Thursday, October 29, 2015

A MOMENT OF WEAKNESS by Karen Kingsbury



Had they found each other again after all these years, only to lose everything that matters most?

As children, Jade Conner and Tanner Eastman were best friends—until scandal drove them apart. Then, one golden summer, they find each other again. Through endless days they share their hearts and souls and dreams of forever. Then, in a moment of weakness, they make a decision that will tear them apart for nearly a decade.

In their own separate corners of the country, Jade and Tanner have become fighters for religious freedom. Now Jade’s unfaithful husband is determined to destroy her in a custody battle that will rock the nation and shake people’s understanding of faith and freedom. Could Jade lose her only child because of her faith? Only one man can help her in her darkest hour. And only one old woman knows the secret about that summer and the truth that can set them all free.

My thoughts...

Love Karen's writing style, her characters, her morals, plots...the list goes on and on. She's a master story teller with stories that are guaranteed to grab your heart. I didn't want to stop reading once started but had to go to work. Took it with me and read on breaks. The focus here is sex outside marriage, she handles it wonderfully and shows exactly how faithful and forgiving our God is.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

FORECLOSURE

Foreclosure

S.D. Thames

on Tour October 12 - November 13, 2015




Synopsis:

Foreclosure by S.D. Thames cover

When Florida's housing crash derails his shot at partnership, lawyer David Friedman rolls up his sleeves and lands the client of his dreams—Frank O'Reilly, a real estate developer embroiled in dozens of lawsuits and hell-bent on turning a profit during the recession. Little does David know that Frank's company is involved in a murderous conspiracy to cover up years of mortgage fraud in the Sunshine State.

As David prepares Frank’s case for a trial that will make or break his career, he discovers evidence that a secret investor in Frank’s company is responsible for murder and will continue killing to hide the truth. The only thing David can’t figure out is whether Frank is the conspiracy’s victim or its mastermind. To answer that question, David must risk far more than partnership as he unravels one dark secret after another about his client, his law firm, and, ultimately, himself.



My thoughts...

Love legal thrillers and loved this one! So much that I read it in one afternoon. Loved the snappy dialogue, the fast moving plot, and the fresh characters. Well developed and fascinating. Great read!

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Details:


Genre: Legal Suspense
Publisher: Indy
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Number of Pages: 360
Purchase Links: Amazon Goodreads



Read an excerpt:

The elevator eased to a halt high above the beach. The door behind David glided open. He took a final glimpse at the beach, then turned to follow Robbie into a living room of sprawling cherry wood floors and walls that in the dark appeared dusted with ash. The kitchen was cold stainless steel and dark cabinets that matched the stained wood floors. David set his bag on the polished granite countertop. Then he followed Robbie through another living area, this one with open French doors that led to a balcony that wrapped around the beachside perimeter of the penthouse.

Outside, Frank shielded a joint from the flickering rain that was finding its way under the balcony’s awning. David could still hear swells beating the shore twenty-five stories below.

“One of the few sounds I never grow tired of.” Frank held another hit and stared over the balcony.

“I found him down in the sales office,” Robbie said.

Frank seemed like he could care less.

“I didn’t know you lived up here,” David said.

“This one I personally designed.” Frank seemed to be talking to himself. “My masterpiece.”

David almost forgot why he was here.

“What did Katherine say?” Frank asked Robbie.

“She’s not coming,” Robbie answered.

“I guess that’s good.”

“Frank,” David said, “you wanted to talk about—”

Frank raised his hand. “I know damn well why you’re here. I’m just not ready to go there yet.” He stared at Robbie. “Did you tell her I’m leaving?”

“She knows.”

Frank took the last hit from the stub between his fingers. Then he squashed it like an ant, popped it in his mouth, and swallowed. “So be it.”

Frank rose and leaned against the balcony wall overlooking the beach. “Come here.”

David presumed he was talking to him, so he took a few steps in his direction.

“Closer,” Frank said.

At least David knew to whom Frank was talking now. He joined Frank, side by side.

“You like the view?” Frank asked.

“It’s great.”

Frank’s breathing was heavy, nearly panting. David couldn’t tell if it was from the smoke or anger or both. “You want to work with me?” The breathing was growing guttural.

“Of course. I brought the engagement letter with me.”

Frank put his arm around David. David smelled the stench of marijuana and curry and a storm brewing in the Gulf. “You need to learn some rules then.”

