I didn’t really know what I was looking for, just books that would help me understand my own intuition, I suppose. A lot of books didn’t resonate with me. Anything too technical, or anything that attempted to explain why that way was the best (or only) way to craft a story, irritated or bored me.

Then I read The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler and had that light bulb moment.

The Writer’s Journey is a simplified and far more accessible view of the Hero’s Journey (Hero With a Thousand Faces) as explained by Joseph Campbell. But Vogler took the meat from Campbell and seasoned it with modern examples that resonated with me. I could see in all the books that I’d written that I had intuitively, albeit loosely, adopted a hero’s journey structure. But what really helped me was how I began to view the role of the villain in my books.

The quote from Vogler — that the villain is the hero of his own journey — gave me that lightbulb moment. I loved getting into my villain’s heads, but I’d somewhat separated the villain from the hero. The villain’s were bad; the hero’s were good. In classic fiction this works well — people like to know who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. Yet, to create a compelling story, the villain needs to be more than a caricature. The villain needs to be as strong and three-dimensional as the hero. And while there are some all bad villains, how did they get that way? What made them commit their first illegal or immoral act?

 

 

 

 

 

Villan cartoon image

 

 

 

 

About this time, I read two books that have stuck with me for years. The first was Thomas Harris’s The Red Dragon, which I still believe is superior to The Silence of the Lambs in almost every way. The hero is tortured, the villain is believable, and the dynamic between Will Graham (tortured hero) and Francis Dollarhyde (tortured villain) is truly compelling. (As an aside — don’t watch the movies. Neither movie did the book justice, unlike Silence of the Lambs which is iconic.)

What resonated with me the most was how deep Harris got into his killer. We get into Dollarhyde’s head, we begin to understand how he got to this point in his life. And there is a pivotal scene where he could choose the light—where he could turn away from the violence within him. But why he doesn’t—how he breaks—is so compelling and felt so real that The Red Dragon is one of the few books I’ve read twice. It taught me first and foremost that villains need to be real people. They are not monsters, at least not at first glance. They have backstories and conflicts and goals just like every other character in the story.

In fact, I’d argue that villains must have as strong or stronger conflicts than the hero. Every author should know exactly why their villain is committing the crime they are committing, and be able to justify it when in the killer’s head. It might not make sense to a “normal” person, but it had better make sense to the villain.

The other book I read was Psychopath by Dr. Keith Ablow. What drew me in was an intelligent and almost reasonable villain who had a very specific reason for why and how he killed. In fact, the villain was so compelling, that when the hero (a forensic psychiatrist) and the villain were on the same page, the villain appeared to be a stronger individual. How—why—can some who do such good in the world also be so bad?

 

 

 

Motivation award

 

 

 

Johan Wrens is the Highway Killer. He slits the throats of random people all over the country. His body count is in the dozens. Wrens is also a brilliant psychiatrist who helps disturbed children. He has relationships with women, is attractive and cultured. He’s a bit reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter, Thomas Harris’s “arch-villain”—but in many ways, far more layered. He’s definitely the bad guy, but he also saves children for a living. He detests crimes against children, and that redeeming quality, especially when the reader learns his whole story, makes him a tragic character.

The hero, Dr. Frank Clevenger, had very real problems and very real conflicts. A recovering drug addict who had serious problems with interpersonal relationships, readers wondered if he could overcome his personal adversity to stop a very real—and very intelligent—threat.

Through these two books—The Red Dragon and Psychopath—I realized that the dynamic between the hero and villain needs to be intense; it needs to matter to both characters. I haven’t always been able to achieve this, though I consistently strive to. And that, really, is what being a growing writer is all about: constantly striving to write a stronger, better story with stronger, more compelling characters.

A “good” villain needs to challenge the hero; a good villain must be as smart—or smarter—than the hero. The villain needs to be complex, capable, and cunning so the hero is challenged. It’s the hero’s intelligence, perseverance, and humanity that brings the villain to justice—not merely following the breadcrumbs of a villain who would rank in the Top Ten Stupidest Criminals.

 

 

 

Criminal painting

 

 

 

In essence, not only does the villain need to be worthy of your hero, but your hero needs to be worthy of your villain. It’s the creation of this dynamic that gives the reader what she is looking for in crime thrillers.

When you think about the villain as the hero of his own journey, you realize that there are logical reasons for every action the villain takes. Logical for the villain. This is why authors (or actors) need to spend some time in their villain’s head. Think of the villain as you would the hero, ask the same questions. Know what they want and why. Know how they got to this moment in the story. Give them the option of turning away from evil … and then when they don’t, know why they don’t.

