Friday, 13 July 2018

Artemis by Andy Weir - Blog Tour Review


Life Of A Nerdish Mum is very excited to be a part of the blog tour for the paperback and ebook release of Artemis by Andy Weir. 

Artemis

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of Jazz's problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself - and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even more unlikely than the first.

My Review

Wow! Artemis certainly gets started with a bang and had me on the edge of the seat from pretty much page one. I loved that the action got started straight away and swept me up into the story effortlessly. 

Jazz is a fabulous character, just the kind of main character I enjoy reading. She's sarcastic, intelligent, hard working and a bit of a badass. Jazz very much made me think that Artemis is more YA-ish than The Martian, I think because I've read a lot of YA with a strong female protagonist recently, she fits perfectly in with them. However there was just as much science throughout Artemis as there was in The Martian, but don't worry if you don't have PhD in chemistry, you can read it or skim and you'll still be following the story. 

Andy Weir has done an excellent job at world building. I really think having an author with so much knowledge about the subject they are writing about shows through in the world. I have wanted to read a moon based story for a long time and this really hit the spot for me. I could picture it all perfectly and the science and explanations for how things worked just made it very realistic. 

The pacing was excellent throughout and kept me wanting to read just a bit more. The ending let me down a little bit as it felt a bit rushed, but it was still thoroughly enjoyable and I felt it fit with the rest of the book. 

Overall a really engaging and enjoyable read and one I have recommended to others already. 

I gave this book 4 stars. 

About The Author


ANDY WEIR built a career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, THE MARTIAN, allowed him to live out his dream of writing fulltime. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects such as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California. Andy’s next book, ARTEMIS, is available now.

Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour



Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Catching Love When It Falls by Deryn Pittar - Blog Tour Guest Post


Today I am part of the blog tour for Catching Love When It Falls by Deryn Pittar, a romance with a difference. I have a guest post to share in which Deryn Pittar talks more about the creation of Belinda and the world the story is set in. 

Catching Love When It Falls

William and Belinda, both genetically altered, meet years after leaving the government-rearing nursery. Their late development allowed them to escape a life devoted to the government's defence departments. If their skills are now discovered they will be conscripted and never be free again. 

William’s talent is to move through space between locations in the blink of an eye. Belinda can lift objects of great weight with her mind. Their relationship creates a raft of problems both struggle to overcome. 

‘Catching Love When it Falls’ explores an alternative reality and discovers the one thing neither Belinda nor William can control - love. 

More About Main Character Belinda by Deryn Pittar

The character of Belinda grew very rapidly in my mind, far quicker than William had. I could see her: petite, blond curls, stubborn and fiercely loyal and protective of her adopted mother.

Again the prologue shows Belinda at the Nursery, off in a corner of the playground, quietly mastering her talent of being able to lift and catch things with her mind. She’s nearly seven and is determined to be released for adoption. In the novel she has a career as a landscape gardener, a love of plants and her talent means she is able to lift heavy materials with ease, but she does this very discreetly. She also has a protective barrier she erects which rebuffs anyone approaching her with serious intent. Uninterested ‘normals’ can walk right through it, but Defense Department agents or other g-alters cannot get close. William comes across this on their first meeting and is determined to overcome it.

She is a reluctant participant in this romance. She has no wish to be wooed. She likes her life and wants to continue to live with and protect her mother since her father’s death.

I set this story in Melbourne, in the suburbs I am familiar with. Belinda’s home is mirrored from my memories of my aunt’s garden and the suburb she lived in. Her travels with William are set in places I have visited.
A couple of quirky characters enter Belinda’s life once she meets William.  Her mother likes him a lot, which helps William’s cause when he upsets Belinda by jumping with her. Never mind he had a very good reason for doing so.  ‘Not amused’ would be an understatement. Their romance could bring them to the attention of the Defense Department and Belinda is determined this won’t happen.

About The Author


I write futuristic and fantasy fiction, spiced with romance and adventure. This allows my imagination to run free, to create interesting characters caught in unusual circumstances and events. Sometimes I have the pleasure of watching science and technology catch up with my imagination.
I also write Young Adult, short stories and flash fiction; articles on writing and I am published in these genre. I self-published a children’s rhyming book and once won a prize for a short screen script.
I’m a published poet and I endeavour to put my poetry skills into my fiction writing to enhance the word pictures I create.
I live in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand which lives up to its name. I belong to the Romance Writers of N.Z., Tauranga Writers, and Spec.Fic.NZ (speculative fictionNZ).
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The Movers Series Release Dates

Love's Bright Star - 19th June
Love's Red Heart - 26th June
A Stellar Affair - 3rd July
Romancing the Memory Collector - 10th July
5 book box set - 7th August

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Stripey Enid by Natasha Lea - Blog Tour Review


Today is Life Of A Nerdish Mum's stop on the blog tour for Stripey Enid by Natasha Lea. This unique children's book will be published on the 16th of June.

Stripey Enid

‘Believe in yourself, for you are unique!’

In this ever-changing world our children are bombarded with ‘image’ driven ideals of what is accepted as normal, or what we should aspire to be.

The reality is we are all unique and should be proud of it.

Stripey Enid has no colour or creed, she is just a friend. Using simple verse and interactive tasks, she aims to help your child understand that it is good to be unique, and that being yourself is all you need to be.


My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed Stripey Enid. The first time I read through this with my nearly five year old mini Nerdling, we concentrated on just reading through the story and finding what the book was about. We both really enjoyed the rhyming words (mini Nerdling has been learning about these in school, so it was perfectly timed) and how easily they all flowed.

The story alone encouraged discussion as I like both fish and chips and sausage and gravy, whereas mini Nerdling thinks they are both "gross"! We talked abut how it was fine to like different things to other people and how it's good that we are all different. The language used, is also not "dumbed down" to talk to children and so there were some words, such as unique, that mini Nerdling could ask the meaning of which is a great way for children to learn.

The interactivity in the book was both interesting and fun and it was suitable for a wide range of age ranges. My favourite section was thinking about "My Good Points". This really made both me and mini Nerdling think and concentrate on what are the good things about us. I loved listening to his logic and thinking and he came up with so many we needed more paper to add more. I think one of his best was that "one of my good points is that my eyes are blue and that's good because it is my favourite colour".

Stripey Enid is really well illustrated and I thought the colours (or lack thereof) were well used. This may be a small book, but I think it makes a big impact. I also feel that any parents reading this with their children will benefit from it too, not just by enjoying watching their child get involved and think about how they form friendships and how they think about themselves, but by making them think more about them specifically, especially what are their good points!

