New Release Mondays: No Fury Like That by Lisa de Nikolits

I first met Lisa de Nikolits at the Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore in Toronto, where we were celebrating the launch of The Whole She-Bang-3. It’s my pleasure to introduce her, and her latest work.

Author Name: Lisa de Nikolits

Book Title: No Fury Like That

Book Genre: Crime fiction, mystery, suspense/thriller, noir, psychological suspense.

Release Date: September 15, 2017

Synopsis: Imagine if characters from The Devil Wears Prada got trapped in Sartre’s play No Exit, where “hell is other people.” Julia Redner seemed to have it all: stunning good looks, a fantastic job, and enough money and perks to live in the style she’d grown accustomed to. But after it all went down and she finds herself in the afterlife, Julia realizes that she has a whack of unfinished business to settle and a handful of murders to solve.

Excerpt:  “We’re here,” Grace says after we turn a corner and walk past a series of yellow doors with yellow half-moon handles. I want to ask what’s with the yellow all of a sudden, but I sense it’s not a good time for questions. I don’t want the others to bounce me. They haven’t said they can do that, but I’m pretty certain they have the power.

We stopped at a door and no one wants to be the first to venture inside.

But then something creepy happens — the door handle twists down and the door swings quietly open.

“I know you lot are out there,” a hoarse voice bellows, “so come on in, you ninnies. I know what you’re going to ask me and I can tell you now that the answer is still the same, it’s no, nada, zip, zero, and I’ve got no idea why you wasted your time coming out all this way. I guess you had nothing better to do or you wanted to introduce me to your new friend. hear this, Julia, you’re a longer ways off from a Viewing than you can imagine. You, with your ego the size of Jupiter, well, you’ll have to wait in line like the rest of them, your charms hold no currency here.”

I feel as if someone has thrown a bucket of ice water on me. I can’t move or speak. I just stand there, dripping with the venom of this woman’s sarcasm.

“Come on in,” the voice bellows again. “Bloody rude to stand out there and make me shout.”

“Hardly a point in coming in, is there?” Fragile little Isabelle shouts back and I am surprised. The mouse has roared. But then again, this is a girl who had sex with strangers, she isn’t afraid of anything.

“You should at least give us a timeline,” Isabelle says loudly, and she marches inside and I can see that her fists are clenched and her face is white.

The others creep in behind her and I bring up the rear. 

About the author: Originally from South Africa, award-winning author Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain. No Fury Like That, her seventh and most recently published work, has received glowing preview reviews from internationally acclaimed authors, Metroland Media, and high-profile members of the Crime Writers of Canada. Find her at lisadenikolitswriter.com

Find the Book

 

SaveSave

Bouchercon Toronto Recap

With Dru Ann Love (Dru’s Book Musings) and Kristopher Zgorski (BOLO Books)

I’ve been a member of the Bouchercon 2017 volunteer committee since 2015, meeting quarterly at first, and then escalating to monthly. While my contributions were far less than co-chairs Helen Nelson and Janet Costello, this past 2 1/2 years has opened my eyes to the sheer volume of work that goes on behind the scenes to put on a four-day 100% volunteer run conference like Bouchercon. It was an invaluable experience and one that I will treasure always.

My books in the book room!

But what about the conference itself? What can I say? At last count, there were more than 1,700 attendees, of which approximately 33% were authors, including NYT bestsellers like Louise Penny, Maureen Jennings and Megan Abbott, as well as folks like me (not yet on the NYT list…but hope springs eternal).

CWC had a significant presence at Bouchercon. (L to R) Member Jim Napier, RCMP Officer Julie Meeks, CWC Past President Rick Blechta, CWC Chair Cathy Ace.

For my part, I was able to take my turn manning the Sisters in Crime – Toronto table, the Crime Writers of Canada table, and the Crime Writers of Canada hospitality suite. These are great opportunities to meet and greet other authors, and introduce readers to  SinC, CWC, and of course, my books.