“What’s the problem, Frank?”

Frank’s grip tightened, filling David with the realization of just how strong this guy was. Not just strong arms, but a strong torso, a primal strength genetically honed over centuries of labor.

“Here’s some rules,” Frank said. “One. Never make a concession without my approval.”

“What concession?” David asked.

“Don’t argue with me. Just listen. No concessions. And that concession concerns rule two. We don’t produce escrow records.”

“Cummings asked for that, Frank. You don’t have to sign it. It’s just a draft.”

“David, repeat after me: we don’t produce escrow records.”

“It’s not that simple, Frank.”

Frank squeezed him like a constrictor. “We don’t produce escrow records. Say it.”

“Okay, Frank. We don’t produce escrow records.”

“Good.” Frank loosened the grip a few notches, but kept David locked.

David didn’t want to push his luck. “As your counsel, I need to advise you that Florida statutes require you to keep those records for five years.”

Frank laughed. “Hear that, Robbie? We have to keep them for five years. We’re paying this guy the big bucks to tell us this.”

“I hear you, Frank,” Robbie said, but David had no idea where Robbie was standing right now.

“David, look down here with me.” He pulled David closer again and made sure he was looking over the balcony. “You like this feeling?”

David felt a surge of nausea. “It’s a great view.”

“You feel tied to me, David? I fall, you fall?”

“That’s how it feels, Frank.”

“Because if I fall, David, you fall. You willing to fall with me?” Frank jerked David, causing David to flinch. “Is that a ‘no’?”

“No, Frank. It’s not.”

“You’re not willing to?”

“I am, Frank. I’m your guy. I’m on your team.”

“What are the rules, David?” Frank jerked him again.

David closed his eyes. “No concessions without your approval.”

“And?” he screamed with another jerk.

“We don’t produce escrow records.”

“You afraid of dying, David?”

“No.”

“You sure?”

“I’m sure,” David said. “I know, death, Frank. Too well.”

Frank pulled David away from the wall. “Give me a hug, young man.” He pulled him even tighter for a bear hug. “Welcome to the team.”

“Any other rules I need to know of?” David asked.

“That’s all I can think of for now.” Frank let him go and grinned. “You’re my attorney now, David, isn’t that right?”

“As soon as you sign that retainer agreement and give me my check.”

“Robbie will take care of that.”

Frank returned to his chair and reclined. A gust of wind blew debris in his face and knocked his ash can over, but Frank seemed oblivious to it all.

“There’s one more thing we need to discuss,” David said.

“That’s news to me,” Frank sighed.

“Meridian Bank.”

Frank rubbed his head like he had a migraine. “In due course.”

“It’s urgent, Frank.”

“In due course.”

Robbie stepped forward and pulled on David’s shoulder. “Let’s get that agreement taken care of.”

David followed Robbie back into the kitchen, and pulled the agreement from the bag he’d left on the countertop. “You can sign for the company?”

Robbie nodded. He scribbled his name on the signature line. Underneath, he printed a title, COO.

“I didn’t know you were an officer of the company,” David said.

“Now you do.” Robbie retrieved an envelope from a drawer and handed it to David. David opened it and found a check. The watermark glistened under the light of the kitchen. Payable to Hollis & Alderman, in the amount of $50,000.

David’s pride swelled as the elevator descended. Having the check and signed agreement in hand gave him the confidence to ask Robbie something that had long been on his mind. “So what’s the story with Frank and Katherine? They an item?”

Robbie grunted. “He’s old enough to be her father.”

“Well, this is Gaspar County.”

“Is incest common in Gaspar County?”

“I don’t follow,” David said.

The elevator stopped on a dime on the ground floor. David grabbed the rail.

“She is his daughter,” Robbie said. “Frank’s only child.”

“Are you serious?”

“He didn’t know her until five years ago. Now she’s his right hand.”

That made perfect sense to David. Almost perfect sense. “But I thought you were his right hand.”

Robbie grinned. “Frank’s left-handed.”

 




Author Bio:

S.D. Thames grew up in the Midwest but has lived in the Tampa Bay area since 1992. When he's not working as a litigation partner at a national law firm, he's writing mysteries and legal thrillers exploring the dark side of the Sunshine State. His first novel, an offbeat legal thriller set during Florida's housing crash of 2008, was be published through Kindle in September, 2015.

