CK called his boss early Monday morning and told him he would be out of town, pursuing a lead he networked over the weekend. Considering his track record, the boss didn’t object.
A close inspection in the hotel mirror told CK that the San Diego Gas & Electric Company uniform he had stolen off of a backyard clothesline over the weekend was close to his size and wouldn’t merit a second look. He struggled for a few moments with the moral justification for what he was about to do. Noticing a slight slump in the mirror, CK straightened to perfect posture and began to hum Onward Christian Soldiers.
At 12:30 PM Mom received a call from Bob Kerrigan’s wife. She said that Bob went over to the O’Malley’s home to watch the Chargers game yesterday and had been drinking ever since. He took a cab to Casey’s Bar an hour earlier and was in very rough shape. Their son, Dennis, was on duty with SWAT and couldn’t take the time off. Mom agreed to send her husband over to help his ex-partner.
Molly Duffy didn’t meekly state the problem and suggest that Jim lend a hand. She made it very clear that Jim was only to answer the call if he could swear to her that he wouldn’t end up crying in his beer all afternoon on the stool next to Kerrigan. At first it looked like Jim was going to respond by going on the counter attack.
But he held his tongue and replied, “I’ll be fine.”
Ten minutes later Mom heard a knock at the door.
“What can I do for you?” she asked the man in the San Diego Gas & Electric uniform.
“I’m with the Smart Grid Conversion Team. I’m here to check on the compatibility of your electrical system with the new meter you’ll need for the upgrade.”
“I’d rather you do this while my husband is home,” she said.
CK replied, “I can go on to the next house if you want. But this first round of site inspections and upgrades is free. After today it will cost you at least $2,500 to get the very same upgrade. It’s going to be mandatory for all of our customers by this time next year.”
“I didn’t hear anything about this,” Mom said. She went on to tell him about how it was proper procedure to inform customers about such an unexpected visit.
While she talked CK noticed a framed Meritorious Conduct Citation given to Detective James Duffy. His eyes rested on a foot-high, black, metal sculpture of The Maltese Falcon. It looked to be the perfect size and weight to serve his purpose.
CK said, “We sent you an insert with your bill last month explaining the upgrade and the fact that we would be starting the process this month. Didn’t you read it?”
“Everybody throws those inserts away. I’m surprised I didn’t hear about it from any of my friends.”
“Actually, today is our first day in the field. The program planners decided to start with the oldest neighborhoods in town to get a handle on how much work needs to be done. Little Italy was right at the top of the list.”
“You’d really charge me $2,500 to come back later?” she asked.
“Sorry, ma’am. As far as I know, if you pass on the survey, you pass on the freebie. Maybe that will change in the future. But considering how much this upgrade is going to cost SDG&E, I doubt it.”
“All right, come on in,” she said, stepping back from the doorway.
He was pleased to see no one on the street as he closed the door. Mom stepped quickly as she led him through the house and out the back door. CK wanted to collect some information before he would need the black bird.
Mom rounded the corner to a walkway along the side of the house and pointed to the main breaker box.
“Everything’s right there.”
CK didn’t want Mom to go back into the house and make any phone calls. He opened the breaker box and saw what he was looking for.
“Like most folks, you have hand written notes on masking tape next to the switches. I’m going to need you to read them to me in just a minute or two.” He wrote a few numbers on a clipboard form he created over the weekend.
“Those are interesting gloves you’re wearing,” she said.
“It’s the latest in safety equipment for electricians. They’re ultra thin for maximum dexterity and more shock resistant than anything that’s ever been on the market.”
Over the next five minutes he unclipped his form, flipped it over, drew a schematic of the breaker box, and asked Mom to read the tape for each breaker.
When they finished he said, “I have to pull the plate off of two of your receptacles in the house. I need to see where your dryer goes into the wall and maybe look at the one out by that beautiful statue of the Maltese Falcon you have in the living room.”
Upon entering the laundry room CK said, “My wife and I are expecting our first child in April.”
Mom brightened for the first time. “That’s wonderful.”
“We’ve been looking to buy a house for the past couple of months and we’re considering Little Italy. Do you think it would be a good place to raise a family?”
Mom spent the next ten minutes telling him about her children. CK mentioned that he saw the citation in the living room and asked if her son followed in his father’s footsteps. Mom gave him several details.