I also had the opportunity to moderate (my first time as a moderator) a panel of reviewers: Margaret Cannon (Globe & Mail), Steve Steinbock (Ellery Queen; AudioFile Magazine), Marsali Taylor (Mystery People; Mystery Readers), Erica Ruth Neubauer (Publishers Weekly, Crimespree, Mystery Scene), and Andrew Gulli (The Strand Magazine). We had a tough time slot: 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Sunday—trust me when I tell you that an early morning panel on the last day of a four-day conference is not ideal. Fortunately, the strength of the panel drew people in, and we pretty much had a full house. I wasn’t perfect, and I might do some things differently if I ever have another opportunity, but overall, it went really well. The thing I’m most proud of? Two years ago, I was terrified to speak in public, and there I was, moderating a panel of esteemed reviewers in front of a packed room!

Inside MacKenzie house on the Ghost Walk tour

One of my favorite moments was leading the Ghost Walk tour on Wednesday night. It was damn cold, and a wee bit drizzly, but I learned about Toronto’s “ghost subway stations,” AND I actually saw where Samuel Lount was hanged for treason! Readers of THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE will understand why that was such a thrill for me.

View from my hotel room

The hardest thing (besides the sheer sense of exhaustion as the days and hours start to blend together) for a solitary loner type like me is the crowds, but thankfully I’m well familiar with Toronto, having been born and raised there, so I was able to escape during lunch times and walk around downtown. Sure, there are crowds there, too, but in typical big city fashion, it’s pretty easy to blend in and become anonymous. For the moment, at least, you don’t have to be “on.”

Gibbs sleeping at my feet.

My next conference is Left Coast Crime in Reno, March 2018. For now, I am just happy to be back home, and I think Gibbs is happy to have me here.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

New Release Mondays: Death Overdue by Allison Brook

Author Name: Marilyn Levinson aka Allison Brook

Book Title: Death Overdue

Book Genre: cozy mystery

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Synopsis: Carrie Singleton, forgoes her purple hair and Goth attire to become head of programs and events of the Clover Ridge Library. She finds herself embroiled in solving a cold case and a new murder with the occasional help of the library’s sixty-something ghost amid family squabbles, romance and discovering her place in life.

Excerpt: “We’ve a real exciting program coming up in two weeks,” Trish said, her eyes lighting up with excitement.

“You mean Al Buckley’s talk,” Barbara said. “I’m sorry I’ll be missing it. You’ll have to email me all about it.”

“Who’s Al Buckley?” I asked.

“Al was a detective on the local police force. Fifteen years ago he was in charge of a murder case that was never solved,” Trish said.

A chill snaked up my back. “Around here? Who was murdered?”

“A lovely woman named Laura Foster,” Barbara said. “She was married and had two boys in high school. Someone came into the house and struck her when no one else was home.”

“How awful,” I said. “And how awful that they never found out who killed her.”

Barbara and Trish exchanged glances.

“What is it?” I asked.

“The word is that Al was drinking a lot in those days and wasn’t on top of things like he should have been,” Barbara said. “In fact, there was a hearing and he ended up leaving the force.”

“But he’s cleaned up his act,” Trish said. “And feels terrible for not finding Laura’s killer.”

Barbara nodded. “When he called a few months ago, he said he couldn’t get the case out of his head. He’d started investigating on his own a year or so ago, and found what he believes is new evidence that will put the killer away.”

I shook my head. “I don’t get it. Why didn’t he go to the police with what he’s found?”

“He did,” Barbara said, “but Al doesn’t know if they’ll follow up on it, given his history with the department.”

“They should listen to him!” Trish said. “Al’s a great guy and a terrific detective. He and my dad have been friends for years. I know what a bad time he was going through around the time Laura was murdered. His son nearly died in a car accident, then his wife left him. Now all he wants is to solve the case and write a book about it.”

“It will make for an interesting program,” Barbara said, “but now we have to get to work.”

About the author:  A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson is the author of mysteries, romantic suspense and novels for kids. She writes the Twin Lakes Mystery series and the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery series. DEATH OVERDUE, written as Allison Brook, is the first in her Haunted Library Mystery series. Library Journal has given the book a starred review and had made it a Pick of the Month. Blackstone has recorded an audiobook version of DEATH OVERDUE. Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her novels take place. Find Marilyn on her website

Find the Book

 

 

New Release Mondays: A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron

I first met Ellen Byron at Bouchercon Raleigh in 2015 and immediately knew I’d found a kindred spirit. I’ve since come to love her books and it’s my honor to present her latest here.

