Tag Archives: suspense

Gone Green: A Sci-Fi Mystery (Janey McCallister Mystery) by Beth Barany (Book Showcase)

L’Étoile’s lead investigator Janey McCallister faces her hardest case yet.

On the eve of the hotel space station’s twentieth anniversary celebration, criminals rob the casino’s vault and kill one security guard.

Janey teams up with Orlando Valdez, a sexy undercover cop for the Sol Unified Planets, to hunt down those responsible.

Since the casino has only a day’s worth of cash on hand, she must solve the complex plot behind the robbery before the theft creates a mass panic and puts L’Étoile out of business—and before the killer strikes again.

***

Gone Green is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books, The Expanse, and Killjoys and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough kick ass heroine with secrets.

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“What are you doing here?” The question just popped out of Janey’s mouth.

Orlando Valdez leaned against the wall of her boss’s office, obstructing the live feed of the space station’s massive docking bay. He watched her with a piercing gaze, cool and mysterious, giving nothing away.

Anger flared, ballooning hot and itchy all over, even though she’d known he might show up on L’Étoile unannounced.

Venus Hells.

Lead Investigator Janey McCallister faced her boss, Security Chief Daniel Milano, who was seated behind his desk, his rotund middle stretching his red Turkish coat. “What’s he doing here? Is this what you called me in for? I thought we had an urgent briefing.”

Thirty-five minutes ago, Milano had called an earlier-than-usual security briefing without an explanation, other than to hurry her ass to his office, stat, cutting short her morning plans. She’d been scheduled to talk to a medical researcher about her mom’s condition. If Janey could get her mom on a new experimental drug before the current medical trial ended in ten weeks… Those calls regarding her mom could wait but not for long.

Orlando Valdez, Sol Unified Planets special investigator, straightened from the wall and opened his mouth to speak, but the chief waved him off.

“Yes, that’s why I called you. And we do have a briefing,” the chief said to her. “But firstly, you should know that Special Investigator Orlando is here on a top-secret Sol case and has a job to do.”

“I can appreciate that, but so do I,” Janey said, prickles buzzing under her skin like a million hopped-up electrodes, urging her to storm out of the small office. She kept herself in place. “We’ll be at capacity soon, and we still have final prep for the gala.”

Milano knew all this. And so did Orlando. He heard all her news in their regular evening vid calls.

“I’m sorry, Janey,” Orlando said to her, a serious look on his face. Looked like he meant it. Micro tension tightened the corners of his lips.

“There’s another matter,” Chief Milano said, weary.

“What’s your case?” Janey asked Orlando, ignoring her boss.

Orlando shook his head, his dark wavy locks falling over one eye.

Stars, he looked great in that fashionable, shimmery blue suit, with a pale pink pocket square, his creamy white silk shirt open at the throat. Yet he held himself with uncharacteristic rigidity in his shoulders, unlike the last time she’d seen him, been with him—a whole week together over three long months ago.

Now he was all business, secretive and tense. His missions for the Sol that took him all over the star system were more than top-secret and politically sensitive. He wouldn’t read her in unless he absolutely had to.

Would he this time?

“McCallister,” Chief Milano said and cleared his throat, breaking her focus on Orlando. “Per inter-Sol regulations, Agent Orlando is to report to you for all security matters. It’s up to your discretion on whether or not you need to clear any of his actions with me. Got that, Investigator?” Her boss gave her a hard stare over his faux antique eyeglasses no one used anymore.

As if he needed to remind her of the rules that governed the private corporate city-state of Bijoux de L’Étoile, this hotel-casino in space.

A jurisdictional dance, every time.

A former investigator himself for various companies and state governments, Milano was a stickler for the rules and spent more time behind his desk filing reports for the hotel owner than another else—other than gambling. Yet he treated her and everyone else fairly.

“Yes, Chief.” Even though she felt Orlando peering at her, willing her to look at him, she kept her gaze on her boss.

