Our 5* Review for Double Blind by Dan Alatorre#FastPacedMurderMystery @savvystories

Two detectives hunt a serial killer. The killer is hunting them.

 

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A lone trucker is ambushed, shot, and brutally stabbed. A tourist meets the same fate while out for a jog. Facing two crime scenes that could have come from a horror movie, Detectives Carly Sanderson and Sergio Martin search for the crazed serial killer.

Five more attacks happen in a week, launching the entire city into a panic and causing the mayor to throw all of the city’s resources into stopping the rampage. But while the detectives work around the clock, they don’t know the killer has upped the game—by making them his next targets.

 

Our Review

At first, the killings seem random, just the actions of a deranged mind.

I found the descriptive powers of the author, combined with the smell of blood quite stomach churning as I searched for clues. I knew it would be a bit gruesome going in, but wasn’t quite prepared for the intensity of the murder scenes. The author has a very powerful imagination!

I loved the easy relationship between the two main characters, detectives Carly and Sergio. A most unusual pair, but real people, warts and all!

The casual dropping into the story half way through of a major clue as to the killer’s identity almost ruined the story for me, but it was cleverly done and hard to spot.

If I have one criticism about this book, it has to be about the killer. I can normally empathise or sometimes even admire most killers. I mean, they are usually damaged in some way, driving them to murder. Try as I might, I could find no redeeming feature in this man.

Here’s hoping the sequel finds Carly and Sergio with a far more interesting antagonist…

 

Excerpt

The wind gusted, sending the trash into the street in a tiny tornado. Lifting and dropping a McDonald’s hamburger wrapper, the little vortex danced and raged; then, as quickly as it had come, it was gone. The pieces of trash twitched and were still. The chill in the air remained, though. That wasn’t going anywhere tonight.

He glanced down the street. In the darkness, a shadow moved. Sergio held his breath. Opposite side of the street. The motion indicated walking. Tall. Probably a male.

This is our pedestrian.

Moving his gaze back to the sidewalk before anyone could tell him to, Sergio watched the stranger while keeping his face pointed at the ground. The man walked with his hands in the front pockets of his hoodie. The stride was long but not fast. The pedestrian seemed to intentionally sway his shoulders, as if he was walking up a steep hill.

When he’s closer, let him see you see him, then immediately look away. Head down, submissive.

The stranger kept coming. Sergio kept walking, his heart pounding.

What if this is our guy?

If it’s our guy, he will approach you. Keep walking. Casual.

The stranger got closer. He was larger than Sergio had originally estimated. Thicker, and taller.

Maybe six foot two, maybe a little more.

Eyes down. Don’t act like a cop.

He’d have to be big to do all that stabbing, to overcome a big guy like Leo.

But he used a gun to help.

Sergio glanced at the hands in the hoodie pockets. Could that conceal a .38? The man looked Sergio’s way.

Eyes down!

He didn’t think eye contact was made, but if the man had seen Sergio looking, maybe that was the time to walk faster.

Maybe we’ll speed up a little anyway.

On opposite sides of the street, the two men neared each other. Forty feet away, then thirty.

Sergio’s head was humming. This is how he did the jogger. Right on the street. A shot to the chest and then he started stabbing.

The bulletproof vest will protect you from both for a while. Long enough for the teams to get here…

Sergio forced himself to take a long, slow breath and walk slower without appearing to be trying. Sweat gathered on his forehead.

The man had heavy movements, a clumping kind of stride like someone might do when they were wearing new construction boots that don’t quite fit. The stranger stayed on one side of the street; Sergio stayed on the other. The sidewalk turned to gravel and then to mud. Sergio stepped around a big puddle and into the street.

“Hey, bro.”

The stranger’s voice cut the quiet night like a knife. Sergio didn’t look up. He kept his head down and kept walking.

“I got fives and tens, my man. If you lookin’ to party.”

Drug talk. Could be a street seller and nothing more. And if the killer was watching, what would he expect Sergio to do? Or if it’s the killer, what would work best?

Sergio halted.