The villain makes—or breaks—your story.

And if you remember that the villain is the hero of his own journey? Well, your job just got a small bit easier.

 

 

 

Allison Brennan image

 

 

Allison Brennan is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of three dozen romantic thrillers and many short stories. RT Book Reviews calls Allison “A master of suspense” and her books “haunting,” “mesmerizing,” “pulse-pounding” and “emotionally complex.” RT Book Reviews gave her recent Lucy Kincaid thriller BREAKING POINT a Top Pick and Lisa Gardner says, “Brennan knows how to deliver.” SHATTERED, currently out in hardcover, will be released in paperback on May 1. The next book in the Maxine Revere series ABANDONED is on sale August 14, and the next Lucy Kincaid thriller TOO FAR GONE will be out on October 30. Allison lives near Sacramento, California with her husband, five children, and assorted animals.

 

 

 

Breaking point

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

Shattered book image

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

Crime Writing Conferences by Christina Hoag

Directions choice image

 

 

 

Conferences: Where to go? Which to Choose?
By Christina Hoag

 

For crime fiction authors, the good news is that there are plenty of  writing conferences. The bad news is that there are plenty of writing conferences. It can be hard to choose the best investment for your money and time.

I decided not to choose. I just went to a slew of them, although not all by any means. Not only did I have a great time at every one, I found value in all of them. Each offers something different, and from each I took away things I didn’t know before, as well as a host of new friends. Frankly for me, networking is one of the best reasons for attending conferences. I love meeting other writers and discussing writing, publishing, reading. These are my peeps!

The two biggies are Bouchercon, held in a different city every year, and Thrillerfest, held in New York City every year. Both get well over 1,000 attendees. I chose to attend Thrillerfest this year, leaving Bouchercon for 2018. Thrillerfest is the most expensive con of the bunch, plus Manhattan is a pricey destination, which is something to keep in mind. But this is the place for networking and there’s plenty of opportunity to mingle with the biggest names in the business from Lee Child to Lisa Gardner. Thrillerfest also hosts a separate event, Pitchfest, which attracts a ton of top agents and editors, a key advantage to being in the center of the publishing industry.

There are also a host of smaller regional conferences, usually sponsored by local chapters of the Mystery Writers of America and/or Sisters in Crime. These typically attract 200-300 attendees, including published and aspiring authors as well as fans, and cost in the range of $200 to $350. Most offer authors a chance to participate as panelists and to sell and sign their books in the con bookshop. This makes them great promotional vehicles if you’ve got a new book out or are simply seeking exposure.

However, cons have different requirements for panelists so that may affect where you choose to go if promotion is your goal. Sleuthfest, held around Florida, for example, requires panelists to be published by approved publishers. Killer Nashville is friendly to independent and pre-published writers while New England Crimebake in Boston does not allow authors to request panels and selects its own. Magna cum Murder in Indianapolis, California Crime Writers Conference, held biannually in Los Angeles, and Left Coast Crime, offered in a different western city every year, generally offer authors panel spots.

Another factor to look at is the con’s subgenre emphasis. Malice Domestic, held annually in Bethesda, Maryland, is geared to cozies and traditional mysteries while Thrillerfest is as its name suggests.

Finally, you may choose a particular conference simply because it’s in a place you want to visit or where you have friends or family. Whichever conference you choose, you can save by planning well in advance and taking advantage of early bird prices, which usually start the year before. Another cost-cutting tip: you can stay in less expensive hotels, or AirBnBs, or with friends and Uber back and forth. I’m already looking forward to my next conference in 2018!

Christina Hoag is a former journalist for the Miami Herald and Associated Press who’s been threatened by a murderer’s girlfriend, had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas and phone tapped in Venezuela, hidden under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail, interviewed gang members, bank robbers, thieves and thugs in prisons, shantytowns and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Her noir crime novel Skin of Tattoos (Martin Brown Publishing, 2016) was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for suspense, while her thriller Girl on the Brink (Fire and Ice YA, 2016) was named to Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list. She also writes nonfiction, co-authoring Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence (Turner Publishing, 2014. Christina makes her home in Los Angeles and lives on the web at www.christinahoag.com.

 

Her novel Skin of Tattoos is available at Amazon

 

 

Skin of tattoes

 

 

When Cyco Lokos gang member Magdaleno (Mags) Argueta comes home to Los Angeles after serving prison time for a robbery, he wants nothing more than to start a new life. However, there’s one obstacle he has to overcome first…his old life.

