BOOK REVIEW: Murdock Tackles Taos by Robert Ray

I’m so glad I got a chance to read this book! Robert Ray knows his stuff. Murdock Tackles Taos is the fourth in a series about a retired military man who goes out hiking and runs into trouble. Another hiker is inches from being killed when Murdock knocks her down and she lands on a dead body. Murdock takes some shots and the two hikers manage to get away from the killers and report the body. But instead of feeling safer afterwards, they both realize that they are witnesses to something evil, and they are now targets. This book is filled with action, romance, mystery and adventure.
I would recommend this book to mystery lovers as well as those who enjoy adventure, suspense, action and  romance.  Below you’ll find a synopsis, an excerpt, an author bio, and a way to reach the author and to buy the book. And by leaving a comment, your name will go in the hat for a drawing to win a free copy of the book. Also, below, is a list of other blogs where you can find other articles, reviews and author interviews for Mr. Ray and Murdock Tackles Taos.

Murdock Tackles Taos

by Robert Ray

on Tour July – August 2013

Book Details:

Genre:  Mystery
Published by: Camel Press
Publication Date: June 15, 2013
Number of Pages: 331
ISBN: 978-1-60381-925-1 // 978-1-60381-926-8
Purchase Links:


A dead girl with an arrow sticking out of her back sends Matt Murdock and Helene Steinbeck on a killer-hunt that takes them to Angel Mountain where a cold-blooded steely-eyed killer has hypnotized some rich people into funding a naughty habit involving pretty girls, young women in great shape from the worlds of Art and Professional Sport. The odds are fifty to one that they won’t get out of this mess alive.

Read an excerpt:

She had the day off and she was lonely in Taos so she took her laptop and her sketchpad and sat in the shade at the Hard Wire Café. She was sketching a guy for money because she was broke.He was handsome, with a great tan and a gorgeous smile. When he left her with a twenty she felt even lonelier. She bought a coffee, sweet iced latte, and hung out—was he gone forever or what?An hour passed, then two. She did another sketch—ten bucks, thank you—and then the handsome guy was back.“Come to a party,” he said. “Artists and writers, Colony People. Our kind, okay?”

The guy drove a silver Humvee.

She kicked off her sandals and settled into the comfy seat smiling. The guy had this really great profile.The Humvee climbed up, past the Pueblo, and crossed through a gate into Never-Never Land. Roofs, aspen trees turning, a lawn so green it came from England.

The first person she met gave her a drag. The smoke invaded her brain, curled like a cat. The people were beautiful, some her age, some younger. The food was out of this world.

Smoked meat, soft and succulent. “Have another bite, hon?” What is this meat, anyway?

There was wine, beer, tequila shooters, Scotch whiskey so smooth it raised your hopes for a better world. A world for starving artists like herself.

She danced around the campfire, barefoot. Her feet were tough from pounding New York streets.

A pretty girl, Tammy with a Texas accent and a bouncy blonde ponytail, whipped off her blouse and kept dancing— torchlight on bare tits, sell that sketch, make a killing.

Another girl, another blouse, and another. Blouses tossed like leaves in the wind, until she was the only one left, the only girl not on display. So she said, “What the hell?” and they clapped their hands, chanting, as she flung her blouse away and then….

Author Bio:

Robert J. Ray is a writer/ teacher with six Matt Murdock Mysteries, three volumes of The Weekend Novelist writing series, a tennis story, a thriller about diamonds, a small business textbook that has gone through five editions, and short pieces for magazines. He spent a dozen years teaching college students how to write better. He spent five years teaching tennis, using techniques like Inner Game.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants

1.    7/01 ~ Guest Post @ Omnimystery
2.    7/09 ~ Showcase @ Hott Books
3.    7/10 ~ Interview @ Read 2 Review
4.    7/15 ~ Review & Giveaway @ SavingFor6.
5.    7/16 ~ Interview @ Writers and Authors
6.    7/16 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
7.    7/17 ~ Interview & Showcase @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
8.    7/18 ~ Review & Giveaway @ I Read a Book Once
9.    7/19 ~ Review & Giveaway @ deal sharing aunt
10.  7/22 ~ Showcase @ CMash Reads
11.  8/01 ~ Showcase @ Housewife Blues and Chihuahua Stories
12.  8/06 ~ Showcase @ XmasDolly
13.  8/12 ~ Showcase @ Celtic Ladys Reviews
14.  8/13 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Beth Art From the Heart
15.  8/14 ~ Review & Giveaway @ My Cozie Corner
16.  8/15 ~ Review @ bless their hearts mom
17.  8/16 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Marys Cup of Tea
18.  8/21 ~ Showcase @ Teena in Toronto
19.  8/29 ~ Review & Giveaway @ The Self-Taught Cook
20.  8/30 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Ryder Islingtons Blog

BOOK REVIEW: Cornerstone by J.M. LeDuc

Review by Ryder Islington

We live in a world where publishers like all the books to fit in to a nice neat category. Suspense. Action. Christian Fiction. International Intrigue.

J.M. LeDuc has gone out on a limb and combined these categories into a quick read with characters you’re sure to love–or hate. Having written a novella entitled Phantom Squad, the author went on to bring the Squad into a series of novels, of which Cornerstone is the first.

The Phantom Squad is a secret group of government employees who come into play when things get too big, or too sensitive, for other law enforcement/military groups. The leader, Brent Venturi, is a new father, and a new widower, two events that have set his world into turmoil. Now a new threat to the U.S. requires his attention. Except, he’s in no shape to lead a command, or to even be around those he loves.