Orlando would officially be her direct report, and she’d be his boss. So, she had to keep things professional between them if she was to follow regs. Could she? She had to. This job was her mother’s only financial lifeline. All those expensive medical treatments for her mother’s hard-to-treat disease.

But Orlando didn’t often follow regs during his undercover work.

“I’m sure you two will work well together, as you have in the past. Yes?” Milano lifted an eyebrow at her. Orlando had helped her on two murder cases on L’Étoile.

“We will, sir.” Janey snapped to attention, chin up, shoulders back. Her Space Wing training second nature.

“Chief Milano, it would be my utmost pleasure to work under the investigator,” Orlando said in a silky warm tone.

Cheeky bugger. What happened in the bedroom between them was private.

Milano nodded at Orlando in acknowledgment and fussed with his dancing figurines that lined the edge of his desk, tiny models he created in his off-hours.

“Sir, a word,” Janey said. Had he received the ping about the unidentified vibration she’d felt on her way to his office?

“Just a moment. One more thing.” Milano lifted a finger to cut Janey off, then said in his comm, “Kim, send them in.” Kimani Iona was the station security operations manager, handling the department’s communications for Janey and her team. She was a tech and systems whiz and had become one of Janey’s closest friends at L’Étoile.

A moment later two women entered Milano’s office. Chief Milano stood.

“To start this special briefing, Investigator McCallister and Agent Orlando, I’d like you to meet Veronica Ladipo, a journalist with The Tell Papers, and her business partner, Monica Farmingham. They are here to cover next week’s gala.”

Veronica Ladipo reached out a hand to Janey. She was as tall as Janey was, with an open, friendly smile, striking green eyes, and dark brown hair, a halo around her head. “Investigator McCallister, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I appreciate you taking the time.”

Like Janey had a choice.

She shook the journalist’s hand, exchanging a firm grip. The business partner, Monica Farmingham, nodded in greeting to her and the two men. She was dressed in a grey suit jacket, a cream blouse buttoned at the throat, and a matching grey pencil skirt. In expensive strappy black spike heels out of place with the conservative suit, Monica wore no jewelry and carried a thin real-leather briefcase. Shorter than Janey by at least six inches, coming to Janey’s shoulder, the petite woman had sharp cheekbones, almond eyes outlined in kohl, reminiscent of an Egyptian princess, and had a quiet, powerful look about her. As if she could dominate any boardroom and get her way.

“I’ll stay out of your way as much as possible, though I would like an hour or so of your time soon to interview you and your team,” Veronica said, bringing Janey’s attention back to her.

“I don’t have time for media interviews, especially now,” Janey said. “And it’s abnormal to have a working journalist on board. L’Étoile’s owner, Frederick D. Schoeneman, is a well-known recluse and never grants interviews to the press.”

Veronica smiled, nodded, confidence oozing, and glanced at Monica. They shared a secret smile.

“A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Ladipo. Ms. Farmingham.” Orlando smiled with sparkling charisma and shook the journalist’s hand, nodded at the business partner, his body tension gone, replaced with languid fluid ease. He turned his full attention on the journalist. “I’m one of your most ardent fans. I read your column regularly.”

Janey frowned. He hadn’t greeted her with a smile like that, and they were dating.

“Call me Veronica, please.” The journalist offered Orlando a bright smile of pure joy and unnecessarily straightened the jacket of her bespoke black suit, primping under his gaze. Monica watched, seemingly unaffected by Orlando’s charm.

An angry, territorial beast roared in Janey’s heart. She rammed it down, then spoke, keeping her tone neutral.

“I’m surprised to see someone from The Tell Papers covering—” Janey swirled her hand to encompass the luxurious surroundings beyond the small security office.

