Tag Archives: mystery

Winter Song by Susan C. Muller

WINTER SONG
Book 1 of the SEASON PASS Series
 
by Susan C. Muller
 
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
 
I’m excited to announce Susan C. Muller’s new four book series: 
Seasons Pass: Murder is always in Season
Starting in November, and releasing one each month, enjoy Winter Song, Spring Shadow, Summer Storm, andAutumn Secrets.
 

 

Meet Homicide Detective Noah Daugherty and his partner, Conner Crawford. Follow them through four seasons worth of cases full of hit men, stalkers, vigilantes, and serial killers.

 

In Winter Song, homicide detective Noah Daugherty is on a mission: solve cases, lock up murderous scum, and get on with what’s left of his life. He’s on the clock, and his time is steadily ticking away. His path leads him to an icy Houston street, where a car has careened out-of-control and crashed, the driver, a beautiful young socialite, is dead. All the clues lead straight to her husband, but Noah’s intuition screams the case is more than meets the eye.
Not willing to give up until he solves this cold-blooded murder, he finds the unthinkable . . . a hitman no one saw coming, with a chilling personal agenda that now targets Noah.
 
Can he solve the case and save himself before winter is finished singing her song?
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan C. Muller is a fourth generation Texan. She attended Stephen F. Austin State University where she studied business administration but took creative writing classes on the side. She started her first novel at age eleven, but it wasn’t until after she had worked many years and raised a family that she returned to her first love, writing. 
She enjoys speaking to book clubs and writer’s groups. Susan lives in Spring, Texas with her rescue dog, Maggie. She loves to travel and has been fortunate to see much of the world. Her favorite places include Kenya, New Zealand, and the Galapagos Islands.
When not writing, she can be found doing volunteer work at a local hospital. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, snorkeling and taking long walks.
Connect with the author online:
 

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Excerpt: The Do-Right by Lisa Sandlin

 THE DO-RIGHT

 

 

by 
Lisa Sandlin 

 

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Date of Publication: October 27, 2015
# of pages: 306
Scroll down for Giveaway!

1959. Delpha Wade killed a man who was raping her. Wanted to kill the other one too, but he got away. Now, after fourteen years in prison, she’s out. It’s 1973, and nobody’s rushing to hire a parolee. Persistence and smarts land her a secretarial job with Tom Phelan, an ex-roughneck turned neophyte private eye. Together these two pry into the dark corners of Beaumont, a blue-collar, Cajun-influenced town dominated by Big Oil. A mysterious client plots mayhem against a small petrochemical company-why? Searching for a teenage boy, Phelan uncovers the weird lair of a serial killer. And Delpha — on a weekend outing — looks into the eyes of her rapist, the one who got away. The novel’s conclusion is classic noir, full of surprise, excitement, and karmic justice. Sandlin’s elegant prose, twisting through the dark thickets of human passion, allows Delpha to open her heart again to friendship, compassion, and sexuality.
PRAISE FOR THE DO-RIGHT:

“Lisa Sandlin’s The Do-Right is something akin to a rusted nail through the foot: it’s dirty, it hurts, and it’ll have you jumping up and down—or possibly just on the floor. Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan are as lovable a duo as any in noir fiction.” — Joseph Borden, Killer Nashville

 

“When a critic praises a writer’s original voice, what does that really mean? In the case
of Texas native Lisa Sandlin, it means dog-earing page after page in her novel The
Do-Right, to reread particularly terrific passages or, even better, share them aloud . . .
Check out The Do-Right, and see if you don’t find yourself reading passages aloud
just for the sheer pleasure of it.” – Shawna Seed, The Dallas Morning News
“Smashingly original.” — Jack Batten, Toronto Star
  PURCHASE LINKS:

 

  AMAZON        CINCO PUNTOS PRESS
ed92b-excerpt

EXCERPT #2: THE DO-RIGHT:

 

She had thought this out many times.

She opened the door to #221, put down the suitcase and plate as before. Swiveled and locked the door, set the key in clear view on a chest of drawers. Then she picked up the plate and looked around. Moss-green walls. Window facing an alley. Single bed with a chenille spread, dusky rose. Bedside table, lamp. Chest of drawers. Chair. Closet. That picture of two kids huddling on a bridge, wide-winged angel flared up behind, enough to scare the tar out of them. She’d count on a Gideon in the night table.