The sergeant was loud in his ear. “Do not engage, Walking Boss. If it’s our guy he’s not trying to sell you drugs. Keep walking.”

Sergio did not move.

“Walking Boss, do you copy? Please respond.”

Sergio turned toward the stranger, keeping his head low and peering upward. He took a step toward the big man.

“Walking Boss, we are not receiving your signal. Please respond.”

His eyes. I want to see his eyes.

The man crossed into the street, dropping his hands to his sides. Sergio held his ground. Sweat dripped down the side of his head and into his ear. To wipe it free might draw attention to the earpiece. He let it go, taking a step toward the stranger. “What kind of stuff you got?”

“Walking Boss, do not engage. Do you read me?”

“Just the basics right here. Fives and tens.” The stranger pointed to the hoodie pocket. “But I can get something else if you want.”

The shadow of the hoodie kept the man’s face dark, but his features were coming visible. The man’s teeth were yellow and his eyes were red. Could be a drug addict or could be a killer.

“Walking Boss! Do you read me?”

The red eyes moved forward. “What you want, bro?”

The way he said it made the hairs on the back of Sergio’s neck stand up. The sneer, the thickness of the voice, like he dreamed it. He fought to not react, holding his breath. His racing pulse throbbed in his ears as a drop of ice cold sweat trickled down his back.

It’s not him. It’s not him. It’s not him.

#####

 

Biography

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages.

From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heart-warming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry – or hang onto the edge of your seat – has been enjoyed by audiences around the world.

And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time.

“That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.”

Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe.

His unique writing style can make you chuckle or shed tears—sometimes on the same page (or steam up the room if it’s one of his romances). Regardless of genre, his novels always contain unexpected twists and turns, and his endearing nonfiction stories will stay in your heart forever.

25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew, co-authored by Dan, has been a valuable tool for upcoming writers (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping new authors is evident in his wildly popular blog “Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR.”

Dan’s success is widespread and varied. In addition to being a bestselling author, he has achieved President’s Circle with two different Fortune 500 companies. You can find him blogging away almost every day on http://www.DanAlatorre.com or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week, Writers Off Task With Friends.

Dan resides in the Tampa, Florida area with his wife and daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

Tallis Steelyard: Six Men in a Boat #ScienceFiction&Fantasy @JimWebster6

Joining us here today, is everyone’s favourite story teller, Jim Webster.

The famous Tallis Steelyard has a new adventure that we all want to read!

Over to you, Jim…

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Instead of his usual collection of anecdotes, this time Tallis presents us with a gripping adventure.

Why is Tallis ‘run out of town’ by hired ruffians?

Why does a very sensible young woman want his company when plunging into unknown danger?

Who or what was buried in the catacombs? And why has there been so much interest in making sure they stay dead? Also featuring flower arranging, life on the river, and a mule of notable erudition.

Amazing what you learn as you grow older.

Meirdre, the oldest daughter of Garrat and Taffetia Drane was, by common agreement, a precocious child. After all, at the age of six, she was a full partner in ‘Peepers and Narks’, investigators of choice to the leading Port Naain legal partnership of Thallawell, Thallawell, and Thallawell.

Now, this might have been regarded by most as something of a formality, and to be fair, for the first three or four months it probably was. But her parents didn’t want to see their child cheated by older partners, and so they looked for ways in which their daughter could become more ‘hands on.’ Inspiration came when Garrat was reading a report written by one of the many peepers who worked for the partnership on a casual basis. He commented to his lady wife that a child of six would be expected to have better grammar and spelling. Taffetia, who was in point of fact quite proud of the education she had been giving her children, agreed entirely with her husband’s sentiments.

(I will pause here to discuss in brief the fact that some cynics have intimated that this entire agreement on the behalf of a wife to her husband’s comments is surely exclusive enough on its own to make this story worthy of recording. I merely state that it is not a unique occasion, several times my own wife has agreed entirely with something I’ve said. Admittedly, a number of these occasions will be when I restricted myself to ‘Yes Dear’ but by no means all.)