As Brent Venturi goes on a quest to find himself, and his faith, the rest of the squad faces decisions and events which could end in disaster, for them, and for the country.  The second-in-command, nicknamed Seven and married to the Director over the Squad, puts his team in motion, while the techie in the group searches for Brent. Soon, all of them will be fighting for their lives.

I recommend this book for lovers of espionage, action, and suspense. Yes there is a Christian component, and that gives Christians a whole new genre to read. But it takes nothing away from the story, so those who don’t usually read Christian Fiction can still enjoy the intrigue of the Phantom Squad.


by J.M. LeDuc

on Tour August 1-31, 2013

Book Details:

Genre:  Suspense Thriller / Christian
Published by: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: 06/25/13
Number of Pages: 330
ISBN: 978-1484188682 // 1484188683
Purchase Links:


In the blink of an eye, a life begins and another ends.

In a blink of an eye, Brent Venturi falls into the chasm of despair.

What do you do when everything is lost? When the person you loved is gone and all you have left is guilt? These are the questions that face Brent, the leader of the Phantom Squad and the latest in Noah’s line of descendants. His answer—go back to the beginning, back to where it all began—Mount Ararat.

The last known resting place of Noah’s Ark.

In his travels, Brent will meet Rowtag Achak, a Cree brave and Special Forces sniper who is on a similar path of self-destruction. Together, they will trace their steps from Palm Cove to Washington D.C., all the way to Armenia and the Khor Virap Monastery which sits at the base of Mount Ararat. Their travels will eventually take them to Alpha Camp and the Hindu Kush Mountains on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

When President Dupree and the Phantom Squad get captured by the Brotherhood of Gaza, time for introspection is over and time for action begins. Brent must find a way to get back to the man he was in order to save the people still left in his life.

What begins as a sabbatical of self-awareness turns into a mission of survival. His own, that of the squad and more importantly, that of the president of the United States. What man and nature takes away, only God can restore. The restoration of the Cornerstone.

To find the beginning, one must walk through the past and be willing to step into the future.

Read an excerpt:

PrologueOne month agoIn one combustible moment, Brent’s life became a tumultuous cascade of happiness and horror. He had witnessed the birth of his daughter and the death of his wife.Two weeks agoEight years ago, after his first encounter with the Omega Butcher, a sadistic serial killer, Brent Venturi lost his identity. Emotional and physical scars forced a sabbatical from the team he led: The Phantom Squad. It was only through the peace he had found in God and in his hometown of Palm Cove that he was able to recover from his physical and psychological injuries.

He was once again sliding back down that slippery slope of despair into a deep, depressive abyss. The place he once ran to for tranquility no longer provided comfort. He spent his days alone and his nights wandering the streets.

The nightmares that once plagued his life, the nightmares he thought were in his past, once again tore a path through his subconscious mind. It was terrifying enough when his dreams brought visions of his own torture, but now, the visions and images were different. More vivid, more personal, more terrifying. The tortured was now Chloe. His nightmares were made worse by the images of blood: so much blood, pools of blood, on her, on him . . . everywhere.

When he did manage to fall asleep, Brent woke up in a pool of sweat and vomit, fearful that the wetness he felt was blood. Chloe’s blood.

Agony was making him less of a man and more of a weapon of mass destruction.

Chapter 1


Seven walked with a purposeful stride down the halls of SIA headquarters which made all other three letter intelligence agencies seem like child’s play. The sound of his footfalls as his heavy boots struck the tile floors reverberated in his ears like the base of a stereo. He heard it echo off the solid steel walls. As he walked deeper into the labyrinth, he looked up at the writing over the door that led to the inner sanctum.
We are called upon when others fail.

He placed his hand on the black glass panel next to the steel door. Like all others in HQ, it worked by palmer recognition. A faint red line slid under his hand. The door’s air lock disengaged. He repeated this maneuver multiple times as he descended further into the maze, finally arriving at his destination, the security office. Joan’s lair.
Joan, an eclectic blend of bohemian and punk was Maddie Smith’s personal assistant and a self taught computer genius. Her office was nestled in the midst of SIA’s security hub. A sea of computers and flat screen monitors filled every bit of desk and wall space. As he entered, she sat transfixed and stared at a video feed. The monitor she was glued to took up one entire wall and was embedded in three feet of concrete and steel.

“How long has he been there?” Seven asked.

Joan turned just long enough to acknowledge his arrival. “I arrived at o-eight hundred hours. The security clock shows he’s been there since…”

“O-five hundred.” Seven finished her sentence.

It had been the same pattern for the past ten days.

He stood behind her and watched Brent in the armory. Seven, like all of those close to Brent, was showing the signs of stress. In the past weeks, wrinkles from age crept into his face, like dried fissures on barren land.

He blinked the sleeplessness from his eyes. “Can you roll the tape back to when he arrived?”

“I can, but nothing has changed. Brent is still anal—a man of pattern.”
Seven reached into the back pocket of his jeans and took out his tobacco tin. Watching the screen, he tapped the lid, shook loose the tobacco, and placed it between his lower lip and gums.

Joan looked at him, rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Much like yourself.”
Seven smirked and spit in his empty coffee cup. “Oblige an old man,” he drawled, “and run the tape.”

“Yes, sir.” Joan reached over with her left hand, nimbly fingered the keyboard, and brought up the tape.

