Tag Archives: suspense

Notable Quotable & Giveaway: Deadly Business by Anita Dickason

DEADLY BUSINESS
by Anita Dickason
Pages: 324 pages
Publication Date: July 4, 2021
Genre: Suspense / Thriller / Crime Thriller


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With You I Am

A Texas Multi-Billion Dollar Lure!

Following a tactical raid at an Oklahoma farm, a phone call sends U.S. Deputy Marshal Piper McKay rushing back to the East Texas cattle ranch where she grew up. Her grandmother, Jennie Layton, is near death from a crushed skull. When local authorities claim the cause of the injury was an accident, Piper isn’t convinced.

Who wants Jennie dead and why? Is the reason connected to a dubious contract Piper finds in Jennie’s desk? Piper realizes her grandmother isn’t the only one in danger when she barely escapes a deadly attack. Thrust into the middle of a high-stakes, high-risk shell game, Piper’s become the target. The case takes a bizarre turn when Piper unknowingly crosses paths with a Special Ranger. If he can’t derail her investigation, it could cost him his life.

With millions of dollars on the line, nothing will stop a ring of cold-blooded killers, including the murders of a U.S. Marshal and a Special Ranger.

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About the Author

Anita Dickason

Award-winning Author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer, and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.
Anita writes about what she knows, cops and crime. Her police background provides an unending source of inspiration for her plots and characters. Many incidents and characters portrayed in her books are based on personal experience. For her, the characters are the fun part of writing as she never knows where they will take her. There is always something out of the ordinary in her stories.
In Anita’s debut novel, Sentinels of the Night, she created an elite FBI Unit, the Trackers. Since then, she has added three more Tracker crime thrillers, Going Gone!, A u 7 9, and Operation Navajo. The novels are not a series and can be read in any order.
As a Texas author, many of Anita’s books are based in Texas, or there is a link to Texas. When she stepped outside of the Tracker novels and wrote, Not Dead, she selected Meridian, a small community in central Texas for the location.

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st: Autographed hardcover copy + tote back, mousepad, pen, & bookmark;
2
nd: Tote bag, coaster, pen, & bookmark;
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rd & 4th: eBook copy.

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, July 30, 2021)

Deadly Business Giveaway

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Cover Reveal: Deadly Business by Anita Dickason

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DEADLY BUSINESS

BY ANITA DICKASON

COVER REVEAL


Anticipated Publication Date: July 3rd, 2021
Pages: 324 pages
Categories: Suspense | Thriller | Crime Thriller

Deadly Business PB-5-3-21

A Texas Multi-Billion Dollar Lure!

Following a tactical raid at an Oklahoma farm, a phone call sends U.S. Deputy Marshal Piper McKay rushing back to the East Texas cattle ranch where she grew up.

Her grandmother, Jennie Layton, is near death from a crushed skull. When local authorities claim the cause of the injury was an accident, Piper isn’t convinced.

Who wants Jennie dead and why? Is the reason connected to a dubious contract Piper finds in Jennie’s desk?

Piper realizes her grandmother isn’t the only one in danger when she barely escapes a deadly attack. Thrust into the middle of a high-stakes, high-risk shell game, Piper’s become the target.

The case takes a bizarre turn when Piper unknowingly crosses paths with a Special Ranger. If he can’t derail her investigation, it could cost him his life.

With millions of dollars on the line, nothing will stop a ring of cold-blooded killers, including the murders of a U.S. Marshal and a Special Ranger.

PRE-ORDER on Amazon

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Award-winning author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.

Anita writes about what she knows, cops and crime. Her police background provides an unending source of inspiration for her plots and characters. Many incidents and characters portrayed in her books are based on personal experience. For her, the characters are the fun part of writing as she never knows where they will take her. There is always something out of the ordinary in her stories.

In Anita’s debut novel, Sentinels of the Night, she created an elite FBI Unit, the Trackers. Since then, she has added three more Tracker crime thrillers, Going Gone!, A u 7 9, and Operation Navajo. The novels are not a series and can be read in any order.

As a Texas author, many of Anita’s books are based in Texas, or there is a link to Texas. When she stepped outside of the Tracker novels and wrote, Not Dead, she selected Meridian, a small community in central Texas for the location.

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Giveaway on Anita Dickason’s Website!

Pre-order Deadly Business, and you could win one of three prize packages (value $40 each) containing a tote bag, mousepad, coaster, pen, & bookmarks!

Visit www.anitadickason.com/ for details!

(US only. Contest ends at midnight, CDT, July 2, 2021.)