Catch Up:
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Tour Participants:





Giveaway:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for S.D. THAMES. There will be multiple US winners of 1 copy of Foreclosure by S.D. Thames. The giveaway begins on October 12th, 2015 and runs through October 13th, 2015. For US residents only. a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

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JUST SHOW UP



As Kara Tippetts walked the road of cancer, she discovered an astounding depth of relationship with women who want to walk with her. Learning to receive and be vulnerable was a journey for Kara, just as a willingness to be aware, and sometimes uncomfortable, has been a journey for her friends. But along the way, Kara and her community discovered the gift of silence, the art of receiving, and the beauty of just showing up.

My thoughts...

A story about true friendship. Kara is dying of cancer and Jill is her best friend, this is their story. It's a wonderful book that shows God's faithfulness in all things. There's heartache and even laughter whike the tears are flowing. It helped me realize how important your friends are in your journey through life.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

STILLWATER by Melissa Lenhardt & a giveaway

Stillwater

Melissa Lenhardt

on Tour October 5 - November 7, 2015




Synopsis:

cover

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.


My thoughts...

This is a pretty good mystery, I really liked the characters, especially ex-FBI agent turned Chief of Police, Jack McBride. He has moved to a town in Texas that is full of corruption which makes his job anything but dull. Also liked how the author didn't waste any time getting to the heart of the story, makes the book more interesting. I enjoyed the novel a lot and will definitely read more of this author's work.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Details:


Genre: Mystery, Crime, Small Town Mystery
Published by: Skyhorse Publishing
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 1634502264 (ISBN13: 9781634502269)
Series: Jack McBride Mysteries
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads



Read an excerpt:

From Chapter One...

"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 Juan 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 facedown, covering half of 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 was 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 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.




Author Bio:

author

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.

Catch Up with Ms. Lenhardt:
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Tour Participants:



Giveaway:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Melissa Lenhardt. There will be one winner of 1 AMAZON US gift card and 1 copy of Stillwater (For US residents only.). The giveaway runs through November 14th, 2015.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
 
 

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Friday, October 9, 2015

EVERYTHING SHE FORGOT with GIVEAWAY

Everything She Forgot

by Lisa Ballantyne

on Tour September 14 - October 17, 2015




Synopsis:

cover

Driving home, Margaret Holloway is rear-ended and trapped in the wreckage of her car. Just as she begins to panic, a stranger pulls her free and disappears. Though she escapes with minor injuries, Margaret feels that something's wrong. Flashbacks to the crash are dredging up lost associations from her childhood. And somehow, Margaret knows that it's got something to do with the man who saved her life. As Margaret uncovers a mystery with chilling implications for her family and her very identity, Everything She Forgot winds through a riveting dual narrative and asks the question: How far would you go to hide the truth-from yourself?



Book Details:


Genre: Suspense
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Number of Pages: 432
ISBN: 0062391488 (13: 978-0062391483)
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads



Critical Praise:

“Ballantyne’s effortless prose took me across the Atlantic and didn’t let me return until its surprising and satisfying conclusion. A tight story that comes full circle and keeps you reading.” — Bryan Reardon, author of Finding Jake


Author Bio:

authorLisa Ballantyne was born in Armadale, West Lothian, Scotland and studied English Literature at University of St Andrews. She lived and worked in China for many years and started writing seriously while she was there. Before being published, Lisa was short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize. Her debut novel, The Guilty One was translated into over 25 languages, long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. The Guilty One was also the Autumn 2012 Richard and Judy Book-club Winner. She lives in Glasgow.

Catch Up:
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Tour Participants:



Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours



My thoughts...

Start with memory loss from a childhood trauma that turns into an accidental kidnapping and you have an interesting read. The author has well defined characters and a paced storyline that is more dramatic than suspenseful. There is a slow start but keep reading, it gets better with each page and throughout it made me stop and think about who we really are. Pretty good book.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

GIVEAWAY:
 Three copies to three USA readers.  

The publisher will choose the winners.


