Art for Art’s Sake

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“Dad, what are you doing?” Jilly asked.

“That’s it, I’ve had enough,” said her father.

“You have, what about the rest of us?”

“I took over this shop from my mum, we had a thriving business. Now, its gone, the world has gone mad. I can’t get enough sales to pay for the expenses. Enough.”

Jilly snatched the papers her dad had flung to the counter.

“The rent has gone up, so what?” she said.

“Everything has gone up, except sales.”

“Dad, let me run the business. You can retire.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“You want me to tell you? Okay, look around, can you see a customer? Even someone browsing? No, it has been like this for days. There is now no need for your mum to come in and help me. We’ve had lockdowns, we were hardly a necessity shop, people don’t spend on their hobbies. So, sorry, but we are going out of business.”

Mr Jacobsen pulled his leg back as if to kick a stack of unused canvases leaning against a paper-filled cupboard. He had a change of mind, relaxing his leg, leaned back against the battered cupboard, head in hands.

“Dad, I want to keep the shop going.”

“It is not up to you.”

“What if I had an idea, that will bring in money?”

“Yeah right, just like you’ve done for years,” he sneers sarcastically.

“Jamie can help me,” said Jilly.

“Your brother is even more useless than you.”

“Dad, that’s not fair, I want to modernise the store.”

He grunted, “Really? What do you do all day? Play on your phone. Jamie plays games on his computer. A lot of good that will be.”

“I am not playing with my phone, I am producing art with it.”

“Art is with paintbrushes and canvas.”

“Dad, my idea is to run art courses, people love to create pictures with their phones and laptops I can help them improve here or online, and then we can print off the work. We earn all round. We can still sell brushes and paint like before, Jamie can mind the till. I will do all the work.”

The quick coughing fit ended with a fake smile, “I said no.”

“Dad, look at this,” she pulled up YouTube.

“See what he’s doing? He has a photograph on the app, see?” her father looked away. She nudged him, “Then he cuts half of it away with a wavy line. Now watch…” Jilly looked at her uninterested father. “Then, using the app, he recreates the portrait exactly as before! Brilliant, isn’t it?”

“No. What is the point?”

“Oh, dad people love this kind of hobby.”

Mr Jacobsen snorted, “That is not art.”

Jilly walked out. The glass in the front door almost came out of its frame.

“Mum, what has got into dad, he wants to shut up shop,” said Jilly.

“Yes, dear, he’s been thinking about it for a while.”

“I want to take over.”

“I don’t think your father will go for that.”

Jilly went up to her room. Google was busy looking for poisons in paint tubes.

“Mum, how long is dad planning on keeping the shop?”

“The sales agent is meeting with him later this month, but I don’t suppose it will sell quickly, do you?”

“I don’t know. Please talk to him for me, I can make a success of it.”

“Your dad never listens to me. Especially if he’s decided.”

Jilly’s brain was pulsating, she felt it would leak grey matter from her ears. She marched to her room. Flicking on her computer, she searched for information on ‘electronic art courses’. Jilly already accomplished at the skill but needed to learn how to monetise her idea. She then went back to a page on Wikipedia where she reread about dangers in the art room.

“What do you want for your tea?” mother called.

“No time mum, I’m off to my pottery class. Bye.”

Nodding to other students, she went straight to the kiln.

“Beautiful work, Jilly,” the teacher said as he admired the mug. “Are you a fan of Matisse’s work?”

“The Blue Nude is my favourite, so I copied it on to this as a present for my dad.”

“It’s wonderful how you got the shade of blue in the ceramic. It works brilliantly on a coffee mug.”

“Yes, I hope he likes it?”

At 9 am the following morning Mr Jacobsen turned the closed sign to open. Jilly marched in.

“Here you are dad, a special gift for you. And not made by a computer.”

“Wow, Jilly, it’s beautiful.”

“Give it here, I’ve also bought some coffee, I’ll make us a cup.”

Jilly went to the back room, which doubles as a kitchenette, filling the coffeemaker with her purchase, and waited for the correct temperature, then poured two cups. She pulled out a small sachet of powder from her pocket. The Blue Nude cup had a little extra sprinkled in.

Jilly and her father talked about their favourite works of art, how and why Matisse painted as he had. It was as if the years had turned back to when Jilly showed early skills as a nine-year-old artist.

“I thought you were going to make something of your life. That was before you got hooked on your damn ‘apps’ or whatever you call them. Jilly didn’t respond, she carried on dusting the shelves.

“Is there any more coffee in the pot? It tastes better in an arty mug,” he smiled.

“Designed by a digital app,” she whispered.

The next morning Jilly travelled to the shop with her dad.

“I’ll continue with the clean-up today,” she said.

“I’m not feeling all that well this morning. Is it okay if I sneak off and leave you on your own?”

“Sure dad,” she smiled, “I know where everything is. Do you want a coffee before you go?”

Alone, Jilly took her time, looking through every drawer, cupboard and hide-hole, anywhere her dad may have tucked something of interest. She didn’t know what she was looking for.

“Ah-ha, what is this?”

She dusted off a carton filled with rusting jars of oil paints.

“Jesus, they made this in 1922, maybe a collector would buy it?”

Tracking down a dealer of antique art, she sent him a photo of her find.

“Whatever you do, don’t open the jars. They are brilliant oils, glorious shades, but it contains arsenic. We wouldn’t dare sell it. Best you can do is to destroy it. Carefully.”

“Thank you,” she said to him.

“Idiot, you can’t destroy arsenic, it says so on Google,” she said to herself. “Also, I haven’t got an osmosis machine, whatever that is?” she laughed.

Yesterday’s powder had worked. She only had enough for one dose. Dad was feeling sick. But she needed a novel idea to progress her plan.

“That can wait, I need to get my digital course up and running,” she said to herself.

“YouTube? Facebook? Instagram? All three?”

She was making her favourite social sites busy. Her phone was being used differently, this time in advertising.

“Mags, I’m taking over my dad’s shop. I will run eArt sales and learning. Interested?”

“Great idea? How much?”

“To you, free, you will be my guinea pig. What do you say?”

The following day Jilly’s dad was still weak but improving.

“I may pop in later and help you cash up,” her dad offered.

“Cash up, you are dreaming. There was not a soul in the shop yesterday or today.”

Mags spent two hours with Jilly.

“Look what I’ve done,” Mags beamed.

“Hey Mags, I’ll make an artist of you yet. Now, do me a favour and spread the word. Let all your contacts know I’ll teach pupils here, then we can go online.”

“Can I print this picture out and show my mum?”

“Sure, that’s the idea, maybe she can have a try?”

“Oh hello, Mr Jacobsen. Are you feeling better?”

“Hello Mags, are you buying paints?”

“No, my new skill is on the phone, look.”

“Skill maybe, but not art, try with a paintbrush,” he said.

Mags nodded a farewell.

“Dad, why be so cruel, she was proud of that,” said Jilly.

“She was in here wasting your time and her own.”

“Fancy a coffee? I’ve got some cookies too.”

“Sure, thanks, my stomach feels better now,”

“Can you open up this morning, Jilly, your dad was taken bad during the night. He is poorly, I’m worried.”

“Probably nothing mum, similar to yesterday? Maybe he rushed with coming back to the shop?” she sniggered behind her hands.

Jilly rushed into the shop and opened her emails.

“Six students!”

She cheered and ran around the store. Then got down to set times for the classes.

Jilly flicked open her phone, “Jamie, can you come to the shop? I need your help and bring your fancy camera with the microphone?”

“What are you doing?”

“I’ll tell you when you get here.”

Jilly started rearranging the shop, she printed several of her artworks and stuck them on the wall ‘borrowing’ some of her father’s elaborate frames, a jam jar full of paintbrushes tipped on its side and a collection of paint tubes scattered on the desktop.

Her brother strolled in, “What is all this? Dad will have a fit.”

“How is he?”

“Dunno, still in bed, I think.”

“Right, I want to make an advert for my eArt course. The brushes and paints signify out with the old and in with the new, ie my eArt lessons. I’ll mention that I can turn their works into coffee mugs, similar to the one I made for dad. Like it?”

“And you’re going to sit there and demonstrate?” he pointed to the stool.

“That’s right. Can you do it?”

“Sure, I’ll film you talking, and splice in the shots of the art on your phone later.”

“Where will you stand? Because I need to clip my script to the tripod next to the camera.”

“Okay, are you ready?” Jamie asked, “Watch my fingers, when I signal three, start talking. Oh, wait, my phone’s ringing.”

“Leave it, I’m all keyed up.”

“It is mum, I’d better answer.”

Jamie turned away, “What? I’ll be right there.”

“Finish the filming, I want to post it on Facebook.”

“No, dad is seriously ill, mum wants me to take him to hospital.”

“I want you to finish this first,” Jilly glared at her brother.

“Dad is sick!”

He shoved his phone into his shirt pocket and rushed for the door.

She swept the jam jar and all the brushes to the floor, coffee mug hurled to the back wall. She began ripping her prints into tiny strips. The tripod kicked into the air, papers flittered. Next, to smash her brother’s camera and mic.

Sitting down, she felt better. First, a smirk appeared which spread, and then turned to a grin and finally the full force of her laugh as she roared, head held back.

Seconds later the door was flung back, “Madam, we are here to arrest you for the murder of your father. If you wish to say…” the sentence trailed to nothing.

Jilly was laughing too hard to listen.

The END

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When loving wife Jeanine Hammond is found dead in a small leafy town in Massachusetts, newly promoted Detective Jo Fournier is shocked to her core. Why leave her body posed like a ballerina? Why steal her wedding band and nothing else? Hungry for answers, Jo questions Jeanine’s husband, but the heart-breaking pain written on his face threatens to tear open Jo’s old wounds. It’s the same pain she felt when her boyfriend was cruelly shot dead by a gang in their hometown of New Orleans. She couldn’t get justice for him, but she’s determined to get justice for Jeanine’s devastated family.

Songkhla Lake

Songkhla Lake

“Here Comes the Sun. Watch this,” he whistled.

The couple sat on a rock arm in arm.

“Beautiful, you know I’ve never seen the sunrise like this in England?”

“You mean not over a flat lake? You’ve seen it plenty of times, but over council house roofs.”

“Yes, on my way home after a late shift at the hospital,” she laughed.

“Not quite the same, is it?”

“No dear, I feel a lot will change living here.” 

“And just think, on your sixtieth birthday you celebrate by watching nature’s beauty in Thailand.”

“Thank you, darling, for a wonderful surprise, and the many I’ve had married to you. I’ve one for you.”

The steel needle plunged between ribs deep into her husband’s heart.

“Why?” 

His last word as he rolled forward. Mrs Murphy strained as she sat him back on the rock.

“Come and get us,” she said to her iPhone.

The long-tailed speedboat roared into view. The front of the craft scraped over small stones as he cut the engine.

Its driver, Khun Jojo, jumped out grinning.

Mrs Ann Murphy returned the warmth of his smile. Opened her arms and hugged him.

“Let’s get him in the boat, then we can enjoy my birthday,” she said.

Difficult, but Jojo was a strong young man. Between them they rolled Mr Murphy into the weighted fishing net. The sun already glistened darting bolts across the lake.

“Jeez, Jojo, it’s going to be a hot one.”

“This is Thailand,” he answered, twisting the steering bar. The boat slowed and drifted in the middle of the enormous lake. They humped the net over the chipped wooden edge of the speedboat. The package slid rather than splashed and quickly sank out of sight.

“Goodbye dear husband, safe trip wherever you are going,” she giggled.

Jojo started the engine. Black clouds of diesel fumes drifted on the breeze, earning Jojo a glare from his passenger. 

Flapping the smog away, she brightened, “Do you want breakfast?”

“You mean your English version? Toast and jam? No thanks, I’ll go home to my wife’s Thai breakfast.”

“Suit yourself, when do you want the balance of your money?”

“I’ll return my brother’s boat, then I’ll come to you. After you’ve had your toast. Okay?”

Finishing the last mouthful of toast, Ann counted out the thousand Baht notes, one hundred of them.

“Haha two thousand quid well spent,” she said to herself.

“Thank you, Ann,” said Jojo stashing the notes in his truck, “Are you going to live here now?”

“Oh yes, I enjoy living here, we can do things we would never get away with at home.”

“After a couple of holidays, you have decided?”

“As you know, my husband came here alone ten times before he invited me, so it was he who decided we should retire here. But, I love the place. So yes, I’ll stay.”

“If you need me for anything else, you know where I am.”

Ann waited until lunchtime before she reported her husband missing. 

“I’m sorry, madam, there is nothing we can do at the moment. He may have gone for a walk… or something?”

“Yes, officer, I understand. Thank you,” mopping the fake tears.

Out of sight, she rubbed her hands, and went home.

Their home in England had fetched the expected price, and the money invested.

“Leave it to me, I know the stock-market,” her husband had promised. She had no reason to doubt his judgement.

To own a home in Thailand was not as simple. 

“I’ve bought us a lovely bungalow,” he told her on his return from one of his regular trips.

“Look at the pictures,” he had said.

A cute two-bedroomed property on a new estate smiled at her.

“It’s lovely,” she said. “I thought foreigners can’t own houses in Thailand?”

“True enough, my dear, but there is always a way. Don’t worry.”

She didn’t.

Ann often wondered why her husband chose Songkhla to retire to. It boasted the lake he loved and was near the sea. Bangkok, a busy capital, would not have been suitable after living in London. Pattaya had a bad name with a good deal of ex-pat wives. Phuket sounded lovely, a touch expensive, Hua Hin would have been her pick. She wasn’t offered the choice.

“Ah, it’s morning in England, I’ll ring Lucy before she goes to work.”

“Lucy darling, are you sitting down? I’ve got some worrying news.”

Ann sniffed back pretend tears.

“What is it, mum?”

“Your dad, he has gone off. He wasn’t in bed when I woke. His phone is here. God knows what happened. I thought he may have gone to buy his paper. No sign of him. I’ll ring you later.”

They always deliver his Bangkok Post at eight am. As usual, Ann turned it over, “Anything happening in England,” she wondered, then reminded herself to check the share market later.

The phone was ringing, “I hadn’t finished. Mum, I’m worried. Have you been to the police?”

“Yes, they told me there have been no accidents involving British people. I’m worried too, what shall I do?”

“Sit tight. I’m sure if anything happens, the authorities will contact you. It may be… he met a friend and forgot the time?”