Delpha unpacked her four pairs of white cotton panties, her extra brassiere, also white cotton, a sanitary belt and
box of Kotex into the chest of drawers. Hung two skirts and blouses and a dress in the closet. Unzipped her navy blue skirt and hung it up too, shed her shirt, bra and panties, and kept on the white nylon slip. The old hotel had been refurbished with central air but a measly amount circulated. She raised the window for fresh air. Switched on the ceiling fan, but not the lamp. She took her sandwich to the side of the bed, where, sitting down, she ate it slowly, holding her head over the plate so as not to drop crumbs onto the swept wood floor. Fragrant, that mayhaw. She sopped up the crumbs with a damp finger.

Then she pulled down the covers and lay down, stretched out her legs, her toes spread against cotton washed two hundred times, drew the sheet up to her shoulders. Laying her head on the flattened pillow, she felt, then savored how the door was locked and she was alone.

The door was locked. She was alone.

Nobody was in this ten by twelve space but her. No other breathing, gabbing, farting, pouting person. Everybody, everything else shut out. Locked out, on the other side somewhere. No one could walk in. She was not counted.

She did not have to speak. She did not have to share or to hoard, yet. She had to hear no one, except an occasional door shutting, a word or two from down the hall whose meaning she was not obliged to heed. She lay inside this idea for an indecipherable while, breaking the spell periodically to check the key up there on top of the chest of drawers. Still there.

Light had faded from the window, and the dark had come in to hang beneath the ceiling.

She breathed up the quiet, the silence—substance, balm, flower, fruit and medicine. She was taking it inside of her, where it expanded, filling scores and pits. The silence of the people who were not here. Silence of the bureau. The single bed. Silence of the empty places where the furniture was not. Silence rose up from the corners of this moss-green room like clear walls. Silence of the curtains riffled by a breeze. Silence of the lock.

 

 

Lisa Sandlin’s story “Phelan’s First Case” was anthologized in Lone Star Noir (Akashic) and was later re-anthologized in Akashic’s Best of the Noir compendium, USA Noir. The Do-Right, which uses the characters from that story, is her first full-length mystery. Lisa was born in Beaumont, Texas, currently lives and teaches in Omaha, Nebraska, and summers in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 


GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
SIX SIGNED COPIES OF THE BOOK
(US ONLY)
  June 6 – June 15, 2016

Check out the other great blogs on the tour! 

6/6       All for the Love of the Word      — Review
6/7       Country Girl Bookaholic — Author Interview #1
6/8       Forgotten Winds           — Excerpt #1
6/9       My Book Fix Blog          — Review
6/11     Missus Gonzo   — Excerpt #2
6/12     Texas Book Lover          — Author Interview #2
6/13     Margie’s Must Reads    — Review
6/14     The Crazy Booksellers   — Promo
6/15     Book Chase      — Review

 

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Dollar Signs by Manning Wolfe

Dollar Signs NEW BANNER

DOLLAR SIGNS
  Texas Lady Lawyer vs Boots King
Texas Lady Lawyer Novel #1 
by Manning Wolfe
ClaFirst Place, The Writer’s League of Texas Annual Manuscript Contest, 2014
Genre: Adult / Legal Thriller / Mystery /Suspense
Date of Publication: February 18, 2016
# of pages: 310
 
Scroll down for GIVEAWAY!
MERIT BRIDGES, an attorney and widowed mother in Austin, Texas, works hard, drinks too much wine, and sleeps with younger men. When Merit goes after a shady corporation threatening her client, she encounters hired gun Boots King. His charge is simple, “Stop her!” Merit and her team – including Betty, a mothering office manager with a bad-ass attitude – struggle to stay alive, while they navigate a labyrinth of legal issues, and prove once again that you don’t mess with a Texas lady lawyer.
 
Praise for the books:
A legal thriller not to be missed…Manning Wolfe just put
herself on my list of must-read authors. — Mark Pryor, Hugo
Marston Novels
 
Move over, John Grisham. There’s a lady lawyer in town.
Elizabeth Garcia, Deputy Ricos Tales
 
This novel is smart, funny, moving, and entertaining as hell.
Jesse Sublett, 1960’s Austin Gangsters
 
A great read, and Texas crime fiction has a new star.
Bill Crider, Dan Rhodes Mysteries
 
Pages smoke like burnt fried chicken grease on a Saturday
night…This one, my friends, is a non-putter-downer!
George Wier, Bill Travis Mysteries.
 