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Strong from the Heart by Jon Land

Strong from the Heart

(Caitlin Strong #11)

by
Jon Land
Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Forge Books
Date of Publication: July 28, 2020
Number of Pages: 368 pages
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Caitlin Strong wages her own personal war on drugs against the true power behind the illicit opioid trade in Strong from the Heart, the blistering and relentless 11th installment in Jon Land’s award-winning series.
The drug crisis hits home for fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong when the son of her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters nearly dies from an opioid overdose. On top of that, she’s dealing with the inexplicable tragedy of a small Texas town where all the residents died in a single night.
When Caitlin realizes that these two pursuits are intrinsically connected, she finds herself following a trail that will take her to the truth behind the crisis that claimed 75,000 lives last year. Just in time, since the same force that has taken over the opiate trade has even more deadly intentions in mind, specifically the murder of tens of millions in pursuit of their even more nefarious goals.
The power base she’s up against―comprised of politicians and Big Pharma, along with corrupt doctors and drug distributors―has successfully beaten back all threats in the past. But they’ve never had to deal with the likes of Caitlin Strong before and have no idea what’s in store when the guns of Texas come calling.
At the root of the conspiracy lies a cabal nestled within the highest corridors of power that’s determined to destroy all threats posed to them. Caitlin and Cort Wesley may have finally met their match, finding themselves isolated and ostracized with nowhere to turn, even as they strive to remain strong from the heart.

PRAISE FOR STRONG FROM THE HEART:

“A time-jumping, savory Tex-Mex tale, seasoned with all the ingredients of a great thriller.”―Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author

“A mind-blowing tale that takes a flamethrower to our psyches to warm the chill it leaves up our spines. Seething with energy and replete with wondrously staged set pieces, this is thriller writing that defies genre even as it reminds us why we love to read.”―NYK Daily

“Exceptional…. Snappy one-liners, plausible dialogue, and lots of nonstop action, Land delivers another riveting, believable thriller.”―Press-Republican

“Caitlin Strong is one of the strongest female characters ever to hit the page, and Jon Land is the king of the intelligent thriller, continually pushing his own writing to new levels.”―New York Journal of Books

Top Nine

JON LAND’S TOP 9 BEST DRUG-CENTRIC MOVIES AND TV SHOWS

STRONG FROM THE HEART follows Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong as she wages her own personal war on drugs and fights to bring down the true power behind the opioid crisis. With its pending publication in mind, I wanted to revisit some of the best, most noteworthy, and iconic treatments of the drug world across the spectrum of film, books and television. What I found in making this list was the overriding theme that you don’t have to be an addict to have your life dominated and destroyed by drugs. Guess it all comes down to the great line from the Glen Frey song “Smuggler’s Blues”: It’s the lure of easy money, It’s gotta very strong appeal.

BREAKING BAD: In addition to being the best scripted series in television history, watching Walter White go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde right before our eyes was one of the greatest transformations on any size screen that becomes a metaphor for the dangerous allure of drugs in general. His rise to a crystal meth manufacturer alternately being controlled by, and controlling, forces of the Mexican cartels was a wonder to behold from its first episode to the very last. The fact that the focus was on character more than drugs made that plot point even more effective.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION: William Friedkin’s masterful treatment of Robin Moore’s book deservedly won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Gene Hackman’s portrayal of Popeye Doyle. Inspired by the very real exploits of two New York City narcotics detectives who follow a chance encounter to the biggest drug bust in the nation’s history at the time, the film is remembered most for a car chase that distracts from the gritty brilliance of Doyle’s dogged pursuit of a drug distribution network that spans the entire globe. But in the end, he fails to get his man as the kingpin behind it all escapes, focusing hard and fast on the fact that money is power.

TRAFFIC: Steven Soderbergh’s gritty, grainy pseudo-documentary tells a series of interconnected tales linked by drugs and brilliantly toplined by Michael Douglas as the nation’s drug czar who learns his own daughter is a heroin addict. Soderbergh presents us with the drug world from every conceivable angle, stressing the hopelessness and futility of the War on Drugs we’re still fighting, and losing, twenty years after its release. A sobering indictment of both the hypocrisy and glad-handing that continue to fuel the drug world, including the pharmaceutical companies whose opioid products have killed hundreds of thousands.

BETTER CALL SAUL: This television prequel to Breaking Bad sets Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) on the same road Walter White took in his descent to hell. It’s much more cartel-centric than its better realized cousin, setting the drug war against characters at war with themselves. The high-end dealers themselves—from the Mephistophelian Gus Fring, to Tuco, to Hector and Lalo Saltamanca—steal every scene that Jonathan Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut isn’t in. Their charisma is exceeded only by their ruthlessness and relentless pursuit of the power drugs can bring them, even as everything’s for sale including their own souls.

SICARIO: The thriller takes us murderously over the Mexican border to follow a clandestine operation to take down the Mexican drug trade through any means necessary, which essentially means the good guys trading in their white hats for black ones. Emily Blunt as an idealistic FBI agent learning how the world really works becomes our eyes into a world we not only can’t understand, we don’t want to. But it’s Benicio Del Toro, playing a man horribly wronged by the cartel unleashed to extract revenge, who steals the show as the film’s immoral center which is what it takes to survive in an immoral world. Such moral ambiguity encapsulates the drug world at its very heart.

