SHOWCASE: Caught Dead by Andrew Lahn


Posted by Ryder Islington, Author of Ultimate Justice, a Trey Fontaine Mystery, and comming this spring, Ultimate Game, a Trey Fontaine Msytery

Caught Dead

by Andrew Lahn

on Tour February 1-28, 2015

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery Published by: Poisoned Pen Press Publication Date: November 11, 2014 Number of Pages: 283 ISBN: 9781464203305 Series: A Rick Van Lam Mystery, 1 Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

One of the beautiful Le sisters is dead. Hartford, Connecticut’s small Vietnamese community is stunned. Mary Le Vu, wife of a poor grocery-store owner, is gunned down in a drive-by. Her twin sister insists dutiful Mary “wouldn’t be caught dead” in that drug-infested zone. The police rule it an unlucky accident. Skeptics hire private eye Rick Van Lam to get to the truth. Amerasian Rick –his father an unknown US soldier –is one of the Boi Doi, children of the dust, so often rejected by Vietnamese culture. But his young sidekick, Hank Nguyen, a pureblood Vietnamese, can help Rick navigate the closed world of Little Saigon. Surrounded by close friends –a former-Rockette landlady, his crusty mentor, and his ex-wife Liz –Rick immerses himself in a world that rejects him, but now needs his help. Especially when a second murder strikes in Little Saigon. Rick and Hank delve into the families of the Le sisters, one poor, one very rich, and uncover a world of explosive ethnic tension and sinister criminal activity ranging from Hartford’s exclusive white suburbs to the impoverished inner city. To solve the murders –and bring closure to Mary’s grieving circle –Rick looks to long-buried memories of his Buddhist childhood for the wisdom that will lead him to a murderer. Caught Dead starts a smart, unusual series.