Still, parental agreement within the Drane household meant that before the age of seven, Meirdre was reading every report made to ‘Peepers and Narks’ by their operatives, and was correcting grammar and spelling. A couple of years later she started to do the same to those reports that the partnership sent on to their clients. In the course of this, she discovered that because she had read and scrutinised every statement coming in, she often had a better grasp of the situation than the other two partners. Thus, she started writing the final reports rather than merely editing them for grammar and spelling.

If this seems a lot for a girl of her age, remember that at this point she was also working as a wailer. This role she fulfilled entirely competently but was beginning to get in the way of her new profession. With little hesitation, she turned her back on it and concentrated entirely on office management. To be fair her partners were perfectly happy to leave the paperwork to her. They moved to supervising the fieldwork whilst Meirdre ran the office. This worked well; Dagly Ween had been considered one of the best peepers in the business. At the same time the other partner, Mirabelle Sobent, was the leading female ‘arm and a leg’ man in Port Naain. Whilst it’s unlikely that anybody actually boasted that they’d taken a punishment beating from Mirabelle Sobent, she was known for dispassionate efficiency. Word got round the business community, if you want somebody beaten up for asking difficult questions, poaching your staff, or stealing your ideas (or complaining when you steal theirs) then Thallawell, Thallawell, and Thallawell know the best people.

Yet a note Meirdre might get from a nark would often need action to be taken immediately. So inevitably, she drifted into management. By the time she was fourteen, she was regularly sending out instructions to peepers or arm and leg men, stating what action she wanted taken. Still, ever courteous, she made sure her partners would get a copy of the note to keep them in the picture. As her partners grew older, more and more of the work fell upon her shoulders until finally, she bought them out. Now in sole charge at last, she could run the business as she felt it ought to be run. She expanded the organisation’s operations into Partann searching for both economic and political information which could be sold to better paying markets than a lawyer’s practice. Closer to home, her long familiarity with the Port Naain criminal classes gave her a lot of information on the city’s politics and politicians. Slowly she began to gather more evidence and built up her files. By the time she was thirty-five she quietly dominated the city’s politics. Politicians relied upon her for information about what was happening both inside and outside the city.

Indeed she was being actively courted by four Sinecurists and it was widely expected that when she married she would become the richest and most influential lady in the city. Fate took a hand as her carriage, taking her to a ball, collided with a cart loaded with mott carcasses. She got out and fell into conversation with the driver of the cart. He was firm but courteous; her coachman had been too free with the whip which had left the horses jittery. Thus when they’d come round the corner and met his cart they’d panicked. She could see the correctness of his analysis and instructed her coachmen and postilion to load the contents of the cart into her coach. Meirdre and the driver of the cart, (now revealed to be the farmer who had fattened the mott whose carcasses were being transhipped,) then left the postilion to ensure that the cart and ponies were looked after whilst the coach made its way down the ropewalk to Bolidad and Offspring, butchers to the gentry. As the coach was unloaded, Meirdre and the mott farmer were in deep conversation, so deep that she dismissed the coach and the two of them sat drinking coffee in Slybooks. Two weeks later, to the surprise of the city in general, Meirdre married her mott farmer and went north to live with him on a pleasant enough holding perhaps thirty miles from the city. They live in a house with three books, and two of them are about mott husbandry. The height of their social calendar is the day they provide the young mott for the village fete’s ‘catch the greasy mott’ competition. And now the hard sell!

OK so perhaps the not so hard sell. It’s just that this is part of a blog tour which is peering into the lives of Garrat Drane, and his lady wife Taffetia Drane. Now we are meeting their various offspring, delightful people and pillars of the community. Or perhaps not. But still now is your chance to meet them and inadvertently you may discover their importance to our hero, Tallis Steelyard.

But actually, the purpose of this blog is to draw your attention to the fact that a new book has been published. ‘Tallis Steelyard: Six men in a boat.’ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-Six-men-boat-ebook/dp/B07JPKYJJN

Rather than a collection of his anecdotes, this is indeed an ‘adventure’ as Tallis ventures forth from the city of Port Naain. Questions are asked that may even be answered, why is Tallis ‘run out of town’ by hired ruffians? Why does a very sensible young woman want his company when plunging into unknown danger? Who or what was buried in the catacombs? And why has there been so much interest in making sure they stay dead? Also featuring flower arranging, life on the river, and a mule of notable erudition.

