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I’m delighted to participate in a special promotion as Walden Family Theater announces the Space Warriors Blog App and a chance to win a family trip to Space Camp and more!
Watch Space Warriors on Hallmark Channel tonight (Friday, May 31st) at 8/7C for your chance to win a trip for the whole family to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center's Space Camp! Keep an eye out for the secret keyword for a chance to go on location where Space Warriors was filmed and train like a real astronaut!
SPECIAL GIVEAWAY: To make this a really special event, (thanks to PartnersHub Family) I have one Space Warriors Blu-ray Combo Pack to giveaway to a lucky visitor to Thoughts in Progress. Giveaway guidelines in a moment.
ABOUT SPACE WARRIORS: Six highly skilled teenagers are handpicked to be part of a summer space camp competition at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. As the competition heats up, the kids have no idea that their ultimate challenge will be to solve a life or death crisis aboard the International Space Station as the world anxiously watches.
The movie stars: Thomas Horn, Danny Glover, Josh Lucas, Dermot Mulroney, Mira Sorvino and Booboo Stewart.
Space Warriors is the second film in the Walden Family Theater original lineup featuring great family entertainment, airing Friday nights exclusively on Hallmark Channel. Walden Family Theater is creating films for the whole family to enjoy together, so make sure to mark your calendars and gather around the television to watch all the great upcoming films.
Past films include: "The Chronicles of Narnia" series, "Holes", "Nim's Island", "Charlotte's Web", and "Return to Nim's Island."
Are you a Space Warrior? Check out the Space Warrior Blog App to see just how spacey you are. Do you use the stars to navigate your journeys instead of the map function on your Smartphone? Take the quiz to find out whether you're destined to orbit the cosmos or whether you're happiest living here on this planet.
Prepare for blast-off with the Space Warriors Viewing guide. Mark your calendar for 8 p.m. (EDT) and check off the boxes as you watch Space Warriors for the most spectacular, spaciest experience!
GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES: To enter this giveaway, please send me an e-mail (email@example.com) with the subject line, “Win Space Warriors.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the promoter nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win the Space Warriors Blu-ray Combo Pack is 8 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, June 8.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope you get a chance to watch the movie this evening. What were your results from the How Spacey Are You? Quiz? What was your favorite activity from the Prepare for Blast-Off Space Warriors Viewing Guide?
Now here’s the official Space Warriors’ trailer to entice you to gather the entire family together this evening, pop some popcorn and watch a delightful movie.
* FTC Full Disclosure - I am working with Walden Family Theater in making this announcement. Walden Family Theater, through PartnersHub Family, is supplying the Blu-ray Combo Pack as a promotional giveaway. I am hosting the giveaway without compensation solely for the purpose of providing visitors to my blog the opportunity to win this DVD.*
Author Michael Bigham pulls you in with a slow, country feeling in the opening pages of HARKNESS. As you slid into the rhythm of the story, Bigham picks up the speed for a riveting mystery.
Matt Harkness may be the sheriff of a small western town, but he’s a far cry from a typical western sheriff. He doesn’t get along with horses so he drives a ‘39 Chevy pickup dubbed ‘Hoopie,’ cowboy boots hurt his feet, and his sidekick is a wiener dog named Addison that adopted him.
His experience during World War II has shaped Harkness in both good and bad ways. He isn’t self-righteous or thinks himself above others because he’s the law. He is out for justice, but never loses sight of where his next drink is coming from or who the next woman he beds could be. The small town of Barnesville set on the Oregon High Desert in 1952 is full of secrets and Harkness is the keeper. His secret is he’s having an affair with the wife of the county’s most powerful man, the judge.
After a star-crossed teenage couple disappears, Harkness has to start revealing some of the town’s best kept secrets and then murder becomes a part of the investigation. Harkness is forced to deal with hideous crimes, one of which hits too close to home.
Bigham has crafted characters that are flawed and problematic. He’s given them realistic traits and actions that will cause you to like some, hate the others. He has created his protagonist with rough edges, but a good heart as he struggles to do the right thing.
The story deals with tough issues such as bigotry and spousal abuse in a plausible manner. Bigham incorporates bits of humor throughout to balance the story. He also explores keeping secrets and how they escalate to serious problems. HARKNESS moves at a steady pace with a good blend of small-town activities adding to the story. The characters are authentic, the mystery compelling, and the outcome filled with surprises along the way.
While not your typical western, HARKNESS has enough flavor of the genre to appeal to western fans and not too much to discourage those who don’t like the genre. Matt Harkness reminds me a bit of Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae (of Lonesome Dove fame).
Bigham has done an excellent job with his debut release. He has created a protagonist in Matt Harkness readers will want to visit with again and again. HARKNESSis an entertaining read that will have you wishing you lived in Barnesville and glad you don’t.
Harkness: A High Desert Mystery by Michael Bigham, Muskrat Press, @2012, ISBN: 978-0615721972, Paperback, 198 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of the author’s virtual book tour. A copy of the book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Raised in the mill town of Prineville beneath blue skies and rim rocks, Michael Bigham attended the University of Oregon and during his collegiate summers, fought range fires on the Oregon High Desert for the Bureau of Land Management. He worked as a police officer with the Port of Portland and after leaving police work, obtained an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College.
Michael lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, daughter, and frisky dog.