“Yes, dear. I’ll ring you later, or tomorrow.”

The Bangkok Post’s financial pages didn’t offer any information of use. She didn’t know what she was looking for, anyway.

Her phone rang. 

“Hello,” answered Ann.

A woman spoke for an entire minute without stopping.

“Sorry, love, I don’t speak Thai.”

She cut the connection.

“What the hell was that about?”

The fridge boasted fresh salad ingredients to which she added half a can of tuna. Sitting down in front of the telly, she tucked in.

“Why don’t I open a bottle of wine? A small celebration for a job well done.”

She was no wine expert, and a locally produced white was perfectly adequate.

An urgent rap at the door disturbed her cheery mood.

“Sawasdee,” said the lady offering the traditional Thai greeting, the wai.

 Ann had been in Thailand long enough to know they expected her to return the bow with her hands together as if in prayer.

“Hello, can I help you?”

The slightly built, well-dressed woman spoke non-stop to the vacant face of Ann. She then politely peered over and around Ann’s shoulders.

“Do you want to come in?”

The woman ducked away, got in a car and drove off. 

Scratching her head, Ann returned to her now warm wine. The mobile was ringing again.

“Yes, hello,” said Ann

“Mum, the bank is trying to track you down.”

“Er, why? They know where I am.”

“Did you know dad changed his next of kin?”

“What do you mean?”

“They wouldn’t tell me, but as they are my bank too, I was told a little. The manager asked me who Khun Su is? I do not understand. Do you know?”

“The only Su I know is our driver’s niece.”

“The Su the bank mentioned is a baby. Is that her?”

“I’ll call you later, there is someone at the door.”

“You again? And who is this?”

The gentleman answered, “I’m Tanai Geek, this lady’s lawyer. Can we come in?”

“And who is she?”

The two guests made themselves comfortable, Ann was dreading the next conversation.

“You are no doubt aware that foreigners may not own property? It is against the law in Thailand.”

“Yes, I know, my husband organised it all safely. We own this house until we die.”

“That is not quite true. It was your husband’s for now. But when he dies, they pass it to his daughter.”

”Okay, and our daughter wants me to live here. What is the problem?”

“His daughter is not old enough to speak. Not old enough to decide on property matters. Therefore, her mother has power of attorney.”

Ann was not listening.

“Of course she is, I just spoke to her in England…” the truth dawned on Ann, a hammer blow struck as she lost the power of speech.

“His new Thai daughter will take possession on his death. We know he is dead, as do you? Now, do you want to hand over the keys? Or do you want to explain photographs we took this morning to the police?”

Her phone was ringing, again. She threw it into the lake.

“You got the better of me again. You always did. I thought finally I had won. Let’s call it a draw.”

The moonlight bounced off the water’s ripples as she strode into the tepid wetness; her pockets full of rocks.

The END

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Aren’t children lovely? Most are. 
Philippa’s mother was killed. Philippa didn’t care. She now lives with her ‘half-brother’ Nick, a French lady and a large dog. They all live in a beach house in Hua Hin.
An English film make-up expert comes to Thailand to enjoy a second honeymoon with her husband. To say he has an ‘eye’ for the ladies is true, in more ways than one.
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The action moves from Hua Hin to Pattaya for a fast, hard-hitting surprise. Horror when you don’t expect it!

Cannot Be

“He was so small, delicate, perfect. Why oh why?” tears streamed.

“Darling, please stop. You can’t bring him back.”

“No, I know. It’s so sad.”

Mrs Jackie Adams pulled her hand from Mr Joe Adams’ grip.

“I’m going to wash this filth from me,” she said, she brushed her frock.

“What filth? We’ve only been to church,” he asked himself. His wife was bounding up the stairs.

Joe went to the bookcase and tugged the family photograph album from the top shelf. His son was a newborn in the first pages. He flicked through more recent pictures on his mobile. But these too were when their treasured son was a baby.

“What happened to pictures when you were a toddler? When you started nursery?” 

Slowly, pages and pictures morbidly turned. Red eyes flicked from photo to phone, studying one then the next. Too upset for tears, Joe looked up, hearing the spray of water. Picturing his shapely wife soaping herself, now was not the time to join her in bubbles. 

“No singing in the shower today?” he thought, suddenly dashing up the stairs two at a time. Unsure why, but panic gripped him.

“She never showers with the door open,” he panted.

Bursting through the doorway, “Honey? Are you okay?”

Tearing back the shower curtain, ripping it from its hooks.

“Jackie, Jackie, where are you?”

Running to their bedroom, the wardrobe doors were open, no Jackie.

Returning to turn off the taps in the bathroom, he called, “Come on, darling, please no hiding in Sammy’s room crying alone.”

Pushing open the bright yellow paintwork of the child’s door.

“Come on Babe, finish your shower, then an early night.”

The undisturbed cotton of Thomas the Tank Engine’s eyes glared at him. 

Joe ran to the third bedroom, better known as the box-room.

“Jackie, what are you doing in here?”

The unopened gifts for the second child remained wrapped in pink. She would have been a month old today. Jackie was not there.

“Jackie, where the hell are you?”

Pacing between each room, rushing in and out. He flew downstairs, taking in the emptiness of each room. Eyes searching the kitchen before snatching open the back door.

She was not on the patio; they garaged the car; the garden was empty except for the mower he had forgotten to stow.

“Where the hell is she?” scratching his head, he went in search of his mobile.

“Is Jackie with you?”

“Why would she be here?” said Marcy.

“Have you spoken to her today?”

“This morning, just checking she was all right. Why? What’s going on?” Jackie’s sister asked.

“I’ll talk to you later, must go,” Joe ran to the sideboard.

The blue ceramic urn was missing, as was the smaller pink one.

Sweeping bills and leaflets from the wooden top, her house and car keys were in their normal place.

Running from room to room rechecking each room. Sweat ran down his temples.

“Where are you?”

He slumped to the floor, crying.

The cheerful ‘Joy to the World’ chime infuriated him in happier times. Tonight, he wanted to rip it off the wall. Unless it was her pressing the button.

“Yes,” he bellowed at the door. “Oh, it’s you, come in.”

“What’s going on, you sounded so worried?” Marcy pushed her way in.

She threw her canvas jacket on the chair-arm without taking her eyes from him. Hands-on hips, she glared.

“Go on then, tell me? Where is my sister?”

“Please, Marcy, sit down,” he pointed to the sofa. “I don’t know. That is the truth.”

“Why don’t I believe you?”

“It’s been tough. For me also, they were my children too.”

She studied his swollen eyes and relaxed.

“What happened?”

“She went for a shower, I was here. I went upstairs, she had gone. That is it.”

 “My sister wouldn’t go anywhere without telling me.”

“I know, that’s why I called you.”

She looked around, “Where are the urns?”

“Again, I don’t know.”

“Call the police.”

“I’ve thought of that, they won’t do anything, she’s only been missing a short time.”

“Did you call them?”

“No.”

“Call them now, do it, or I will.”

“I’d like to report a missing person…” he started.

“Give me the phone,” Marcy said, grabbing the mobile.

“Please send an officer, it is more than an adult going AWOL.”

Joy to the World rang out, Marcy ran to the door. Two officers could see Joe from the door, head in hands. They listened to Marcy, before they started asking questions, Joe first then Marcy.

“Do you have your wife’s handbag, credit cards and purse?”

“It’s all in there,” he pointed to a battered handbag.

“Do you mind if we look?”

“Go ahead, to be honest, I didn’t think to look. She always uses that bag, she’s had it forever,” his eyes welled up.

“Is this the purse she uses?”

Marcy nodded.

 “We are sorry, there is not much we can do. It all seems strange, her phone, bag and keys are all here. I will report to a detective back at the station. He will want to ask you the same questions I expect.”

Without a word Marcy marched upstairs she spent the next twenty minutes searching through her sister’s drawers.

“What do you think you are doing?” asked Joe as the bell sounded again.

He left her pulling out clothes. Swearing, he went to the door.

“Yes, and no I don’t want a bible.”

The two plainclothes officers flicked open their badges.

“You had better come in.”

“Thank you, sir. You know why we are here?”

“Of course.”

Marcy stamped down the stairs behind them, “Thank God you’re here. Arrest him now!” she pointed viciously at her brother-in-law.

“And you are?”

“I’m the murdered woman’s sister, Mrs Pilkington.”

Joe finding it hard to speak. Head bowed, he slumped into an armchair.

The police followed him, “Can we sit down?”

Joe nodded. Marcy crossed her arms and glared.

“It looks like Mr Johnson needs a cup of tea, Mrs Pilkington, would you mind?” he signalled to his junior officer to follow her.

“Now Mr Johnson, I need to go over the basics…”

In the kitchen, “Never mind tea, you should have him in cuffs,” said Marcy.

“Why do you say that?” said the officer.

“He must have killed her. All her stuff is here, her favourite clothes, jewellery, the lot.”

“But madam, that proves nothing.”

“Where is she then?”

“That is what we aim to find out.”

“I’ve been all through this with the others.”

“Yes sir, I’m sure you have. I’m afraid you must accompany us to the station.”

Marcy was carrying the tea tray through, smiling as she placed the tray on the table.

“You can get out of my house,” Joe snarled at Marcy as one officer held his hand out for the house keys the other was instructing a forensic team by phone.

They eased Joe into the car’s back seat.

 Joe answered the questions as he had three times before. They signalled the officer out of the room to join others in the corridor.

“Nothing? You have checked his car too?”

“Yes, sir, there was no struggle in the house or the car. There is no sign of drug abuse or illegal medicine, no empty packs of legal medicine. Nothing showing anything out of the ordinary, certainly not murder.”

“I’ve got nothing to hold him on. Before we release him, I must look into the children’s deaths.”

The detective banged out a number on his phone.

After explaining who he is and the reason for the call, “The girl was stillborn? Why?”

“Mrs Johnson had been overdoing it at work, and she was suffering from stress, giving her low blood pressure, all of which led to a sad death.”

“Did she complain about her husband in any way?”

“Only that he worked long hours and didn’t help around the house.”

“That was a year ago?”

“Yes, sadly it was exactly one year before their son died.”

“And what did he die of?”

“That was a very rare case. His heart stopped. He had been fit and well, not a day’s sickness in his brief life.”

“How often does that happen to four-year-olds?”

“It happens, but I’ve never worked at a surgery where it occurred.”

“Anything suspicious?” he asked.

“No, nothing, a sad end to a short life.”

They ended the call; the officer trying to find a link and failing.

Joe returned home, leaving the mess as it was. He collapsed fully dressed on his bed. Nine hours later he awoke sweating. The central heating was ready to burst. Joe rushed to the kitchen and turned the heat down.

“Why did the police do that?” he wondered before flicking on the kettle and considering where to start the clearing up.

Gradually Joe got his life in order. He decided not to sell the house and move; he kept his job, people were not as friendly, but they passed the time of day with him. He had few friends before, now he had none. Out of work time, he read novels, watched the news with little interest. He learned to cook; the kitchen became only the fourth room he used. Bedroom, tv room, upstairs bathroom were the others. He kept the rest locked.  

He only used the corner shop for food shopping. He couldn’t face the swanky new stores in the precinct. The owners nodded and took his money but never spoke. Until one day, eight years after his wife disappeared, they sold the shop. An elderly couple bought the business for their recently divorced daughter.

“Hello sir, welcome,” she said brightly.

 Joe shyly wished her the best. He used the shop more regularly now.

Gradually, their friendship grew.

“Please, can I…” he stammered, “Can I… what is the new brand of tuna-like?”

She smiled, “What are you asking, really?”

Laughing he said, “I know what the tuna is like, I eat it most days,” he chuckled, “Can I buy you lunch? Not tinned fish. I mean, well, you know. A pub lunch maybe?”

“I would love to have lunch with you. When do you suggest?”

That was the first of many lunches, they progressed to dinners, and then even touching hands. One evening after walking her back to the shop, he leaned across and in a schoolboy attempt he kissed her full on the lips.

“I thought you would never do that,” she breathed. “Sorry, but I can’t invite you in, what with my parents and all. But…” now was her turn to get nervous, “How about after lunch tomorrow, I come to your house?”

He gulped, “Er, yes.”

Excitement tempered by the realisation he had a lot of tidying to do.

Early the next day, he started scrubbing. The four rooms he used were gleaming, ready for the first visitor in eight years. He treated himself to a little clap as he closed the front door on his way to his date for lunch. Dressed in a fresh shirt, he escorted her to the pub.

Both started speaking together, then both shared a nervous giggle. They were happy. Neither ate much, both keen to cuddle up on the sofa. Who knows where that may lead. Giggling like teenagers, they rushed into the living room.

They could hear music upstairs, “Ah, that’s a romantic touch, Joe,” she stammered. Then realising ‘Frozen’ was playing. “Strange pick Mr DJ,” she said.

“Please wait here a minute,” Joe said.

He slowly climbed the stairs, wondering what was making the music. A children’s movie was playing in the ‘box room’. He listened at the door. Opening a crack, he saw a young girl laying in front of a laptop. She waved, “Hello Dad.”

He was just about to open the second door. He heard a child swearing at a computer game. 

“Is that Sammy?”

Leaning back on the wall to stop himself falling. He heard singing coming from the bathroom.

Someone had locked the door from inside.

“Open up,” he called. “Who is in there?”

“Me, of course, who did you expect, darling?” Jackie laughed.

The END

What I Know: An utterly compelling psychological thriller full of suspense by [Miranda Smith]
$3.99

A must read – Della was just eleven years old when her brother first tried to kill her. She has never forgotten the lessons she learned as a child—or forgiven herself for the mistakes she made.

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Near Dark: A Thriller (The Scot Harvath Series Book 19) by [Brad Thor]
$14.99

Brad Thor has mastered the thriller cliffhanger!

Not knowing whom he can trust, Harvath finds an unlikely ally in Norwegian intelligence operative Sølvi Kolstad. Just as smart, just as deadly, and just as determined, she not only has the skills, but also the broken, troubled past to match Harvath’s own.

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Missing, not missed

“The police don’t fucking believe me!”

“What did you tell them?”

“What do you think? I told them what I saw.”

Pub owner, Jimmy, scratched his unshaven jowls. The sound of scraping calloused fingers against a three-day growth was better than the sight of the fat chin wobble. His customer cringed.

“Do you want another beer?”

Jimmy pointed at Spike’s empty glass.