A high-speed storyline full of twists and turns upon a stark
background of reality as lawyers might really experience
it. Manning Wolfe is one of the up and coming legal thriller
writers of this generation. Read her and enjoy her, but don’t
expect much sleep! — John Ellsworth, author, Thaddeus
Murfee Legal Thrillers
 
                                                                                               MANNING WOLFE an author and attorney residing in Austin, Texas, writes cinematic-style, smart, fast-paced thrillers with a salting of Texas bullshit. The first in her series, featuring Austin Lawyer Merit Bridges, is Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs Boots King. A graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, Manning’s experience has given her a voyeur’s peek into some shady characters’ lives and a front row seat to watch the good people who stand against them.
 
Review
I have a really bad habit of comparing books to other books I’ve read or movies I’ve watched. So when I started this one, I thought, “Attractive lawyer helping the underdog. Erin Brockovich!” Of course, Erin wasn’t a lawyer and the case she was working on wasn’t the same. And nobody would ever mistake Merit for a floozy. (She has her share of boy toys but she’s all lady.) I don’t want to ruin anything, but let’s just say that some things go awry and a new plan goes into motion. Other cases are referenced, and the PG&E case is one of them. So my Brockovich comparison wasn’t way off.
Wolfe’s actual experience as an attorney shines through with all of the details (riveting stuff) and she weaves seamlessly between character point of views and scene changes. You can tell when a writer has a little bit of a screenwriter in them as well. Wolfe is one of these. The dialogue is excellent, the characters are fleshed out and interesting, and the plot is realistic and deliciously suspenseful. Details like particular backroads, restaurants, and landmarks confirm that Wolfe knows her way around Texas.
As I tend to do with the really good books I read, I’m going to nitpick now. Merit is a crazy sharp individual, but I find it hard to believe that she didn’t connect Boots King to the truck with “KNG69” or something equally douchey on the license plate. The only thing that would have made the truck more obvious was if it had a huge boot on top or was wrapped in a boot decal. Maybe Wolfe intended for me to smack my forehead and yell, “WAKE UP, MERIT!” I yelled in my head, course.
As a CHL holder and spouse to a gun enthusiast, I cringed every time the magazine was referred to as a clip. I think the CHL instructor character even called it that (not likely to happen in real life). Gun guys HATE it when people call magazines clips. However, I loved the bit about going 9mm (or larger) or going home because I have that conversation with my gun buddies too.
And just for fun I will add that I was blindsided by one character digging on Merit, almost as much as she was. For a good portion of the book, this guy is normal with her, you don’t get the vibe that he’s into her at all. But then Betty says something to the effect of, “He’s into you,” and suddenly there’s all this description about the guy mooning over Merit. And it gets laid thicker and thicker until Merit finally sees it and responds. Not going to ruin that for you either. But I can’t help but give a rundown on my thoughts when there’s romance in a book. There are so many great things about this book. Read it!
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of  Dollar Signs, a $50 Visa Gift Card, a “Don’t Mess With Texas Women” plaque, and some fun dollar sign beads!
Giveaway runs from 12:01am 2/18/16 through 11:59pm 4/2/16
 
  Check out these other great blog stops on the tour!

2/18 Texas Book Lover — Excerpt
2/19 My Book Fix Blog — Promo
2/25 Missus Gonzo — Review
2/29 Books and Broomsticks – Author Interview
3/1   The Crazy Booksellers — Review
3/3   Texas Book-aholic — Promo
3/15 It’s a Jenn World — Promo
3/17 A Novel Reality – Promo
3/22 Hall Ways Blog — Review
3/24 The Page Unbound — Promo
3/31 The Librarian Talks — Review

 

 

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Murder at Peacock Mansion by Judy Alter

Lone Star Literary Life Blog Tours 
presents
 
MURDER AT PEACOCK MANSION
a Blue Plate Cafe Mystery
 
by 
Judy Alter
 
 
Title: MURDER AT PEACOCK MANSION
Author: Judy Alter
Genre: Cozy Mystery
# of pages: 258
 
