The Omega Project

by Steve Alten

on Tour Oct 1 – Nov 30, 2013

Book Details:

Genre: Fiction
Published by: Tor/Forge
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0765336324
Purchase Links:


In The Wizard of Oz, a runaway finds herself transplanted to a strange land, only to learn it was all a dream. In Planet of the Apes, an astronaut awakens to find himself in a strange land, only to realize he is still on Earth. The Omega Project ups the ante, and neither the hero nor the reader will know the true reality until the very last page. In 2028, twelve astronauts and a scientist are cryogenically frozen for 30 days beneath the Ross Ice Shelf to prep for a mission to Europa. Only one will awaken… 12 million years in the future!

Omega Project Trailer

Read an excerpt:

When the oil stopped flowing death became a game of musical chairs. Accepting isolation over the insanity of anarchy, I remained alone in my fortress of solitude, waiting for the world’s population to drop from seven billion to just under six hundred million, knowing that if I could safeguard my chair then maybe I’d live to see a different, wiser world. Instead, I found myself quarantined against a society gone mad in every sense of the word. After sixteen months of rationing, I was forced to venture out of my prison — and that’s when I met my new companion.

Author Bio:

Steve Alten earned his Bachelors degree at Penn State University, a Masters Degree in Sports Medicine from the University of Delaware, and a Doctorate of Education at Temple University. Struggling to support his family of five, he decided to pen a novel he had been thinking about for years. Working late nights and on weekends, he eventually finished MEG; A Novel of Deep Terror, a thriller about Carcharodon megalodon, the 70-foot prehistoric cousin of the great white shark. MEG went on to become an international best-seller, with movie rights sold. The Mayan Calendar plays a big part in his Domain series — another international best-seller sold in the U.K. as THE MAYAN PROPHECY series. Steve’s other work includes The LOCH — a modern-day thriller about the Loch Ness Monster, The SHELL GAME — about the end of oil and the next 9/11 event, and GRIM REAPER: End of Days — a modern-day Dante’s Inferno which takes place in New York when a man-made plague strikes Manhattan. His best work yet, THE OMEGA PROJECT – was released in August 2013. As an author, Steve has two goals. First, to continue to work hard to become a better storyteller and create exciting page turning thrillers. Second, to remain accessible to his readers. Steve reads and answers all e-mails, uses the names and descriptions of his loyal fans as characters in all his novels, and even hires readers as editors, depending on their particular expertise.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants:

10/01 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Deco My Heart
10/02 ~ Review & Giveaway @ WTF Are You Reading?
10/03 ~ Interview @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
10/04 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Deal Sharing Aunt
10/07 ~ Guest Post @ Writers and Authors
10/08 ~ Showcase & Interview @ CMash Reads
10/15 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Beauty in Ruins
10/17 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Buried Under Books
10/21 ~ Review @ Vics Media Room
10/22 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
11/01 ~ Showcase @ J. C. Martin, Fighter Writer
11/04 ~ Review & Giveaway @ The Stuff of Success
11/13 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Cabin Goddess
11/22 ~ Review @ Marys Cup of Tea


Review by Ryder Islington, Author of ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A  Trey Fontaine Mystery

What a fun read! Okay, so picture this: Two women open a consignment shop in a small town in Florida. One woman is tall, blonde, willowy, and graceful, but socially inept. The other is a short, fiery brunette who can charm the pants off a snake, (okay give me a minute and I’ll come up with a better metaphor) but can’t manage to pour a cup of coffe without breaking the pot and the cup.  In the first scene, they find a body in the dressing room of their shop during the grand opening.  Of course, they are prime suspects, and therefore feel the need to clear their names.

Add a conniving almost ex-husband, a dreamy private investigator, a notorious grandma and a female detective who knows the two prime suspects personally, and you have a cozy that’s funny and filled with mystery and intrigue. Oh, and a mob boss. I forgot the mob boss.

I really enjoyed reading A SECONDHAND MURDER. I’ll have to personally recommend this book to all of friends who love cozies. It’s a great mystery, with a little suspense, a little romance, some slapstick, and most of all, characters who feel like family. I read it in one setting. Is it one setting if you stop to put another log on the fire, pour a tall glass of apple pie vodka and let the dogs out? At any rate, I didn’t want to stop reading, and stayed up late to finish. It was worth it.

Below you’ll find a synopsis of the book, an excerpt, and bio of Leslie Diehl. And at the bottom of this post is a long list of other sites where you can read other reviews, author interviews and guest posts, not to mention opportunities to win a copy of this book.

A Secondhand Murder

by Lesley Diehl

on Tour October 1 – November 30, 2013

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Camel Press
Publication Date: 9/15/2013
Number of Pages: 260
ISBN: 978-1-60381-935-0
Purchase Links:


Spunky and outspoken Eve Appel moves from Connecticut to rural Florida intent on starting a new life, free of drama, and more importantly, her soon-to-be ex-husband. The rural Florida town of Sabal Bay, situated only an hour from West Palm, proves to be the perfect spot for her consignment store. Thanks to the recent economic downturn, Florida’s society matrons need a place to discreetly sell their stuff and pick up expensive-looking bargains. But Eve’s life, and her business with it, is turned upside down when a wealthy customer is found stabbed to death in a fitting room. As accusations fly and business slows, Eve decides to take things into her own hands. With the help of an unlikely bunch of friends—including her estranged ex, her best friend, a handsome private eye, and a charming mafia don—she struggles to find answers and save lives. Through a maze of distorted half-truths, dramatic cover-ups, and unrequited passions, Eve learns just how far the wealthy will go to regain what they have lost. A Secondhand Murder is Book 1 of the Eve Appel Mysteries Series.

Read an excerpt:

It was still early so I strode back into the restaurant, indicated to the hostess I wanted a booth and ordered the breakfast buffet. Anger paired with disbelief gave me a hearty appetite. Returning to my booth after loading my plate with eggs, bacon, pancakes, pastries and a slice of toast, I noticed someone had joined me for breakfast. He was seated with his back to me as I approached the booth but I recognized the sun-streaked hair curling over his collar. My favorite PI. I almost dropped my plate.Hi.” I tried for nonchalant but sounded more like a hormone-addled teenager.“Saw you come in. I guess you had an early morning chitchat with the local gendarmes.”“To be continued this afternoon at the station.”“Fingerprints?” He stirred a packet of sugar into his coffee.“Nope.” The tingle in my tummy was more than simple hunger for food. I tried to satisfy it by stuffing a large forkful of pancake into my mouth. I nodded and swallowed. “Like anyone would be dumb enough to leave their prints.”
“Certainly, we know you’re smart.”

“I had no reason to kill Mrs. Sanders. That would be like killing the golden goose.”

“You didn’t like her very much, did you?”

I dropped my fork on the plate. “What do you mean? I hardly knew the woman.”

“So you say, but my sources indicate that’s not the whole story.” He stared at me. Last night I thought those azure eyes looked inviting. Now they looked more like ice. He smiled.

“You said you were investigating Mrs. Sanders. Sounds like you’re trying to nose into my affairs. Why?”

“Don’t get mad. I’m not accusing you of murder, you know.” He took a sip of coffee.

“I’m not mad.” I was a little miffed, peeved even, but not really mad. Okay, I was mad.

“Oh yes you are, and when you get angry, you stick your chin out and turn your head ever so slightly to the right. Your cheek twitches, probably from clenching your teeth. Did you know that?”

I had lost my appetite. I grabbed my purse and slid out of the booth. “I don’t recall inviting you to join me for breakfast. I just remembered I have an important appointment.”

“That would be …?” He also stood.

“That would be none of your business.”

I stalked out of the restaurant, then remembered as I approached my car that I had forgotten to pay my bill. Damn. Now I’d have to go back in there and face him again. I gritted my teeth, stuck out my chin and slammed through the door. He turned from the counter, credit card in hand.