PINEAPPLE EXPRESS: The laugh-out-loud, screwball antics of Seth Rogen and James Franco aside, this is the film that introduced us to weed culture on a mass level well before legalization was in the cards. The scenes of a massive grow operation presaged business as usual in Colorado today and, perhaps, the entire country before much longer. While played for laughs, the film lays waste to the notion of marijuana as a harmless drug, at least in terms of the multi-billion-dollar industry it was long before states started collecting taxes on it. Even though played for laughs, this film became a harbinger for the gradual legalization of marijuana nationwide and the abdication of long-held policy in favor of profit.

BLOW: Johnny Depp was never better than in his role as George Jung who, along with Pablo Escobar, helped fuel the cocaine boom of the 70’s and 80’s. The 2001 film preceded Breaking Bad by seven years in setting a character down the path of his own personal self-destruction. But it also serves as a brilliant exploration into the incredible money and power that was behind the Colombian cartels who pushed coke into the willing noses of millions of Americans and made thousands of dealers, both small and large, rich. The best of the lot when it comes to establishing drugs as a business, before American pharmaceutical companies mastered that effort.

MIAMI VICE: A show that changed television, and pop culture, forever kept us glued to our televisions every Friday night at nine o’clock for years. Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas play vice cops looking to snuff out drug-fueled crime in Miami, only to find more continually sprouting up like weeds. Centered around the glitz and glamour of an era fed by cocaine, the show was like a color-rich, psychedelic mind trip that created a lifestyle

of clothes and music perfect for the times and never to be repeated, pitting our stalwart undercover cops against master drug lords like Calderone and the Riviera brothers. Miami Vice taught us that in the drug wars you can just as easily win by losing, as lose by winning. And no matter how many drug dealers you put behind bars, there’s a long line waiting to replace them.

WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN: Based on Dog Soldiers, the late Robert Stone’s epic take on post-Vietnam America follows small-time drug dealers using tricks of the trade gleaned from Saigon in a world they’re clearly not ready for. Their business practices runs them afoul of major players in the drug world, metaphorically laying to rest the tangerine dreams of the hippy counter-culture. Made into the far less striking film Who’ll Stop the Rain starring Nick Nolte, Dog Soldiers introduced us to drugs as big business, putting an end to the Age of Aquarius forever. It was also one of the first treatments of the drug world that show the staggering costs it extracts on good people gone bad.

Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, eleven of which feature Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. The critically acclaimed series has won more than a dozen awards, including the 2019 International Book Award for Best Thriller for Strong as Steel and the 2020 American Fiction Award for Best Thriller. He has also authored six books in the MURDER, SHE WROTE series and has recently taken over writing Margaret Truman’s CAPITAL CRIMES series. A 1979 graduate of Brown University, Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island and received the 2019 Rhode Island Authors Legacy Award for his lifetime of literary achievements.

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Review: Destiny’s Way by Ben H. English

DESTINY’S WAY
A Novel of the Big Bend
by
Ben H. English
Historical Fiction / Suspense
Publisher: Creative Texts Publishers
Date of Publication: January 18, 2020
Number of Pages: 363
 

Kate Blanchard woke up one morning in a dream home she could no longer afford, with a young son who needed a man’s influence, and not a friend among those who had claimed to be prior to her husband’s mysterious disappearance.

About all she had left was a ramshackle ranch along Terlingua Creek, sitting forlornly in the desolate reaches of the lower Big Bend. It was the only place left she could go. There she finds a home and a presence of something strange yet comforting that she can’t put her finger on or fully understand.

With that ethereal presence comes Solomon Zacatecas, a loner with his own past and a knowledge of her land near uncanny in nature. He helps her when no one else can and is honest when no one else will be, but she suspicions that he is not always completely so.

Yet her quiet, unassuming neighbor proves to be more than capable in whatever situation arises. That includes when standing alone against those who would take everything else that Kate had, including her life as well as her son’s.



PRAISE FOR DESTINY’S WAY:

“This is one of those rare books that you simply can’t put down. Ben English ‘s writing style is pure magic. He really brings this historical fiction book to life. Immediately, you are drawn to the main characters Kate and Solomon and feel as though you are right there next to them, experiencing what they are experiencing. Destiny’s Way is one that would do well on the Silver Screen.”
Catherine Eaves, published author“Ben does a superb job with this book! Excellent characters, true-to-life environment that is part and parcel of the story, twists and turns enough to make you wonder what is going on, and a slice of life down in Big Bend that rings true. That area has historically been full of ‘characters’ throughout its history, and Ben brings those characters into the book, raising the hair on the back of your neck. Highly recommended!”
J. L. Curtis, author of the Grey Man series“Ben, I love how your words and your memories reach out and connect the past with the present and touch so many people along the way. You are the connector! Bravo Zulu, my friend.”
Matt Walter, Museum of the Big Bend Curator



 

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Review

Destiny’s Way by Ben H. English quotes La Golondria, which is played during a dance scene in the book. I decided to fire up the version by Nana Mouskouri on YouTube to set the mood as I write this review. It is a lovely song to listen to and you get a sense of longing even if you don’t understand the lyrics. In retrospect, the longing and anguish of the swallow unable to return home can be understood by several characters in the novel, both living and nonliving.

