We’re celebrating the release of author Arthur Herbert’s latest whodunnit, The Bones of Amoret! Read on for more details and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!
The Bones of Amoret
Publication Date: February 13th, 2022
Genre: Mystery/ Suspense
Amoret, Texas, 1982. Life along the border is harsh, but in a world where cultures work together to carve a living from the desert landscape, Blaine Beckett lives a life of isolation. A transplanted Boston intellectual, for twenty years locals have viewed him as a snob, a misanthrope, an outsider. He seems content to stand apart until one night when he vanishes into thin air amid signs of foul play.
Noah Grady, the town doctor, is a charming and popular good ol’ boy. He’s also a keeper of secrets, both the town’s and his own. He watches from afar as the mystery of Blaine’s disappearance unravels and rumors fly. Were the incipient cartels responsible? Was it a local with a grudge? Or did Blaine himself orchestrate his own disappearance? Then the unthinkable happens, and Noah begins to realize he’s considered a suspect.
Paced like a lit fuse and full of dizzying plot twists, The Bones of Amoret is a riveting whodunit that will keep you guessing all the way to its shocking conclusion.”
Arthur Herbert was born and raised in small town Texas. He worked on offshore oil rigs, as a bartender, a landscaper at a trailer park, and as a social worker before going to medical school. He chose to do a residency in general surgery, followed by a fellowship in critical care and trauma surgery. For the last seventeen years, he’s worked as a trauma and burn surgeon, operating on all ages of injured patients. He continues to run a thriving practice.
In this enigmatic follow up to his critically acclaimed debut novel The Cuts that Cure, Arthur Herbert returns to the Texas-Mexico border with this saga of a small town’s bloody loss of innocence.
Arthur currently lives in New Orleans, with his wife Amy and their dogs. He loves hearing from his readers, so don’t hesitate to email him at email@example.com
During Berlin’s brutally cold winter of 1939, a serial killer stalks the city throughout the Third Reich’s forced nightly blackouts in this chilling WWII crime novel from #1 Sunday Times bestselling author Simon Scarrow—perfect for fans of Babylon Berlin, Philip Kerr’s Berlin Trilogy, Robert Ludlum, Andrew Gross, and William Christie . . .
Berlin 1939. The city is blanketed by snow and ice. In the distance, the rumble of war grows louder. In the shadows, a serial killer rises . . .
As the Nazis tighten their chokehold on the capital, panic and paranoia fester as blackout is rigidly enforced. Every night the city is plunged into an oppressive, suffocating darkness—pitch perfect conditions for unspeakable acts.
When a young woman is found brutally murdered, it’s up to Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke to solve the case quickly. His reputation is already on the line for his failure to join the Nazi Party. If he doesn’t solve the case, the consequences could be fatal.
Schenke’s worst fears are confirmed when a second victim is found. As the investigation takes him deeper into the regime’s darkest corridors, Schenke realizes danger lurks behind every corner—and that the warring factions of the Reich can be as deadly as a killer stalking the streets . . .
“That line between right and wrong gets pretty smudged in this gem of a story. Atmosphere, sharp intrigue, and a host of fascinating characters all combine to make this one the next addition to your keeper shelf.”
—Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author
Simon Scarrow’s passion for writing began at an early age. After a childhood spent travelling the world, he pursued his great love of history as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer. His Roman soldier heroes Cato and Macro made their debut in 2000 in UNDER THE EAGLE, and have subsequently appeared in many bestsellers in the Eagles of the Empire series, including CENTURION, THE GLADIATOR and THE BLOOD OF ROME. Simon’s latest books, BLACKOUT and THE EMPEROR’S EXILE, are out now.
Simon is also the author of the novels YOUNG BLOODS, THE GENERALS, FIRE AND SWORD and THE FIELDS OF DEATH, chronicling the lives of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte, and of SWORD & SCIMITAR, the epic tale of the 1565 Siege of Malta, and HEARTS OF STONE, set in Greece during the Second World War.
Simon has also co-written with T. J. Andrews three bestselling novels set in the Roman era, ARENA, INVADER and PIRATA.
Writing with Lee Francis, Simon is the author of the contemporary thriller PLAYING WITH DEATH.
This week we are celebrating the release of Betrayed in the Bluegrass by Virginia Slachman. Read on for details and a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-gift card!
Betrayed in the Bluegrass
Publication Date: January 15th, 2022
Genre: Mystery/ Suspense/ Thriller
Lexington Thoroughbred racing’s “power couple” Harper Hill and her husband, Detective JD Cole unite in this, the second in Slachman’s “Bluegrass” horse racing series. When a mysterious man, beaten and tortured, stumbles into the police precinct asking for JD, then dies before he can divulge his secret, a series of events are set in motion that will put the couples’ detecting power to the test and Harper’s life in grave danger. Soon after, Aubrey Lowen, Harper’s second cousin, is found severely beaten by the side of the road. Hospitalized, he hovers between life and death as Harper heads to Keeneland’s backstretch to keep an eye Lowen’s head trainer, Henley Smythe, who seems up to no good. As Harper tries desperately to uncover the culprit and help Aubrey’s wife Millie save their once-successful Thoroughbred farm, a dangerous character from Harper’s past shows up on the backstretch. Amid the dark pool of danger swirling around Harper, JD announces that the Feds have stepped in, preventing the couple from continuing their investigation. Undeterred, the two work under the radar to stop a killer bent on destroying the Lowen legacy and anyone who gets in the way. As murder and greed haunt every step they take, the couple knows that buried deep in Keeneland’s chaos the killer lies in wait—but uncovering the murderer just may cost Harper her life.
Harper had put the past behind her. Or so she thought. Fleeing the flashy, high dollar world of Kentucky horse racing for NYC, she’d been content living the life of a successful painter. But escape isn’t an option after the accidental death of her sister sends her back to the Bluegrass, a horse racing world filled with hope and heartbreak. As the body count rises as Eden Hill, Harper becomes convinced her sister’s death was no accident. Probing more deeply, Harper realizes Paris’ death is tied to a dark and deadly secret, one she discovers is why her racehorses are dying. Solving her sister’s murder and saving her family’s stud farm will take every ounce of Harper’s wit and courage. When seven skeletons are discovered on the grounds, and the barn with her best Kentucky Derby prospects is set on fire, Harper bears down to find the killer. The problem is, the culprit could be anyone: Is it JD, her childhood sweetheart, Marshall, their long-time trainer, or is it their nasty neighbor Red Cole, in partnership with her family for generations?