“Would you like to know when we’re going to be at your son’s house for the upgrade survey? It could save him a lot of money if somebody’s there to let us in.”
“Absolutely,” Mom replied.
CK pulled out his smart phone and asked, “What’s his street address?”
Mom gave him the info and CK tapped keys. “It looks like he’s scheduled for January 15th. If you like, I can put a note in the system while I have it up. What time does he usually get home from work?”
“Around 5:30, if he doesn’t have anything important to do on a case.”
CK finished his note and popped the phone in his pocket. “I requested a time after 5:30. Now let’s take a look at that receptacle in the living room.”
Mom led the way as CK stared at the back of her head. Glancing at the crucifix on the kitchen wall, he decided that she seemed like a good Christian woman. He’d give her a final earthly reward for her faith by striking her just once on the back of the head to make sure the mourners could see her in an open casket. While he unscrewed the receptacle plate in the living room, he stared at a graduation picture of Jason and imagined how his expression would change when he looked in that casket.
CK’s only regret was that he couldn’t leave any message letting Jason know that it was his consorting with the devil’s minions that caused his mother’s death. The purpose of today’s sacrifice was to distract and punish Jason. A connection to the Concert Killer might bring unwanted heat from the task force, since the victim would be the wife of a decorated police detective. He’d find a way to let Jason know at a later date, after he’d ascended the 13 steps of the pyramid to the Eye of Providence and shut down the concert industry. Too bad Mrs. Duffy couldn’t count as one of his steps.
An Irish crystal cross hung on the wall just beyond the statue of the Maltese Falcon.
CK said, “All done with the inspection. Before I go, I have to tell you how much I like that crystal cross on your wall.”
“It was a wedding present from Jim’s parents,” she said, stepping to within two feet of the cross.
CK stood shoulder to shoulder with her. The Falcon sat on a table six inches from his right hand.
He said, “I love the shade of green in the main vertical crystal.”
“I have no idea how they do it, if that’s what you were going to ask me.” Molly leaned slightly forward to have a closer look.
CK said, “It’s really a shame about the crack that runs all the way up the middle. I was going to ask you how that happened.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “What crack! This is news to me!”
Molly took a step forward. Her nose was less than an inch from the crystal. CK wrapped his fingers around the Falcon, letting his little finger encircle the bird’s neck. Putting his weight on his right leg, he quietly sidestepped behind her.
“I don’t see it,” she said.
“Try tilting your head just a little,” he said and brought the base of the statue up behind his ear.
Suddenly, there were several footsteps on the porch. CK heard a man slur, “Let go of me.”
Molly quickly turned her head to the left and CK moved back to where he was standing, returning the Falcon to its original position. The door flung open and rebounded off of the doorstop. Dad had his arm around Kerrigan’s waist and Fallon put his hand on the side of Kerrigan’s head so he wouldn’t bang it on the door frame.
“Get yer fuckin’ hand offa my head. Yer treatin’ me like a perp,” Kerrigan scowled.
“What’s going on?” asked Molly, stepping back from the cross.
Jim replied, “You should know. You sent me on this rescue mission.”
Molly forcefully said, “You’re not letting any bull-in-a-china-closet loose in my house.”
Turning to Fallon, Jim said, “You and Gilhooley, take him through the side gate out to the backyard. I’ll be along in a couple of minutes.” Looking at CK he asked, “Who’s this guy?”
Kerrigan yelled, “I’m not doin’ no fuckin’ intervention! Get yer hands offa me!”
Jim shut the door and Molly replied, “SDG&E is going to connect us to the Smart Grid. He’s doing the pre-site inspection.”
Jim asked, “How much longer is it going to take?”
CK said, “I just finished. Let me grab my ohm meter and I’m on my way.”
I spent most of the morning debriefing Jeannine and Cory, then entered notes into the case file. I expected to have lunch with Shamansky to trade info on the suspects we tracked over the weekend. But after four phone calls to San Diego Metro, a detective told me that Shamansky would be out of town until tomorrow.
In mid-afternoon my mother called to fill me in on the scandalous Kerrigan intervention that would soon be the talk of the neighborhood. After I calmed her down she told me about her visit from SDG&E and when to expect an inspection at my house.
“I don’t remember hearing anything about that,” I said.
“Supposedly it was on one of those inserts they put in with the bill.”