Author Name: Ellen Byron

Book Title: A Cajun Christmas Killing

Book Genre: Cozy

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Synopsis: Maggie Crozat is home in Cajun Country during the most magical time of the year. But the Grinch has come to stay at Crozat Plantation B&B, and he’s flooding travel websites with vicious reviews. Maggie ID’s him as rival businessman Donald Baxter –until Baxter is found stabbed to death. With her detective boyfriend sidelined as a suspect, Maggie must catch the real killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noel for the Crozats.

Excerpt: For Maggie Crozat, there was nowhere lovelier than Pelican, Louisiana, during the holidays. Its wrought iron balconies were threaded with sparkling garlands, and from them dangled colorful Christmas ornaments. Town businesses painted their windows with snowy scenes that delighted the local children, most of whom had never seen real snow thanks to Louisiana’s mild winters. In a time-honored tradition, images of pelicans were hidden among the decorations and anyone who mapped all of them received a prize: a toy pelican for the kids or a shot-glass shaped like one for the adults. The festive atmosphere brought forth much good cheer among the locals. It also allowed them to ignore the fact the sleepy Cajun village had been the site of four murders in a mere three months.

Maggie decided to join the collective state of amnesia, even though each of the murders had somehow involved Crozat Plantation B&B, her family’s ancestral home turned hostelry. As she drove down the Great River Road, she took in the bonfires that were in various stages of construction on the Mississippi levee. This was where Pelican’s good-natured competitive spirit really manifested itself. In centuries past, the bonfires had served as blazing signposts guiding travelers up the river, but they had evolved into a tradition of lighting the way for the Cajun Santa Claus, Papa Noel, on Christmas Eve. Eager participants who vied to create the most ornate structure often began building them right after Thanksgiving. Others didn’t care about looks, opting for the honor of loudest bonfire. Maggie couldn’t even see one of them under its layers of firecrackers. She noticed someone else had simply roped together stacks of sugar cane, which popped like firecrackers when they blazed.

In past years her father, Tug Crozat, had gone log for log with Belle Vista’s bonfire by erecting a detailed model of Crozat. But this year, Tug had unexpectedly opted for the more standard pyramid structure. He also bowed out of the fireworks display that always accompanied the bonfire’s burning. This really surprised Maggie, since Tug usually took to it with the glee of a ten-year-old budding pyromaniac.

About the author:  Body on the Bayou, the second book in Ellen’s Cajun Country Mystery Series, recently won the Left Coast Crime Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for an Agatha Award in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. Ellen’s debut novel in the series, Plantation Shudders, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards, and made the USA Today Bestseller list. Book three, A Cajun Christmas Killing, launches October 10th. TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, Fairly OddParents, and many pilots. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and two spoiled rescue dogs. Visit her at http://www.ellenbyron.com/

Find the book

 

New Release Mondays: Do Grave Harm by Trixie Stilletto

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and during the entire month, the author will be donating all the profits from this book to metastatic breast cancer research. Here are links to the two charities that will be supported through your purchase: Founder’s Fund and Mountain States Foundation

And now, here’s more about the book…

Name: Trixie Stilletto

Book Title: Do Grave Harm

Book Genre: Mystery

Release Date: September 1, 2017

Synopsis: There’s nothing normal about Jennifer Atkinson’s radiation treatment, especially when discovers the technician dead in the control room. As the gruesome scene replays itself in her mind, small details spark more questions than she’s answering for the attractive Detective Ben Manteo.

Despite Ben’s warning to stay out of it, Jennifer picks up seemingly unrelated threads that weave themselves into a story of lies, deceit, and betrayal someone will go to any length to keep hidden…

Excerpt: Something wasn’t right. I didn’t want to panic, but I was starting to feel claustrophobic. Having a two-ton radiation machine sitting only inches from your chest will do that to you, especially when it seems you’ve been forgotten.

You’re not truly alone, Jennifer, I reminded myself. There were dozens of people down the hall in the waiting room. And this was a hospital. People were constantly moving around, even though they kept the radiation section closed off.

Repeating these things and more didn’t help. At that moment, I felt abandoned, as if no one knew where I was.

“Excuse me,” I finally called, hoping the radiation technician who’d brought me in here would answer, reassuring me.