Someone is on a killing spree, and though Harper doesn’t know why, she is sure of one thing–the murderer is someone she’s known and trusted her whole life.
Virginia Slachman was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and has taught creative writing and literature at the college level for over twenty years. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships for writing, she’s published several volumes of poetry; Many Brave Hearts, a memoir about her family’s experience with PTSD; and most recently Blood in the Bluegrass and Betrayed in the Bluegrass, the first two books in her mystery series set on a thoroughbred breeding farm in Kentucky.
An American tourist is murdered in a gay sauna in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Amanda Pennyworth, the American consul to that vacation resort, risks her career and her life to find the culprit. Amanda works with a junior officer of the Tourist Police in the search for suspects in the secretive underworld of this popular vacation spot. When a young Mexican boy is arrested by the impatient and brutal police chief on flimsy evidence, Amanda is convinced that it is a terrible mistake. But no one is willing to listen to her: certainly not the arrogant chief of police; not the boy’s parents who seem to blame her for the murder; and not the cynical American Ambassador who only wants to avoid an international incident. It’s up to her.
This is the second in a series of novels featuring the amateur sleuth, Amanda Pennyworth who finds, much to her surprise, that among her duties as consul for the United States is the dangerous pursuit of murderers.
Other books in the Amanda Pennyworth mystery series:
When Amanda Pennyworth began her assignment as American Consul in the beautiful resort city of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, she had no inkling she would be called upon to solve the mysterious disappearance of a famous expat writer. However, when he vanishes—the victim of a kidnapping—Amanda is drawn into the desperate search to save his life. Negotiating the competing layers of Mexican police: the Federales, the local constabulary, and the tourist police, she is pulled deeper into what she realizes too late is a cunning and deadly plot.
Rodrigo slowly backed out from the utility closet, banging the mop hoisted over his shoulder against the door. Turning around, he tried twice to prop it against one of the stools next to the bar, but each time it fell onto the tile floor with a clatter. In his right hand, he carried a bucket of water, so full that it slopped over the edge when he set it down next to the counter.
“Watch what you’re doing, damn it!” Antonio cried, without looking over the ledge to measure the spill. “Did you inspect all the rooms?”
“Number 201 has still got has stuff in it. At least there are clothes on the hook and the towel is gone.”
“And the key hasn’t been turned back in either,” Antonio said as he glanced at the rack behind him. “So the guy must still be around. Have you checked everywhere?”
“Not yet. Just going to.”
“Well, get to it. He’s probably sleeping it off somewhere. Wake him up and get him out of here. We’re not running a fucking hotel!”
Antonio was tired and hot and anxious to close up. The temperature outside, even though it was after 2:00 in the morning had to be at least 90 degrees, and inside, give it even three or four more despite the fans that just blew the heat around like the hot breath of desire. He turned around again and reached up to the console behind him and switched off the music. The sudden quiet, as the steady disco beat died out, felt like relief from a throbbing headache he didn’t know he had. Then, touching a switch on the wall, he turned on the fluorescent lights. The red glow from the recessed overhead lamps that had disguised every fault and feature with a romantic blur dissolved into a flood of stark white exposing the dark, uneven floor, the blemished and cracked grey walls. The unforgiving glare was bright enough to wipe any illusions, and ended the allure of this palace of dingy dreams. Further on, there was the dark well of a staircase that led down to the level below. The steps behind him that led up to private rooms.
“Make sure you check in the sauna and steam area,” he shouted after Rodrigo, who was just disappearing around the curve in his descent.
Once on the basement level, Rodrigo walked across the dim corridor and stopped in front of the wooden enclosure of the sauna. He peered into the small glass window on the door, but the light was off and he could barely make out the shapes of the benches. Opening it up, the heat spilled out, sweeping over him. He could smell the combination of wood resin and sweat. But the room was empty.
He walked further on to the glass door of the steam room. Pulling it open, he entered the damp gloomy space, edged past the tile-covered bench on the right side, and then turned around a corner into the darkened back area. Condensation from the ceiling dribbled on his forehead and he wiped his eyes to get a better look. There was just enough light to see a shape stretched out on one of the side benches.
“Vamos, Amigo, estamos cerrados,” he said. And then repeated his words in English—louder this time. There was no response, so he moved closer. He could see now that the person was entirely naked, resting on a towel. He reached down and shook the man’s shoulder.
“Wake up!” he said. “Get up!”
There was still no response.
Then, with both hands, he seized the man’s dangling left arm and tried to pull him up. But the unexpected dead weight was so much that the man slipped onto the floor instead.
“Damn!” he shouted. “Damn! He’s dead drunk!”
Retracing his steps, he hurried halfway up the staircase where he paused and called out to Antonio:
“Found someone, but he’s drunk and I couldn’t wake him up. What should I do?”
“Fuck!” cried Antonio as he walked around the edge of the bar. “I’ll come down with you and together maybe we can carry him out. How big is he?”
“Couldn’t really tell. Just lying there on the floor. It’s dark you know.”
The two of them descended the stairs and Rodrigo switched on the overhead lights at that level.
“And when we’re done,” he added. “Make sure you mop the floor in there. God only knows what….”
Rodrigo held the door of the steam room and then propped it open with a rubber shim that had rested inconspicuously against the wall. Antonio waited for him and together they edged around to the dark alcove. The man was still lying on the floor.
“Is this how you found him?”
“Well, yes; not exactly. I mean, I tried to get him up, but couldn’t. He’s too heavy and out cold. That’s why I called you.”
“OK, then you grab his legs and I’ll take his shoulders and we can steer him out of here and onto one of the benches outside.”
“Damn, that’s a lot; dead weight,” Rodrigo groaned, hoisting his ankles.
“Stop complaining! I’ve got him, so just back up and don’t drop him….Come on, Amigo. Wake up and help us out a bit!”
They struggled, half dragging the naked body out of the steam room, but instead of putting him on one of the benches or the worn couch at the side of the sauna enclosure, they just left him lying on his back on the floor.
“OK, Amigo, wake up. Last call! We’re closed!” Antonio said, bending over and looking at the man’s face.