BUY LINKS:

INDIEBOUND

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

THE DROWNING GAME




Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Release Date: September 22, 2015

BLURB:

They said she was armed.
They said she was dangerous.
They were right.
Petty Moshen spent eighteen years of her life as a prisoner in her own home, training with military precision for everything, ready for anything. She can disarm, dismember, and kill—and now, for the first time ever, she is free.
Her paranoid father is dead, his extreme dominance and rules a thing of the past, but his influence remains as strong as ever. When his final will reveals a future more terrible than her captive past, Petty knows she must escape—by whatever means necessary.
But when Petty learns the truth behind her father's madness—and her own family—the reality is worse than anything she could have imagined. On the road and in over her head, Petty's fight for her life has just begun.
Fans of female-powered thrillers will love debut author LS Hawker and her suspenseful tale of a young woman on the run for her future…and from the nightmares of her past.



COME CELEBRATE WITH LS HAWKER AT HER RELEASE PARTY https://www.facebook.com/events/856594864448466/



Purchase links รจ $1.99

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CHAPTER ONE

Wednesday 
  
Sirens and the scent of strange men drove Sarx and Tesla into a frenzy of barking and pacing as they tried to keep the intruders off our property without the aid of a fence. Two police cars, a fire truck, and an ambulance were parked on the other side of the dirt road. The huddled cops and firemen kept looking at the house.

Dad’s iPhone rang and went on ringing. I couldn’t make myself answer it. I knew it was the cops outside calling to get me to open the front door, but asking me to allow a group of strangers inside seemed like asking a pig to fly a jet. I had no training or experience to guide me. I longed to get the AK-47 out of the basement gun safe, even though it would be me against a half-dozen trained law men.

“Petty Moshen.” An electric megaphone amplified the man’s voice outside.

The dogs howled at the sound of it, intensifying further the tremor that possessed my entire body. I hadn’t shaken like this since the night Dad left me out on the prairie in a whiteout blizzard to hone my sense of direction.

“Petty, call off the dogs.”

I couldn’t do it.

“I’m going to dial up your father’s cell phone again, and I want you to answer it.”

Closing my eyes, I concentrated, imagining those words coming out of my dad’s mouth, in his voice. The iPhone vibrated. I pretended it was my dad, picked it up, hit the answer button and pressed it to my ear.

“This is Sheriff Bloch,” said the man on the other end of the phone. “We have to come in and talk to you about your dad.”

I cleared my throat again. “I need to do something first,” I said, and thumbed the end button. I headed down to the basement.

Downstairs, I got on the treadmill, cranked up the speed to ten miles an hour and ran for five minutes, flat-out, balls to the wall. This is what Detective Deirdre Walsh, my favorite character on TV’s Offender NYC, always did when emotions overwhelmed her. No one besides me and my dad had ever come into our house before, so I needed to steady myself.  

I jumped off and took the stairs two at a time, breathing hard, sweating, my legs burning, but steadier. I popped a stick of peppermint gum in my mouth. Then I walked straight to the front door the way Detective Walsh would—fearlessly, in charge, all business. I flung the door open and shouted, “Sarx! Tesla! Off! Come!”

They both immediately glanced over their shoulders and came loping toward me. I noticed another vehicle had joined the gauntlet on the other side of the road, a brand-new tricked-out red Dodge Ram 4x4 pickup truck. Randy King, wearing a buff-colored Stetson, plaid shirt, Lee’s, and cowboy boots, leaned against it. All I could see of his face was a black walrus mustache. He was the man my dad had instructed me to call if anything ever happened to him. I’d seen Randy only a couple of times but never actually talked to him until today.

The dogs sat in front of me, panting, worried, whimpering. I reached down and scratched their ears, thankful that Dad had trained them like he had. I straightened and led them to the one-car garage attached to the left side of the house. They sat again as I raised the door and signaled them inside. They did not like this one bit—they whined and jittered—but they obeyed my command to stay. I lowered the door and turned to face the invasion.

As if I’d disabled an invisible force field, all the men came forward at once: the paramedics and firemen carrying their gear boxes, the cops’ hands hovering over their sidearms. I couldn’t look any of them in the eye, but I felt them staring at me as if I were an exotic zoo animal or a serial killer.

The man who had to be the sheriff walked right up to me, and I stepped back palming the blade I keep clipped to my bra at all times. I knew it was unwise to reach into my hoodie, even just to touch the Baby Glock in my shoulder holster.

“Petty?” he said.

“Yes sir,” I said, keeping my eyes on the clump of yellow, poisonous prairie ragwort at my feet.

“I’m Sheriff Bloch. Would you show us in, please?”

