Wednesday, July 31, 2013

True Crime Author Carla Norton's Debuts Fiction Novel, The Edge of Normal! SUPERB!

"Patient privacy is strict office etiquette, another reason Reeve feels safe here. The receptionist never calls out her name,
even if no one else is in the waiting room. Only her family, a few people in law enforcement, and Dr. Lerner know that
Regina Victoria LeClaire, the girl who was kidnapped at age twelve and held captive for nearly fours, has legally changed
her name.
"She is no longer "Edgy Reggie," the feral girl who responded to media attention by whacking down cameras. She now
thinks of herself as agile, not skittish. As serious, not grim. She has transformed into a composed young woman who is
living a pleasant, structured life. She even has a job...
"Nothing to report. No bad dreams. No panic attacks. I haven't had a nightmare in so long, I'm starting to feel boring..."
The Edge of Normal

By Carla Norton

I was normal once and I believe I shall be "on the edge" for the rest of my life. I've tried to get off medication a number of times and failed. So I read this type of novel to hopefully understand... Many women in America, and perhaps men too, I don't know, have been or are presently taking medication for Clinical Depression--the catchall phrase for just about any stress that has made you less than normal. No, it doesn't have to be really traumatic like Reeve and other abused women. Mine sneaked up on me, from working long hours, from getting little support, from mental abuse on the job... Still I found myself on that edge too... Have you? Then read Carla Norton's book coming out mid-September...

In addition to a superb thriller, you will find the, sometimes, joyful results of PTSD--when Reeve takes control of her life and does what she wants and needs to do! For me, at times I felt like I was in her shoes as she struck out on her own... I don't know whether it is possible to have this individual continue in the role she had during the major part of the book, but, if so, I would love to see a series happen! Let's go deeper into Reeve's story...
"It's just that the whole damn media machine is
gearing up. And you can see what's coming." She
inhales deeply and it all comes out in a rush:
"All those talking heads, who have no right to be
pontificating, who can hardly pronounce captivity
syndrome, who haven't spent five minutes trying
to understand a damn thing about what abduction
really means, are already all over the news--"
she is hit by a wave of anger--"reading off
names of victims and their captors like some sick
shopping list. Like we're celebrities with no privacy.
While all those caged monsters are salivating in
their cells, getting off on the fact that their sick
psycho-brothers are out here roaming the street
and doing their disgusting, twisted, evil shit."
"Her speech becomes faster, her voice shriller:
"And they're already showing my old photos on the
air and making comparisons and talking talking
talking so that I'm back in the news and everything
is back in the news and now I'm having to confront
all those images and those memories of Daryl
Wayne Flint all over again!"
"Wow," he says. "That was good."
"Ha-Ha," she says flatly.
"I mean it. Did you hear the fury in your voice?"
When she was just 12, a sadist had kidnapped her, abusing her not only sexually but physically. She was still not over the trauma and continued ten years later with her now friend and therapist, Dr. Lerner.

Ezra Lerner, by the way, is one of the few who specialize in counseling those who have been kidnapped or traumatized in a similar situation. So it wasn't surprising to Reeve when he received a call about a new case in Jefferson County. He had to cancel her next appointment, planning to leave immediately.

But it wasn't long before he called Reeve. Tilly Cavanaugh had just been rescued, due to the quick action of a real estate agent who had discovered where she was previously held. It wasn't hard to trace who had lived there and where he was now living.

Tilly's parents were thrilled, of course, to have her back, but was hesitant about Dr. Lerner, as a man, becoming her daughter's therapist. She had asked if they could talk to one of his present patients. Reeve rarely got involved with people; however, she was so bothered about Tilly, that she borrowed her father's vehicle and drove to their home. She was already uptight because the media would start and her face would begin to appear as a previous victim...

And it made her angry enough to decide to face it!

Now, I'm not even going to go into the evil that is involved--you need to see how this plays out for yourself. Let's just say that thoughts of murder come characters and readers alike...
..."How old are you?"
"So," Tilly says matter-of-factly,"
"you were in that dungeon about
eighteen percent of your life."
"Reeve considers this. "Yes, that's
about right."
"That's more than me."

When she reached the Cavanaugh home, she was welcomed and they first met with the parents, Tilly and, of course, Dr. Lerner. But then Tilly, surprisingly, had asked to show Reeve her room...  The first thing Tilly wanted to do scars...