“Definitely an American or at least a foreigner. Get a towel, Rodrigo, and cover him up while I try to wake him.”
Antonio crouched down on his haunches and felt the man’s face. It was warm, but there was no reaction. He grasped an arm, raised it up and then let it drop.
Rodrigo returned with two towels and placed them over the man’s body.
“Do you think he’s dead?” he asked suddenly.
“How should I know? Don’t know how to tell,” Antonio answered. “He’s not cold. And not stiff.”
“Feel for his pulse. I seen them do it on television. Feel his neck. That’s what the detectives always do.”
Antonio put his fingers around the man’s neck and waited. “I don’t feel anything. How am I supposed to know?”
“Those TV detectives can always tell, right away.”
“Yeah, but I’m not a detective! I think I’m going to have to call the police.”
“That won’t be good for business if he’s dead. Do you think he stayed in the steam room too long?”
“Don’t be crazy; it’s not warm enough in there to wilt a flower. Probably just had a heart attack or something. But he’s awfully young for that.”
“Do you see those red marks on his throat? Looks like maybe he was strangled.”
“He seems dead, so I guess he was. But you’re an expert now?”
“Just what I seen on American shows. Bruises where you press down hard. I don’t know nothing.”
Antonio stood up and walked toward the staircase: “Stay there, Rodrigo, I’m going to call the Tourist Police. In case he moves, let me know.”
“He ain’t gonna’ move. For sure.”
Reaching the main floor, Antonio walked quickly around the bar and through the door in back leading into the small office that also fronted the entrance, where customers standing behind a wire grill, passed their money through and picked up keys to lockers or retiring rooms and a towel and plastic flip flops. It was also where he kept his cellphone. He dialed the number and a sleepy voice answered:
“Is Captain Morelos there?”
“No. Sorry. He’s been transferred to Oaxaca.”
“Then can I speak to whoever is there?”
“You can tell me what’s the problem. If I decide it’s important I’ll pass you on to anybody.”
“Listen. This is serious! I’m Antonio Lopez at the Olympiad sauna. We got a customer that we can’t seem to wake up. I think he might be dead.”
“Did you try his pulse? Maybe he’s just drunk.”
“More than that, I’m afraid. You need to send someone around. Right away. I got to close this place up.”
“OK, OK. I’ll see if anyone is here and I’ll send them over.”
“How about sending a doctor or maybe an ambulance too? So you can get him out of here.”
“We’ll see about that when we get there.”
The police car pulled up in front about a half hour later. A tired looking officer dressed in crumpled fatigues and a middle-aged woman wearing slacks and a sweatshirt and carrying a black bag—someone who might have been a doctor or the Medical Examiner but without a uniform—came through the open doorway, up the stairs, and rang the bell in the entrance alcove. Antonio buzzed them inside.
“I’m Captain Gonzalez,” said the officer, pushing into the entranceway. “Just happened to be on duty and about to go home when you called. This is Senora Sanchez.” He seemed peeved by the interruption to his day. “Where’s the body?”
“I don’t want no trouble; we never had no trouble here,” Antonio said, as he guided them to the staircase and then down into the basement level. He turned to look at them as they followed: “He hasn’t moved since we took him out of the steam room.”
“So you moved him?” the examiner shook her head as she was pulling on a pair of plastic gloves. “That’s not very smart. Shouldn’t have.” She walked over to the body and crouched down, placing her fingers along the artery of his neck. She picked up and flexed his limp arm and then noticed the blotches on his neck.
“Do you think you could shine a flashlight on these marks,” she asked the officer. I can’t be sure, and won’t know until I have him back at the station, but it looks like he was strangled. You can see some bruising. And not too long ago. No signs of rigor yet.”
Then standing and addressing Antonio: “Do you have any identification for him? He looks like a foreigner. Could be about 25 years old or so.”
“Use your pass key and go look in his room again, Rodrigo, bring his clothes and anything else you find in his room,” Antonio ordered.
“Just a minute,” interrupted the woman. “I’m coming with you. And you’re not going to touch anything, understand?”
“But I already have…awhile ago. And I don’t need the key; I left the door open.”
“Come along and be quiet,” she said.. “Just show me the room and then stay out of my way! Anything else you did to corrupt the crime scene?”
Rodrigo was about to answer but thought she would just accuse him again.
So the two climbed up the staircase to the upper landing in silence while Antonio and the officer remained below staring down at the body.
“I don’t want no trouble,” said Antonio, in a tone that sounded more like a question than an assertion. “We never have no trouble here.”
“Yes, you said that before. But looks like you’ve got a lot of trouble now. Not much else I can say right off. But certainly it looks like a murder, and a foreigner too. Can’t think of anything worse for you. We’ll have to close your place down for a few days… maybe a week or two. Tomorrow, I’ll send a team to look for fingerprints. And don’t be surprised if you find a few things out of order.”
“But Officer; how long? We have to clean the rooms!”
“You’re not listening very carefully. You need to think about how you can help us instead of mopping the floors. And when we’re done here tonight, I want you and your helper to lock up. And plan to stay shut until I tell you to. Don’t have to tell you not to touch anything. And you’ll have to come to the station of course… a lot of questions to answer…but later.”
Approaching the row of cubicles on the second floor above the bar, Rodrigo led the Medical Examiner to the open door of 201. He switched on the single bulb light inside, which cast a weak glow around the tiny space, and let her step in first because there was scarcely any room to turn around. She entered and sidled along the raised wooden platform bed that was covered in some sort of plastic material and a crumpled sheet. The wall abutting it was mirrored up to the ceiling. Toward the far end there was a small built-in table. On top of it was a plastic water bottle, and above, to the right was a wall hook with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt still hanging.
Taking both items of clothing down, she spread them out onto the platform and turned the pockets of the jeans inside out. Both in front were empty except for a few coins on the right side. Reaching underneath, she took a wallet out of the back right pocket. It was empty except for a vehicle insurance card. In the dim glare, she could make out the name “Jeremy Blackman” with an address in Los Angeles.
“Was the door to this cubicle unlocked when you came to check on him?”
“I don’t remember, Senora; what I mean is, I always use my key so I wouldn’t know if it was or wasn’t, would I?”