Treat yourself; you know you’re worth it…

5* Review for The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody #UrbanFantasy @marciameara

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 In Marcia Meara’s second installment of The Emissary Trilogy, a Riverbend spinoff series of novellas, we find our three heroes at it again. Beautiful new places, exciting new adventures, and a whole assortment of new problems await them, bringing tears, laughter, and an extraordinary amount of love along with them.

 

 

 

Our Review

Not all sweetness and light this time, as Azrael gets serious about equipping both Jake and Dodger for their job of helping souls in trouble.

I loved the chapter about the training session, and how Dodger and Jake reacted to the new strong-arm tactics.

I loved everything about this book just as I did the first in the series.

The way Dodger tries to cope with his insecurities, and Jake’s capable and patient attitude. Azrael had me laughing, he tried hard not to lose it as he struggled to get his point across to these very different personalities.

You never really imagine an angel getting cranky, now do you?

The missing element between Jake and Dodger, always a possible father-son relationship, really gets going in this book. I found it beautifully written and very emotional as I never got to know my own father.

Altogether though, I thought they made a great team as they travel around the country, helping us mortals keep on the straight and narrow.

A subtle reminder that some of us in this world can’t be helped, but wouldn’t it  be wonderful to know someone cares enough to try!

 

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About the Author

Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream.
Three years later, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go!
Marcia has published five other books to date, all of which are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format: Wake-Robin Ridge A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2 Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2 Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love
You can reach Marcia via email at mmeara@cfl.rr.com or on the following social media sites: The Write Stuff: http://marciamearawrites.com/
Twitter: @marciameara
To keep up with Marcia’s latest news and giveaways, and win FREE stuff, sign up for her Mail List here: https://marciamearawrites.com/mail-list-win-free-stuff/

 

Breaking News! 5* review: Simple by Anita Dawes #FamilyHorror

Look what I found this morning….

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Image created by AEM

A wonderful poster, created by Amy Elisabeth Miller (AEM) @magicalworldweb to celebrate the arrival of her incredible review for Anita’s second book, Simple…

AEM
5.0 out of 5 starsLife’s Choices
20 October 2018Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

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#Poetry: Don’t Look Away…

I found this heartbreaking poem while sorting out some old papers.

It was written more than ten years ago by my granddaughter, Hayley.

 

 

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Don’t Look Away

Rich or poor, thin or stout

You’ll know when bullies are about.

There’ll be eyes that are crying

And those that are looking away.

‘No Sir, I didn’t see what happened…

I really couldn’t say.’

Or the bullies will get me tomorrow,

When you are looking away.

When the bullies shout and push you about

And when you call for help,

I won’t tell you to go away,

Don’t make a fuss dear,

As grown-ups are prone to say.

I will stand beside you and say

My name is Hayley Steele

I will not look away…

©written by Hayley Steele

(Anita’s granddaughter)

 

 

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Cover Reveal for End of Day by Mae Clair @MaeClair1 #MysterySuspenseSupernatural

Today we welcome Mae Clair to our blog. She is a good friend and a phenomenal writer, we recently enjoyed reading Cusp of Night and look forward to reading End of Day, book two of the Hode’s Hill Series…

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weeds

Release Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Kensington Publishing • Lyrical Underground Imprint

BLURB:
The past is never truly buried…

Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?

As the descendants of those buried in the church yard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined in a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. In order to set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.

End of Day can be read as a stand alone novel or as a follow-up to book one of the Hode’s Hill series, Cusp of Night.

End of Day is available for pre-order through this link
and available to add to your Goodreads to-be-read list here.

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up
Website & Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | All Social Media

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Merlin ~part four

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“You have much to learn, Merlin before I can teach you the meaning of true magic. All the names of plants, herbs, and the trees in the forest. Thoughts, words, they all have power. Use each one with great care…”

Merlin’s head was by now so full of the Hermit’s words, no more could enter. He fell asleep at the table, but his dream was not as the Hermit had planned. Merlin had fallen too deep and found himself in a dark place. The forest no longer a peaceful place, wild creatures howled all around him.  The trees whipped him with their branches as he passed, tearing the skin from his face and arms.