This May, Thoughts in Progress is pleased to support Penguin Group (USA)’s Read Humane® 2013 campaign to fight animal cruelty. I’m delighted to welcome spokesperson and bestselling author Jill Shalvis here today. She is sharing her family’s animal rescue story and discussing her Animal Magnetism series with a piece entitled “Why Dogs Make Great Sidekicks!”
Read Humane® is an initiative created by Penguin Group (USA) in 2012 to support our furry friends in honor of National Pet Month (May). As part of the Read Humane® 2013 campaign, six special edition, animal-themed mass market paperbacks have been reissued featuring the official Read Humane® seal. Penguin supports the fight against animal cruelty with a $25,000 donation, regardless of sales, to The Humane Society of the United States' Animal Rescue Team.
For more information on this worthy cause and complete lists of the six participating authors and book retailers, please visit Penguin Group (USA) or view the official Read Humane® Prezi here. And remember to join the conversation on Twitter with @BerkleyRomance and @HSUS throughout May by using the hashtag #readHumane. Visitors are encouraged to Tweet about Penguin’s animal friendly books, share their own rescue stories, and join in other pet themed conversations.
Jill is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over four dozen romance novels, including her fun contemporary Animal Magnetism series, which promotes animal rescue dogs. She is a 3-time National Readers Choice winner, and lover of animals!
More information about Jill and her collection of fabulous romance titles can be found at www.JillShalvis.com.
My Rescue Story, by Jill Shalvis…
At any point, on any day in the Shalvis abode, there are animals. All of them rescued, always. It’s become somewhat of a family tradition, rescuing animals in need, and we’ve found that not only is it a nice thing to do, we get a really great pet out of the deal.
A couple of years ago, our house was fairly full. Okay, so it was straining at the wall joints. We had Ashes -- our rescue Border Collie/Australian Blue Heeler. Sadie – our cat who thinks she’s a dog. Micky – a field mouse rescued from the high school science lab. And four teenage girls.
Actually, it wasn’t a house. It was a zoo.
But a year before we’d lost Izzie, our beloved brown lab. And we missed having two dogs. Yes, we’re crazy. Anyway, on that fated day I’m about to tell you about, Alpha Man (my husband) had heard about a yellow lab puppy who needed rescue.
No. No way. I was adamant. I had enough on my plate. But Alpha Man just wanted to go make sure the lab was okay.
So we left the mountain…
We were following the sketch directions from a guy who knew a guy who had told us about a woman who lived out in the middle of nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE, and she rescues animals.
The landscape was like something out of a Criminal Minds episode, so we were wary at first. We had no idea what we were going to find. A box of puppies, or a meth lab … nothing would have surprised me. I was a little worried because the kids were with us, but it turned out the place was fifty acres of love.
Any animal in need is welcome.
Even the funny looking ones…
The woman had goats, horses, turtles, geese, snakes, angry chickens ... you name it and she had it. She was rehabbing it, doctoring it, loving it … whatever the animal needed. We’d gone because of the rumor of the puppies, the yellow labs. And she did have two puppies. She’d rescued them out of a horrible situation.
But the yellow lab wasn’t the one who stole our hearts. Nope, it was her little baby brother. The runt.
He was filthy and living in a hovel. And the minute he saw us, he came alive. Wriggling, happy, loving. All you had to do was touch him and he writhed in joy and dropped to the floor for a belly rub.
And once he was picked up by the teenagers and loved up by them, he didn’t want to get down. I tried. I tried hard. But the thing had wriggled his way right into my heart. I remember looking at Alpha Man, laughing and crying at the same time. “You didn’t want another dog,” he reminded me.
I told him to zip it. We were taking this dog and that was that. Besides, there was the little matter of him being in my arms and refusing to be put down.
So we never put him down again. Meet Frat Boy…
Jill now shares ‘Why Dogs Make Great Sidekicks.’
Now that you know a little bit about my rescue story, I want to share with you some of the inspiration for my Animal Magnetism series. One of the fun things about writing this series is developing complex and lovable characters… that just happen to be adorable dogs! Here’s why dogs make great sidekicks…
1. Because when you’re on the mountain trail and you come across an angry mama bear and her baby cubs, your dog will run like hell. This will warn you to run like hell as well. Just be careful because if your dog is like my dog, he will throw you under the bus (or in this case bear) to get home before you do.
2. Because when all the cookies are gone you can totally blame your cookie loving dog. No one has to know that you ate all the cookies yourself. And your dog can give you dirty looks for blaming him but he can’t actually talk and dispute your story. Solid alibi.
3. Because if you’ve eaten in a way that disagrees with your stomach, there are never any worries. Your dog will always, ALWAYS, out stink you. And if he doesn’t, you can still point the finger at him. Again, he can’t talk and dispute your story.
4. Dogs are not just great sidekicks but they also make great a really great wingman. If you’re single, you can totally put your dog to work at charming the person you’re interested in. Just make sure that person likes dog drool and dog hair all over everything first.
5. There is never a need for a pillow or extra blanket because your dog will always be willing to get into bed with you and share body heat. Always. Just be forewarned. Being a great sidekick is not the same thing as a good bed partner. They have a habit of being a total bed hog.
Thank you so much, Jill for sharing your stories with us! If you have enjoyed Jill’s stories please feel free to show your support in the comments section below and by visiting the other participating websites/blogs.