“Do you have some system of lock-boxes? Somewhere he might have put money, credit cards, a passport?”
“And did you did find the room key anywhere on the body?”
“No. I didn’t see that neither. It would have been on an elastic band. Guys put them on their wrist or ankle sometimes.”
“You’re sure it didn’t fall off when you carried him out of the steam room?”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure, but I’ll go back and look again.”
The Medical Examiner gave him an exasperated look, but said nothing further. She backed out of the room and walked swiftly along the corridor and down the two flights of stairs back to where the body was stretched out on the floor. Rodrigo followed, staying carefully well behind her.
“I’ve got an I.D. for him, some sort of insurance card from Los Angeles, but it looks very likely that he was robbed,” she told Captain Gonzalez. “No cash, no credit cards, no passport. Whether that has anything to do with his death is, of course, for someone else to prove. And I looked, but there was no key inside the cubicle, as you can see, none on his wrist and there was nothing in his pockets. Maybe when you do a more thorough search, you’ll find it.” Addressing Antonio, she continued: “Did anyone turn in the key?”
“No Senora. Whoever did this I think has taken the key with him.”
“Perhaps. We don’t know that yet. Maybe it will turn up when we’ve done a more thorough search.”
“As for the cause of death,” she said, turning to the Captain Gonzalez, “I’ll have a report for you tomorrow sometime once you get the body back to my lab. And I’ll tell you definitively if it was murder or not. But it looks like it.”
“Thanks Senora,” the officer mumbled. “I’ll deliver the body as soon as I can get an ambulance here. In the meantime, can you give me the insurance card? If that’s him and he’s an American, I’ll have to notify the Consulate.
“Good luck with that!”
“You know as well as I do, what; she makes trouble.”
The officer turned to Antonio who had moved away from the body, recoiling as if it was contaminated: “I want a list of names: everyone who entered today and, if you can, the time that this person arrived.”
“I’m sorry Officer, but we don’t keep a list of names. This ain’t a hotel.”
“OK, then, passport numbers or ID numbers for any locals will do.”
“Might not be complete.”
“Aren’t you supposed to check everyone who enters? What kind of a place is this?”
Antonio took a step backwards and almost sat down abruptly onto one of the benches along the wall.
“I’m sorry, Sir, yes, we usually check ID’s for the age of the person. And we generally write down the ID number. But maybe if Rodrigo was at the window, he might have forgotten to. He’s not very careful sometimes. So you’ll have to ask him. But listen: we never had trouble, here. And we have to be discrete, you know.”
“Well, in this case, I think you’ve got considerable trouble….Hardly the time to be worried about anyone’s reputation. Do you remember him—the victim—when he arrived and if he was alone?”
“I think maybe I was the one who checked him in. I seem to remember there were two them: Americans, I think, about the same age… young anyway. So if they actually came together, then one of them has obviously left alone. I can’t tell you exactly when; probably Rodrigo checked him out. You know it’s very simple process. They just shove their towels and sheets into a hamper by the exit and return their shoes and keys. I’m not sure I’d remember anyone leaving specifically. Sometimes I just buzz them out without looking if I’m busy at the bar. But ask Rodrigo; maybe he….” Antonio was intentionally vague; not because he knew something and didn’t want to say, but he figured if he sounded unreliable, the policeman would stop asking him questions.
“Then I’ll want that list of those entries you have before I leave.”
“I’m not sure I should give it to you,” Antonio said, after a pause. A look of dread spread over his face. “People who come here don’t want to have their names known. It could cause terrible trouble for me if you investigate them. I’m sure you understand.”
Gonzalez scowled and took a step toward him: “That’s not my problem. If this is a murder, and I think it is, any one of your clients could be the killer. I need those ID numbers. You’re to give me list before I leave. I don’t give a damn about anonymous or about your business.”
He then turned his gaze to the assistant who was sitting on a bench down at the end of the corridor. Rodrigo looked up anxiously when the policeman approached.
“Do you remember two Americans? The person lying here and maybe a friend of his? Did you see them together or check the other one out?”
Rodrigo stood up and stared blankly for a minute:
“I never pay any attention to the guys here whether they’re American or not,” he said, backing up against the bench he had been sitting on.
“Never make eye contact, because if you do…. I just work here; I’m not one of them!”
“I don’t care what you are or aren’t. Just tell me, did you see them together?”
“Not that I remember. But I do know that one American left earlier because I had to ask him for his towel. He’d left it in the locker area and I certainly wasn’t going to get it for him. But he may not be the one you mean. We get lots of foreigners here.”
“So that man you remember didn’t have a room?”
“I guess not. I didn’t check his key. But that wouldn’t be unusual. If two guys came together why would each need a separate room? But then this isn’t a place where anyone wants to explain what they’re doing or why. So who knows?”
“Do you remember what time it was? Approximately?”
“I don’t know. Maybe around 11:00 or so. I usually go outside for a few minutes around that time. Get some fresh air. Could have been then or when I came back in.”
“So you really don’t know.”
“That’s right. I don’t pay no attention. I just do my job without looking. I don’t get paid to see things.”
Gonzalez stared at Rodrigo for a moment and then decided that he kept repeating himself because of nerves. And probably knew nothing more. But he would keep an ear open for anything suspicious about him just the same. He wasn’t sure he could trust anyone here. And the whole place…maybe the late hour…and a foreigner murdered! He could expect nothing but trouble.
About the Author
James Gilbert is the author of four published novels, two of them in the Amanda Pennyworth Mystery Series. Two of his short stories have been awarded prizes by the F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story contest (2017 and 2021). In his previous academic career, he was Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland specializing in modern American cultural history. As a historian, he published eleven American History books in modern American culture on subjects ranging from Twentieth Century World’s Fairs to the conflict between science and religion. One of his publications was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Welcome to the book tour for The Last Roman: Exile, the first novel in a thrilling trilogy by B.K. Greenwood. Read on for details and a chance to win a copy of this beauty and a t-shirt inspired by the book!
The Last Roman: Exile
Publication Date: May 29th, 2021
Genre: Historical Thriller/ Roman Mythology
Some debts you cannot repay, even if you live forever…
Seasoned imperial officer Marcus Sempronius Gracchus leads the 9th Roman Legion into a bloody battle against a fierce barbarian tribe. It’s a battle he won’t survive.