“Yes sir,” I said, turning and walking up the front steps. I pushed open the screen and went in, standing aside to let in the phalanx of strange men. My breathing got shallow and the shaking started up. My heart beat so hard I could feel it in my face, and the bump on my left shoulder—scar tissue from a childhood injury—itched like crazy. It always did when I was nervous.

The EMTs came in after the sheriff.

“Where is he?” one of them asked. I pointed behind me to the right, up the stairs. They trooped up there carrying their cases. The house felt too tight, as if there wasn’t enough air for all these people.

Sheriff Bloch and a deputy walked into the living room. Both of them turned, looking around the room, empty except for the grandfather clock in the corner. The old thing had quit working many years before, so it was always three-seventeen in this house.

“Are you moving out?” the deputy asked.

“No,” I said, and then realized why he’d asked. All of our furniture is crowded in the center of each room, away from the windows.

Deputy and sheriff glanced at each other. The deputy walked to one of the front windows and peered out through the bars.

“Is that bulletproof glass?” he asked me.

“Yes sir.”

They glanced at each other again.

“Have anyplace we can sit?” Sheriff Bloch said.

I walked into our TV room, the house’s original dining room, and they followed. I sat on the couch, which gave off dust and a minor-chord spring squeak. I pulled my feet up and hugged my knees.

“This is Deputy Hencke.”

The deputy held out his hand toward me. I didn’t take it, and after a beat he let it drop.

“I’m very sorry for your loss,” he said. He had a blond crew cut and the dark blue uniform.

He went to sit on Dad’s recliner, and it happened in slow motion, like watching a knife sink into my stomach with no way to stop it.

“No!” I shouted.

Nobody but Dad had ever sat in that chair. It was one thing to let these people inside the house. It was another to allow them to do whatever they wanted.

He looked around and then at me, his face a mask of confusion. “What? I’m—I was just going to sit—”

“Get a chair out of the kitchen,” Sheriff Bloch said.

The deputy pulled one of the aqua vinyl chairs into the TV room. His hands shook as he tried to write on his little report pad. He must have been as rattled by my outburst as I was.

“Spell your last name for me?”

“M-O-S-H-E-N,” I said.

“Born here?”

“No,” I said. “We’re from Detroit originally.”

His face scrunched and he glanced up.

“How’d you end up here? You got family in the area?”

I shook my head. I didn’t tell him Dad had moved us to Saw Pole, Kansas, because he said he’d always wanted to be a farmer. In Saw Pole, he farmed a sticker patch and raised horse flies but not much else.

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-one.”

He lowered his pencil. “Did you go to school in Niobe? I don’t ever remember seeing you.”

“Dad homeschooled me,” I said.

“What time did you discover the—your dad?” The deputy’s scalp grew pinker. He needed to 
grow his hair out some to hide his tell a little better.

“The dogs started barking about two—”

“Two a.m. or p.m.?”

p.m.,” I said. “At approximately two-fifteen p.m. our dogs began barking at the back door. I responded and found no evidence of attempted B and E at either entry point to the domicile. I retrieved my Winchester rifle from the basement gun safe with the intention of walking the perimeter of the property, but the dogs refused to follow. I came to the conclusion that the disturbance was inside the house, and I continued my investigation on the second floor.”

Deputy Hencke’s pencil was frozen in the air, a frown on his face. “Why are you talking like that?”

“Like what?”

“Usually I ask questions and people answer them.”

“I’m telling you what happened.”

“Could you do it in regular English?”

I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything.

“Look,” he said. “Just answer the questions.”

“Okay.”

“All right. So where was your dad?”

“After breakfast this morning he said he didn’t feel good so he went up to his bedroom to lie down,” I said.

All day I’d expected Dad to call out for something to eat, but he never did. So I didn’t check on him because it was nice not having to cook him lunch or dinner or fetch him beers. I’d kept craning my neck all day to get a view of the stairs, kept waiting for Dad to sneak up on me, catch me watching forbidden TV shows. I turned the volume down so I’d hear if he came down the creaky old stairs.

“So the dogs’ barking is what finally made you go up to his bedroom, huh?”
I nodded.

“Those dogs wanted to tear us all to pieces,” the deputy said, swiping his hand back and forth across the top of his crew cut.

I’d always wanted a little lapdog, one I could cuddle, but Dad favored the big breeds. Sarx was a German shepherd and Tesla a rottweiler.