“Nobody reads those.”
“That’s what I told him. By the way, I hope you don’t get the guy who came here.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“He told me he saw a crack in our crystal cross. I must have looked at it for a half hour after he left and I don’t see even the slightest hint of a crack.”
“Maybe he saw a cobweb get reflected in it.”
“Cobweb! What kind of dive do you think I’m running over here?”
“I don’t know, Mom. Rumor has it that you’ve got a drunk rolling around in your backyard as we speak.”
“Goodbye,” she said, and hung up.
The Concert Killer
Barnes and Noble – Paper Copy:
Five hardcover first editions of Rock & Roll Rip-Off are being given away on Goodreads. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site, it’s a great place to keep track of (and rate) all of the books you’ve read. Everything on the site is free, including the shipping & handling on the giveaways. Amazon bought the site in 2013, but I haven’t noticed any changes since the takeover. BTW, Rock & Roll Rip-Off was a 2010 Mystery/Thriller of the Year award winner.
At the height of the manhunt for Eric Frein this past fall, I saw a news broadcast from one of his hideouts. It looked like an abandoned crack house in the South Bronx. Sunlight reflected off of empty bottles, fast food bags, and various other debris. My jaw dropped when the newscaster said he was showing live footage from The Buck Hill Inn.
I immediately drifted back to a New Year’s Eve in the 1970s. I was a sophomore at Penn State and manager of the Northeastern Pennsylvania rock band “Rasputin.” The group had some very talented musicians, including Robbie Walsh and Jiggs Shorten, both of whom later formed a band with Noel Redding of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Until that night Rasputin had played mainly high school dances. While those gigs had been fun and provided valuable experience for the band, they were not financially lucrative for a five man group. But all of that could change in one night.
The Buck Hill Inn was one of the top resorts in the Poconos at that time. Located less than two hours west of New York City, its scenic grounds featured Buck Hill Falls, a series of waterfalls cascading over rocks worn smooth by thousands of years of erosion. By day, hundreds of tourists would snap pictures of those breathtaking vistas. By night, a dozen or so of us would take multiple rides on Mother Nature’s roller coaster.
The band’s anticipation of playing for a sophisticated, well-heeled, well-connected crowd on New Year’s Eve was electric. As band manager, visions of New York gigs danced in my head. Just two years earlier I saw Procol Harum and Country Joe McDonald perform at the Fillmore East. I realized that our gig at The Buck Hill Inn could be a portal to the major New York venues as well as the rock & roll lifestyle portrayed in Rolling Stone and several other rock publications of that era.
In addition to being the band manager, I also operated the PA system. To prepare for the big gig, I figured out windows of opportunity when I could leave the sound board at fixed settings and work the crowd for valuable networking connections. I thought of a few opening lines that seemed promising at the time. I thought of a few closing ones too, and I assumed the middle of those conversations would take care of themselves.
One of my old bosses used to frequently stress The P Rule: Proper prior planning prevents piss poor procedure. On New Year’s Eve day The P Rule was in full force. No one was late for the caravan to Buck Hill; no equipment was down; no one was in need of a date with Betty Ford. Opportunity was about to knock and we were at the door as ready as a SWAT team on double espresso.
The gig was scheduled to begin at 8:00 PM. Our usual routine for high school dances involved being fashionably late. This meant being set up by 8:10, and the music usually starting around 8:15 if all band members and girlfriends were present and fully functional. We were set and ready to go by 7:30 PM at The Buck Hill Inn.
I had been told in advance that the resort guests would be ushered directly from the dining room at or around 8:00. The band’s plan was to launch into “Under My Wheels” by Alice Cooper as soon as the guests started coming through the door, in hopes of enticing them right out onto the dance floor. No one wanted a wallflower warm-up when there were high rollers to impress.
At 7:55 the band members were on stage and ready to go. At exactly 8:00 PM the concierge walked through one of the polished cherry wood double doors and told me that dessert was running late. The guests would be delayed until 8:15. Tension mounted. The band milled around for ten minutes, then returned to their instruments with five minutes to spare.