When he awakens three days later, clawing his way from a shallow grave, Marcus must face the reality of his new existence; he will never see the afterlife. But that won’t stop him from dying time and again over the next 2,000 years.
Unfortunately, there are others cursed with immortality, and they are determined to bring the world crashing to its knees. Forced to confront the only brother he has ever known, can Marcus prevent the inevitable and possibly find redemption?
The Last Roman: Exile is a fast-paced, action-packed historical thriller that will have readers coming back for more. Don’t miss out on B.K. Greenwood’s debut novel, the first in this exciting new trilogy.
Marcus moved along the faltering line and soon encountered the largest man he had ever seen, hacking his way through the thinning ranks. A legionnaire tried to bar his path, but the ogre swung his massive blade, catching the soldier just below his jaw. A crimson arc of blood sprayed from the fatal wound, much of it splattering across Marcus’ face and chest. Behind the giant, more barbarians advanced to exploit the breach.
Marcus grabbed the shield of a fallen soldier and rushed the behemoth, who welcomed the attack with a vicious blow. The force drove Marcus to one knee and nearly knocked him unconscious. Marcus raised the shield to protect his head and shoulders and thrust his sword upward. The point struck metal, so he shoved it harder until he felt the blade dig into the soft underside of a trunk-like arm. Marcus could hear the giant’s howl above the din of the battle and knew that retribution was near. Another thunderous blast crashed into the shield, the metal and banded leather splintering from the attack. The next blow would rip Marcus asunder.
Desperate, Marcus hastily covered his head with the remains of his ruined shield. He mustered all his strength and drove forward into the beast. The shield thudded against his waist, eliciting an angry grunt. Marcus reached around the barbarian’s leg with the blade of his sword, finding the naked thigh. Never meant as a weapon for slashing, the edge of his sword was still razor-sharp. He drew it across the giant’s hamstring, cutting through flesh and sinew as Marcus pushed forward. The Suebi screamed in agony as the two men crumpled to the ground. The barbarian smashed the hilt of his sword into Marcus’s head, knocking off his helmet. The world was spinning as Marcus stood and staggered away. Blood flowed down his face, blurring his vision. His opponent, writhing in pain, was screaming at him.
Marcus heard several men shout, “The giant is down!”
A loud cheer erupted from the Romans, but that only encouraged the other barbarians. Marcus somehow raised his sword in time to block another attack, but the force knocked him to the ground. The barbarian raised his sword to strike a death blow when Gaius appeared out of nowhere and ran him through. With great effort, Marcus regained his footing, lumbering forward to rejoin the melee. He lost his balance again and had to lean on his sword to keep from falling. As he stood watching the raging battle, a sharp pain shot through his side.
He looked down and saw the blade of the stricken giant sliding beneath his armor. The barbarian was sitting on his haunches, trying to stab him again. Marcus summoned his remaining strength and, swinging for the neck, felt the cold steel bite into flesh, then bone. A low gurgle escaped the laceration as the colossal body slumped forward, and the barbarian’s head fell to the ground.
Marcus dropped the sword, trying in vain to reach his wound and stem the flow of blood. His breath grew labored, and he coughed, a coppery trace spilling into his mouth. He slumped to his knees as scores of legionnaires rushed past. Marcus watched the reinforcements plug holes in the line and stem the barbarian attack. More cohorts arrived, and the battle devolved into a desperate struggle. Even with both legions engaged, the outcome was uncertain.
Marcus watched as the ranks dwindled, the men stubbornly giving way to the onslaught. It looked like they may break at any moment when a commotion drew his attention to the right side of the battle. A cheer rose from the legionnaires as the forgotten Roman cavalry rejoined the fight and rolled up the exposed barbarian flank. Within minutes, the Suebi army was in full flight, and the mounted troopers were cutting down the stragglers. As the centurions rushed to put the men back in formation, Marcus slipped to the ground, his gaze fixed on the gray, sunless sky.
Moments later, Gaius knelt beside him. He tried to undo the bloody clasp of his armor, but Marcus pushed his hand away. Their eyes met.
“The men did good,” Marcus said.
“Yes, they did.”
Marcus continued, but it was inaudible.
Gaius leaned over, and Marcus whispered, “Tell my wife—” He coughed up specks of blood onto Gaius’s soiled cheek. “I’m so sorry…” Marcus swallowed back the warm fluid that was rising in his throat, “sorry I left her.”
“I will,” he promised. “I will tell her myself.”
Marcus nodded as a white horse arrived, the rider dismounting. Somewhere in the distance, he could hear the general’s voice.
The old centurion did not reply, but the answer was written on his troubled face. Quintus knelt to the ground.
“Marcus, your actions have saved the day. I plan on submitting your name to the Senate…”
Quintus paused when their eyes met, then shifted to the pool of blood gathering around them. As the general spoke of honor rolls and victory marches, Marcus looked beyond him to the sky above. There was a shimmer in the cloud that resembled a bird. He tried to focus on the form as it grew closer, but he could not keep his eyes open. As he slipped into the darkness, he thought of his wife and the fact that he would never see her again.
About the Author
B.K. Greenwood lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and wolfpack of 4 rescue dogs. He loves to travel and has incorporated his experiences into his writing. B.K. enjoys works of fiction and nonfiction, with a heavy emphasis on history, adventure, and classics. His passion for history is on display in his debut novel, The Last Roman: Exile.
Moon Song’s brother has gone missing in the town of Blackrock, Pennsylvania. Worried that her brother has slipped back into addiction and desperate for answers, Moon hires private investigator Ben Sawyer to help her uncover the truth. Together they discover what the people of Blackrock refuse to acknowledge: something terrible has happened inside the coal mine that defies all logical explanation, and it threatens the lives of every single person in town. Bodies are piling up at the funeral home, and many others have seemingly vanished.
Moon’s only hope of finding answers rests in the hands of a local professor who knows the mine’s horrible secrets. But the professor has problems of his own, and unless he can confront the creature that’s hunting him, Moon’s chances of making it out of town alive are darker than a seam of coal.
Dive into Ken Brosky’s horror-fueled nightmare and find out what’s in The Beyond!