The prologue is an action scene out of a good western – nothing flashy or corny – with grit and the grim reaper waiting in the wings. It is a very different scene and tone from the first chapter that takes place about 60 years later. English’s knack for writing exquisite detail takes a break from the tactical to give the reader a real sense of what the Big Bend looks and feels like. He takes us through Kate’s impression of the area to a geography lesson-like description and finishes off with a theological rendition of how the Big Bend was created. With just that one page of description, I understood how different that area was from anywhere else I have been to in Texas, but I could see how it comforted Kate in some way.

I wanted nothing but good things for Kate from the very beginning. Once you know what she has been through and had to overcome while raising a young boy alone, you can’t help but place yourself firmly in her corner. And it was a relief when Solomon the “Wolf” came into their lives. Don’t get me wrong; Kate is definitely not a damsel in distress. She is a very strong and capable woman with a very big heart. And when you adore a character with those qualities, you want them to be cherished and respected. English writes her so beautifully in stark contrast to the vile men who have nothing but bad intentions. And somewhere outside of that spectrum, the author gifts us with the enigma that is Solomon. I really enjoyed the characterizations in this book (even the baddies) but Solomon was so deep and wide.

The life lessons that Solomon teaches Jamie really resonated with me since I have a young son myself. I think that the code that he lives his life by is honorable and can be adopted by anyone regardless of gender or age. While their growing bond and Jamie’s transition to manhood are not the main storyline, they fueled my enthusiasm for the book because without them, Solomon would not be the protector of the small family and he likely would end up on the wrong side of the law to exact revenge. I have nothing but respect for people who follow through with their morals and lead by example.

In addition to writing quite a yarn, complete with spectral visitations, English very obviously knows his stuff when it comes to the locale, the animals, the weapons, and strategy. While I could have read hundreds of more pages about how Solomon helped Kate improve her home, I was truly gripped by the suspense and smarts behind the last act. English has a subtle touch when it comes to uncomfortable situations, so if you’re worried you can’t handle violence, don’t. I think that this book will appeal to many different readers: lovers of historical romance, historical fiction, westerns, you name it.

Ben H. English is an eighth-generation Texan who grew up in the Big Bend. At seventeen he joined the Marines, ultimately becoming a chief scout-sniper as well as a platoon sergeant. Later he worked counterintelligence and traveled to over thirty countries. 
 
At Angelo State University he graduated Magna Cum Laude along with other honors. Afterwards Ben had a career in the Texas Highway Patrol, holding several instructor billets involving firearms, driving, and defensive tactics.
 
His intimate knowledge of what he writes about lends credence and authenticity to his work. Ben knows how it feels to get hit and hit back, or being thirsty, cold, wet, hungry, alone, or exhausted beyond imagination. Finally, he knows of not only being the hunter but also the hunted.
 
Ben and his wife have two sons who both graduated from Annapolis. He still likes nothing better than grabbing a pack and some canteens and heading out to where few others venture.

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Review & Giveaway: Chasing the White Lion by James R. Hannibal

 

CHASING THE WHITE LION
(Talia Inger, Book Two)
by
JAMES R. HANNIBAL
  
Genre: Contemporary Christian / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 384

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Young CIA officer Talia Inger has reconciled with the man who assassinated her father, but that doesn’t mean she wants him hovering over her every move and unearthing the painful past she’s trying to put behind her. Still, she’ll need him–and the help of his star grifter, Valkyrie–if she hopes to infiltrate the Jungle, the first ever crowdsourced crime syndicate, to rescue a group of kidnapped refugee children.

But as Talia and her elite team of thieves con their way into the heart of the Jungle, inching ever closer to syndicate boss the White Lion, she’ll run right up against the ragged edge of her family’s dark past. In this game of cat and mouse, it’s win . . . or die. And in times like that, it’s always good to have someone watching your back.

Former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot James Hannibal takes you deep undercover into the criminal underworld where everyone has an angle, and no one escapes unscathed.

WANT TO BE A REAL HERO?

Want to be a real hero? Compassion International, a real organization fighting child poverty, stars in Chasing the White Lion. By giving hope and a sense of identity to these kids, they’re helping families slam the door on human traffickers. A portion of every book sold will go to support Compassion’s work. You can join the fight simply by buying a copy of Chasing the White Lion.
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Review

I don’t like to read the synopsis or blurb before I review a book because I don’t want them to color my opinions at all. So when I picked up this copy of Chasing the White Lion by James R. Hannibal I immediately thought, “Ah, a thriller.” What tipped me off? The first thing was the font choice with distress on the stark white letters. The second thing was the city backdrop with glowing red lights that takes up the bottom third of the cover. And lastly, the lion emblem that is sort of cloaked in a smoky black and red backdrop across the top. It is a gorgeous cover that doesn’t even begin to hint at the exciting story that it contains.