“Finally, a woman who will listen to me.”

“I hope that wasn’t meant for me.”

They both turned and saw Maddie standing in the doorway. Maddie Smith was the director of the SIA and Seven’s wife. As always, everyone’s eyes were glued to her—she was stunning. A voluptuous redhead who knew how to draw attention from both sexes. She embodied a 1950’s movie starlet.

“Good morning, Darlin,” Seven smiled.

“Good morning, Madam Director,” Joan said.

Her piecing emerald green eyes focused on Joan. “Why so formal this morning?”

Joan shrugged. “Everything seems so formal since, . . .” her eyes moistened, “you know.”

Maddie’s voice took on a saddened tone. She stood behind Joan, lightly rubbed her shoulders, and kissed the top of her head. “Yeah, I know, but I would feel better if you went back to calling me Maddie, or Mom, or the ‘B’ word that you mumble under your breath from time to time.”

Joan wiped her tears and sniffed. “And what word would that be?”

“Beautiful,” Maddie joked.

A partial smile surfaced on Joan’s lips. “Oh, that ‘B’ word. Right.”

“That’s the first time I’ve seen you smile in weeks. It feels good.” She looked at Seven expecting a sarcastic comeback, but he was glued to the screen. The look in her husband’s eyes made her shiver. “What is it?”

“It’s Brent’s eyes. They’re blank. Emotionless. It’s as if he were on a squad mission.”

“Is that so bad?” Joan said. “Isn’t that the way you all look when you’re engaged in training?”

Pointing to the monitor, Seven said, “This is different. Look at his jugular veins. His eyes may be expressionless, but the rest of him is about to snap.”

Maddie drew in a deep breath as she watched the monitor. Blowing it out, she knew what she had to do. “We can’t put the inevitable off any longer. Call the directorate and the Phantom Squad to a meeting at thirteen hundred hours and Seven,” she waited for him to acknowledge her. “Get him there.”

Author Bio:

Mark Adduci, writing as J. M. LeDuc is native Bostonian, who transplanted to South Florida in 1985. He shares his love and life with his wife, Sherri and his daughter, Chelsea.
Blessed to have had a mother who loved the written word, her passion was passed on to him. It is in her maiden name he writes. When he is not crafting the plot of his next thriller, his alter ego is busy working as a professor at The Academy of Nursing and Health Occupations, a nursing college in West Palm Beach, Florida.
J.M. LeDuc’s first novel, “Cursed Blessing” won a Royal Palm Literary Award in 2008 as an unpublished manuscript in the thriller category. It was published in 2010. He has subsequently written Cursed Presence and Cursed Days, books two and three of the Trilogy of The Chosen, as well as a novella, Phantom Squad. He is a proud member of the Florida Writers Association (FWA) and the prestigious International Thriller Writers (ITW).

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants

1.     8/01 ~ Guest Post @ J. C. Martin, Fighter Writer
2.     8/02 ~ Review & Interview @ Deal Sharing Aunt
3.    8/05 ~ Interview @ Ginas Library
4.     8/06 ~ Review @ Vics Media Room
5.     8/07 ~ Interview @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
6.     8/08 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Deco My Heart

7.    8/09 ~ Showcase @ CMash Reads
8.    8/10 ~ Showcase @ The Stuff of Success
9.    8/12 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Marys Cup of Tea

10.   8/13 ~ Review & Giveaway @ My Cozie Corner
11.   8/14 ~ Showcase @ Thoughts in Progress
12.   8/20 ~ Review & Giveaway @ bless their hearts mom
13.   8/20 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
14.   8/22 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Hott Books
15.    8/26 ~ Guest Post, Review & Giveaway @ The Top Shelf
16.   8/27 ~ Interview & Review @ Read 2 Review
17.   8/28 ~ Review & Giveaway @ The Self Taught Cook
18.   8/29 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Ryder Islington’s Blog
19.   8/30 ~ Guest Post & Review @ Brooke Blogs
20.   8/31 ~ Showcase @ A Room Without Books is Empty

SHOWCASE Author Faye Kellerman And Her New Novel: The Beast

I was originally scheduled to review this book and provide a giveaway of the book to a lucky commenter, but alas, the book never came in the mail, so instead, I am presenting this showcase of the author, Faye Kellerman, and her new novel, The Beast.  Below you’ll find a synopsis, an excerpt, and several ways to reach the author and purchase the book. In the meantime, if you’d like to leave a comment, feel free, and maybe I can convince the powers that be that visitors to this blog deserve an opportunity to win a free book.

The Beast

by Faye Kellerman

on Tour August 2013

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Published by: HarperCollins/William Morrow
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780062121752
Purchase Links:


Over his years with the LAPD, Peter Decker has handled a number of tough cases and strange killers. Few of his previous assignments compare to his latest case—the most bizarre of his storied career.
When Hobart Penny is found dead in his apartment, the cops think that his pet cat—an adult female tiger—attacked the reclusive elderly billionaire. But it soon becomes clear that the beast that killed the eccentric inventor is all too human. Digging into the victim’s life, Decker and his colleagues, Detectives Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver, discover that Penny was an exceptionally peculiar man with exotic tastes, including kinky sex with call girls.
Following a trail of clues that leads from a wildlife sanctuary in the San Bernardino Mountains to the wild nightlife of Las Vegas, the LAPD detectives are left juggling too many suspects and too few answers. To break open a case involving the two most primal instincts—sex and murder—Decker wrestles with a difficult choice: turning to a man with expert knowledge of both—Chris Donatti, the dangerous man who also happens to be the father of Decker’s foster son Gabriel Whitman, a boy not without his own problems.
As their work and intimate worlds collide, Decker and his wife, Rina, find themselves facing tough questions. It just might be that family crises and work-related responsibilities prove too much for Decker’s career. A confluence of ordeals can stress even the most intact of families. And when all these shocking truths comes out, exactly how well will Decker and Rina cope as well as survive?