Overall an excellent book and one I will enjoy reading over with mini Nerdling, I've also borrowed a quote from inside as a personal inspiration in my bullet journal.

I gave this book 5 stars

About The Author


It was over 10 years ago, during a marketing exercise to promote a new theatre company whilst studying Performing Arts, that the idea of Stripey Enid came to Natasha. 

Even back then, Stripey was seen to be different, something to challenge the norm, ask questions of people.

The idea of writing a book was never the intention but a natural progression on from the poems Natasha used to create for friends and family for birthdays & special occasions. 

At the time Natasha was also working with a local Brownie pack and it was this interaction that made her realise that she was an adult in these children’s lives that wasn’t a parent or a teacher but a friend, a unique friendship that benefited both parties.

Stripey came into being by the pure belief that Natasha had about peer pressure & social demands creating barriers between people, stopping people from seeing others as they truly are.


Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour 


Monday, 30 April 2018

A Free Short Story To Celebrate The Release Of Needle Song by Russell Day


Today to celebrate the release of Russell Day's debut novel, Needle Song, I am one of the very lucky people to be sharing a short story featuring Doctor James Slidesmith, the main character in Needle Song.

Not Talking Italics


By


Russell Day

A Slidesmith Short Story



Fahrenheit Press

#1

…at three fifteen a.m. Present are James Slidesmith, Detective Constable Stephen Barker and, myself, Detective Sergeant Christopher Wade. For the benefit of the tape, Mister Slidesmith would you-


Doctor.


I’m sorry?


It’s Doctor Slidesmith, not Mister.


My apologies. For the benefit of the tape, Doctor Slidesmith-


No italics.


I’m sorry?


You know, when you write something down you put it in italics to give it a certain inflection, make it sound sarcastic or patronising maybe. I hold a PhD in Psychology. So, just Doctor. No italics.


Doctor Slidesmith, for the benefit of the tape, will you confirm that you have been given the opportunity to seek legal counsel but, have chosen to waive that right at the present time.


Yes, I have waived the right to have a legal representative present during this interview.


Okay, would you care to tell myself and DC Barker what happened last night at number, five Elton Avenue.


Let’s see, me and Yakky got there around about quarter past ten.


Yakky being Andrew Miller, it that correct?


Yes.


Mister Miller works for you?


He tattoos at my shop and I take a percentage. Technically he’s self-employed.


Okay, go on.


We pulled up around quarter past, we were running a bit late ‘cos Yak’s bike was playing up again. They’d started without us. And it was already going sour.


Going sour?


Yes, going sour. Good use of italics. We’d been told we’d being playing limited-raise. When we got there, they were playing pot-limit.


And that was a problem?


You play Texas Hold Em’ at all Sergeant, you a poker man?


I know the rules.


How about Constable Barker there, no? Alright, for the benefit of Constable Barker and the tape, when you play Texas Hold ‘Em, the betting takes place in rounds and the players take turns. The first bet is compulsory and it’s for a pre-agreed amount, the second bet doubles it. That’s compulsory too. This is to get the pot started. From then on, if you want to stay in for that particular hand, you have to match the previous bet. If you think your cards are going to beat everyone else’s, then you’re going to want a bigger pot. So, you raise. If the game’s limited-raise the pot can only grow so fast, it limits the value of each hand. Limits what you can lose in one go. Pot-limit is slightly different, the max amount you can raise, is the size of the pot currently on the table.

Now, Constable, I’ll give you a piece of invaluable advice. Do not, I repeat not, take pot-limit poker games lightly. People hear the term no-limit and promptly wet themselves ‘cos they think they’re about to lose all their hard earned, and most likely they are. In a lot of no-limit games, hands are lost just because people can’t match the last bet. You can be holding five elevens, and still lose. But … people tend to do that once. They go in, all Johnny-Big-Bollocks, lose that week’s wages and the next month’s rent, then go home and cry about it. It’s not something a lot of people do twice. Now, if you looking to take someone to the cleaners, then no-limit’s all well and good, but if want a cash cow, a nice little Friesian that’s going to roll up for milking time and time again, you need pot-limit. Isn’t that right Sergeant?


I wouldn’t know.


Really? I thought you might. Nice watch by the way. Rolex?


Fake. Made in China.


Very convincing, looks real from here. They’re clever these Chinse. Sorry, lost my train of thought, Oh yeah, pot limit.

Most people, at least most westerners, aren’t too good at maths. If there’s a few people playing, and there were five of us last night, pot-limit can increase the value of each hand very, very quickly. But, a lot of people won’t notice that. Take someone’s wages and their Rolex—fake or otherwise—in one hit and they tend to remember. When it’s delicately taken away bit by bit over the course of a whole night, they don’t tend to feel the loss so keenly. So, maybe your Friesian heads back for another try. Isn’t that right Sergeant?


So, why didn’t you walk away from the table?


I would have done, if Li hadn’t been there.


That would be Ms Li Chang?


That’s right.


She works at your shop too, is that right?


She’s my apprentice, learning the ink.


And you had no idea she’d be there?


That’s right Sergeant. Only, I had No-Idea without the italics.


You weren’t aware she played poker?


A lot of people play poker, apparently you play poker, that doesn’t mean I expect to find them sitting next to Billy Sinclair shuffling a pack of cards.


She didn’t mention it to you at work?


If you were playing poker with Billy Sinclair, would you tell your boss?


Okay, so you decided to stay and play with Billy Sinclair and Ms Chang. Was Mister Miller happy to play too?


No, Yakky dropped out. He just stayed to watch.


Just watch.


That’s right. Nice italics by the way.


You think this is some sort of joke? A man’s died in case you’re forgotten.


According to your Rolex—sorry fake Rolex—it’s now three twenty-four in the a.m. The wee small hours, when the human body is at its lowest ebb. I’d say by now, two men have died.


Did you know Ms Chang had a criminal record when you took her on?


Of course I did. Anyway, she was up front about it.


It didn’t put you off employing her?


She served her time. And it’s not everyone can say that, is it fellas?


What’s that meant to mean?


I’m saying she’s paid her debt.


The man she stabbed might argue with that.


If she’d stabbed him two years earlier, she’d have been too young to have it on her permanent record and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.


You think she was being abused?


I think we’ve all got history, Sergeant. That all I’m saying.


Shall we get back to the events of last night? You said there were five people present, is that correct?


Not quite, there were six people. five of them, including me, were playing cards.


Who were they?