Ken Brosky lives and teaches in the great state of Wisconsin. In addition to having short stories published in magazines like Grotesque and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, he also writes regularly for Suspense Magazine. His favorite horror movie is John Carpenter’s The Thing, his favorite band is Nine Inch Nails, and his favorite book is Cloud Atlas.
Tagline: Since the pandemic, she stayed home. Then they kidnapped her friend.
Since the pandemic, Sybil Crewes hasn’t left home. She stopped her duties as an ATU agent (Anti-Terrorism Unit). But then, she got a disturbing phone call. Her friend, Harry Brown, has been kidnapped, and this forces Sybil out of her house.
While doing so, she uncovers an illegal lab where they created a deadly COVID-19 variant that turns its victims into skinned zombies. She contacts the ATU to resume her duties as an ATU agent to stop the new threat and save the world from its undoing.
Pandemic: Chaos is Bleeding is a fast-paced modern horror/thriller novel, and partly based on true events.
The cold air was refreshing as she sprinted to her Ford Mustang in the parking lot. After she sat down in the driver’s seat, she opened Windows Maps on her cell phone to search for the address her evil handler had texted. Since Microsoft stopped
supporting Windows Phone, she couldn’t use her voice to enter the address in
the navigation app of her cell phone. It felt weird to go unarmed, on a mission unknown, while the navigation calculated the best route from her current location. Whoever captured Harry held all the cards. At the moment, she had no other choice but to follow up on their instructions. She started the car and drove off. Luckily, there wasn’t much traffic on her way to the mansion.
Since the pandemic, life was slow. People had more time on their hands, working from home, distracted by their kids and spouse. Eating more comfort food—watching TV all day, or in Sybil’s case, spending time with her pet rabbit, Max, and trying to avoid the news. She didn’t have a TV. Well, she did, but she used her 70-inch display as a monitor. It was connected to a Windows 10 laptop with an external soundcard attached to a Dolby digital surround set. Felicity installed the equipment and showed Sybil how to use her dinosaur cell phone as a remote control for the
The laptop offered her a safe window to the world. She had online meetings once a week, on Sunday night at eight, and sometimes she watched the news on CNN. Most of the time, she used the laptop to binge-watch streaming media. Prime video, Netflix, Disney Plus, and reruns of her favorite TV shows: Body of Proof, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and she loved movies starring Denzel Washington. My life during the pandemic.
She wanted to floor the gas pedal, but then she noticed a police car and she slowed down considerably. The police vehicle turned left at the intersection. She glanced over her shoulder. A truck came into sight, and a few more cars appeared on the street ahead of her. Morning rush hour was about to begin, even though she hadn’t
Sybil reached her destination in twenty-six minutes after she floored the gas pedal when she reached the outskirts of Boston. She had some time to kill, but she didn’t want to waste it by sitting in her car. So, she explored the area. The mansion
didn’t stand out by itself. It was a wooden, two-story building, Victorian architecture style, late 1800s, set in a rural landscape outside Boston, normally a thirty-five-minute drive if she hadn’t gone way above all posted speed limits. Its shingles used to be white at some point.
She exhaled and contacted Vanessa Dogscape—an ATU data analyst, and currently married to her friend and coworker Felicity Walker. Perhaps Vanessa could help her—off the record. She didn’t want to involve the ATU. It took a while before Vanessa answered the phone.
“Sybil. You know what time it is?”
“I’m aware of what time it is. Look, I need your help. Harry’s been kidnapped by—I don’t know who. Anyway, they want me to do some errands.”
“My God!” Vanessa replied in a worried voice.
“I need you on this. But please, keep it off the record. I don’t want to endanger Harry’s life.”
“Sure. How can I help?”
“Perhaps you can pinpoint them somehow and get their location so I can kick some ass?”
“I need more intel before I can do anything,” Vanessa said.
“They contacted me via my cell phone and sent me a text message. Oh, and a picture of Harry’s battered face.” She gritted her teeth at the thought.
“Send the text message and the picture to me. And please activate the ATU app Felicity programmed three years ago for your Windows Phone, so I can tap into each conversation and perhaps ping their location while you talk to them. Are you sure you want me to help you off the record? It’s better to make this an official ATU investigation. At least, let me inform Jack.”
Sybil closed her eyes for a moment. If the criminals found out she had informed the ATU, it’d complicate things. Perhaps endanger Harry’s life. But then again, she sure could use all the help she could get. Otherwise, she wouldn’t bother Vanessa with it. Taking that into consideration, and the knowledge that Jack was a professional, Sybil agreed to Vanessa’s suggestion.
Despite the sun in a clear, blue sky, her body responded with a shiver that ran down her spine. She did not know what to expect as she stood near the abandoned mansion with its weather-beaten, cracked walls covered in pointless graffiti. But she knew she had to go inside as she sat down on her haunches, studying the rusty sword
lying in the mud. She took a deep breath before she carefully touched its sticky
handle. Blood! Clotted blood.
Her stomach gnawed at the sight. She smelled. It wasn’t human. She stared at the mansion as she heard a strange sound she couldn’t identify. Immediately, her old instincts kicked in—weird sounds coming from an abandoned mansion equals danger. She grabbed the sword in both hands, jumped up, kicked the battered door wide open and ran inside. It was time to act; this was no time to be cautious. Lives were at
The wooden planks creaked under her feet as she rushed into the dark hallway. The sound of rasping breathing reached her eardrums when she entered a dark room with just enough light to see the overturned furniture and the bloodstained, fractured walls …
What do you love most about the genre you write?
I love to combine multiple genres together as one. For instance, one of the main characters in my book: “Pandemic: Chaos is Bleeding” is Sybil Crewes. A vampire who hates being a vampire (horror genre). But she’s also a part-time ATU (Anti-Terrorism Unit) agent, to keep America safe from terrorist attacks (thriller genre).
Combining these two genres makes a story more vivid. Rather than fighting monsters, Sybil also faces terrorists with the help of her friends from the ATU and from a Medical Examiner working for the coroner’s office in Boston.
Blending two genres into one makes my books unique. I don’t use classical horror themes—no religion, no vampires turning into bats, or sleeping in a coffin during the day. Sybil clips her fangs and use liquid silver (kind of like colloidal silver, but with a higher percentage of silver particles) daily to pass on for a human and eat solid food.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
I find my inspiration in the news. The news is my most important tool to blend reality with fiction. If I find an interesting article on a news website, I do a lot of background research. Like the pandemic and fake news—before I write. I love to combine reality with fiction. I also use personal elements in my story.