"Do you have any scars?"
"Reeve blinks, momentarily taken aback. "I do."
"Can I see?"
"The girl is so straightforward that Reeve can only respond in kind.
She takes a quick breath and peels her sweater off over her head,
realizing that this is the first time she has undressed in front of
anyone other than a medical doctor in years. She decides not to
take off more unless asked. Even standing in a bra and jeans, she
has plenty of scars.
"Tilly steps in close, her face expressionless as she examines Reeve's
skin. She tips her head from side to side, then slowly walks around
Reeve to inspect her back. "What are these long ones?"...
"Then with deliberate fingers, the girl touches a sequence of small
circular scars that run up to her elbow, shoulder, and back down again,
bending so close that Reeve can feel her breath.
"Finally, she stands back and announces, "I have those, too."
"In one easy motion, Tilly pulls her pajama top off over her head,
an act so completely spontaneous and unselfconscious that Reeve
realizes the girl is still accustomed to being naked.
"See?" Tilly says, raising her skinny arms toward Reeve. "Mine
are still pink."
"Reeve stares at the tight cluster of three fresh cigarette burns on
Tilly's pale skin...
"Reeve bites back a curse and mutters, "That sadistic scumbag..."

Don't like to see the reality of abuse? It's rampant in this world! The quicker readers face that this isn't just a story, the better it is. I applaud Carla Norton and others for making readers face what is happening. And I thank her for including the Resource Page for readers who might need it after reading this story.

Before Tilly's kidnapper was brought to court, he was murdered. There were two other girls who had been taken as well, assumed to be by the same man...

But, after he was dead, Tilly told Reeve a secret...

And Reeve responded... And where she went to see people, they started to die...

I loved this for Reeve's courage to strike out on her own to help others while she was still fighting her own battles. In itself, it is easily a 5+ thriller, but with the important issue covered, hey, it's a 10 for me! Norton gives hope for those who have suffered! Care enough to read it and understand...Speak out against violence against children!


THE EDGE OF NORMAL is a Royal Palm Literary Award winner and is already earning accolades: Jeffery Deaver says it's the "perfect blend of literary style, psychological insight and edge-of-the-seat thriller." Chevy Stevens calls it "a heart-pounding thrill ride that had me holding my breath to the end."

Carla also wrote DISTURBED GROUND, the true story of a white-haired landlady who planted bodies in her rose garden. In writing DISTURBED GROUND, Carla attended the nine-murder-count trial and again puzzled over psychological and forensic issues.

Carla is on Facebook and Twitter. She speaks at conferences and has appeared on Larry King Live. When she's not writing books about crime, she writes hotheaded essays and really bad poetry.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Francis Hamit's Latest Brings Memories of Chernobyl But With Thrilling Perfect Ending!

The nuclear reactor after the disaster. Reactor 4 (center). Turbine building (lower left). Reactor 3 (center right).Chernobyl Disaster
"What’s the job, then?”
“Go out, look it over, see what they need and help them implement it or decide that it should be passed by. The usual.”
 “What’s the target?” Anspach looked doubtful.
 “Nuclear power plant. We want it shut down or destroyed. Maybe take it over and hold hostages. Some dump back East called Indian Springs.” He leaned back in his chair. “I weary of us saying much and doing nothing. So does our financier. He’s grumbled. I think the old fart is only staying alive so he can see the country ruined. To that end, I can shift truckloads of equipment and about a hundred dedicated ‘patriot’s to this operation if you approve it.” Anspach made quote marks with his fingers.
Steele leaned forward and spoke very softly in Russian. “Tell me, Vladimir Petrovich, do you ever think about just going home and putting all this behind you?”
Anspach looked at him, shocked. “The mission...”
“The country is gone, and I don’t like what has replaced it. If we went back, they’d put us on our knees and a bullet in our head. We are condemned to die here. But, truly, Gospodin, what it the point of all of this? We’re fighting for a corpse.”
  Anspach smiled grimly, “The GRU lives, Sergei Leonovich, and we are still its officers.” He raised his almost empty glass in a toast, “Rodina, the homeland, and revenge on the Capitalists.”
Steele shook his head, and switched to English. “It’s a mad plan, Benjamin.”
 “My old Rabbi would think so,”
Anspach agreed as he poured more whisky for both of them. He raised his glass in a toast, “The revolution.” “The revolution,” Steele said and drained the glass.