Something was destroying the forest. The sun no longer shed its light there and the trees were dying. Merlin could no longer hear the birdsong and the sweet smell of the trees had gone. What could be destroying the Hermit’s peaceful home?

Deep in his dream, Merlin knew he couldn’t let this happen and could hear his own voice telling him to wake up. “There is no time to waste, wake up you fool.”

When Merlin awoke, he was alone in the cave.

“Great, just when I have something important to say, he has disappeared.”

He walked out of the cave and made his way to the lake. Everything felt the same as before. The smells and sounds, the feeling of peace, it was all still there. There was no point looking for the Hermit, he could be anywhere, or nowhere.

He was skimming stones across the surface of the lake when a hand reached out of the water and caught the stone. Merlin stood there with his mouth hanging open as he watched the most beautiful face break the surface of the water. It was the mermaid of his dreams.  The lady of the lake threw the stone back to Merlin. He caught it easily with his left hand.

“Good,” she said and sank beneath the water again. Merlin ran into the water, yelling for her to wait. “Come back!” She would know where the Hermit had gone, but he wasn’t quick enough. He had to learn to stop gawping and accept the things he was seeing with a little more speed.

Merlin stayed by the lake a while longer, hoping she would come back, but as darkness fell he was forced to make his way back to the cave. There was no sign of the Hermit.

By now, Merlin was starving. So far, food had always been ready when he needed it, but the black cauldron stood empty. He sat down on his bed, rubbing the hot spot on the palm of his hand. He wondered why a stone from the cold water should leave a red mark. As he watched, it began to fade.

He waited a while longer, and while he waited, he wondered if he was brave enough to sit on what he thought was the hermits magic boulder. Did he dare to sit on it? A small voice in the back of his mind told him to get on with it.

He sat there for a long time. Nothing came to his mind but the hunger grumbling inside his body. Eventually, he went outside to look for food. He knew which berries and mushrooms he could eat. The weight of the stone in his pocket made him think of the Hermit as he made his way back to the cave.

He wondered why he was learning from dreams and not the Hermit as he said he would. He placed his meagre gatherings on the table, noticing the fire burning under the cauldron. Looking inside, someone had prepared food, yet the Hermit was still missing. As he made short work of the food, he realised the Hermit must have left word for his friends to look out for him.

Merlin put the stone on the table. It was a good flat stone, black with white veining. As he looked at it, his eyes began to water and a gentle humming sounded in his ears. Slowly, the voice of the lady of the lake could be heard. Through the water in his eyes, he could see a dark tunnel. The Hermit was sitting by the lake and the lady stood on the water, her long flowing dress floating around her. He heard her ask the Hermit a question.

“Does he remember his mother’s name, or heard the tales of his father?”

The Hermit answered her. “He knows nothing…”

The vision faded and Merlin noticed that the stone had moved from the where he had placed it, leaving a small burn mark on the table. Something made him put it on a pewter plate, then he left to search for the Hermit again.

He gave up and returned to the cave, feeling the first stirring of anger.

By day three, there was little food left and Merlin’s anger was slowly growing at being left. Should he go back to the forest to find the hermits friends and stay with them? As he fell asleep that night, he wondered if he was only dreaming or really being shown his future…

He sat astride a black horse and had passed the lake, heading deeper into the forest. He could hear the sound of horses behind him and the noise of a battle in front of him. He pulled on the reins to stop the horse, afraid of what lay ahead.

Turning the horse around, he found no one behind him. He tried to wake up, believing the Hermit messed around in his head whenever he slept and when he opened his eyes, he found the Hermit sitting on his great stone. Looking out of the cave mouth he saw that the world outside was still in darkness.

Part of this darkness entered his mind, fuelling his anger. He let it out, his voice loud, echoing along the cave walls.