“You don’t believe me either?”

“Let’s just say, you and your mates have kept this pub running, by getting a few down your necks.”

“Yeah, you’ll lose me as a customer if you carry on like that. Are you saying that I’m too pissed to know what I saw?”

Jimmy looked away and had another scratch, this time below the bar. 

“All I’m saying is, who cares? We all hated the man.”

The man Spike swears he saw murdered ‘was’ a feared thug. Big Mac, a man who terrified the locals who, like Spike, earned a living dealing with down-and-out users of illegal products.

Spike was well known to the local ‘Old Bill’. He couldn’t believe himself, as he walked through the front door, unaccompanied and uncuffed, willingly to assist them with a report. 

“You must be joking!” Spike had screamed at his girlfriend the night before when she suggested he should mention that he’d witnessed a murder. The look in her eye twisted his mind.

“Okay, I’ll talk to them.”

He soon regretted it. The police laughed at him.

Still fuming, he downed another pint.

“Come on, Jim. I’ll show you.” 

Sliding his empty glass across the bar, he held the door open for Jimmy. The door boasted cracked and patched-up glass, a varnish that looked more like old sandpaper, and squealed in protest at its opening.

As usual on a Saturday afternoon, the street was deserted. If they could walk they were already at the game, if not, they were sleeping off last night’s excesses. People in hiding before sundown when they start again.

The bar owner puffed and coughed rancid breath to keep pace with the taller, fitter and younger man.

They ducked into a litter-strewn side-street and slowed to an amble as Spike signalled his friend into a decrepit drug den. Carefully, easing the smashed door away from a urine stinking puddle, they went upstairs to the back bedroom.

“Christ, Spike, is this where you bring your one-nighters?” 

“This is where I make the dough that gets spent in your dump.”

Jimmy grunted as Spike pulled him forward to the broken glass and rubble that once was a window.

“Down there,” Spike pointed at a patch of flattened grass, “that is where they knifed him.”

“It looks like a patch of overgrown garden where two people rolled about.”

“One person rolled, for sure. The others stood over him and plunged and slashed curved knives into him.”

“Curved knives?”

“Yes, sort of Ali Barb-a style.”

Jimmy mumbled, “Let’s go.”

“Don’t you want to have a look downstairs?”

“No, I’m going back to the pub.”

He was sweating and trembling before he raced down the stairs and on to the pavement. Spike wondered at the reaction and screwed up his face, followed Jimmy down the stairs. The older man was running as he hit the street.

Spike turned back at the foot of the stairs, climbed through a downstairs window into the weeds and broken glass garden.

“How is it there is no blood? I saw gallons of claret spurting from his throat,” Spike looked around hoping no one heard him talking to himself his customers would think he was using too much of his product. He pushed aside clumps of dead vegetation, studying the earth. No blood, nothing, bar trampled grass.

“Wait a ‘mo, what’s this,” his foot hit something hard.

Oddly, he cleaned his hand on his trousers before picking up the piece of decorated metal. Turning it over, eyeing the matching pattern on both sides.

Spike crouched and pulled a phone from his pocket.

“Do you remember what I told you last night?”

“Spike, for fuck’s sake, it’s early. Let me sleep. Okay, it’s my round later.” Connection lost.

The mobile was busy again with a different number.

“Not now, for Christ’s sake. It’s early.” Again the phone was turned off.

Edgy answered the third number, “Thank God you called Spike.”

“Why? What’s up?”

“Last night you told me that Jock bastard got knifed?”

“He was. I saw it happen.”

“He still wants the money I owe him.”

“What do you mean? He is dead.”

“Right, you tell him then.”

“I don’t understand?”

“He called me, just before you did.”

Spike was now sweating. Was he that drunk last night? No wonder the police laughed at him. Is his girlfriend is having a huge giggle with her pals? This thought did not sit well, he had an image to live to.

“Tell me about the call.” 

Almost shouting at Edgy, stunned at the venom in his mate’s voice.

“I was in the can, checking tonight’s late matches. A call interrupted my picks. It was Big Mac, ‘I’ll break your fucking legs if I don’t get my cash tonight,’ and he means it. I need to borrow the money, okay? I’ll pay you back.”

“Are you sure it was him?”

“I’d recognise his voice, sure it was ’im.”

“So, he’s coming to the pub tonight?”

“Yeah, can I have the dosh?”

Spike stretched, loosened his knotted legs and marched back to the pub.

“Give me a beer, this time with a chaser,” said Spike.

“A chaser? You must have made a deal?”

“What did you say about the curved knife?”

“I didn’t.”

“No, you ran off at the thought of it, why?”

“Listen, I and my family have lived here longer than you lot. Don’t go disturbing things, okay?”

“Big Mac is coming here later. How can he if he got knifed with an odd weapon? I want to know, how come?”

The bartender looked at his mate, deciding what to say. Whatever that was changed as Spike slammed the broken metal on the bar.

“Oh, God!” he croaked. He kept his balance by hanging on to the bar. He regained a semblance of strength, “Call my wife down. She can explain more.”

Spike moved behind the bar and called up the stairs, “June, you had better come down.”

Red and flustered she asked, “Don’t tell me he’s had a heart attack?” as she looked across at her husband, slumped across a table, head in his arms.

“No, no, he’s all right, we need you to clear something up,” said Spike.

June tutted, “What’s this about then?” as she pulled out a chair opposite Jimmy. Spike sat between them and put the metal on the table.

Jimmy looked across at his wife. She gawped at the object, then her husband, then Spike before she could speak.

“Where did you get this?”

Spike told her.

“Why did you bring it here?” she asked.

“Never mind why did I bring it here, what is it?”

June was deep in a thirty-year-old memory.

Shaking her head to clear the thought, a tissue appeared from her sleeve, dabbing her eyes.

“My uncle banned travelling gipsies from the bar. He threw them all out in the street. Later, after closing, they came back with weapons,” she trembled and clutched her husband’s hand. “They killed him, slicing and cutting, over and over again. I saw it all, blood everywhere. Christ, I was only twelve. I ran to the police station.”

Spike, on the edge of his seat, waited open-mouthed.

“I came back with the police. I got arrested for wasting their time.”

“What? Why?”

“Because… there was no body, no uncle, no gipsies and no blood.”

All three jumped as the phone rang behind the bar.

Jimmy answered, “It is Edgy’s girlfriend. She wants to know if he is with us?”

The END

Coming soon!
$6.55

Most of Dark-Novel readers love Stephen King – Don’t miss this one!

Luke’s parents are killed, Luke gets bundled into a SUV and taken to The Institute. The place is filled with other children who have certain ‘skills’. They are special. At The Institute you ‘Check-in, you don’t Check-out’. Psychically terrifying!

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Intercepts: a horror novel by [T.J. Payne]
$4.99

Joe works in a place that experiments on humans, the work follows him home. You don’t want a job like Joe!

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Art of the Arcane

FREE READS! Download one or more.

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When Everything Counts You Cross the Line…

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Al Nadir has transformed terrorism. Through a sophisticated, corporate approach, they dominate global terror. The leader, Al Douri, has created an infiltrating and influential world power with vast destructive potential. His second in command, Sabena Sanantoni, is an evil and remarkable force. Her sadistic habits and savage behavior have coined her The Slayer. Even her closest allies cannot predict her next cruel move. But nobody doubts her status.

Sabena Sanantoni is the most dangerous woman in the world.

MI6 operative, Matthew Kinley, has dedicated his life to his country. But now his government has asked for a level of commitment that even he struggles to grasp. As a double agent, his duty is to walk the thin line between loyalty and betrayal. Kinley is thrown into a world of grey. The dark hole of Al Nadir pulls him one way and the bright torch of patriotism pulls him the other.

Can he walk the line without losing his soul?

Kinley’s brother in arms, Sam Noor, must also face the demands of British Intelligence. Both men have left their families at home, ignorant to their dangerous career path. They live in the space between two worlds. One is the domestic, loving home, and the other is the harsh and fierce duty of their jobs. But as the reality of Al Nadir infiltrates into the lives of UK citizens, these worlds gradually combine. When those they love are in danger, Sam and Kinley must face the ultimate question.

What sacrifices will they make to protect their country?

In a hidden London location, a potentially terrible, possibly brilliant, yet infinitely risky operation is being formulated. An operation to bring down Al Nadir. It’s a mission shared only by the hushed voices of four men. The future is in their hands, holding a plan that will change UK history forever. But the multiple, shifting factors needed for success are flaky and volatile.

Can some cosmic force shift the balance in their favour? Or will their good intentions only knock Earth into further darkness?

In a blackening world, it is the one beacon of hope: Operation Snowdrop.

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WHEN A YOUNG BOY GOES MISSING, HIS PARENTS ARE DEVASTATED AND WHEN ALL ATTEMPTS TO FIND HIM ARE EXHAUSTED , THEY MUST TRY TO MOVE ON, BUT THIS MAY COST THEM MORE THAN JUST THEIR SON..

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A YOUNG BOY DISAPPEARS ON HIS WAY TO SCHOOL FOR NO APPARENT REASON. HIS DISTAUGHT FAMILY SEARCH EVERYWHERE AND THE POLICE ARE UNABLE TO TRACE HIM. IS THEIR SON ALIVE OR IS HE DEAD? THEY WILL NEVER REST UNTIL THEY FIND OUT THE TRUTH. BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

When Tim, Maria and Bob’s fourteen-year-old son goes missing, they are baffled and distraught. He seemed happy with them and was doing so well at school. But as the police delve into his past, it appears he wasn’t quite the model pupil they thought.

As time passes, they become frantic with worry. Although they fear he is dead, they refuse to give up on him and their search becomes an obsession. It takes over their lives and the stress involved causes them to split up. When out of the blue they find out the truth, and get the biggest shock of their lives. And discover if he is dead or alive.

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A drug lord fathers his lesbian niece’s child, but not in the usual way!

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Two Englishmen have dreams of setting up a business in the sun, but trouble follows them.

Their first brush with death came at Bangkok’s airport on Nick’s first day in the Kingdom.

Action, laughs, romance and tears follow as the story moves at a breathtaking pace. 

Violence and tender moments collide as the gullible pair meet a dodgy ship’s engineer, two lovely French girls more interested in dogs than romance, and a tall Welsh man, with a very chequered drug background who leads them all into more trouble. The last person they need to encounter is a lesbian newspaper reporter with a deadly family secret. 

The tale unfolds into an action-packed finale.

“I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry, 

all very worrying.” Janet Brookman

“How can anybody have so many 

worries on a paradise beach?” Tim Mellish

Published by dark-novels.com

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Detective Shelby Griffin is sworn to serve and protect the city of Los Angeles. That doesn’t mean that she has to like it.

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Actually, Shelby hates LA, and she can’t wait to get out of here and return to her hometown in Rhode Island. For now, though, she needs this job, and she works the streets every day with her partner Trevor Morris. There’s no shortage of cases, either. Shelby’s neighborhood is on the very brink of an all-out gang war, and it’ll take just one spark to light the tinder-dry atmosphere. That spark comes in the form of a dead gangster who might just prove to be the catalyst for a gang war that could kill hundreds and cause devastating collateral damage. Or does it?

When Shelby discovers that the murder is not what it seems, she’s determined to find the real killer, but a kidnapping turns the whole case on its head. The murder Shelby is investigating has led to a terrible choice. Either way, people die. And if she doesn’t find the killer and stop him, those people could include Morris. The vigilante roaming the streets makes life even more complicated for LA’s most reluctant detective as she fights back in this fast-paced first installment of a five-book series.

Declan Walsh is not having a good day. An altercation with an arrested priest on live TV has made him toxic in the eyes of his superiors, and the Catholic Church want his head. 

But when DCI Ford, an old friend of his father arrives with a lifeline at the last minute, Declan readily accepts it, and is seconded to Mile End, East London to investigate the murder of a Chinese Diplomat’s son at Queen Mary University.

But as Declan digs deeper, he finds himself entering a world of tokens and cryptocurrency, of East End gangsters with strange secrets and a ‘cold wallet’ that could contain up to two million dollars in cryptocurrency tokens – tokens that most likely cost the victim his life.

Unsure who to trust, and realising that his appearance on the team might not be such an accident of timing, Declan needs to make a choice; to solve the case and keep his job, or do the right thing and risk everything he’s ever worked for… 

LIQUIDATE THE PROFITS is a 15k word prequel to a new series of crime novels by newcomer Jack Gatland. Find him at http://www.jackgatland.com

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Meet Gedrin.

Heavyweight champion boxer who always finds trouble.
If you like the wit and grit of Myron Bolitar, Jack Reacher, Elvis Cole, or Spenser, then you’ll love Gedrin. 
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20 Minutes. 20 People. 20 different reasons to be underground.

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My name is Jelena.

I have been held captive for months but today I have escaped.

But I am being chased and my only chance to be free is to catch the next train.

But in a city of millions, how do I know that the people on the train aren’t worse than the people I am running from?

Secrets. Lies. Terror. Death. It’s just another morning on the tube.

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It’s never too late for love or suspense.

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The entire Stone family is home in Flint River for Christmas the first time in over ten years. Mary Stone couldn’t be happier. The holiday season brings her a new love as well, in the form of Elijah Jefferson.

Everything is as it should be until a young woman goes missing and there is a robbery at the Gem Emporium. Mary never imagined the events that took place over of the next several days, nor did she know how necessary her particular brand of wisdom would be.

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The World Collapses as we know it….

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Something sinister is brewing in the United States…

The United States is hit by an EMP from an unknown source and its citizens are asked to move to New York. Without basic survival skills and being in the middle of winter, it’s more of a journey to death for most. And then there is the increasing number of kidnap cases everywhere.

4 Unlikely Heroes…

Xander, Aaliyah, Stephen and Suzanne are individuals from worlds apart and with different conflicts. However, with suspicions of foul play in the country spreading, fate must bring them together to clear the air and set things right.

Or at least die trying…

Alexander Michael’s life is thrown into tumult in the wake of the EMP. He had been warned but he never listened to rumors. His sister, Grayson is now nowhere to be found and he is separated from the rest of his family. He sets out on a quest to find his sister despite the negative odds and, soon, he finds out that something dark is at work in the United States- something bigger than he could imagine.

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Prequel to the Award Winning, Citizen Warrior – The 4th Branch… Now Being Developed for a Feature Film

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Would you break the law to protect the people and country you love?
Lessons learned by a young Carter Thompson growing up in post-World War II America teach him when to take a stand. 
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Lock your doors. Bolt your windows.