Read an excerpt:

Author Bio:

Faye Kellerman lives with her husband, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman, in Los Angeles, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants:

Schedule:8/01 ~ Interview, Review & Giveaway @ The Top Shelf
8/02 ~ Review @ Mama Knows Books
8/03 ~ Showcase @ CMash Reads
8/04 ~ Review @ Vics Media Room
8/05 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Buried Under Books
8/06 ~ Showcase @ My Cozie Corner
8/07 ~ Review @ Must Read Faster
8/08 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
8/09 ~ Review @ Keenly Kristin
8/10 ~ Review & Giveaway @ bless their hearts mom
8/11 ~ Showcase @ The Stuff of Success
8/12 ~ Review & Giveaway @ My Reading Room
8/13 ~ Review @ a lovely shore breeze
8/14 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Celticladys Reviews
8/15 ~ Showcase @ Beagle Book Space
8/16 ~ Review @ Community Bookstop
8/17 ~ Showcase @ Omnimystery, A Family of Mystery Websites
8/19 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Marys Cup of Tea
8/20 ~ Showcase @ The Thrill of it All
8/22 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Rhodes Review
8/26 ~ Review @ THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK
8/27~ Review & Giveaway @ Ryder Islingtons Blog
8/28 ~ Showcase @ Read 2 Review
8/29 ~ Showcase @ J. C. Martin, Fighter Writer
8/30 ~ Review @ Giveaway @ Books and Needlepoint
8/31 ~ Review @ Giveaway @ Thoughts in Progress
TBD ~ Review @ Suspense Magazine Blog

I’m An Author, Not A Salesperson

There was a time when writers just had to write. But now, in our new economy, in the ‘space age’, our roles have changed. Even if we get that coveted Big House contract, they don’t spend money on new authors, so we’re left with either no sales, or becoming salespeople.

I never wanted to go into sales. I’m not good at it. I don’t like it. In fact, if I had known twelve years ago what I know now, I might never have dreamed of being published. I might have decided to just write for my own enjoyment. Too late now. With book one of a series published, and an editor waiting on book two, I have to learn this new way of being a writer.

I bought the books about social media and advertising. I even read them. I’m told they’re in English, but I’m not so sure. The one thing they all stress, and I understand, is that we have to now be ‘social.’ The polar opposite of being a writer. It’s not that I don’t like people. I was raised in a large family. Not communicating meant being trampled! But having the pressure of ‘entertaining’ other people, of saying things they want to hear, of trying to come up with new material…Well…it’s a lot.

I enjoy blogging. I really enjoy reviewing books I’ve read. Facebook is an okay medium, though a tad confusing. Twitter blows my mind. I’ve been told not to toot my horn, but every tweet I get is a sales pitch. I mean EVERY ONE! I have yet to get on LinkedIn without having to take my computer to the shop.

So, what are us old dinosaurs to do? How can we compete with kids who grew up with the internet and can’t spend more than twenty minutes away from their electronic friends? Even if I look at socializing on the net as ‘writing’, I still can’t think of what to talk about everyday. Especially when I’m not supposed to talk about my book.  I mean, I really don’t do anything interesting. I never go out to eat. No theater here in town. No cable TV. No parties. I don’t drink much, and when I do it’s just a drink at home. I don’t know a lot of people around here. I read. I write. I occasionally can some veggies. Who’s interested in that kind of thing?  Let’s face it–I’m boring. That’s why I read and write!

I’d love to hear from you all. How do you cope? Can you recommend resources that might teach me? Is there something out there that will interpret The Internet For Dummies for me? If you’re successful, what are your secrets? Are you struggling with being a salesperson? Do you find it difficult to carve out time for twitter? Facebook? Do you understand how it’s all supposed to work? And if you do, would you pass some of that along?


If you haven’t already checked out the recent book review THE RED QUEEN DIES by Frankie Y Bailey, come on by and get a chance to win a copy of the book. All you have to do is comment on the review, the book, the author, etc., and your name will be entered to win.

And on September 16th, I’ll be reviewing REESE’S LEAP by Darcy Scott, another mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed. Same rules apply. Leave me a comment and  you  could win a copy.

BOOK REVIEW: The Red Queen Dies by Frankie Y. Bailey

Review by Ryder Islington

I could tell by the cover that this book was going to be different. The silhouette of a bunny in a knife in one hand caught my attention. Then I learned–or was it remembered?–that there was just such a bunny, as well as a red queen in the book: Alice In Wonderland.

Set in the near future, this is a worthwhile mystery, wrapped up in a police procedural. The main characters, McCabe a biracial, female detective, and her partner, Baxter, a guy with a good sense of humor, are on the trail of what they believe is a serial killer. But when a third victim is found, and she doesn’t fit the victim profile, trouble begins to brew. This victim is a famous stage actress who played Alice in one version of the old classic, and the red queen in another version, and her death brings the mayor and the chief of police into the brew, as politics becomes yet another obstacle for the detectives.