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Everyone had heard of the Le sisters. Even outside the closed Vietnamese community in Hartford, “the beautiful Le sisters,” as they were called, were talked of. They’d been stunners in their twenties, but even now, well into their forties, they caught your eye. So when Hank phoned me one night, waking me from an early sleep, all I heard him mumble was “the Le sisters,” and I supplied the obligatory adjective: beautiful. “Rick, wake up,” Hank yelled. “Mary Le is dead.” I wasn’t fully awake. “What?” I could hear annoyance in his voice. “Mary Le Vu. You know, one of the beautiful Le sisters.” One of the beautiful Le sisters. Twin sisters. I scratched my earlobe, sat up on the sofa where’d I’d drifted off to sleep around nine. “What?” I yawned. “You listening to me?” Hank yelled again into the phone. I tried to picture the sisters. I’d met them a few times, usually at some Vietnamese New Year’s wingding, some Tet over-the-top frenzy, once at a wedding where all the men got drunk, another time at a Buddhist funeral. “I’m sleeping,” I explained. “It’s not late.” “I had a long day.” I’d gotten up to jog at six, avoiding the hot, relentless August sun of a heat wave that was in its third day. “She’s dead,” he blurted out. “She’s been murdered.” He waited. “Did you hear me?” I was awake now. “Xin lỗi,” I mumbled. I’m sorry. I knew the sisters were distant cousins of Hank’s mother, a vague connection that reminded me that many of the Vietnamese in metropolitan Hartford were somehow biologically (or emotionally) connected—intricate family bloodlines or spirit-lines that somehow radiated back to the dusty alleys of Saigon and forward to the sagging, fragmented diaspora of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Sometimes, it seemed, everyone was an uncle or aunt to everyone else. “Which one was she?” I stammered. He didn’t answer. “Can you come to my house?” he asked. “It’s important.” “What happened?” Again he didn’t answer. “Can you meet me here?” “Now?” “Yes.” * * * After throwing on shorts and a T-shirt, retrieving my wallet and keys, I drove from my Farmington apartment to the poor East Hartford neighborhood off Burnside where Hank lived with his family in a small Cape Cod in the shadow of Pratt-Whitney Aircraft. I knew better than to refuse Hank’s request. Not only the insistence—and mild panic—of his voice, but the unsaid message that told me that Hank, the dutiful son, was doing this for his mother. In his early twenties, spending the summer off from the Connecticut State Police Academy where he was training to become a State Trooper, Hank was a former student of mine in Criminal Justice at Farmington College. He’d become my good buddy. He opened the door before I knocked, shook my hand as if we’d just met last week, and nodded me in. A lanky, skinny young man with narrow dark brown eyes and prominent cheekbones, he was dressed in sagging khakis shorts and a T-shirt. It was a sticky August night, even though the sun had long gone down, and he was sweating. His mother, Tran Thi Suong, embraced me, and then burst into tears. “Rick Van Lam.” She bowed. “Thank you.” Cảm ơn. Hank looked uncomfortable. His grandmother, quiet as a shadow, drifted in, nodded at me, and then disappeared. She was wearing her bedclothes, a small embroidered white cap on her white curls. As she left the room, she touched her daughter on the shoulder, and whispered, “Y trời.” God’s will. His mother said something in garbled, swallowed Vietnamese, burst into tears again, and turned away. Hank, almost bowing to her, motioned for me to follow him out of the house. In the old-fashioned kitchen with the peeling wallpaper, I took in the narrow makeshift shrine high on the wall by the door with the plaster-of-Paris Virgin Mary next to a tubby Buddha, both surrounded by brilliant but artificial tropical flowers, a couple of half-melted candles, a few joss incense sticks, and some shrill blood-orange tangerines. Scotch-taped to the wall nearby was a glossy print of Jesus on the cross. Outside, sitting in my car, Hank apologized. “I’m sorry, man,” he breathed in. “Let’s drive. I didn’t realize my mother would, well, shatter like that when you walked in.” I was rattled now. “Hank, what the hell is going on?” He drew in his breath. “I told you. Of the two beautiful Le sisters—murdered.” I winced at that. “Mary was my mother’s favorite, someone she was close to as a small girl in old Saigon, someone she would meet on Sunday morning for mi gá and French coffee.” Chicken soup for the Asian soul. “And?” He sighed. “Mary was murdered earlier tonight at Goodwin Square in Hartford, you know, that drug-and-gang neighborhood. It seems she got caught in some gunfire, some drive-by shooting with local drug dealers who…” “Wait!” I held up my hand. “I’m not following this.” He looked exasperated. “Mary, who never left her home in East Hartford or her husband’s grocery in Little Saigon, for some reason wandered into that godforsaken square and somehow got herself shot.” “In her car?” “I don’t know.” “Why was she there?” I knew the notorious Hartford square: shoot ‘em up alley. “Hey, that’s the million dollar question, Rick. She knew better. Everyone in Hartford, especially the Vietnamese, knows better than to go there. That’s no-man’s land. You know that. It’s not even near Little Saigon.” We hadn’t left the driveway, the two of us sitting there, now and then staring back at the house. His mother’s shadow slowly moved across the living room. A woman who couldn’t sit down. “Where are we going?” I turned on the ignition. “To the scene of the shooting.” “Why?” “Well,” he dragged out the word, “when the news came tonight, an hour or so ago, Uncle Benny called and then it was on the news. Grandma held her hands to her face and said, ‘No!’” “No?’ “She was quiet a long time and then she said ‘No!’ again. When I asked her what she meant, she told me, ‘This is not easy as it seems. If this seems to make no sense, then there is nothing but sense involved.’ I said, ‘Grandma, I don’t get you.’” I smiled at Grandma’s words. In my head I could hear her soft, melodious rendering of ancient wisdom. Hank was raised a Catholic by his father, but his mother’s mother held to the tenets of Buddhism, the two religions co-existing in the often volatile household, with Hank caught in the middle. The Virgin and the Buddha. So now I said to him, “Well, Hank, she’s telling you she thinks something else is going on here.” “I don’t see it.” “What I don’t see, Hank, is why I’m here.” He smiled, a little sheepishly. “Your name came up.” “Why?” “Grandma always thinks of you. You know, you and her, the two Buddhists in the house. In fact, she said something about a hole in the universe that only you can fill.” I groaned. “Wait, Hank, she expects me to find the drug-dealer with a semi-automatic and a posse behind him? In Hartford? Where the local economy is sustained by drug trafficking and life insurance?” “You are an investigator.” “I do insurance fraud.” “But you know Grandma. She thinks you can see through plywood.” “And she asked that I get involved?” He smiled again. “As I say, your name came up.” * * * At Goodwin Square, off Buckingham and Locust, the late-night drug dealers always on duty had decided to go for coffee or to oil their revolvers in the privacy of their own cribs. A beat cop stood by his lonesome on the southwest corner of the square, outside the obligatory yellow tape. A crew of evidence technicians, scurrying back and forth to a van, were still working the scene, photographing, charting, measuring. But the body had been removed, I noticed. There was some slow-moving, rubber-necking traffic, a few local idlers huddled nearby, but the square was eerily quiet. Storefronts looked beat up and tired. Just a narrow block of broken sidewalks, flickering streetlights, hazy neon signs with burned-out letters, and two stripped, abandoned cars by an alley. And some fresh blood stains. Satan’s little acre, the locals called it. Hank glanced at the old-model Toyota, all doors opened. Mary’s car, I figured. “Just talk to the detective,” H stepped closer to the yellow tape. “All I see is a cop.” I pointed. “And he’s looking at us like we’re the Yellow Peril.” I approached him, leaning in to catch his name: Lopez. An unfriendly look. “Help you?” I told him that the murdered woman was a relative of Hank, and I was a private investigator from Farmington. “From Farmington?” he asked in a clipped voice, saying the name of the moneyed suburban town with a hint of contempt. “What do you investigate there? Lost stock portfolios?” He looked pleased with himself. “Who’s the detective on this case?” He pointed over his shoulder, past the yellow tape, past the busy evidence team, through the plate-glass window of a storefront that announced: “Cell Phones! Phone Cards to South America!” I saw a short, wiry man, late fifties, mostly bald with a fringe of hair over his collar. He reminded me of an aging fighter, a tough bantam rooster. He looked bored. He scratched his belly absently, and then, for some reason, licked his index finger. When he walked out, the cop called him over and nodded toward us. “Family,” the cop said, “and a country-club P.I.” The detective didn’t look happy to see us. “Yeah?” He stepped around the yellow tape, yelled something to one of the members of the evidence crew, and then purposely stood ten feet from us, watching us. “My name is Rick Van Lam.” I was bothered by the space between us. “And this is Hank Nguyen, a relative of Mary Vu’s. I’m a P.I. with Gaddy Associates, and the family asked…” “It’s a drive-by.” He cut me off. “Some loser drug dealer speeds by, maybe sees competition strolling on his turf, opens fire, bang bang, and the innocent lady who just got out of her car and didn’t seem to know where the fuck she was—well, she gets it in the head. The lowlife scum drives off to annoy another one of my days.” He reached for a cigarette from a crumpled pack, lit it, and exhaled smoke. His face relaxed for a second. “Satisfied?” He turned away. “How do you know all that?” I spoke to his back. He looked back. “Witness.” “In this neighborhood?” He grinned. “I’m very charming. People tell me their life stories.” He nodded at Hank. “Sorry for your loss, son.” But he looked away as he spoke, glancing over Hank’s shoulder, eyes hooded, checking out the street, scanning the walkers and loiterers, a couple teenaged hip-hop kids in baggy jeans sagging around their ankles. Eyes vacant, they looked straight ahead. I followed the detective’s eyes. This was an old pro, I realized, someone who grasped a message in the flick of an eyelid, the sly twisting of a mouth corner, the turning of a lip. “I’m Detective Tony Ardolino.” He walked closer. We shook hands. He agreed to talk—”for a minute”—in a bodega/café across the street. “Could use a cup of coffee. Christ.” He strode across the street with the cockiness of someone who knew no car would dare smash into him. Hank and I followed. Inside the small café, a place with three lopsided tables for coffee drinkers and a light fixture that hummed loudly, we sat by the front window. “The fact of the matter,” he summed up, sipping ice coffee and twitching for a cigarette he couldn’t have, “Mrs. Vu was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He wiped his sweaty brow. “Fucking heat.” He looked up at an air conditioner that seemed to be dying. “But why was she there?” I wondered. “We guess—that is, I guess—she was headed for Little Saigon where her husband got this grocery, and got confused—got lost or something.” Hank protested. “But she’s done it many times before.” I added, “And Little Saigon is in the West End, not near here.” He shrugged. “What can I say? People get lost.” “But,” I explained, “she would have had to make a couple of wrong turns.” “It happens.” “It doesn’t make sense to me,” Hank said. “Hey, she just got lost. As I say, it happens. The wrong neighborhood. You know, they’ve closed off some streets near the highway—detours. Construction. Maybe she couldn’t read English.” Hank got angry. “She reads English just fine.” Ardolino narrowed his eyes. “Hey, I’m just talking. It’s getting a little dark. Like eight o’clock. It’s goddamned boiling. She’s low on gas. She gets lost. We’ve had four drive-by murders here in the last year. Four—count ‘em. All drug-related shit. One just a month or so ago. Remember the little girl that got shot?” It came back to me: the horrific drive-by in Goodwin Square that got national attention. A father pulls up before a bodega around midnight, his wife running in for milk, his three-year-old daughter crawls into his lap, half asleep. A gang car passes, the driver thinks he spots an enemy, opens fire, and the girl is shot in the head. Big news on CNN and FOX. Welcome to Hartford. “You ever get the killer?” “What do you think?” “And Mary Vu’s the fifth?” I asked. “A real sad case, this one.” He sighed. “For me, at least.” “Why?” “Hey, she was a simple woman, caught in the crossfire among assholes. The punk kids selling drugs go their merry way.” “So the odds of catching her killer are what—minimal?” “At best.” He grinned. “Surprised?” “So where’s this going?” Hank asked. “Well, we’ll do the routine. Round up the usual suspects, but don’t hold your breath.” “So that’s the conclusion you’re making?” I asked. “And the matter is dead?” Detective Ardolino locked eyes with me. “What are you saying, P. I. Lam? Like she was murdered on purpose?” I shook my head. “Yeah, that does seem farfetched.” He chuckled. “Like from out of space.” “Are you gonna talk to the Vietnamese community of Hartford?” I asked. “Sure. I talk to everyone. My job. I am curious how she ended up here, but we may never get an answer to that.” “They can be a little nervous around cops,” Hank said. “Some don’t speak English well.” “We’ll see.” Ardolino was getting ready to leave. I slipped the detective my card. “If you need me to be, well, a liaison, I’ll be glad to help.” The cop slid the card back to me. “I don’t share my work with amateurs.” I started to mention that I was once a New York cop, now a licensed P.I. in Connecticut, but I stopped. The look on Detective Ardolino’s face was telling: closed in, tight, the eyes cloudy. He looked at his watch. Hank started to say something, but I touched his wrist. I stood up and Hank, clearly angry, did too. I pushed the card back across the table. “Don’t close off all your options, Detective.” Hank and I left. “Asshole,” Hank said, once outside. “We’ll see.” * * * It was almost midnight when I dropped Hank off at his home, and he rushed out of the car, already late for his job. He was spending the summer vacation doing kitchen prep overnight and some early evenings at a Chinese take-out in Glastonbury, a job his dad secured for him in repayment of some cloudy family obligation. Hank hated it—he had wanted to be an intern with a local police force. Or, in fact, to do nothing but tag along after me as I did routine insurance fraud investigations that were the bulk of my daily workload. But his severe father was adamant. Hank worked for meager wages paid under the table and put up with the mercurial spurts of anger and irrational demands of the entire Fugian family that ran the restaurant. “They claim chopping bok choi is an art form,” he complained to me. Mornings, he told me, he went swimming or played tennis. “There has to be some summer for me.” So now he waved goodbye to me, yelling back that he’d call in the morning to check in. “Check in about what?” I yelled back. “What you’ve learned.” “I’m not on this case, you know.” “Oh, but you will be. You love Grandma.” “So?’