I see you like Edgar Allan Poe. If you had to pick one of his stories as a favorite, which would it be and why?
I grew up reading books from Edgar Allan Poe. As a kid, I enjoyed watching movies starring Vincent Price adaptations of The Pit and the Pendulum, Tales of Terror, The Raven, and The Masque of the Red Death.
The story I loved most, back in the days, is “The Pit and the Pendulum.”
It’s a story about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition. The narrator describes his experience of being tortured. What I liked about it, is that the story is effective at inspiring fear in the reader because of its heavy focus on the senses, such as sound…
Can you tell us about your furry writing companion?
Max is a three-year-old free roam small tan rabbit—our condo is bunny proof—and he loves to be petted on his head. He’s my best friend, and he asks daily for attention. I love giving him that. He follows me around like a dog when I stand up from the couch to get something from the fridge. Max doesn’t like carrots. When I try to offer him a carrot, he gives me the look. Which is a good thing because I read carrots have too much sugar in them. His favorite snack is Timothy Hay.
Before I go to bed, or when it’s 7:30 a.m., I lie down next to him and talk about anything that bothers me. He’s a great listener, and he knows how to keep a secret.
And I partly wrote my book on my cell phone while lying next to Max.
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone pursuing their dream in the creative arts, what would it be?
The best advice I can think of is this: write everything that pop-ups in your head. Don’t overthink it. Just write. Read it back the next day, scrap the parts you don’t like, rewrite some of it (don’t overdo this), and prepare yourself to send your story to a few people. Listen to what they say about your writing. And don’t be annoyed about critics.
About the Author:
As far back as she can remember, Cynthia Fridsma has been listening to exciting stories told by her mother. She grew up reading books by Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, and Philip K. Dick, among others. It was Cynthia’s mother who inspired her to start telling—and writing—her own stories.
Ms. Fridsma’s writing career started after a handicap in 2014—she has a tremor in her right hand, numbness in the fingers, and pain in her wrist. She had to give up her other creative outlets, such as photography, computer programming, and gave up on juggling, so focused on what she could do rather than what she couldn’t do. Besides writing, she sometimes plays guitar—in Jimi Hendrix style.
Cynthia lives with her husband and pet bunny, Max, in Amsterdam.
Senior Kat Palmer observes several of her classmates acting suspiciously on the first day back to school. Her boyfriend was one of them.
One night, she follows him out to Lemmon’s Park.
A fight breaks out and she hears a terrifying scream.
Four of the five classmates flee the area.
Kat goes looking for the fifth. All she finds is a shoe, an abandoned car, and a cell phone. What happened to the classmate who owned these things?
As Kat continues to search the woods, she is knocked unconscious. She wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of what had happened. As the days go by, she starts to remember bits and pieces of that night. She can’t rest until she knows what really happened to the missing classmate.
Kat drives back out to Lemmon’s Park, hoping to recall more of that night. But this time she finds a broken watch with an engraving on the back. How did her father’s watch end up at the scene? He’d told her that the watch had been stolen when someone broke into their home last week. Had he been there that night?
The more Kat investigates, the more secrets she uncovers. She finds out that even the ones closest to her aren’t who they pretend to be.
Donna M. Zadunajsky started out writing children’s books before she accomplished and published her first novel, Broken Promises, in June 2012. She since has written several more novels and her first novella, HELP ME! Book 1 in the series, which is about teen suicide and bullying. HELP ME!, won Awards in: The Great Northwest Book Festival-Winner Global EBook Awards- Gold Medal Winner The Great Southeast Book Festival-Winner IPA Award- Winner in Grief Category Reader Views Awards- In 3 different categories: *Children-Teen 12-16 year olds *Children-Young Adult 16-18 years old *Best Teen/YA Book of the Year eLit Awards- Silver Winner
Talk To Me, Book 2 was a Finalist in the Author U unpublished contest, 2016. IPA Award- Winner in Death and Dying
The author is available for speaking on the matters of teen suicide, bullying and for author events.
Congratulations to author Heather Van Fleet on the release of The Liars Beneath! Read on for more info.
The Liars Beneath
Genre: Upper YA Thriller/Mystery w/ Romantic Elements
Publication Date: January 27th, 2022
Publisher: WiseWolf Books
TW: Mentions of Sexual Assault, coercion, drug use, drinking, suicide.
After a tragic accident ends her best friend’s life, 17-year-old Becca Thompson succumbs to grief the only way she knows how: by wallowing in it. She’s a fragment of the person she once was—far too broken to enjoy the summer before her senior year. But when Ben McCain, her best friend’s older brother, returns home, Becca must face her new reality head on.
She isn’t interested in Ben’s games, especially since he abandoned his sister during the months leading up to her death. But when he begs for her help in uncovering the truth about what really happened the night of his sister’s death, Becca finds herself agreeing, hoping to clear up rumors swirling in the wake of her best friend’s accident.
An unhinged ex-boyfriend, secret bucket lists, and garage parties in the place Becca calls home soon lead her to the answers she’s so desperate to unveil. But nobody is being honest, not even Ben. And the closer Becca gets to the truth—and to Ben—the more danger seems to surround her.
Clearing her best friend’s name was all she wanted to do, but Becca is quickly realizing that the truth she craves might be uglier than the lies her best friend kept.
Splinters tear at the undersides of my nails when I squeeze the church pew ahead of me. The raw skin burns, but I welcome the pain, needing it to distract me from the ache in my chest.
In front of me sits an old man who’s scratching at his comb-over toupee. The side falls down past his right ear, leading way to the baldness beneath. I huff, irritated because I can’t see the front of the church around his oversized head…not that I want to. Not when I know what’s there.
The results of my biggest mistake.
“And now a reading from the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter three, verses one through eight.” The minister clears his throat, talking nonsense Rose would’ve laughed at.
Instead of listening, I relax under Dad’s arm, while Mom clings to my right hand. Settled and sheltered, I shut my eyes, welcoming the darkness. It promises peace, an almost believable sense that this isn’t happening.
In a world away from grief, I’m with my best friend again—the echo of her voice whispering promises of forever in my ear. We climb trees, fish with my father early in the mornings on his boat, then spend our afternoons swimming in the river alcove off Colton Road.