He marched up to the Hermit and kicked the stone. “You have no right keeping me here! Keep out of my head!” He kicked the great stone again, watching the smile vanish from the Hermits face. A low rumbling sound began, gradually becoming louder.

Merlin reached out his hands, his lungs burning from the force of his voice.

“Stop!”

The Hermit stepped down from the stone. “I see you have learned a few things in my absence. If you wish to go, I shall not stop you, but I think you should eat before you go.”

The smell of food cooking soon had Merlin sitting at the table. He noticed that the mark on the table had vanished. He rubbed his hand across the surface, wondering if he had dreamed that too.

The Hermit brought two pewter plates to the table and handed Merlin the stone. “You really should keep this, as you may need it later.”

Merlin put the stone in his pocket and said nothing. There was no anger left in him, no more heated words. Feeling a little sorry for himself, he asked the Hermit why he had left him alone for so long.

“That is a story for another time. There are many things I will tell you about one day should you decide to stay. I would very much like it if you did. By the way, if you are in no hurry to leave, maybe you would like to help my friends, they have a roof needs mending.”

Merlin agreed to help, so they set out with him walking behind the Hermit, watching him closely…

To be continued…

Anita Dawes

 

 

Merlin: part three

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Merlin had never known his father, nor heard any of the tales about him.

The Hermit didn’t ask that question again. Merlin wanted to ask a few questions of his own, like where the clothes he was wearing came from. All the food, and how the Hermit knew he was twelve years old?

The only thing he had ever seen the Hermit doing, apart from cooking, was sitting cross-legged on a large boulder with his eyes closed and his hands on his knees. Sometimes Merlin thought the Hermit’s backside wasn’t on the boulder, that he floated about a foot above it but his long robes made it hard to be sure.

Merlin almost stood on his head trying to see, to no avail. On one of these times, the Hermit told Merlin he would end up with too much blood in his head if he kept doing that.

Merlin found the courage to ask the Hermit where they were.

“First of all, young Merlin, this place is my home. The forest protects us from unwanted eyes…”

With a little too much courage, Merlin asked, “So where does all the food come from? And my clothing? I haven’t seen you leave this cave since you brought me here…”

“I have a friend out there…”  The tone of his voice told Merlin not to ask any more questions. “Tomorrow we will take a walk and maybe you will meet some of my friends…”

That evening, the Hermit sat Merlin down and asked him if he could remember why he had been in the forest without any clothes. The only thing Merlin could remember was being run out of the village, the screaming, and the banging of pots and being told never to come back.

He couldn’t remember doing anything bad, or how long he had been wandering around or where his clothes went.

“Do you remember meeting anyone in the forest?” The Hermit could see Merlin was getting tired. “You sleep now, we will talk more tomorrow.”

Sleep came fast with more dreams. Memories of cold nights in the forest and finding that someone always left food close to where he slept.

Merlin dreamed of the Hermit too, walking along the side of the lake. What looked like long blonde hair floated on the water and seemed to follow the Hermit’s footsteps. His mouth moved as though he was talking to someone. After a while, the water began to stir as if agitated by something. The hair disappeared beneath the water and ripples spread across the lake, but the Hermit kept on talking…

In the dream, Merlin could see the words coming from his mouth. Red, angry words made of fire, spilling into the lake. Whoever the Hermit had been speaking to would be sure to hear them.

The Hermit vanished and Merlin was alone in the forest. Not long after, the memory of cold nights began to haunt his dreams. In the dreams, he was welcomed by small people who led him to their home. There they fed him and told him stories. The taste of the food reminded Merlin of the food that had been left for him before when he had been alone.

Suddenly there was a loud roar and Merlin jumped from the fallen log where he had been sitting. The eldest of the clan stood at Merlin’s side. “No need to worry, it is only Trog.”

That was when Merlin could see just what had made the sound that was louder than any thunder he had ever heard. From between the trees, came a small blue dragon that promptly began to inspect Merlin, poking his long nose over Merlin’s hair and licking his face. The dragon’s breath smelled of mint.

Merlin slept the night with his new friends and awoke to the smell of cooking. He was back in the cave and the Hermit was stirring the cauldron. “Did you enjoy your visit with my friends?”