Mags tries to let go of his bitterness–he was framed by Rico, the new leader of the Cyco Lokos–and stay out of gang life for the sake of his Salvadoran immigrant family and his girlfriend Paloma, but trying to integrate into society after a stint in prison doesn’t come easily. Faced with low job prospects and Rico’s demands to help the Cyco Lokos make money, a broke and disillusioned Mags makes the only choice he can. However, Mags soon discovers that loyalties have shifted, including his, and being a part of the Cyco Lokos with Rico in charge is far more dangerous and uncertain than it used to be. With his sister pregnant by a rival gang member and his own relationship with Paloma, his best friend’s sister, a violation of gang code, Mags becomes caught in a web of secrets, revenge, lies, and murder that might ultimately cost him everything.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | My review

 

 

 

 

Book Recommendations with Crime Fiction Blogger Sheila Howes

Recommended icon

 

 

 

“Drink good coffee and read good books.”

 

 

 

Coffee cup on trum stump image

 

 

I love good book recommendations don’t you? Today we have more from Sheila Howes  (a.k.a. @thequietgeordie) crime fiction book blogger.

 

 

Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?

At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

Deeply atmospheric and ingeniously plotted, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a highly original debut that will appeal to fans of Kate Atkinson and Agatha Christie.

 

 

 

Killed Thomas Enger

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

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

 

 

 

Friend Request

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn’t she?

1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria–or whoever’s pretending to be her–is known to all.

 

 

The Perfect Girlfriend US image

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Karen Hamilton’s The Perfect Girlfriend is a frightening depiction of unbridled obsession, where love and pure hatred grapple on a knife edge. The perfect new psychological thriller for fans of Friend Request and The Girl Before.

 

Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight
attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.
Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she’ll make sure no one stops her from
getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

 

‘Brilliant and terrifying’ Fiona Cummins, author of RATTLE

‘So addictive it should come with a warning’ Alice Feeney, author of SOMETIMES I LIE

‘One of the best twisted narrators I’ve ever read’ C.J. Tudor, author of THE CHALK MAN

‘Thrillingly different and totally gripping. I loved it!’ Laura Marshall, author of FRIEND REQUEST

 

 

 

The Lying Game ruth ware

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

 

 

 

The Escape US image

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

The new psychological thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Accident, The Lie and The Missing.

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

 

 

 

“Be awesome! Be a book nut!”- Dr. Seuss 

 

 

 

 

 

An Ode to the Career of Narrator Dick Hill

Broadcasting.

 

 

 

*What experiences led you to become a narrator?

I was working onstage in a regional theater.  A colleague, a Brit, had been recording occasional classics (perhaps that should be “occasionally recording classics”.  As is it seems a bit unclear, like visiting a furniture store or brothel in search of an occasional piece.)  The audio publisher, Brilliance, was just moving from public domain work to newly published books.  They were looking for an American voice to record some sort of WWII combat novel, and he suggested I grab something in that genre and send them a demo.  I did that, on a crappy cassette recorder, recording in a closet.  I got the gig, and never looked back.  Much as I enjoyed conventional acting, I found this work much more appealing.  One of the chief attributes in my reckoning was that I got to play all the parts.  I always felt, completely unjustifiably, that’s what I should have been doing anyway.  (I am ruefully and somewhat embarrassingly chuckling as I write this)  Another great advantage was that the pay was better.

 

 

 

Narration image shadow.jpeg

 

 

 

*How long have you been narrating?

Thirty some years?  Not really sure.

 

*Was it hard to retire after being so successful?

Not in the least.  I’d had a long career, been lucky enough to garner some awards, and made a decent living.  We live a fairly modest lifestyle, so I think we’ll be okay without the income.  Although there was great fun and reward in meeting the various challenges, doing the best job possible serving some great, even brilliant works, or facing the task of elevating some not so great, I was ready to move on to the different challenges of becoming an artist.  In that pursuit I know I will never rise to the level of competence, or garner the awards and recognition I achieved behind the mike, that’s okay.  The exhilaration I find painting, the freedom to tackle anything I want in any style I want, is fulfilling.  No chance I’ll ever become complacent, little chance I’ll ever rise above the level of enthusiastic amateur, but that’s okay.  And luckily I don’t need to make money at it, though there’s a special rush the few times someone wants to buy a piece.  I am quite excited at the prospect of  dismantling my recording booth and claiming the extra space to make my studio/office a bit larger.   

 

 

 

mixing paint

 

 

 

*What are some things you’ll miss the most? 

The people.  Authors, directors and other narrators I’ve come to know, many wonderful folks at the various publishers I’ve worked for.  Most of those relationships are online for the past dozen or more years because I built my own home studio where I work with my wife Susie Breck (an award winning narrator and director in her own right) and simply upload the work to the east or west coast and points in between.  I’ll maintain those.