Our space, our world, she tells me.
Yes. Always, I smile and say.
“…and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up…”
I clutch Mom’s hand even tighter, bottom lip trembling. The minister tries to pull me back in, but I won’t let him. Not now.
Slipping back into my memories, I inhale the smoke from summer bonfires, taste the s’more goop dripping from between my lips, listen to Rose’s laughter while she watches me shove four marshmallows into my mouth at the same time.
Away from the church, in the dark, non-lonely recess of my mind, mud squishes beneath my boots with every step we take along the dam near my house. Rose teases me for being scared of falling into the water, her blue eyes filled with mirth.
With the setting sun at her back and a hand over my forehead blocking the glaring light, I watch her long-limbed body teeter close to the edge, balanced on one foot like a ballerina. As always, she’s completely fearless.
But then the rush of water drifts closer, her lips part in a silent scream, and I gasp…
More tears fill my eyes when they pop back open, and my recollections become nightmares with the snap of a twig beneath my feet, though I wasn’t there the night she died.
The sole source of Rose’s end was the exact same thing I feared falling into for so long. Irony is cruel.
Two weeks ago, I was finishing up the first of my college applications, readying for senior year. Now I’m preparing for a future knowing Rose would be by my side every step of the way.
We were best friends. Like sisters even. Joined at the hip since the age of ten, living the dream of two girls eager to become women. Rose was the other half to my whole. Together, we could have accomplished anything.
If only she hadn’t been so stupid.
If only she was still alive.
I shiver, letting go of Mom’s hand to wrap my arm over my stomach. The muscles harden beneath, and agony builds a bomb inside.
Don’t cry, Becca. Don’t you dare.
“You okay, sunshine?” Dad whispers, no doubt sensing my mood.
No, I want to say. I’m dying inside. But that’s not what comes out.
Without bravery, I’ll fall apart.
My gaze wanders the congregation, searching for familiar faces. Those who loved Rose, those who might have hated her too.
Sienna’s the first person I see. She’s a girl I know from school, someone I hung out with at lunch if Rose wasn’t there. A friend to me, a barely passable acquaintance to Rose. Her exposed cheek is blotchy and red, stained with tears I’m surprised she’s shedding.
Beside her sits her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Alex. His arm is draped around her shoulders and his head is tipped back, brown eyes half-lidded as he looks to the ceiling. He’s either high or sleeping. Either option wouldn’t surprise me
I look away, catching sight of a few nosy townspeople, some distant relatives of Rose’s I barely know too. Overall, though, I don’t see many familiar faces. Not Adam, her best guy friend. Not even Travis—though my ex not showing up doesn’t surprise me. I think he hated Rose more than she hated him.
“And finally, I’d like to leave you with a few words from Rose’s older brother, Ben,” the minister finishes.
My lips part with shock. I move forward in the pew, my father’s arm falling away. I can’t believe he’s actually here.
My best friend talked nonstop about Ben; hero-worshipped him even, despite the fact that he constantly ignored her. His achievements were her achievements. The awards he won, the trophies he earned playing football too. Rose treated her older brother like a king. A saint, really, who could do no wrong.
But then Mr. Perfect went away to college and turned his back on Rose and everyone else who loved him. That’s when everything changed.
Heather Van Fleet is a Midwestern-born author with a love of all things spontaneous road trips, TV shows that leave her questioning her morals, and book boyfriends. As a graduate of Black Hawk College, Heather took her degree in early childhood development, tossed it into the garbage, and is now living the dream writing books sprinkled with suspense and lots of kissing.
She’s currently living out her own version of a happily ever after with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband, their three hugely feminist daughters, and two fur babies with bad attitudes. When she’s not being a mom or writing books, you can find her drinking way too many energy drinks or crashing out on her sofa with a romance novel of some sort.
Congratulations to author Alex Callister on the release of the highly anticipated prequel in the Winter series, Winter Dawn! Read on for more info and a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-gift card and some book swag!
Winter Dawn (Winter #3)
Publication Date: January 24th, 2022
Genre: Thriller/ Spy Thriller/ Strong Female Lead
It is darkest before the dawn..
A hunt to the death. An all-seeing executioner. An unlikely hero.
From the author of the #1 best selling Audible Thriller of the Year comes a totally gripping crime thriller with heart-pounding suspense.
A New York Senator is being hunted.
With the world watching, she has been chosen as Colosseum’s next victim. No one can look away from the chilling new reality show, which awards a huge cash prize to the first person to assassinate its target. No-where is safe. No-one can be trusted. But just when her brutal death seems inevitable, an arrogant 21-year-old arrives from London to protect her. Now Winter is all that stands between the Senator and Colosseum. As dawn creeps in, time is running out for Winter to unravel the riddle at the heart of this sinister game: who is the shadowy Adjudicator of Colosseum, and what is his ultimate purpose?
Meet Winter: she’sthe audacious, hyper-intelligent GCHQ agent with more notches on her bed post than James Bond and more hacking cred than Lisbeth Salander. Winter Dawn is the beginning of the Winter series, journeying back to the start of her story. This time, she’s grappling with Colosseum: a sinister online phenomenon that has gripped the world. It promises a massive cash prize to the successful hunter of its victims, unleashing an unstoppable tide of violence – and the world’s authorities are powerless to prevent it.
When a New York Senator is targeted, Winter is called in to protect her. But with all the world watching, there’s nowhere to hide. No one has ever survived Colosseum. It’s the winter solstice, and as they journey together into the dark heart of the longest night, they soon discover that nothing about Colosseum is what it seems. There are rules, and there is a purpose, if only they can solve the riddle in time. Colosseum is more than a hunt: it’s a challenge. Targets must face their darkest fear, or die at dawn.
Alex has spent her career charting the rise of the internet and is fascinated by the dark web and its potential to facilitate crime. An action movie fan, her books are full of cult references. Her kick-ass heroine, Winter, was inspired by Bond, Bourne, John Wick, Vin Diesel, Jack Reacher and many others.
Alex has a history degree, a certificate in creative writing and a murderous imagination. She writes when she gets a chance, which is mainly at night between 10pm and 2am at home in London, with her three Bengal tigers.
WINTER DARK was the Audible Thriller of the Year 2019.