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“Hudgins is a Horror-Meister to reckon with!” 

VICTOR MILLER – Writer of Friday the 13th 

If you like fast reads, this is the author for you!

Steve Hudgins uses a screenplay/novel hybrid writing style that keeps the descriptive portions of the story brief, allowing the narrative to push forward at a blazing pace. 

MANIAC ON THE LOOSE

An exceptionally dangerous patient has escaped from the local psychiatric hospital. 

Fearing that he’ll lose his job if word gets out, the head of the hospital, Dr. Franklin Grimm, secretly sends his mysterious head of security on a mission to apprehend the deranged psycho before anyone can gain knowledge of the escape. 

Meanwhile, a small town is clueless that an infamous serial killer now walks among them, seeking his next victim. 

Will Dr. Grimm’s devious plan work or will blood be on his hands as a slaughter ensues? 

Terrifying, eerie and incredibly unpredictable, Maniac on the Loose will keep you up all night gripping the blankets in suspense! 

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There’s a mysterious murder hiding in the darkness… and it knows your weakness.

Recently returned home, Detective Claire finds herself in the craziest situation, she thinks she can escape the craziness of a quiet island, but she now finds herself up against the monster.

She is close to you. She’s spent years honing her craft.

This is no ordinary killer; she seems to stalk her prey. More importantly Claire can’t shake this feeling, that this killer is around her, and knows the victims well.

Will Claire be able to stop the killer in time before he strikes? (
Can she find out who killed her brother?
Can save the island’s people?

If you like suspense mystery books, then you will love The Scent of Bones.

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A local Sheriff’s daughter gets caught up in a string of murders. Luckily, Anonymous is the only one who can help make her feel safe again. He’s the man destined to take down the worst of the worst.  

In the course to learn about his mysterious past and solve the case, Anonymous must overcome the Sheriff’s hellbent stance on keeping him from taking the lead. The question is—-is it merely pride that has the Sherriff so twisted, or is he perhaps keeping bigger secrets?

From bestselling author Nadia Siddiqui comes In the Blood of Justice, part one of Anonymous, a thrilling series of short stories about a lost man who’s contracted to kill with no recollection of his past. Follow him in each story and see if he finally solves the mystery behind his identity.

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Time doesn’t work the way you think it does

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Time doesn’t work the way you think it does.

2018
After a successful social justice hack and a sexy night of celebrating, Micah arrives home to a gift left outside his apartment door. An Axe, that when touched causes Micah to lose time and allow other people to use his body. After one of such events, Micah returns to his body, blood covered and holding The Axe, with police knocking on the door. Micah has to use his hacker skills to evade the police and a corporation hell bent on controlling The Axe, all while unraveling the secrets of the gift.

1810
In the woods of western Canada, something is stalking and devouring people. Entire settlements have been abandoned, the residents missing. The people refer to the monsters as Demons. Mehall, a demon-hunting nomad, has returned home, leaving a trail of dead Demons behind her. By her hands and her Tomahawk, she continues killing the creatures even as she begins having visions from the future.

3015
The Circle, an oppressive governing religion, is trying to insight an AI genocide while also releasing a plague on the universe to control its people. Life is as normal as it can be for Miko, a social outcast and data broker. While on a routine data delivery gone bad, Miko is chased to the galaxies edge, where she is confronted by a mysterious ship that leads Miko on a mission to stop The Circle itself.

All three lives are more interconnected than they know.

One thing wants them all dead.
The Infection

One thing binds them all together.
The Axe

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A receipt for two cups of coffee in the gutter near a body leads Detectives Zannos and Wong to the New Delhi Donut shop.

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Four days before Thanksgiving, the dead body of a paralegal is found dumped on a residential street in Midtown Detroit. A receipt for two cups of coffee in the gutter near her body leads Detectives Zannos and Wong to the New Delhi Donut shop. Questions arise – why was her body moved? Who broke her fingers?

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Every Legend Begins Somewhere

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Arthur Reed escaped his former life. Then, it came looking for him.

Drawn into a family affair for easy money, Reed is forced to confront horrific legends and tests thay may lie beyond him.

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The gripping international crime thriller that blows the lid off professional sport

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When organised crime is in the dressing room, sport is no longer a game

Kickback is a fast-paced crime thriller about money, supercars, sex and violence in the Premier League. Alec Munday is a player turned journalist who writes the Direct From The Dressing Room newspaper column and is a media fixer in the sport. When one of his clients, top striker Diego, falls under the control of international match fixers, only Alec’s column, contacts and cunning can prevent organised crime from corrupting the world’s top football league.

This page turner goes into the homes and lives of top footballers visiting the world’s most glamourous hangouts and some of its darkest criminal hideaways. Hold your breath as it lifts the lid on the possibility that the beautiful game is a hair’s breadth away from control by some of the world’s most powerful criminal networks.

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Is the evil lurking in Sunshine House human or something much worse?

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Once an exclusive Hollywood hotel catering to the likes of Rudolf Valentino and other great stars of the Silent Film Era, the Bockerman Hotel now is the Sunshine House, an assisted living home for seniors.   

And its residents are dying…in droves.

Sara Caine, paranormal investigator, couldn’t believe she got an invitation to hunt for ghosts in the most haunted building in all of Los Angeles, The Sunshine House. Her excitement turns to horror as the mysteries of Sunshine House reveal themselves to be more terrifying then she could have ever imagined.  

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An epochal galactic threat… An ancient genetic trait… And those destined to defend the world.

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Owen Wood, a former American intelligence agent, heads to the Caribbean preparing to sail around the world when his dreams are cut short by an unbelievable destiny to save the world. An epochal galactic threat has been discovered that happens in celestial cycles when a portal opens to the other side of the galaxy. Owen, united with his true loves, find themselves in the hands of fate shepherded by the unfathomable wisdom of an ancient genetic trait they each have in common. All the while, the citadel of world intelligence gathers to watch over them through a celestial foretelling of a prophecy that signals a common hereditary lineage to defend the Earth. Along the way, they must combat evil to find lost relics used by their ancestors to defend the Earth in the last epoch. The linchpin to save the world…is Lorchen—the one predestined after 200 generations, stranded in Siberia, trying to find her way out to Owen and her lost sisters.

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When you work for a serial killer, death is at your door every day.

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Britney Cage collects people.

From her friends to her clients to the thousands of employees her temp agency places throughout Tampa, Britney obsessively sifts through humanity in search of the ones who might—in some way or other—prove useful to her.

This compulsion has served her well. A young, successful businesswoman, Britney routinely hobnobs with the rich and powerful, making fans and amassing power at every rung up the ladder.

Still, amid nights out with friends and lavish, sparkling parties with clients, there’s always one person who seems just out of reach: her next victim.

This beautiful, audacious entrepreneur just also happens to be Florida’s deadliest serial killer. And she’s getting better all the time.

Meet the alpha female of the species. She’s doing her best to keep her deadly obsession under wraps, but it’s anyone’s guess if Britney’s demons will devour her along with who’s next on her kill list.

Start reading the 13 Reasons for Murder Britney Cage serial killer series today!

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“The fear he has created lingers, and it will do so for some time.”

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The once peaceful town of Little Green has been rocked by a series of murders. Three residents of the town have been killed, and the killer always chooses the 13th day of the month to commit his foul crimes. Soon after, another body is inevitably found. As the next 13th day approaches and the town braces itself for another death, residents are fearful. They ask: “who is the killer?” and “will I be next?”

For the residents of Little Green, the killings are both horrific and captivating. They spread their theories across social media, invoking everything from government conspiracies to urban legends. But 18 year old Shelley Matheson is certain those theories are wrong. No one believes Shelley, so she must search for evidence to support her theory; a search which will put her firmly in the frame as the killer’s next potential victim.

From international bestselling Crime Fiction and Murder Mystery author Laura Greene comes The 13th Day, a thrilling small town mystery that will keep you at the edge of your seat from start to finish.

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The Devil is in the details, they said. 
A man driven by methodical madness, sitting out on his front lawn, chanting and singing the songs of old taught to him by shamans and witch doctors throughout the land. Each song inspiring the demon that lived inside him to awaken, to beckon him and end the suffering of those in need. 
In his mind, deluded chaos struck without contempt. He clung to a self-righteousness unknown to any. A proverbial goodwill that extended beyond life, beyond death, and whispered the virtues of a better tomorrow, while today he committed sins most foul. 
But when even he had no understanding of his unique state, his broken and deranged mentality, there were no measures to ensure the safety of others.

How can this burden be lifted?

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ADA Alastair Maddox is at the top his game in Prohibition Chicago where mobs paint the town red with blood. Despite being beaten, shot, and almost killed by the mob, Alastair continues his war on the city’s criminal underworld.

But when his former police chief comes in asking Alastair’s help with what he call a “bizarre case,” Alastair can’t help but be interested.

The woman in the red dress sitting in the interrogation room is beyond beautiful. Confronting her feels like standing in the presence of a predator.

Alastair soon stares down the face of death, but he soon learns, death isn’t as permanent as he’s been led to believe.

Obsession. Lust. Murder. A dark thirst.

It all awaits in the lawless streets of Vampire Chicago.

Little Billie-Jo

Sweet Little Billie-Jo

“Where is my angel?”

“Here I am daddy.”

“Now, what are these police officers doing to you?”

“Nothing, they are just asking me questions.”

“Where is your mum?”

“She is in there,” Billie-Jo points across the corridor.

“She won’t be long, sir,” a policewoman said.

“What happened?”

“There was a nasty accident. Your daughter, uh, witnessed it. We need to ask her a few questions.”

“Are you okay, princess?” Jack asked his smiling daughter.

His darling daughter was thinking back, she was replaying the scene in her mind.

“How can I dance with a boy in a wheelchair?” she asked her dad.

“Don’t say things like that, I know you are in shock.”

“But, dad, I promised the winner of the race could accompany me to the school fete. I don’t want to date a loser.”

Her father hugged her and stroked her blonde hair.

Both boys had fallen in love with their eleven-year-old classmate. All they had to do was to be first to the ice-cream shop at the bottom of the hill. The difficulty was the steepness of the road and the fact that the racers had to get over three crossroads. Yes, there were traffic lights, but this was a race.

The loser pulled out of the race as the first light turned red. Head bowed, he sloped off home.

 The leading boy did not know he was the sole racer. He pedalled on, beating the first light by seconds. The second light was green. Billie-Jo crossed her legs with excitement. The third light was red, the brakes were hot as the cable snapped. Charlie-boy broke the passenger window of a pickup. He also broke his neck. Billie-Jo jumped and cheered, to the dismay of a pedestrian as she too witnessed the collision.

The lady’s report was the reason for the visit to the police station.

Billie-Jo smoothed out the wrinkles in her skirt and grinned at her father. 

A door opened, “We can go, no action will be taken,” stated Billie-Jo’s mum, “Come on, let’s go home.”

“No action? What do you mean?” 

“She caused it,” cried her mum.

“Can’t we visit Charlie?” asked Billie-Jo, trying but failing to keep her solemn face. 

“Maybe we should?” asked her dad.

“Yes, great idea,” sarcastically answered her mum. “Remember the parents of the boy who ate the bee? They too blamed her, and they weren’t too happy when we took him some sweets,” pointing at the little princess, “Do you remember what she told their son, ‘Bees taste like honey’? So, no, I don’t want to go through that again.”

Her dad hugged his only daughter close, “Come on darling, cheer up, let’s find you an ice-cream.”

Mother studied the skies.

That was three years ago.

“Are you ready, angel? I can drop you at school.”

Father and daughter rolled up at the gates.

“Who is that? It looks like he is waiting for you? My sweet little girl has an admirer.”

“Just a boy, dad,”

“Can I take you to the school dance?” Andy asked as he hopped from left to right.

“Pete has already asked me,” answered a beaming Billie-Jo.

She flicked her hair away from her steamy blue eyes, straightened her school skirt, and grinned at him.

“Oh, sorry,” he moved away.

“How about we have a test? The winner takes me.”

The lad brightened, then he remembered, his opposition was his mate.

“I’ll ask Pete, and see what he thinks,” Andy was thinking about losing a friend or gaining a girlfriend.

The following morning, the three of them met outside class.

“What sort of test?” the first boy asked.

“Not French, I hope?” said Andy.

“Don’t worry, it won’t be like a school exam. Much more fun, you can be sure of that. Are you boys up for excitement? One of you will have the night of your life at the dance,” acting shy she left them nodding silently with a wink each. 

Andy and Pete were the best of friends. It was surprising they had not mentioned their intention of partnering Billie-Jo before they had got up the nerve to ask her.

“How come you said nothing about taking Billie-Jo to the dance?”

“It scared me. What if she said no?”

 The boy’s embarrassment was all the more fun for the sweet innocent little girl, who was enjoying thinking up the next danger. She stood, brushing her hair, eyeing Pete and Andy. 

Each boy watched the other as they tried not to be seen ogling their dream girl. The boy’s temper was barely simmering, trying not to show their feelings for her to each other. There was no hiding their adolescent feelings.

Billie-Jo was stumped, struggling to think of an exciting quest. She didn’t want another bike race. She wanted to enjoy the race by watching first hand. The idea, sadly and literally, fell in her lap. She was about to enjoy breakfast sitting at the patio table.

The ear-piercing scream made her mum drop the toast and ran outside.

Billie-Jo was shaking, quaking in fear. Speechless in fury, she tore her eyes to her mum.

“Who could have done this? Miss Jingles wouldn’t hurt a fly!” she stammered through tears.

“Oh, darling, let me take her.”

The cat had tried to get home; it died as it attempted to jump from the fence.

“It looks like a dog attacked her. I’ll fetch a shoebox and we can bury her in the garden. I’m so sorry. I know how much you loved Miss Jingles,” her mother said as she gently lifted the bundle of blood-soaked fur from her daughter’s lap.

Billie-Jo’s tears stopped. She now had a plan.

Silence on the school run, Billie-Jo shrugged off her mother’s attempt at a kiss goodbye, slammed the car door as she stomped into class. She didn’t speak to classmates, ignored the teacher’s questions, only smiling when the break bell rang.

“Right, you two. Do you still want to take me to the school dance? Yes, or no? If you are serious, I’ll tell you what you must do to win my hand.”

The two boys looked at her, then at each other, and nodded.

“They murdered Miss Jingles this morning.”