At exactly 8:15 PM the concierge parted the double doors and I checked the sound levels as the opening riff to “Under My Wheels” marked the start of the show. Once I determined that everything was under control I looked over my left shoulder and saw about 100 eight to twelve-year-olds with terror in their eyes. All of them were dressed in tuxes and evening gowns. None of them headed for the dance floor. Instead, they fanned out across the back and side walls. None of them smiled. None of them kept time to the music. Their collective look of absolute shock told me that none of them had any exposure to rock music whatsoever. I suspected that they were raised on chamber music in sheltered environments. I wondered if the concierge described Rasputin to the parents as a string quintet with a “never say die” attitude.
There was no applause at the end of the first song. Nary a single polite golf clap. Knowing that the next scheduled song was a Black Sabbath number, I half-expected to see most of them running away, in need of immediate therapy. Instead, a few of them exchanged bewildered looks.
The start of the third song was my first opportunity to leave the sound board. Instead of working the crowd, I led my girlfriend out to the dance floor and did my first show-and-tell since elementary school. Two of the braver boys asked two of the more adventurous girls to dance and they imitated our every move. By the end of the fifth song the dancers outnumbered the wallflowers.
The following decade, when the film “Footloose” hit the theaters, I got a Buck Hill Inn déjà vu. I couldn’t help but wonder if the writer might have been one of the chamber music kids. Perhaps he was sent to live with a relative in the Midwest for deprogramming after experiencing the bacchanal at The Buck Hill Inn.
I went to see Robbie Walsh play a gig at a local restaurant the night before Thanksgiving in 2009. A few songs into the first set I recognized the singer from Rasputin sitting with his girlfriend from back in the day. I found out they married a few months after the band broke up and have been going strong ever since. Shortly after I joined them she handed me a photo album and said I’d appreciate the pics. Most of the album documented our New Year’s Eve at The Buck Hill Inn. Hearing accounts of that night from three different perspectives, along with the visual documentation, brought back the feeling that we had liberated an oppressed group. I remembered relating the experience to the novel “1984,” which I had read in high school a few years before the gig.
Upon seeing the dilapidated condition of The Buck Hill Inn during the Eric Frein manhunt I wondered if I would be sharing that fate as I advance toward my retirement years. Then I flashed on the way I felt when those kids joined in on the dance floor and decided my spirit would weather more like The Buck Hill Falls that we rode into the wee hours of the morning. Each year is a new beginning. Another ride down the falls. Make the most of your 2015 and have a happy, healthy, and rockin’ New Year.
The fifth novel in the Rock & Roll Mystery Series went on sale Monday, November 10, 2014. In Diamonds, Clubs, and Rock & Roll, series PI Jason Duffy reunites with his former rock group to serve as the club house band at the hottest new millionaire/billionaire resort in the world. The club is located on the floor of La Jolla Cove, one of America’s top snorkeling destinations due to its rich sea life and clear water. The book’s cover depicts why Jason is using his old skill set to infiltrate a group of regulars at the club.
Scroll down to the previous blog to read a bit more on the plot. Following are the links where you can purchase the paper or ebook versions of the novel.
The rock group Doberman’s Stub thought it made a conservative investment when it placed all of its earnings from its only #1 album into a minority partnership at the world’s hottest new resort for millionaires and billionaires. But the blue chip investment quickly turned blood red when two bodies floated past the windows of the resort’s signature undersea club on the floor of La Jolla Cove.
To ensure a thorough police investigation, the group hired San Diego private investigator Jason Duffy, a former bandmate of their lead guitarist, Michael Marinangeli. After determining that the victims were both local club patrons, Jason and Michael put their old group back together to serve as the club’s house band, giving Jason easy access to his top suspects. But his undercover status was nearly blown in his first week on the job when Elyse, the beautiful daughter of an affluent military contractor, used her wiles to crash his staff of psychologically challenged assistants.
Elyse led Jason to a society of local wannabe millionaires whose membership included both victims. On the surface, the society’s motives, goals, affiliations, and secrets appeared obvious. But Jason quickly discovered the downside to making snap judgments, encountering some of the most feared criminals the world has ever known as he dug deeper into the mystery surrounding their deaths.
Diamonds, Clubs, and Rock & Roll is the fifth novel in the Rock & Roll Mystery Series. The first, Rock & Roll Homicide, maintained Top 10 status on Amazon for over two months. The second, Rock & Roll Rip-Off, won a Mystery/Thriller of the Year Award. Pre-publication reviewers rate Diamonds, Clubs, and Rock & Roll as “the best novel in the series.”