Myself, Li and of course Billy Sinclair were at the table with two other players. Yakky was somewhere behind me, watching.


Who were the other two?


I don’t know their names. One of them was the Bumper.


And the final man?


He was the guy who wasn’t meant to see the sucker.


And for the benefit of the tape?


But not for you, eh?


Just tell us what you mean, Doctor Slidesmith.


And we’re back to the italics. There’s an old saying about poker: if you can’t see the sucker, it’s you.


So, this guy was the sucker?


He was meant to be, well, we all were. Aside from Billy of course and the Bumper.


Doctor Slidesmith, for the benefit of the tape, would you explain what the term Bumper means.


Let’s suppose we three were having a game of poker, and Constable Barker is sitting there with a royal flush. That’s the top hand, Constable in case you don’t know, as good as it gets, cannot be beat. Only problem is the pot is next to nothing. You’ve got the best hand possible but all it’s going to get you is loose change. What would you do, Constable?


When it’s my turn to bet I raise as high as I can?


Why not tell him why you’re shaking your head, Sergeant Wade?


The thing is Barker, if you make a big raise you’re telling people you have something worth betting on. So, unless they’re holding something pretty good, they’ll just fold.


So, what you need is a Bumper. Let’s say you ask your friend Sergeant Wade here—oh, now don’t look like that, I’m sure he’s lovely—you ask Sergeant Wade to keep bumping up the stakes for you, a little bit at a time. You don’t need to raise at all, with each round you just put in enough to stay in the game.

Now, of course, I don’t know you’ve made this arrangement. I’m just seeing two players betting cautiously, as if they’re sitting on moderately good cards. So, I keep on playing, and if I’m a sucker, I d on’t notice that the pot’s growing fat on my money.

That can go on for quite a while. Particularly if I’m holding what looks like a decent chance, the big casino sitting on a flush, say, or the dead man’s hand. And bad players quite often bet on mediocre cards, especially if they’ve put a lot in the pot already.


What are-


The big casino is the ten of diamonds, Constable. The dead man’s hand is two eights and two aces.


Well, well Sergeant Wade, it sounds like you know a bit more than just the rules.


Who was the sucker?


I told you I don’t know. He was a bloody awful card player though. He even had a lucky charm.


A lot of people have lucky charms.


People either have lucky charms or skill. I’ve yet to see a poker player with both. Anyway, not only did he have a lucky charm … he tapped it against the table when he had a good hand.


He had a tell.


Dozens. He had more give-aways than Father Christmas.


And you don’t know who he was?


Never seen him before.


And the other man, the Bumper?


Never seen him either. Barely saw him when he was there if you know what I mean.


No, I don’t.


He was good at blending into the background. He was like a coat of beige paint.


Come in… For the benefit of the tape, WPC Gillian Web has entered the room at three thirty-seven a.m.


Can I speak to you outside for a moment?


Pausing interview at three thirty-eight.

#2

Interview with James Slidesmith, re-commencing at three fifty-nine a.m. Doctor Slidesmith, does the name Matthew Dolan mean anything to you?


Nothing.


It seems Mister Dolan was the sucker. One of the Doctors at the trauma unit thought he recognised him. They pulled up his medical records and his widow has just confirmed ID. You were right, two men are dead.


It wasn’t much of a deduction. He’d lost a lot of blood before the ambulance got there.


A fair amount of that blood was found on Mister Miller’s hands and clothing. Substantial amounts on Ms Chang as well.


Li was beside him when the bottle went in. Sit near a served artery and your dry-cleaning bills get out of hand.


You told me Mister Miller was sitting behind you. He was covered in blood but you weren’t.


Yakky jumped in to do some first aid and I stayed out of the way.


You we’re happy to let him bleed? I thought you were a Doctor.


Doctor of psychology. I leave the organic stuff to other people.


People like Mister Miller.


He knows more about first aid than I do.


So, after Mister Dolan was stabbed you stepped aside while Mister Miller gave first aid. What time was this?


I couldn’t say exactly. I’d estimate a little after midnight.


You called the ambulance?


That’s right.


The dispatcher’s log records the time of your call as twelve thirty-seven a.m. That’s more than a little after midnight. Why the delay?


It took me a while to find a phone.


You didn’t have a phone with you?


No.


What about Mister Miller or Ms Chang?


Yakky and I didn’t take our phones. Billy Sinclair didn’t allow mobile phones at his table. Rules of the game. Both our phones are back in my flat. Why don’t you call the search team you’ve got there, they’ll confirm it.


Ms Chang?


Li was at the table so I assumed she wasn’t holding a mobile either.


You assumed?


She was helping to stem Mister Dolan’s blood loss. It wasn’t the time to ask if she had a phone I might borrow.


So, you sat and watched?


No, I went through Billy Sinclair’s pockets. I figured he’d still have his phone on him, it being his table and all.


And did he?


Yeah, it was in the back pocket of his trousers. Last one I checked because he’d landed on his back and I had to roll him over to get to it.


Searching Mister Sinclair’s dead body didn’t trouble you at all?


All the troubles I’ve had over the years have been handed to me by the living not the dead.


Billy Sinclair must have had a lot of pockets if it took you thirty minutes to go through them.


It took a couple of minutes. But his phone was locked, so even after I found it I couldn’t use it. I tore round the house looking for a landline.


You looked around the whole house?


Yeah. That’s why your forensic team’s going to find my prints all over the place.


Did you find a landline?


No. In the end I ran out the house and started banging on doors. No one wanted to answer.


Why not?


I’m guessing Billy wasn’t a very neighbourly person. When you start interviewing people, I think they’ll tell you he wasn’t too considerate about keeping the noise down and wasn’t too pleased if people complained. I burst out of his house at gone midnight and started shouting the odds. It took a while to find someone willing to talk to me.


So, you’re at a table where a man has just had an artery served. While he’s spraying blood over Mister Miller and Ms Chang, you conduct a body search and a body roll, on a man who’s just been shot. And yet your hands are totally … clean.


Again: good use of italics.


You’re not as funny as you think, or as clever. Three pairs of black latex gloves were found in your jacket pocket. Care to explain that?


I’m a tattooist, I use latex gloves when I work. Black’s the favoured colour because they hide smears of blood and ink. It saves upsetting squeamish clients.


And you took three pairs to Billy Sinclair’s house because?


I ride a nineteen seventy-eight Sportster. When you ride a machine getting on for forty years old, you expect to be fixing things by the side of the road from time to time. Latex gloves keep my hands … clean.


Did you wear a pair of these gloves when you searched the body?


No.