Add nosy, persistent, journalist, Clarence Redfield, who has information he shouldn’t have and likes to make the cops crazy by printing personal info about them, and a rich man who seems to be at the end of every inquiry, and you have a great mix of characters who are at odds and making life miserable for each other. This is a story with some grit.  I found the characters believable, with good description that didn’t intrude on the story.

I would recommend this book to lovers of mysteries, as well as those of us who love police procedurals, and with its futuristic flavor, those interested in what life might be like in a few years might enjoy it too.

At the bottom of this article, you’ll find a complete list of blogs where you can read more about The Red Queen Dies, see interviews and other reviews, and comment for more chances to win an e-copy of the book. Also below is a synopsis, an author bio and an excerpt of the first chapter. Enjoy!

The Red Queen Dies

by Frankie Bailey

on Tour August 1 – September 30, 2013

Book Details:

Genre:  Mystery & Detective
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: Sept 10, 2013
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-0-312-64175-7 / 978-1-250-03717-6
Purchase Links:


The first in a new high-concept police procedural series, set in Albany with an Alice in Wonderland theme.

Frankie Bailey introduces readers to a fabulous new protagonist and an Alice in Wonderland-infused crime in this stunning mystery. The year is 2019, and a drug used to treat soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder, nicknamed “Lullaby,” has hit the streets. Swallowing a little pill erases traumatic memories, but what happens to a criminal trial when the star witness takes a pill and can’t remember the crime? Biracial detective Hannah McCabe faces similar perplexing problems as she attempts to solve the murders of three women, one of whom, a Broadway actress known as “The Red Queen,” has a special interest in the story of Alice in Wonderland. Is the killer somehow reenacting the children’s tale? This smart, tough mystery will appeal to fans of high-concept police procedurals.

Read an excerpt:

DATE: Thursday, 24 October 2019

TIME: 0700 hours

WEATHER TODAY: Mid 90s. Air quality poor. Evening storms.

DISPLAY ON WALL: Wake- up News

“Good morning, everyone. I’m Suzanne Price.

“First, the news from the nation. The federal government says, ‘No hoax, no conspiracy, but still no definitive answers.’

“The administration denies suppressing portions of the commission report on the November 2012 close encounter between NORAD fighter jets and the black boomerang- shaped UFO that appeared over the Mojave Desert, creating worldwide awe and panic before disappearing in a blinding flash of light.

“In Las Vegas, preparations are underway for the now- annual spectacular celebration of that close encounter.

“However, a warning from alien invasion survivalists, who say this seventh anniversary will be the year the spacecraft returns leading an armada. Survivalists plan to retreat to their bunkers on November 2. Gun shop owners report sales of firearms are up, as they are every year as the anniversary approaches.

“Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says another eruption of solar fl ares could cause more communication and power disruptions early next week.

“Forest fi res in both Canada and breakaway nation New France continue to burn out of control, sending smoke southward.

“Scientists taking part in a climate change conference in Philadelphia disagree about the explanation for the significant improvement in the acidity levels of the world’s oceans. ‘It shouldn’t be happening,’ an MIT oceanographer said. ‘Nothing in anyone’s data predicted this turnaround. But I think we can safely rule out divine intervention and UFO babies.’

“Out on the presidential campaign trail, a political firestorm erupts as Republican front- runner Janet Cortez accuses in dependent candidate Howard Miller of ‘rallying angry, frightened people to commit hate crimes.’ During an arena speech yesterday, Miller called on several thousand supporters to ‘reclaim America for Americans’ and ‘restore our way of life.’ Cortez says Miller is ‘morally responsible’ for the attacks that have been escalating since he announced his third- party candidacy.

“Now, here at home . . . a chilling scenario posed by a local crime beat threader. Is there an ‘Albany Ripper’ in our midst?”

“Dammit!” Hannah McCabe jumped back as the grapefruit juice from her overturned glass splashed across the countertop, covering the still- visible display of the nutrition content of her father’s breakfast.

“Bring up the sound,” he said. “I want to hear this.”

“Half a second, Pop. Hands full.” McCabe shoved her holster out of the way and touched clean up before the stream of juice could run off the counter and onto the tile floor.

“. . . Following last night’s Common Council meeting, threader Clarence Redfield interrupted a statement by Detective Wayne Jacoby, the Albany Police Department spokesperson . . .”

In the chief of police’s office, Jacoby struggled to keep his expression neutral as the footage of the press conference and his exchange with Redfield began to roll.

“The Albany Police Department remains hopeful that the Common Council will approve both funding requests. The first to expand GRTYL, our Gang Reduction Through Youth Leadership program, and the second to enhance the surveillance—”

“Detective Jacoby, isn’t it true that the Albany PD is engaged in a cover- up? Isn’t it true that the Albany PD has failed to inform the citizens of this city of what they have a right to know?”

“I know you want to off er your usual observations, Mr. Redfield. But if you will hold your questions until I finish—”

“Isn’t it true that we have a serial killer at work here in Albany, Detective? Isn’t it true that a secret police task force has been created to try to track down a killer who has been preying on women here in this city?”

“That is . . . no, that is not true, Mr. Redfield. There is no secret task force, nor is there any cover- up. We . . . the Albany PD does not engage in . . .”

From his position by the window, Chief Egan said, “Stammering like a frigging schoolgirl makes it hard to believe you’re telling the truth, Wayne.”

“The little bastard caught me off guard,” Jacoby said, his annoyance getting the better of him.