In June of 2014, the first novel in the Rock & Roll Mystery Series, Rock & Roll Homicide, was made free on Amazon Kindle. Since then it has been consistently on Amazon’s Top 100 List in three categories: Rock, Crime, and Mystery.
Not everyone is a fan of ebooks. Many of my readers still prefer the experience of holding a paper book when reading. They also enjoy keeping a few special books in hardcover for future re-reads and for sharing with friends.
Unfortunately, Killeena Publishing can’t offer a freebie with paper books because of the manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping costs. But, the publisher can offer the next best thing – a sale.
Between now and Christmas Day, Mystery/Thriller of the Year award winner Rock & Roll Rip-Off is on sale in hardcover for $14.99 (originally $25.95). In addition, I have personally autographed each of these First Editions. If you have any friends or family on your Christmas list who are music and/or mystery fans, this would make a terrific gift.
While Rock & Roll Rip-Off is the second novel in the Rock & Roll Mystery Series, each of the books is written so that it can be read as a stand-alone. In other words, you don’t need to have read #1 to understand #2.
If your gift recipient is a mystery reader, he or she should be reading quite a bit about the series in the weeks leading up to Christmas. That’s because novel #5, Diamonds, Clubs, and Rock & Roll, is slated for release in October. Usually about half of the major reviews are published in the first couple of months after the release date. That means your gift will be opened around the time that publicity is at its peak.
Thanks to everyone who helped make the series a success. I hope you enjoy my next novel as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Click here to read the excerpt to Rock & Roll Rip-Off and place the order.
A twenty year veteran journalist from the Boston Herald, Beverly Ford, who spent most of her career on the Crime Beat, just posted a review of Rock & Roll Rip-Off on 1/30/13. Here it is:
No one can combine rock music, character development and good old-fashioned mystery quite like RJ McDonnell. In his second mystery novel, McDonnell moves closer to big time success with yet another well-crafted story filled with a crazy cast of funny and interesting characters — most of whom play sidekick to his detective hero, Jason Duffy.
Set amid San Diego’s vibrant music scene, “Rock & Roll Rip-Off” may focus on the theft of a music memorabilia collection but this story isn’t just your regular “who-dunnit.” McDonnell peppers his chapters with enough information to make readers feel like music industry insiders. Add the author’s sharp sense of humor, a maze of unexpected plot twists and a dash of mystery and McDonnell has yet another winner on his hands.
I read McDonnell’s first book “Rock And Roll Homicide” when it came out and immediately fell in love with his characters — the affable detective, Jason Duffy, his long-time girlfriend, Kelly, Jason’s gruff, ex-cop father and employees who suffer from Tourette’s Syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder. I was glad to see them all reappear again in his second novel — which I read in one full swoop on a cross-country flight, unable to put it down. I just couldn’t get enough of “Rip-Off” or the funny, charming, amazing and amusing way McDonnell walks his characters through a captivating and suspenseful plot.
With all that going for him, like another reviewer I have to wonder, why this guy isn’t a household name? His characters, writing and humor are enough to put McDonnell right up there with Spenser creator Robert Parker. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of McDonnell’s quick wit and fine writing … and all those crazy characters too.
About half of the books I read in 2012 were by traditional authors and the other half by indies. Originally, I was going to list my favorites in both realms, but opted to feature the indies since most publicity is already skewed toward those with large advertising budgets. Following, in no particular order, are the best of the indie novels I read in 2012 along with their descriptions and Amazon links.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide – Geoffrey West
Action packed thriller/mystery filled with murders and twists. Whilst researching the suicide of rock queen Maggi O’Kane in 1980, ex-criminal profiler Dr Jack Lockwood discovers evidence suggesting that she and her band were murdered to suppress facts she found out about John Lennon’s assassination. First of a series of Jack Lockwood mysteries.
An Indecent Death – David Anderson
When sexy, seventh grade teacher Paula Noonan is found murdered in a nearby park, Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm of the York Police Services is called in. Drumm’s previous experience as an elementary teacher comes in handy when the investigation leads him to Paula’s school, and a host of suspects, including the school’s creepy janitor, an abusive spouse, the principal, a moody and leering fifth grade teacher and the angry and aggressive father of one of her students. It soon becomes obvious that Paula Noonan’s provocative dress and unconventional behavior are contributing factors in her death. Wrestling with his health, an emotional ex-girlfriend who wants to get back together with him and a self-destructive colleague, Drumm works through the lies and misdirections that are set before him to uncover the surprising truth. An exciting and intriguing story, An Indecent Death will keep you guessing until the end.