I think you did. I think that’s why your hands don’t have any blood on them. Or any powder burns from the shot gun.


I didn’t need to put gloves on, and when you get the lab reports, they’ll tell you my prints are all over Billy Sinclair’s phone. He took both barrels right between the eyes. He’d have been dead before he landed and dead people don’t tend to bleed. The mess was behind him, it wasn’t dripping into his pockets, it was dripping down the wall. The reason there’s no powder burns on my hands is simpler still. I didn’t fire the gun.


When WPC Web asked me to step outside a moment ago she didn’t just inform me that Dolan was dead. She told me the team currently at Sinclair’s property reported finding a pair of black Latex gloves, with blood on them.


Cool Hand Luke.


What?


Bad poker players, guys that remember winning once but forget a dozen losses, they have a favourite film. It’s either The Cincinnati Kid or Cool Hand Luke. With you it’s Cool Hand Luke, the bit where Paul Newman’s got a handful of bugger all and bluffs his way into a win. You can only bluff certain people at certain times. And, Sergeant, your bluffs are as clear as glass.


So, tell me what happened.


We’d been playing for about an hour and a half. In my experience that’s when the sharks come out to play and feeding time starts. Most players can’t play well for that long, they think they can but they’re wrong.


So?


So, I started cranking it up a little. Since I’d made the Bumper, I kept my eye on him. I couldn’t spot the signal he was getting to start upping the pot but I could see when he started betting and when Billy held back. Dolan was building up the pot quite nicely. So was Li. They were both losing money hand over fist.


That bothered you?


Li works for me, I know what I pay her and I know what she can’t afford to lose. Once she’d lost all her stake money, and that was more than a month’s earnings, Billy said he’d open a line of credit. That bothered me, a lot. It bothered Yakky too.


Does he have the hots for her?


Yakky’s not as mean as he looks, he’s got a weakness for lost souls. They bring out his maternal side.


What happened?


I told Li she’d do well to fold her cards and call it a night. Billy reminded her how much she’d just tipped into the pot and said it would be a shame to give it up without a fight.


How much was in the pot at that point?


Just short of three thousand. Of that Billy had put in less than two hundred. I’d largely coasted it but Dolan and Li had followed the Bumper and had both put in about a kay.


You thought that was enough?


It’s never enough if you stand to win. I don’t know what Billy had but I was holding David, Alexander, Julius and Charles.


What-


He means he had four kings, Constable.


I was happy to let the hand carry on. I win, I keep the pot and use a chunk of it to pay off any debt Li might be about run up with Billy. If I’m feeling greedy I just buy the debt and stop it from her wages. Either way it’s in my interest to keep the pot going.


Yakky, doesn’t know what I’m thinking and tells Li to walk away. Billy doesn’t like him butting in and tell him to shut it. Li is getting pissed off at me and Yakky, for telling her what to do. She tells both of us she can take care of herself and then tells Sinclair she’ll take the credit. Billy takes out this address book, he handles it with a certain flair, pale blue leather and obviously very expensive. Then he pulls out a fountain pen, opens the book at C and, very carefully, writes Li’s name down.

The games still on. Three more rounds, by now its big money just to stay in and Dolan’s nerve finally breaks. He folds then the bumper bows out and I tell Billy I’ll see him.


And you nail him with your picture show?


Yeah. He is not a happy bunny at this point. Yakky puts his oar in again and tells Li she should walk away, again. Billy tells him to shut the fuck up. The atmosphere is not what you’d call pleasant. Little-Boy-Beige sitting all alone starts getting a bit jittery and drops his cards. Trouble is they land face up and Dolan sees what he’s been betting against for the last twenty minutes.


And it looks wrong?


Very wrong, Mister Bump was holding nothing. Dolan was a lousy player but he wasn’t green. He twigged he’d been set up. He looks at the Bumper’s cards then at Billy and it’s obvious all hell is about to break loose. I should have just walked away there and then.


Why didn’t you?


The pot. There was over seven grand on the table by then. And it was mine.


Dolan didn’t see it that way?


No. To be fair, he didn’t know who was who at that point. As far as he could tell, everyone at that table was in on the trick. I go to take my winnings and he stands up and tells me to keep my hands off. I tell him okay and back off, but he’s working himself into a state. There was bottle of Scotch on the table, best Hollywood traditions and all that. Dolan grabs it, smashes it on the edge of the table, then walks around to Billy calls him a cheating piece of shit.


What are your people doing all this time?


My people?


Mister Miller and Ms Chang.


Me and Yakky were having a lad’s night out playing some cards. Li being there was a surprise. They’re not my people.


Alright, so what were Mister Miller and Ms Li doing?


Li was trying to edge away from the table. Yakky was behind me, so I couldn’t say what he was doing. Probably bricking it, same as me.


And Billy?


He was laughing. Laughing at the sucker. It didn’t do anything to improve the situation.


If Dolan’s the one holding the broken bottle how did he come to get cut?


Billy and Dolan were to my right. The Bumper was on my left, putting him almost opposite them. And he wasn’t only bumping, he was playing body guard. That’s partly what tipped me off that he was on Billy’s pay role. I couldn’t see Billy Sinclair having people in his drum and not having a heavy at hand.


The way you describe him, this Bumper doesn’t sound like a heavy.


Well, pulling a gun lent weight to his point of view.


So, tell me, how is it Dolan ends up bleeding out with a chunk of glass in his neck and Billy Sinclair gets a face full of shot from his own man?


As I say, the Bumper’s a smallish guy but the gun he’s holding makes up for that. He leans across the table, over all that money, and tells Dolan to put the bottle down. Dolan does as he’s told. He puts the bottle on the table, moves slow, keeps his hands where Bumper can see them. He wasn’t stupid.

When Billy stands up, the avuncular river-boat-gambler act is over. He sucker-punches Dolan in the ribs, folds him in two, then takes hold of the bottle. Dolan was doubled over with his head almost on the table. Billy grabs his hair, I think he was planning to give him a few scars to remember the evening by.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to kill him. But Dolan was panicking and thrashing about. He twisted at the wrong moment. Instead of his face, the bottle goes into his neck. That’s where Li picked up most of the blood stains. It was like a hose pipe. A fair amount of it goes over the Bumper too.

Dolan’s still thrashing about and, by chance, grabs the barrels of the gun. I expect Bumper just tugged on reflex, only his finger’s on the trigger. Boom, he’s unemployed. And very unlikely to get a reference.


So, it was all a big mistake?


That how it appeared to me. But what does it matter? It’s too late to say sorry, they’re both dead.