The others at the table avoided his glance, their gazes focused on the wall where his confrontation with Redfield was continuing.

“So, Detective, you’re telling us that there aren’t two dead women who—”

“I’m telling you, Mr. Redfield, that we have ongoing investigations into two cases involving female victims who—”

“Who were the victims of a serial killer?”

“We have two female homicide victims. Both deaths were drug- induced and both occurred within the past six weeks. On each occasion, we made available to the media, including yourself, information about—”

“But you didn’t release the details that link the two cases. You didn’t tell the media or the citizens of this city that both women were—”

“We do not release the details of ongoing homicide investigations, Mr. Redfield. And you are not aiding these investigations with your grandstanding.”

“My grandstanding? Don’t you think it’s time someone told the women of Albany that the police can’t protect them? That they should stay off the streets after dark, get inside when the fog rolls in, and lock their doors? Shouldn’t someone tell the taxpaying citizens of this city that in spite of all the hype about your Big Brother surveillance system, a killer is still moving like a phantom through the—”

“What the citizens of Albany should know is that the Albany PD is bringing all its resources and those of other law- enforcement agencies to bear to solve these two cases. Veteran detectives are following every lead. And the citywide surveillance system the department has implemented—”

“When it’s working, Detective Jacoby. Isn’t it true that the solar flares have been giving your system problems?”

One of the captains sitting at the conference table in Chief Egan’s office groaned. “Is he just guessing?”

On the wall, Jacoby’s jaw was noticeably clinched.

“As I was about to say, Mr. Redfield, before we began this back- and-forth, the DePloy surveillance system has been effective both in reducing crime and solving the crimes that have occurred. That is the end of this discussion.”

“You mean ‘Shut up or I’m out of here’?”

“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I am now going to finish the official statement regarding funding. I will only respond to questions on that subject. . . .”

Chief Egan said, “Not one of your better performances, Wayne. You let him rattle you.” He walked over and sat down at the head of the table. “Her Royal Highness, the mayor, was not pleased when she called me last night.”

On the wall, the anchorwoman took over.

“Detective Jacoby then completed his statement about the proposals before the Common Council. When a reporter tried to return to the allegation made by crime beat threader Clarence Redfield that a serial killer is at work in Albany, Detective Jacoby ended the press conference and left the podium.

Mr. Redfield himself declined to respond to questions from reporters about the source of his information. We’ll have more for you on this story as details become available.

“In another matter before the Common Council, a proposed emergency expansion of the existing no masks or face- covering ordinance to include Halloween night. The new ordinance would apply to everyone over eight years of age. The recent outbreak of crimes involving juveniles . . .”

“Now, they’re even trying to take away Halloween,” Angus McCabe said from his place at the kitchen table. “Well? Any truth to it? Do we have ourselves a serial killer on the loose?”

McCabe put her empty juice glass on the shelf inside the dishwasher. “Since when do you consider Clarence Redfield a reliable source, Pop?”

“He ain’t. But I’ve spent more than half my life grilling official mouthpieces, and the way Jacoby was squirming—”

“Jacoby can’t stand Redfield. You know that.” McCabe snagged her thermo jacket from the back of her chair and bent to kiss his forehead. “And you’re retired now, remember?”

“I may be retired, but I’m not dead yet. What’s going on?”

“Got to run, Pop. Have a good day.”

“Have a good day nothing.” He rose to follow her into the hall.

“Hank McCabe, you tell me what’s—”

“Can’t discuss it. I’ll pick us up some dinner on the way home. Chinese okay?”

He scowled at her, his eyes the same electric blue they had always been, the bristling brows gone gray.

“No, Chinese ain’t okay. I’m tired of Chinese. I’ll cook dinner tonight. I’ve got all day to twiddle my thumbs. What else do I have to do but make dinner?”

“I thought you might intend to work on your book. You do have that deadline coming up in a couple of months.”

“Book, hell. There ain’t no book. I’m giving the advance back.”

“If that’s what you want to do,” McCabe said. “On the other hand, you could just sit down and write the book.”

“You try writing a damn book, Ms. Detective.”

“Not my area of expertise. But you’ve done it a few times before. Even won an award or two.”

“This one’s different. Nobody would read it even if I wrote it. And don’t ‘If that’s what you want to do’ me. We were talking about this serial killer that Redfield claims—”

“Sorry, Pop, I really do have to go. I want to get in a few minutes early this morning.”

“Why? What are you—”

She closed the door on his demand that she get herself back there and tell him what was going on. Striding to her car, McCabe tried to ignore the whiff of smoke that she could taste in the back of her throat and the sticky air, which made her want to step back into the shower. The heat was due to break to night. That would clear the air.

And Pop would pull himself out of his funk. He always did.

Of course, the other times, he’d had an office to go to . . . and no restrictions on his alcohol consumption.

“I have every confidence in your ability to get what we need, Mike boy.”

“Right.” Baxter fl ashed his best cocky grin. “You know you can

count on me.”

His caller nodded. “I know I can.” He pointed his finger at Baxter. “Watch your back out there, you hear me?”

He disconnected, his image fading from the screen. Baxter closed his ORB and leaned back on his cream leather sofa.

He stretched his arms over his head, fingers clasped. His gaze fell on the framed photograph on his desk. Himself in dress blues. Graduation day from the Academy.

Baxter grunted, then laughed. “You should have seen this one coming, Mike boy.”

He rubbed his hand across his mouth, whistled. “Well hell.”

