Exclusive Excerpt: Some Kind of Love (Jas Anderson Thriller Book 3) by Jack Dickson

Excerpt:

He frowned. Small talk wasn’t like Mhairi. She was working up to something. He wondered if it was the same something. 

‘It’ll be two years in September, since wee Paul died. Weird the way things work oot, eh Big Man?’ 

It was … 

‘Neil lost somethin’ special, in the Bar-L, an’ you an’ Stevie found somethin’.’

… and it wasn’t. Jas leant back on the sofa, flexing his arm. Through the window, the evening sky was clouding over. 

Neil. Neil Johnstone. 

Serving life for the murder of another prisoner. Briefly the lover of Mhairi McGhee’s brother Paul, serving eighteen months for possession of Ecstasy. And responsible by proxy for the scar on Mhairi’s face. 

Their thoughts moved along parallel lines. ‘Ah visit, when ah can.’ 

Not so much losing an enemy as gaining a … brother-in-law? ‘Neil still in the Bar-L?’ 

‘Aye.’ 

‘Wi’ Jimmy?’ 

‘Jimmy wis moved tae Carstairs, last November.’ 

He tapped the end of his cigarette against the edge of a smoked-glass ashtray. ‘Here endeth the history-lesson.’ A smile twitched his lips. 

‘Whit?’ 

‘Nothin’ …’ Jas drew the last millimetres of cigarette deep into his lungs, then stubbed the remnants into the ashtray. Maybe the something was better not talked about. Like abracadabra, maybe saying the words would give someone, somewhere, power. ‘Well, cheers fur shovin’ some business ma way.’ He hauled himself upright. His right arm refused to move, so he used his left. ‘Ah’ll gie Mrs Monaghan a ring, the night.’ 

‘Make it efter nine. Maggie’s holding the meetin’ at hur hoose, this week. Eyeways lays oan a guid spread, tae – ah think she likes the bakin’ as much as the company.’ 

‘Okay.’ Jas removed the receiver from the crook of his neck, holding it in his left hand while trying to flex the fingers of his right. He waited for her closure. 

It came after another pause. ‘Luck efter yersel’, Big Man. Say hello to Stevie, fur me?’ 

‘Aye …’ He severed the connection. 

Victim Support. Insurance. Joseph. The voice on the answerphone had sounded mid-fifties. Husband? Brother? 

Jas played back the tape, wrote down the number and returned the phone-call. 

Son.

Just after nine-thirty pm, the large living room of the second-floor flat in Rutherglen still bore traces of Mhairi’s recently departed Support Group … 

‘Thanks for comin’, Mr Anderson. Sorry aboot the mess.’ Wearing the sort of pinny his grandmother had rarely taken off, Margaret Monaghan deftly placed a variety of cups and plates on an already laden tray. 

… and testament to another, less-accepted departure. Jas pulled his eyes from the illuminated, framed photograph which sat on top of a well-polished sideboard. ‘Lemme give ye a hand.’ 

‘You sit doon, Mr Anderson – ah’ll just be a minute. Ye’ll take a cuppa tea, won’t ye?’ 

He knew better than to refuse. ‘That’ll be great.’ Jas sat on a worn but solid armchair. He didn’t usually do home visits – for obvious reasons – but Margaret Monaghan suffered from arthritis and seldom left her flat. As her ample, shuffling form disappeared through a doorway, Jas craned his neck to take in more of the makeshift altar. 

A photograph. A large photograph in an ornate frame. Looked like a detail blown-up from a holiday snap. A football scarf curled around the base of the frame, a green-and-white guardian snake. 

Draped across one corner, a small gold cross on a chain. On the wall above the photograph, a larger, gilt crucifix. Above that, a bleeding Sacred Heart. 

The whole scene was lit by two, obviously new, desk-spots. And a small votive candle which flickered in front of a bevy of Mass cards. 

Jas stared at the face in the photograph. Head-and-shoulders shot. 

Mid-teens. Sandy hair cut into a bowl-shape, skimming pink ears. Green eyes. Which were smiling at someone just out of sight. ‘That was taken at his cousin Fiona’s wedding. Last spring.’

Jas turned his head towards the voice. For a big, arthritic woman, Margaret Monaghan moved silently. 

She placed cup, saucer, milk and sugar containers on a small table to his right. ‘Joseph said it made him look like a wee boy, but ah eyeways liked him in it.’ 

He knew better than to comment: listening was part of his job. 

‘Would have been eighteen, next week, Mr Anderson.’ She sat down in the armchair opposite him. And the shrine. The pinnywas gone, exposing blouse, cardigan and pleated skirt. Broad fingers smoothed the fabric, picking at invisible threads. ‘His whole life ahead o’ him.’ Eyes fixed on the spotlit scene. 

‘You mind?’ Jas removed the small device from his pocket. He sat the voice-activated tape-recorder beside the cup and saucer, nodded to it. 

She barely heard. For the next thirty minutes, tiny wheels turnedand he watched her talking to Joseph Monaghan. He turned the tape when she paused: 

‘Mhairi said you could maybe … find oot how the police urgettin’ oan wi’ things.’ 

Jas kept his face impassive. ‘It’s an ongoing enquiry, MrsMonaghan. The police will be doin’ everything they can.’ 

She nodded. ‘Aye, ongoin’ – that’s whit ah keep gettin’ told.’ She was picking at the imaginary threads again. ‘Ongoin’ fur nearly a year, noo.’ No resentment in the voice. Just a little disappointment. 