 
Arson, a bad beating, and a recluse who claims someone is trying to kill her all collide in this third Blue Plate Café Mystery with Kate Chambers. Torn between trying to save David Clinkscales, her old boss and new lover, and curiosity about Edith Aldridge’s story of an attempt on her life, Kate has to remind herself she has a café to run. She nurses a morose David, whose spirit has been hurt as badly as his body, and tries to placate Mrs. Aldridge, who was once accused of murdering her husband but acquitted. One by one, Mrs. Aldridge’s stepchildren enter the picture. Is it coincidence that David is Edith Aldridge’s lawyer? Or that she seems to rely heavily on the private investigator David hires? First the peacocks die…and then the people. Everyone is in danger, and no one knows who to suspect.
 
 
BUY LINKS
 
 
Praise for the author
 
“Kate Chambers continues to impress. This third book in the Blue Plate Café mysteries opens with two intriguing story lines that intermingle flawlessly and will keep you captivated until the final page.” Terrie Farley Moran, Agatha Award-Winning author of the Read ’Em and Eat cozy mysteries. 
“With Murder at Peacock Mansion, the showy feathers of a rich woman’s birds aren’t enough to save either them or relatives of the recluse who thinks someone’s out to get her. Judy Alter, in her third Blue Plate Special mystery, serves up more than chicken-fried chicken as cafe proprietor Kate Chambers fights to save the ones she loves and figure out who the killer is, while keeping herself and her business alive, too.” Edith Maxwell, Agatha-nominated and national bestselling author of the Local Foods Mysteries, the Country Store Mysteries, and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries
 
 
“How did you meet Mr. Aldridge?”
“I was a cocktail waitress at the old Baker Hotel in Dallas. You might say I was Eliza to his Henry Higgins. He taught me to dress, speak, eat properly, even dance—he made a lady out of me, and I was always grateful. But once I was “finished”—his term, not mine—he found other Pygmalion-like subjects. In other words, he cheated on me, including financially, railed that I couldn’t run the house on the reduced budget he gave me.
“I used to lie in bed and listen to him roaming about downstairs, sometimes throwing things—I always hoped it wasn’t the Limoges he’d given his first wife, Alicia—and several times I thought I heard him fall. His best friend at night was a bottle of bourbon.
“One night I woke and realized he hadn’t come upstairs. By then I kept a derringer for self-protection, and this night I grabbed it and put it in my pocket. I found him at the foot of the stairs—he fallen apparently. What I didn’t realize until after I called the police was that he’d been shot too.
This tale was getting more bizarre. I itched to check it out on the Web, but for now I was a captive audience and, I admit, mesmerized by the calm recital of this woman’s life story. “What makes you think his children are trying to kill you now?” After all she’d lived this way for thirty years.
Review
 I’m not a big mystery reader but I’ve always been that person who saw the ending a mile away. This was not the case this time. Alter’s characters are interesting and her writing is so fluid and natural that you can’t help but be sucked into the story. I hadn’t realized that this was Book 3 of the Blue Plate Cafe Mysteries, but I had an idea the way that she brushes briefly about previous events and relationships. And like any good series writer, Alter doesn’t confuse you with the past you hadn’t seen but stokes your interest in reading them when you’re done with the one you’re working on. While some of the characters were certainly eccentric, all of them felt real. And every suspect could be seen from the guilty or innocent perspective as well. I highly suggest this book and series for readers who want to bring out their inner sleuth.
 
Judy Alter retired from Texas Christian University Press after thirty years, twenty of them as director. At the same time she developed her own writing career, focusing primarily on women of the American West. Now she writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages. She lives in Fort Worth.
 
 

 

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Hard Falls by Elizabeth A. Garcia

HARD FALLS
by 
 
Elizabeth A Garcia
 
 
Genre: Mystery
Author: Elizabeth A. Garcia
Publisher: Mountain Press
Release Date: October 15, 2015
#of pages: 378
It’s March in Terlingua and the weather is playing games—icy one day and warmish a few days later. But the weather is not the problem.

 

The trouble begins with a Photoshopped picture of Deputy Ricos and Sheriff Ben that makes an innocent encounter look like something it’s not. Someone is making a problem where none exists. Why?