A Lethal Time – Peggy Edelheit
I was beginning to question a lot, including my sanity for trying to find something I didn’t know anyone would steal in the first place. How did I end up in another complicated mystery involving a motorcycle rally, horses, a hidden collection, antique books, unexpected alliances, extortion, and threats upon my life? And how did I become a target? It was “A Lethal Time” and my time was running out. What secrets were they all afraid of me discovering?
Dream On – Terry Tyler
Dave Bentley was born to be a rock star. He’s a reincarnated Viking warrior, too. When Dave forms his new band, Thor, there are plenty of sleepless nights for Janice, his on-off girlfriend and mother of his son. Not only must she deal with the thrills and spills of life as a hardworking single mum, but also the imminent return of singer-songwriter Ariel Swan, Dave’s one true love. Poor Janice. Dave is still the love of her life. Ariel Swan returns to small town life – and Dave’s heart. She and her friend Melodie (whose ambition is to be “a celebrity”) enter a TV talent competition, so Dave and the rest of Thor decide to make the most of the opportunity for possible fame and fortune, too. This adventure brings about big changes in the lives of all of them – none of which Dave could have anticipated. One member of Thor even ends up on The Jeremy Kyle Show…
Where There Were No Innocents – Thomas Drinkard
Mack Brinson is a Green Beret Captain in Vietnam at the height of the war, 1967. He’s been selected to serve on the staff of MACV-SOG, the premier covert operations unit in Southeast Asia. He is a lonely man, and his wife’s lawyer serves him with a divorce notice. His assignments so far, have proven less than exhilarating and he has just been handed one more mundane chore. The conclusion of his tedious task is anything but boring. He fights for his life in a Viet Cong attack on a bloody runway. His loneliness soon comes to an end. Brinson meets a stunning Eurasian woman, Song. He finds love in an unexpected place. After Brinson’s first combat experience, his command begins sending him on Top Secret missions. He works with a SOG Recon Team on a wiretap mission along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. He earns the nickname Blade when he escapes from a lethal situation by using his fighting knife. As a result of his expertise in clandestine surveillance, Brinson is a marked man. The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong put out orders to kill him. Song also becomes a target. He has to find a way to protect her while still carrying out his duties. Mack’s war includes fighting in the streets of Saigon during the infamous Tet offensive. He and a buddy organize a rescue attempt for a wounded fellow soldier. Will they get there soon enough to save him? Where There Were No Innocents is a true-to-life story of the Vietnam War written by a former Green Beret, who served with MACV-SOG.
Hide and Seek – Jenny Hilborne
A celebration turns into a complex mystery when a guest disappears and a large pool of blood is discovered on the grounds of a mansion. Abducted? Murdered? Or did Abby McCabe fake her own disappearance? San Francisco homicide inspector, Mac Jackson, is called out to investigate. As Jackson questions the guests, he uncovers old hostilities, secretive pasts, and the victim’s ties to another unusual death. At the center of it all is the lingerie bar, where the victim once worked. His best chance at solving the case hinges on an uncooperative source and Jackson must work fast, before it’s too late and his source disappears.
Sydney’s Story – Eileen Granfors
A romp through historical 18th century England and France during the formative years of Sydney Carton, adult hero of the Dickens’ classic, “A Tale of Two Cities.” How did this brilliant, compassionate man become a dissolute drunk, willing to die for love?
King Solomon’s Journey – Sammy Sutton
Unaware of the existence of the other, Anthropologist, Antonio Dominguez and Spiritualist, Amanda Messenger have inadvertently lived parallel lives.