Read Humane® Blog Tour 2013! For more information on Read Humane® please visit Penguin Group (USA). To view more special features from Jill, please visit the following websites/blogs. Each website/blog will feature a unique perspective on Read Humane, so be sure to stop by each for a new and exciting experience!
Author Cate Beauman begins with her protagonist on a joyous high only to have her world shattered in an instant. From there the author takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions before delivering a suitable ending.
Sarah Johnson is a young widow with an infant daughter struggling to pick up the pieces of her life after the death of her husband. Her only contentment is found in raising her beautiful daughter Kylee and her work as a photographer to Hollywood’s A-list.
Ethan Cooke has been a friend to her and her husband for a long time. When he surprises her with a searing kiss under the moonlight, everything changed.
Even though her husband has been dead for two years, Sarah finds herself struggling with the guilt of betraying his memory after her unexpected attraction to Ethan. However when she begins receiving disturbing notes and blue roses, Sarah has to lean on Ethan. It’s up to him to keep her safe as they battle their own feelings of guilt and attraction.
Beauman weaves a beautiful tale of friendship that grows into a steamy romance and loving relationship. Her characters are likable, well-developed, and realistic. Readers can relate to their pain and suffering, as well as their hopes and dreams.
The story moves at a fast pace holding readers captivate from the first page to the last. Beauman blends humor, loyalty, suspense, romance and friendship for a well-balanced tale. In addition, Beauman develops the new relationship between Sarah and Ethan at a steady speed, not rushing the situation yet not dragging it out. She explores their inner feelings and conflicts of guilt and attraction in a plausible manner.
FALLING FOR SARAH is an easy read that will be hard to put down. The characters are fun and the plot tantalizing.
Author Cate Beauman’s website is http://www.catebeauman.com Falling For Sarah by Cate Beauman, Book Two in the Bodyguards of L.A. County Series, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, @2012, ISBN: 978-1480086685, Paperback, 384 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - A Kindle copy of this book was sent to me by the author’s publicist in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. Thanks for stopping by today. Some may remember that author Cate Beauman visited with us here at Thoughts on April 23 to talk about this book and shared an excerpt. She plans to return on Monday, June 3, to talk about the next installment in this delightful series and will be offering another giveaway. Be sure to mark your calendars.
As part of the tour, Lynn has provided an excerpt from her book to entice your reading taste buds. In addition, there is a tour-wide giveaway being offered with some amazing prizes (more about at in a bit).
Zeke Clay is down on his luck. He’s lost everything—an apartment, an education, a girlfriend, his job… When a mysterious letter comes from a law firm in Colorado, he decides things just might be looking up. Now he stands to inherit a fortune, but it comes with a price. He must break a family curse and restore true love. What does he know about breaking a curse? And who is this Great Uncle Luther Clayton, who claims Zeke is the one? Can he piece together the clues left by his dearly departed? Who can he trust? The Apache Indian attorney? Her great nephew? The leather-clad, Harley riding Pastor? Least of all, himself? What about the Ghosts? …And why does his three-year-old tattoo bleed every time he gets near the wishing well?
Zeke merged onto Hwy 71 East. He needed to find a truck stop and settle in for the night. He stared at the sedan in front of him. Suddenly, the car fish-tailed, it spun a full three-sixty and crossed two lanes. He slowed his car and eased over to the shoulder. As the sedan careened into the soft shoulder it began to flip end over end and skid on its side through the grass and weeds. It slid into a water-filled ditch and rolled over onto its top as it disappeared into the black, murky water.
“Oh my God! Oh my God!” Zeke shouted as he jumped from his car. Circular waves radiated from where the car had landed. He blinked against the acrid stench at the water’s edge and waited. Where was the driver? No bubbles. Nobody broke the surface. Nothing. “OH MY GOD!” He had to go in that God-awful water. He had to help. He wasn’t licensed. He wasn’t legally obligated and yet—he was. He gingerly stepped into the water. His Doc Martens were fine for greasy floors. Not so great in slimy mud. He slipped and fell backward. Black mud oozed between his fingers as he fought for purchase. When he tried to stand up, he slid down to his thighs. Putrid water soaked into his clothes and splashed up toward his face. Nothing in clinicals had ever smelled this bad. Maneuvering himself best he could toward the center of the ditch, he reached for the car. When his hand touched metal, he took a deep breath and sunk underwater. Submerged in the green-black water, he could not see. It was disorienting. He found a door handle and pulled it open. Reaching inside, he felt the steering wheel. He concentrated on finding the driver. When his hand reached a potential body, he dug into whatever material he could and pulled with all his might. Something held it tightly in place. The seat belt. Zeke’s lungs felt ready to burst. He pushed back away from the car and rose to the surface. After he sucked in a deep breath, he returned to the open door. With his fingers, he found the seatbelt latch, and pushed and squeezed until it finally released. Once again, he dug fingers into a shirt and pulled with all his might. This time the guy came with him. The bottom of his shoes slipped against the slimy ditch wall. He fell back against the sedan. Oh, Jesus. Please help me. He shoved himself away from the car. Somehow his shoes took hold and he pulled the limp body along with him. One step at a time, he dragged himself and the guy until they were both on the grass. The man lay motionless. Zeke scanned the darkening highway. No cars. No headlights. He pressed two fingers on the guy’s carotid artery. No pulse. He put his ear on the guy’s chest. No heartbeat. And he definitely wasn’t breathing. “I’ve only done this on Sim-Sam—but I know what I’m doing.” He intertwined his fingers, one hand over the other, and started pumping the chest while counting. “One-one thousand, Two-one thousand, Three-one thousand, Four-one thousand…” Dusk faded to night. Where was everybody? Why wasn’t somebody coming? “God, please, help me.” Why he was even saying that at all? Desperate times, desperate measures. Nonetheless, he kept counting and hoping. Shimmering lights appeared on the horizon. He squinted and prayed they’d stop.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lynn writes from her heart and five decades of experiences she has accumulated as daughter, wife, mother of four, and grandmother of seven when creating her stories. She categorizes herself as the “sandwich generation” because she is caring for her mother who has Alzheimer’s and is one child away from an empty nest.