 

Within the first few paragraphs, I already knew that Talia Inger was someone that I wanted to be like when I grow up. She’s cool, collected, and brilliant for starters; a certified badass when the bullets start flying. But it’s her interactions with her ragtag Oceans 11-esque team that really did something for me. It takes a heck of a person to not only forgive the man who killed your father, and quite another to be friends with said person and trust them with your life. While Talia is the central character and thus fleshed out more completely than the others, the reader is still able to explore the depths of the book’s secondary characters; specifically Tyler, Finn, and Valkyrie.

 

With the book starting off in Russia, I was surprised when the story jumped over to Thailand in chapter three. Following two small children as they chase a butterfly through the foliage is the calm before the storm – men in military garb are not usually a good sign when you’re in the third world. Particularly, if these men are militias not soldiers. As their storyline progressed via alternating chapters of Talia’s journey, it dawned on me that this book was heading into human trafficking territory and it made my stomach hurt.

Hannibal does a wonderful job of storytelling without gratuitous details. To be honest, I thought I needed it when it came to the action sequences. But as I read on, I realized that I got more from the planning sessions and the need for improvisation when a plan goes awry than my need to know how far the blood sprayed across the room. Perhaps the lack of gore had more to do with the Contemporary Christian label than anything else. At any rate, it gave me a deeper appreciation for the technical aspect of a good thriller book.

Buy this book so that you can help Compassion International. (I love that they are real and doing amazing work!) Read this book because you want to immerse yourself in an exciting and complex story. Share this book with people who love movies like the Oceans and Mission Impossible series, or TV shows like Burn Notice.

 

Former stealth pilot James R. Hannibal is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. He lives in Houston, Texas.

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Review & Giveaway: Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell

SPENT IDENTITY
Annalisse Series, Book 2
by
Marlene M. Bell
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Light Romance
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: December 11, 2019
Number of Pages: 378

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A body, a disappearance, just another hot summer in upstate New York.

It’s July when antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury reaches her family’s small-town farm to consult with the trusted aunt who raised her. She learns that her beloved homestead—the one she expects to inherit—is for sale. While Annalisse reels at the betrayal and her shattered dreams, the Walker Farm ranch manager discovers a corpse in the barn. Officials close the suspected murder scene, and Annalisse seeks refuge with her aunt at Alec Zavos’s rural estate in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Then Aunt Kate vanishes.

Annalisse solicits the help of Greek tycoon, Alec Zavos, even though their rocky romance has dissolved into routine separation. What began as hope on Crete nine months ago has eaten away at Annalisse’s hope for a future with him.

In Spent Identity, Annalisse and Alec come together for the second time and find themselves in the center of not one mystery, but several. Where is Kate, and why sell her farm now? Is the dead man a coincidence or a clue to the aunt’s disappearance? John Doe’s identity may hold needed answers to solve the puzzle before Kate’s unstable health issues make her rescue impossible. The clock ticks, and a vengeful murderer is in charge…

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My first thoughts on the cover of Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell were how beautiful and eerie it was at the same time. There’s something classy about the red roses in the vase and the envelope with the calligraphy ‘A’ on it, but the wilt to the roses and the shattered and crooked title stamped on top of them clues the reader to the sinister story within.

As much as I liked the irony of the farmhand reading a crime novel while stumbling across a crime scene, I thought that the tone of the prologue didn’t quite match the rest of the book. I’m having trouble explaining this – I have typed and deleted my thoughts three times now – but here goes. Ethan is from New Zealand and he is the first character we meet. Although the narration is from a third person perspective, the tone has an across the pond feel, probably because Ethan’s thoughts are on the page as well. I probably didn’t explain that very well but it obviously stuck with me and I wanted to address it.

In the first chapter, the tone changes with the introduction of our protagonist, the lovely Annalisse. It isn’t until she interacts with the opposite sex that you realize how her beauty outshines her pretty name. I liked the contrast of her being this take charge, independent woman who still needs reassurances and shared confidences with her closest relative, Aunt Kate. Kate is also the picture of strength, even at her advanced age and ailment. She amused me most when she moons over Annalisse’s boyfriend, Alec, one minute and then pragmatically dismisses the thought of him the next.

From the moment that Ethan, Annalisse, and Kate try to identify a dead man in the barn, confusion set in on me and I couldn’t shake it for most of the book. There were so many male characters mentioned or in motion (two dead and at least six others interacting with Annalisse), that I felt like I couldn’t keep everyone straight. The name found on the dead man was significant to Kate, but the deceased was not that person. Alec was easy enough to keep straight, but between his security detail/friends that show up to try to solve the mystery, I got a little lost. And it made me a little squirmy that even Alec’s friends seemed to kinda have the hots for Annalisse too.