“Don’t worry about it. I got it. Your treat next time.”

“There won’t be a next time.” I spun around and pushed open the door. By the time he reached his car, I was already starting my engine, wondering what the man knew about Mrs. Sanders and me.

Author Bio:

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida–cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office. Back north, she devotes her afternoons to writing and, when the sun sets, relaxing on the bank of her trout stream, sipping tea or a local microbrew.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants:

10/01 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
10/02 ~ Interview & Showcase @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
10/03 ~ Review @ Vics Media Room
10/04 ~ Review, Guest Post & Giveaway @ Brooke Blogs
10/07 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Wall-to-Wall books
10/08 ~ Review by Carol Wong
10/09 ~ Review @ Community Bookstop
10/10 ~ Guest Post @ Omnimystery
10/11 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Dr. Pepper Diva
10/14 ~ Review, Interview & Giveaway @ Book2Buzz
10/15 ~ Review @ 2 Kids and Tired Books
10/16 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Beth Art From the Heart
10/17 ~ Review & Giveaway @ A Novel Review
10/18 ~ Review @ Kritters Ramblings
10/20 ~ Guest Post @ The Pen Muse
10/21 ~ Review @ Hezzi-Ds Books and Cooks
10/22 ~ Showcase @ CMash Reads
10/23 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Book Dilettante
10/23 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Marys Cup of Tea
10/25 ~ Review @ Teena in Toronto
10/26 ~ Showcase @ The Stuff of Success
10/27 ~ Review & Giveaway @ bless their hearts mom
10/28 ~ Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
10/29 ~ Showcase @ SweepingMe
10/30 ~ Guest Post @ Vicky at Deal Sharing Aunt
11/01 ~ Review @ WV Stitcher
11/06 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Buried Under Books
11/07 ~ Showcase @ Rose & Beps Blog
11/08 ~ Review @ Bookalicious Travel Addict
11/09 ~ Review & Giveaway @ My Devotional Thoughts
11/11 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Celticladys Reviews
11/12 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Kaisy Daisys Corner
11/13 ~ Guest Post @ Mochas, Mysteries and More
11/14 ~ Review & Interview @ Thoughts in Progress
11/15 ~ Review, Interview & Giveaway @ Socrates Book Reviews
11/18 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Read 2 Review
11/21 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Cabin Goddess
11/26 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Ryder Islingtons Blog
11/27 ~ Review @ THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK
11/28 ~ Review & Giveaway @ A Room Without Books is Empty
11/29 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Sapphyrias Book Reviews


Review by Ryder Islington, Author of ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery

It didn’t take long for the hairs to stand up on my neck when I started reading THE PRESERVATIONIST. I could feel something ugly coming and didn’t quite know from which direction. Told in an alternating point of view, the three main characters are Julia, a college student, Marcus, also a student, and Sam, an employee at the snack bar on campus.

As Julia develops relationships with the two men, she also struggles with a recent tragedy in her own life. The plot simmers as the two men show parts of themselves that are at the very least, unappealing. Sam is older, gentle and Julia makes him feel young and vibrant. Marcus is quiet and shy, but sometimes his actions make Julia uncomfortable. Violence is on the horizon, but where will it come from, and in what form?

I’d recommend this book for lovers of mystery and suspense as well as those who love psychological thrillers.

Below you’ll find a sysnopsis as well as an excerpt of  THE PRESERVATIONIST, and a bio of the author, and if you’d like to leave a comment, you will have an opportunity to win a copy of the book.  Also, at the bottom of this post is a list of other participants in this blog tour where you’ll find more reviews, interviews, guest posts, and more opportunities to win.

The Preservationist

by Justin Kramon

on Tour October 1 – November 30, 2013

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller / Psychological Thriller / Women’s Fiction
Published by: Pegasus/Norton
Publication Date: 10/15/13
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-1-60598-480-3
Purchase Links:

** Note: Explicit sexual scenes


To Sam Blount, meeting Julia is the best thing that has ever happened to him. Working at the local college and unsuccessful in his previous relationships, he’d been feeling troubled about his approaching fortieth birthday, “a great beast of a birthday,” as he sees it, but being with Julia makes him feel young and hopeful. Julia Stilwell, a freshman trying to come to terms with a recent tragedy that has stripped her of her greatest talent, is flattered by Sam’s attention. But their relationship is tested by a shy young man with a secret, Marcus Broley, who is also infatuated with Julia.

Told in alternating points of view, The Preservationist is the riveting tale of Julia and Sam’s relationship, which begins to unravel as the threat of violence approaches—and Julia becomes less and less sure whom to trust.


Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1
JuliaOf all the places Julia Stilwell thought she might be on a September afternoon, less than a year after the accident, this was the last she would have imagined. College. A freshman headed out on a first date. It was too normal. She felt like she’d snuck into the wrong movie, like any minute a guy in a little hat would come running up the aisle, shine a flashlight in her eyes, and ask to see her ticket.But here she was, ten minutes to two, fixing her hair, getting her shoes on, smiling at her reflection so she could paint blush on her cheeks, going back and forth in her mind about whether to bring a backpack or a purse. It was all the usual stuff girls do before dates, but to Julia it felt like a test, a set of pictures she had to line up in the right order. Wrong answer sends you back to go. It was a blessing her roommate Leanette was in class and not around to witness the chaos of these final preparations. Leanette had dates every weekend and went to all the parties, and Julia was sure this fussing would have seemed amateur to her, like a kid playing with an adult’s makeup kit.In the end, she decided on a messenger bag. She slung it over her shoulder, flipped the lights off, and left the room.Outside, it was gorgeous. Cloudless and warm, the air felt like a shirt just out of the dryer. Julia lived in an off-campus dorm, and though the building was musty, with cinder block walls and a dull gray carpet that gave off a smell like boiled milk, there was a pretty courtyard out here, a cement bench, a trellis wrapped with vines and bright flowers. She took a long breath, enjoying the weather and her anticipation, perched for a moment on the fragile edge of happiness.Julia was headed to campus, and she decided to take the path through the woods. She could have gone through town, but didn’t know whom she’d run into, and whether they’d ask what she was up to. The date with Marcus didn’t have to be a secret, but for some reason she wanted to keep it to herself, like a note in her pocket.
Before the accident, it would have been different. Julia would have had to tell Danny and Shana about how Marcus had asked her out, making little jokes to play it down. They wouldn’t have let her get away with the secrecy. In high school, when she wasn’t practicing the trumpet, Julia had spent most of her free time with these friends. She knew everything about them, from what they’d gotten on their last history tests to what their boyfriends had whispered in their ears the first times they’d had sex.

Julia had always been a bit of an oddball, with her quirky sense of humor, the flat way she delivered jokes that caught people off guard and sometimes made them smile, sometimes give her confused looks. She was never a star in the classroom, and didn’t go in for all the primping and social striving most of the girls did. She didn’t need it; her music and her plans for the future had been enough. They’d given her distance, kept her insulated from the storms of teenage social life. When her friends were worked up over a boy or a conflict with parents, Julia was always the first to jump in with a silly line to relieve the tension. She wore thrift store T-shirts and frayed corduroys and didn’t try to be the prettiest or the smartest or the most popular, just didn’t care that much about it.
But all of that was gone, that old life. She didn’t talk to any of those people anymore. She’d gotten rid of her cell phone, tossed it into a lake, actually. Burial at sea.

Marcus had suggested they meet at two-thirty, since the snack bar would be less crowded then, between lunch and dinner. As usual, Julia was early. She couldn’t help it. She’d always been the type to arrive ten minutes before a meeting, and none of the tricks she pulled to delay herself ever seemed to work. If she were ever sentenced to execution, she’d probably arrive ten minutes early for that, just to get a good seat.