Then what?


When Billy got shot he went over backwards and let go of Dolan’s hair. Dolan slides off the table and that’s when Yakky started doing his Florence Nightingale act. We didn’t notice what he’d done to his knee until later.


And the Bumper, and you?


Neither of us moved for a second. Rabbits in the headlights, you know? Then Bumper looks at what’s left of his boss and starts moving again. Once he’d got his wiggle on I unfroze too, but I didn’t do anything other than watch him for a moment. For all I knew he was about to reload.


But he didn’t?


No. He pulled out a handkerchief and tried to wipe the gun down. I don’t know how well he did it. Then he dropped it on the floor and started stuffing my bloody winnings into his pockets, when they were filled he stuffed the rest down his shirt front.


And you let him?


He didn’t look like he’d be easily dissuaded at that point. Anyway, once I was happy he wasn’t about to start putting the witnesses away I was more concerned with finding a phone.


That was when you went through Billy’s clothes?


No. At first, I was looking around the room for the landline that didn’t exist. I didn’t think of checking Billy’s body until I saw Bumper go over to him and take that fancy blue address book out of his pocket.


And this Bumper character disappeared?


I heard the front door slam.


So, he just left, covered in blood, carrying seven large in cash?


Yep. All the cash … and Billy’s little blue book.


We’ve yet to find anyone to corroborate this story. None of Mister Sinclair’s neighbours report seeing the man.


If you had Billy Sinclair for a neighbour I expect you’d keep your curtains closed too. That’s why it took me so long to make the nine-nine-nine call, remember? No one wanted to put their head outside their door.


Mister Miller’s story differs substantially from yours.


Word of advice Sergeant Wade, one card player to another: some people are harder to bluff than others.


Okay, tell me again-


I’d liked to take a break


I’m sorry?


I said I’d like to take a break. I’ve cooperated fully. I’ve answered all your questions. I’ve listened to your veiled accusations and I’ve done all that without a lawyer being present. Now, I want a break and a cup of tea.


We’ve nearly done here and I think-


I don’t care what you think. I have a right to remain silent and if I don’t get a cup of tea that’s what I’m going to do. Then I might exercise my right to legal representation. And you see, Sergeant Wade, if that happens it’s likely to ruin the delightful rapport you and I have. Once I start dealing with an up-right and conscientious member of our great legal system we lose the intimacy, you see? Things, once revealed, may have to sit out there in the cold light of judicial scrutiny.


Are you refusing to answer any more questions?


Yes, unless they relate to tea.


Okay. Constable, nip out and get us some teas eh? See if you can scare up some biscuits too, I’m starving. For the benefit of the tape, Constable Barker has left the room. Interview suspended at four forty-three a.m.

#3


And then there were two.


You know something Doctor? You’re full of shit.


Now the tape’s not running, we could drop the formalities. Why not just call me Doc? You could drop the italics then.


The papers are going to love you. All this clever-clever talk and call-me-Doctor patter is going to go down a storm in the press gallery. But I’ll tell you something: juries don’t like smartarses. Neither do judges. If you’re lucky, with good behaviour, you’ll be out in under twenty. If you’re lucky.


Twenty years for calling an ambulance? That seems harsh. What do you think they’ll give Yakky for administering first aid?


I see it less as first aid, more as interfering with a crime scene. Was slicing himself open in the process part of the plan, bit of a sympathy ploy?


Plan?


I’ll tell you what I’m looking at Doctor. I’m looking at a room with three people in it, one of them with a history of putting a knife into somebody. Two of these three are covered in blood and just happen to work for the third. There’s a baize covered table in the room, playing cards scattered all over the shop and two dead bodies on the floor. All the markings of a high stakes poker game gone very, very wrong. All expect the money, which isn’t there. What I’m not seeing is hide nor hair of this mysterious Bumper who vanished, pausing just long enough to take the money and wipe any prints off one of the murder weapons of course. While he was doing that, your man Yakky manages to kneel on the broken bottle. And, because we can’t lift reliable prints off a pile of glass fragments, that destroys any evidence of just who used it to kill Dolan.


That’s what you’re seeing is it?


It is. I think the only Bumper there last night was Ms Chang. You and your little crew went over to Billy Sinclair’s with the intention of skinning him alive. Only you over played your hand and underestimated the dangers of taking money off villains. Or maybe you didn’t underestimate them and that’s why Mister Miller was there along with a shot gun. In case it went sour, to use your words. Now, the three of you are up to your ankles in blood. So, while Billy’s bleeding out, you gather up the money and come up with this cock and bull story about needing to scour the neighbourhood for a phone. Only you’re not looking for a phone, you’re looking to hide the money somewhere so you can collect it later.


Can you see this?


Your hand?


Yeah, my hand. Notice something?


It’s trembling, you starting to worry Slidesmith?


The story I told you is as genuine as your fake Rolex, Sergeant. Think about that. When real players see another player pick up a card and get the shakes, they know it’s time to fold.


Meaning?


You tremble when the danger’s past. All the adrenaline as nothing to do, so it wanders round your veins and jangles your nerves. When a player picks up a card and trembles, it’s because he’s got the card he needs. He’s relieved, not worried.


What have you go to be relieved about?


You didn’t mention the blue address book. You see, Sergeant Wade, players, real players, don’t talk about tells, or know the fancy nick names for the cards and they don’t talk about luck. What they do is remember all the times they win and forget all the times they’ve lost. And they lose a lot. And that costs a lot. And the minute I saw you, I knew the only way you’d ever see the sucker at the table, was if someone handed you a mirror.

We’ll stick with the story about the Bumper but let’s add a twist. Maybe he didn’t run away with the money and the blue leather address book. Maybe I took the blue book. Billy had written down my apprentice’s name in it and I really didn’t want her name connected to a dead north London villain, not in writing. And maybe, being the curious sort, I spent a moment flipping through that book.

There were a good few names. people owing Mister Sinclair money, or favours in lieu. One of those names was Wade. Wade DC, to be exact, next to some very big numbers. DC? Darren Colin Wade? Dave Charles Wade? Who could know? Then guess what? I find my interviewing officer is a Detective Sergeant Wade. And DS Wade knows the silly names losers give to playing cards, talks about tells and thinks he has a talent for bluffing. So, I’m faced with a man who talks like a piss poor card player and wears a watch worth three kay. That he pretends is fake. So, I wonder—and please set that tape rolling again any time you like—if DC might stand for Detective Constable. Of course, that would mean DS Wade has been in Billy Sinclair’s pocket since before he was promoted. That would mean DS Wade has been losing money for quite a while. And that begs the question, where does a man who has on-going gambling debts to a local villain find the money to buy a Rolex? A Rolex he tells people is fake. I believe you, about juries not liking smartarses. Now, believe me; they like bent coppers even less.