Besides blogging, Lynn enjoys reading and writing mainstream fiction and speculative fiction, but you might find a historical romance among her collections as well. She currently lives in Southwest Kansas but looks forward to building a home in Colorado. She attends a Creative Writing class at the local college to sharpen her talents and increase her creative juices.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS:There is a tour-wide giveaway. Prizes include the following: GRAND PRIZE: Signed print copy of The Wishing Well Curse, a Bracelet and Bookmark inspired by the book. (US Only) SECOND PLACE: $20 Winner's Choice of Gift Card to Amazon or B&N (or even PayPal Cash) (International). To enter the giveaway, please use the Rafflecopter form below.
Thanks so much for visiting today and I hope you’ll follow Lynn on her tour. Do you enjoy books where the genres are blended such as this Christian Gothic/Paranormal? Hope everyone is having a safe and wonderful MEMORIAL DAY!!!
It’s hard to believe we’ve already reached the last Sunday Salon of May, as well as the first major holiday of the summer - Memorial Day.
I hope everyone is relaxing this Memorial Day weekend and enjoying time with family and friends. As you take time to unwind and relax, it’s also a great time to enjoy a new book or two.
Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on the latest installment in a paranormal romance series by one of my favorite authors. If you’re not a big fan of the paranormal genre, I’d urge you to still give this a try as the author combines so many elements into her stories that the plot is captivating and the paranormal becomes realistic.
Author Terry Spear begins with a dire situation and picks up speed from there. You’re breathlessly pulled into the heroine’s circumstances, feeling her anxiety and her excitement.
Elaine Hawthorn, an American gray werewolf, has returned to mystical Scotland to retrieve treasure her family hid away hundreds of years earlier. In her haste to meet a distant relative, she almost has a head-on collision with Cearnach MacNeill, a hot-blooded Highlander werewolf on his way to a wedding. Since he’s unable to drive his car, Elaine is forced to attend the wedding with him. But it turns out the MacNeills are an enemy of her cousin’s clan. Through a twist of circumstances, Elaine and Cearnach find themselves on the run and drawn to each other.
Cearnach had been warned by his older brother, the pack leader, not to attend the wedding since his dear friend was marrying into their enemy’s clam, but he had promised he would be there for her. Running into Elaine, Cearnach finds that he wants to be her protector no matter what. He’s determined to make sure she’s safe at all cost despite all the trouble she seems to encounter. His heart will have it no other way.
The characters are well-developed and likable. Even though they’re shape-shifting werewolves, readers can relate to their conflicts, emotions, desires and hopes. The secondary characters add flare and flavor to the mix.
Spear has an eye for details and her meticulous research shines through in her writing. Her vivid descriptions of the Scottish Highlands places the reader among the characters. You have an instant feel for the region, its people, the sights, and the sounds. Her extensive knowledge of wolves enhances the story.
While she spins a beguiling paranormal tale, Spear also incorporates steamy romance, suspense, and good old-fashion storytelling into her books.
Spear blends pirates, lost treasure, sexy highlanders in kilts, castles, a mischievous ghost, and enthralling characters into a well-balanced story. She takes you from the past to the present in a smooth flowing story that keeps the action going.
The bantering between Elaine and Cearnach will have you laughing, while the steamy attraction between the two sizzles like fireworks on the Fourth of July. A HIGHLAND WEREWOLF WEDDING is a tantalizing read.
This is the third installment in the Highland Wolf Series, but can be read on its own. New readers aren’t left in the dark with the references to prior events and people.
You can’t go wrong with a sexy highlander and a spunky heroine let loose in beautiful Scotland. A fun book for a summer read or any time you’re in the mood for romance and adventure.
Author Terry Spear’s website is http://terryspear.com/ A Highland Werewolf Wedding by Terry Spear, Book 3 of the Highland Wolf Series, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2013, ISBN: 978-1402266836 Paperback, 352 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you’re having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Are you game to try a book in a different genre if it contains other elements that you enjoy?
Teaching youngsters the importance of friendship can sometimes be a challenge when they are more concerned with being cool.
Author Stephanie Guzman has written a charming tale that will aid parents in dealing with this matter. In the second installment in her delightful Oliver the Clownfish series, Guzman tackles the issue of acting cool.
Oliver a clownfish, and his friend Paul, a puffer, meet their new neighbor Dolly, a dolphin. They notice Dolly’s body is covered in neon shapes, but don’t say anything. The three quickly become friends and spend the last two weeks of summer playing together.