She tried to slow down, scraping her shoe soles on the dirt and rocks in the woods.

As a way to distract herself, she started thinking about how the date had come about. “You have this way about you,” Marcus had said that night in the library, when they were working on the counterpoint project. “It’s like you live in your own self-contained world. I’ve been wanting to know what’s going on in there since the first time I saw you.” After he said it, he smiled in a teasing way, and she wasn’t sure if he was being genuine. She almost made a quick joke back, her habit. Nothing going on in here. My world’s in a budget crisis. But then she noticed he was blushing, all the way from his ears down to the base of his neck. There was something reassuring about his discomfort. Seeing it, she’d felt a protective tenderness for him, the way you might watching a child pedal a bike up a steep hill.

“You want to get lunch on Thursday in the snack bar?” he’d said after that, so casually anyone listening would have thought he’d just tossed out the offer, not even caring what her answer would be. But he’d given a specific day. He’d mentioned the snack bar, as if an off-campus date would have been too much to ask.

“I’d love to,” Julia had said. “But are you going to be there?”

And Marcus had smiled.

When she got near the top of the hill, where the woods let out, Julia heard a train clacking away from the station at the base of campus. She checked her watch: ten minutes early. Of course. She walked onto the train platform, into the warm bright sunshine.

That was when it happened, suddenly, in the midst of all that sparkling weather. It was as if someone had pulled the plug on the day, and all the excitement just drained out, like water from a tub.

She knew what it was, this feeling. She’d told El Doctor about it, these aftershocks, as she thought of them, reminders of events she couldn’t change, events she would have preferred to snip out of the cloth of her memory. She closed her eyes, and there it was again, her brother’s face, pale with shock at what he was witnessing, his lips opening and closing, making no sound, until finally he’d asked, “Is that mine?”
But she couldn’t do this now, couldn’t let herself get dragged under. If you want to move forward, you have to stop looking back. Positive thinking, positive results. She stood straight, pushed her shoulders back, breathed, fixed the strap of the messenger bag like a seatbelt across her chest, and continued across the tracks, up the tree-lined path to campus.

Inside the snack bar, Julia couldn’t spot Marcus. She looked around at all the tables and booths. Most were empty. At one table, two women in suits were smiling over something one of them had said, then they got up to leave, carrying stacks of paper. Inside a booth, three muscular-looking boys sat talking over empty plates and balled napkins.

They made Julia nervous, these people. The way they moved and talked and smiled seemed foreign, like they were all doing a dance she’d never learned. The thought surfaced again that maybe she wasn’t fit to be here, at a college, so soon, no matter what El Doctor said.

But it’s best not to overthink things. That’s how you get yourself into trouble. When you stop and think about how vulnerable you are, or how strange the world is, it’s easy to end up feeling confused and lonely.

In the corner, next to the doors where people walked in to order their sandwiches, a man in a red shirt and white apron was standing beside a trashcan. Julia recognized him as the guy who usually made her sandwiches. She remembered thinking more than once that he was cute. He had shaggy brown hair, and could have passed for a student if he were a couple years younger. He always smiled when he saw Julia, and offered her an extra handful of chips or a second spear of pickle with her order. She didn’t know if he did that for other girls, but it was such a simple and plainly sweet gesture that it charmed her. A pickle for your thoughts, my dear.

When she looked at him, though, smiling, ready to wave, he looked down, like he was embarrassed. She wasn’t sure if maybe he didn’t recognize her, or was surprised at meeting her without the lunch counter between them, or if he was just socially awkward, but whatever it was, she felt disappointed. She wanted to give him a signal that it was okay to be friendly, wave to her when she came in. I won’t bite.

She didn’t have a chance to do anything, though, because just as she was considering it, Marcus walked in.

Author Bio:

Justin Kramon is the author of the novels Finny (Random House, 2010) and The Preservationist (Pegasus, 2013). A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has received honors from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, Best American Short Stories, the Hawthornden International Writers’ Fellowship, and the Bogliasco Foundation. He lives in Philadelphia.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants:

1.   10/01 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Must Read Faster
2.   10/01 ~ Showcase & Interview @ CMash Reads
3.   10/02 ~ Guest Post @ Brooke Blogs
4.   10/03 ~ Review & Giveaway @ SavingFor6
5.   10/04 ~ Review & Giveaway @ A Dream Within A Dream
6.   10/07 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Dear, Restless Reader
7.   10/07 ~ Showcase @ SweepingMe
8.   10/09 ~ Interview @ Lauries Thoughts
9.   10/09 ~ Interview @ Lauries Thoughts
10. 10/10 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Beagle Book Space
11.  10/10 ~ Showcase @ Lavender & Camomile Press
12. 10/11 ~ Showcase @ Read 2 Review
13. 10/14 ~ Guest Post @ Writers and Authors
14. 10/15 ~ Review @ Marys Cup of Tea
15. 10/16 ~ Review @ Smoochiefrog Reviews
16. 10/17 Showcase & Review @ Reader Girls
17. 10/18 ~ Showcase @ My Devotional Thoughts
18. 10/21 ~ Review @ Sweet Southern Home
19. 10/22 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Thoughts of Joy
20. 10/23 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Beth Art from the Heart
21. 10/24 ~ Review @ Gabina49s Blog
22. 10/25 ~ Guest Post & Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
23. 10/28 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Deal Sharing Aunt
24. 10/29 ~ Review @ Amy The Crafty Book Nerd
25. 10/29 ~ Showcase @ Omnimystery, A Family of Mystery Websites
26. 10/31 ~ Showcase @ Rose & Beps Blog
27. 11/01 ~ Review & Giveaway @ My Cozie Corner
28. 11/02 ~ Showcase @ The Stuff of Success
29. 11/04 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Celticladys Reviews
30. 11/06 ~ Review @ Views from the Countryside
31. 11/08 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Kritters Ramblings
32. 11/12 ~ Showcase @ The Book Faery Reviews
33. 11/19 ~ Interview & Review @ JeanBookNerd
34. 11/22 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Ryder Islingtons Blog
35. 11/29 ~ Review & Giveaway @ THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK


Review by Ryder Islington, author of ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery

If you’re looking for a good suspenseful mystery, check out CALCULATED by R.S. Novelle. The characters are well-rounded, and the plot thickens to a full-blown conspiracy, with murder, politics and money at its heart.  I really enjoyed this one, and look forward to more from Ms. Novelle.

The main character, Ana, is a reporter who has written a book, an expose that gets under the skin of local politicians and cops. Then someone comes to talk to Ana. A woman named Mara, who tells her about the murder of several young men. Mara doesn’t give her last name, and doesn’t have any hard evidence, so Ana tells her there’s not enough to go on. But after Mara leaves, Ana has to admit to herself that the story the woman told is intriguing.

Ana has a boss who is not happy with the book, and two friends at the paper who support her efforts to find the truth, but fear for her life if she doesn’t stop.  And there’s a great twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. Either I’m slipping, or up and coming authors are getting better at this!


Calculated: Book #1, Discovered Series

eBook Release: August 31, 2013

An investigative journalist gets an unlikely tip from a mysterious informant. Dismissing it as impossible, she disregards the information and drops the story. Until the informant turns up dead, as predicted.

Plunged into the murky waters of a seedy underground prostitution ring, this psychological thriller provides twist upon dark twist in a story that would ultimately pin the church and several government officials in the largest murder cover-up the city has ever witnessed.

But is it true, or has the journalist merely been used as a pawn in a greater scheme? And how many people is she willing to sacrifice trying to figure it out?

You can find CALCULATED  at  as well as other online and brick and mortar stores.