Giveaway:

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Author Bio:

Ed Ifkovic writing as Andrew Lanh: Ed Ifkovic taught literature and creative writing at a community college in Connecticut for over three decades, and now devotes himself to writing fiction. A longtime devotee of mystery novels, he fondly recalls his boyhood discovery of Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series in a family bookcase, and his immediate obsession with the whodunit world. CAUGHT DEAD is his first novel under the name Andrew Lanh. Previous books are all Edna Ferber Mysteries: LONE STAR (2009). ESCAPE ARTIST (2011), MAKE BELIEVE (2012), DOWNTOWN STRUT (2013), and FINAL CURTAIN (2014)

Tour Participants:

2/02 – Showcase @ Mommabears Book Blog 2/03 – Review @ 3 Partners in Shopping 2/05 – Review @ Kritters Ramblings 2/10 – Interview @ Writers and Authors 2/11 – Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt 2/12 – Showcase @ Maries Cozy Corner 2/16 – Review @ Vics Media Room 2/16 – Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads 2/21 – Interview @ Hott Books

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

BOOK REVIEW: Murder at the Driskill by Kathleen Kaska


Posted by Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice, a Trey Fontaine Mystery, and coming this spring, Ultimate Game, a Trey Fontaine Mystery.   What a fun read! Kathleen Kaska’s Murder at the Driskill is a mystery set in 1953 Austin, Texas. The city and the era in combination, are a character, and that character is charming. Then there is Sydney Lockhart. Sydney is da’bomb! She’s a newspaper reporter and also a P.I. who works with her man, Ralph Dixon, a former police detective. Their partner, Billy, reminds me of Superman’s sidekick, Jimmy. And there’s one more character you have to meet: Sydney’s cousin, Ruth. This woman is a gem. There are several other characters. Victims, suspects, and friends and relatives of both. When a potential client invites Dixon to an event at the Driskill Hotel, Dixon brings Sydney and Billy. But before they’re actually hired, a murder occurs and voila, the mystery is born. Kathleen Kaska has a way of bringing her characters to life, giving them likes and dislikes, interesting opinions, and quirks that made me smile, and sometimes frown. One thing I’m sure of, I’ll be visiting these old friends over and over. Below you’ll find more details about Kathleen Kaska and Murder at the Driskill.

Murder at the driskill

Murder at the Driskill by Kathleen Kaska It is 1953 in Austin where Sydney and her detective boyfriend Ralph Dixon have just opened their own private investigation agency. They quickly land a high profile case to investigate one Leland Tatum, a businessman about to launch a campaign for Texas governor. The focus of the case changes drastically when Tatum is shot to death in his room at the Driskill Hotel where he was about to announce his campaign. The Texas gumshoes suddenly find themselves in the middle of the murder investigation along with an unwanted amateur sleuth, the daughter of one of the suspects who is out to clear her father’s name.     2DSC_0050 copy

Biography

Kathleen Kaska, writer of fiction, nonfiction, travel articles, and stage plays, has just completed her most challenging endeavor. The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane:The Robert Porter Allen Story, a true story set in the 1940s and 50s, is about Audubon ornithologist Robert Porter Allen whose mission was to journey into the Canadian wilderness to save the last flock of whooping cranes before encroaching development wiped out their nesting site, sending them into extinction. Published by University Press of Florida, the book is scheduled for release in 2012. Kathleen also writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s. Her first mystery, Murder at the Arlington, won the 2008 Salvo Press Manuscript Contest. This book, along with her second mystery, Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Before bringing Sydney into the world of murder and mayhem, Kaska published three mystery-trivia books, (The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book, The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. All three books were reissued in May 2012 by LL Publications.
You can find more info about Kathleen Kaska and her books at KathleenKaska.com

SHOWCASE: What The Fly Saw by Frankie Bailey


Posted by Ryder Islington, Author of Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, and coming this spring, Ultimate Game, A Trey Fontaine Mystery Ms. Bailey has an eye for detail. I’ve read some of her previous work and was quite impressed. This has to go on my TBR list. Check out Frankie Bailey’s latest novel:

What the Fly Saw

by Frankie Bailey

on Tour Feb 1 – March 28, 2015

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery (near-future police procedural) Published by: Minotaur Books Publication Date: March 3, 2015 Number of Pages: 336 ISBN: 10:1250048303 | 13:978-1250048301 Series: Detective Hannah McCabe #2 Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

Albany, New York, January 2020 (parallel universe) A blizzard sweeps up the coast and shuts down the city. When it is over, funeral director Kevin Novak is found dead in the basement of his funeral home. The arrow sticking out of his chest came from his own hunting bow. A loving husband and father and an active member of a local megachurch, Novak had no known enemies. His family and friends say he had been depressed because his best friend died suddenly of a heart attack and Novak blamed himself. But what does his guilt have to do with his death? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. Three people — the minister of the megachurch, the psychiatrist who provides counseling to church members, and a medium visiting from the South – say they reached out to Kevin Novak. One of them might know why Novak was murdered. But Detective Hannah McCabe and her partner, Mike Baxter, must sort through lies and evasions as they try to find the killer. The relationship between the partners is threatened as McCabe deals with a political controversy involving her family, unanswered questions about their last high-profile case, and her own guilt because a young woman died after McCabe failed to act.

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Saturday, January 18, 2020 5:47 AM After the storm had passed, in the chilly hour before dawn, the last of the “space zombies” found their way back to their nest in the derelict house. From his command post, the squad leader gave the signal. “Go!” A black van pulled up in front of the house. Albany PD vice cops wearing protective gear jumped out and stormed up the walk. They used a battering ram to smash open the wooden door. “Police! Albany PD!” “Police!” Their high-powered torches illuminated the grotesque horror movie creatures in the 3-D posters on the walls. One of the cops ripped down a dangling black plastic replica of the 2012 UFO. He tossed the boomerang-shaped object to the floor. Hippiefreaks, he thought. Ought to make them all go live out in the Mojave Desert and wait for the mother ship to arrive. He kicked at the nearest mattress on the floor. “Police!” he shouted down at the long-haired occupant. “On your feet!” Blank eyes in an eerie white-painted face stared up at him. “Hands up! Hands up!” the cop yelled as the kid stumbled to his feet. He shoved him against the wall and patted him down. Upstairs, in a bathroom, another cop had found a girl sprawled out, unconscious, on the dirty tile floor beside the toilet. She had vomited in the toilet bowl. Her jeans were stained with urine and feces. Reaching down, he shook her, and then rolled her onto her side to see her face beneath the mop of dark hair. A nasty bruise on her cheekbone stood out against the streaked white paint. He moved her red scarf aside to feel for a pulse in her throat. The scarf was damp, like her tee shirt and soiled blue jeans. “Whaddya have?” another cop asked from the doorway. “Looks like an OD,” the cop inside the bathroom said. “Still breathing, but the wagon had better get here fast.” “Got it,” the other cop said, touching thecomm button on his helmet. The cop in the bathroom spotted a smear of blood on the corner of the sink. That explained the bruise. She’d banged her face on the sink when she passed out. Downstairs in the kitchen, cops surveyed the debris of dirty dishes and rotting garbage – and an impressive array of drugs and paraphernalia. One of them lowered her weapon and observed, “With a stash like this, they could have stayed zonked out until the next UFO came to visit.”

