Tuesday, June 11, 2019

May Reads

As you can tell, given the date, it's been pretty nonstop here at Chez Poe. May was a busy month with a lot of projects all in various stages of post production. There was also some struggling on my part to reign in my creativity, which tends to go into a slump midyear. But I'm taking a deep breath now, and can share a few reviews I wrote a while back for some lovely stories.

Here are the BookBub links, if you're interested! These are mirrored at Goodreads, if you prefer that site.

Hexslayer by Jordan L. Hawk

A Christmas Hex by Jordan L. Hawk

Slay Ride by Josh Layon

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Release: Footsteps in the Dark

Footsteps in the Dark is live!

This mystery-romance anthology is available with all third party vendors. Eight novellas, over 200k total, for $3.99

Below are blurbs and the first page excerpt of each available title.

Entrée to Murder - Nicole Kimberling
Blurb: After a steady diet of big city trouble, Chef Drew Allison moved to the island town of Orca’s Slough to get a taste of life in the slow lane. But hometown hospitality goes stale when he finds a dead body in the basement of his own Eelgrass Café.
Excerpt: When I saw the crumpled tower of waxed corrugated boxes filled with sweating tomatoes and limp romaine slumped on the back stair at eleven a.m., I knew it would be another rough lunch service at the Eelgrass Bistro.
Doubtless, if I were to go around to the front of the building, I would find Evelyn, my favorite octogenarian, peering through the window, wondering what fate had befallen my business partner, Samantha, that would cause her to fail to open our restaurant.
That’s the problem with being unreliable around older people—they’re at a time in life when any failure to appear means the absentee is most likely deceased. Or if not actually dead, the no-show could be lying somewhere injured and alone.
I needed to get in there to make sure Evelyn didn’t do anything rash. Already once this month she’d dialed 911 after she’d spied Sam slumped over in the kitchen. In reality, Sam had just spent the night partying and then fallen asleep on a sack of potatoes in the back.
I sidled past the abandoned produce order to let myself in the back door of the Eelgrass Bistro, only to find it had been unlocked all night. Again.

Twelve Seconds - Meg Perry
Blurb: A mysterious phone call, a missing executive, and an exploding rocket throw space reporter Justin Harris and Air Force Special Agent Greg Marcotte into an investigation that will change their lives…if it doesn’t kill them first.
Excerpt: When his phone rang at 3:12 a.m., Justin answered half-asleep. “’Lo?”
He was resigned to being awakened by his phone. As a space reporter for the Hughes-Simmons news syndicate, parent of the Orlando Tribune and other major newspapers around the US, Justin Harris was expected to respond to space news regardless of the hour. If an air leak developed in the International Space Station, if a rocket failed on a launch pad in French Guiana or Kazakhstan, if Elon Musk tweeted anything, Justin needed to hear about it.
The voice was male, and low, as if the caller didn’t want to be overheard. “Justin Harris?”
“This is Roy Shaw with Skyose. I have a scoop for you.”
Justin sat up in bed, shoving his hair out of his eyes, immediately alert. Roy Shaw was the chief operating officer of Skyose, a relatively new company, which was launching its first rocket in under twelve hours. Whatever scoop he had would be worth waking up for. “Okay, Mr. Shaw, what is it?”
“I can’t explain it over the phone. This is something you need to see. Meet me at the Wawa on US 1 in Vero Beach at five.”
Justin squeaked. “Vero Beach?” Even at this time of night, Vero was over an hour from Justin’s house in Cocoa Beach.
“Yes. We can’t be seen. You won’t regret it.” Shaw hung up.

Reality Bites - SC Wynne
Blurb: Detective Cabot Decker is called to the set of hotshot TV producer Jax Thornburn’s reality-TV show after a contestant is mauled to death by a tiger. Is someone trying to ax Jax’s career—or Jax himself?
Excerpt: The first things that struck me were the pungent smell of urine and the enormous tiger pacing back and forth in a steel enclosure. I’d never seen a tiger up close, and this animal was easily three hundred pounds. Its black stripes glistened against its sleek orange fur as the agitated animal chuffed and growled, its giant head hung low. My stomach clenched when my gaze settled on the tarp-covered body lying outside the enclosure.
My cell buzzed, and when I answered, my lieutenant’s annoyed voice came over the line. “Are you there yet, Decker?”
I must have squeezed my paper cup of coffee too hard because the lid popped off, and it spilled down the front of my shirt. “Shit,” I hissed, wincing as the hot liquid soaked through the material down to my skin.
“Did I get you at a bad time?”
“Not at all,” I said through gritted teeth while wiping at the spreading stain to no avail. “I was just taking a bath in my coffee.”
“Never mind.”
“Are you at the studio yet?”
“I’m here.” I glanced uneasily toward the body. “Who’s the dead guy?”
“Dale Larson. He was a contestant on Don’t Die.”
“Don’t Die?” I grimaced.

Blind Man’s Buff - LB Gregg
Blurb: A game of Capture the Flag turns deadly inside an abandoned shopping mall when Tommy and Jonah stumble into a homicidal maniac’s hunting grounds.
Excerpt: We waited, the six of us, at a service entrance behind Parkway Mall as Dougie pried the effing door open with a crowbar.
The process of entering usually took mere seconds—bing, bang, done—but precious minutes had ticked by since he’d started, and anyone else would have read this as an omen.
Not me.
I focused on the positive. We were completely hidden by shadow. The rain had stopped, leaving a checkerboard of shallow puddles across the torn asphalt, and on the far side of the barren parking lot, well out of sight from both the access road and the old highway, not a single vehicle had driven by.
Most importantly, Jonah Theroux, friend, coworker, crush, had arrived for this evening’s adventure wearing actual aftershave.
He never wore aftershave.
I aimed for casual, but between the thrill of his presence, the peppery scent of his cologne, and the prospect of a night game in an abandoned shopping mall, I rocked on my toes, childishly striking that balance of attentive, cheerful, and way, way too eager. Currently living up to my moniker Tommy instead of Tom.
I sneaked a peek at the object of my desire.
Hood up, hands stuffed in the front pocket of a drab sweatshirt, Jonah was decked in the unofficial uniform of the urban ninja.