On the first day of school, Oliver and Paul join their friend Sally, a seahorse. When Sally makes fun of Dolly’s appearance, they agree with her hurting Dolly’s feelings. In time Oliver finally stands up for his new friend. The four realize forming new friendships is more important than acting cool.
Guzman has created an inspiring series that helps youngsters learn how to deal with difficult situations. She uses her skills as a Reading Specialist to entertain youngsters while they learn. The series is geared toward youngsters ages 6 to 8, but all ages will enjoy it.
Author Stephanie Guzman’s website is www.olivertheclownfish.com The Adventures of Oliver the Clownfish: Acting Cool by Stephanie Guzman, Illustrated by TD, Not So Plain Jane Publishing, @2013, ISBN: 978-1596640023, Hardcover, 32 Pages, Recommended Ages 6 to 8
FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. Thanks for stopping by today. Do you think youngsters learn easier if the lesson is taught in a fun and entertaining manner?
As part of the tour, I’ll tell you my thoughts on the book, give a brief bio of the author, tell you how you can win a copy of this tantalizing thriller, and share an excerpt from the book to see if it entices you as it did me.
Author Luke Delaney uses his law enforcement expertise to craft an authentic psychological thriller in his debut novel, COLD KILLING.
With the opening, Delaney reels you in causing you to speculate about the first character introduced. Then he leads you directly into a crime scene where you’re hooked wanting all the pieces of the puzzle at once.
With an unthinkable childhood driving him, Sean Corrigan turned his demons toward good becoming a detective inspector. With a fierce determination to protect the innocent, Corrigan is also able to identify the darkness in others. He understands it because it’s something that lies deep within himself.
Corrigan, responsible for South London’s Murder Investigation Team, catches an unusual case when a young man is found brutally murdered in his flat. At first glance it appears to be a domestic murder, but Corrigan soon finds other victims and a ruthless serial killer unlike any he has ever faced. The cunning killer changes his MO with each crime and never leaves the slightest trace of forensic evidence. But Corrigan has no doubt it’s the same killer and he quickly finds himself in a lethal game of cat and mouse.
COLD KILLING is an edge-of-your-seat read with the narrative switching between Corrigan and the killer. Readers are given glimpses of their personal lives to balance out this thriller.
Delaney has created well-developed, realistic characters that stay with you long after the last paragraph. He’s given them strength and weaknesses that readers can relate to. He shows police work at its best, along with the flaws and transgressions officers sometimes make. Delaney explores the forensic aspects of a crime and how the elements help and hinder an investigation.
Delaney’s years of experience as a police officer shine through in his eye for details for procedures, settings and characters interaction. His vivid descriptions of South London and the area, gives readers the feel they are there.
The story moves at a steady and smooth pace drawing the reader deeper into the minds of the killer and cop. The twists along the way will keep you guessing. The story is captivating, the characters mesmerizing.
The ending was not what I was expecting, but fit perfectly. Delaney provides a touch of closure, but leaves readers anticipating what lies ahead for Corrigan and others. Get ready to lose track of time when you turn the first page of COLD KILLING. This is a gripping thriller and a great start for a fascinating new series. Cold Killing by Luke Delaney, Book 1 in the D.I. Sean Corrigan Series, HarperCollins, @2013, ISBN: 978-0062219466, Paperback, 448 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of the author’s virtual book tour. A copy of the book was sent to me by the tour promoter in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Luke Delaney joined the Metropolitan Police Service in the late 1980s and his first posting was to an inner city area of South East London notorious for high levels of crime and extreme violence. He later joined CID where he investigated murders ranging from those committed by fledgling serial killers to gangland assassinations.
GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line, “Win Cold Killing.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher/promoter nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a copy of COLD KILLING is 8 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, June 2.
Thank you for stopping by today and visiting. Have you read many thrillers set in London lately? Does the difference in the terminology bother your reading?
EXCERPT: Now here’s a little something to see if you are as captivated by the plot as I was. Happy reading!
Saturday. I agreed to go to the park with the wife and children. They’re over there on the grassy hill, just along from the pond. They’ve fed themselves, fed the ducks, and now they’re feeding their own belief that we’re one normal happy family. And to be fair, as far as they’re concerned, we are. I won’t let the sight of them spoil my day. The sun is shining and I’m getting a bit of a tan. The memory of the latest visit is still fresh and satisfying. It keeps the smile on my face. Look at all these people. Happy and relaxed. They’ve no idea I’m watching them. Watching as small children wander away from mothers too distracted by idle chat to notice. Then they realize their little darling has wandered too far and up goes that shrill shriek of an overprotective parent, followed by a leg slap for the child and more shrieking. I am satisfied for the time being. The fun I had last week will keep me contented for a while, so everyone is safe today.
It was 3 a.m. and Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan drove through the dreary streets of New Cross, southeast London. He had been born and raised in nearby Dulwich, and for as long as he could remember, these streets had been a dangerous place. People could quickly become victims here, regardless of age, sex, or color. Life had little value.
But these worries were for other people, not Sean. They were for the people who had nine-to-five jobs in shops and offices. Those who arrived bleary eyed to work each morning, then scuttled home nervously every evening, only feeling safe once they’d bolted themselves behind closed doors.