Impatience took over and Ana couldn’t resist any longer. She turned her head to glance at the alarm clock. 5:03am. Exactly three minutes after the last time she’d checked. Pressing her fingers against her eyes, she released a long, loud sigh.

At that point, it had been over an hour that she’d been lying there, tossing around in her thoughts, urging her body to slip back into sleep. She’d tried to read a book, but hadn’t been able to focus enough to stay in the pages. Watching television hadn’t proven any better of a deterrent either. All that was left was to lay there in her silence – thinking, wondering, planning…willing hers eyes to just get even a little bit sleepy again. But she had no such luck.

It frustrated her to the core that Mara and her insinuation of a good story had affected her like that. It’d been years since she’d become so intrigued she’d actually lost sleep over it. Never mind the threat of reassignment looming in the background as well.

Fuck it, Ana thought as she whipped off the sheets from her silk clad body. Might as well make use of the morning. Landing her feet on the floor, she made quick time of pulling her long hair into a braid and splashing some water on her face. Next she pulled on her sweatpants, then headed to the gym to work out her inner thoughts.

When she arrived at the little facility her building provided, a quick look around confirmed she was the only one there. Just as she’d hoped, and exactly how she liked it to be. Smiling in satisfaction, she flipped on the television that was perched on the wall, and turned up the music on her iPod as loud as she could handle it. The multiple distractions would help her get through the extra mile she was planning to conquer. With chilled water bottle in place, she cranked up the treadmill to a nice brisk pace.

As her breathing picked up speed and her muscles began to warm, Ana’s eye caught a red flash along the bottom of the screen. Breaking News filled the bar, and the too-chipper-for-their-own-good reporters were suddenly getting serious. Since the volume was still muted, Ana couldn’t understand exactly what was going on, only that they were showing the wide stretch of river that ran along the outskirts of the city. She wiped the first beads of sweat from her brow, and used the remote to turn the volume of the television higher while simultaneously adjusting her music.

As the reporters spoke, home-video footage of something floating in the water rolled before her eyes. The camera zoomed in, the frame ever so shaky, and it became clearly apparent that the “something” was a person – face down with long brown hair spread out like a Catholic halo. It appeared another victim had been pulled out of the water; the count was quickly tallying up. A young woman this time, and possibly one who had gone missing the night before.

Ana’s pulse skipped a few beats as they replayed the video over and over. There was something familiar about the long, lean body. Slowing the treadmill to a stop, she ripped the ear buds from her head to give the segment her entire attention.

…it appears at first glance that the victim suffered from a deep cut to the throat, and received multiple stab wounds to the chest…

The beads of accumulated sweat turned cold on Ana’s brow. She immediately reached for her phone and dialed Kylie’s number.

“What the hell, Ana?” Came her friend’s groggy voice.

“Turn your TV on. Channel four. Hurry.” Ana said, eyes transfixed to the screen in front of her. “Recognize that face?”

…It’s thought the victim may be one of the young girls recently reported missing. The screen flashed candids of three possible women. All brunettes. All tall and thin.All roughly the same age. Among them was a photo of Mara, just as Ana had expected there would be.

But the body was too bloated and disfigured to be absolutely certain, and an autopsy would be needed.

The body will be taken in for processing where officials hope to shed more light on the case in the near future. In the mean time, they’re cautioning residents to avoid….

“Did you see that?” Ana’s voice escaped in more of a demand than a question. “Please tell me I’m seeing things.”

“Oh my god…” Kylie whispered into the receiver, confirming the dread that was building in Ana’s stomach. “Do you really think it’s her?”

“I know for a fact it is.” Ana declared, the pull in her gut getting stronger by the minute. “The autopsy will confirm it.”

“So, what does this mean exactly now?”

“That maybe I should have been listening a little closer when I was talking to Mara.” She said with regret as she swiped her forehead with the back of her hand. “And maybe I should have asked more questions. There’s a story here, I’m sure of it now.”

“What are you going to do?” Kylie’s voice was decidedly more alert now.

Ana shook her head. “I have no idea.”

Though if she were to be truthful with herself in that moment, she’d already made up her mind. Ana flipped off the television, and left the little gym to get started.



Renee’ Novelle is preceded by a long line of published family members, including Pulitzer Prize nominated author and Poet Laureate of Kentucky Jesse Stuart.

As a child, Novelle was already gaining recognition for several of her works, and in her formative years, she continued this trend by earning local awards for her short stories and poems.

Inspired to cultivate her talent, Novelle pursued freelance journalism and has found placement of 75 of her pieces in both online and print publications since 2008. Additionally, she has written multiple screenplays, and contributed her savvy, effective writing style to many non-profit and for profit organizations. She launched several blogs over the years, which garnered international attention.

In 2013, Novelle returned to her first love – fiction. Writing under the names Renee Novelle and R.S. Novelle, she has a publication schedule that includes psychological thrillers, suspense, paranormal fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, chick lit, and new adult.

Though she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Communication, Summa Cum Laude, she considers herself a constant student of the written word. She’s an avid reader, an enthusiastic quote poster, and rarely takes “no” as a final answer. She has an unhealthy obsession for theater, dance, music and art, and strongly believes that wine is simultaneously the beginning of, and resolution to, all of life’s problems. She believes in following dreams, and that in the end, you always end up where you meant to be.


Review by Ryder Islington, Author of ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery

Todd Burpo is a pastor in Nebraska. In 2003, his son, Colton, then almost four years old, became really sick and ended up in surgery.

This is the story of Colton and what happened to him when he was under anesthesia for surgery. His dad wrote the book after multiple conversations with the boy about things he’d seen, the people he’d met, and what he’d done in heaven. And he told his parents what each of them were doing while he was on the operating table.  I enjoyed the way Mr. Burpo shared the experiences his family went through, and how Colton’s illness, and revelations, affected all of them.

This is a quick read, great for those looking for faith, or grieving a loss. You can find it at and other online bookstores, as well as at brick and mortar stores. A great gift for family or friends.



Review by Ryder Islington, Author of ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery
MURDER HAS CONSEQUENCES is a fun trip. Mr. Giammatteo writes in a way that makes the reader think he has lived on both sides of the fence: as a cop who believes in doing the right thing, and as a convict who takes care of business.
This is really a story about friendship and family, wrapped up in a complicated plot about a cop accused of murder, and a killer who will do what ever it takes to get his friend, the cop, off.  The characters are so real that I found myself hating this one, and loving that one, rooting for this one and ready to kill the other one myself.
This is a great thriller/suspense, and mystery. I’d recommend it to every lover of those genres, as well as anyone who wants to read about relationships, and the difficulty that arises in them. Five stars for MURDER HAS CONSEQUENCES!
Below you’ll find a synopsis, an excerpt, and a list of other bloggers who have jumped on the bandwagon for this book. There are other reviews, guest posts, and interviews. And information on how to find Giacomo Giammatteo on line as well as where to find the book.

Murder Has Consequences

by Giacomo Giammatteo

on Tour October 1 – November 30, 2013

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Published by: Inferno Publishing Company
Publication Date: 2/20/2013
Number of Pages: 383
ISBN: 9780985030254
Note: Excessive strong language, Graphic violence, Explicit sexual scenes
Purchase Links:


For a select few people, friendship lasts forever. Nicky Fusco and Frankie Donovan were friends like that, but that was years ago. Now Frankie’s a detective in Brooklyn’s Homicide department, and Nicky is a reformed hit man. But when Frankie gets in trouble—and the law can’t help him—he turns to Nicky.

The problem is that Nicky promised his family, and God, that he’d go straight.

Read an excerpt:

Murder Has Consequences
Friendship & Honor, Book II
Giacomo Giammatteo“Oaths are something you swear to when you’re young, and wish you hadn’t when you get old.”
~Nicky FuscoIntroduction
Wilmington, DelawareActions have consequences. I learned that long ago.