She lost the boys.

“Miss Jingles, my cat.”

“Oh,” they nodded none the wiser.

“The killer must die.”

“Who was the murderer?” asked one boy.

Ignoring the question, she looked at each, like a teacher waiting for a pupil to own up.

“In my hand are two pieces of paper, both with a dog’s name, the boy who kills that dog in the most painful or ‘elaborate’ way, takes me to the dance. Clear? Easy enough? Who wants to kill the first dog?”

 “You mean now?”

“No, idiot, I mean after school. Whoever takes the first name, kicks the game off, we’ll start as soon as it gets dark. Then the second contestant does his bit an hour later. I will watch and decide who wins.”

She held out a hand. The boys looked at the folds of paper, neither moved. She glared at each nervous lad and stabbed her hand forward.

With three pairs of eyes focused on the paper, male hands nervously took their pick.

“Ah, ha, ‘Snatch’, that’s the Doberman next door. Better you go second. And Andy, you picked ‘Cutey’, she is not cute. You go first. Meet me at the street corner up from my house at eight pm. Pete, you come to mine at nine. The rules are simple, there are no rules. Okay?” Billie-Jo breezed off with a smile brightening the corridor, nodding to girls she had ignored the entire term. The boys were not smiling.

Billie-Jo saw Andy creep past her house. She rushed out to join him.

“What are you using to kill the bitch?”

“I read somewhere that if you give a dog Viagra, it will have a heart attack and die. I stole some of my dads,” he laughed.

“Boring.”

“I’ve got my Scouts knife to make sure,” he said hopefully.

“Still boring,” she killed his hopes.  

The house was in darkness.

“Great, they must be out. Come on, climb over the fence,” she pointed.

The dog started barking.

“Sounds big?”

“Yes, bigger than my cat, get on with it.”

Andy tested the wooden strapping and hauled himself up and balanced across the top of the wood.

“Here you are Cutey, a lovely hamburger just for you,” he lobbed the patty down.

“Go on then, finish her!” screamed Billie-Jo as she shoved Andy.

Cutey swallowed her snack, then went after the main course.

Billie-Jo skipped her way home.

At exactly the allotted time, Pete rang the doorbell.

“How did Andy do?” he asked.

“You’ve got something to beat. Do you want to wait for him? Or start now?”

“No, let’s get on with it.”

Billie-Jo tried to hide her enjoyment.

They went to the bottom of Billie-Jo’s garden.

“How are you going to kill it?” she whispered.

“Look what I’ve got,” he pulled a hoop of wire from under his jumper.

“And?” she sniggered.

“When he attacks me, I slip this over his head and tighten it until he can’t breathe.”

“Right, good luck then,” she pulled back part of the hedge.

Pete crawled on hands and knees through the hole.

Suddenly, his legs started trembling, then kicking. Billie-Jo pushed his feet harder until he was through. She made a gap in the leaves, but no good.

“Shit, I can’t see a damn thing.” 

But she could hear the crunching of soft boyish bone. The neighbour’s back door opened to the owner’s scream. Billie-Jo quietly nipped indoors.

Minutes later sirens disturbed her tv programme, flashing lights shimmied across her ceiling. She smiled. She would dance with someone else.

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Romancing the stone

“Why did you drag me in here?” she asked while adding red to her lips.

“A chance to be alone, why else?” Nathan fidgeted.

“Christ, Nath, there are loads of parties we could go to.”

“Yes, but everyone knows us. Here we can be together.”

“What’s in your bag?” 

Shirley looked at him and tutted.

“This my dear is a tent, a heater, and a box of chocolates. What more do you need?”

The tuts got louder.

“I don’t suppose you have a five-star hotel in there, do you?”

There was a break in the clouds, the full moon shined on them. The gravestones surrounding them quivered in the new light. Nathan sighed, Shirley grunted.

She then shivered. 

“What about your wife?”

“She’s okay. After her medicine, she’ll sleep through the night.”

“And what about my husband?”

“You said he was driving tonight?”

“Yes, but I never know what time he’ll be back.”

She knew exactly what time they expected him and his grumbling about French drivers. He had a lorry load of wine to deliver from Toulouse. 

“You know he won’t be back until lunchtime at the earliest.”

“Depends, his French tart might kick him out early,” she grinned.

Nathan leaned across, shoulder to shoulder. Clasping her hand, he sucked on her little finger, winning him a half-hearted smile. She pulled away from his hand and snorted.

“What?” he whined.

“Let’s go back to your place?”

“You know we can’t, it won’t feel right.”

“Your wife won’t know.”

“Yes, but… What about your home?”

“Yeah, right! My husband will kill you. His thug mate next door is certain to see your car.”

“So, we can have fun here.”

“I suppose so.”

Nathan failed with the bra clasp, it stung her back.

“At least set up the tent first,” Shirley said, freeing her ample bosom.

Nathan opened his bag and emptied its contents on the ground. Hands-on hips, Shirley tried to read the gravestones, “Chuck me that torch, can you?”

“I need it.”

“Just give it here.” She studied her grandfather’s name, chiselled in ancient stone.

Nathan sat in a huff with his back to her.

A rustle of leaves and scuffed steps broke the silence.

“Finished reading when the stiffs died yet?”

Nathan turned to find the torch laying on the ground.

“Hilarious, you just joke around, don’t worry about me, I’ll finish setting up everything for your comfort.”

 The childish tent took longer than expected. Twenty minutes later it was erect and waterproof, necessary as it had began drizzling.

“Enough of the games, you can come in now,” he called.

No answer, he peered through the flap.

He sat at the tent’s opening for a further ten minutes.

“She must have gone to the toilet?” he asked himself.

“I bet the silly cow is jammed in the loo. Or scared to come back in the dark, I’d better find her.”

After zipping up his jacket, he set off to the church’s gates. The public convenience was just outside.

He hammered on the locked door. 

“Are you in there?”

Deciding he had better go to the ‘gent’s’, he found that too locked and secure.

“Bollocks. Where is she?”

He searched between each gravestone and every tomb, thinking she may have slipped and cracked her head.

“Bollocks,” again he cursed under his breath. “My phone is in the tent.”

The rain fell harder. He slipped and skidded back to the tent. Half expecting to find her inside he called, “Okay, good one, Shirley. Got me there.”

He pulled the flaps open and dived in… Empty.

“Where is my phone,” he pulled stuff aside. Grabbing the mobile, he dialled her number.

Nathan poked his head outside.

“Is that her childish ring tone? It must be, no one else has such a stupid sound. Where is it coming from?” He peered through the trees.

The rain was clattering down.

Nathan put his jacket above his head, braved the rain to sprint to the shelter of an enormous oak tree, and tried calling again.

“Where are you, Shirl?” he bellowed. “I can hear your phone, answer the damn thing.”

He looked around, squinting between raindrops as they cascaded from leaves out of sight.

 Dashing back to the shelter of the tent, he sat considering what could have happened.

“One, she went home. Possible, but why can I hear her phone? Two, she is playing a trick on me? Maybe, but not in this rain. Three, she’s had an accident? But how? And where? And why didn’t I hear anything?” shaking his head, he thumped the ground.

Suddenly, he didn’t need his torch. A glow was illuminating the tent and the surrounding area. Rain fell harder. Nathan’s head popped out of the tent. The light brightened. So much he had to cover his eyes.

“What the hell?”

As the centre of the light dimmed, a shape appeared.

“Shirl, is that you?” his eyes strained.

The tent collapsed, it whipped guy ropes across his face.

He covered his eyes against the sting of nylon cord and the sting of the lashing rain. Pushing his dank fringe aside, he glared at the vision. Recognition dawned.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed with me? Instead of playing lovers with that tramp.”

“Darling…” he stammered. “You shouldn’t be out in this weather.”

His wife tipped her head back and roared, “Neither should you.”

A rope wound itself around his ankle, another around his wrist, then the remaining loose joints. It tugged away him from the tent material and hoisted him higher until he was breaking through tree branches, cuts causing him to scream. Lifted higher, acorns fell.

He was jagged to a halt and given time to look around. Before jagged higher.

“Shirl?”

Her red bloated face gave no reply. A cord wrapped tight across her throat, twigs sticking out of sightless eyes.

Nathan didn’t struggle for long. Slim branches impaled him.

***

Nathan’s neighbours thought it odd. Lights were on in the house. Their car was not in the drive. 

“It’s unusual not to see him preparing his wife’s wheelchair for a trip to the park. Ring him. I hope his wife was not rushed to hospital again in the night?”

Squirrels and an owl heard the bleep of his mobile.

Shirley’s husband arrived home, not seeing his wife caught up on lost sleep.

“She’s probably shopping again!” he decided.

In the churchyard, the vicar whispered a curse at the kids who left their broken tent for him to tidy up. 

Later that day, the police called him to Nathan’s home, to say a prayer for the poor woman who had died the night before – alone.

If you liked that short story, have a look at Colin’s full novels – amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

Viking Visit

Viking Visit

Freja was thrashing the sopping bedsheets, mumbling what sounded like curses.

‘Wake up,’ her boyfriend shouted, even though he thought it was the wrong call. 

‘Is waking someone from a nightmare the correct thing to do or not?’ Jack asked himself.

Soothing her wet face. He was the one who needed a calm hand on his brow. These dreams disturbed his own sleep too often. 

‘For God’s sake!’ he shouted, punching the mattress in fury.

Seconds later he froze rigidly. She suddenly stopped all movement, silent. Her eyes opened, and her pupils were lost into the top of her head. Her arms were wide, as were her legs. Then the shaking started, faster and faster, limbs were thumping the bed, then as quickly she stopped, staring directly at the ceiling, her head turned to face the quaking Jack.

‘You burned my feet,’ she screamed.

Later that morning, after tears and a long list of Jack’s questions accompanied with a pot of soothing tea, they had set off to Brighton’s shopping area. New sheets were top of the list.

‘Also, I’d better buy a lamp to replace the one we knocked over too,’ said Freja.

‘What do you mean ‘we’ knocked over?’

The couple glared at each other; they worried the shop staff.

‘What is up with you? Do you want us to split up? Is that it?’ he turned and stalked off.

She stood there watching him disappear into The Lanes. There would be no more shopping today. And no more boyfriend, she decided.

Freja turned and strolled along the pavement and waited for a bus to take her home. She was pleased with her decision.  

‘I should call Patsy,’ she said to herself as her smile spread. Her reflection on the keypad turned sad. She wanted comfort from her only genuine friend.

Patsy rushed to her pal’s home, she was twenty-five, beautiful and smart, they had been friends since their days at Brighton Met Collage. Freja had needed help with the more advanced English Language course they were completing. Patsy had always been there for her.

Patsy sniggered as she recalled Freja saying, ‘I can’t do it. English is crazy!’

Today’s problem wouldn’t be the English language, she guessed?

‘Freja, what’s up? You’ve been crying.’

Red eyes blinked. ‘Coffee?’

‘Yeah. Please. It seems more serious than English spelling. Boyfriend trouble?’

Freja turned and grunted a ‘yes’ as she clicked on the kettle.

Patsy rushed out to the kitchen and hugged her friend. 

‘What is it, babe? Not that low-life? Has he hit you?’

‘No, it’s not him. We are through.’

‘Then what upsets you?’

‘I want to tell you, but then again, I don’t.’

Patsy threw her jacket over the back of the sofa, ‘Now you are worrying me. Tell me.’

Freja splashed in some milk and picked up the mugs.

‘Sit,’ said Freja, studying her friend’s still staring eyes.

‘Come on, I know when you are lying. Did he hit you?’

‘No, no, nothing like that. It’s not him. It’s me.’

Patsy had seen her friend upset many times over the years. She had not had a smooth settling-in process on arrival in England. Her Danish father had thrown her and her mother out of their home in northern Denmark. Her English mother had decided they should return to London. Now Freja was living on the South coast in a boring, poorly paid office job. 

‘Are you going to tell me?’ asked Patsy.

‘Yes, I mean no… You will think I’m cracking up. You remember why my Dad hated me?’

‘You told me once when you were drunk and then denied it. About you setting fire to things?’

‘Yes, and no. I don’t want to think about it. Or to talk about it.’

The conversation was going nowhere, Freja looking vacant, lost in thought.

Patsy just stared into her eyes, at a loss for words. 

‘Okay, I’ll be off then, anytime you fancy wasting my time call me.’

The door slammed.

Freja let the tears roll down her cheeks. Slowly she got to her feet and started cleaning the mess in her bedroom. The real reason she needed to talk to her friend were the scorch marks on the windowsill.

Her mobile vibrated. She didn’t want to answer, but did, ‘Hi Mum. How are you?’

‘Freja, did you call me at three in the morning?’

‘No, did I?’

‘I have a missed call with your number. What’s wrong? Not that boyfriend of yours?’

‘No, Mum, we’ve split up.’

‘Is that why you called?’

‘I don’t remember calling, I slept from midnight until seven this morning.’

‘Okay as long as you’re all right, why not come up and spend a few days here?’

‘Sorry Mum, I’ve got work. Can I ask you something?’

‘Dear, anything.’

‘Do you ever have weird dreams?’

‘I think we all do. What has been troubling you? Don’t tell me your dreams have started again?’

‘A few days ago I started seeing flames on the sea.’

‘In a dream, you mean?’

‘No, actual flames, a few hundred yards out to sea.’

‘And… Oh God, it’s happening again,’ her mother was now worried. Thinking back to their last day in Denmark.

‘When I look again, they weren’t there.’

‘How odd, maybe a barbecue on a cruiser?’ 

Her mother hoped, needing to get her daughter’s mind elsewhere. Dreading a replay of the day her husband threw them out.

‘No Mum, it’s not. Then I dream about ships burning, old ships.’

‘I guess the dreams are because you see the fire at sea?’

‘Mum, it’s too crazy, I’m worried. Tell me the truth, what happened when I was young?’

‘Not now and not on the phone. Please come and see me, we can talk it through.’

‘I must work. Thanks anyway.’ Freja had no intentions of dragging up the past, and yet again she must stop pretending she had no memory of her youth.

She gently placed the phone on the bedside table, Freja continued cleaning the scorch marks from the windowsill. 

Freja was drifting off in front of the telly, her nose was twitching. Her dream started as a fun Guy Fawkes party, popping, whizzing and the smell of burnt sausages. The burning smell got stronger. Suddenly she leapt from her dream. Her bookcase was aflame. She needed water. Dropping the kettle lid by the kitchen door, she hurled the still warm water at the smoking books. 