Jas didn’t tell her the official stats on detection-rates. 

He didn’t tell her that, after a year, unsolved cases were put on the unofficial back-burner, and left there to dry out. She probably knew. Private Investigators were often straws to be clutched at. 

‘Mhairi said ye wurney cheap.’ With some effort, she got out of her chair and walked to the altar. 

Jas smiled at the bluntness and didn’t offer to help. 

Margaret Monaghan pulled open a drawer in the highly polished sideboard. ‘Ma sister keeps fellin’ me ah should use this tae get a new hip.’ She turned. 

Jas stared at the thick sheaf of notes. 

‘But ah’d sleep easier, if ah kent everything that could be done wis bein’ done tae catch the animals who murdered ma Joseph.’ She shuffled towards him, dumping at least ten thousand in crisp pink notes into his lap. 

He was intending to tell her the police were unlikely to co-operate with the private sector, full stop, if an investigation was ongoing. 

Instead, he counted the money, gave her a receipt for his five hundred pound retainer and advised her to keep the rest somewhere more secure. Then he switched off the tape recorder, put it back in his pocket and told her he’d be in touch.

Blurb:

Jas Anderson, now working as a private investigator, is hired by a victim’s mother to get answers from a police force that seems unable to help. He finds a clue that the police may have missed then washes his hands of the case. At home, he shares his apartment with “Stevie” McStay, Anderson’s former cellmate and new boyfriend, as well as Stevie’s often-visiting two young children. Out of the blue, a voice from Jas’ past asks for help with a personal matter and a police investigation. He soon finds himself stirring an explosive cocktail of police corruption, football fanaticism, sectarianism, and murder, while … house hunting. Then the gay bashings begin again and suspicion falls close to home.

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Exclusive Excerpt: Transactional Dynamics (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 3) By Gregory Ashe

Excerpt:

CHAPTER EIGHT

FEBRUARY 12

TUESDAY

5:19 PM

HAZARD WAS TRYING TO FIND Evie’s ballet slippers when he heard the front door open.

“Evie’s got dance,” he shouted down the stairs.

Somers said something back; he sounded tired.

“Can you check the potatoes?”

This time, nothing.

“If they’re really brown on top, just take them out.”

Silence.

“Daddy!” Evie squealed.

“Go say hi,” Hazard told her

Instead, she ran to her dresser and began pulling out drawers, grabbing shirts and dresses, inspecting them, and tossing them to the floor.

“Evie, stop. Put those away.”

She babbled something, and at the end, Hazard understoodtwo words: “Snow dress.”

“No, we’re not getting your snow dress. Go say hi to Daddy. And ask him where he put your ballet slippers.”

More gabbling. Repeated exclamations about the Snow Dress. And, the whole time, she was pulling out clothes and dumping them on the floor.

“Evie. Evie! Stop, sweetheart.”

Hazard had finished digging through the toy chest; no sign of the ballet slippers. He’d already searched the closet, but now he went back. Lots of Evie’s junk accumulated at the bottom of the closet, and Hazard shifted it to the bedroom as he searched.

“Swimmies!” Evie shrieked.

“God damn it,” Hazard growled, turning around just in time to see Evie dive into the pile of summer clothes he had just moved out of the closet. Sure enough, she had found several swimsuits and was trying to pull them on all at once.

“No, Evie. Put those down. Stop! We’re not putting on swimsuits right now. We—no! No, your head doesn’t go there. Just put it down, please. We’re going to ballet. We’re going to eat dinner and we’re going to ballet.”

By the time he’d finished explaining the clear, orderly plan for their evening, she was tangled in three swimsuits, reminding Hazard of marine life that got caught in the plastic rings from six-packs.

“John,” Hazard shouted. “I could use some help.”

The answer that came back was faint and sounded suspiciously like, “In a minute.”

“Right now,” Hazard shouted.

Nothing.

Then, slow footsteps. Painfully slow. Grudgingly slow. So fucking slow that Hazard wanted to go out there, wanted to say something like, Are your legs fucking broken?

When Somers came into the room, he was carrying a Bud Light, and he’d already stripped down to his undershirt, trousers, and socks—a striped pair that Hazard recognized.

“I thought we threw those away,” Hazard said.

“Huh?”

“The socks.”

Somers wiggled his toes. “Oh, no. I still like them.

“Yeah? Because your heel is sticking out.”

“It’s my heel, and they’re my socks.” Before Hazard could reply, he stepped over to Evie grabbing one of the tangled swimsuits and trying to turn her out of it. “How’d she get all wrapped up in these?”

“Have you seen her ballet slippers?”

“Why’s all this stuff out of the closet? Evie, no. Your arm. Pull your arm through—there you go. Come on, this room is a mess.”

“You took her to ballet last week. Do you remember where you put the slippers?”

“What?” Somers was struggling with the next swimsuit. “Her slippers?”

“Her ballet slippers.”

“They’re downstairs. She kicked them off by the garage door, and I put them on the shoe rack.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re shoes,” Somers said. The last swimsuit came off, and Evie tumbled and caught herself against the dresser. “All right, miss, come here and get your tights on.”

“No tights,” Evie shrieked, darting out of the room, her voice trailing after her.

“God damn it,” Hazard said. “Can you grab her? We’re going to be late.”

“She’s fine. Let her run around a little bit; she’s still got way too much energy.”