By Francis Hamit

I had to smile at the beginning sentence of the blurb on this book: "A novel, set in a slightly alternative universe (for security reasons) about a terrorist attack by so-called Patriot militia on a nuclear power plant someplace in the United States between the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building and the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001." Sorry Franc
The Philippsburg nuclear power plant, in Germa...
"He turned up the volume. ...
 fast breaking story, folks.
We have an unconfirmed report that the
Indian Springs Nuclear power plant,
which has been the scene of some demonstrations
 this summer, now seems to be under armed attack.
 We have no further information at this time,
but will do our best to keep you informed.
We now return to our regular programming.”
 Campbell reached over and turned the radio off and
 they rode on, in silence for a long moment.
One of the guards whistled softly. “Daddy,
 can we go home now?” another said in a half-mocking
child’s voice."
is... So, I'll just start again in my own words...~

Francis Hamit has created an exceptionally revealing and detailed alternative historical novel about our Power Plants! We all know they are there and that they are or could be dangerous. However, I was grateful to have this opportunity to go inside. If power plants are dangerous, it probably is because of the people in this world as opposed to the facility and its process. That is, if they are run as this one is!

I recently learned that the plant near my home is shutting down due to new coal regulations. This stung me in several ways; namely that my relatives work in coal mines...but, more intimately, because Columbia Gas has taken equipment, preventing me from having gas--and there is no way in the area to acquire gas service! Government decisions can be soooo blind, can't they?! Anyway...

I've read two of Hamit's books previously and loved both of them: The Queen of Washington and The Shenandoah Spy. However, this is a much more complex thriller which should draw many readers due to content. Everybody remembers Chernobyl and other incidents and would never wish any repeated...not in Russia or anywhere.

But some of the people in Russia still want to continue their revolution. What do they do? They find those Americans who believe they know what is best and call themselves Patriots... And then teach them that they need to destroy in order to be patriotic...Duh...

The problem was that they were very organized, well-trained, and had plenty of resources!

English: WWER-1000 (also VVER-1000 as a direct...
English: WWER-1000 (also VVER-1000 as a direct translitteration from Russian ВВЭР-1000). WWER-1000 (Water-Water Energetic Reactor, 1000 megawatt electric power) is a russian energetic nuclear reactor of PWR type (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When he looked back, Maria was making notes again, her fingers clicking away on the tiny keyboard. She had a “road warrior” crouch that told him she did this a lot. As pretty as she was, she was no lightweight. 
"O’Hara grimaced briefly as he saw the oddly painted purple utility truck top the rise of the hill. He turned and told Casey to go get the bullhorn from the guard shack. As the truck drove up to the line of chanting demonstrators, their voices quieted. 
“Hey, it’s Berger,” said one of them, a local boy. “How’ya doin’, Jimmy?” 
Well-known to everyone in Indian Springs, Jimmy leaned out of the window and grinned. 
“It’s cool, Shawn. How ‘bout you?” Julie, she of the short shorts and dynamite tan, leaned in the other window. 
“Hey, Jimmy, whyn’t you come out and play?” she teased, and favored him with a devastating smile. Her eyes sparkled with expectations. He regarded her blonde loveliness with open approval. His eyes fixed on the erect nipples beneath the thin jersey of her top. It was a deliberate tease. 
“Why, I’d love to, Julie, honey, but I gotta work now. Maybe later?” The difference in their ages did not bother him. Most
of his girlfriends in recent years had been a decade or three younger. The politics did. He knew her for a tease. He wondered how far she’d take this flirtation. 
"She continued to smile but spoke seriously, “Ah, no, Jimmy.
 You’re the enemy, ya know.” 
"Berger grunted, frowning, Of course, he thought. 
“Sorry you feel that way. You’re the kind of girl my 
Grandmother is always warning me about. 
I like that in a person. But I don’t play these games. 
Politics bores me.”

Superphenix, Nuclear power plant of Creys-Malv...
Superphenix, Nuclear power plant of Creys-Malville, Isère, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quite a bit of the book shows the many practices they do for emergencies and the ongoing training to keep them alert and prepared.

Hamit has taken readers into a place where we may never be able to visit...and helps us understand how security is the highest priority not only for people but for the plant itself.

How I wish there were not people who are willing to do terrorist acts against their own countries, but that is not what we see in today's world, is it?

Still, when an author not only takes us into our headlines but makes it an educational experience while keeping us tense and in suspense as to what will happen, then many kudos go to that type of author, in my opinion! The attack is exciting as well as fun due to the characters... I loved this one! Highly recommended!