Baxter reached for his ORB again. He pulled up a file and began to update his notes.

When he was done, he grabbed his thermo jacket and headed for the door.

His mind on other things, he left the apartment on cooldown and the lights on in the bathroom, but the condo’s environmental system had gone into energy- saver mode by the time he reached the lobby.

In the garage, Baxter paused for his usual morning ritual, admiring the burgundy sheen of his vintage 1967 Mustang convertible.

Then he got into his three- year- old hybrid and headed in to work.

McCabe was stuck in traffic on Central Avenue, waiting for an opening to maneuver around a florist van.

In Albany, double parking had always been considered a civic right. With more traffic each year and the narrow lanes that had been carved out for Zip cars and tri- bikes, Central Avenue in the morning was like it must have been when Albany was a terminus for slaughter houses, with cattle driven along Central Avenue Turnpike.

Stop, start, nose, and try not to trample one another as they moved toward their destinations.

McCabe tilted her head from side to side and shrugged her shoulders. What she needed, yearned for, was a long run. Even with geosimulators, five miles on a machine was never as good as running outside.

McCabe’s attention was caught by a fl ash of color. On the sidewalk in front of Los Amigos, a young black woman in a patchwork summer skirt laughed as an older man, suave and mustachioed, swirled her in a samba move. Still laughing, she disengaged herself and scooped up her straw handbag from the sidewalk. Hand over his heart, the man called out to his impromptu dance partner. Giggling, she went on her way.

Stopped by the traffic light at the intersection, McCabe lowered her window enough to hear the music coming from the open doorway of the restaurant. Before it was Mexican, the place had been Ca rib be an, and before that, Indian. The owners of the hair salon on one side and the discount store on the other had complained about this latest example of ethnic succession. Loud music, spicy smells— in other words, the threat posed by “Mexs” moving into this block as they had others. Some legal, some American citizens, some neither, arriving in Albany in greater numbers during the years when the convention center was going up. Now the resentment was more vocal, the sense of being in competition greater. Even the imagined threat of an interplanetary invasion hadn’t changed that dynamic. Earthlings still distrusted other earthlings. They defended what they thought of as their turf.

Since the UFO, old episodes of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone had become a cult favorite with teen “space zombies.” According to Pop, the zombies weren’t the only ones who should be watching the series. He

claimed that in the event of another close encounter, Rod Serling had left instructions. Rule number one: Even if the spacecraft looks flashy,

check to make sure it isn’t a balloon from a Thanksgiving Day parade. Rule number two: Even if the lights do start going on and off ,

don’t turn on your neighbors, assuming they must be the aliens. Rule number three: Even if the “visitors” introduce themselves and seem friendly, ask for additional information about how they plan “to serve” mankind before hopping on their spaceship.

Meanwhile, daily life continued on Central Avenue, where Zoe

James, the black female owner of the beauty shop, refused to patronize the Mexican restaurant next door.

At least she and Sung Chang, the Korean- American owner of the discount store, had stopped calling the cops every time the music and dancing overfl owed onto the sidewalk. Of course, the janet cortez para presidente sign now on proud display in Los Amigos’s front window might set them off again. Both James and Chang had signs supporting the current vice president, who was male, black (biracial, actually), and likely to be the Demo cratse nominee.

But according to Pop, the candidate they all needed to be worried about, should be scared to death of, actually, was Howard Miller, that smiling “man of the people.” Howard Miller, who was as smooth as the churned butter from that family- owned farm he boasted about having grown up on.

McCabe stared hard at the traffic light that was supposed to adjust for traffic flow and right now was doing nothing at all. She decided to give it another thirty seconds before she reported a problem.

Howard Miller.

They hadn’t looked at that kind of hate crime because they had two white female victims. But the murder weapon . . . What if one of Miller’s crazy followers . . .

Horns blared.

McCabe was reaching for her ORB when the traffic light flickered and went from red to green.

More horns blared.

Three women, pushing metal shopping carts, had decided to make a last-minute dash across the busy intersection. White with a hint of a tan, clad in light- colored shorts and T-shirts, they were too clean to be homeless.

The women were almost to the other side when a bike messenger zipped around a double- parked produce truck.

The women darted out of his way. He skidded and went down hard. Sunlight sparkled on his blue helmet, but his work- tanned legs were bare and vulnerable.

One of the women looked back, peering over her designer sunglasses. She called out something. Maybe it was “Sorry about that.”

Then she and her fellow scavenger hunters sprinted away in the direction of Washington Park, where Radio KZAC must be holding today’s meet- up.

The taxi driver behind McCabe leaned on his horn. She waved for him to go around her.

She watched the bike messenger get up on wobbly legs. He looked down at his knee and grimaced. But the next moment, he was checking his bike. Then he grabbed for his leather satchel before a car could run over it. Hopping back on his bike, he pedaled off .

A car pulled away from the curb, opening up a spot a few feet away from Cambrini’s Bakery. McCabe shot forward and did a quick parallel park.

She got out and headed toward the intertwined aromas of fresh-baked muffins and black coffee. Maybe the day wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

The line wound back to the door, but it seemed to be moving fast. McCabe glanced at the old- fashioned chalkboard that always had the morning’s “featured muffin.” Not in the mood for pumpkin, she found what she wanted on the menu and sent her order from her ORB to checkout before joining the queue.

“Good morning, sister. Is God blessing you this fine day?”