“We don’t have time for her to run around a little bit. We’re going to be late.”

“Ok,” Somers said, grabbing the beer and tipping it back.

“Excuse me?”

“Nothing. I mean, it’s ballet for a three-year-old. Late’s not exactly the end of the world.”

“Late is late.”

“Right.”

In the middle of transferring another stack of out-of-season clothes, Hazard suddenly stopped caring about neat piles and organization. He shoved the mess into the closet, compressing it with one foot until he could shut the door.

“What’s your deal?” Somers asked, eyeing him over the brown glass.

Hazard made himself count to ten; in their silence, Evie was still screaming, “No tights!”

“My deal?”

“You’ve been pissy since I walked in the door.”

“Since you walked in the door, got a beer, and sat down to watch TV.”

Somers made a face.

“Do you want to say something?”

“No. I don’t want to fight.”

“Great. So, next time you come home and I ask for help, you’re going to, what? Take a nap first?”

“Jesus, you really want this, don’t you?”

“And her ballet slippers go in her room, in the closet, right in front. Where they always go.”

“They don’t always go there.”

“Yes. They do.”

Somers flashed a smile. “Not this time. So, technically, not always.”

Hazard knew exactly what he was going to say to that, except then the smoke alarm beeped downstairs.

“Did you check the potatoes?” Hazard asked.

Somers had the decency to look guilty as he drained the beer.

“Jesus Christ,” Hazard said, pushing past him and jogging down the stairs and to the kitchen. Smoke leaked out around the oven door, coiling up to the ceiling. Hazard grabbed hot pads, opened the door, and grabbed the dish of scalloped potatoes. He transferred them to the cooling rack. Behind him, the beeping cut off.

Somers stood on tiptoes, finagling the battery out of the smoke detector. In one arm, he held Evie who was wide eyed and covering her ears. She pointed at the smoking casserole and whispered, “Hot.”

“Ok,” Somers said. “That was my fault.”

“It was one thing.” Hazard opened the window over the sink, fanning the air with the hot pads. “I asked you to do one thing.”

“Can we not have a fight in front of Evie?”

“Yeah.”

“I hungry,” Evie announced.

“There’s some mac and cheese—” Somers began.

“No,” Evie screamed. A string of other words followed.

Somers stared at her helplessly. “You love mac and cheese. We’ve got a box of the princess mac and cheese, and—”

She interrupted him with another shriek.

“You’re going to have mac and cheese, Evie. That’s what’s for dinner tonight. I don’t know what you’re saying. Calm down and—stop screaming, ok? Just tell me what you want.”

Hazard touched his shoulder, and Somers flinched.

“I told her she could have those organic spaghetti rings. That’s what she’s trying to say.”

“Well why can’t—” Whatever Somers might have asked, he stopped himself. Then, to Evie, “Ok, that’s fine. Come on. You don’t need to cry. We’ll get the spaghetti rings. I didn’t know Dee Dee had told you that.”

Evie’s distraught tears were changing to sniffles; she latched on to Somers, burying her face in his shoulder while he stroked her dark hair. He shuffled to the pantry and tried to rummage through the chaos, pushing aside the canned corn and patting her back.

“Here,” Hazard said.

“I can do it,” Somers said, turning away slightly. “I screwed up everything else, so I can do this part at least.”

Hazard touched his shoulder, and this time, Somers didn’t jolt.

“This,” Hazard said, drawing a line between the two of them, “isn’t helping. I’ll get her calmed down and dressed for ballet; you warm up the spaghetti rings.”

Some part of Somers that had been pushed too far wanted to keep fighting about it; Hazard could see it in his face. But then, with a sigh, Somers nodded and passed Evie over. Hazard tucked her against his chest, rubbing a circle on her back as he walked toward the stairs. She gabbled into his shirt.

“No, he was not being mean,” Hazard said, breaking in on her flow of words. “He didn’t know.”

The doorbell rang.

“If that’s Billy,” Somers said from the kitchen, “I’m going to shoot him. I cannot handle a toddler meltdown over spaghetti rings and that jerk in the same night.”

“Go on,” Hazard said. “I’ll get it.”

When he answered the door, he froze.

“No,” he said. “Whatever it is, go away.”

“I wish,” North said.

North McKinney was blond, tall, stacked in a way that meant hard work and not weights in front of a mirror. He had on a heavy-duty Carhartt jacket, his hands buried in the pockets. Hazard had known him from his time in St. Louis, where Northworked as a private detective. And, if Hazard weren’t currently experiencing a category-5 personal shitstorm, he might have even bought the asshole a drink. North had, after all, helped Hazard start his own agency.

Another day, Hazard was going to say. Another time. Whatever you’re here for, we don’t want any.

But before Hazard could say anything, a guy with a cloud of frizzy, reddish-brown hair squeezed past North and then past Hazard, slipping into the house with a distracted grin. “Mind if I come in?” he asked when he was already halfway through the foyer.

“Shaw,” North said, “hold on.”

“Yes,” Hazard said. “I mind a whole hell of a lot. Get back—”

“North,” Shaw said, turning excitedly and pointing toward the hall. “I figured out why he’s such an asshole. The feng shui in this house is totally off.”

Blurb:

Emery Hazard is ready for Valentine’s Day. He’s made reservations months in advance, he’s ordered flowers, and he’s got a boyfriend he wants to treat right—even if John-Henry Somerset occasionally lets the dishes sit in the sink a little too long. They even have an extra reason to celebrate this year: Somers has received a special commendation for his police work.