Not sure how to answer, Merlin, replied that he hadn’t taken him to meet his friends yet.

The Hermit let out a chuckle, a rare occurrence. “Take a look at your feet. They tell a different story.”

Merlin lifted one foot after the other to find them coated in mud with dried leaves stuck between his toes. The cave floor was grey stone, so where had he been?

Merlin ate slowly, trying to take it all in. How could he have been there, it had been a dream. Yet the mud on his feet told a different story. He put down the wooden spoon he had been eating with and took a deep breath. He asked who the Hermit had been speaking to as he walked by the lake.

The Hermit knew it was time for the truth and told Merlin about the Lady of the Lake. Merlin thought his head would explode but he had to know why they had been so angry.

The Hermit took his time with the answer, as it was still too soon to reveal everything. “She was angry because I will not take you back to the village.”

Merlin jumped up from the table. “But I don’t want to go back…”

“Calm down young Merlin. The Lady has given me time to teach you all you need to know.”

“Teach me what?” Merlin couldn’t wait to hear the answer.

“To become the greatest wizard the world will ever know.”

Merlin had heard the stories around the village, of magic and wizards and great standing stones. Stories of Stonehenge had stuck in Merlin’s mind the most, a place he wanted to see. Maybe the Hermit could dream him there.

The Hermit said there was no time for dreaming. Merlin no longer wondered how the Hermit always knew what he was thinking.

“Time is the enemy, Merlin. You must respect it but don’t let it slap you in the face.”

Anita

To be continued…

5* Review for Lily White in Detroit by Cynthia Harrison #ThrillerMystery @CynthiaHarriso1

 

 

Private investigator Lily White has a client with a faulty moral compass. When the client is arrested for murdering his wife and her alleged lover, Lily follows her intuition and her own leads. If she’s wrong, she’ll at least know she did her job.

Detroit police detective Derrick Paxton remembers Lily from another case. He understands she suffers from PTSD and thinks her judgment is impaired. He goes after her client and the evidence he needs to close the case. When Lily is kidnapped, the case takes an unexpected turn.

 

 

In a sometimes racially divided city, a black cop and a white PI work together to peel back every layer to find the truth. What they find leads them to each other, but do they have enough to bring the true criminals to justice?

 

Excerpt

They laughed and exchanged a look. It felt to Paxton like their eyes did something more than see each other. They connected. Tight as two loose strings making a strong knot. “Yes. And then today he brought flowers. He said we’d had an awful time of it with my room being broken into, and he needed to be there to surprise me and make me feel safe. ‘Give a heartsick guy a break’ were his words.”

She picked up her drink and took a swallow. “This is good,” she said. “I feel the vodka.”

 “So how’d he know you’d be there?”

“I didn’t think about that until I was on the way home, um, here.” Paxton drained his martini glass. “Home is here,” he said, “if you want it.”

She slid one of her legs out from under her and wiggled it under his thigh. “We have a ways to go, don’t we?” But the way she said it made it clear she was in this with him. He was not feeling the love alone. He took her bare foot and began to massage it, rubbing the arch and the heel and smoothing his fingers over her toes. “So, how’d he know?”

“If you think about it, you’ll be able to solve that one before I finish my drink.” She sipped. “That feels so good,” she said, pulling her other foot out from under her and sliding it his way.

“I’d say our security spotted him too close to the building, parked in his car overlong, kept an eye, and when you came out of the apartment, saw him follow you,” Paxton said.

“Yep,” Lily said. “So we have the tape if we need it. I guess that depends on what you tell me.” By this time, he’d started working out the stress points of her other foot. She made soft sounds of pleasure. “My God, where’d you learn to do that?”

“Reflexology book.”

“Hmmm. It’s better than vodka.”

 “You want a refill?”

“I want Chinese food. I forgot to eat today.”

“What about the pizza earlier?”

“Look at your watch.”

He did. It was after midnight. Okay, so pizza was yesterday. She was already on her phone, ordering a string of dishes, all their favourites. When it occurred to him they already had their favourites, their habits and routines, it made him happy and a little afraid.