Good luck proving any of this Doctor Slidesmith.


Oh dear, back to the italics are we? I don’t really need to proof it though, do I? I don’t even need to plant the-seed-of-doubt, because it’s there already, in someone’s head. I’m not the only one who can tell a genuine Rolex from a copy, and you can bet I’m not the only one to wonder about it.

If Billy Sinclair’s little blue book, as described on that tape over there, should turn up on someone’s desk, certain wheels might start to grind powerful small. Better it’s not found, better it stays lost, along with all the money.


And do you think this Bumper character is likely to keep it somewhere safe, where it’s not likely to be found?


Oh, I’m sure of it. I’m also sure that when DC Barker comes back with our tea, we’ll resume the interview. I’m also sure that, for the benefit of the tape, Mister Miller, Ms Chang and my good self will be praised for our attempts to save the unfortunate Mister Dolan. And then we’ll all walk out of here; free and clear.

And Sergeant Wade, when I say free and clear, I’m not talking italics.


THE END


Fahrenheit Press are publishing Russell’s full-length novel, NEEDLE SONG on 30th April 2018 which, like this short story, features James Slidesmith.


Needle Song

Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn't her husband.


Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it. 


Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.


No one except Doc.


Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth - but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.

Purchase Links:

Available in eBook on Monday 30th April 2018. The paperback will be follow shortly.

About The Author


Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.
Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s has always been a miserable bastard. 


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Mark Of The Devil by Tana Collins - Blog Blitz Guest Post


I am super excited to be helping kick off the blog blitz for Mark Of The Devil by Tana Collins. I have a really great guest post by Tana all about her main character, Jim Carruthers. 

Mark Of The Devil  

While Inspector Jim Carruthers and team are busy investigating a series of art thefts they receive an anonymous tip about the body of a young woman on a deserted beach.

The bizarre clues to her identity, and what might have happened to her, include a strange tattoo, a set of binoculars and slab of meat left on the cliffs.

The team’s investigations lead them to a local shooting estate and its wealthy owner Barry Cuthbert. However, Carruthers suspects Cuthbert is not all he seems and the DI soon starts to wonder if the cases of the missing works of art, the dead woman and the estate are connected.

Then when the body of a young gamekeeper is pulled from the sea tensions boil over. The trail of clues lead the team to the unlikely locale of Tallinn and into the sinister world of international crime and police corruption.

Needing answers Carruthers must look further afield than Fife. However, the closer he gets to discovering the truth the more danger he finds himself in.

Since everyone who crosses the vengeful killers seem to end up dead, can Carruthers solve the case with his life in tact?

Guest Post My Main Character – Inspector Jim Carruthers

A friend once asked me why, when I’m a female crime writer, my lead character is a male. My only response was, “my lead character was always going to be male. I have no idea why. I hadn’t ever considered him being female.”

The second question most people ask is if Detective Inspector Jim Carruthers is based on anyone I know. The answer would have to be several people in fact. What can I tell you about my lead character? Jim Carruthers is complicated. Like many of us. He’s stubborn, headstrong and wilful, forever butting heads with his superior, the long suffering Superintendent Bingham. But he’s also honest, loyal and driven by a desire for justice that will see him putting a huge amount of effort into solving his cases. He wants justice for his victims and he doesn’t sleep well at night until he gets it. Well, to be honest, he generally doesn’t sleep well anyway.

When we first meet him he’s separated from his wife but lives in hope he might be able to win her back. However, very quickly in the opening book in the series, Robbing the Dead, which I’m delighted to say became an Amazon Number One bestseller, he is pitched into investigating both the brutal and senseless murder of a young man from the RAF and the bombing of a car belonging to a controversial politics lecturer. His concern for his failing marriage has to take a back seat. 

Jim Carruthers is unlucky in love. He would love to be settled and living with someone but knows deep down he is unlikely to make them truly happy. This is a man who is a loner - at heart happiest while out hill walking and wild camping. He has a lapsed membership of the RSPB, lapsed purely because he’s always too busy to get round to renewing it. He will one day. He’s also a big fan of the James Bond books and is working his way through them. And he’s both an Iron Maiden, Neil Young and malt whisky fan.

He has a great working relationship with DS Andrea Fletcher who is ten years his junior. Like any good protagonist she has her own demons. She is organised to his messy and he admires her youthful energy and fierce intelligence. The only thing that bugs him about her is that she is very nosy, wanting to know all about his failed marriage and, since Jim Carruthers is an intensely private person, he’d rather try to keep his feelings and personal history to himself. Andrea Fletcher, however, much to Jim Carruthers’ annoyance, has a way of ferreting the information out of him. In Robbing the Dead, they both have their own personal crises to deal with and turn to each other for support, which fosters their close relationship even more.

Characterisation was, for me, the hardest thing to write about and I was absolutely delighted when the Amazon and Goodreads reviews started to come in and readers commented on how much they loved the characters in my novels. By the second novel I had introduced another strong character, that of Gayle Watson, who had been drafted in when Andrea had to take time off work. And the character my readers love to hate, DS Dougie Harris, who has featured throughout the series, may have a few surprises up his sleeve for my readers as we get to see a softer side to him in subsequent books.

I do hope you enjoy reading the series. If you like fast -paced hard hitting crime thrillers, with a deeply personal side to the plot, as one reviewer describes, the Inspector Jim Carruthers series might be just up your street.

About The Author


Edinburgh based Tana Collins is the author of the popular Jim Carruthers detective series set in Fife. Her debut novel, Robbing the Dead, published February 2017, became a No 1 Amazon bestseller for Scottish crime fiction.  Care to Die, the follow up in the series, also became a Top 10 Amazon bestseller. Published on 1st June 2017 Care to Die was described by Peter Robinson, author of DCI Banks,  as  “A finely plotted mystery. Tana Collins racks up the suspense on this one. DI Jim Carruthers is a cop to watch.”  In September 2017 having won one of the coveted Spotlight places at Bloody Scotland Tana supported Lynda La Plante on stage.
Her third novel, Mark of the Devil, is to be published 24th April 2018. Author Leigh Russell writes of it, "A cracking read. The suspense never lets up."
Tana is a trained Massage Therapist and Stress Management Consultant.