Robert. I picture his name tag in my mind. Raising my voice, I called again, “Robert?” Nada. The room was probably soundproof with the door shut.

Panic sped up my breathing as I stared at the machine. It hadn’t moved after my radiation treatment had ended. That was the problem.

In my mind, the six inches between me and it had shrunk to three. My arms were starting to go numb, as well as my feet and legs. No one was coming to help me. I had to do something. Now.

Moving while under the machine was kind of tricky. I was a large woman, and I’d never been dexterous on my back, much to my rat ex- husband’s lament, I guess.

I kicked my legs out of their rubber support and, after several tries, scooted my butt down the metal table. Then I did an ungainly slide, like I was slipping under a barbed-wire fence. Except this particular fence was the size of a VW Beetle, and it seemed to be inching closer to me with each passing second.

When I moved enough that my head and neck were no longer in the plastic mold that kept me still during treatment, I banged the back of my skull against the table. “Ow, ow, ow,” I muttered, inching my way farther down it until I cleared the machine.

Finally, my legs dangled off the end.

About the author: A southern girl, Trixie traveled north when she found the love of her life. Together, they enjoyed more than 20 years working as journalists. Now back home in Tennessee she’s writing stories that range from short hot romances with a kiss of humor to southern-flavored mysteries. She lives seven miles from the neighborhood where she grew up with two cats (Rewrite & Missy), Stella (an aging beagle) and a host of characters waiting for her to tell their stories.

Get updates and win prizes by signing up for Trixie’s newsletter  on her website

Find the Book

 

 

SaveSave

Interview With An Author: Janice Richardson

An identical twin, Janice Richardson is the opposite of her super-sibling. She is day person, a people person, a window shopper and a computer dud, her twin is a night person, not a people person, not a shopper and a computer geek. Somehow they manage to happily live together in the Niagara Region of Canada, along with a rescue cat named Vegas, aka Kittybrat. Janice, a retired funeral director started writing late in life, beginning with a non-fiction work – The Making of a Funeral Director. Fiction followed with the Spencer Funeral Home Niagara Cozy Mystery series. Book 1 Casket Cache, then Books 2,3 and 4 – Winter’s Mourning, Grave Mistake and First Call.

Judy: Tell us about the setting for your Spencer Funeral Home series.

Janice: The cozy mystery series is set in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Who doesn’t love Niagara Falls? The region is known for its wine, lavender, agriculture and trails. The area is rich in history and a visit to the various museums show the important part Niagara played in the early history of Canada.

But a cozy set in a funeral home? Seriously? Yes. While the books are in the cozy genre, they also educate and entertain the reader. If one learns something along the way, then it was worth the journey.

Judy: What’s the best writing advice you have ever read or been given?

Janice: It’s your work. Write what you know, what you need to write, not what others tell you is correct or what is popular. Then, when you are happy with the manuscript, get a good editor.

Don’t give up your day job.

The most important thing an author will learn – It’s not all about you. It is about your readers and responding to them. It is about other authors, encouraging them, promoting them on social media, reading their books and reviewing the books that you liked.

Judy: Describe your writing process and/or a typical day in your life.

Janice: Most of my day is spent reading books or news, playing the occasional computer game and marketing. Much of my day is quiet. I wrote my first two books in a few months, which meant non-stop writing, my favourite way to write. We acquired a rescue kitten who has changed my writing habits. When she is awake, no writing takes place. She tries to get on the keyboard, or plays with my feet or demands attention. Of course she comes first.

Absolute silence is the only way I can write, sitting in an old recliner with my laptop perched on my knee. When I am up and about I am engaged in whatever activity is in front of me and the work in progress doesn’t exist. I try not to think about it or discuss it. My friends and family deserve that. Plot bunnies come out only at night and romp in my brain.

I don’t plot out a story, I start writing and it takes on a life of its own. I tried outlines, they didn’t work. I may write from start to finish or in bits and pieces, the last chapter before the first one, or a middle section that gets “written around.” I know most writing professionals would have a fit if they knew there was no story line to follow, but that is how I work.

Judy: Can you recommend a lesser-known author well worth reading?

Janice: Ha! There are not too many “lesser-known authors” than me, so let me recommend another indie author who I know will continue do well. Jennifer S. Alderson, author of Down and Out in Kathmandu and ‘The Lover’s Portrait (jennifersalderson.com) is a gifted story teller. Her books are entertaining, educational and rich in description and story. The Lover’s Portrait is its own work of art.