A Country for Old Men - Dal MacLean
Blurb: Inspector Calum Macleod has returned to the Western Isles of Scotland to bury a part of himself he can’t accept. But the island has old secrets of its own. When a murderer strikes, Calum finds his past can’t be so easily escaped.
Excerpt: It was all about discretion. Making the effort not to be noticed. It was about not letting anyone down.
A sharp midmorning summer breeze blew away the sounds of Calum’s heavy car door clunking shut and the tailgate opening and closing to let out his father’s ecstatic dog. Then, after a shifty look around, Calum set off with long-legged strides toward the beach, the dog trotting at his heels.
He’d parked his Subaru 4x4 off the main road at the Braighe, two bays separated by a narrow strip of land, where the Minch chewed into the eastern peninsula of Point from both sides.
When Calum was a child, he’d always hoped they’d drive up the road one day and find the sea had won; that they’d be living suddenly on another island, all of their own. But twenty-odd years on, the road was still there, and the medieval Ui chapel, and Aignish cemetery nestled next to it, all still defying the ruthless grey water.
The cemetery was the reason for Calum’s stealth. His father and mother were at church, attending the funeral service of the graveyard’s next occupant, a bodach—an old man—called Murchadh Toddy, and Calum’s mother had made it very clear she didn’t want the mourners to see her son jogging happily along the beach in the background.
So Calum had negotiated the kind of compromise he’d become used to since he’d come home.

Pepper the Crime Lab - Z.A. Maxfield
Blurb: When Lonnie Boudreaux’s neighbor is murdered, he must foster the man’s dog, befriend a mysterious former cop, and stop the killer—or else!
Excerpt: Oh, why did I touch the knife? Everyone knows better. If you find a dead guy with a knife in his chest, you don’t touch the knife.
But that Shun Premier knife was so familiar. Withdrawing it from flesh, second nature. Shock or instinct must have taken over, because before I knew it, I’d wrapped my fingers around the handle and pulled the blade all the way out.
Maybe I did it out of detached curiosity. Or maybe I did it because I couldn’t get my mind around what I saw.
It came away from my new neighbor’s body with a wet slurp. The sound made my skin crawl with horror, so I dropped it on his chest.
Then the blonde girl from 3F started screaming.
Since I’d only moved in that day, I didn’t know her yet. We’d bonded over not being able to sleep because the dead guy’s dog had been barking for hours.
Other neighbors entered the apartment behind us, and even though we probably all spent half our lives watching cop shows on television, by the time the police arrived, we had tromped all over the scene of the crime.
No one more than me, obviously.
The guy who lived in the apartment on the other side of…er…the deceased’s was smart enough to herd us all to the hallway, where he did a quick check on the dead guy’s injured Labrador retriever.

Lights. Camera. Murder. - C.S. Poe
Blurb: Hired to recover a stolen script, NY PI Rory Byrne must go undercover on the set of the ground-breaking historical drama The Bowery—a job complicated by Rory’s unexpected attraction to handsome, talented, and out-and-proud actor Marion Roosevelt.
The love note was scrawled across my grocery list on the refrigerator door. Which was fine. I preferred keeping all my reminders in a central location. Now I knew I needed to pick up milk, sugar, bread, and a new boyfriend.
My cell rang as I splashed some cream into my coffee.
I pushed my tortoiseshell glasses up my nose and turned to pick up the phone from the counter behind me.
Caller ID: Nate.
I pressed Accept and put the phone to my ear. “Good morning, sunshine. I got your message.”
“You’re a sonofabitch, Rory!”
“I’ve been called worse things by better people.”
Nate’s audible gasp allowed me enough time to indulge in that first sip of morning coffee.
“Only an asshole breaks up over text message,” he accused.
I winced at his shrill tone, pulled the phone away from my ear, set it to speaker, and put it back on the countertop. “I only have one rule, Nate.”
“Screw your rule!”
“And you broke it,” I continued without missing a beat.

Stranger in the House - Josh Lanyon
Blurb: Miles Tuesday’s memories of Montreal are happy ones, but now that he has inherited the mansion at 13 Place Braeside, everything feels different. Was Madame Martel’s fatal fall really an accident?
Excerpt: The gate was locked.
Which was not a surprise. Miles had told himself that if he couldn’t get in, it would be fine. He could wait until Monday when Monsieur Thibault was back in his office and could supply the keys. It would be enough just to see the house from the outside.
But of course, when the moment came, when he was gazing through the ornate wrought-iron fence at the red ivy-covered Jacobean stone mansion with its distinctive turquoise-green oxidized copper roof, it was not enough to be stuck gawking on the outside like a tourist.
Because he was not a tourist. Not this time. This was not a visit. The house at 13 Place Braeside in Westmount was his.
He had arrived at his hotel in Montreal only two hours earlier on this rainy Friday evening. He had not even waited to unpack. The shock that had driven him since learning of “Aunt” Capucine’s will had made it impossible to relax and wait like a—well, grown-up. Encouraged by dim memories of the first season of Downton Abbey, he had assured himself that someone was bound to be there to let him in.
But no. As the grand old house, half-hidden in the surrounding gold and red foliage, faded into the twilight, every single window remained dark.
No one was home.