Everything begins to go wrong, though, when Hazard’s ex-boyfriend shows up on their doorstep. Billy claims he just needs help getting away from an abusive partner, but Somers believes Billy has other motives, including designs on Hazard. 

When men who have been hired to track Billy show up in Wahredua, Hazard agrees to help his ex elude them. But as Hazard prepares to sneak Billy out of town, a woman is murdered behind the local gay bar, and Somers’s investigation leads him towards Hazard’s ex.

As Hazard and Somers find themselves working together to find the killer, they both must confront a hard truth: everything comes at a cost—career success, healthy relationships, and even justice. The only question is if they’re willing to pay the price.

More About Author Gregory Ashe:

Learn more about Gregory Ashe and forthcoming works at www.gregoryashe.com.

Gregory Ashe

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The Crooked Colonel (The Adventures of Nick & Carter Book 1) by Frank W. Butterfield

Excerpt:

“I can’t believe we didn’t bring any food with us. I’m hungry.” That was me.

Carter and I were sitting on the ground in a thick stand of trees. We were leaning against a cold wall of rock and were positioned so that we could see anyone approaching, whether from the south, west, or north.

Carter pulled an old pocket knife out of his coat pocket and handed it to me.

“What good will this do?” I asked.

Out of his other coat pocket, he pulled a thick bundle wrapped in a blue and white towel. He unwrapped it and revealed the remains of the cheese and sausage we’d had for breakfast.

“Did you steal this?” I asked as I opened the knife.

“No. Luke might be in love with you, but John is in love with me. He handed these to me right before we left.”

I sighed as I cut off a slice of sausage and offered it to Carter.

He took it and then said, “Open up the tunnel, ’cause here comes the train.”

I laughed and then opened my mouth so he could put the piece on my tongue.

“You’re going to ignore all the obvious jokes, son?”

After I swallowed, I said, “How’s this one? I’ll take your sausage anytime, fireman.”

He laughed and then said, “You bet you will.”

I rolled my eyes and leaned against him. “How are we going to do this?”

“The sun sets around 5:45 or so. Once it’s dark, we need to start hunting for a car to steal. I don’t think we’re very far from Pasaia. We need to leave here no later than 11.”

I looked at my watch. It was almost 1. “How do we get Tessier out?”

“We walk up to the jail and hand over some money.”

“That easy?”

“It’s never failed before.”

I turned and looked at him. “When did you last bribe a guard to let someone out of jail? We’ve never done that at home.”

“Spain is a poor country, son.”

I shook my head. “I don’t think it’ll work. What if they’ve figured out they’re holding a famous Frenchman who’s friends with de Gaulle? And have, I dunno, notified the authorities in Madrid?” I was suddenly steamed. “Why the fuck are we just now talking about this?” I kicked the grass with the heel of my boot.

“Because we trusted Mark to do what he promised to do.”

“If we’re ever in this kinda situation again, we are going to be in charge and we’re going to make the plans and we’re going to check and double-check. Got that?”

He snorted. “I don’t plan on doing this again. Not for France, not for Lady Liberty, not for nobody, no way, no how.”

“Me neither.”

He turned and kissed me on the forehead. “I’m glad to hear that.”

Blurb:

Thursday, January 1, 1970

After a night of revelry at their newest hotel, the Hopkins Excelsior, in Viña del Mar, Chile, Nick and Carter head up the coast for some surfing along with their nephews, Kermit and Ernie.

Once there, they meet up with two interesting characters.

The first is a sweet gal in her early 20s who shows up in the strangest places but always at the right time.

The other is a strange and very much out-of-place American military officer.

One thing leads to another, and before Nick and Carter know what’s happening, they find themselves embroiled in a conspiracy that could have serious international implications.

From the coast of Chile to a Spanish town in the hills of the Basque Country and all the way to the halls of Buckingham Palace, Nick and Carter are hot on the heels of The Crooked Colonel!

More About Frank W Butterfield

Butterfield is the Amazon best-selling author of over 20 books and counting in the Nick Williams Mystery series, stories about Nick & Carter, a private dick and a fireman who live and love in San Francisco.

Frank W Butterfield

To learn more about Frank W. Butterfield’s novels, Nick & Carter and their ongoing adventures, click here for his website.

Exclusive Excerpt: Infractions: A Lesbian Detective Novel (Carpenter/Harding Series Book 10) by Barbara Winkes

Excerpt:

A little after seven a.m. they sat around the big dining table for breakfast, trying to figure out what happened a few hours go, only a couple of miles away. Sheriff Watkins had made it clear that they would work with the county, and were well equipped to take care of the situation.

It seemed like there was nothing out of the ordinary in the rooms of Hogan’s cabin, yet Ellie had left with the nagging feeling that they’d overlooked something. Those blood smears were haunting her. And that chair in the attic.

“We can all come up with the wildest theories,” Valerie Esposito remarked. “That doesn’t make them true. People do strange things in a traumatic situation. The chair might have been there for a long time. On the other hand, people do terrible things to one another.”

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“I think he dragged her back inside. That doesn’t mean he meant to kill her…but it’s odd. If it wasn’t him…was someone else there?”

She saw Derek and Jordan exchange a look she wasn’t sure how to interpret.

“The sheriff and his deputy gave me strange looks when they said where you called from. Why is that? That bar, what did it look like?”