Find Janice and her books at all the usual suspects, including  Goodreads.

 

New Release Mondays: Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Author Name: Kaira Rouda

Book Title: Best Day Ever

Book Genre: Psychological Suspense

Release Date: September 19 (US and Canada)

Synopsis: Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Excerpt:

Morning 9:00 a.m.

1

I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, sunlight bouncing off her shiny blond hair like sparklers lit for the Fourth of July, and I am bursting with confidence. Everything is as it should be.

Here we are, just the two of us, about to spend the weekend at our lake house. Today represents everything I’ve worked for, that we have built together. The sun blasts through my driver’s side window with such intensity I feel the urge to hold my hand up to the side of my face to shield my eyes, even though my sunglasses are dark and should be doing the job. Under any other circumstances, on any other day, they would be, I know. But today, something is different between us; some strange tension pulses through the still air of the car’s interior. I cannot see it, but it’s here. I’d like to name it. Discover its source and eliminate it.

Sure, this morning has been hectic. It’s a Friday, and Fridays always seem the most frenzied when you have kids. Getting the boys up and dressed, and then dropping them off at their immaculately landscaped and highly ranked red brick elementary school where they will no doubt excel, in first and third grade respectively. Truth be told though, I usually have little to do with the scenario I just outlined. Mia, my wife, handles all the tasks pertaining to the boys each morning. We’re a traditional suburban household in that respect. In the morning, I make coffee, shower, dress and leave for work before the boys awaken. Yes, mine is quite a selfish and single-minded pursuit on most days.

That’s another reason why today is so special. I drove the boys to school, reminded them that the babysitter would be picking them up afterward. When I returned to the house, I put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. I can be helpful when I want to be, although I don’t want to remind Mia of this fact as she may come to expect it. Dishes finished, I had called up the stairs to Mia, urging her to hurry. We haven’t had a weekend together, just the two of us alone, for more than a year. This day was going to be just for us, and it was time to go.

She called back, her voice floating like a butterfly down the stairs, asking for my help with her luggage. The next moment, I found myself lugging two huge suitcases down the grand main staircase of our home. She followed behind me with a laundry basket filled with who knows what.

“Staying a while?” I teased. She blushed, embarrassed by her notorious overpacking. But I didn’t complain. It was her day. She was free to overpack away. Once we got everything loaded into the trunk of the car, just as Mia was starting to relax, the packing part over, that was when my phone rang. I shouldn’t have answered it. But onward. Taking the call was just one small mistake in a day that’s destined to be brilliant. From the driver’s seat, I finally finish syncing my phone with the car’s system. I find the playlist I created for my wife. All her favorite songs will play during our drive. Music is such an important part of keeping romance alive.

And now, we’re getting on the road. Mia turns toward me and smiles. She has a perfect smile: half-moon-shaped, with glistening white teeth. My smile is more of a rectangle; no matter how hard I try, I appear to be smirking, I know that. But my teeth are perfect, thanks to the cosmetic dentist. I grin back.

She loves me so much, and of course the same can be said for me. We’ve been together almost ten years now. We know each other’s best qualities, and we know each other’s dark sides. Although to be quite honest about it, I’m not sure Mia has what you’d call a dastardly alter ego. Her dark side is simply grumpy, and it typically only appears when she is tired, or when one of our boys faces a rough patch. For my part, I wonder if Mia thinks I have a dark side. Most likely, as far as she knows, I am just her dear loving husband.

Today, though, this morning, right now, she is exuding energy; it oozes from her pores, from her flawless face. It’s the cause of the strange pulsing between us, I decide.

“You seem wound up, honey,” I say. I want to pat her leg and tell her to relax but I don’t. Despite her odd mood she is still beautiful, almost perfect in every way.

“Do I? I guess I’m just excited,” she says, confirming my assessment while stretching her hands toward the front windshield. The diamond from her wedding ring flashes in the overbright sunshine as if imitating her energy.

“Me too. But we’ve got a long drive ahead of us, so try to relax. Let’s make today the best day ever.” I attempt to add the proper lilt to my voice. I need her to believe I am just as happy and carefree as she is. That driving up to our lake house for the first time this season is the most exciting thing I could ever imagine doing on any day, ever.