 

 

*Name some things you’ll miss the least. 

The occasional clunkers.  Although I jealously guarded right of refusal on works I found objectionable (the biography of Sheriff Joe Arpaio?  Not a feckin’ chance boy-o) or revealed themselves as being inferior or not to my taste, some so-so or worse stuff gets through.  Having worked with so many truly gifted authors and accomplished pros we are acutely aware of those who fall too short of that level.  And poorly edited work.  Even the best writers may sometimes have some little problematic thing, typos, a misstated fact etc.  The top notch pros were happy to hear from us if we came across something, and quite willing to fix it if the determined we had something that needed fixing, and weren’t just full of shit.  Proud to say that didn’t happen often.  However a surprising number of works come through with not just typos, spelling errors, but terribly clumsy downright crappy groaners and plotting and pacing sins that jumped off the page.  We’d sometimes wonder who the hell, if anybody, edited the work.  

 

 

 

 

Grief, man covering fsce and crying

 

 

 

*Did you have any favorite characters?

Indeed.  Jack Reacher certainly is a favorite, by dint of long association the great skill Lee Child has in creating this dependably interesting and satisfying anti-hero.  Lee’s rhythms lend themselves to audio.  Stephen White’s Dr. Alan Gregory series featured a supporting character that may have been an all time favorite in Detective Sam Purdy.  I’ve done over a thousand books and found great characters to voice in many of them.  I did Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct books, thirty or so, the first ensemble police procedurals, that featured a score of characters who showed up regularly, and who we really got to know and cultivate.  Voicing some of the classics, Dickens, some of the Russians, gave me the opportunity to do some of the all time greats of literature.  And Twain, particularly Huck and Jim.  I recorded that, my favorite work in the world, three times for different publishers.  I think some are still available.  That work was not only great, it was and is important.  Never told the publishers, but I’d have done that one for free.  

 

 

 

The Midnight line auido image

 

 

 

Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher wonders what unlucky circumstance made her give up something she earned over four hard years. He decides to find out. And find the woman. And return her ring. Why not?

So begins a harrowing journey that takes Reacher through the upper Midwest, from a lowlife bar on the sad side of small town to a dirt-blown crossroads in the middle of nowhere, encountering bikers, cops, crooks, muscle, and a missing persons PI who wears a suit and a tie in the Wyoming wilderness.

The deeper Reacher digs, and the more he learns, the more dangerous the terrain becomes. Turns out the ring was just a small link in a far darker chain. Powerful forces are guarding a vast criminal enterprise. Some lines should never be crossed. But then, neither should Reacher.

 

 

*What was it like working with so many great authors? 

Great.  Great authors tend to be great professionals and generous open minded people eager to collaborate when needed, willing to recognize that a narrator can bring something of value to the table, and to trust us at what we do.  Some authors try to direct with precise suggestions about how the work should be handled.  Those are usually hacks.

 

 

*What’s next for you?

Painting.  Every day painting.  I fall asleep thinking about it, wake up, brew coffee, and get into it.  Not always putting paint on the canvas, but staring at the pieces I have going, noting fuckups, determining what to do next, lamenting the limitations of skill and understanding, marveling at the work of others so available online, speaking with artist friends and learning from them, cursing the tremor I’ve had for decades.  Sometimes doing something I’m actually pleased with.  It’s an all engrossing, exhilarating, marvelous pursuit.  I also greatly enjoy working in the kitchen, not a gourmet cook, but a pretty decent one who delights in having good knives and cookware, a decent stove, and ready access to an incredible variety of wonderful mostly organic foods.

 

 

Paint splash

 

 

 

 

Oil painting of  eiffel tower, france, art work

 

 

 

Dick Hill has had the pleasure of working with authors such as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Arthur C. Clarke, Tim Tigner, Greg Iles, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Randy White, Bill Walsh, Dean Koontz, W.E.B. Griffin, Nora Roberts, Andrew Peterson, Randy Wayne White, Terry Brooks, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anne McCaffrey, Mark Twain, Bob Knight, J.A. Konrath, Rad Bradbury, Catherine Coulter, David Ignatius, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ed Mcbain, Stephen Coonts, David Ellis, Jack Higgins, Russell Blake, Stephen White, Nelson Demille, and many more!

 

He has narrated everything from the Bible, history, sports, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, comedy, religion to Plato.  When I first approached Dick for an interview after his retirement I had no idea how decorated he actually was. Legendary actually. His body of work is truly amazing and will be a voice not soon forgotten.

 

 

 

 

Hall of Fame Words Marble Columns Famous Celebrity Legendary Ind