  • I learned it when I was five years old and got caught stealing cigarettes.
  • I learned it when Mikey “The Face” Fagullo beat our asses for not giving him a cut of the smokes we stole from a boxcar.
  • I learned it when Father Tom caught us playing cards instead of attending mass.
  • Mostly I learned it when I shot Freddy Campisi. That lesson cost me ten years in prison.

Different actions yield different consequences. Do something wrong—get sent to prison. That’s one kind of consequence. But that’s the easy one. If you go to prison, you do your time and get out. It’s over. Done with.

But there is another, far worse, consequence—the one you have to live with day in and day out. The kind of consequence you beat yourself up over. The kind that won’t go away. I did my time for killing Freddy Campisi. The other things I’ve done I have to live with. Those are between me and God. They are my cross on earth.

Nicky Fusco

Chapter <$n>

Wilmington, Delaware
I looked out my window toward Front Street, then lifted my head until I caught sight of the steeple of St. Elizabeth’s Church. On a good day, when my window was open, I could hear the bells ringing. All I heard today was traffic. I picked up the phone and dialed Angie; she’d be expecting me for dinner. Adapting to my new life had been tough. I had traded excitement and danger for the routine of a family and a steady job. All in all a good trade, but at times I still itched to do something. Angie answered on the fifth ring. I always counted because I hung up if no one answered after ring five.
Angie had the best voice in the world. Strong and forceful, but…gentle too.
“Hey, babe, I’ve got to check a job tonight, so I’ll be a little late. You and Rosa eat without me.”
“I’ll wait for you,” she said. “Rosa’s eating with a friend.”
“Okay, if you don’t mind. I’ll see you later.”
I grabbed my briefcase, a thin black leather one Angie gave me for my birthday, put the blueprints inside and headed for the door. “Sheila, tell Joe I’m going to check that new site.”
“Which one?”
“The new condos.”
“Okay, see you tomorrow.”
I hated lying to Sheila. Hated lying to Angie even more, but this was something that had to be done. I checked my watch as I started the car—4:45. That should give me plenty of time to get there before Marty Ferris left work. He was Rosa’s scum-sucking ex-stepfather who needed to be taught a lesson. This meant I’d have to get up early to check those condos before work tomorrow, but that would be all right. I liked seeing the site, making sure there were no surprises. It wasn’t just the bricks and mortar I needed to calculate, but also how much scaffolding and how many planks and braces we’d need. All of that mattered.
I was thinking about how lucky I was to have this job when I suddenly realized Union Street was coming up. I put on the blinker, turned left, and headed south, pulling into a parking spot just north of Sixth Street by my favorite water-ice stand. After checking the time again, I got out and grabbed a drink then got back in the car. Marty Ferris would be out soon. He was going to pay for what he did to Rosa. It had been more than six months now, and I had abided by all the rules my old hit-man mentor, Johnny Muck, had taught me. No matter what I had promised Angie, it was time for Marty to learn a lesson.
Marty Ferris came out of the bathroom, washed his hands twice, dried them, and tossed the paper towels into the bin. It was almost time to quit, and not much made him happier than that. Another day hacking at slabs of meat with a cleaver had earned him enough for his weekly bills and a few beers at Teddy’s. Not nearly what he deserved for putting up with all the assholes who came in demanding special cuts, or trimming of fat, but it was the best he could do considering the economy. At times he felt like taking one of the knives and cutting some fat off a few of the customers, especially Mrs. Mariano. What a pain in the ass she was. That woman was never satisfied. She came into the shop every Thursday, walking as if she had a t-bone stuck up her ass.
‘Don’t forget to cut off all the fat, Marty. All of it.’
Her nagging voice grated on his nerves, staying with him long after she left. Stupid bitch should realize it was the fat that made the meat taste good, but he’d never tell her that.
Marty finished wrapping a few chops for the customer he was waiting on, and cleaned his knives as he waited for the day to end. The clock chimed—it was five-thirty, the first thing since lunch that put a smile on Marty’s face. He untied his apron and headed for the back room. “Time for me to go, Sal. See you tomorrow.”
“See you, Marty.”
After scrubbing his hands he exited the building, got in his car and headed south on Union Street. He wanted to go home and shower, but he hadn’t had a beer since Tuesday night, and he was itching for one. He thought about stopping at the bar, but then remembered it was Thursday, his day for subs at Casapulla’s.
I sat in the car a block north of where Marty worked, still sipping on my water ice to cool off. There wasn’t much better than water ice on a hot day. As I thought that, I marveled at the genius of combining sugar, ice, and lemon into a drink that is damn near addictive, tasted good, and actually quenched your thirst. Water ice was one of the things I had missed most when I lived in New York, and missed even more in prison. I hadn’t been all over the country yet, but so far I hadn’t found anyplace that had water ice like Wilmington. For such a little city it had a lot of special things, particularly when it came to food.
Someone I didn’t recognize was walking north on Union Street. I could tell he knew me by the way he stared, leaning down a little to get a better look at who sat behind the wheel. His face was familiar, but I couldn’t put a name to it for the life of me. Frankie was always the best at that. I don’t think there was anyone Frankie forgot once he met them. Even ten years later he could instantly spit out a name. I always wanted to be able to do that, but never could. I sighed as the guy headed toward me. There was no way I was coming up with his name in time.
The guy stooped over, leaned toward the car and smiled. “Hey, Nicky. Good to see you again.”
I reached my hand out and shook his, then started to fake a forgotten-name moment, but I ended up doing what I always did when faced with this situation. “I know I should remember your name, but I don’t.”
The guy laughed, probably to cover up the embarrassment that he was forgotten. If only people knew it wasn’t them, just a common thing.
“It’s Howard. Remember, ninth grade, Sister Louise?”
I thought a second, then shook my head. “I don’t, Howard. I’m sorry. I barely remember Sister Louise.”
He smiled, laughed some more. “That’s okay. Good to see you anyway. Take care.”
“Yeah, take care, Howard.”
As he walked up the street, I repeated the name in my head, hoping to remember it in case we ran into each other again. Within a few seconds I started looking for Marty again, focusing on the cars going south on Union Street. A minute later I saw his car, letting it pass before pulling out and falling in a few blocks behind him. We went past Front Street, past the park, past the street where he lived and over the bridge into Elsemere. As soon as he headed over the bridge I knew where he was going; on Thursdays Marty usually treated himself to a cheesesteak at Casapulla’s. Most people thought Philly had the best cheesesteaks, but little old Wilmington, Delaware, made the best subs and steaks, bar none, and Casapulla’s was king. Had been for more than fifty years.
Originally I’d planned on torturing Marty, but something inside of me wouldn’t let me do that, so while I waited in the car, I decided I’d just have a talk with him. If that didn’t work, I’d shoot him to get it over with. I had planned on doing it before he got his food, but despite how much I hated the guy, I couldn’t justify killing him on an empty stomach. Everyone deserved a good last meal.
Rather than risk being seen, I turned around, deciding to wait for him by his house. I went back across the bridge and was lured in by a McDonald’s sign boasting the billions they’d sold. It flashed at me on the left, so I turned into the parking lot and waited. Marty lived in Canby Park, just across the street, and from here I could see him coming. If he kept to his routine, he’d go home to shower then go out for a few beers. Perfect. I’d wait for him to leave the bar and take him then.
After half an hour, I began to worry. It shouldn’t have taken him that long to get a sandwich, not even if they were busy. I waited ten more minutes then started the car and drove to Casapulla’s. Marty’s car wasn’t there.
Shit. How did I miss him? I turned and drove back past Marty’s house. Not there, either. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I never thought stuff like that, so perhaps it was an omen. Angie had been after me with constant reminders not to do anything illegal, and while I promised her I wouldn’t, this was one thing I’d promised myself long before that so it didn’t count.
Maybe she was right, though. Even guys like Marty deserved a second consideration. I pulled to the curb, put the car in park, and took a quarter from the change slot under the radio.
I flipped the coin, a toss to determine Marty’s fate.
I nodded. All right, Marty lives. I popped the car in gear and headed home, a good feeling in my gut. Sister Mary Thomas would be proud. As I drove home I wondered what I would have done if the coin had landed on tails.
It took less than five minutes to get home. Angie and I had moved into a single-family home on Beech Street. It was only a few blocks from where we grew up, but the houses were nicer and still within the St. Elizabeth’s school district. It also put me a few blocks closer to where the guys hung out and played cards. Doggs was still around, and still running games, and Patsy the Whale and Charlie Knuckles were there too. Mikey the Face was serving time, and Pockets had gotten killed in an armed robbery. Some of the others had just moved on.
I parked the car, threw the bag in the trunk, and headed up the sidewalk to the house, then climbed the steps to the stoop two at a time. When I reached the top, I pushed open the front door. Angie stood in the center of the room, hugging Rosa. They were crying.
I nearly ran to them. “What happened? Are you all right?”
“It’s Marty,” Angie said. “Rosa met him for subs and they got into an argument. He hit her.”
My body tensed. Fists clenched. That fuckin’ prick is gonna pay.
Rosa broke away from her mother and grabbed me, hugging. “Dad, don’t do anything. I’m okay. Nothing’s wrong. Don’t hurt him, okay?”
I held her close. Patted her back. All I could think of was what Mamma Rosa used to say to me when things got bad. “Non ti preoccupare, Rosa.”
“English!” she hollered. “Speak English.”
“All I said was don’t worry.” Inside though, things churned. Thoughts of what I’d do to Marty when I got him, and how much I’d make him suffer. I thought of nails and screws and hammers and acid…
Then I felt her pinch me. “Dad. Dad, are you listening?”
I looked down at her and rubbed the back of her head. “What?”
“Did you hear me when I said don’t hurt him? I meant it.”
Her eyes were red from crying and her cheeks were tear-stained, but her face was that of an angel. How could I refuse. “All right, Rosa. But I swear…”
“Don’t worry. It will never happen again. I’m through with seeing him for good.”
I pulled her to me. Hugged her. You’re right, Rosa. It will never happen again.

