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.