They have studied the mysteries and history of the ancient people of the earth, the ties that bind past and present, and have sought to understand mankind’s deepest meanings, now they have been led onto a path that will take them into the past, present and future. Drawn together by fate, they have uncovered 3,000 year old scrolls, which have lain protected since King Solomon first sent them up the Rio Grande, within the confines of the mysterious Hidden Mountain. Ancient and valuable in their own right, the scrolls hold the key to unlocking the gates that will save humanity from approaching catastrophe. Hunted by evil forces —who will stop at nothing to keep them from revealing the answers—Antonio and Amanda find themselves on the run and up to their necks in trouble as they race against time to solve the King’s mysteries. In an adventure full of high-octane action and sensual mysteries as old as time, Sammy Sutton tackles all the issues your mother warned you never to discuss: sex, politics, and faith. With a complexity of depth and vivid characterization that is rarely seen within its genre, King Solomon’s Journey is the story of a sultry race on track to save the world.
Dirty Work – Michael Lamendola
Bloody basement poker games. Midnight street races. A small Mexican crime family. Stuck in the middle: two men who have no clue how to drive fast or shoot first. Sal and his buddy didn’t mean to piss off the mob, and they didn’t have any intention of stealing from an illegal gambling kingpin. Stumbling face first into a world of organized crime, they realize that staying alive means learning who to trust and how to kill. A handshake deal with the Mexicans who want them dead takes more than guts, and to survive they’ll need all the booze-fueled courage they can swallow, quick and dirty lessons in semi-automatics, and a rust-bucket Buick with a leaky trunk full of luck. DIRTY WORK is a fast and funny crime thriller set in San Diego’s grimy underbelly where the hustlers, hit men, and crooks have no patience for a couple of guys who find themselves in a wrong place that never had a right time. Full of slick wit and gritty action, it will appeal to anyone with an appreciation for fast talking, cynical underdogs who fight like hell to beat the odds.
Second Chances – Maria Savva
Set in London, in the noughties, sometime after the smoking ban, and before the great 21st century recession… James has always believed in happy ever after, and he plans to get there one day. He is doing okay. At the age of thirty-three, he has a top job, dream house, two healthy children, and a wife who always stands by him. These things, James can rely on, until one day, when everything changes, and he realises that he has spent so long looking towards the future, that he has neglected the present. Feeling unloved, his wife, Pamela, has left him, leaving nothing but a brief note. She has taken their two children. How far will James go to save his marriage? What can Pamela do to stop the past haunting her life? Will it be enough?
Darker By Degree – Keri Knutson
A missing girl. A mysterious break-in. A brutal murder. Struggling actress Maddie Pryce is looking for her big break and a way out of her day job at a crumbling movie palace from Hollywood’s heyday, but finds herself at the center of a series of seemingly unrelated crimes. Soon she’s tangled up with a persistent detective, a driven director, a playboy producer, and an unstable ingenue. Can Maddie unravel the clues before her next role is as a serial killer’s victim?
Willowtree – Mike Bove
In this cozy mystery Bruce DelReno, retired mailman and avid golfer finds a body near the golf course. He attempts to link this to other murders, which he sees connected to the entanglements and secrets of a group of locoweed smoking locals. His friend, an Apache Indian, becomes involved and supplies much of the dry humor. Much of the story takes place at the golf course, a favorite restaurant, and a nearby ranch, in the fictitious town of Willowtree, AZ.
Metallic Dreams – Mark Rice
Long-haired Scottish rock singer Spark MacDubh drops dead on a snow-covered street of his native Bronzehall, only to be jolted back to life by what he calls ‘lightning from Heaven’. Following his resurrection, Spark’s sanity is stretched thin: during waking hours, he receives instructions from deities known as the Metal Gods; at night he is haunted by visions of a Devil who wields ultimate power over the music industry. Employing behaviour that swings between messianic and infernal, Spark gets his old band back together with a view to steering them towards greatness. The Devil, however, only grants success in exchange for souls. Unwilling to use his bandmates’ eternal souls as bargaining tools, MacDubh comes up with a preferable route to stardom: put the Devil out of business. A simple idea but questionable in terms of practicality. For starters, it requires a trip to Hell, and only the right music can open the gateway to that dimension. Catch-22? More like Catch-666.
Sink or Swim – Stacy Juba
Personal trainer Cassidy Novak has gained fame for starring on a hit reality show, but not only does she lose, she discovers she is being stalked. She’s also being shadowed by Zach Gallagher, a hunky photographer assigned to capture her personal moments for the local newspaper. As her former competitors get killed off one by one, Cassidy refuses to play by the stalker’s bizarre rules. When the stalker forces a showdown, Cassidy must play to win.