But character confusion aside, I was truly riveted with the twists and turns. I had two or three theories in my brain and not one of them were even close to the ending. But even more fantastic than the big reveal at the end, I appreciated Bell’s use of exposition throughout to prepare us for what a bad ass Annalisse is. I had not read Stolen Obsession, so I would have been confused with Annalisse’s cool head in the midst of crisis and experience with weapons had there not been snippets of details from book one of the series. I also really enjoyed the thought process that the “team” let the reader in on so that we could try to solve the mystery alongside them. And don’t get me started on the messages from the unknown person/killer. The creativity and the danger behind each “gift” sent a tingle down my spine.

Since I plan on going back to read the first book, I recommend you do the same if you have not already read it. I think that seeing how Annalisse and Alec first meet and the trials that they go through together will make you more invested in seeing them through a difficult time in their relationship. I’m looking forward to book three.

Marlene M. Bell is an acclaimed artist and photographer as well as a writer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of publications such as, Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living, and Sheep Industry News. Ewephoric, her mail order venture, began in 1985 out of a desire for realistic sheep stationery. A color catalog of non-fiction books and sheep-related gifts may be requested on her website or www.texassheep.com.Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside on a wooded ranch in beautiful East Texas with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large and lovable Maremma guard dog named Tia, and Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats who believe they rule the household — and do.

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Author Interview & Giveaway: The Gryphon Heist by James R. Hannibal

THE GRYPHON HEIST
(Talia Inger, Book One)
by
JAMES R. HANNIBAL
Genre: Contemporary Christian / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 3, 2019
Number of Pages: 400

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Talia Inger is a rookie CIA case officer assigned not to the Moscow desk as she had hoped but to the forgotten backwaters of Eastern Europe–a department only known as “Other.” When she is tasked with helping a young, charming Moldovan executive secure his designs for a revolutionary defense technology, she figures she’ll be back in DC within a few days. But that’s before she knows where the designs are stored–and who’s after them.

With her shady civilian partner, Adam Tyler, Talia takes a deep dive into a world where criminal minds and unlikely strategies compete for access to the Gryphon, a high-altitude data vault that hovers in the mesosphere. But is Tyler actually helping her? Or is he using her for his own dark purposes?

PRAISE FOR THE GRYPHON HEIST
“A movie-worthy tale of espionage and intrigue. Hannibal has done it again.”–Steven James, national bestselling author of Every Wicked Man


“James Hannibal has crafted a story slam full of mystery, danger, twists, and turns. I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough–or bother to stop to breathe. You don’t want to miss this one!”–Lynette Eason, bestselling, award-winning author of the Blue Justice series

The Gryphon Heist plunges readers into a world where no one can be trusted, nothing is as it seems, and choosing the wrong side could be catastrophic.”–Lynn H. Blackburn, award-winning and bestselling author of the Dive Team Investigations series

“Leap on board The Gryphon Heist and ride the whirlwind of suspense. Don’t let go!”–DiAnn Mills, bestselling author of Burden of Proof

Author Interview

INTERVIEW WITH JAMES R. HANNIBAL

As a former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot, you bring a wealth of knowledge to your high-action suspense stories. Can you relay how your knowledge helped you write The Gryphon Heist?

In the intelligence world, we have a saying: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” That means an operative or analyst must work not only to find specific answers but also to discover what information or questions he or she didn’t even know to look for. Experience gives me an advantage in writing spy thrillers, because I know to look for information where others may not. I still do heavy research, but I have a head start. Additionally, you can’t truly know that world unless you’ve lived as a part of it. I’d like to caveat that statement by adding that fiction, in my opinion, should be escapist and enjoyable. So I expand on certain realities and create new ones over what real intelligence work is like in order to take the adventure to the next level for the reader.

What was your inspiration behind your book?

I had two inspirations: thieves and millennials, not necessarily in that order. I wanted to start a series of spy thrillers for the up-and-coming generation. So many thrillers these days are based on the older guy who has been around for a while. Instead, I wanted to see this world fresh, through the eyes of a rookie— and I wanted to make that today’s rookie, not me as a rookie. By the way, that took as much research as the technical stuff. While mulling my rookie over, I also got into thievery—not in any illegal sense. In a section of my last kids’ mystery series, I went deep into the pickpockets and thieves of a London thieves’ guild. That got me thinking about an elite team of thieves working for the CIA. From there, the story ran away with me.

You have several key characters in your new series. Among the thieves, spies, and assassins, do you have any favorites?

I love all my characters the same. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to say? Honestly, Tyler is at the top. No spoilers, but this guy has a shady past with layer after layer I can peel back through the story. Exploring this world with him at my side is a lot of fun. Finn, the daredevil cat burglar, and Darcy, the chemist-slash-explosives expert come up as close seconds. Darcy’s a bit off, so I never know what she’ll do next. Finn has a subconscious death wish combined with great skillsets, both aerial and criminal, so he is fun as well. I also liked playing him off our hero Talia, although he’ll have to get over himself if there’s going to be any real romance there.