The deputy bent his head to his pad. “What do you think they were barking about?”

“They smelled it,” I said.

He looked up. “Smelled what?”

“Death. Next I knocked on the decedent’s— I mean, Dad’s—bedroom door to request 
permission to enter.”

“So you went in his room,” the deputy said, his pencil hovering above the paper.

“Once I determined he was unable to answer, I went in his room. He was lying on his stomach, on top of the covers, facing away from me, and—he had shorts on … you know how hot it’s been, and he doesn’t like to turn on the window air conditioner until after Memorial Day—and I looked at his legs and I thought, ‘He’s got some kind of rash. I better bring him the calamine lotion,’ but then I remembered learning about libidity on TV, and—”

“Lividity,” he said.

“What?”

“It’s lividity, not libidity, when the blood settles to the lowest part of the body.”

“Guess I’ve never seen it written down.”

“So what did you do then?”

“It was then that I …”

I couldn’t finish the sentence. Up until now, the shock of finding Dad’s body and the terror of letting people in the house had blotted out everything else. But now, the reality that Dad was dead came crashing down on me, making my eyes sting. I recognized the feeling from a long time ago. I was going to cry, and I couldn’t decide whether I was sad that Dad was gone or elated that I was finally going to be free. Free to live the normal life I’d always dreamed of.

But I couldn’t cry, not in front of these strangers, couldn’t show weakness. Weakness was dangerous. I thought of Deirdre Walsh again and remembered what she always did when she was in danger of crying. I cleared my throat.

“It was then that I determined that he was deceased. I estimated the time of death, based on the stage of rigor, to be around ten a.m. this morning, so I did not attempt to resuscitate him,” I said, remembering Dad’s cool, waxy dead skin under my hand. “Subsequently I retrieved his cell phone off his nightstand and called Mr. King.”

“Randy King?”

I nodded.

“Why didn’t you call 911?”

“Because Dad told me to call Mr. King if something ever happened to him.”

The deputy stared at me like I’d admitted to murder. Then he looked away and stood.

“I think the coroner is almost done, but he’ll want to talk to you.”

While I waited, I huddled on the couch, thinking about how my life was going to change. I’d have to buy groceries and pay bills and taxes and do all the things Dad had never taught me how to do.

The coroner appeared in the doorway. “Miss Moshen?” He was a large zero-shaped man in a cardigan.

“Yes?”

He sat on the kitchen chair the deputy had vacated.

“I need to ask you a couple of questions,” he said.

“Okay,” I said. I was wary. The deputy had been slight and small, and even though he’d had a sidearm, I could have taken him if I’d needed to. I didn’t know about the coroner, he was so heavy and large.

“Can you tell me what happened?”

I began to repeat my account, but the coroner interrupted me. “You’re not testifying at trial,” 
he said. “Just tell me what happened.”

I tried to do as he asked, but I wasn’t sure how to say it so he wouldn’t be annoyed.

“Did your dad complain of chest pains, jaw pain? Did his left arm hurt?”

I shook my head. “Just said he didn’t feel good. Like he had the flu.”

“Did your dad have high cholesterol? High blood pressure?”

“I don’t know.”

“When was the last time he saw a doctor?” the coroner asked.

“He didn’t believe in doctors.”

“Your dad was only fifty-one, so I’ll have to schedule an autopsy, even though it was 
probably a heart attack. We’ll run a toxicology panel, which’ll take about four weeks because 
we have to send it to the lab in Topeka.”

The blood drained from my face. “Toxicology?” I said. “Why?”

“It’s standard procedure,” he said.

“I’m pretty sure my dad wouldn’t want an autopsy.”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “You can bury him before the panel comes back.”

“No, I mean Dad wouldn’t want someone cutting him up like that.”

“It’s state law.”

“Please,” I said.

His eyes narrowed as they focused on me. Then he stood.

“After the autopsy, where would you like the remains sent?”

“Holt Mortuary in Niobe,” a voice from the living room said.

I rose from the couch to see who’d said it. Randy King stood with his back to the wall, his Stetson low over his eyes.

The coroner glanced at me for confirmation.

“I’m the executor of Mr. Moshen’s will,” Randy said. He raised his head and I saw his eyes, light blue with tiny pupils that seemed to bore clear through to the back of my head.

I shrugged at the coroner.