Chapter 2

Saturday afternoon 3:17 PM Funeral director Kevin Novak stared at the Cupid and Psyche bronze clock on his host, Olive Cooper’s mantel. He had allowed himself to become marooned on a conversational island with Paige, Olive’s great niece. As Paige complained about the conversation and laughter filling the long room — the “rabble babble,” as sheput it — Kevin found a name for what he had been feeling for the past forty-eight plus hours. Grief. He was experiencing first-hand what he had often observed when relatives came into the funeral home after the unexpected death of a loved one. That first stage of grieving the experts described as denial, but he often thought of as amazement and disbelief. The stage of bereavement when family members spoke of their dead loved one in the present tense because they couldn’t yet believe their lives had been ripped apart. It seemed in this state of mind, one went through the usual motions, saying what was expected. But the shell was thin. His was developing cracks. He could tell because he felt no inclination at all to warn Paige Cooper that he had glanced over her shoulder and seen her Great Aunt Olive headed their way and Paige had better shut up. So he must be moving into the next stage: anger. “Where in the galaxy did Aunt Olive find these people?” Paige said. “Look at them.” “Some of them are from the church’s community outreach,” Kevin said. True, Olive’s guest list for this celebration of her life reflected her eccentricities. An odd assortment of guests: old friends, relatives, church members and business associates, and other people who tickled Olive’s fancy or touched her big heart. But they had all cleaned up and put on their best in Olive’s honor. “It’s freezing in here,” Paige said. She pulled the belt of her hand-knit cardigan tighter and held her hands out toward the fireplace. “Feels fine to me,” Kevin said. “It really is annoying we have to come out for this farce when there’s a blizzard on the way. The least Aunt Olive could do is heat this mausoleum. Everyone here except her will come down with pneumonia, and we’ll still have to do this all over again when she finally does kick off.” “When I finally do ‘kick off’, Paige,” her great aunt said, right behind her. “You may feel free not to attend my funeral. In fact, if you die first – maybe of the pneumonia you expect to catch – you’ll spare us both that annoyance. And for your information, it was your father who insisted on including you in this shindig.” Paige flushed an unbecoming shade of scarlet. “Aunt Olive, I didn’t mean –” “I know what you meant. Get yourself a glass of champagne, now you’re actually old enough to drink, and make the best of the situation.” Olive’s sharp gaze fastened on Kevin. “And since you already know you’re going to get to bury me when I’m dead, you can relax and enjoy the party.” “I always enjoy your parties, Olive,” Kevin said. “Come with me,” she said. “There’s someone I want you to meet.” Aware of Paige’s suspicious glare, Kevin smiled in her direction. That would teach the little brat to say funeral directors reminded her of vultures without first checking for one of the species within hearing distance. Vultures sometimes exacted their petty revenge. “At your service, Olive,” he said, offering his arm to the woman, who was eighty-five years old and counting and might well live to be a hundred. “How have you been?” she asked him. “Fine,” Kevin said. “Never better.” “Don’t give me that. Anyone who knows you can tell you’re still taking Bob’s death hard.” “Having your best friend collapse with a heart attack while you’re beating him at tennis and then die on the operating table can have that effect.” “It’s been over four months since it happened. You should be coping with it by now.” “I am coping with it.” “You’re still off-kilter. Not your usual self. That’s why I want you to meet Luanne Woodward.” “Luanne? That medium or spiritualist or whatever she calls herself that you found somewhere?” “I didn’t find her ‘somewhere’. She was the featured lecturer at a fundraiser.” “Lecturer? Don’t you mean ‘performer’?” “She talked about being a medium and answered questions. She’s an interesting woman. I think you could benefit from talking to her.” “I don’t believe in that hocus-pocus, Olive.” “I don’t believe in most of it, either. I’m almost ancient enough to remember the Fox Sisters and their flimflam. But, as I said, Luanne’s interesting. I invited her today so you could meet her.” Kevin noticed one of Olive’s guests filling his plate high with the urgency of a man who expected the bounty in front of him to disappear. “And do what?” he said in belated response to Olive. “Sign up for her next séance?” “That might not be a bad idea. Spiritual therapy, so to speak.” “I get my spiritual therapy at church on Sunday from our minister. You might consider doing the same.” “At my age, I take what I need from wherever I happen to find it. And the fact you’re going all righteous on me instead of laughing about my eccentricities, as you like to call them, proves you’re off-kilter. We need to get you putto right.” “Olive, I don’t think a medium and a séance will do the trick.” “You need an opportunity to confront your feelings.” “I have confronted my feelings. I confronted them after Bob died. I sought counseling from both Reverend Wyatt and Jonathan Burdett.” Olive stopped walking and glared at him. “Now, if you want to talk about hocus-pocus, psychiatrists are right up there. You lie on their couch spilling your guts. And they mumble an occasional Freudian pearl of wisdom while they’re thinking about how they intend to spend what they’re charging you.” “Burdett offers the option of sitting in a comfortable armchair, and, as you well know, his services are free to church members.” “The church pays his salary, so he’s not free. He’s full of his diplomas and his jargon, that’s what he is.” “And what about your medium? Is she one-hundred percent jargon free?” “Not a chance. They all have their language intended to impress, but she’s a hell of a lot more fun then Burdett. So come along and meet her.” “I suppose it would be a waste of time to say no?” “Yes, it would. You said you were at my service.” “Yes, I did say that.” Not much sleep last night or the night before. His moment of irritation with Paige had given way to weariness. No doubt he would feel the anger later. No chance he’d be able to skip over that stage. Not with the piper to pay. “Luanne,” Olive said to the plump, blonde woman sipping from a champagne glass as she observed the people around her. “I’d like you to meet Kevin Novak, the friend of mine I was telling you about.” “I’m so happy to meet you, Mr. Novak,” she said in a Southern drawl that suited her pleasant, round face. Her blue gaze met and held his. If he believed in such things, Kevin would have sworn she’d looked past his tailored suit and crisp white shirt, straight into his tarnished soul. He took a step back, and reached out to steady Olive, whose hand rested on his arm. “Sorry,Olive” he said. “I just remembered something I need to do.” Luanne Woodward said, “It’s all right, Kevin, honey. You don’t have to run away from me.” But he did, Kevin thought. He had to run as fast as he could.

Author Bio:

Frankie Y. Bailey is a mystery writer and a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY). Her academic research focuses on crime history, popular culture/mass media, and material culture. She has done research and writtenabout topics ranging from local history and women who kill to African American characters in crime and detective fiction. She is currently at work on a book about dress, appearance, and criminal justice. She is the author of two mystery series, featuring crime historian Lizzie Stuart, and Albany police detective Hannah McCabe. Frankie is a past executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime. A dog lover, she now shares her home with a Maine Coon cat/mix named Harry.