To Connect With The Author

Website: tanacollins.com
Twitter: @TanaCollins7

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Thursday, 19 April 2018

The Silent Sister by Shalini Boland - Cover Reveal

Today I am helping share the cover reveal for Shalini Boland's newest release The Silent Sister, before the reveal though, here's more about the book...

The Silent Sister

She used to be your best friend. Now she’s your worst enemy. 

When Lizzy Beresford discovers a threatening letter addressed to her, the words on the old, tattered paper chill her to the bone. But who sent it? Living in pretty cottage in a quiet country village, Lizzy’s never made any enemies in her life… 

Except her sister. 

Lizzy hasn’t spoken to Emma in years. Not since the argument which tore their relationship apart. Would her sister really want to cause her harm after all this time? 

As Lizzy receives more disturbing messages, she begins to doubt those closest to her – her boyfriend, her best friend, her neighbours. 

Because the mystery sender seems to know everything about her. And after a series of malicious incidents, it’s clear they won’t stop until they’ve destroyed her life

Lizzy knows she must confront her sister. But can she trust her? And will she realise the shocking truth, before it’s too late? 


And Now Onto The Cover



Definitely intriguing and I can't wait to read it as I love Shalini's books! To pre order your own copy, you can click here

About The Author


I write suspense thrillers and dark adventures, and I live in Dorset, England with my husband, two children and our dog. I only write reviews for books I enjoy!


Dark Ice by Dave Stanton - Blog Blitz Extract


Life Of A Nerdish Mum is helping close out the blog blitz for Dark Ice by Dave Stanton. I have an exciting extract to whet your appetite! 

Dark Ice 

While skiing deep in Lake Tahoe’s backcountry, private detective Dan Reno finds the first naked body, buried under fresh snow. Reno’s contacted by the grieving father who wants to know who murdered his daughter and why?
How did the body end up in such a remote, mountainous location? The questions become murkier when a second body is found. Is there a serial killer stalking promiscuous young women in South Lake Tahoe? Or are the murders linked to a different criminal agenda?

Searching for answers, Reno is accosted by a gang of racist bikers with a score to settle. He also must deal with his pal, Cody Gibbons, who the police consider a suspect. The clues lead to the owner of a strip club and a womanizing police captain, but is either the killer?

The bikers up the ante, but are unaware that Cody Gibbons has Reno’s back at any cost. Meanwhile, the police won’t tolerate Reno’s continued involvement in the case. But Reno knows he’s getting close. And the most critical clue comes from the last person he’d suspect.

Extract

1

The cornice stretched three feet over the sheer face below. There was about fifteen feet of vertical drop before the snow-covered slope angled out at forty-five degrees. I inched my skis farther forward, the tips hanging over the void. I was wrong—it was more like twenty feet of mandatory air. And that was the shallowest entry the ledge offered.

I blew out my breath and ignored the sickly sensation of my testicles trying to climb into my stomach. Turning back now would mean a long uphill hike, while the reward for leaping off the cornice was five hundred feet of untracked powder. A slight dip to the left marked the most forgiving launch point. I pushed myself back and sidestepped higher up the ridge. A couple deep breaths, then I released my edges and glided toward the dip.

In a second, I launched over the precipice, my hands thrust forward, my knees tucked toward my chest. As I dropped, I could see the distant desert floor of Nevada fall behind the stands of pine and fir at the bottom of the bowl. I extended my legs in the instant before I touched down and absorbed the shock, blinded for a second by a blast of snow. Then, I cranked my skis on edge, bounced out of the fluff, and made a second turn through the deep powder. It had snowed about a foot last night, but here, the fresh coverage was at least two feet, maybe more. Bottomless under my boots.

Twenty turns to the glade below, my heart pounding, my body disappearing in blasts of powder, the white coating me from head to toe. When I reached the tree line, I skidded to a stop and caught my breath. Then, I looked up and admired the S-turns I’d left on the otherwise unblemished slope. Not bad, I thought, smiling at the understatement. Most of the winter storms that had blown through the Lake Tahoe region came out of the warm Pacific and dumped wet, heavy snow, creating the notorious Sierra cement. But last night’s blizzard had swept in from Alaska, bringing colder and lighter snow. As a result, I was in the right place at the right time.

I skated along the terminus of the bowl and turned into the trees when they became sparse enough to allow passage. This was the Nevada backcountry, unpatrolled, accessible by ducking the boundary ropes at the highest elevation of South Lake Tahoe’s ski resort, right at the California-Nevada border. Before me lay 4000 feet of descent to the high desert floor where I’d parked my truck, near Route 207 outside of Gardnerville.

It was slower going now, the terrain interrupted by tangles of deadfall and icy patches where the wind had scoured the surface. I picked my way through it, my skis alternately between sinking in powder then chattering and scraping across slick bands of ice. Finally, I spotted a clearing—a wide, sweeping snow bank that fell toward a collection of pines hundreds of feet below. I rode the section like a surfer on a wave, turning down off the lip then riding back up, staying high and avoiding a flat area that would likely necessitate a hike.

When I reached the trees below, I entered a broad glade, the trunks spaced at wide intervals, the snow as soft and uniform as a white pillow. The morning sun had just appeared from behind a swath of swift moving clouds, and the snow glittered with pinpricks of light. I took a long moment to take in the scenery, then I picked a line and pushed off into the mild grade. The pristine snow held no surprises, the powder light and consistent, making it easy to find a rhythm. Floating through the trees and leaving a wake of rounded tracks, I became immersed in the splendor of the moment, as if the setting had been created solely for my indulgence.

My grandiose thoughts came to a crashing halt when I came around a tree, and my skis rammed into something solid beneath the snow. My binding released with a loud click, and I flew forward and face-planted in a poof of powder.

“Son of a bitch,” I said, wiping the snow from my goggles. I took a quick inventory of my body and found no injuries. Then, I crawled back ten feet to where my ski lay. When I pulled it from the snow, the edge caught, probably on a hidden stump, I thought. Then, the powder fell aside, and I saw a flesh-colored streak. I froze for a second, certain my eyes were playing tricks on me. Blinking, I used the ski to push away more snow.

“No way,” I whispered, my heart in my throat. A bare shoulder revealed itself, then a snarl of blonde hair strung with ice. I reached down with my gloved hand and carefully pushed aside the hair. The face was half-buried, one eye visible, lashes thick with mascara, a blue iris staring blankly. Using both hands like a shovel, I pushed away the bulk of the snow covering the upper body. A sour lump formed in my gut. The body was naked, the skin that of a young woman, perhaps a teenager.