Author Bio:

Giacomo Giammatteo lives in Texas, where he and his wife run an animal sanctuary and take care of 41 loving rescues. By day, he works as a headhunter in the medical device industry, and at night, he writes.

Catch Up With the Author:

1.   10/01 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Deal Sharing Aunt
2.   10/02 ~ Review @ Teena in Toronto
3.   10/03 ~ Guest Post @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
4.   10/03 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Beth Art From the Heart
5.   10/04 ~ Review @ Books Books and More Books
6.   10/04 ~ Showcase @ Housewife Blues and Chihuahua Stories
7.   10/07 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Real Army of Moms
8.   10/15 ~ Review @ Views from the Countryside
9.   10/16 ~ Interview @ The Reading Frenzy
10.  10/19 ~ Review @ Literary R&R
11.   10/21 ~ Interview @ A Blue Million Books
12.   10/21 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Dr. Pepper Diva
13.   10/22 ~ Guest Post @ Closed the Cover
14.   10/23 ~ Showcase @ SweepingMe
15.   10/28 ~ Review & Giveaway @ This College Dropout
16.   11/01 ~ Review @ Smoochiefrog Reviews
17.   11/07 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Rhodes Review
18.   11/08 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Ryder Islington Blog
19.   11/08 ~ Review of Murder Takes Time @ Now is Gone
20.   11/09 ~ Review, Guest Post & Giveaway @ Now is Gone
21.   11/11 ~ Review & Character Interview @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
22.   11/12 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Celticladys Reviews
23.   11/27 ~ Review & Giveaway @ The Top Shelf
24.   11/28 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Cabin goddess


Make sure to check out the list at the bottom this article for other blog particpants. You’ll find guest posts by and interviews of author Stephen Booth, plus reviews of BLACK DOG, and chances to win a copy of this book!

Black Dog

by Stephen Booth

on Tour October 8 – November 8, 2013

Book Details:

Genre: Fiction/Crime
Published by: Witness / HarperCollins
Publication Date: 10/8/2013
ISBN: 9780062301963
Series: 1st in the Ben Cooper & Diane Fry Series
Purchase Links:


The helicopters are halted. The search for fifteen-year-old Laura Vernon ends when her body is found, murdered, in the forest.

On his hunt for the killer, detective Ben Cooper begins to suspect the people of Derbyshire are guarding some dark secrets-secrets that Laura might have known. Further complicating his investigation, Cooper is paired with an unfamiliar partner: Diane Fry, a woman as tenacious as she is alluring. Together they learn that in order to understand the town’s present, they must unearth its past.

Black Dog is like Twin Peaks by way of Tana French, and the first novel in the multiple award-winning Cooper and Fry series.

Read an excerpt:

The spot where Ben Cooper stood was remote and isolated. A passing walker wouldn’t have been able to see him up here among the bracken, even if he’d bothered to look up.Cooper turned round, wafting his hand across his face against the flies. He was looking through the trees and thick brambles as if towards the end of a dark tunnel, where the figure of Harry Dickinson was framed in a network of branches. Cooper had to squint against a patch of dazzling light that soaked the hillside in strong colours. The old man stood in the glare of the low sun, with hot rocks shimmering around him like a furnace. The haze of heat made his outline blur and writhe, as if he were dancing a slow shimmy. His shadow, flung across the rocks, seemed to wriggle and jerk as its shape fragmented among the bracken and brambles.The expression in Harry’s eyes was unreadable, his face lying partly in the shade from the peak of his cap. Cooper couldn’t even tell which way he was looking, whether he’d turned away or was staring directly towards him in the trees. He wanted to grab the old man by the shoulders and shake him. He wanted to tell him that somebody had disturbed this spot, and recently. The evidence was right there for anyone to see, and to smell.There had been two people here, and at least one of them had been looking for more than just rabbits. The smell that lingered under the trees was of stale blood. And the flies had found something even more attractive than Cooper’s sweat to feed on.

Author Bio:

Stephen Booth is an award winning British crime writer, the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, who have appeared in twelve novels set in England’s beautiful and atmospheric Peak District.

Stephen has been a Gold Dagger finalist, an Anthony Award nominee, twice winner of a Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel, and twice shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year. Ben Cooper was a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the best detective created by a British author, and in 2003 the Crime Writers’ Association presented Stephen with the Dagger in the Library Award for “the author whose books have given readers the most pleasure”.

The Cooper & Fry series is published all around the world, and has been translated into 15 languages. The latest title is DEAD AND BURIED, with a new book, ALREADY DEAD, published in June 2013.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants:

1.  10/08 ~ Guest Post @ Omnimystery
2.  10/09 ~ Review @ rantin’ ravin’ and reading
3.  10/10 ~ Review @ Cabin Goddess
4.  10/11 ~ Showcase @ Lavender and Camomile Press
5.   10/14 ~ Interview @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
6.   10/15 ~ Showcase & Interview @ CMash Reads
7.   10/17 ~ Books and Needlepoint
8.   10/20 ~ Review @ Booksie’s Blog
9.   10/21 ~ Review @ bless their hearts mom
10. 10/22 ~ Showcase @ Kritters Ramblings
11.  10/23 ~ Showcase @ Deal Sharing Aunt
12.  10/25 ~ Review @ My Devotional Thoughts
13.  10/29 ~ Review @ Hotchpotch
14.  10/30 ~ Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
15.  10/31 ~ Review & Guest Post @ The Top Shelf
16.  11/01 ~ Showcase @ The Opinionated Me
17.  11/04 ~ Showcase @ The Stuff of Success
18.  11/05 ~ Showcase @ Bookalicious Traveladdict
19.  11/06 ~ Review @ My Cozie Corner
20.  11/07 ~ Showcase @ Ryder Islingtons Blog


Check out the list of other participants in this tour by going to the bottom of this post! You’ll find interviews, guest posts, and reviews of THE JOSHUA STONE. And some sites are offering an opportunity to win a free copy!