“Social engagements and parties at high-end resorts?” Veronica said. “I know. Not my usual beat of exposés on despots, corporate greed, and industrial cover-ups.” She gave a tinkling laugh. “Monica thought it would be a good change of pace. I agreed, and so did my editor.” She shrugged. “Plus, I was curious to check out the Starry Jewel in the Sky, cover the gala prep and then the gala itself, and congratulate Mr. Schoeneman for his ten years of success. Bijoux de L’Étoile is quite something. Ten years of constructing in high-Earth orbit… Now this…” The awe in her voice sounded genuine.

“It is an impressive feat of engineering,” Janey said. “Schoeneman knows you’re here, I presume.”

“They’ve signed all the right paperwork,” Chief Milano gestured at his screen, gave the requisite commands, and the customs checklist ballooned to fill the wall screen beside him. “Her team was approved by Zurich. Schoeneman informed me personally that she and her camera crew were coming for the gala.”

Schoeneman was due to arrive any day now—another security task on her long list.

“You have a crew with you?” Janey asked Veronica. Great, more people to keep tabs on.

“Yes, they’re waiting in your conference room to meet you.” Veronica offered a smile, open and inviting.

“I don’t know when I will have the time.” Janey glanced at Milano.

“Yes, we need to organize ourselves, our work arrangements,” Orlando said and scrutinized Janey, his gaze intense as if he was trying to communicate a serious message to her.

“I understand,” the journalist said. “We’re here for the entire week. I look forward to speaking with you when you have the time.”

“We don’t have the time,” Janey said.

“We will make sure you get your interviews, Ms. Ladipo,” Milano said, as smooth as any diplomat.

Veronica addressed Milano, determined and peppy, seemingly unfazed by Janey’s refusals. “I’d love a tour of the lower levels for our B reel and then the out of way—”

Whatever else Veronica said and was about to say was drowned out by a deafening high-pitched alarm blaring from Janey and Milano’s wrist comms. The journalist slapped her hands over her ears, wide-eyed shock on her face. The business partner backed up against the wall, her face pale.

The high-pitched alarm shrieked off and on, like a wounded animal screaming in fear, jamming clear thought for a split second. Adrenaline flooded her system.

Orlando rushed to Janey’s side, a question in his eyes. Janey had the same questions he probably did.

What tripped the alarm?

Where?

How?

The red flashing code on her comm was unfamiliar at first. Then her ocular implant decoded it. The alarm was from a normally quiet and out-of-the-way section of the station.

Hells.

Janey waved over her comm, inputting the command to open a channel to the entire security department, and shouted above the horrible din. “We have to go. Now! All hands on this one.” She bolted for the office door that opened on approach.

She rushed into the corridor and raced toward the staff elevator, side-stepping the cleaning bots.

“What is it?” Orlando sprinted into the elevator beside her. “Where are we going?”

Fear tightened her ribcage. The elevator door closed, and she shut off the alarm. “The casino vault. It’s a 10-18. Officer down. Needs immediate assistance.”

 

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Books in the Janey McCallister Mystery series

Into The Black (Book 1)

Lured By Light (Book 2)

Gone Green (Book 3)

Red Running Deep (Book 4) (Coming Fall 2021)

 

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The Last Imperator by M L Tishner (Book Review)

 

How much will she sacrifice for peace?

After six months of campaigning, Rei and the other Volocio have barely convinced half the star cluster to vote for the Federation.

Activist groups from all sides are calling for a war Rei is destined to declare, but she won’t do it. While she wants to kill the Dominion Sovereign – Anekris Praymer – she wants to destroy him herself. She can channel lightning – she is the god queen – she doesn’t need more than that and the whole star cluster doesn’t need to go to war for it.

But tensions are rising beyond both their control and when both Rei and Anekris are trapped together after an attack – they strike up an uneasy alliance.

As time progresses, Rei finds herself wondering – will they remain enemies or will they join together and finally unite the Federation and Dominion?

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Niklaryn

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)


WOW, what a marvelous read! 