I stepped back and blew puffs of steam into the frigid air. After a moment, I took my phone from my coat pocket and dialed 911. There was no reception. I removed my pack, found a red bandana, and tied it to a branch overhead. Then, I turned in a circle, taking note of the surrounding features in relation to the sun over the granite ridgeline looming to my right.

The morning was beginning to warm up. It was close to zero at 8:30 when I had come up the chairlift, and now, it was probably ten degrees warmer. I looked again at the blonde-headed girl curled at the base of the tree. She’d not been there long, maybe only hours. Soon, the creatures of the forest would find her. Field mice, badgers, and mountain lions would make short work of the body, the big cats spreading the bones over miles.

I checked the surroundings again. The mountainside was unfamiliar to me, but I knew from a variety of accounts that as long as I headed downhill on a due east course, I’d not run into any cliffs, gorges, or otherwise impassable terrain. I clicked back into my binding and skied out of the glade, my turns lackluster and disjointed, the exuberance I felt a few minutes ago replaced by a creeping sense of dread.

***

Thirty minutes later, I sat on the hood of my truck and waited for the police to arrive. I’d missed the run-out leading to where I’d parked and had to trudge half a mile up the highway. Dark clouds lolled down from the sky, blotting the sun and shrouding the valley in a dense winter haze. An eighteen-wheeler down-shifted and rumbled out of the fog, chains rattling, a plume of gritty smoke billowing from the pipes above the cab. Streaks of mist lingered in the truck’s wake, floating over the rutted road and hanging in the trees like a cast of ghostly spectators.

A Gardnerville sheriff’s cruiser came along shortly and parked on the icy dirt next to my truck. Two deputies I’d never met climbed out, young cops, one pudgy and baby-faced, the other a studious looking fellow with glasses and mittens on his hands.

“I can’t believe this,” Baby Face said, his cheeks reddened. “The day before Christmas, and we catch a body.”

They began interviewing me while we waited for snowmobiles to arrive. There wasn’t much to talk about. A young, naked female deep in the backcountry, covered by the night’s snowfall. Another foot or so of coverage would have hidden her scent, and she’d have been buried until spring.

The spectacled cop asked for my driver’s license and began taking down the information. Then, he looked up at me. “You’re the PI from South Lake Tahoe?”

“That’s right.”

An SUV towing a trio of snowmobiles labored up the road and crunched to a stop on the shoulder. Police Captain Nick Galanis from Douglas County PD stepped from the vehicle, while two more of his deputies released the straps securing the snowmobiles to a trailer behind the SUV.

“Hey, Dan Reno, right?” Galanis said, flashing his trademark smile, his face tan and handsome. He wore no hat, despite the temperature. His curly locks of black hair were unmoving in the wind.

“It’s Reno, as in no problemo.”

“That’s right, I remember. No problemo, huh? Sounds like we got a problem up there.” He cut his eyes toward the mountainside.

“I’d say so, Captain.”

“So, what happened?”

“I was skiing and ran into a body buried in the snow.”

“Beyond the ski resort boundary?”

“Yeah. No law against it. It’s national forest land.”

He nodded, his expression one of casual agreement, a hint of smile still on his smooth face. Behind his back, local cops called Galanis ‘The Snake,’ a reference to both his habit of seducing college-aged women and his ability to instantly change his frame of reference to serve his personal agendas. I’d also learned in a case some months back that he was corrupt as the day was long, taking kickbacks for building permits, soliciting payoffs from a high-end escort service, and even selling confiscated drugs.

“You know how to ride a snowmobile?” he asked.

“Sure.”

“I’ll ride with you, then.” He walked over to where the snowmobiles were staged, one with a body sled in tow.

“Actually, I’m a little rusty, Captain. I’d hate to see you get hurt on my account. Maybe you should ride with one of your deputies.”

Galanis looked back at me, and for an instant, his eyes narrowed. Then, his smile returned. “Okay, we’ll follow you.”

We set out into the woods, and I was able to easily follow my tracks back a mile or so to the scenic glade where the girl lay half buried. I stood aside and watched while Galanis coordinated the crime scene. He made sure his deputies took plenty of pictures before they pulled the stiffened corpse from the snow. Once they lifted her free, I saw her face, her hair falling back behind her ears, an expression of shock and pain frozen on her features. She looked like a macabre Barbie doll, her red lips parted as if her hopes and dreams had died with a final gasp, her eyes wide with the realization that all she’d experienced in her short life had, in no way, prepared her for her final moments.

Galanis also seemed to be studying her face. He knelt and stared at her, his expression incredulous for a moment. I saw his head shake slightly, as if he was denying something. But he recovered quickly, and stood and motioned to the deputies.

“Get the snow off her before you put her in the body bag,” Galanis said. “We don’t want her in a pool of water.”

The deputies began brushing the snow from her flat stomach and large breasts and thighs and scant pubic hair and buttocks and calves. They exchanged embarrassed glances and made quick work of it. I saw she had a couple tattoos, one on her upper thigh and a tramp stamp at the base of her spine.

With considerable strain, they unfolded her stiffened legs. Then, grunting with exertion and blowing steam, they placed her in the bag and arranged the dark folds of plastic until only a thin line of flesh showed. The cops hesitated for a long moment, as if reluctant to finish their grim task, then zipped the bag shut, enclosing her forever in darkness. In a detached part of my mind, I wondered whether she’d been a stripper. A cynical conclusion probably, but even in death, her body made me think of the lyrics to a song, something about shaking your moneymaker.

“Someone must have killed her somewhere else and dumped her here,” one deputy said.

“We would have seen snowmobile tracks.”

“No, last night’s snowfall would have covered them,” I said.

“Assuming she was dumped before the storm,” the other deputy said. “Hell, she could have been dropped from an airplane.”

“It’s all mental masturbation until the coroner looks at her,” Galanis said. “Put her on the gurney and let’s go. It’s freezing out here.”

“Hope it’s not me that has to notify next of kin,” said a deputy, under his breath.

“Yeah,” said the other. “Merry freaking Christmas.”


About The Author


Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1960, Dave Stanton moved to Northern California in 1961. He attended San Jose State University and received a BA in journalism in 1983. Over the years, he worked as a bartender, newspaper advertising salesman, furniture mover, debt collector, and technology salesman. He has two children, Austin and Haley, and lives with his wife, Heidi, in San Jose, California.
Stanton is the author of six novels, all featuring private investigator Dan Reno and his ex-cop buddy, Cody Gibbons.

To Connect With The Author

Twitter: @DanRenoNovels

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