Catch Up:

Tour Participants:

1. 02/02/15 Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads 2. 02/05/15 Guest Post @ Writers and Authors 3. 02/08/15 Radio Interview @ Suspense Magazine 4. 02/08/15 Review @ Literary R&R 5. 02/09/15 Review @ Rhodes Review 6. 02/16/15 Review @ A Dream Within A Dream 7. 02/17/15 Guest Post @ Babs Book Bistro 8. 02/18/15 Guest Post @ Mythical Books 9. 02/19/15 Review @ Vics Media Room 10. 02/20/15 Review @ Real Army of Moms 11. 02/23/15 Review @ GoodReads 12. 02/24/15 Review @ Bless Their Hearts Mom 13. 03/02/15 Review @ Booksie’s Blog 14. 03/03/15 Review @ The Top Shelf 15. 03/04/15 Review @ Booked on a Feeling 16. 03/10/15 Showcase @ The Pen & Muse 17. 03/16/15 Review @ Bunnys Review 18. 03/20/15 Review @ FictionZeal

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SHOWCASE: Gooseberry Island by Steven Manchester


Posted by Ryder Islington, Author of Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, and coming soon, Ultimate Game, A Trey Fontaine Mystery

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Synopsis:

They met at the worst possible moment…or maybe it was just in time. David McClain was about to go to war and Lindsey Wood was there at his going-away party, capturing his heart when falling for a woman was the last thing on his mind. While David was serving his country, he stayed in close contact with Lindsey. But war changes a person, and when he came home very little had the same meaning that it had before – including the romance that had sustained him. Was love truly unconquerable, or would it prove to be just another battlefield casualty?

Gooseberry Island is the most nuanced, dramatic, and romantic novel yet from a writer whose ability to plumb the depths of human emotion knows few peers.

Gooseberry Island excerpt

David had been home for six weeks when he pulled into the market, preparing to locate everything on his mother’s grocery list. As he approached the store, he spotted a young teenage boy walking out; he was holding a brown bag. An older man approached the boy and reached out his hand. David gasped and his dizzy mind immediately raced back to Afghanistan and the horrific beating of the young Afghani boy:

 

There was movement three hundred yards out on the street below. Unusual, David thought. It was a teenage boy, maybe fourteen, carrying a burlap bag and hurrying home before dark. Never seen him before, David thought.

In a flash, a man—a Taliban fighter—jumped out of the shadows and grabbed the boy’s arm, pulling him to the street and spilling the contents of his sack. As the teenager yelled for help, another Taliban soldier emerged from the darkness. The boy screamed louder, but not a single soul came to his aid…

 

It only took a few seconds, but the whole scene played out in sequence in his mind—both men yelling and slapping the boy as he screamed for help; the slaps turning to a vicious beating until finally the boy was dead. He could almost hear Command say “Negative” again after he asked if he could intervene. He felt the anguish in his soul threatening to overwhelm him, but it was quickly replaced by a burning rage.

His eyes filled with tears, David returned to the present and started for the man in a mad rush. He was three steps from the shocked stranger when reality clicked in. It’s the boy’s father, he realized. He’s…he’s okay.

David’s body convulsed. He’d forgotten he was home, and the reality of it slapped him hard in the face.

The man pulled the teenage boy close to him; both of them were frightened by David’s sudden charge toward them.

“Sorry,” David said, though it sounded more like “Sigh.” Trying unsuccessfully to smile at them, he turned on his heels and hurried back to the Mustang.

 

For the next hour, David sat alone in his car, trying to calm the physical effects of his anxiety. Once he’d reined that in, he spent another two hours beating back the depression that always followed in anxiety’s wake.

His wasn’t sure whether the abyss existed within his heart or mind, but he knew that he was now filled with a great void—nothingness. There was no light there, only darkness. There was no hope, only despair. In time, he’d learned to embrace the silence, as the screams and whimpers of faceless victims became echoes that returned again and again, pushing the line of madness. Yet, the solitude was relentless, enveloping, merciless. It would have been better had I never existed, he thought, fearing another moment more than cashing in and leaving it all behind. No love, he thought, no peace. His memories were slanted in such thick negativity that his entire past would have been better off erased. And no one knows I’m dying inside, he thought, inviting another wave of panic attacks to crash onto the shore of his weary mind.

He closed his eyes tightly and tried to calm the short labored gasps. Just ride the wave, he told himself. Just ride the wave.

But in another room in his mind, he knew that even if he rode that wave—and didn’t crack his skull on all the rocks beneath him—he’d have to take the ride again and again. It didn’t take long before the jagged rocks seemed like the more merciful option.

 

~~~

 

Enough time had passed for Lindsey to realize David was not coming after her. He’s obviously in a lot of pain, she thought, and doesn’t want to burden anyone with it. She shook her head. But I care way too much about him to let him go through this alone.

With Craig’s permission, she slammed David’s front door behind her and marched through the living room into the kitchen. “Don’t you dare play the coward with me, David McClain,” she shouted before even reaching the room.

As she expected, David had been staring out the kitchen window into nothingness. With tear-filled eyes, his head snapped up. “Don’t you ever call me that word…ever!”

She stared at him for a few long moments before her heart softened. “Then go ahead, tell me that you don’t want to see me anymore and I’ll leave you alone forever.”

He looked at her with tormented eyes but didn’t say a word.

“But you can’t, can you?” she said, her entire insides starting to tremble.

“It’s not you,” he vowed. “It’s me. I’m just not…”

“Don’t you dare feed me that tired line! I spent a year praying for you…writing letters and wishing for us to…” She stopped, trying in vain to contain her emotions.

His face looked panicked, as his mind obviously spiraled out of control to gather the right words. “I don’t have the words,” he said in less than a whisper.

“After the first time I came here, I thought for sure you’d chase after me,” she said. “I’m not stupid, David. I realize something happened over there that has you all twisted up. But I also thought that once you saw my face, you’d…” She stopped again and began to cry.

David placed his hand on hers. She started to pull away, but he stopped her, intertwining their fingers. “Lindsey, please…please don’t say anything until I finish. Just hear me out. Okay?”

“Okay,” she said, her tears threatening to flood her face.

He took a few deep breaths. “I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I want you to know that I’ve never lied to you…and I don’t plan to now.” He shook his head. “I’m so messed up right now, Lindsey, I can’t even explain it.” He could barely hold eye contact with her. “I really hope we can be together someday…more than you can ever imagine. But I’m just not ready yet. I…I need to heal,” he stuttered.

She took a deep breath and held it.

“Torn isn’t even the word for what I’m feeling over this,” he babbled on. “The last thing I want to do is hurt either of us.”

“I don’t think we have to say goodbye, though,” she said, feeling the panic of desperation creep into her soul. “Don’t you remember the night we shared on that bench?”

His eyes grew even more distant. “I really wish things were different,” he said, “that life didn’t have to be so difficult.” He shrugged. “Time will tell, I guess.”

“You guess?” She returned his shrug to him, perturbed.

“Lindsey, I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I don’t want to destroy any chance we might have at it …just because I might not be ready for it yet.” He grimaced. “I need time to find myself, okay?”

Lindsey, the child of a PTSD victim, shook her head. “You don’t have to find yourself, David. You just have to remember who you are…who you’ve always been.”

He nodded, tears streaming down his face.

Lindsey took a deep breath and surrendered. “David, I’ve told you the way that I feel for you and what I want for us. That’s all I can do. The rest is in your hands.” She peered into his dull eyes. “I can only hope that you’ll think of me every day, as I will you. I hope a lot of things, David.” She paused to collect herself. “Most of all, I hope the day will come when Afghanistan is behind you and we can fall in love all over again and catch up on all the things we’ve missed.” Mimicking him, she shrugged. “Maybe you’re right. I guess time will tell.” She pulled her hand away from his and felt her heart rip clean out of her chest. “Until then, you’ll be in my thoughts,” she whispered.

“I’m so sorry, Lindsey,” he sobbed, his shoulders rocking.

“I love you, David,” she said and, with one final attempt, grabbed his chin and forced eye contact between them. “Now tell me you don’t want to see me and I’ll leave you alone,” she whispered.

As he looked at her, Lindsey could clearly see the anguish in his eyes.

“You can’t, can you?” she said, hopefully.

His tears continued to leak down his cheeks. “I don’t want to see you…for now,” he said, and turned his eyes away from hers.

It felt as though someone had just slugged her in the gut. “Okay,” she gasped and ran out of the house crying harder than she’d ever cried before.

 

Long after Lindsey had run out of the kitchen, David remained catatonic—until he grabbed a drinking glass off the counter and threw it onto the floor where it broke into a hundred pieces. Enraged, he began smashing everything he could get his hands on in the kitchen. At the end of the violent outburst, he collapsed to the floor and began to weep. With his head in both hands, he screamed, “I love you, too, Lindsey.”

Day turned into dusk and, like most nights, just beyond the sobs and sniffles the world turned quiet and black.

 

Gooseberry Island excerpt

David had been home for six weeks when he pulled into the market, preparing to locate everything on his mother’s grocery list. As he approached the store, he spotted a young teenage boy walking out; he was holding a brown bag. An older man approached the boy and reached out his hand. David gasped and his dizzy mind immediately raced back to Afghanistan and the horrific beating of the young Afghani boy:

There was movement three hundred yards out on the street below. Unusual, David thought. It was a teenage boy, maybe fourteen, carrying a burlap bag and hurrying home before dark. Never seen him before, David thought.

In a flash, a man—a Taliban fighter—jumped out of the shadows and grabbed the boy’s arm, pulling him to the street and spilling the contents of his sack. As the teenager yelled for help, another Taliban soldier emerged from the darkness. The boy screamed louder, but not a single soul came to his aid…

It only took a few seconds, but the whole scene played out in sequence in his mind—both men yelling and slapping the boy as he screamed for help; the slaps turning to a vicious beating until finally the boy was dead. He could almost hear Command say “Negative” again after he asked if he could intervene. He felt the anguish in his soul threatening to overwhelm him, but it was quickly replaced by a burning rage.

His eyes filled with tears, David returned to the present and started for the man in a mad rush. He was three steps from the shocked stranger when reality clicked in. It’s the boy’s father, he realized. He’s…he’s okay.

David’s body convulsed. He’d forgotten he was home, and the reality of it slapped him hard in the face.

The man pulled the teenage boy close to him; both of them were frightened by David’s sudden charge toward them.

“Sorry,” David said, though it sounded more like “Sigh.” Trying unsuccessfully to smile at them, he turned on his heels and hurried back to the Mustang.

For the next hour, David sat alone in his car, trying to calm the physical effects of his anxiety. Once he’d reined that in, he spent another two hours beating back the depression that always followed in anxiety’s wake.

His wasn’t sure whether the abyss existed within his heart or mind, but he knew that he was now filled with a great void—nothingness. There was no light there, only darkness. There was no hope, only despair. In time, he’d learned to embrace the silence, as the screams and whimpers of faceless victims became echoes that returned again and again, pushing the line of madness. Yet, the solitude was relentless, enveloping, merciless. It would have been better had I never existed, he thought, fearing another moment more than cashing in and leaving it all behind. No love, he thought, no peace. His memories were slanted in such thick negativity that his entire past would have been better off erased. And no one knows I’m dying inside, he thought, inviting another wave of panic attacks to crash onto the shore of his weary mind.

He closed his eyes tightly and tried to calm the short labored gasps. Just ride the wave, he told himself. Just ride the wave.

But in another room in his mind, he knew that even if he rode that wave—and didn’t crack his skull on all the rocks beneath him—he’d have to take the ride again and again. It didn’t take long before the jagged rocks seemed like the more merciful option.