In addition to offering a gripping tale, you also include an underlying theme of forgiveness in The Gryphon Heist. Can you elaborate on that?

Forgiveness emerged as a natural theme in this story amid the overall exploration of morality. God, as creator, is the author of morality, and he calls us to forgive. Most people don’t realize that a directive to forgive immediately follows the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible. As a former foster child who has endured a hard youth, Talia must overcome a great deal of anger if she is to grow as the hero and return to her faith. She must even learn to forgive the man responsible for her father’s death.

Former stealth pilot James R. Hannibal is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. He lives in Houston, Texas.

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Review & Giveaway: Wait for Me by Susan May Warren

WAIT FOR ME

Montana Rescue Series, Book 6

by

Susan May Warren

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Action / Christian

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: November 6, 2018

Number of Pages: 336

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Pete Brooks can’t believe he’s waited an entire year for Jess Tagg to return to Montana, only to have her break his heart by getting engaged to her ex-fiancé. Worse, a series of mistakes on the job have cost lives, and Pete isn’t sure he wants to continue to work in Search and Rescue. Maybe if he can just get over Jess, he can figure out how to move forward.

EMT Jess Tagg has returned to Montana to finally give her heart to Pete, but it seems he’s no longer interested. When a terrible fight between them sparks an impulsive decision, she finds herself crashed on the side of a highway along with Esme Shaw. And just when she thinks things couldn’t get any worse, she and Esme are taken captive and into the untamed Montana wilderness—with murderous intent.

Now Pete and the other PEAK Rescue Team members are in a race against time, the elements, and the actions of a vengeful man. Pete will have to use everything he’s learned to find Jess and Esme—and pray that his past mistakes don’t cost him the life of the woman he can’t stop loving.

Praise for the Montana Rescue Series

“Warren’s stalwart characters and engaging story lines make her Montana Rescue series a must-read.”Booklist

“Faith, action, romantic tension, humor, and emotional depth.” Publishers Weekly

“Warren excels at creating flawed characters the reader cares about, as well as building a suspenseful adventure.” Christian Library Journal

 

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review

I remembered bits and pieces from a previous Montana Rescue book that I had reviewed a while back, but it bugged me that I couldn’t remember most of the characters in this latest installment. After reading that old review, I realized that most of the characters in Wait for Me were actually peripheral characters in A Matter of Trust.

 

Warren creates these deep, complicated characters that you can’t help but become invested in. And I love that she explores the relationships and inner workings of each person over the course of this series. How many times have I read a book where I wished that the author would take the time to share more about a particular character or let me explore another locale that was lightly brushed upon briefly? Either Warren knew that her readers would want more, or she, too, wasn’t ready to let go of this world that she has created.

 

I didn’t properly articulate this in my review of Book 3, but I am still very impressed with Warren’s knowledge of wilderness survival, medical conditions, and EMT skills. Although if my memory serves me right, I think this book has more injuries in it. From the moment that the tense, emotional atmosphere is shattered by physical violence, the danger advances on our characters like an avalanche. Who really loves whom takes a backseat as lives are at stake.

 

But still I had trouble wrapping my brain around why Jess seemed to be stringing Pete along. Without having read the four other books in the series, I’m hazarding a guess that Warren enjoys writing complicated love shapes. I say shapes because this book and Book 3 both have love squares instead of triangles. Geometry aside, you can see why Jess has trouble choosing which man/life to commit herself to. Warren makes it hard for the reader to choose too. Why must all the men in this book be attractive and have such great attributes? Bad guys aside, of course.

 

Faith and God are handled well in this book. It is when a character has hit rock bottom and can’t give an ounce more that someone else will remind them that there is someone bigger than them that can lift them up and love them no matter what. It didn’t feel forced and I liked that even the person on the receiving end of this message was skeptical. I think that the genuine introduction and reaction of the subject will open up readers who feel skeptical about God as well.

 

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good, intricate love story and/or suspenseful, survivalist read. Kind of opposite spectrums, huh? But this book really has it all. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels with more than 1 million books sold, including Wild Montana Skies, Rescue Me, A Matter of Trust, Troubled Waters, and Storm Front. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She makes her home in Minnesota.

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Review & Giveaway: In Too Deep by Lynn H. Blackburn

IN TOO DEEP
Dive Team Investigations
Book Two
by
Lynn H. Blackburn
Genre: Suspense / Romance / Christian
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: November 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 352

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren’t prepared to find an encrypted laptop—or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant. 

Adam turns to his friend Dr. Sabrina Fleming—a professor at the local university with unparalleled computer security and forensics skills—to recover the files from the laptop. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes. When evidence uncovers a human trafficking ring and implicates members of Adam’s own family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case.
The truth could set hundreds free—but someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn invites readers back to Carrington, North Carolina, where everything is not as it seems, and sinister elements lurk behind the idyllic façade.