“In that case, can I request a small detour? There’s a little bakery in Port Clinton, just before the turnoff to Lakeside. I’d like to stop there on the way in. For croissants for tomorrow morning. Do you remember the spot? We won’t arrive in time to grab croissants for breakfast today, of course, but tomorrow’s almost as good,” she says. Thankfully, her bright blue eyes are hidden behind dark sunglasses that match mine. When I glance at her, we cannot make eye contact. Not really.

I wonder if the comment about not arriving in time is directed at me, and realize it is. Of course. I am the one who took the phone call just as we were packed up, ready to hop in the car and drive away. I shouldn’t have. It wasn’t anything new, but I had still held out hope that it would be. Instead, I spent thirty minutes on a worthless call with a headhunter, and, I know, made us late. The croissants will be gone by the time we arrive at the bakery; I know this, too.

“Yes, I remember the place. Ugly strip mall, but sure, we’ll stop. Not worried about gluten anymore, I take it?” I say. For a while, Mia and her doctor du jour thought her upset stomach, weight loss, and other intestinal issues were caused by gluten. I was relieved when she decided not to hop on that fad after giving up wheat for a few weeks with no change. She still insists on a vegetarian existence, leaving her with few choices when we go out to dinner and endless questions for the wait staff. It’s annoying. But I push those thoughts away. My wife is just doing her best.

“Turns out gluten isn’t the culprit,” Mia says. She smiles. “So yes, I’d love to stop. If it’s okay with you, of course.”

Stopping on our way to the lake house at a bakery that will no doubt be out of croissants was not on my agenda today. She knows I’m a man of action and when I have a plan, I follow it. I just want to get up there already. But today, Mia’s every wish is my command…

About the author: Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction exploring what goes on behind closed doors of seemingly perfect lives. Previous novels include ALL THE DIFFERENCE, HERE, HOME, HOPE, IN THE MIROR and THE GOODBYE YEAR. She lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest: @KairaRouda; and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books. For more please visit www.KairaRouda.com

Find the Book 

 

 

 

SaveSave

New Release Mondays: A Promise to Kill by Erik Storey

Author Name: Erik Storey

Book Title: A Promise to Kill

Book Genre: Thriller

Release Date: August 15th, 2017

Synopsis: Clyde Barr, the drifter with lethal skills, is wandering and runs across an elderly sick man—a Ute Indian from a nearby reservation—Clyde’s dream of solitude is quickly dashed.

In the remote Utah desert, surrounded by enemies, with no law enforcement presence, and with communication effectively cut off, Clyde must find a way to save his new friends, defeat a biker gang, and, hopefully, escape with his own skin.

Excerpt: I smiled, found a baseball-size rock, and stuffed it in the sock. I stood and took my improvised blackjack with me as I worked through the brush toward Jury. Of course, what I was about to do might have been easier if I’d held on to my pistol, but I’d left it in the ranch truck, which was now burned to a crisp. And besides, firing a shot would have alerted the other Reapers.

Placing my feet ever so carefully, I felt a little bit like David with his slingshot about to take on Goliath.

At that moment Jury was standing by the back of the semi’s trailer, his tattooed arms folded, staring at the moon. He was wearing only his vest and jeans. A soft, warm breeze rustled his goatee, and he somehow looked even bigger in the gray light.

Seeds and pollen from the sagebrush fell like snow as I worked my way closer, covering my shirt and hat brim. I wiped some stray ones from my face and focused on the muscular man twenty feet in front of me. He was still staring up, grumbling something to himself, and I moved from the brush to the wide-open spot where the truck was parked.

I gingerly took two steps, being careful to put my foot down softly and feel for anything that would make noise. Three more steps and I’d be right behind him, where a well-swung sock would drop him. But sometimes luck isn’t on your side.

About the author: ERIK STOREY is a former ranch hand, wilderness guide, dogsled musher, and hunter. He spent his childhood summers on his great-grandfather’s homestead or in a remote cabin in Colorado’s Flat Tops wilderness. He has earned a number of sharpshooter and marksman qualifications. He and his family live in Grand Junction, Colorado. He can be found online at erikstoreybooks.com.

Find the Book