 

Mix in the brutal murder of quiet man “everyone likes,” a young, green-eyed deputy trainee, a wealthy, mysterious newcomer to Alpine, a prostitute from Mexico, and a local ranch where it appears something “wrong” is happening. Then stir in a cast of characters you will swear you know, hillsides purplish with bluebonnets, and the never-changing/always changing mountains of South Brewster County.
 
 
Award-winning author Elizabeth A. Garcia has lived for more than thirty years in the Big Bend country of far west Texas. She has hiked, rafted, explored, and earned a living in this wild desert-mountain land near the Rio Grande, on the border of the United States and Mexico.

 

It was experiencing the deep canyons, creosote-covered bajadas, and stark, jagged mountains, and the wide-open spaces and dark, starry nights that eventually brought her to writing.


She tells her fans, “I have loved to write since I was a child. As I grew up I never made much time for it.  I was busy raising a family and running a company.  Once I started writing I realized how many stories have been stockpiled in my brain.  I’m getting them out as fast as I can.”

 

Her first novel, “One Bloody Shirt at a Time,” won “Best Crime Novel of the Year” from the Texas Association of Authors for 2013. It was her first novel, but not her first written story. For several years Ms. Garcia’s short stories were published by the Big Bend Gazette.


In addition to novels and other stories, Ms. Garcia writes a blog on this site.  In the past she has shared her blog with the Alpine Avalanche and later with the Daily Planet. She loves to describe and write about west Texas and continues to live there.

 
 
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North Beach by Miles Arceneaux

NORTH BEACH 
 
by 
 
Miles 
Arceneaux
It’s 1962 on the Texas Gulf Coast, and 15-year-old Charlie Sweetwater and his brother, Johnny, are happily oblivious to the world’s problems. Charlie’s main concerns are qualifying for an upcoming Golden Gloves boxing tournament, ducking a local bully and, with any luck, stealing a kiss from Carmen Delfín, the prettiest girl he’s ever laid eyes on.
 
Charlie’s last innocent summer ends abruptly when his boxing coach is murdered and his friend, a black Cuban boxer named Jesse Martel, is accused of the crime.
 
Their problems are compounded when Jesse becomes a political pawn in a high-stakes contest between Cuba and the CIA—a contest that intensifies when the Cuban Missile Crises begins, and the world’s two superpowers come within an eye blink of mutual destruction.
 
Through it all, Charlie and his brother are convinced that Jesse is innocent, and they are determined to find the real murderer—a remorseless killer who is stalking more victims—and clear Jesse’s name before time runs out. Suddenly the Sweetwater boys find themselves navigating through a world that is much bigger, more complicated, and scarier than they ever imagined.


 
EXCERPT FROM NORTH BEACH
 
As we drove over the tall hump of the Harbor Bridge, I gazed down at the North Beach neighborhood below. It looked gloomy and pitiful and dark. . . . Once it had been a popular tourist destination, full of boisterous crowds of vacationers, stevedores, and sailors, along with local well-to-do families. Billboards promoted it as Texas’s own Coney Island, “the Playground of the South.” I had vivid childhood memories of the long fishing pier, the saltwater swimming pool with its high-diving board, and next to it, the Surf Bath House, where you could rinse off in a fresh-water shower after swimming, and then order an ice cream float from the soda fountain. . . . You could see clear to Mustang Island from the top of the Ferris wheel. . . .
 
But North Beach had changed since then. The carnival and amusement park went broke after the causeway was constructed, and a few years later, when the pivoting Bascule Bridge was replaced by the high-arch Harbor Bridge, people and cars began to hurry past the area as if it were a drunk passed out on the street. You could stare as you went by, but you sure didn’t want to stop. . . . Now only a few greasy spoons, pawn shops, dollar-a-day-flophouses, and a handful of windowless bars remained—bars off the beaten path, bars that people went to when they didn’t want to be seen, or found.
 
“Johnny?”
 
“What, brother man?”
 
“Do you think Rachel would’ve been crazy enough to duck into one of those North Beach joints?”
 
He eased his foot off the accelerator, thinking about it, and then zipped over to catch the last North Beach exit before the Nueces Bay Causeway. “It’s worth a shot,” he answered. “And, yeah, I think she’s crazy enough.”
 