Another one of those looks passed between the partners, doing nothing to reassure Ellie.

“All right. Anything you aren’t telling me?”

“This is not our job,” Derek said. “It’s puzzling, yes, and it certainly messed with our vacation, but they will take care of it.”

Ellie glared at him, surprised that it did have any effect.

“Biker hangout,” he added. “Not the friendly kind either, but once they knew we were cops, they refrained to verbal BS.”

“Jesus, and you’re telling me this now?”

Jordan sighed.

“We made the call, we came back here. There was nothing to tell.”

“I can’t believe you.” Ellie shook her head, then got up and served herself from the coffee pot. “Sorry, I need some caffeine. This is…I don’t even know what to say.”

“Well, we didn’t know it was that bad, and it was the only place to get to a landline. Relax,” Jordan implored. “It’s over.”

“Yeah. I guess.”

“Anyone still wants to go fishing?” Casey asked dryly.

Ellie took a deep breath and sat back down. She might have overreacted, but she was still disturbed by the image of the woman who had died on that couch, all alone—and the idea that Derek and Jordan had gone inside that place knowing it could be dangerous.

She had to admit that she could understand Jordan much better now for acting in a way she had at times found overprotective, bordering on overbearing. But things were different. She knew Jordan was a tad bored on light duty, but she didn’t have to jump at an occasion like this, did she?

“I think we’re going to drive home after lunch,” Valerie said. “It might be outside our jurisdiction, but I’m going to have a hard time relaxing, under the circumstances.”

Kate looked sad. Ellie couldn’t come up with anything to reassure her friend.

“Yeah, I know what you mean.”

* * * *

“You know I would never do anything to harm her,” Jordan said when they were on their way home, and Ellie had barely spoken in half an hour. “It was just about making that call. Driving around for a few minutes, it wasn’t bad for the baby.”

“I know.”

“It’s out of our hands now.”

“I know.”

“But?” Jordan prompted.

“I’m not sure,” Ellie admitted. “I might be getting a little paranoid. You’re the one who’s pregnant, but it seems like my emotions are all over the place, and I don’t know why. You’ve done so great.”

Jordan seemed just as startled as she was to realize she was close to tears.

“Well, the toughest part is yet to come. Besides, you’ve been great too, working a full time job and being there for me every step of the way. I’m not taking that for granted. I’ll never take you for granted.”

“I know that. I’m sorry. Wow.” Ellie took a deep breath. So much for her decision not to share any of her own fears. “That was so unexpected. If it was an accident like he said, he just lost the love of his life. If he intended it…was she in an abusive relationship, or did he trick her into coming up here somehow? No matter how you look at it, it’s a terrible story.”

“Yeah, I get you. The fact that there are so many unanswered questions doesn’t make it any easier. Damn, what a world. Makes me wonder if we should home-school our daughter and while we’re at it, never let her out until she’s thirty or so.”

Jordan cracked up laughing at Ellie’s expression.

“I guess we’ll find other ways, then.”

“I’m sure she’d prefer that.”

“Yeah. We haven’t even settled on a name yet.”

“The subject came up briefly while you were playing pool,” Jordan remembered. “We thought about this before, naming her after our moms? Meredith Pauline?”

“You’d be okay with that?”

At this moment, Ellie was certain she was experiencing sympathetic pregnancy syndrome. Whatever the reason for her being this emotional, she was glad not to be driving.

“Of course. Meredith Pauline Carpenter Harding.” Jordan chuckled. “Is she going to hate us?”

“How about we shorten it to Meri? And I won’t feel left out if it’s just Carpenter. You’re doing the hard part.”

At the next red light, Jordan took her hand, and just like that, they had a plan. Ellie could breathe a lot easier.

Blurb:

Some bridges have to be built…Others have to be burned.

Jordan and Ellie’s weekend getaway with friends is harshly interrupted when a desperate man asks for help after his girlfriend is hurt. He soon gives them reason to doubt his story, leaving them to question whether the woman’s death is really a tragic accident or the result of a crime. Working with the local sheriff, they try to unravel the events.

Meanwhile, Ellie and Derek team up to investigate the murder of an exotic dancer. What they uncover could have detrimental consequences for one of their own…

Jordan and Ellie get ready to welcome an addition to their family.

More about author Barbara Winkes:

Barbara Winkes writes suspense and romance with lesbian characters at the center. She has always loved stories in which women persevere and lift each other up. Expect high drama and happy endings. Women loving women always take the lead.

Exclusive Sneak-Peek: Murder and Mayhem: An Annotated Bibliography of Gay and Queer Males in Mystery, 1909-2018 by Matthew Lubbers-Moore

From the introduction:

  • This bibliography can follow the acceptance of gay and queer men in mysteries from when they first appeared to the present day and not all authors wrote about gay or queer men in a positive light. Therefore some of the comments below the titles explain how the author may have been homophobic or written their main character to be homophobic/transphobic.