PRAISE FOR BENEATH THE SURFACE, BOOK ONE IN THE DIVE TEAM INVESTIGATIONS SERIES:

“Fans of Dani Pettrey’s “Alaskan Courage” thrillers will enjoy this nail-biter of a series opener, which will also be appreciated by romantic and psychological suspense fans.” Library Journal
 
“Just when you think you can relax, Blackburn brings you back to the edge of your seat in this riveting, high-tension suspense story.” 
Patricia Bradley, author of Justice Delayed 
“Blackburn’s Beneath the Surface is completely engaging from the very first page. Dive Team Investigations is bound to be a new favorite series for readers everywhere.” Christian Market
 
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review

For a book with a cover that shows an underwater scene and a punny title like “In Too Deep,” I predicted that at least 50% of the novel would take place in or around the water. It turns out, evidence and clues were disposed of in the water, and we end up only spending about 5-10% of the time in the deep dark. I was hoping to read more about the technical side of crime scene diving, but perhaps Blackburn does that more in Book 1 of the Dive Team Investigations. At any rate, I found this book to be suspenseful and well plotted. I had an inkling of whodunit, but I couldn’t figure out how they could possibly walk away with what they wanted.

Characters make or break a story for me, and it’s difficult to find fault with Adam and Sabrina. When I realized that I’m 10 years older than Sabrina, I started to question how much I have accomplished in my life. I loved how cerebral and logical she was – practically an AI in human skin. I was frustrated by how clueless she was about Adam’s affections, but then again remembered being that age and misreading guys all the time. The drama of their romance proved to be unfounded and was a little anticlimactic for me, but I found their interactions to be cute. I think my favorite relationships and interactions involved the friends and fellow police officers who kept watch over the two as the bad guy(s) kept coming after them.

The underlying, terrible criminal activity that is unearthed in this novel is completely relevant and morbidly fascinating. If you live in the Houston area as I do, you’ve heard your share of stories with similar situations. I hope that books like this one build awareness and encourage people to take notice and take action. Sorry for being so elusive, but I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

I feel bad for saying this, but the Christian bits in this novel took me out of the story a little. I really wish they didn’t, but they did for some reason. However, don’t feel like you need to avoid this book if you’re adverse to religious or Christian novels.

This book is first and foremost a mystery. Don’t miss out on a great story that sheds light on a very ugly and real problem that we have in our country. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery and the satisfaction of justice served.

Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Hidden Legacy (Love Inspired, June 2017) and Covert Justice, winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.
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Review & Giveaway: Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

BURDEN OF PROOF
FBI Rapid Response, #1
by
DiANN MILLS
Genre: Inspirational /Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: October 9, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

Scroll down for the giveaway!
Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder. 
As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.
PRAISE FOR DiANN MILLS:
“The tension level rises as layers of lies are peeled away in multiple plot twists.” —Library Journal

“DiAnn Mills is a master of fast-paced and intricately plotted romantic suspense.” —Colleen Coble, Bestselling author

“[A] fast-moving, intricately plotted thriller.” —Publishers Weekly
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review
I was excited to get a copy of DiAnn Mills’ latest book because she never fails to capture my undivided attention. I get a little breathless when gripped with suspense or excitement, and this book is filled with so many moments that make your heart skip a beat. Mills is especially skilled when it comes to writing dialogue. Each characters’ speech sounds natural and flows just as well as the non-dialogue text. When Mills switches the point of view, there is no confusion because the character’s voice shines through very clearly and the writing style is concise.
I can say with all honesty that Mills’ books are all very unique. Although I’ve read several FBI-mystery-romance books by her, they are all very different from each other, as well as books by other authors in the same genre. You would think that there are only so many meet-cute scenarios that can happen between an FBI agent and a paramour, but Mills will raise you another. In fact, she will keep them coming since this is the first book of a new series.
I’m Filipino, so I’m excited to see a Filipino protagonist whose ethnicity is not central to the plot. Sure, Mills throws in an Adobo reference – you should try this dish if you haven’t yet (it’s not the same as the Hispanic Adobo dish) – but April could be any ethnicity really. But since she’s not just any ethnicity, I’m going to nitpick a little. April is uncomfortable during long prayers, but most Filipinos are (or were at one time in their life) Catholic, so super long prayers – Hail Mary, anyone? – should be no biggie. April’s parents would prefer that she was a university professor rather than an FBI agent. Are you kidding? Filipinos love to brag and most of them love guns as well. And they live in Texas? Game over. They have guns of all shapes and sizes. And they would bring all those guns to the range to show their friends while they proudly talked about their FBI agent daughter.
But overall, I’m really amazed at how Mills’ characters spring to life in every book, this one especially. I think she is very successful with her portrayal of April’s struggle to do the right thing because I was constantly second guessing myself on what was the “right” or best thing to do in that situation too. I feel lucky to not have to make decisions that place my family on one side of the scale and the community on the other. I suppose most normal Joes like myself don’t have to.
I look forward to reading the next book. While you wait for the next installment, I suggest you pick up one of her FBI Task Force novels.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. 
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers.
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