The Last Imperator by M. L. Tisher had continuous action sequences, betrayal, family drama, love, magic, and surprise developments. It’s the type of story you’ll want to pull an all-nighter to read so that you can finish it in one sitting. I would’ve done just that, but I had to teach the following morning, so I reluctantly put the book aside to catch some zzz’s. However, come bright, and early the next day, I hurried back to The Last Imperator. 

M. L. Tisher did a spectacular job developing a solid storyline. I loved every dramatic moment—sibling against sibling. Even though this story took place in space and with individuals who possessed unique talents/powers, M. L. Tisher gave them qualities we would see here on Earth: anxiety and panic attacks. The Last Imperator didn’t shy away from mental illness; you’ll read multiple mentions of it. As a person who suffers from several mental issues, I appreciated how M. L. Tisher presented it in The Last Imperator.

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤

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Read the first four chapters for FREE!

 

 

Mari, a native Hoosier, currently lives in southern Germany where she entertains people with her adventures as an American expat in the Land of Beer and Pretzels on her blog adventuresoflamari.com as well as the adventures of her pugs, Abner and Roxy. When she’s not writing, Mari cooks, snowboards, dances to the beat of her own drum, reads late into the night, and binge watches Netflix with her husband. The God Queen is her debut novel.

 

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Blood of the Dragonfly: The Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series, Book V by Hawk MacKinney (Book Spotlight)

Adult Fiction (18+), 227 pages

 
While dangling a fishing hook from his flat bottom skiff before dawn, former SEAL-turned-PI Craige Ingram spots grey-black smoke coiling above the treetops across the river in the direction of the Georgia bayous and Corpsewood Manor. Bayou or bogs, fire in the uncut cypress and pines bodes a sense that the river is no barrier to the fire that threatens his ancestral home, Moccasin Hollow. Neither are the bodies later found in the burned mansion of Corpsewood Manor. Craige wastes no time in helping his ex-SEAL buddy Lt. Graysen MacGerald who is now Head of Buckingham Homicide Investigations by unofficially investigating the bodies and an exquisite dragonfly brooch found in the mansion with a reputation for evil, hauntings, and mystery.
 
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Excerpt

Craige had known Mattie to flip-flop a few times between past and present about things and happenin’s. Mix details of what and when and turned backside forward. Her seein’s coming in jumbled threads were often hard to make sense of. She frequently had no idea what the seein’s meant, but she never wavered about describing what she was sensing. Craige unhurriedly placed his cup into its saucer and carefully unfolded the inner wrappings of the jeweler’s box, and opened the box. Crisp sunbeams slanting through the lace of the window curtains glinted across the brooch, flashing shards gleamed along the truly diaphanous lifelike wings. He hadn’t told Mattie anything about where he’d found it or about Gray’s investigation. The hovering intaglio shimmered as though hoarding its secrets, beckoning with an unreal seduction, as he laid the brooch in her palm.

Her cup delicately paused in mid-air. “How lovely.” Mild ripples trilled across the smile lines of her face. She squinted for a closer look, “There’s something carved into the shiny black jewel.”

“A dragonfly.”

“How fanciful. I’ve seen butterflies, crickets, frogs, all manner of doodads for lapel pins and lavalieres but never a dragonfly such as this. Its wings even look see-through. I’m sure—” Her words stopped.

Her pleasant expression crumpled into clouded bemused bewilderment. The sunny room seemed to feel smothered. Her teacup quivered. Ever so carefully, she placed her cup just so in its saucer. Her eyes grew wide in a pinched strained expression. She pulled back, as though some shapeless trepidation hovered about her, ready to seize her. Her hand moved up to the starched bleached, crocheted collar of her navy-blue paisley print dress. She clutched her throat, then gingerly rested her hand aside the unsettled quiver at her cheek, “How dreadful.” She stared at the brooch in her palm. As if the brooch was blistering hot with blazing embers, Mattie tentatively placed it into Craige’s outreached hand, “Such beauty to be so wicked.” In a shaded whisper, “Mister Craige, take this vile thing with its temptations.”