She could hear a voice, a man was talking, the powerful voice was strong, but the words were unknown. She thought she picked up a trace of Danish but did not understand what he said. Or where the voice was coming from. It seemed to be all around the room. Stillness returned to the living room. Smoke drifted towards the ceiling, but no flames. Just a quiet drip of water from the shelves. At first, too terrified to move, she edged her way to her cosy romance novels. The bare-chested men on the covers scorched beyond recognition. She was more concerned about how the fire started. Sitting in a puddle on the carpet, she searched for the cause of the flames. 

Freja’s mind was made up. She grabbed her phone.

‘Patsy, grab a bottle of wine and your nightdress. I need to speak to you, it will take all night.’

‘Have you gone mad? Last time you wouldn’t speak, now you want me to leave my sexy boyfriend to spend the night with you?’

‘Yep, I will tell you the full story.’

Twenty minutes later Patsy arrived. She didn’t have a bottle of wine, so she brought a 3-litre box.

‘What’s that I can smell? Are you cooking?’

‘On the table, glasses in the sideboard, be with you in a sec.’

‘This is more like the Freja I love.’

‘Sorry, it has been weird lately. I must talk to someone,’ said Freja.

‘Well, I’m here,’ she slugged her glass back.

‘Patsy, I’m not mad, you may think I am when you hear what’s been happening.’

She reeled off her recent experiences, starting with the nightmares and ending with the fires. She rattled away without interruption for half-an-hour.

‘It must be that idiot boyfriend trying to scare you?’

‘No, it’s not him. I want you to watch me as I sleep. I’m scared that it’s me doing it.’

Patsy decided they had drunk enough wine. Also, she needed her wits about her if her friend had cracked and she set the place alight.

‘Come with me,’ Freja lead her friend to the doorstep and pointed, ‘See, there.’

‘What are we looking at? Seagulls?’

‘No, can’t you see the flames on the ocean?’

The girls went back in and prepared for bed. Both nervous, one, not knowing what would happen next, the other fearing for her friend’s sanity.

‘As you know I’ve only got one bedroom. Do you want the bed, the sofa, or shall we share the bed?’

‘It’s a double, so there is plenty of room for us little girls,’ Patsy said with a forced smile.

‘I’ll get the Cocoa you get ready,’ said Freja.

Soon they were cuddled up moaning about men and how useless they were. The chatter dulled. The girls were settling down. Then Freja’s expression changed. An icy blade was lurking.

‘I keep seeing the fire out to sea. The coastguard told me there is nothing alight, you couldn’t see it. Just now I looked out and there it was again. Can you see it?’

A warm glow spread across the ceiling, but only one girl could sense it.

‘There is nothing there.’

‘I’ve been having weird dreams and somehow they are linked to the fires. Also, I keep seeing a man, long scruffy blonde hair, wispy beard and filthy. What does it all mean?’

‘Are you under stress at work?’

‘That’s a good one, the work is so easy it is mind-numbing.’

‘There must be something deep down that’s troubling you? What about what’s his name?’

‘It all started before we split up, but no, I can’t blame him. Dreams are one thing, but the fires are freaking me out. How do they start?’

‘You mean, the ones at sea, or the ones here?’

‘The ones here they could be dangerous.’

‘Let’s get some sleep.’

‘Grrrr, mein mein, Achh, Grrr, mein mein, Achh.’ Freja repeated the phrase over and over, waking Patsy.

‘Hey, what is it? Christ, you are freezing,’ Patsy gently shook her friend.

Freja kept mumbling gibberish, only getting louder. Her head was shaking from side to side, scaring Patsy.

‘Oh God, what should I do?’ she rushed to find her phone, ‘Nine-nine-nine, come on…’

An unearthly growl made her drop the mobile. 

‘Who the hell are you? And how did you get in? I’m calling the police,’ she bent, without taking her eyes off the intruder. He smiled, his blue-grey eyes glinted in the dark. He reached the phone first and slid it towards the door with his foot. Eye to eye, he suddenly grabbed her throat in one powerful hand.

The wail from the bed caught both their attention. Freja was floating above the crumpled quilt.

The man dropped Patsy; she balled into a quivering heap. She rolled towards the door and her phone, then heard, ‘9-9-9 what service do you require?’

‘Please quick, we need police and ambulance….’ she whispered.

He kicked the phone from her hand. 

Patsy screamed as her eyes focused on her friend, the girl above her was no longer her friend, the beast looked like Regan from The Exorcist, cracked and battered. She was not plunging a crucifix into herself, just floating across the room. She was bathed in a cloud of dust, no; the murk was biting midges. Freja laughed, bellowing a roar as her mouth swelled and another cloud of mini-flies burst forth, Patsy was struggling to see through the fog. A ring of flames imprisoned her. Her untimely thought was ‘at least it stopped the insects’. A perfect circle of heat from floor to ceiling surrounded her.

Freja screeched at the man who was now prostrated on the scorched smoking floor.

Patsy had heard her friend speak in Danish before. That wasn’t it. Whatever she bellowed, the man understood. Like a chained dog, she dragged him to the door.

A crack of thunder and they were gone.

The sound of sirens shocked Patsy out of her daze. Firemen burst through the open front door, pulling hoses as water splashed onto Patsy.

‘What did you do?’ 

Was the first of many questions aimed at her.

‘I don’t know. Thank God you came when you did,’ said the teary girl.

‘How did you make such a perfect ring of fire?’

‘I didn’t!’

‘Who did you are the only one here?’

‘Did you not see my friend with a man?’

As she spoke another fireman interrupted, ‘Look at the flames on the sea,’ he pointed at a line of fire moving across the Channel.

A ball of fire rose above the sea and disappeared behind the clouds. 

If you like my short stories, you may enjoy full novels? Have a look amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

My Sister the Dandelion

My Sister the Dandelion

“I didn’t feel it, I didn’t hear it. I knew it was there. Like a dandelion seed floating by my ear. I sensed it.” Jim said to his sister. He expected no answer.

A tear dropped, splashing closed eyelids.

“I know you are here, I feel that too.”

“Come on, Jim. Time to close the lid,” said the coroner, putting his arm around the boy.

Jim’s mum eased him away from the polished wooden box holding his beloved sister. Jim’s father sat, head bowed behind them.

The three family members walked on the gravel path to their car. A gentle crunch with each footstep. Jim felt a smile spread. His mother nudged her husband, who studied Jim. 

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“She is walking with us. Can’t you hear her?”

“Don’t be so silly,” said his mum, eying her husband, hoping he would do or say something. He just screwed his face and opened the car door.

***

They had parked a police car outside their house.

“Can I help you?”

“Mr and Mrs Palmer?” asked the female in blue.

“Yes, Peter and Anthea, what do you want?” 

“Can we come in?” the male officer asked.

“Up you go, while I make tea for the officers,” said Anthea.

Jim trudged up to his room, still smiling.

“What is this all about?” asked Peter.

“First, we were very sorry to hear the sad news, but we have to do our job and ask some questions,” said the male.

“But why?”

The lady officer put her hand in front of her colleague, signalling she was in charge and wanted to be tactful.

“Do you take milk and sugar?” asked Anthea sensing awkward questions coming their way.

“They reported that young Jilly had bruises on her legs. What can you tell me about them?”

“No, she didn’t,” said Anthea.

***

Upstairs, Jim was searching through his sister’s doll collection.

“Found you Barbie, can you feel anything?”

***

Downstairs the officers raised their eyebrows, “Really?”

“Look, I bathe her every night, I should know if she has bruises. Oh, wait a minute,” she looked at her husband. “That night you took her for a bath, didn’t you?”

“Yes, yes, I remember now, but she had no bruises. I’m one hundred percent certain. She only ever had some after chasing about with her brother”

***

“Barbie, at the undertakers, I felt her. My sister was with me. It was just that fluffy seed blowing past my ear. Now I can sense something bigger, stronger. Like dried leaves in the wind. What does it mean? I think Jilly is near.”

***

“As you know, there was no obvious cause of death. Also, the forensic pathologist reported no marks on the body. But we have a credible report saying she had bruises. Sorry, but we have to follow it up.” 

The male officer was fidgeting, “Was she naughty, causing you to smack her?” 

His colleague stared at the ceiling but kept her mouth shut.

“No, no never, I have never struck either of the children. Nor has my wife, at least not to my knowledge?”

“Of course not!” she shouted.

“Have you two been having problems? I see you have a temper, Mrs Palmer,” asked the female.

***

“Barbie, can you hear that? Jilly is whispering. I don’t know what she is saying.”

***

“If you have nothing better to do than accuse us of beating our children, you had better go,” said Anthea.

“That will be all for now. We may have to talk to your son next time. Thanks for the tea.”

Mrs Palmer glared at her husband.

“What?” he asked.

“Not to my knowledge…” she mimicked.

“She had no marks on her in the bath,” he fumed.

“Her brother?”

“No way, he loved her.”

***

“Barbie, come closer, can you hear her?”

***

“I’m going to see the headmaster, and find out what is going on,” said Anthea, “Are you coming with me?”

“Er, no, I have to go back to work.”

“That’s no surprise, okay, I’ll go on my own.”

Mrs Palmer snatched her coat from the hook. 

She shouted up the stairs, “Jim, come down here, we are going to school.”

They walked up to the top of the hill, then a determined march led them to the school office.

“Jim, sit there and wait for me.”

“I need to see the head,” she said to his secretary.

“Yes, yes, let me see if he is free.”

“Mrs Palmer, please come through, I heard you speaking from my office. I am always available to speak to the parents of our children.” 

He turned and ordered two teas.

“On behalf of the entire school, let me offer condolences. We are all so sorry.”

“Yes, I’m sure. Thank you. Somebody here told the police that Jilly had bruises on her legs. These did not happen at home. So, somebody from here must have slapped her.”

“I can assure you that none of my staff would hit a child at this school. Have you asked Jim?”

“No, maybe I should have first?”

“Ask him now.”

Jim pulled Barbie from his coat pocket and whispered in her ear. He jumped when his mum appeared and stuffed the doll away.

“Jim, have any of your mates ever been hit by a teacher?”

“No, mum, Tim had his favourite sweets taken, that wasn’t fair.” 

 “Okay, wait there, I’m going back to the headmaster.”

As she tapped on the head’s door, Jim was skipping down the corridor. He skidded to a halt outside his sister’s classroom.

“See Barbie, that is Jilly’s room. Wow, can you feel that? It is suddenly chilly. Somebody must have left the door open.”

He looked around, all the doors were closed, he looked up; they had shut the corridor skylights.

“That is odd, Barbie. Jilly is talking to me, but I can’t make out what she is saying.”

A bell rang, excited children poured into the corridors rushing for home. Jim sat on his own outside the room.

“I told you to wait back there! They think I can’t control my children. Why do you look so miserable?”

Realising what she said, hugged him, “I’m so sorry,” she said. “Let’s go home. What do you want for tea?”

Her son looked at her, wishing daggers were aimed straight into her eyes. He shook off the thought; it wasn’t like him. Throwing Barbie down the length of the corridor, he felt better. Turning, he stalked ahead of her all the way home.

***

“Jim, please give mummy a cuddle,” she said as he stomped upstairs.

She was crying into her mobile, “When will you be home? Jim has locked himself into Jilly’s room.”

“About six. Can’t you handle it?”

She crept upstairs and listened at the door.

“Jilly, why are you being so rude? You never swear. You are lucky mum can’t hear you.”

Anthea was on her knees weeping.

A scratching sound was coming from the door, like a teacher’s nails on a blackboard. Anthea stifled a gasp as paint was peeling away from the door. The noise got louder; the scratch got deeper.

 Words appeared, but not English.

In the bedroom, Jim had not noticed the scratching noise, he was arguing with his sister. They never argued.

“Do it. Do it,” louder and louder she yelled.

“No. Never,” wailed Jim.

“Do it. Or you’ll never talk to me again. But if you do it, I’ll let you see me.”

“But Jilly, why are you being like this?”

Outside, the scratching had stopped. Some words had formed. Children’s writing. It puzzled Anthea. She was not one for word games, but REDRUM flashed a memory in her mind.

“That’s it, it’s backwards.”

She ran to fetch her make-up mirror.

“I will not!” screamed Jim. 

He felt a tug from behind on his shoulder.

Spinning, he saw the words on the door. The words were not a mirror image on his side.

Anthea arrived as Jim pulled the door open.

“IT IS NOT ME!”

Scrawled in Jilly’s handwriting on the wood.

Mother and son hugged, hard, not wishing to let go, with all the love they could muster.

Jilly appeared, blew kisses and waved. Then she disappeared.

THE END

Art of the Arcane – FREE books!

Wow, nearly 50 FREE reads. And my book come out on top! Luck of the draw and all that. Enjoy one or more of these exciting tales.

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A drug lord fathers his lesbian niece’s child, but not in the usual way!

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Two Englishmen have dreams of setting up a business in the sun, but trouble follows them.

Their first brush with death came at Bangkok’s airport on Nick’s first day in the Kingdom.

Action, laughs, romance and tears follow as the story moves at a breathtaking pace. 

Violence and tender moments collide as the gullible pair meet a dodgy ship’s engineer, two lovely French girls more interested in dogs than romance, and a tall Welsh man, with a very chequered drug background who leads them all into more trouble. The last person they need to encounter is a lesbian newspaper reporter with a deadly family secret. 

The tale unfolds into an action-packed finale.

“I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry, 

all very worrying.” Janet Brookman

“How can anybody have so many 

worries on a paradise beach?” Tim Mellish

Published by dark-novels.com

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In Quake City, don’t go down to the docks at night…

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Quake City at night. Smugglers at work. A dockworker found dead in the morning. Private investigator Danny Ashford suspects foul play. Investigative reporter Deepa Banwait follows a lead to the docks to land a story. When Danny and Deepa cross paths, trouble mounts.

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A piper gets shafted with his own sgian dubh, and his sworn enemy must find the killer.

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At the biannual Highland Games in the small Texas town of Daunder, bagpipe player Nigel Pauley is ruthlessly stabbed with a sgian dubh, a knife pipers wear as part of their costume. Carl Geiger, a fellow piper and Nigel’s sworn enemy, is the prime suspect.  After all, he’d been seen arguing with Nigel just hours before he turned up dead.