 
Praise for Miles Arceneaux:
“Miles Arceneaux named among the top five Texas authors of 2014.”
Mystery People, Top Five Texas Authors of 2014, December 23, 2014
 
Praise for Ransom Island:
“A seamless, atmospheric and sardonic comic thriller.”
The Dallas Morning News, Book review: Four mysteries with Texas ties, December 26, 2014
 
Praise for La Salle’s Ghost:
“Arceneaux keeps the story moving and the suspense building, working in plenty of
humor along the way.”
Glenn Dromgoole, Texas Reads, September 7, 2013
 
Praise for Thin Slice of Life:
“An engaging crime caper. This book hits the mark.”
    — Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2012
 
Blurbs for Ransom Island:
“Like Carl Hiaasen and John D. MacDonald, Miles Arceneaux sets his dark doings by blue water, and has a ball doing it. He makes me want to run away to the islands—Galveston, Mustang or Padre—and sip a tall, cold glass of gin-and-something while I read his latest tale. RANSOM ISLAND may be his best one yet.”
Sarah Bird, Best Selling Author of Above the East Sea China, September 2014
 
Blurbs for La Salle’s Ghost:
“The story would make a good film . . . Seamlessly plotted and beautifully told.”
Lubbock Avalanche Journal
 
Blurbs for Thin Slice of Life:
“Miles Arceneaux has written a classic . . . steeped in salt-air atmosphere that just can’t be faked . . . It’s as if Dashiell Hammett had grown up on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Stephen Harrigan, Best Selling Author of The Gates of the Alamo
 
“The best suspense novel I’ve read since Cormac What’s-His-Name.
Kinky Friedman, Governor of the Heart of Texas
Review
So this is book 4 of the Charlie Sweetwater series, but Arceneaux makes it feel like you’re not missing out on anything (although I do kinda want to read the other 3 books now). The beginning is a little rough to me – too much description or something – but you can tell the author (or rather, authors) know boxing and fishing, because that’s where the story starts to flow great. I got a little squirmy at the teenage hormonal parts for some reason, but the murder and assault mystery kept me on my toes. I was impressed that Arceneaux took the time to learn his ballet terminology for a few scenes too. However, if you’ve ever seen the movie Million Dollar Baby, I’m sure you will find some pretty big similarities: gruff old boxing gym owner who doesn’t want to push his fighters along too quickly (arguably holding them back some), mentally disabled teenager who bothers everyone, black fighter who’s being courted by promoters who promise big money. Overall, great read and I look forward to checking out the rest of the series.
The author of four funny, fast-paced novels of intrigue set on the Texas Gulf Coast, Miles Arceneaux is a one-of-a-kind writer. Or, to be precise, he is three-of-a-kind. The irreverent persona of “Miles” is the product of three friends, lifelong Texans, and Gulf Coast aficionados.

 

Brent Douglass’ inspiration for Miles’ tales stems from his family’s deep Texas coastal roots, and the iconoclastic characters he crossed paths with growing up there. James R. Dennis’ intimate knowledge of both sides of the law (he’s one of the good guys, it should be mentioned) and his deep appreciation for Texas Rangers lore helps keep Miles’ protagonists on the side of the angels. As a longtime journalist covering Texas and Texans, John T. Davis has sometimes been accused of writing fiction, but this is the first time he has set out to do it on purpose. Together, Douglass, Dennis and Davis make “Miles Arceneaux” truly more than the sum of his parts.
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Stillwater by Melissa Lenhardt

STILLWATER

by
Melissa Lenhardt
 

Big Secrets Run Deep.

Former FBI agent Jack McBride took the job as Chief of Police for Stillwater, Texas, to start a new life with his teenage son, Ethan, away from the suspicions that surrounded his wife’s disappearance a year earlier.
 
With a low crime rate and a five-man police force, he expected it to be a nice, easy gig; hot checks, traffic violations, some drugs, occasional domestic disturbances, and petty theft. Instead, within a week he is investigating a staged murder-suicide, uncovering a decades’ old skeleton buried in the woods, and managing the first crime wave in thirty years.
 
For help navigating his unfamiliar, small-town surroundings, Jack turns to Ellie Martin, one of the most respected women in town—her scandal-filled past notwithstanding. Despite Jack’s murky marriage status and the disapproval of Ethan and the town, they are immediately drawn to each other.
 