Mystery Genre Definitions:

  • Amateur Sleuth: The amateur sleuth tries to solve the murder of someone close. Either the police have tried and failed or misread the murder as an accident/suicide. Both the loss and need for a solution is personal. -Definition provided by Stephen D. Rogers.
  • Bibliomystery: Mystery stories set in the world of books; libraries, bookstores, or those who deal with books; authors, book collectors, book sellers, editors, or publishers.
  • BDSM: Sexual activity involving such practices as the use of physical restraints, the granting and relinquishing of control, and the infliction of pain –Definition provided by Merriam Webster. BDSM is not a genre of mysteries but I include it as a warning to those who may not want to read sexually explicit and sexually 13 violent titles (MLM).
  • Caper: A caper is a comic crime story. Instead of suave and calculating, the caper chronicles the efforts of the lovable bungler who either thinks big or ridiculously small. -Definition provided by Stephen D. Rogers.
  • Classics: Classics are often written by authors in the late 19th and early 20th century, i.e. Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Raymond Chandler, Daphne du Maurier, Dashiell Hammett, Wilkie Collins, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These are the authors that all mystery is built on.
  • Coming of Age: when a person reaches an important stage of development, growing into adulthood, becoming a mature adult. –Definition provided by Collins Dictionary.
  • Courtroom Drama/Legal Thriller: Lawyers make effective protagonists since they seem to exist on a plane far above the rest of us. Although popular, these tales are usually penned by actual lawyers due to the demands of the information presented. – Definition provided by Stephen D. Rogers.
  • Cozies: The cozy, typified by Agatha Christie, contains a bloodless crime and a victim who won’t be missed. The solution can be determined using emotional or logical reasoning. There is no sex or swearing, and the detective is traditionally heterosexual or asexual. -Definition provided by Stephen D. Rogers.

Modern Cozies: Unlike classic cozies, modern cozies include some swearing, discussions of sex, and can have a homosexual detective.

  • Crime Drama: Suspense in the crime story comes from wondering whether the plan will work. We’re rooting for the bad guys because they are smart, organized, and daring. -Definition provided by Stephen D. Rogers.

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The book contains the complete story The Man with the Watches by Arthur Conan Doyle.  From the history:

The debate over whether or not Sherlock Holmes was gay and had an attachment to Watson can be and probably will be argued over for as long as the characters are popular enough to be debated over. However, the two characters in this story obviously have feelings for each other …

THE MAN WITH THE WATCHES

by Arthur Conan Doyle

THERE ARE MANY WHO WILL still bear in mind the singular circumstances which, under the heading of the Rugby Mystery, filled many columns of the daily Press in the spring of the year 1892. Coming as it did at a period of exceptional dullness, it attracted perhaps rather more attention than it deserved, but it offered to the public that mixture of the whimsical and the tragic which is most stimulating to the popular imagination. Interest dropped, however, when, after weeks of fruitless investigation, it was found that no final explanation of the facts was forthcoming, and the tragedy seemed from that time to the present to have finally taken its place in the dark catalogue of inexplicable and unexpiated crimes.

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Sample entries:

624. Colton, James, Known Homosexual, Brandon House, 1968. (Pulp) Scorned by his family, defeated by society, Steve was at a major crossroads in his life. His marriage had gone sour, his hopes as a playwright dashed. Confused and friendless, Steve turned to pretty boy Coy Randol for love and support. But then Coy was found brutally murdered and there was only one person the police suspected: Steve. –republished as Stranger to Himself in 1977 by Major Books under [Joseph] Hansen’s own name, the only Colton book to be reclaimed. It was heavily edited as it removed much of the sex scenes. It was then republished as Pretty Boy Dead in 1984 by Gay Sunshine Press. The book is edited to reintroduce some of the items Hansen cut out in Stranger to Himself but still left out much of the sex scenes. Steve is an early version of Cecil from Hansen’s later Brandstetter books (MLM). 3/3

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1981. Michaelsen, Jon, Pretty Boy Dead, Wilde City Press, 2013. Kendall Parker #1 of 2. (Police Procedural) A murdered male stripper. A missing go-go dancer. A city councilman on the hook. Can Atlanta homicide detective Sergeant Kendall Parker solve the vicious crime while remaining safely hidden behind the closet door? –book two in the Kendall Parker series, Deadwood Murders, is set to be published late in 2019 (MLM). 3/3

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2145. Paretsky, Sara, Burn Marks, Delacorte, 1990. V. I. Warshawski #6 of 21. (Hardboiled) Someone knocking on the door at 3 A.M. is never good news. For V.I. Warshawski, the bad news arrives in the form of her wacky, unwelcome aunt Elena. The fire that has just burned down a sleazy SRO hotel has brought Elena to V.I.’s doorstep. Uncovering an arsonist – and the secrets hidden behind Elena’s boozy smile – will send V.I. into the seedy world of Chicago’s homeless… into the Windy City’s backroom deals and bedroom politics, where new 628 schemers and old cronies team up to get V.I. off the case – by hook, by crook, or by homicide. –the gay yuppie neighbor and his laid-back boyfriend appear slightly (MLM). 1/3

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2478. Sanders, J. B., Glen and Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventures, Lulu, 2011. Glen and Tyler #1 of 5. (Caper) Tyler can’t inherit unless he gets married … and when Glen proposes, hijinks ensue. Follow the guys on their world-spanning adventure as they defeat mobsters, an evil step-mother, a rakish brother-inlaw and pirates. No, really – pirates! Plus, there’s an underground super-base. And hockey. Come for the romance, stay for the hockey. –two bisexual guys take the plunge after decades of friendship (MM). 3/3

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2991. Woody, Michelle, The Scarecrow’s Kiss, iUniverse, 2004. (Fantasy) In 1980, serial killer Joseph Parrish was killed in a raid by local authorities and his bizarre world uncovered. Now, Russell Kenyon has come to do a segment on Parrish for his show, Spooky History, hoping the report will be his show’s saving grace. With a new victim missing, talk of Parrish’s curse has spread through town. 3/3

Blurb:

Librarian and scholar Matt Lubbers-Moore collects and examines every mystery novel to include a gay or queer male in the English language starting with the 1909 Arthur Conan Doyle short story “The Man with the Watches,” which is included in its entirety. Authors, titles, dates published, publishers, book series, short blurbs, and a description of how involved the gay or queer male character is with the mystery are all included for a full bibliographic background.