She turned toward the deep voice and beaming smile of the man in the black New York Yankees baseball cap and the white suit and white shirt, which contrasted with his chocolate brown skin.

“Good morning, Reverend Deke.”

“I said, sister, ‘Is God blessing you this fine day?’ ”

“Yes, thank you, He is,” McCabe said.

“I’m pleased to hear that.”

Reverend Deke went out the door carrying his steaming coffee cup. By high noon, he would be bringing “the message” to any of the office workers who decided to leave the climate- controlled Empire State Plaza complex to patronize the lunch wagons lined up along the street. Some of the workers would pause to listen as Reverend Deke broke into one of the spirituals that he had learned on his Georgia- born grandmother’s knee.

McCabe watched him go, greeting the people he passed.

Ten minutes later, she was jammed in sideways at the counter by

the window, munching on a lemon-blueberry-pecan muffin. Half a day’s supply of antioxidants, and it even tasted like it was made with real sugar.

The police frequency on her ORB lit up. She touched the screen to see the message that Comm Center had sent out to patrol cars.

McCabe swallowed the last bite of her muffin and grabbed her ice coffee container from the counter.

Out of the sidewalk, she spoke into her transmitter. “Dispatch,

Detective McCabe also responding to that call. En route.”

“Copy, McCabe. Will advise,” the dispatcher responded.

Mike Baxter picked up the same dispatch as he was pulling out of the fast- food drive-thru. He shoved his coffee cup into the holder and reached for his siren.

“Dispatch, Detective Baxter also responding.”

“Copy, Baxter. McCabe’s headed that way, too.”

“Thought she would be. This could be our guy.”

“Happy hunting.”

McCabe pulled herself to the top of the fence and paused to look down into the alley. She jumped and landed on the other side, one foot slipping in dog shit. The man she was chasing darted a glance behind him and kept running.

In a half squat, McCabe drew her weapon and fired. Her bola wrapped around the man’s legs. He sprawled forward, entangled in the cords, crashing into moldering cardboard boxes and other garbage.

McCabe ran toward him. He twisted onto his side, trying to sit up and free himself.

“Get these ropes off me, bitch!”

“Stay down,” she said, training the weapon, now set to stun, on the perp’s scrawny torso. “Roll over on your belly.”

He looked up at her face, then at the gun. Either he was convinced she would use it or deterred by the minicam that was attached to the weapon and was recording their encounter. He sagged back to the ground and rolled over.

She stepped to the side, about to order him to raise his arm behind his back so that she could slip on the fi rst handcuff .

“You got him!” Mike Baxter said, running up. He was sweating, cheeks flushed, eyes bright with excitement. “That was great.”

“Cuff him,” McCabe said, trying not to let Baxter see that she was breathing hard.

She was thirty- four to Baxter’s twenty- nine, and, yes, she had outrun him. But she should be in better shape than this. Today’s air-quality reading was no excuse. Baxter snapped the cuffs into place and McCabe retracted her bola.

Baxter hauled the perp to his feet.

“Hey, man, this is police brutality, you hear me?” the perp said.

“I’m gonna sue both of you.”

“That all you got to say?” Baxter said.

“Say? You’re supposed to read me my rights, man.”

“You got it, man,” Baxter said. “You have the right to remain silent.

Anything you say can be used against you . . .” He recited the words with the controlled irony of a cop who had been saying them for several decades. But he looked like a college kid. That was why he had been recruited from patrol to work undercover vice. But word was that he had wanted out of that and played a commendably discrete game of departmental politics, involving his godfather, the assistant chief, to get reassigned.

Sirens screeching, two police cruisers pulled into the alley.

Baxter grinned at McCabe. “Great way to start the day, huh, partner?”

“Absolutely,” she said, scrapping her shoe on the edge of a mildewed cardboard box.

She hoped he realized that the likelihood that this was the guy they were looking for was about zilch.

Author Bio:

FRANKIE Y. BAILEY is an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY). Bailey is the author of mysteries as well as non-fiction titles that explore the intersections of crime, history, and popular culture. Bailey is a Macavity Award-winner and has been nominated for Edgar, Anthony, and Agatha awards. A past executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime, she is on the Albany Bouchercon 2013 planning committee.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants:

1.      08/01 ~ Review @ Mama Knows Books

2.      08/02 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Deal Sharing Aunt
3.      08/03 ~ Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
4.      08/05 ~ Review @ The Phantom Paragrapher
5.      08/06 ~ Guest Post @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
6.      08/08 ~ Review @ Vics Media Room
7.      08/13 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Ryder Islingtons Blog
8.      08/14 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Must Read Faster
9.      08/15 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Popcorn Reads
10.    08/19 ~ Review @ Carols Notebook
11.   08/20 ~Showcase & Interview ~ CMash Reads
12.    08/22 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Cabin Goddess
13.    08/27 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
14.    09/09 ~ Interview, Review & Giveaway @ The Top Shelf
15.    09/09 ~ Showcase @ The Stuff of Success
16.    09/10 ~ Showcase @ J. C. Martin, Fighter Writer
17.    09/11 ~ Review @ Celtic Ladys Reviews
18.    09/12 ~ Review @ Buried Under Books
19.    09/16 ~ Guest Post @ Writers and Authors
20.    09/17 ~ Review @ My Cozie Corner
21.    09/25 ~ Interview @ The Reading Frenzy
22.    09/26 ~ Interview, Review & Giveaway @ The Wormhole
23.    09/30 Showcase @ A Room Without Books is Empty