As Jack and Ellie struggle with their budding relationship, they unearth shattering secrets long buried and discover the two cases Jack is working, though fifty years apart, share a surprising connection that will rattle the town to its core.
 
BUY LINKS:
 
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR STILLWATER:
 
“Secrets, lies, and betrayals run through STILLWATER like irrigation through dry land. Melissa Lenhardt’s writing drips with detail to create a story that rushes like a wave toward an ever-twisting ending. Don’t let the name fool you; STILLWATER’s threats lie right below the surface.” —Diane Vallere, bestselling author of the Material Witness, Madison Night, and Style & Error Mysteries
 
“Dangerous things lurk beneath the placid surface in Stillwater, Texas. Secrets shunning the light of day, decades-old betrayals, lies that have taken on a life of their own.  Moody and atmospheric, utterly compelling, you don’t want to miss Melissa Lenhardt’s marvelous debut novel, STILLWATER.” —Harry Hunsicker, former Executive Vice President of the Mystery Writers of America, author of THE GRID
 
“Crisp and pacy writing pulls you in deep from page one, when Jack McBride strides into a crime scene and a world of trouble. STILLWATER is the perfect combination of a tightly plotted tale peopled by rich, complex characters (plus one or two deliciously hateful true baddies). Slashed budgets, racial tensions, messy pasts – this small town is anything but cozy. The mystery itself is a classic puzzle, though: clever and convincing. Roll on Jack #2!” —Catriona McPherson, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity–winning author of the Edgar-nominated The Day She Died
 
Small-town loyalties and long-simmering secrets combine for  a compelling page-turner!  A fish-out-of-water lawman and his adolescent son try to escape the past in not-so-cozy Stillwater, Texas –but soon they’re battling corruption, revenge, and murder. Fast-paced dialogue, an authentic setting, and engaging characters–Stillwater is a one-sitting read.
Hank Phillippi Ryan – Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Daphne and Mary Higgins Clark award winning author
 
STILLWATER runs deep with intrigue, passion, and long-buried secrets. Melissa Lenhardt weaves a rich tale of suspense as hot as the east Texas town in which it’s set.
Annette Dashofy, USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mysteries
 
With a twisting plot, nonstop action and a sexy, complex protagonist you’ll root for from page one, Lenhardt brings the town of Stillwater, Texas (pop. 2,436), and all its long-buried secrets, to life. Fast-paced and tightly-written, STILLWATER is a must-read for anyone who loves great crime fiction. Book two can’t come soon enough!
Wendy Tyson, author of Killer Image and Deadly Assets.
 
Chapter One
Thursday
 
A line of flashing blue and red lights led the way to a pale green single- wide trailer. Firemen, sheriff deputies, and EMTs huddled in front of the house, talking, looking around, and laughing. All eyes turned to Jack McBride’s car as it pulled into the dirt-packed front yard, which doubled as the driveway.
Jack set the alarm on his phone. “Stay in the car,” he told his thirteen- year-old son, Ethan. He opened the door, got out, and leaned back in. “I mean it.”
 
“I know, Dad.”
 
Neighbors grouped behind yellow crime-scene tape. Some wore paja- mas, others wore work clothes. Women held babies, children craned their necks to see better, eager for information to share at school. A young officer guarded them—Officer Nathan Starling.
 
It was his file that had fallen from Jack’s lap when he was startled awake by the early morning call. If Jack hadn’t read Starling was the youngest and newest member of the force, he would have guessed it from his role as crowd control. Starling shifted on his feet and looked over his shoulder at the crowd, as if debating whether he should leave his post to introduce himself or stay put. Jack waved an acknowledgment to him and moved toward the trailer.
 
Jack nodded at the group of first responders as he walked by and received a couple of muttered hellos in return. Some looked from Jack to Ethan and then back. Jack climbed the uneven concrete steps, stopped at the door, and put on paper booties and gloves. Behind him, he heard a low conversation start back up, the words alone, wife, and no one knows carrying across the yard as if announced through a bullhorn. The screen door slapped shut behind him, cutting off the rest of the conversation.
 