Carl didn’t do it, but convincing the voluptuous deputy sheriff in charge of the investigation is another matter, which is further complicated by the growing attraction between them. In order to prove his innocence, Carl is determined to find out who actually murdered Nigel, and why. But the deeper he digs, the more people he discovers who might have wanted Nigel dead. Nigel’s last-minute act before he died may lead Carl to Nigel’s murderer—or to his own death.

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Prequel short story to The Lance Gedrin Series

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Meet Gedrin.

Heavyweight champion boxer who always finds trouble.
If you like the wit and grit of Myron Bolitar, Jack Reacher, Elvis Cole, or Spenser, then you’ll love Gedrin. 
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“The fear he has created lingers, and it will do so for some time.”

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The once peaceful town of Little Green has been rocked by a series of murders. Three residents of the town have been killed, and the killer always chooses the 13th day of the month to commit his foul crimes. Soon after, another body is inevitably found. As the next 13th day approaches and the town braces itself for another death, residents are fearful. They ask: “who is the killer?” and “will I be next?”

For the residents of Little Green, the killings are both horrific and captivating. They spread their theories across social media, invoking everything from government conspiracies to urban legends. But 18 year old Shelley Matheson is certain those theories are wrong. No one believes Shelley, so she must search for evidence to support her theory; a search which will put her firmly in the frame as the killer’s next potential victim.

From international bestselling Crime Fiction and Murder Mystery author Laura Greene comes The 13th Day, a thrilling small town mystery that will keep you at the edge of your seat from start to finish.

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Maria was the witness the family couldn’t kill

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Maria Bartonelli was the witness that the family couldn’t kill so they locked her away where they thought the FBI could never find her. Decades later, there are those who are interested in Maria’s fate, as well as the mysteries surrounding the place in which she lived; but those who get too close find themselves pushed to the edge of insanity.

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One woman’s journey from oblivion to recovery

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A troubled relationship, a damaged past and a bottle of wine mixed together make a volatile cocktail for Sophie.

Her journal documents the destructive descent into the grips of alcohol addiction. Full of suspense, as life takes its toll. Is she too trusting? Can she save her friend in time?

Sophie Brown likes to work hard and play hard. Trapped in a relationship she can’t escape from, alcohol becomes her only companion. Unable to accept she has a problem, she becomes increasingly dependent on booze. Full of remorse and afraid of her own behaviour, Sophie finally agrees to accept help and enters rehab, where the road to recovery begins. Hoping for a safe haven, not everyone is as they seem. Then one of her friends disappears, and Sophie is up against time to find and save her.
Sometimes harrowing, sometimes poignant, this funny yet sad novel shows you a real glimpse into what happens when the life of a promising, talented young woman spirals out of control. 

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Everything is changing, and nothing is as it seems.

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Set in the cradle of New England, the story finds Maya caught in the middle of the mysterious death of her husband, and someone very connected trying to pin the crime on her. Maya is a highly accomplished Air Force Colonel at the cusp of leading a storied life when all of it comes crashing down.

She ducks and dodges the plan to pin the murder on her while she runs from Boston to Chicago and DC.

The entire time this icy cool character has everything under control. From knowing how to lethally engage and kill an assailant to figuring out the clues to what is about to happen next, follow Maya on this whirlwind adventure through the Northeast.

Can you figure out who is behind this? Can you figure out who the target is and what the plot was? The clues are in every line and every chapter. Figure it out while Maya shows you how the pros do it.

Each chapter folds into the next to reveal the danger that lurks at every turn. Find out how Maya will find the killer, avenge her husband, protect her kids, and do it all without breaking a heel.

Don’t be surprised if you can’t figure out the plot and who is behind it. Most can’t. Go ahead and try. You’re going to have a ton of fun in this fast-clipped adventure, punctuated by a lazy vacation pace to cool your heels.

Get it, now. It’s the first of five books that will change the way you see the world around you.

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The Scent of Bones

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There’s a mysterious murder hiding in the darkness… and it knows your weakness.

Recently returned home, Detective Claire finds herself in the craziest situation, she thinks she can escape the craziness of a quiet island, but she now finds herself up against the monster.

She is close to you. She’s spent years honing her craft.

This is no ordinary killer; she seems to stalk her prey. More importantly Claire can’t shake this feeling, that this killer is around her, and knows the victims well.

Will Claire be able to stop the killer in time before he strikes? (
Can she find out who killed her brother?
Can save the island’s people?

If you like suspense mystery books, then you will love The Scent of Bones.

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For fans of puzzle mysteries and twist endings.

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The local butcher in a small Italian town fell to his death during a hike. Most likely an unfortunate accident, but his mother cries murder. By a member of the US Military no less. Enter Mark Novak, the Military’s Special Investigator and not the detective he used to be. 

An old lover works the case alongside him. She’s still as enticing and willing as ever.  As the case unfolds, Novak uncovers mostly new questions, not answers. Soon, the accident looks more like murder.  And she only adds to the confusion.

Novak must either find a way to trust his skill and intuition again, or a murderer walks free.

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How could he tell her no? Even if saying yes could get him killed.

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She had a simple request.

Help recover some money from a guy she dated.

Easy enough for Jake Burbank to say yes.

Until the guy shows up dead and everyone thinks he did it.

And she’s disappeared with his alibi.

Grab your copy of the first in a brand new series and keep checking out books two through six in this fast paced page turner for fans of Hap and Leonard and Longmire.

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Transporting a homicidal chimp across America. What could go wrong?

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A chimp guilty of murder. 

A mad scientist with a penchant for animal freakery…

…and a private detective who needs quick cash.

Just another day in Los Angeles.

In this prequel to the satirical private detective series, Heidi LaMont is a Private Dick, foul-mouthed and snarky British ex-pat Heidi is broke, and her private detective agency is on the verge of closing before it officially opens. She needs a client and fast, but her first case as LA’s newest private investigator is more than she bargained for as a not-so-perfect opportunity arrives on her doorstep…

Transport a homicidal chimpanzee across America.

As if a road trip in a van with a maladjusted simian isn’t bad enough, there’s another problem.

A psychopathic scientist is waiting for them on the other side. 

Every stop on this wacky journey exposes disturbing truths, unbelievable coincidences, and the heart-stopping reality of a scientist gone mad. Can Heidi save herself from a crazed doctor while navigating the complicated dynamics of a burgeoning friendship with a trigger-happy chimp?

Discover how the UK’s own Heidi LaMont earned her stripes in the cutthroat world of private investigators in this adrenaline-rushing dark comedy-thriller because everyone needs a good laugh.

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Psychiatrist Grant Garrick had it all: a thriving therapy practice, a bright, loving, and beautiful wife, a 15 year-old son filled with potential, and a gorgeous home on acreage overlooking the Puget Sound. Life couldn’t get much better.

Then tragedy struck.

Read the novella, Book 1, the prequel to the Psychiatrist Grant Garrick suspense-thriller series.

Learn why he defies danger and adventures beyond the boundaries of his profession to help solve his patients’ problems.

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Is Tom destined to fail? Will the grip of alcohol and easy women destroy the agency

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Tom’s throat aches, and he swallows the sobs to the deepest part of his gut. He wraps his arms around himself and feels wetness on his body. Glancing down, he sees his once white shirt is stained with Claire’s dark crimson blood.

After Tom Grant’s fiancé is murdered in their bedroom, he drowns himself in whisky— until The Agency calls. He is requested personally to infiltrate an extremist left-wing group threatening to disrupt the visit of a U.S. Senator.

He’s The Agency’s best.

Was the best. 

Tasked with intelligence gathering while protecting the Senator, this job should be child’s play. But the dulling effects of alcohol obstructs his usually sharp brain, leading to chaos.

The U.S. Senator is shot dead. On Tom’s watch.

Tom is given an ultimatum. Fix himself. Or he’s done.

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Get your FREE copy of SHOCK

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Katie Boles finds her life turned upside when she finds a dead body on her driveway. The mysterious death is reminiscent of the work of a serial killer who terrorized Katie’s hometown five years ago. The police arrested Katie’s brother for the murders, but the trial and her brother’s behavior left her with plenty of questions.

After a second killing nearby, Katie is afraid that the Shock Killer, the man who had forced her into hiding, was back to involve her in a second round of murders. Even more frightening is the fact that Katie might have to come face-to-face with her brother and learn the truth of the murders.

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Short Scary Stories to play with your mind…

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Horrors Next Door is a collection of short Mysterious, Psychological, Suspenseful, and Horror stories that will arouse your senses and puzzle your mind. Some of the stories are inspired by true events. Find out which ones inside this scary collection. Check out the full collection here: https://amzn.to/2zg4JZB

 “Night Visitors”
Once or twice a year, dark creatures show up at the foot of Annie`s bed and take her with them to conduct grisly experiments on her. This is happening for years now. She doesn’t understand who they are and why they do this. But this, last time, it’s different. This time she gets the answers, and nothing on Earth will be the same afterward.

“The Girl I Married”
Jonathan noticed that after marrying Jeanette, she started acting strange. As if she is not the same girl he dated. Why is she so different and what secrets is she hiding?

“White Silk”
Tommy is a low self-esteem teenager who has a hard time finding new friends and blending in, especially in a new school where he transferred after his parents’ divorce. But, a PC game might change everything. However, this game requires serious sacrifices, can Tommy endure them?

“The House Next Door”
Mr. Spaulding looks like an ordinary old grumpy neighbor with a penchant for growing roses, but he has a dark secret hidden deep inside of his house. A secret no one knows about. Sarah decides to find out if he is just a sweet lonely widower or a twisted man with a mysterious past. What she encounters at his house is beyond her wildest dreams, but this is a nightmare which she can’t wake up from.

And many more…

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It’s never too late for love or suspense.

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The entire Stone family is home in Flint River for Christmas the first time in over ten years. Mary Stone couldn’t be happier. The holiday season brings her a new love as well, in the form of Elijah Jefferson.

Everything is as it should be until a young woman goes missing and there is a robbery at the Gem Emporium. Mary never imagined the events that took place over of the next several days, nor did she know how necessary her particular brand of wisdom would be.

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“There’s a simple way to solve the crime problem: obey the law; punish those who do not.”

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Four bullets, one dead, four suspects.

A struggling police officer, Jake Michael, is introduced to a new case by the FBI. The case is related to a random shootout taken place at a bridge; with four bullets being shot and one man dead, the police take in three people in custody. 

All of them with the same suitcases and the same pack of cocaine. With this new lead, the three victims turn into suspects.

Diving deeper in the case Inspector Jake finds out this is more than just a random shoot out. It is a preplanned game by an anonymous to murder someone on the bridge.

He needs to find the link between all three of the suspects, a link that placed them on the bridge that day when the shootout took place.

Or, is there no link at all?

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Destiny is nothing but a series of moments. From man… to demon… to something more.

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This is the moment Mathias’s whole life has led up to. A picnic, a bottle of wine, and a ring—today, Victoria will be his forever.

The next moment, it all comes crashing down. In the darkest night, beneath the red eye of the lunar eclipse, everything that matters to him is torn away.

The most important moment remains: he can end his miserable existence, or he can drag himself from Hell and embrace his dark new purpose.

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WHEN A YOUNG BOY GOES MISSING, HIS PARENTS ARE DEVASTATED AND WHEN ALL ATTEMPTS TO FIND HIM ARE EXHAUSTED , THEY MUST TRY TO MOVE ON, BUT THIS MAY COST THEM MORE THAN JUST THEIR SON..

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A YOUNG BOY DISAPPEARS ON HIS WAY TO SCHOOL FOR NO APPARENT REASON. HIS DISTAUGHT FAMILY SEARCH EVERYWHERE AND THE POLICE ARE UNABLE TO TRACE HIM. IS THEIR SON ALIVE OR IS HE DEAD? THEY WILL NEVER REST UNTIL THEY FIND OUT THE TRUTH. BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

When Tim, Maria and Bob’s fourteen-year-old son goes missing, they are baffled and distraught. He seemed happy with them and was doing so well at school. But as the police delve into his past, it appears he wasn’t quite the model pupil they thought.

As time passes, they become frantic with worry. Although they fear he is dead, they refuse to give up on him and their search becomes an obsession. It takes over their lives and the stress involved causes them to split up. When out of the blue they find out the truth, and get the biggest shock of their lives. And discover if he is dead or alive.

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She Can’t Trust Anyone…Not Even Herself

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As a bestselling author, Marlowe strives to live the simple life while saving the intense storylines for her readers. So far, she’s succeeded…

Until she wakes up one day in a cabin she doesn’t recognize. A year is missing from her memory, and the man serving her breakfast? That’s Nate, the long-time boyfriend she just dumped. Or so she thought.

While Nate has all of the perfect answers to her persistent questions, she can’t help but feel as if there is more than he is telling her…

And that he has much more to do with it than he lets on.

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In a world where everything is done “For the Greater Good,” exposing the truth is a death wish.

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Life isn’t easy for Claren Greenwood. Her mother was killed by rebels, her father was exiled, and her brother is walking dangerously close to a similar fate. But Claren has a rare skill, and once the government identifies her as an Empath her world is flipped on its head.

Now Claren finds herself straddling two worlds—one begging her to work for “The Greater Good,” and the other threatening to tear it all apart.

With the help of a tall, handsome Outsider and a house full of other Empaths training for government work, Claren must discover the truth in order to save her brother and countless other lives.

And she must do it without losing the trust of either side.

From the Dust is full of action, suspense, love, and espionage. Fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games should prepare to get hooked!

Strap in for the first three chapters in the highly addictive dystopian world of the Ember Society Series.

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Exploring the ocean is scary. It’s much worse when something is stalking you down there.

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Being in a plane crash is traumatic, but what if you survived the fall only to find yourself in an unfamiliar forest, with something stalking you and your fellow survivors?
What if you moved to a new apartment that had a locked storage door, but every night when the door opens on its own, you see that doesn’t lead into a storage at all?
What would you do if you applied to work as a night guard, but upon arrival to your new job, you see a list of irrational and strange rules to follow?
Or if you got an emergency alert on your phone, but the more you listened to the sounds outside, you realized that this was no weather warning?

Immerse yourself in ten award-winning Nosleep stories which are guaranteed to keep you at the edge of your seat with their unpredictable twists and compelling storytelling.

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In the Blood of Justice

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A local Sheriff’s daughter gets caught up in a string of murders. Luckily, Anonymous is the only one who can help make her feel safe again. He’s the man destined to take down the worst of the worst.  