Sean didn’t fear the streets, having dealt with the worst they could throw at him. He was a detective inspector in charge of one of South London’s Murder Investigation Teams, dedicated to dealing with violent death. The killers hunted their victims and Sean hunted the killers. He drove with the window down and doors unlocked.
He’d been asleep at home when Detective Sergeant Dave Donnelly called. There’d been a murder. A bad one. A young man beaten and stabbed to death in his own flat. One minute Sean was lying by his wife’s side, the next he was driving to the place where a young man’s life had been torn away.
The streets around the murder scene were eerily quiet. He was pleased to see that the uniformed officers had done their job properly and taped off a large cordon around the block the flat was in. He’d been to scenes before where the cordon started and stopped at the front door. How much evidence had been carried away from scenes on the soles of shoes? He didn’t want to think about it.
There were two marked patrol cars alongside Donnelly’s unmarked Ford. He always laughed at the murder scenes on television, with dozens of police cars parked outside, all with blue lights swirling away. Inside, dozens of detectives and forensics guys would be falling over each other. Reality was different.
Real crime scenes were all the more disturbing for their quietness—the violent death of the victim would leave the atmosphere shattered and brutalized. Sean could feel the horror closing in around him as he examined a scene. It was his job to discover the details of death, and over time he had grown hardened to it, but not immune. He knew that this scene would be no different.
He parked outside the taped-off cordon and climbed from the isolation of his car into the warm loneliness of the night, the stars of the clear sky and the streetlights removing all illusion of darkness. If he had been anyone else, doing any other job, he might have noticed how beautiful it was, but such thoughts had no place here. He flashed his identification to the approaching uniformed officer and grunted his name. “DI Sean Corrigan, Serious Crime Group South. Where’s this flat?”
The uniformed officer was young. He seemed afraid of Sean. He must be new if a mere detective inspector scared him. “Number sixteen Tabard House, sir. It’s on the second floor, up the stairs and turn right. Or you could take the lift.”
Sean opened the boot of his car and cast a quick glance over the contents squeezed inside. Two large square plastic bins contained all he would need for an initial scene examination. Paper suits and slippers. Various sizes of plastic exhibit bags, paper bags for clothing, half a dozen boxes of plastic gloves, rolls ofsticky labels, and of course a sledgehammer, a crowbar, and other tools. The boot of Sean’s car would be mirrored by detectives’ cars across the world.
He pulled on a forensic containment suit and headed toward the stairwell. The block was of a type common to this area of London. Low-rise tenements made from dark, oppressive, brown-gray brick that had been thrown up after the Second World War to house those bombed out of old slum areas. In their time they’d been a revelation—indoor toilets, running water, heating—but now only those trapped in poverty lived in them. They looked like prisons, and in a way that’s what they were.
The stairwell smelled of urine. The stench of humans living on top of one another was unmistakable. This was summer and the vents of the flats pumped out the smells from within. Sean almost gagged on it, the sight, sound, and smell of the tenement block reminding him all too vividly of his own childhood, living in a three-bedroom, public housing duplex with his mother, two brothers, two sisters, and his father—his father who would lead him away from the others, taking him to the upstairs bedroom where things would happen. His mother too frightened to intervene—thoughts of reaching for a knife in the kitchen drawer swirling in her head, but fading away as her courage deserted her. But the curse of his childhood had left him with a rare and dark insightfulness—an ability to understand the motivations of those he hunted.
All too often the abused become the abusers as the darkness overtakes them, evil begetting evil—a terrible cycle of violence, virtually impossible to break—and so the demons of Sean’s past were too deeply assimilated in his being to ever be rid of. But Sean was different in that he could control his demons and his rage, using his shattered upbringing to allow him insights into the crimes he investigated that other cops could only dream of. He understood the killers, rapists, and arsonists—understood why they had to do what they did, could interpret their motivation—see what they saw, smell what they had smelled, feel what they had felt—their excitement, power, lust, revulsion, guilt, regret, fear. He could make leaps in investigations others struggled to understand, filling in the blanks with his unique imagination. Crime scenes came alive in his mind’s eye, playing in his head like movies. He was no psychic or clairvoyant; he was just a cop—but a cop with a broken past and a dangerous future, his skill at reading the ones he hunted born of his own dark, haunted past. Where better for a failed disciple of true evil to hide than among cops? Where better to turn his unique tools to good use than the police? He swallowed the bile rising in his throat and headed for the crime scene—the murder scene.
Sean stopped briefly to acknowledge another uniformed officer posted at the front door of the flat. The constable lifted the tape across the door and watched him duck inside. Sean looked down the corridor of the flat. It was bigger than it had seemed from the outside. DS Donnelly waited for him, his large frame filling the doorway, his mustache all but concealing the movement of his lips as he talked. Dave Donnelly, twenty-year-plus veteran of the Metropolitan Police and very much Sean’s old-school right-hand man. His anchor to the logical and practical course of an investigation and part-time crutch to lean on. They’d had their run-ins and disagreements, but they understood each other—they trusted each other.
“Morning, guv’nor. Stick to the right of the hallway here. That’s the route I’ve been taking in and out,” Donnelly growled in his strange accent, a mix of Glaswegian and Cockney, his mustache twitching as he spoke.
“What’ve we got?” Sean asked matter-of-factly.