Craige had seen her upset by her visions, but never so abrupt. “Mattie, let’s not go any further with this if it bothers you.” He placed it back in its box.

“Ugliness and cruelty always hover about those what are vulnerable. Such occurrences do bother me, but too shy from it implies acceptance. Good people must be watchful. Malice feeds on fear; drives good folks from facing it. The poor dead creature was being burned, burning away her name so she will be forever forgotten, so no one will ever know what happened to the poor unfortunate woman. There are others. I can’t see their faces. Someone was with her—another woman either with or perhaps following her.” Mattie caught a quick, shallow breath, “You must have nothing more to do with such a bloodstained harbinger. It didn’t belong to her. She took it,” Mattie frowned, “And now she’s dead.”

“Took it from whom?”

“Evil wanted it. It is a bringer of trouble.” Mattie winced, “Someone wanted it from—” Her face puzzled, “Flames were too hot for the hand that reached for the brooch. That awful fire couldn’t wipe clean where she died.”

“She died in the flames?”

“Perhaps somewhere near? Or perhaps somewhere else. I get no feeling of where.”

Mattie’s words didn’t surprise Craige so much as stirred a thing deep inside him, somewhere in those secret whispers between sleep and awake and an unfinished nightmare. From Frannie at PDK to Mattie’s forewarnings, Craige no longer discarded happenstances as coincidence, especially Mattie’s bit about “another woman.” He wrapped the brooch. Closed the box lid tight. “Can you see how the fire started?”

She shook her head slightly. Her expression one less of fear than trepidation, “Only the faces watching you, watching your friend.”

“Who’s watching Gray?”

“Not Lieutenant MacGerald. Your other friend, the one visiting you, the one who swims in the ocean and jumps out of airplanes and hunts with a bow and arrows.”

Her words jarred Craige. Only Gray, Fred, Mabel, and Terri knew Spinner was here. He hadn’t mentioned Spinner to Mattie or that he even had a visitor at Moccasin Hollow.

“Mister Craige, you must take extra care. That pretty bauble in its velvet box belongs to some kind of devil. Washed in blood with terrible long-dead secrets, crawling from their long-dead places. Don’t keep it near you. There is smoke and fire over your home, over that bauble from where she burned.” Mattie’s hands trembled as she reached for her cup of tea and took a long slow sip to calm herself. Her tremulous cup rattled into its saucer, “I will feel so much better once that pretty thing is rid away from you.”

He stood, “I want to let Gray know what you’ve told me.”

A bit calmer, Mattie insisted, “You must promise to not keep that thing inside your home.”

“I will take care.”

Mattie’s face strained, “I most truly enjoy the tea.”

Her hand still lingering at her throat, as Mattie stood in the doorway and waved as Mister Craige drove away. She hadn’t wanted him to know how upset it had truly made her.

* * *

Amazon

 
 
Meet the Author:
Author Hawk MacKinney
Hawk MacKinney began writing mysteries for his school newspaper, served in the US Navy for over 20 years, earned two postgraduate degrees with studies in languages and history, taught postgraduate courses in the United States and Jerusalem, authored professional articles and chordate embryology texts on fetal and adult anatomy, and is well known for his works of fiction. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel, was nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award. Both his CAIRNS OF SANCTUARIE science fiction series and the MOCCASIN HOLLOW MYSTERY series have received worldwide recognition.
 
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The Nucleus of Reality: or the Recollections of Thomas P— by L. A. Davenport (Book Review)

The truth is all around you

Thomas P— is exhausted. He’s been travelling for work so much he barely knows where he is. And then, while waiting for a table at a restaurant, he sees someone from his past. Exactly as she was twenty years ago, when they first knew each other. Deeply shaken, he tries to carry on as if nothing happened.

But when it happens again, in a different restaurant, in a different city, Thomas’s world begins to unravel. Haunted by a magnificent black parrot and a past he wants to forget, he becomes paranoid, unsure whether he can trust himself and the world around him.