In the course to learn about his mysterious past and solve the case, Anonymous must overcome the Sheriff’s hellbent stance on keeping him from taking the lead. The question is—-is it merely pride that has the Sherriff so twisted, or is he perhaps keeping bigger secrets?

From bestselling author Nadia Siddiqui comes In the Blood of Justice, part one of Anonymous, a thrilling series of short stories about a lost man who’s contracted to kill with no recollection of his past. Follow him in each story and see if he finally solves the mystery behind his identity.

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A Julia Rawson Murder Mystery

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Julia spends her days with the dead. This makes sense because she is the first female death investigator for the Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office. She has worked hard to become a forensic artist, recreating faces from only bones. Julia faces new challenges navigating the profession, and now a suspicious death hits close to home.Will what she discovers unravel everything she has worked for?

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The Universe is a Tough Place

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In the future, as humanity spreads throughout the galaxy, the ideals of justice for all, integrity, and honesty are nothing more than outdated concepts to many who have benefited as members of the wealthy, elitist ruling class.

To the incorruptible lawman, Thomas Sullivan, these ideals are all he has left to cling to. Betrayed by those he respected and admired, the very institutions he served, Sullivan has paid a heavy price. The loss of his mentor, friend, and woman he loved are just the beginning.

In a shadowy future, where the dark ideals of greed, lust for power, and a sense of entitlement govern the choices of many, there are those who still stand for justice. Men like Thomas Sullivan.

With little more than a job he loves, Sullivan struggles to find his way in a universe that increasingly seems to have no place for him. Damaged by the events of his life and in conflict with himself, Thomas Sullivan is The Fractured Man.

Fans of classic crime noir stories and science fiction will love the cross-genre novella The Fractured Man. Mostly human and part cyborg, Thomas Sullivan is a classic noir lawman, tortured by his past and faced with an uncertain future. Betrayal, corruption, and murder await his every turn.

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A cold-blooded killer or an unlikely hero, one man has to make a decision that will change the course of history.

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Tom is an artist with a darker side. He feels no guilt in killing the occasional bad guy to make the world a better place.

Helen, onto the scoop of a lifetime, finds herself carrying a murderer’s child, and becomes a pawn in an international conflict.

On another continent, General Hawke will stop at nothing to put Tom – and his unborn child – under the microscope, even at the risk of an international crisis.

Even Tom doesn’t know what’s driving him, or what the dark shadows from his nightmares actually want from him, but as his adversaries close in, it becomes a race against time to find the answers before freedom, or even his life, are taken from him.

A standalone thriller with the compulsive drive of a Tom Clancy – international espionage with a hint of Stephen King.

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The last normal day of her life… was yesterday.

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International bestseller Michaelbrent Collings 
brings you the Bram Stoker Award finalist… 
and invites you to along for
the most dangerous ride of your life.

It was supposed to be just one more ridealong…

… a night when high schooler Melissa Latham accompanies her father on his patrol. But when a serial killer targets them for a dark, disturbing game, the night turns into a high-speed chase where there is no prize for second place.

“Keeps you guessing till the end, and in the end the twist will leave you shocked.” – Dread Central


They have to find a killer before he murders the next one of their friends.

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An Indispensable Guide to the Essential Authors & Mysteries of Murder

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It was an era of exotic poisons and smoking pistols. Of unbreakable alibis and elaborate charades. Of shrewd spinster sleuths and effete gentleman detectives.

Nestled comfortably between the First and Second World Wars, the Golden Age of Detective Fiction captivated readers with twisty tales of murder and mystery. The crime is presented as a game—a puzzle with all its pieces and players left on the table. Nothing is hidden, and the solution is in plain sight, if one only knows where to look.

This brief guide offers a curated list of ten of the most prolific and influential writers from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. While today some names may be more familiar than others, in his or her prime each was a creative force from the earliest days of the murder mystery craze. The guide also includes three titles by each author that shouldn’t be missed.

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Get this book free and join us in the Awkward Squad

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He wanted peace. He found a life-changing adventure…

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He wanted peace. He found a life-changing adventure…

Tristan Blake’s time in the army left him scarred and broken. Now that he’s home from war, the atheist bishop’s son wants nothing more than the peace and quiet of the New Zealand coast. When a Maori priest named Rau offers him a lift, neither of them expect a ride that could change their lives forever.

On a beach up north, a mysterious man scores Rau a colossal snapper with no bait. As Joshua joins the atheist and the priest on their journey to the heart of the nation, Tristan is surprised by his provocative friendship. As word of the jean-sporting guru spreads, the prime minister and Tristan’s father take notice…

Tristan is left with a choice: follow a man who demands love that could transform his life, or thwart Joshua’s influence by doing the unthinkable…

A New Kind of Zeal is a spiritual and psychological suspense novel for people of all walks of life. If you enjoy compelling characters, a new take on ancient teachings, and stories with a New Zealand flair, then you’ll love Michelle Warren’s book of faith under fire.

Download A New Kind of Zeal to explore a whole new world today.

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A thriller with dark supernatural overtones.

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Female psychic detective, Epiphany Mayall is on the track of stolen antiquities and a clay tablets relating the Epic of Gilgamesh. Through a combination of her psychic abilities and the technological resources of PI Maro Gaido and the FBI’s art crimes division, they zero in on the mysterious conspirators who people the shady global underworld of the arts and antiquities black market. Can they find the Gilgamesh tablet with its map to the “flower of immortality,” or will the treasure disappear forever into the private vault of a billionaire art thief?

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Are Family Secrets Worth Killing Someone?

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When the Patriarch of the Woodcrest Family, Gerald Woodcrest, is found dead in the flowerbed under his bedroom window, the local police department rules it a suicide. His son hires Private Detective Emmy Grimm to uncover the real truth behind his father’s death.

Surrounded by so many individuals who could benefit from his death, now it depends on Emmy to figure out who is responsible. When Emmy starts talking to the heirs, the Woodcrest family’s secrets begin to emerge.

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Is the evil lurking in Sunshine House human or something much worse?

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Once an exclusive Hollywood hotel catering to the likes of Rudolf Valentino and other great stars of the Silent Film Era, the Bockerman Hotel now is the Sunshine House, an assisted living home for seniors.   

And its residents are dying…in droves.

Sara Caine, paranormal investigator, couldn’t believe she got an invitation to hunt for ghosts in the most haunted building in all of Los Angeles, The Sunshine House. Her excitement turns to horror as the mysteries of Sunshine House reveal themselves to be more terrifying then she could have ever imagined.  

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Surviving Is A Skill, Killing Another.

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He is a secret IRA operative.

He is one of the most successful City banker in London

…then the 2008 Financial Crisis happens.

Nancy Wu, former eminent Queen’s Counsel, now prominent patron of the arts, receives the most unexpected call for help. Henry Crowne is accused of murder in a case that seems decided from the very beginning. His Irish background, financial terrorist connections and investment banking success inexorably tilt the scales against him. Nancy’s own lingering darker past calls for her to mount Henry’s defence but her client is the biggest obstacle. Will she manage to unpick the devious manipulations of a most twisted mind? 

COLLAPSE is a financial and espionage thriller, the first book in the Henry Crowne: Paying the Price trilogy. If you like The Big Short, The Fear Index and A Week in December you will enjoy the twists and turns of Freddie P Peters’ latest fast-paced thriller. Discover it now…

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Detective Shelby Griffin is sworn to serve and protect the city of Los Angeles. That doesn’t mean that she has to like it.

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Actually, Shelby hates LA, and she can’t wait to get out of here and return to her hometown in Rhode Island. For now, though, she needs this job, and she works the streets every day with her partner Trevor Morris. There’s no shortage of cases, either. Shelby’s neighborhood is on the very brink of an all-out gang war, and it’ll take just one spark to light the tinder-dry atmosphere. That spark comes in the form of a dead gangster who might just prove to be the catalyst for a gang war that could kill hundreds and cause devastating collateral damage. Or does it?

When Shelby discovers that the murder is not what it seems, she’s determined to find the real killer, but a kidnapping turns the whole case on its head. The murder Shelby is investigating has led to a terrible choice. Either way, people die. And if she doesn’t find the killer and stop him, those people could include Morris. The vigilante roaming the streets makes life even more complicated for LA’s most reluctant detective as she fights back in this fast-paced first installment of a five-book series.

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Daniel was just your average, run-of-the-mill serial killer.

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Daniel is learning that being a serial killer is hard work. Luckily, he has one friend in life that is just like him, but far more experienced. Greg is more than happy to teach Daniel everything he knows about killing and not getting caught. But when a mysterious woman shows up, she takes Daniel on a reckless ride of passion and murder, making him question everything Greg has taught him.

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Lock your doors. Bolt your windows.

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“Hudgins is a Horror-Meister to reckon with!” 

VICTOR MILLER – Writer of Friday the 13th 

If you like fast reads, this is the author for you!

Steve Hudgins uses a screenplay/novel hybrid writing style that keeps the descriptive portions of the story brief, allowing the narrative to push forward at a blazing pace. 

MANIAC ON THE LOOSE

An exceptionally dangerous patient has escaped from the local psychiatric hospital. 

Fearing that he’ll lose his job if word gets out, the head of the hospital, Dr. Franklin Grimm, secretly sends his mysterious head of security on a mission to apprehend the deranged psycho before anyone can gain knowledge of the escape. 

Meanwhile, a small town is clueless that an infamous serial killer now walks among them, seeking his next victim. 

Will Dr. Grimm’s devious plan work or will blood be on his hands as a slaughter ensues? 

Terrifying, eerie and incredibly unpredictable, Maniac on the Loose will keep you up all night gripping the blankets in suspense! 

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Here One Moment. Gone The Next.

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“If you ever speak my name, or tell anyone what just happened, I’ll find out where you live, I’ll break into your home, creep into your bedroom at night, and stab you to death with a knife from your mother’s kitchen. Do you understand?”

All hell breaks loose when a teenager goes missing in a close-knit neighbourhood in East London. Avery sees her quiet, predictable life viciously turned on its head, and watches in horror as the people she loves crumble.

Destitute, and determined not to return to walking the streets at night, Dolly will do anything, and hurt anyone she can to grasp the better life she’s craved for so long.

Worlds collide, death is at every turn as two very different women find themselves thrust into a hidden world of money laundering, kidnap, and ritual killings – all in the name of freedom and justice.

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A not guilty verdict.  A kidnapping.  A midnight trial.  Six sitting in judgment, and one empty chair.

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Coach Terrence Jackson is the man who has divided the town of Marston. There are those who believe in the coach and his innocence and then there are the victims who despise him, his smile and his crime. He has a dark past- a previous life no one knew about until the not guilty verdict.

Only one victim, Rose Canter, has the courage to ask for justice. The others quietly watch as her justice slips away with the verdict. 

He goes back to his life wearing his signature smile, and Rose is left picking up the pieces of hers. She doesn’t know she is not the only victim who has lost the fight to the coach. 

Coach Jackson’s signature smile is an integral accessory of his wardrobe. In fact, he doesn’t leave home without it. He has one son-Jonas, a dead wife, and a young, blonde bombshell by his side. He has money and status which he earned on the football field. Now he’s giving back to the community by helping high school students afford a college education. One thing he does not have is the contentment of his victims. They want revenge and the setup for his demise begins. 

There is more than one way to catch a criminal. 

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BloodLaw

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ADA Alastair Maddox is at the top his game in Prohibition Chicago where mobs paint the town red with blood. Despite being beaten, shot, and almost killed by the mob, Alastair continues his war on the city’s criminal underworld.

But when his former police chief comes in asking Alastair’s help with what he call a “bizarre case,” Alastair can’t help but be interested.

The woman in the red dress sitting in the interrogation room is beyond beautiful. Confronting her feels like standing in the presence of a predator.

Alastair soon stares down the face of death, but he soon learns, death isn’t as permanent as he’s been led to believe.

Obsession. Lust. Murder. A dark thirst.

It all awaits in the lawless streets of Vampire Chicago.

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Between a Rock and a Deadly Place

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Cedar Fish Campground was supposed to be a peaceful refuge, not grounds for murder.

Thea Pagoni is desperate to flee her stress-filled city life for the quiet of the woods after a painful divorce. When her grandmother passes away and leaves her the family campground, it seems like the perfect opportunity to find peace. But not everything is crickets and campfires.

The handyman she was promised is less than handy, the campground has fallen into severe disrepair, and with a dwindling reservation list, there’s no money to make improvements. Things are looking grim, and then a dead hiker makes everything worse. Can Thea find the killer before Cedar Fish Campground is forced to close forever and she loses everything… again?

Between a Rock and a Deadly Place is the first novella in Zoey Chase’s Cedar Fish Campground cozy mystery series. For lovers of the outdoors and clean mysteries with a side of romance.

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Moonlight is hired to investigate the brutal murder of his lover. But he has blood on his hands. Her blood…

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Intriguing short story … excellent introduction to Rick Adelmann’s jazz-age mystery series!

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When David March shows up, unexpected, former Pinkerton detective Sherwood Garth can’t possibly know what mystery he’s about to step into. He’s been asked to visit David’s home, undercover as a former professor, while secretly investigating why the perfectly healthy, but elderly patriarch, and powerful Hollywood studio chief, Francis March, has suddenly begun to experience hallucinations and visions of his dead wife. David is very concerned. Garth is intrigued and agrees to investigate.  What he learns while getting to know this family will make anyone shiver, but never fear … this intriguing short story is a great introduction to Rick Adelmann’s jazz-age mystery series.

Praise for Rick Adelmann’s new series:

 “Spellbinder! A great first book. I can’t wait for the next one. Great surprise ending!” – 5 stars online review (on The Greek Coins Affair)

 “Sherwood Garth and James Mallory seem like an unlikely partnership in sleuthing, but their skills and experience provide a unique combination in the fine art of solving murders. Garth is reminiscent of our old friend, Sherlock Holmes, while Mallory, the retired cavalry officer, embodies the spirit of the old West. Rick Adelmann’s debut novel takes you into a world where automobiles are replacing horse-drawn buggies and the Jazz Age is coming into its own. Set against the rich backdrop of turn-of-the-century Americana, The Greek Coins Affair is sure to please.” –Mysticmoods book review  (on The Greek Coins Affair)

 “Sizzles with Jazz Age mystery and intrigue” –J Shaw, online review (on The Hilltop Ranch Affair)

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