The Joshua Stone

by James Barney

on Tour October 8 – Nov 30th

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Published by: William Morrow Paprbacks
Publication Date: 10/8/2013
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN: 9780062021397
Purchase Links:


Some secrets belong to the past. Others refuse to stay there . . .

In 1959, in an underground laboratory in a remote region of West Virginia, a secret government experiment went terribly awry. Half a dozen scientists mysteriously disappeared, and all subsequent efforts to rescue them failed. In desperation, President Eisenhower ordered the lab sealed shut and all records of its existence destroyed. Now, fifty-four years later, something from the lab has emerged.

When mysterious events begin occurring along the New River Valley in West Virginia, government agents Mike Califano and Ana Thorne are sent to investigate. What they discover will shake the foundations of science and religion and put both agents in the crosshairs of a deadly, worldwide conspiracy. A powerful and mysterious force has been unleashed, and it’s about to fall into the wrong hands. To prevent a global catastrophe, Califano and Thorne must work together to solve a biblical mystery that has confounded scholars for centuries. And they must do so quickly, before time runs out . . . forever.

Read an excerpt:

Thurmond, West Virginia
October 5, 1959
IT was time. Dr. Franz Holzberg stood at the security desk of the Thurmond National Laboratory and waited patiently for the guard to buzz him through the heavy steel door that provided access to the lab. Funny, he thought as he waited. They don’t even know what they’re guarding. He shook his head and considered that thought for a moment.
If they only knew . . .
A second later, the door opened with a loud buzz, and Holzberg stepped into a steel enclosure about five feet square and seven feet tall. He turned to face the guard and pulled a chain-link safety gate across the opening.
“Ready?” asked the guard.
Holzberg nodded, and the compartment in which he stood suddenly lurched downward and began its long descent toward the laboratory spaces, nine hundred feet below the ground.Two minutes later, the elevator shuddered to a halt, and Dr. Holzberg exited into a wide, empty passageway, about twenty feet across and two hundred feet long. The cracked, concrete floor was sparsely illuminated by overhead industrial lighting. A pair of rusty trolley rails ran down the middle of the corridor—a remnant of the mining operations that had once taken place there decades earlier.
Holzberg took a deep breath and savored the pungent smell of sulfur and stagnant water. After three long years of working on this project, he actually felt more at home underground than in the charmless cinder-block rambler that the government had provided for him “up top,” in Thurmond.
He started off toward the laboratory at the end of the corridor, his footsteps echoing loudly throughout the vast space. As he walked, the protocol for Experiment TNL-213 streamed through his mind for the thousandth time. Today is the day, he reminded himself, allowing just the faintest of smiles. Today, God would heed his command. Just as God heeded Joshua’s command at Gibeon.
Holzberg passed through the laboratory’s heavy security door and entered a long, rectangular room resembling a tunnel, with unpainted cement walls, ceiling, and floor.
The middle of the room was dominated by a large pool of water, twenty by thirty feet across and thirty feet deep, with a steel catwalk extending across it. A sturdy steel railing circumscribed the edge of the pool. Overhead, four long rows of incandescent bulbs illuminated the entire room with bright, white light. High up on the walls, thick, multicolored bundles of wires and cables snaked like garlands across sturdy brackets, with smaller bundles dropping down at uneven intervals to various lab equipment and workstations around the room.
Holzberg spotted four technicians in white lab coats busily preparing the lab for the upcoming experiment. He acknowledged them with a nod and then quickly made his way to an elevated control room overlooking the pool. He entered without knocking and greeted the room’s sole occupant, a bespectacled man in a white lab coat. “Good morning, Irwin,” said Holzberg in a thick German accent. “How are the modifications coming along?”
Dr. Irwin Michelson swiveled on his stool. He was a wiry man in his midthirties, with disheveled black hair and a two-day- old beard. He pushed his glasses up on his nose.
“They’re done,” he said.
“Done? You’ve tested it?”
“We changed out the power supply, like you suggested, and increased the cooling flow to two hundred gallons per minute. We tested it last night and were able to generate a ninety tesla pulse for twenty-five seconds with no overheating. We probably could go higher if we needed to.”
“Good. And the sensors and transducers?”
“All set.”
Holzberg nodded appreciatively to his tireless assistant.
“Sehr gut. Then let’s proceed.”
It took nearly three hours for Holzberg, Michelson, and their team of four technicians to complete the exhaustive checklist for TNL-213.
This experiment had taken three years to plan and had required millions of dollars in upgrades and modifications to the lab.
Nothing would be left to chance today.
By early afternoon they’d finished their thorough inspection of the equipment. They’d checked, double-checked, and triple-checked each of the hundreds of valves, levers, and switches associated with the lab’s “swimming pool” test rig. Everything was positioned according to a detailed test protocol that Dr. Holzberg carried in a thick binder prominently marked top secret—winter solstice.
Michelson knelt on the steel catwalk that bridged the 160,000-gallon pool of water and carefully inspected a rectangular steel chamber that was suspended above the water by four thick cables. Numerous electrical sensors were welded to the exterior of this chamber, and a rainbow of waterproof wires radiated out from it, coiling upward toward a thick, retractable wiring harness above the catwalk.
“Transducers are secure,” Michelson said over his shoulder.
“Good,” said Holzberg from the railing. He made a checkmark in his notebook and read the next step of the protocol aloud. “Mount the seed.”
Michelson stood and turned slowly to face his mentor.
“So it’s time?”
Holzberg nodded.
Michelson dragged a hand over his unshaven face and cracked a smile. “God, this . . . this is incredible.” He was barely able to contain his excitement. “This’ll give us a whole new understanding of the universe.”
“Perhaps,” said Holzberg.
“Right, perhaps. And perhaps the Nobel Prize, too.”
“No,” said Holzberg firmly, his expression suddenly turning dark.
“But . . . if this works, we could publish our findings. By then the government—”
“Irwin, no. We’ve had this discussion before.”
Michelson sighed and looked deflated. “Right, I know. Not until the world is ready.”
Holzberg inched closer to his protégé. “Irwin, this is a responsibility you must accept. Einstein himself was confounded by this material.”
“Einstein was overrated,” Michelson mumbled.
“Perhaps. But that does not change the fact that we have been entrusted with something very special here. We must study and solve it. Until we do, it is simply too dangerous to expose to the world. That is our burden. Do you understand?”
Michelson nodded sheepishly. Holzberg patted his younger colleague’s shoulder.
“Good. Now, let’s get the seed.”
The two men made their way to the far end of the room, where a circular vault was mounted flush with the cement wall. The vault door was protected by a bank-grade, dual-combination lock with twin tumblers. “Ready?” Holzberg asked.
Michelson nodded.
One after the other, the two men turned the pair of dials on the vault door four times each, alternating clockwise and counterclockwise. When the last of the eight numbers had been entered, Michelson pulled down hard on the heavy handle in the center of the door, and the vault opened with a metallic ka-chunk. He swung the door open slowly, and, as he did, the vault’s lights flickered, illuminating the interior with an ethereal blue light.
There was only one object in the vault: a clear glass cylinder about eight inches high and four inches in diameter housing an irregular black clump about the size of a golf ball. “The seed,” Holzberg whispered as he reached inside and retrieved the cylinder, cradling it carefully in both hands. He held it up to the light and peered inside. “Your secrets unfold today.”
Thirty minutes later, with the seed securely mounted in its special test chamber, and the chamber lowered deep into the pool, the two scientists returned to the control room for their final preparations.
“Transducer twenty-one?” said Holzberg, reading aloud from the test protocol.
Michelson pressed a button on the complex control panel and verified that transducer 21 was providing an appropriate signal. “Check.”
“Transducer twenty-two?”
Michelson repeated the procedure for transducer 22.
That’s it then,” said Holzberg, turning to a new page in his notebook. “We’re ready.”
He checked his watch, which indicated 4:15 p.m. Then he picked up a microphone that was attached to the control panel by a long wire. “Gentlemen,” he announced over the lab’s PA system. “We are ready to commence experiment 213. Please take your positions.”
In the lab space below, the four technicians quickly took up positions at their various workstations. One after another, they gave the thumbs-up signal that they were ready.
“Energize the steady-field magnet,” announced Holzberg.
A loud, steady hum suddenly filled the lab, followed by the sound of rotating equipment slowly whirring to life.
Several seconds later, Michelson quietly reported over his shoulder that the steady-field magnet was energized and warming up.
“Remember,” Holzberg said, “bring it up slowly.”
Michelson nodded. “We’re at thirteen teslas and rising,” he said, his attention focused on a circular dial on the control panel.
“And the cooling water outlet temperature?”
Michelson glanced at another gauge. “Sixty-two degrees.”
Eight minutes later, Michelson announced they were at 25 teslas, the peak field for the steady-field magnet.
“Outlet temperature’s creeping up slightly,” he added with a hint of caution.
“What about delta T?”
Michelson pushed a button and read from a gauge on his panel. “Nothing yet. Zero point zero.”
Holzberg pressed the microphone button and announced to the lab, “Prepare to energize the pulse magnet.”
There was a flurry of activity in the lab space below as the technicians quickly went about opening valves, flipping switches, and starting various pumps and other equipment. Eventually, all four gave the thumbs-up signal.
“Ready,” reported Michelson.
Holzberg swallowed hard. This was it. He paused for a moment before giving the final command. “Energize it now.”
Michelson pulled down on an electrical breaker until it clicked loudly into place. A deep buzzing sound immediately permeated the entire laboratory. The overhead lights dimmed momentarily and then slowly returned to their original intensity. “Energized,” he reported nervously.
“Bring it up slowly.”
“Total field is twenty-seven point three teslas.” Michelson was slowly turning a large knob in the center of the control panel.
“Outlet temperature?”
“Seventy-eight degrees.”
“Keep going.”
Michelson continued turning the knob slowly until the magnetic-field strength had reached 70 teslas. There he paused and quickly checked his instruments.“Outlet temperature is one hundred twenty-two degrees and rising,” he said nervously. “We don’t have much more room.”
“Any delta T?”
Michelson checked again and shook his head. “No. Still zero point zero.”
“Keep going,” said Holzberg.
Michelson nodded and again twisted the dial clockwise. He read out the magnetic-field strengths as he went.
“Seventy-six point four. Seventy-eight point zero. Eighty point two . . .”
“Temperatures, Irwin.”
Michelson quickly turned his attention to the outlet temperature gauge. “One hundred forty-five degrees and rising.”
“Keep going,” Holzberg said.“My God,” Michelson shouted. “Look at that!”
Holzberg uncovered his eyes and gazed in awe at the spectacle now occurring in the lab below him. A brilliant aura of light was hovering directly above the reactor pool, swirling in undulating patterns of blue, green, red, and yellow. The aura lasted for several seconds before giving way to a violent, blinding column of light that shot suddenly out of the pool, straight to the ceiling.
Holzberg again shielded his eyes.
A split second later, there was a loud whoosh and the entire lab filled with blinding white light. The control room windows shattered instantly, and Dr. Holzberg hit the floor.
The blinding light and whooshing sound subsided after several seconds, leaving in their place a terrifying jumble of alarm sirens and horns and the panicked shouts of the technicians below. Holzberg groped on hands and knees through the broken glass until he found the prone body of Dr. Michelson, who was either unconscious or dead.
“Irwin!” said Dr. Holzberg.
There was no response.
With effort, Holzberg pulled himself to his feet and gazed in utter disbelief at the chaos unfolding below him.
“Mein Gott,” he whispered. “What have we done?”
A second later, a man in a black leather coat suddenly appeared in the lab space below, seemingly from nowhere. Who is that? Holzberg wondered, utterly confused. And why does he look familiar?