Murder and Mayhem will prove invaluable for mystery collectors, researchers, libraries, general readers, aficionados, bookstores, and devotees of LGBTQ studies. The bibliography is laid out in alphabetical order by author for the ease of the reader to find what they are looking for and be able to read the blurb and author notes to determine if the book is what they are looking for whether a hard boiled private eye, an amateur cozy, a suspenseful romance, or a police procedural. All subgenres within the mystery field are included within including fantasy, science fiction, espionage, political intrigue, crime dramas, courtroom thrillers, and more with a definition guide of the subgenres for a better understanding of the genre as a whole.

A ReQueered Tales Original publication, this 2020 edition contains a bonus story by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Purchase e-book:

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About Matthew Lubbers-Moore

“One of the founders of ReQueered Tales, Matt served as a judge for the Lambda Literary Awards for Best Gay Mystery in 2017 and 2018. Matt is over educated with 3 associate degrees, a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in Human Rights, as well as working on his second master’s degree in history after finishing his master’s in library and information science in 2019. He lives in a converted creamery in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his farmer and truck driving husband, Doug. Other than ReQueered Tales, Matt works at a bookstore, a comic book store, and an academic library. His traveling bookstore appears at comic cons, gay pride events, book fairs, and flea markets. He is also kept busy as one of the administrators of the Gay Mystery-Suspense-Thriller FB page. He has four hobbies; collecting gay mysteries, collecting Dr. Doom comic book appearances, going to used bookstores and pizza restaurants, usually right after the other, and traveling the country via train.”

Lion’s Head Revisited: A Dan Sharp Mystery by Jeffrey Round

Excerpt:

Chapter Five: CRYSTAL LULLABYE

Sarah Nealon looked surprisingly well-put-together for a meth addict. Safely enrolled in a government-sponsored rehab program, she was one of the lucky ones who hadn’t ended up on the streets or working as a hooker. Instead, she lived in a bright public-housing unit and was well-dressed, with her hair done and fingernails painted. Dan sat watching her butterfly-like movements as she toyed with a tea set in a slow-motion parody of a homemaker’s routine: put tea in the pot then smile at your guest; pour water from the kettle then smile at your guest; offer your guest his cup then smile again. Everything seemed designed to reassure him that all was well and she was fully in control of her situation, despite the unnatural sheen in her eyes.

A sun-catcher dangled over the table. She reached up with spidery fingers to spin it. The coppery faces reflected light haphazardly throughout the room, random acts of beauty in a harsh and unpredictable world. It tinkled softly, dispelling gloom while keeping the world and its demons at bay.

Dan was familiar with meth users. Most of them wanted a good time, not a self-destructive ride to hell. Unfortunately, the latter was more often what they got — a never-ending trip that ensnared everyone around them, the people who watched in disbelief as a wonderful friend/co-worker/brother/sister/son/daughter/spouse turned into an abusive monster/liar/thief who needed desperately to support a habit that had started out as just an escape from the humdrum routine of life. Why do nine-to-five when you could get five-to-ten instead? But Sarah Nealon was lucky, in a manner of speaking. Her addiction meant she could exist on a disability pension that would extend her life of purgatory and pay for her habit for as long as she wanted.

“Do you mind if I ask where you were over the weekend?” Dan said.

“When Jeremy disappeared?”

“Yes.”

She smiled again, her movements light as a feather, as though she were trying to avoid making contact with anything more tangible than the air surrounding her.

“Oh, I was here,” she said, brushing the hair from her forehead and cradling her tea. “I’m always here.”

Watching her, Dan doubted whether she would have been capable of plotting and pulling off an abduction on her own even if she’d wanted to. Then again, addicts were surprisingly tenacious.

“I’m not supposed to leave.” She showed him her ankle monitor. “They always know where I am. It’s part of my probation agreement.”

“I understand you got off surprisingly easy.”

“It’s because of the pregnancy.” Her face twitched at some memory reaching through the fog of her brain. She unconsciously patted her swollen abdomen. “When the judge heard I was pregnant, she took pity on me, I think.”

“Three months is a very light sentence,” Dan agreed.

“Oh, but there’s still my probation,” she said, as though he might be considering that the judge had been too lenient. “It’s for another two years. After that, we’ll see.”

Dan wondered whether her probation would be rescinded if the judge learned she was using meth again. Then again, with the city’s restricted budgets most felons were self-reporting under the new rules. And so the system failed them again.

“I’m also not allowed to have credit cards or enter a bank without supervision.” She watched his every movement, her eyes focused on him as she sipped from her cup.

“It’s probably for the best,” he said.

“Oh! I wouldn’t do it again. I know better now.” She gave a light laugh. “I really believed I was on a mission to end world hunger and poverty. I was convinced God sent me to that bank to ask for funding.” She smiled. “Isn’t that crazy?”

“It’s a nice thought,” Dan said. “If all the banks around the world put their resources together they probably could do just that.”