~~~

Enough time had passed for Lindsey to realize David was not coming after her. He’s obviously in a lot of pain, she thought, and doesn’t want to burden anyone with it. She shook her head. But I care way too much about him to let him go through this alone.

With Craig’s permission, she slammed David’s front door behind her and marched through the living room into the kitchen. “Don’t you dare play the coward with me, David McClain,” she shouted before even reaching the room.

As she expected, David had been staring out the kitchen window into nothingness. With tear-filled eyes, his head snapped up. “Don’t you ever call me that word…ever!”

She stared at him for a few long moments before her heart softened. “Then go ahead, tell me that you don’t want to see me anymore and I’ll leave you alone forever.”

He looked at her with tormented eyes but didn’t say a word.

“But you can’t, can you?” she said, her entire insides starting to tremble.

“It’s not you,” he vowed. “It’s me. I’m just not…”

“Don’t you dare feed me that tired line! I spent a year praying for you…writing letters and wishing for us to…” She stopped, trying in vain to contain her emotions.

His face looked panicked, as his mind obviously spiraled out of control to gather the right words. “I don’t have the words,” he said in less than a whisper.

“After the first time I came here, I thought for sure you’d chase after me,” she said. “I’m not stupid, David. I realize something happened over there that has you all twisted up. But I also thought that once you saw my face, you’d…” She stopped again and began to cry.

David placed his hand on hers. She started to pull away, but he stopped her, intertwining their fingers. “Lindsey, please…please don’t say anything until I finish. Just hear me out. Okay?”

“Okay,” she said, her tears threatening to flood her face.

He took a few deep breaths. “I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I want you to know that I’ve never lied to you…and I don’t plan to now.” He shook his head. “I’m so messed up right now, Lindsey, I can’t even explain it.” He could barely hold eye contact with her. “I really hope we can be together someday…more than you can ever imagine. But I’m just not ready yet. I…I need to heal,” he stuttered.

She took a deep breath and held it.

“Torn isn’t even the word for what I’m feeling over this,” he babbled on. “The last thing I want to do is hurt either of us.”

“I don’t think we have to say goodbye, though,” she said, feeling the panic of desperation creep into her soul. “Don’t you remember the night we shared on that bench?”

His eyes grew even more distant. “I really wish things were different,” he said, “that life didn’t have to be so difficult.” He shrugged. “Time will tell, I guess.”

“You guess?” She returned his shrug to him, perturbed.

“Lindsey, I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I don’t want to destroy any chance we might have at it …just because I might not be ready for it yet.” He grimaced. “I need time to find myself, okay?”

Lindsey, the child of a PTSD victim, shook her head. “You don’t have to find yourself, David. You just have to remember who you are…who you’ve always been.”

He nodded, tears streaming down his face.

Lindsey took a deep breath and surrendered. “David, I’ve told you the way that I feel for you and what I want for us. That’s all I can do. The rest is in your hands.” She peered into his dull eyes. “I can only hope that you’ll think of me every day, as I will you. I hope a lot of things, David.” She paused to collect herself. “Most of all, I hope the day will come when Afghanistan is behind you and we can fall in love all over again and catch up on all the things we’ve missed.” Mimicking him, she shrugged. “Maybe you’re right. I guess time will tell.” She pulled her hand away from his and felt her heart rip clean out of her chest. “Until then, you’ll be in my thoughts,” she whispered.

“I’m so sorry, Lindsey,” he sobbed, his shoulders rocking.

“I love you, David,” she said and, with one final attempt, grabbed his chin and forced eye contact between them. “Now tell me you don’t want to see me and I’ll leave you alone,” she whispered.

As he looked at her, Lindsey could clearly see the anguish in his eyes.

“You can’t, can you?” she said, hopefully.

His tears continued to leak down his cheeks. “I don’t want to see you…for now,” he said, and turned his eyes away from hers.

It felt as though someone had just slugged her in the gut. “Okay,” she gasped and ran out of the house crying harder than she’d ever cried before.

 

Long after Lindsey had run out of the kitchen, David remained catatonic—until he grabbed a drinking glass off the counter and threw it onto the floor where it broke into a hundred pieces. Enraged, he began smashing everything he could get his hands on in the kitchen. At the end of the violent outburst, he collapsed to the floor and began to weep. With his head in both hands, he screamed, “I love you, too, Lindsey.”