Author Bio:

James Barney is the critically acclaimed author of The Genesis Key. He is an attorney who lives outside Washington, D.C., with his wife and two children.

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Eighty-one teslas,” said Michelson nervously. “Eighty-two. Eighty-three.”
His voice cracked slightly. “Uh . . . we’re getting close to the outlet limit.”
“Any delta T yet?”
Michelson quickly checked. “No. Zero point zero.”
“We need a higher field.” Holzberg touched Michelson’s shoulder and nodded emphatically for him to continue.
Michelson’s voice grew increasingly nervous as he continued reporting the rising magnetic-flux levels. “Eighty-seven point three. Eighty-eight point four. Eighty-nine point six . . . ninety point one.”
Suddenly, there was a loud beep, and an amber light began flashing on the control panel.
“Outlet temperature alarm,” Michelson reported. “One hundred seventy-five degrees and still rising. Should I bring it back down?”
“No,” said Holzberg firmly. “We need a higher field.”
Michelson started to protest, but Holzberg cut him off.
“Irwin, the flux levels!”
Michelson snapped his attention back to the control panel. “Ninety-three point one . . . ninety-four point four . . .shit.”
Another shrill alarm sounded on the panel.
“Core temperature alarm!” Michelson shouted above the noise. “We’ve got to shut it down!” He began turning the knob counterclockwise.
“No!” Holzberg barked, grabbing his arm. “Check the delta T.”
Michelson wiped his brow and checked. “Delta T is . . . zero point one seconds.”
“My God,” Holzberg whispered. “It’s working!”
“Zero point two seconds,” Michelson reported, still holding down the button. “Zero point three . . . zero point four.”
“Bring it up just a bit more,” said Holzberg over the constant noise of the two alarms.
“Do it!” Holzberg snapped.
Michelson swallowed hard and slowly tweaked the knob clockwise to increase the power to the pulse magnet.
“We’re gonna lift a relief valve.”
“What’s the reading?”
Michelson pushed the delta T button. “Whoa . . .”
“What is it?”
“Ten point five seconds. That’s incredible.” He continued holding the button down. “Fourteen seconds . . . twenty . . . thirty . . . fifty . . .”
“We’ve done it!” Holzberg exclaimed, patting Michelson on the back. “Okay, you can bring it back down now.”
Michelson quickly began twisting the knob counterclockwise. After several seconds, however, he suddenly looked confused.
“What is it?”
“Outlet temperature’s . . . still going up.” Michelson quickly pushed the button for delta T again. “Holy shit.”
Holzberg leaned in close and observed that the dial for delta T was now spinning rapidly clockwise. An odometer-style counter below the dial indicated that the accumulated value was now at 500 seconds . . . 600 seconds . . . 700 seconds.. . . The dial was spinning faster and faster.
“Shut it down!” Holzberg bellowed.
“I am. Look!” Michelson showed that he had already twisted the knob for the pulse magnet all the way to the left.
“Cut the power!”
At that moment, a thunderous scream erupted in the lab space below, and thick plumes of steam instantly billowed up from the pool. The technicians could be heard screaming emphatically to each other.
“Relief valves are lifting!” Michelson yelled over the cacophony.
Holzberg was just about to say something when suddenly there was a blinding flash of white light below. Instinctively, he shielded his eyes.


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