“No sign of forced entry. Security is good in the flat, so he probably let the killer in. All the damage to the victim seems to have been done in the living room. A real fucking mess in there. No signs of disturbance anywhere else. The living room is the last door on the right, down the corridor. Other than that we’ve got a kitchen, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a separate room for the toilet. From what I’ve seen, the victim kept things reasonably clean and tidy. Decent taste in furniture. There’s a few photies of the victim around the place—as best I can tell, anyway. His injuries make it a wee bit difficult to be absolutely sure. There’s plenty of them with him, shall we say, embracing other men.”
“Gay?” Sean asked.
“Looks that way. It’s early days, but there’s definitely some decent hi-fi and TV stuff around the place, and I notice several of the photies have our boy in far-flung corners of the world. Must have cost a few pennies. We’re not dealing with a complete loser here. He had a decent enough job, or he was a decent enough villain, although I don’t get the feel this is a villain’s home.” Both men craned their heads around the hallway area, as if to confirm Donnelly’s assessment so far. He continued: “And I’ve found a few letters all addressed to a Daniel Graydon. Nothing for anyone else.”
“Well, Daniel Graydon,” Sean asked, “what the hell happened to you? And why?”
“Shall we?” With an outstretched hand pointing along the corridor, Donnelly invited Sean to continue.
They moved from room to room, leaving the living room to the end. They trod carefully, moving around the edges so as not to disturb any invisible footprint indentations left in the carpets or minute but vital evidence: a strand of hair, a tiny drop of blood. Occasionally Sean would take a photograph with his small digital camera. He would keep the photographs for his personal use only, to remind him of details he had seen, but also to put himself back at the scene anytime he needed to sense it again, to smell the odor of blood, to taste the sickly sweet flavor of death. To feel the killer’s presence. He wished he could be alone in the flat, without the distraction of having to talk to anyone—to explain what he was seeing and feeling. It had been the same ever since he was a young cop, his ability to step into the shoes of the offender, be it a residential burglary or murder. Seeing the scene through the eyes of the offender. But only the more alarming scenes seemed to trigger this reaction. Walking around scenes of domestic murders or gangland stabbings he saw more than most other detectives, but felt no more than they did. This scene already seemed different. He wished he were alone.
Sean felt uncomfortable in the flat. Like an intruder. As if he should be constantly apologizing for being there. He shook off the feeling and mentally absorbed everything. The cleanliness of the furniture and the floors. Were the dishes washed and put away? Had any food been left out? Did anything, no matter how small, seem somehow out of place? If the victim kept his clothing neatly folded away, then a shirt on the floor would alert Sean’s curiosity. If the victim had lived in squalor, a freshly cleaned glass next to a sink full of dirty dishes would attract his eye. Indeed, Sean had already noted something amiss.
Sean and Donnelly came to the living room. The door was ajar, exactly how it had been found by the young constable. Donnelly moved inside. Sean followed.
There was a strong smell of blood—a lot of blood. It was a metallic smell. Like hot copper. Sean recalled the times he’d tasted his own blood. It always made him think that it tasted exactly like it smelled. At least this man had been killed recently. It was summer now—if the victim had been there for a few daysthe flat would have reeked. Flies would have filled the room, maggots infesting the body. He felt a jolt of guilt for being glad the man had just been killed.
Sean crouched next to the body, careful to avoid stepping in the pool of thick burgundy blood that had formed around the victim’s head. He’d seen many murder victims. Some had almost no wounds to speak of, others had terrible injuries. This was a bad one. As bad as he’d seen.
“Jesus Christ. What the hell happened in this room?” Sean asked.
Donnelly looked around. The dining room table was overturned. Two of the chairs with it had been destroyed. The TV had been knocked from its stand. Pictures lay smashed on the floor. CDs were strewn around the room. The lights from the CD player blinked in green.
“Must have been a hell of a fight,” Donnelly said.
Sean stood up, unable to look away from the victim: a white male, about twenty years old, wearing a T-shirt that was 50 percent soaked in blood, and hipster jeans, also heavily soaked in blood. One sock remained on his right foot; the other was nowhere to be seen. He was lying on his back, the left leg bent under the right, with both arms stretched out in a crucifix position. There were no restraints of any kind in evidence. The left side of his face and head had been caved in. The victim’s short hair allowed Sean to see two serious head wounds indicating horrific fractures to the skull. Both eyes were swollen almost completely shut and his nose was smashed, with congealed blood crusted around it. The mouth hadn’t escaped punishment, the lips showing several deep cuts, with the jaw hanging, dislocated. Sean wondered how many teeth would be missing. The right ear was nowhere to be seen. He hoped to God the man had died from the first blow to his head, but he doubted it.
The pool of blood by the victim’s head was the only heavy saturation area other than his clothing. Elsewhere there were dozens of splash marks: on the walls, furniture, and carpet. Sean imagined the victim’s head being whipped around by the ferocity of the blows, the blood from his wounds traveling in a fine spray through the air until it landed where it now remained. Once examined properly, these splash marks should provide a useful map of how the attack had developed.