Day turned into dusk and, like most nights, just beyond the sobs and sniffles the world turned quiet and black.

~~~

After four or five weeks of self-imposed solitary confinement—a punishment filled with death-defying panic attacks and long, treacherous tunnels of depression—David decided to reach out to the men he had served with. They’re the only ones who can relate, he thought. And I wonder how they’re doing…really doing?

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Author Bio: 

Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers, Twelve Months and The Rockin’ Chair. He is also the author of the award-winning novel, Goodnight, Brian, as well as the critically-acclaimed novel, Pressed Pennies, A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novelette), Just in Time (novelette), The Thursday Night Club (novella) and Gooseberry Island. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Three of Steven’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing. Visit: www.StevenManchester.com

http://www.StevenManchester.com
http://www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorStevenManchester

 

Paperback & Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Gooseberry-Island-Steven-Manchester-ebook/dp/B00OPAFIDK/ref=asap_B001K8Y14C_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418059544&sr=1-6

Nook & Paperback: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gooseberry-island-steven-manchester/1118939772?ean=9781611881813&itm=1&usri=steven+manchester

FREE BOOK AND GUEST POST: On Fathers and Sons by Drexel Deal


Posted by Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, and coming in the spring of 2015: Ultimate Game, A Trey Fontaine Mystery

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to author Drexel Deal, who has written a book about young men who end up in gangs, and in prison, and how the absence of a father figure multiplies this phenomenon. Below you’ll also find links to two short videos as well as access to a free chapter, and also a way to get a FREE E-COPY of the book.

And now, meet Drexel Deal:

Guest Post: On Fathers and Sons

Have you ever wondered why some students find it difficult to focus on their school work, even though they have the potential to do better?  Do you want to know what is the major home condition that produces at risk youth? Do you want to know what is the major condition that gives birth to violent street gangs? Have you ever tried to figure out, how prisons convert youngsters into remorseless monsters?

The answers and more for the above behaviors, can be found in my book entitled: The Fight of My Life is Wrapped up in My Father.  This book is a candid and riveting portrait about the birth of the Rebellion Raiders, which was the largest street gang ever in the history of The Bahamas. Why were so many young men and myself drawn to this gang? How did we go from innocence to menacing and from youngsters to monsters?

As you would discover in your reading, this book go way beyond me just sharing my testimony; rather, it’s an experience of a life time. With more than 12 years of researching and studying why young people go astray, this book possess a vast data base of real life stories or teachable moments that is second to none. They will provide your blog readers with a reference base of proven solutions in addressing problematic youth, that are all base on Biblical principles. These stories not only entertain and fascinate the reader, but they also sharpen existing skills which is the true purpose of storytelling!

Thus, the central theme of this book is prevention, by making parents and others aware of the many real life pit falls and ditches that await a problematic  child: some of which are impossible to climb out from. My book takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride, where I wrap the lessons, the warnings and the principles in short entertaining and unforgettable stories.

I guess this is why the former Assistant Commissioner of Police Hulan Hanna, of the Royal Bahamas Police Force can say that my story is: “Wonderful, fascinating and one that resonates with young people.”

You can read chapter one free at this link:
http://www.drexeldeal.com/read-chapter-1-free.html

Keep reading to learn how to receive a free e-copy of

The Fight of My Life is Wrapped up in My Father

What makes my book so unique?

When I set out to write my first book I was not interested in writing about my life on the streets. Rather, I was interested in learning, why did I and so many other thousands of young men went astray? Thus I have been fortunate to sit down with individuals who were once my rivals, these are individuals whom I shot before and those I attempted to shoot. I have also sat down with those who shot me and those who attempted to kill me: one of them I even dub to be the godfather of
street gangs in The Bahamas. However, during my interviews with these individuals even though blind, I discovered that we all shared the same upbringing, the same home conditions and the same abandonment/ rejection by our fathers.

More importantly, I continue to discover through my research and interviews with gang leaders, drug dealers and death row inmates that we were all preventable. We were the disconnected children who rebelled, even though we lived in different areas and were apart of different gangs: we all were the first generation of the rebellions in The Bahamas.

I have also been fortunate to interview educators such as Mr. Charles Chuck Mackey [former VP and respected coach of R. M. Bailey Senior High School.] As well as Mrs. Vinita Curtis now deceased, a former primary school teacher for more than 28 years. Not to mention, one of the top school psychologists in The Bahamas, Ms. Daynette Gardiner from the Lyford Cay School. A long with police officers, youth pastors and psychologists.

See why a lot of people are talking about this candid youtube interview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD3nbkto9cI

 Have you ever wondered what are the REAL ROOT causes for violent

crimes? Please see this telling YouTube video below:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYc55xyP2Nk

To receive a free copy of:

The Fight of My Life is Wrapped up in My Father

contact author Drexel Deal:   drexeldeal@gmail.com
You can also learn more about Drexel at his website: www.drexeldeal.com

Testimonials and Reviews:

Good morning Mr. Deal:
I purchased your book at Chapter one about a month ago and although I
have not had time to complete it, I can tell you it is one of the most
honest, insightful and empowering books that I have ever read.
I would love to arrange for you to come and speak to our youth at
The Red Cross After-care centre on Blue Hill Road if you had the time
to do so.
Many thanks,
Shelagh

Shelagh Pritchard
Chairperson of Lignum Vitae Centre
info@lignumvitaebahamas.org
Monday, September 29th 2014

Good day Mr. Drexel Deal:
This book The Fight of My Life Is Wrapped up in My Father is indeed
a well written, comprehensive, and intriguing composition. I truly
enjoyed reading this book and it was extremely hard for me to put it
down. This book definitely gave me much better prospective regarding
delinquent and violent teens. Mr. Deal you were very good in providing
the historical background of gangs in Nassau, Bahamas as well as the
importation of illegal firearms. I liked your style of writing and how
you presented the information in a clear and meticulous manner with
solid references and great research.

I would recommend this book especially to male teenagers as well as
parents to give them a better understanding of why teens rebel at
times and the actions one would need to take to provide crucial
assistance in such times.

I truly enjoyed this book and can’t wait for your next book.
When are you releasing the second part of this book?
Thanks much and keep up the good work and may the Lord God Almighty
keep you safe and bless you immensely in Jesus name Amen!

Javon Johnson/ lionheartauto@gmail.com
Tuesday, May 13th 2014

Hello Mr. Deal.
I finally got around to purchasing your book online and spent my
evening reading it to the end.

Your book also finally explained to me the shift I noticed in this
society in the early 90s. I graduated high school in 1988 and in the
early 90s began seeing young men with grimaces on their faces acting
the fool, most likely because they were strapped. I remember the
incident you talk about which occurred at Junkanoo. I was there.

The Junkanoo incident is memorable because it was the first time that
my eyes were opened to the menace of the gang culture. At the time I
didn’t know what or who the Rebellions were but I remember the shock
and fear that went through the crowd. My friends and I ended up
leaving that part of the parade route all together. When I read your
account of that night, I get chills because I and my friends didn’t
realize the danger.

I became a stenographer in 1996 and as I sat in court listening to
case after case against young men from over the hill communities, I
couldn’t figure out for the life of me why so many of our young men
were entering and remaining in the system. They were so young. They
seemed to revel in the fact that they caught a case. Some days in
court one young man would have up to 30 armed robbery cases against
him. During the breaks, I would talk with them. I realized that they