“Would you like to say goodbye to your father before we transport him to the morgue?” he said.

I nodded and followed him to the stairs, where he stood aside. “After you,” he said.

“No,” I said. “You first.”

Dad had taught me never to go in a door first and never to let anyone walk behind me. The coroner frowned but mounted the stairs.

Upstairs, Dad’s room was the first one on the left. The coroner stood outside the door. He reached out to touch my arm and I took a step backward. He dropped his hand to his side.

“Miss Moshen,” he said in a hushed voice. “Your father looks different from when he was alive. It might be a bit of a shock. No one would blame you if you didn’t—”

I walked into Dad’s room, taking with me everything I knew from all the cop shows I’d watched. But I was not prepared at all for what I saw.

Since he’d died on his stomach, the EMTs had turned Dad onto his back. He was in full rigor mortis, so his upper lip was mashed into his gums and curled into a sneer, exposing his khaki-colored teeth. His hands were spread in front of his face, palms out. Dad’s eyes stared up and to the left and his entire face was grape-pop purple.

What struck me when I first saw him—after I inhaled my gum—was that he appeared to be warding off a demon. I should have waited until the mortician was done with him, because I knew I’d never get that image out of my mind.

I walked out of Dad’s room on unsteady feet, determined not to cry in front of these strangers. The deputy and the sheriff stood outside my bedroom, examining the door to it. 
Both of them looked confused.

“Petty,” Sheriff Bloch said.

I stopped in the hall, feeling even more violated with them so close to my personal items and underwear.

“Yes?”

“Is this your bedroom?”

I nodded. 

Sheriff and deputy made eye contact. The coroner paused at the top of the stairs to listen in. This was what my dad had always talked about—the judgment of busybody outsiders, their belief that somehow they needed to have a say in the lives of people they’d never even met and knew nothing about.

The three men seemed to expect me to say something, but I was tired of talking. Since I’d never done much of it, I’d had no idea how exhausting it was.

The deputy said, “Why are there six dead bolts on the outside of your door?”

It was none of his business, but I had nothing to be ashamed of.

“So Dad could lock me in, of course.”




AUTHOR BIO:

LS HAWKER grew up in suburban Denver, indulging her worrisome obsession with true-crime books, and writing stories about anthropomorphic fruit and juvenile delinquents. She wrote her first novel at 14.
Armed with a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, she had a radio show called “People Are So Stupid,” edited a trade magazine and worked as a traveling Kmart portrait photographer, but never lost her passion for fiction writing.

She’s got a hilarious, supportive husband, two brilliant daughters and a massive music collection. She lives in Colorado but considers Kansas her spiritual homeland. Visit her website at LSHawker.com. 


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EXCERPT:

Since he'd died on his stomach, the EMTs had turned Dad onto his back. He was in full rigor mortis, so his upper lip was mashed into his gums and curled into a sneer, exposing his khaki-colored teeth. His hands were spread in front of his face, palms out. Dad's eyes stared up and to the left and his entire face was grape-pop purple.
What struck me when I first saw him—after I inhaled my gum—was that he appeared to be warding off a demon. I should have waited until the mortician was done with him, because I knew I'd never get that image out of my mind.
I walked out of Dad's room on unsteady feet, determined not to cry in front of these strangers. The deputy and the sheriff stood outside my bedroom, examining the door to it. Both of them looked confused.
"Petty," Sheriff Bloch said.                             
I stopped in the hall, feeling even more violated with them so close to my personal items and underwear.
"Yes?"
"Is this your bedroom?"
I nodded.
Sheriff and deputy made eye contact. The coroner paused at the top of the stairs to listen in. This was what my dad had always talked about—the judgment of busybody outsiders, their belief that somehow they needed to have a say in the lives of people they'd never even met and knew nothing about.
The three men seemed to expect me to say something, but I was tired of talking. Since I'd never done much of it, I'd had no idea how exhausting it was.
The deputy said, "Why are there six deadbolts on the outside of your door?"
It was none of his business, but I had nothing to be ashamed of.
"So Dad could lock me in, of course."







My thoughts...

Hold on for an intriguing ride in this debut novel that kept me glued to the pages. Though not very long it is an amazing story, I read it in an afternoon. It’s like putting a puzzle together, each piece that fits into place left me anxious for the next one. Good characters, well written. Great book!

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.