The smell of chili, paprika, and cumin hung in the air of the trailer. Flimsy wooden cabinets topped with a chipped orange Formica counter were wedged against the back wall of the main room by a strip of ugly, peeling linoleum. Brown shag carpet, flattened by years of traffic, marked off the living area of the room. Left of the door, under a loud window unit dripping condensation, sat a couch of indeterminate color too large for the room. A black-haired man with bloodshot eyes and a green tinge underneath his dark skin sat on the couch, chewing his nails. He looked up at Jack and stopped chewing—a signal for his leg to start bouncing. A bull-necked police officer, his thumbs crooked underneath his gun belt, stood guard over the man.
 
“Officer Freeman,” Jack said.
 
If Michael Freeman was surprised Jack knew who he was, he didn’t show it. His face remained expressionless.
 
“Chief McBride.”
 
A third officer stood at the mouth of the hallway to the right with a portly, elderly man. Relief washed over the officer’s face. He moved for- ward, hand outstretched. “Chief McBride,” he said. “Miner Jesson. This here is Doc Poole.”
 
Jack shook their hands.“Sorry to meet you under these circumstances, Dr. Poole.”
 
“Helluva case to get on your first day, eh?” the doctor said.
 
Jack nodded and gave a brief smile. He pulled gloves and more paper booties from his coat pocket and handed them to Jesson and the doctor. Jack walked down the hall and entered the room. Jesson stopped at the door.
 
“Gilberto and Rosa Ramos,” Jesson said. “Found dead this morning by Diego Vasquez.” He jerked his thumb in the direction of the man sitting on the couch. “Says he’s Rosa’s brother. He don’t speak much English, but from what I gathered, he came to pick Gilberto up for work and heard the baby screaming. When no one answered, he let himself in. Door was open. Found them just like that.”
 
They were both nude. The woman lay face down, covering half of the man’s body. The right side of the man’s head was blown across the pillow. Blood and brain matter were sprayed across the bed, under the woman and onto the floor. A clump of long dark hair was stuck to the window with blood. Her right arm extended across the man’s chest, a gun held lightly in her grip.
 
Jack walked around the bed.
 
Doc Poole stood next to Officer Jesson. “It takes a special kind of anger to kill someone you are in the middle of fucking, doncha think?” Doc Poole said. “Ever see that in the F-B-I?” Derision dripped from every letter.
 
Jack ignored him. “Where’s the baby?”
 
Jack hoped the revulsion on Jesson’s face meant scenes like this were rare in Stillwater. If he had wanted to deal with shit like this on a regular basis, he would have taken a better-paying job in a larger town.
 
“Officer Jesson?” Jack said. “Where’s the baby?” “Oh. It’s with a neighbor.”
 
“Has anyone called CPS?”
 
“Why?”
 
“To take care of the baby.”
 
“The neighbor offered.”
 
“And what do we know about this neighbor?”
 
He shrugged. “She didn’t speak much English.”
 
“So, she could be in the next county by now?”
 
“Oh, I doubt that,” Jesson said. “She seemed like a nice sort. Very
motherly.”
 
Jack cocked his head and puzzled over whether his most senior officer
was ignorant, naive, or an amazing judge of character.
 
He turned his attention to Doc Poole. “What’s the time of death?” “Sometime last night.”
 
“Can you be more specific?”
 
“Didn’t see the need. Seems pretty obvious what happened.”
 
“Oh, are you a detective?”
 
“No. I’m a general practitioner.”
 
“You’re the JP, aren’t you?”
 
“No. I used to be.” He chuckled. “Too old for this now.”
 
“Yet, here you are.”
 
“JP is on the way, Chief,” Jesson said.
 
Jack kept his focus on Doctor Poole. “So you heard this over the radio
and decided to come? Or did someone call you?”
 
“Well,I—”
 
“Do you have the instruments necessary to establish a time of death?” “Not with me, but—”
 
“Then get off my crime scene.”
 
The little man straightened his shoulders and lifted his chin. “I can
see why Jane Maxwell liked you.” He started to leave but turned back. “We do things different here in Stillwater.”
 
“Not anymore we don’t,” Jack said.
 
 
Melissa Lenhardt writes mystery, historical fiction, and women’s fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in Heater Mystery Magazine, The Western Online, and Christmas Nookies, a holiday romance anthology. Her debut novel, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest. She is a board member of the DFW Writers’ Workshop and vice president of the Sisters in Crime North Dallas Chapter. Melissa lives in Texas, with her husband and two sons.


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