weren’t necessarily evil people, just lost and caught up in thugging.
I didn’t kid myself though because I knew that if they had the
opportunity I would and could be a target.

You are correct that what we experienced and are experiencing as a
nation is due to absent fathers and tolerant, poor mothers creating
lives for children where abuse and deprivation take a toll on the
psyche of the children. But what I wanted to point out to you is that
our young ladies are angry too, and for the very same reason that our
young men are angry – absent fathers, poor struggling mothers who lack
the skills to raise fully socialized children. Poverty is a major
factor. But so is the poor decision making of our females.

There must be a solution, of course, and my prayer is that the women
of this country get the message that they have the power to change
allot of what is wrong.

Be at peace.
Odecca Gibson
Senior Staff Attorney at Bahamar
Friday, July 11th 2014
ogibson@bahamar.com

Hello Drexel,
Awesome. A riveting story of Real Life. I am touched by just reading
what you shared. It’s a compelling book that you just can’t stop
reading. A must read for All: young and old, male and female. You need
to tell the world this story.

Colyn Major
College counselor at the College of The Bahamas
cmajor@cob.edu.bs
Friday, August 8th 2014

Hi Mr. Deal,
I purchase a copy of your book which I think should be made available
to reach all of the young men/women in all of the schools in The
Bahamas. It is quite inspiring!!
Wishing you much success in all of your endeavours. I recently (3
weeks ago) lost my mother (who was both mother and father) to me and
my siblings.

May God continue to richly bless you and your family!

Lynne Hanna
Executive Assistant at Clipper Group [Management] Ltd.
lvh@clipper-group.com
Tuesday, September 2nd 2014

Mr. Deal
I am a prison sergeant and when you came up to the prison a few months
ago to present your book. You were being led by Mr. Carlos Reid. I was
told who you were and when you left I was given your book by Miss
Sweeting the education officer at the prison. I open the book and
begin to read it and could not put it down for some reason. You got my
attention from the start from your first robbery to you finding out
your father was not your real father, you also talk about the

Rebellions and when you went to Junkanoo with the brothers. Some parts
of the book you had me in stitches but most of all you open my eyes to
the real world. God Bless you Mr. Deal and I hope others get the
chance to read the book because I can’t wait on the next one to be publish.

Sergeant Gregory Williams, of Her Majesty Prison
Tuesday, June 3rd 2014
Gregorywilliams06@hotmail.com

This last review comes from an American inmate from Her Majesty Prison, who has since been released…

Dear Mr. Deal,
My name is Kenneth Wayne Smith and I have just now finished
reading your very insightful book, The Fight of My Life Is Wrapped Up
In My Father.

I am presently remanded in H.M.P Fox Hill South Wing Cell H-12.
My journey which led me to be here is different than yours, although a
gun and some very poor decisions by me put me here.  I am a Yachty as
I am referred to here who was traveling through the Bahamas out to
fulfill a lifelong dream.  I did not declare my weapon when clearing
customs as I was traveling with one for the first time and just plain
forgot I had it.

The series of events that unfolded in Nassau began
with a domestic issue with my girl who suffers from Bi-Polar disease.
During one of her episodes she hailed the police, informed them of my
weapon onboard and sent my life spiraling out of control.  My personal
nightmare is how I describe it.

But this is not the reason for my letter.
God tells us everything happens for a reason.  Well I believe he
does.  And although I believe and pray and try to live by the Golden
Rules, I am not as well versed in the Bible as you seem to be.  Life
is a journey and I will learn along the way.  My reason for writing is
to thank you for sharing your experiences in life and giving me
insight into the Bahamian culture and the reasons children are drawn
to the gang mentality.  I agree with your analogies completely.

As I am sure you well know this place.   I guess we can call it a
place but certainly not a place I would ever want to return to.  Yet I
am compelled to try and make a difference in the lives of my fellow
inmates.  It’s extremely hard to ignore the inhumanity that goes on
here, especially for someone who is from a middle class family who
grew up in the Boston, MA., USA area with a complete family unit and
also at the age of 57.

I will say the boating life has somewhat prepared me to deal with
the small confined areas maybe better than most. The secret for me so
far is to block out my outside life (very difficult) and live in my
surroundings but most importantly reading. So after 26 days here I
believe I have found the path to receiving books for myself but most
importantly some of the other inmates.

It started when my lawyer brought me a book while I waited in the holding
cell for court at Central Police Station. When I returned to Fox Hill Prison
It was taken away and I was told my lawyer should know better than to give me
a book. Nothing comes in unless it clears proper channels. LOL.

Anyway, I asked the P.O. again nicely. He looked it over and handed
it back to me. That book lasted me 3 days and supplied me with 3 days
of “Roadtime”, the term used here for Freedom. I noticed during my
time in the Court holding cell 2 or 3 inmates had shown interest in
what I was reading.

One was clearly illiterate but fortunately this
book had some pictures and a map so I showed him where the adventure
took place then showed him the pictures. He later wanted to share his
lunch with me. I have found the Bahamians I have met since being
remanded are very giving souls willing to share what they have with
me, a white boy from Boston, and it has been most appreciated for this
“Fish out of Water”, as a guard referred to me.

I started my quest to get books to read not just for me but for
everyone who wanted to read as I had been continually asked if they
could read my book when I was done. I passed it down the Block and
after 2 weeks I have received 2 thank yous.

I then started to ask the officers for another book, anything I
said, “Sure, see what I can do”. Days went by. I continued to ask at
any opportunity. Not easy when locked down 23 1/2 hrs a day, 4 days a
week and 24 hrs a day, 3 days a week, except on holiday you get an
extra lockdown day.

Then at exercise I asked the officers outside at
their desk, 3 or 4 higher up officers, if there was a library. “Oh
sure”, “Could I get a book?”, “What kind of book?”, “History,
non-fiction, adventure, anything”. I was overheard by the officer in
charge of the library. “I will get you a book, what cell are you in?”
“H-12″. So that afternoon a book shows up but it was some book about
gang members without fathers, written by someone called Drexel Deal?

Well so much for history, non-fiction, adventure. But I said I will
read anything right! So read it I did and it was everything I asked
for. Although not the adventure story I was seeking but none the less
a good read written from a true experience. The next day I thanked
the officer and also asked if he had read the book? The answer was,
no, but they all talked about how you were here and such. So I told
them about what I had read and shared some of the quotes you used.

My favorite is the Nelson Mandella quote about the judging of nations by
their prisons. Another was Jesse Jackson’s, of children needing your
presence more than presents. They all looked around and agreed then
one asked “where can I get copy of that book”? I told him he could
swing by H-12 and I would lend him my copy. We laughed. Then I told
them I believed the officer in charge of the library said you left some
copies behind.

I then went on to share how there was much interest around the block of
books and would it be possible for some of the other guys to get a book.
“Hmmm? We’ll see”. About 3 hours later, 3 large boxes of books
showed up at our cell. “You can pick first White Boy, sign the book” – O.k.
Then another guy in my cell stepped up to select a book. And so it went down
the line, cell after cell as each cell signed out a book.

I smiled and prayed this becomes the norm and the books are treated properly.
My cellmate has been telling me all day what a good book he chose and which
chapter he was on. I smiled again, happy for him. I will pass your book onto
the officer and hope he reads it too!

So maybe I have found my calling for now to help Fox Hill turn
out a more literate, open minded, better educated person. Maybe one
of these books will open up the mind of a lost soul and show them
there is a better way to go about life then to sit and rot in Fox
Hill.

Put their past behind them and create a brighter future for
their families, their sons & daughters and themselves. And, hopefully
we can end this curse of the broken family unit and turn things around
so we may all benefit and learn to live together as free, proud,
citizens watching our children grow to men in a safe, happy
environment.

God Bless,

Kenneth Wayne Smith 

Cell H-12 Fox Hill

University of Yamacraw
P. S. I would of e-mailed this, but the internet is down here.
Ho-Ho-Ho!  Looking forward to Book 2.