After he sees another friend he thought he had forgotten, he realises he is lost and alone, and afraid of his own mind. Then an enigmatic woman tells him he is not seeing things but rather his memory has been mined to create life-like androids that are replacing the human race one by one.

And then he is arrested.

Will Thomas resist the mysterious woman and get his life back? Or will he join her cult and take up arms in the fight to save us all?

The Nucleus of Reality, or the Recollections of Thomas P—, is the story of a man trying to remember why he ended up losing everything but himself.

 
 
 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 
I decided to write my review in the format of an acrostic poem using only the first four words of the book’s title, The Nucleus of Reality. I hope the snippets pique your interest and you purchase The Nucleus of Reality: or the Recollections of Thomas P— to figure out how everything below ties together. Trust me, you’re in for a mind-bending ride. 
 
These are not the droids you are looking for…
Hero?
Electrons
 
Neutrons
Unsure how to proceed
Conference audience goes “baa.” 
Let me look inside your mind.
Eyes are always watching you, Thomas P.
Under arrest
Save the world! 
 
Old Testament
Face the truth
 
Round-faced bald man
Eww, grey food.
Androids
Lucy?
I want to scan you. 
Typewriter
You are having the weirdest, most vivid dreams, Thomas P.

 

As I stated in my opening paragraph, The Nucleus of Reality: or the Recollections of Thomas P— will twist your mind up like a pretzel. I had no idea how it would end. That’s what I look for in a book — unpredictability. The Nucleus of Reality: or the Recollections of Thomas P— was far from predictable. 
 
Well done, L. A. Davenport. Well done indeed! 
 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤  

 
 

 

 

L. A. Davenport is an Anglo-Irish author.

He sometimes lives in the countryside, far away from urban distraction, but mostly he lives in the city. He enjoys long walks, typewriters and strong black coffee.

L. A. Davenport is the author of the novels The Nucleus of Reality and Escape, the collections No Way Home and Dear Lucifer and Other Stories, and the memoir My Life as a Dog.

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The Warlord: Rise of the Warlords Book 1 by Gena Showalter (Book Showcase)

Coming April 20, 2021!

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter begins a dark, sexy new series—Rise of the Warlords—with a fan-favorite character from her beloved Lords of the Underworld series, Taliyah Skyhawk. The ice maiden faces off with her greatest enemy, a villain brutal beyond imagining.

For centuries, Taliyah Skyhawk has prepared to become Harpy General, leader of the deadliest female army in existence. One of the requirements? Remain a virgin. But, for a chance to save her people, she must wed the fearless leader of the Astra Planeta, Alaroc Phaethon.

The time has come for Roc to sacrifice another virgin bride to his god. There has never been a woman alluring enough to tempt him from his path. No warrioress powerful enough to overcome his incredible strength. No enchantress desirable enough to make him burn beyond reason. Until now.

With the clock ticking, war between husband and wife ignites. Except Taliyah never expected the merciless king to challenge the future she once envisioned. She certainly never anticipated the thrill of their battles turning into games… The problem is, only one spouse can survive.

Love is a battlefield in Showalter’s The Warlord.

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Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of a multitude of sub-genres within romance: paranormal, Fantasy, contemporary, and young adult. She’s also written standalone novels, novellas and anthologies, as well as co-authored a nonfiction guide about how to write a book in a year.

Gena lives in Oklahoma with her husband, two adult children who grew up way too fast, and menagerie of dogs and cats who enjoy farting while she works, walking across her keyboard during pivotal scenes and demanding pets at all hours of the day and night. Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan’s Red Hot Reads and Seventeen magazine. She’s been interviewed on Nightline and mentioned on Orange is the New Black—the very moment her family decided she might be a real writer after all.

Chances are good she’s hard at work on her next novel. Chances are even better that the book is a twisted tale featuring an alpha male with a dark side and the strong woman who (lovingly…sometimes) kneecaps him.

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