 

Our Review

“Many thanks to the author for the advanced digital copy of this crime suspense book. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.”

Lily White is a private investigator but there was a time when she was someone else.

These days she is recovering from post-traumatic stress caused by a gruelling incident in her past and is definitely in the wrong job. Far too much spying on guilty wives and handling distraught husbands for her liking. She much prefers honest investigating.

Now there is a dead body.

And she had just been hired to find the killer.

This was well out of her comfort zone, especially for her PTSD, but too exciting to miss.

I loved the American setting, walking around Detroit with the characters seemed as natural as breathing, so the author must know it well.

All of the characters are well written and real, but I especially liked the two main characters, Lily and Paxton and the way they interact with each other. Such lovely chemistry between them.

The story had just enough subtle tension to keep me turning the pages and I have a feeling this won’t be the last we see of Lily and Paxton. At least I hope not…


 

Cusp of Night by Mae Clair is Released today! Our 5* Review.#ParanormalMystery @MaeClair1

The truth hides in dark places . . .

 

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Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, triggers Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

Visit us at www.kensingtonbooks.com

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Forli, Emilia Romagna, Italy: narrow dark alley in the old town – ancient Italian street at night with lampposts and cobbled pavement

Book Link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cusp-Night-Hodes-Hill-Novel-ebook/dp/B078LJX83X/

Our Review of Cusp of Night

“Equal parts monster and fallen angel…”

I knew when I read the blurb for CUSP OF NIGHT that I had to read the first book in Mae Clair’s new series, and I wasn’t disappointed.

It is an unusual story, beautifully written, dripping with a chilling mystery that draws you into the dark world of spiritualism and myth. Mae Clair skilfully blends and intertwines the chapters, connecting the reader to the 1900’s and the present day and the mysteries of both.

I especially loved the way the mysteries from the past begin to resonate with the present circumstances, leading the hero, Maya Sinclair into the paranormal discovery of an evil that somehow can live forever.

Why would an evil entity visit the present, dragging tragedy and horror with it?

This is the mystery that Maya needs to solve, as disaster begins to strike the people around her. Would she be able to solve the mystery and discover the truth behind the legend?

The tension had me chewing my nails, and then the unexpected sadness had me reaching for a box of tissues, but I thoroughly enjoyed every word.

Already described as  “unique, addictive and creepy…” this new series promises to be a best seller and I can highly recommend Cusp of Night to anyone who loves a haunting and formidable story…


 

EXCERPT FROM CUSP OF NIGHT

She’d left her purse on the dresser, keys by her jewellery chest. A half dozen shoeboxes that had yet to find a place in the closet were stacked beside a white rocking chair. Made from distressed wood, the chair had come from Mrs.Bonnifer’s antique shop. Maya had bought it on the spot after hearing it dated from the 1880s. She’d placed it in the parlour initially, then moved it to the bedroom, where it fits perfectly in the corner by the fireplace. Almost as if it had been made for the spot.

The fireplace had long ago been converted to gas, but the charm of the elaborate Victorian mantel had been one of the deciding factors prompting her to sign the lease.

A soft creak broke the stillness, and the rocker pitched slowly back and forth. The runners bobbled up and down as if someone sat in the chair, controlling the movement. A finger of cold traced Maya’s spine. Secondcrept into second as the deliberate rocking continued, the floorboards creaking in unison with the lurch of the runners.

 Barely breathing, Maya stood. Ever since those few seconds in the Aether, she’d grown sensitive to ripples on the fringe of normal. She didn’t believe in ghosts or hauntings but couldn’t deny the existence of vibrations that breached barriers between life and death. She was living proof of a “between” world. Ivy was the only person she’d ever told what she’d experienced while EMTs fought to revive her.

Shock. Trauma, they’d said. You were lucky.

Be careful here. Mrs Bonnifer’s warning echoed in her head. This place has a history.

Maya stepped to the foot of the bed, her gaze glued to the rocker. Its movement stopped abruptly as if an unseen hand had clamped down on the back…

 

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