The victim’s body had not been spared. Sean wasn’t about to start counting, but there must have been fifty to a hundred stab wounds. The legs, abdomen, chest, and arms had all been brutally attacked. Sean looked around for weapons, but could see none. He returned his gaze to the shattered body, trying to free his mind, to see what had happened to the young man now lying dead on his own floor. For the most fleeting of moments he saw a figure hunched over the dying man, something that resembled a screwdriver rather than a knife gripped in his hand, but the image was gone as quickly as it had arrived. Finally he managed to look away and speak.
“Who found the body?”
“That would be us,” Donnelly replied.
“Well, us via a concerned neighbor.”
“Is the neighbor a suspect?”
“No, no,” Donnelly dismissed the idea. “Some young bird from a few doors down, on her way home with her kebab and chips after a night of shagging and drinking.”
“Did she enter the flat?”
“No. She’s not the hero type, by all accounts. She saw the door slightly open and decided we ought to know about it. If she’d been sober, she probably wouldn’t have bothered.”
Sean nodded his agreement. Alcohol made some people conscientious citizens in the same way it made others violent temporary psychopaths.
“Uniform sent a unit around to check it out and found our victim here,” Donnelly added.
“Did he trample the scene?”
“No, he’s a probationer straight out of Hendon and still scared enough to remember what he’s supposed to do. He kept to the edges, touched nothing.”
“Good,” Sean said automatically, his mind having already moved on, already growing heavy with possibilities. “Well, whoever did this is either very angry or very ill.”
“No doubt about that,” Donnelly agreed.
There was a pause, both men taking the chance to breathe deeply and steady themselves, clearing their minds, a necessary prelude before trying to think coldly and logically. Seeing this brutality would never be easy, would never be matter-of-fact.
“Okay. First guess is we’re looking at a domestic murder.”
“A lover’s tiff?” Donnelly asked.
Sean nodded. “Whoever did this probably took a fair old beating themselves,” he added. “A man fighting for his life can do a lot of damage.”
“I’ll check the local hospitals,” Donnelly volunteered. “See if anyone who looks like they’ve been in a real ding-dong has been admitted.”
“Check with the local police stations for the same and wake the rest of the team up. Let’s get everyone together at the station for an eight a.m. briefing. And we might as well see if we can get a pathologist to examine the body while it’s still in place.”
“That won’t be easy, guv.”
“I know, but try. See if Dr. Canning is available. He sometimes comes out if it’s a good one, and he’s the best.”
“I’ll do what I can, but no promises.”
Sean surveyed the scene. Most murders didn’t take long to solve. The most obvious suspect was usually the right suspect. The panicked nature of the crime provided an Aladdin’s cave of forensic evidence. Enough to get a conviction. In cases like this, detectives often had to do little more than wait for the laboratory to examine the exhibits from the scene and provide all the answers. But as Sean looked around something was already niggling away at his instincts.
Donnelly spoke again. “Seems straightforward?”
“Yeah, I’m pretty happy.” He let the statement linger.
“But . . . ?”
“The victim almost certainly knew his killer. No forced entry, so he’s let him in. A boyfriend is a fair bet. This smells like a domestic murder. A few too many drinks. A heated argument. A fight kicks off and gets nastier and nastier, both end up beaten to a pulp and one dies. A crime of passion that the killer had no time to prepare for. He’s lost it for a while, killed a friend. A lover. Now all he wants to do is run. Get away from this flat and be somewhere safe to think out his next move. But there’re a couple of things missing for me.”
“They’ve probably been having a drink, but there are no glasses anywhere. Can you remember dealing with a domestic murder where alcohol wasn’t involved?”
“Maybe he cleaned the place up a bit?” Donnelly offered. “Washed the glasses and put them away.”
“Why would he bother cleaning a glass when his blood and fingerprints must be all over the place after a struggle like this?”
“Panic?” Donnelly suggested. “Wasn’t thinking straight. He cleaned up his glass, maybe started to clean up other stuff too before he realized he was wasting his time.”
Sean was thinking hard. The lack of signs of alcohol was a small point, but any experienced detective would have expected to find evidence of its use at a scene like this. An empty bottle of cider. A half-empty bottle of Scotch, or a champagne bottle to fuel the rage of the rich. But it was the image he was beginning to visualize that was plaguing him with doubt—the image his mind was piecing together using evidence that was missing as much as evidence that was present. The image of a figure crouching very deliberately over the victim. No frenzy, no rage, but evil in a human form.
“There’s something else,” he told Donnelly. “The killing obviously took place in the living room. We know he must have gone out the front door because everything else is locked up nice and tight. But the hallway is clean. Nothing. The carpet is light beige, yet there’s no sign of a bloody footprint. And the door handle? Nothing. No blood. Nothing.
“So our killer beats and stabs the victim to death in a frenzied moment of rage and yet stops to clean his hands before opening any doors. After killing a man who may have been his lover, he’s suddenly calm enough to take his shoes off and tiptoe out of the place. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Donnelly joined in. “And if our boy did stop to clean himself up before leaving, then where did he get clean? He had two choices. The sink in the bathroom or the sink in the kitchen.”
Sean continued for him. “We’ve seen both of them. Clean as a whistle. No signs of recent use. Not even a splash of water.”
“Aye,” Donnelly said. “But it’s probably nothing. We’re assuming too much. Maybe forensics will prove us wrong and find some blood in the hallway we can’t see.”
Sean wasn’t convinced, but before he could reply the uniformed constable at the front door called into the flat. “Excuse me, sir, your lab team is here.”
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