“I know — that’s the crazy thing. My thinking wasn’t that far off. It was just …”

She reached up. The sun-catcher tinkled again. She smiled at it as if it were a friend calling her name.

“Your method of going about it?” Dan asked.

“Yes! I thought I was asking for a contribution to help end world hunger, but they thought I was robbing the bank.” Her expression darkened. “Though I guess that’s what I was doing, really, when you think about it.”

“Sadly, yes,” Dan said.

She turned back to him. “Why are you here again?”

“I came to ask you about Jeremy Bentham. He’s been abducted.”

“That’s terrible. I didn’t know.” She paused. “Or did I? I don’t remember. It seems to me I did know it, but then I forgot.”

“Do you remember asking his mother, Janice, for money after Jeremy’s birth?”

“I do remember that. She was very nice. She gave me money when I explained that giving birth to Jeremy made me turn to …” She frowned and shook her head. “The fertility clinic fired me. After that I went away and promised not to ask her for more.”

“And did you stop asking?”

“I …” She looked away for a moment. “Janice was very nice to me. She promised to help.” She smiled sadly. “I’m getting better.”

“That’s good.” Dan considered. “Do you know of anyone who might want to harm Jeremy or take him from his mother?”

“No! Why would anyone harm a child? Did someone tell you I did?”

“No. No one told me that.”

“Good, because I would never.” Tears formed in her eyes. “There was an accident once, though. It was terrible.”

“With Jeremy?”

“Oh, no. Not with him.” She shook her head. “Something terrible happened to a boy I knew.”

“One of the children you were carrying for someone else?”

“Oh, no.” She looked relieved. “Another boy. It was very sad. But I don’t really remember it now.”

“How did you learn where Jeremy lived?”

“I wasn’t supposed to know!” She suddenly looked mischievous, a child who had done something naughty but clever. “It was at the clinic. When they told me my services were no longer required, the doctor was distracted for a moment. I looked down at my file and saw the address. I still remember it!”

“And when you went to ask Janice and Ashley for money, did you think you were helping end world hunger again?”

She stared at him for a moment then stood. “I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse me. Marjorie is coming soon. She’s my social worker. I have to get ready for her.”

Dan stood. “Thank you for seeing me.”

She saw him to the door.

“I hope they find Jeremy.” She unconsciously reached down to feel her stomach. “I love children. I’d hate to see any of them hurt. I’m going to have my own soon. My mother is very happy she’s going to have a grandchild of her own.”

Dan nodded, wondering how long a drug addict and convicted felon would be allowed to keep a child. The door closed behind him. A young woman was coming along the sidewalk toward him. Her clothes were prim, her look officious. The social worker.

“Are you Marjorie?” he asked.

“Yes.” She looked at him uncertainly. “Who are you?”

“My name is Dan Sharp. I’m a private investigator.”

She gave him a shrewd look. “About the missing boy, Jeremy, I suppose?”

“That’s right.”

“I doubt I can tell you anything, but ask me whatever you like.”

Dan shook his head. “No, I wasn’t going to ask you anything. I’ve just had a visit with Sarah.”

“The police were already here.”

“Yes, I know.” Dan hesitated.

“What is it?”

“I just wondered if you knew that Sarah is getting high while pregnant.”

For a second, Dan thought he detected a smirk on Marjorie’s face.

“She’s not.”

“She’s definitely high,” Dan said.

Her expression softened. “No, I meant she’s not pregnant. She uses a pillow to make it look as though she is.” She gave a rueful little smile. “But yes, she very likely is high. That’s a given, sad to say.”

She opened the door and disappeared inside.

Blurb:

A case brings PI Dan Sharp to the northern Ontario wilderness, where he has to face his own dark past.

When a four-year-old autistic boy disappears on a camping trip, his mother is reluctant to involve the police. Instead, she calls in private investigator Dan Sharp after a ransom demand arrives.

On investigating, Dan learns there are plenty of people who might be responsible for the kidnapping. Among them are an ex-husband who wrongly believed the boy was his son; the boy’s surrogate mother, now a drug addict; the boy’s grandmother, who has been denied access to her grandson; and a mysterious woman who unnerves everyone with her unexpected appearances.

A trip to Lion’s Head in the Bruce Peninsula, where the boy disappeared, brings Dan unexpectedly into contact with his own brutal upbringing. But when a suspected kidnapper is found dead, Dan suddenly finds himself chasing the ghosts of the present as well as the past.

Find out more about author, Jeffrey Round

  • I am the author of fifteen published books. These include seven volumes of my Lambda Award-winning Dan Sharp mystery series and four volumes of the comic Bradford Fairfax series. I am also an award-winning filmmaker, television producer and song-writer.
  • My most recent book is Lion’s Head Revisited (February 2020.) Seventh in the Dan Sharp series from Dundurn Books, it tells of Dan’s efforts to rescue an autistic boy kidnapped on the Bruce Peninsula.
  • Its predecessor, Shadow Puppet (2019), is a fictional recreation of the real-life serial killings that took place in Toronto’s gay community from 2010 through 2017. The Globe and Mail‘s Margaret Cannon wrote, “…this is as good a whoddunit as we will see this year.”
  • Endgame, a stand-alone mystery, was called a “brilliant recreation” of Agatha Christie’s best-selling And Then There Were None, giving the original what one critic called a “punk-rock reboot.” It became my publisher’s best-selling ebook in the US in 2016.