I am a novelist and playwright. I am also a journalist with over 1,000 published articles, reviews, essays, op-eds, and other non fiction published in the last 40 years. I have a background in Military Intelligence and write fiction and drama about people in military, intelligence and similar occupations. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. 
I am a member of the Military Writers Society of America, the Association for Intelligence Officers, The Historical Novel Society and the Military Writers Society of America. I have attended more than 100 science fiction conventions and am often a panelist. I am the co-owner of Brass Cannon Books and a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop (Fiction).
I contribute a lot to other people's blogs. I served in the US Army Security Agency for four years, in Vietnam and then Germany. I spent 21 years in the Security industry which provides some of the background for MELTDOWN.

My produced stage plays are MARLOWE: An Elizabethan Tragedy and Memorial Day. My novel "The Shenandoah Spy" has received over a dozen favorable reviews. My latest novels are "The Queen of Washington" and "MELTDOWN".

We have begun creating audiobooks through which will be available on, iTunes and The first four short ones are available now.

A film version of my play about Christopher Marlowe is in pre-production and a "The Shenandoah Spy" is slated to become either a major motion picture or television mini-series in 2014 or 2015.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Karen Barnett's Debut Novel Takes Readers Into Historical Prohibition Period...Check it Out!
"Port Angeles, Washington, 1926
"Carefully, she guided the Ford in beside the other automobile. Empty. She hadn't expected to spot lovers necking
in the front seat, but only fools would be out on a storm-swept beach in the dark of night.
"Laurie twisted a long strange of beads as her stomach churned. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
Please God, don't let my brother be one of those fools...
The plan seemed sound earlier, but now her knees trembled. The tree branches above her head thrashed like
a thousand arms waving her away. Laurie steeled herself. If her brother was on that beach, she wanted to know...
"Laurie wrinkled her nose at the muck and pushed herself up to her knees. The flashlight created a comforting
bubble of light around her.
"It also helped her see the unexpected hand as it clamped unto her arm.
"Laurie shrieked. Swinging the flashlight, she brought it down on the strange wrist with a loud crack...
"My name is Daniel Shepherd. And I--well, as ridiculous as it sounds on a night like tonight--I was delivering
something. I thought I saw lights out on the beach, so I stopped..."

First Impressions Are Never
What They Seem
By Karen Barnett

I grew up in a small "dry" town that was founded by Albert Gallatin--New Geneva, PA--and, indeed, it is still dry... Having the entire country go dry during Prohibition was, of course, due to women...LOL But even many of the women didn't support it... My guess is that many wives of the men in Congress at that time were quietly or loudly pushing their husbands to vote as they wished...But everybody soon realized that this just wasn't working!

We know now that alcoholism is a disease for some, so special provisions had to be made for those individuals to get their "medicine..." Laurie Burke's father was one of those individuals. Now she was concerned that her brother was a rumrunner! Laurie continuously prayed for her father, but now, her worries had

doubled. Indeed, Johnny her brother had gotten involved in running rum from Canada. He wasn't drinking it, but could still get into trouble running it!

And Laurie was going to stop him! Or at least try...

What she did was cause a lot of extra trouble--she was Mistaken about several things...

But nobody was talking to her, so she put 2 plus 2 together and got...5...
Laurie had met Daniel Shepherd the night she had gone looking for Johnny. He had seen the same lights as she had on the water and stopped to investigate. He had been delivering a prescription... Laurie assumed he was a rumrunner...

But she was still just as attracted to him as he was to her...

So when she went to the pharmacy with her friend Amelia, who was also Johnny's girlfriend, she hated that she had to pick up her father's "prescription" from Dr. Pierce, because to her way of thinking, that doctor dosed himself and his patients with a generous serving of brandy!

And then she got the real surprise! Daniel was a pharmacist!

"Sinking into her chair at the end of the long row of switchboards, Laurie settled the headset over her ears. She took a moment to press cool fingers against her temples, hoping to push the pain aside. Every time she closed her eyes, she pictured Johnny down at the beach, a load of whiskey at this feet, or her father when she arrived home--passed out on the sofa, an empty bottle clutched to his chest...
"She must be mistaken. That man couldn't have been preparing to ask her out on a date. She shivered. As if she would go anywhere with a rotten rumrunner, even if his dimpled smile made her knees melt. There had to be someone out there who was decent, trustworthy, and not
connected with booze in any way. Of course, it wouldn't hurt
if that someone looked like Daniel Shepherd...

"Mr. Larson leaned forward. "Ladies, I don't know if you would remember my grandson..."
"Laurie stared at the mirror, a flush creeping up her neck. The man's smile was unmistakable--even in the daylight..."

"I think Miss Burke and I have already met."

"Miss Burke's eyes widened, the blush on her cheecks darkening. "No, I don't believe we have, Mr. Shepherd..."

There was much to keep Daniel and Laurie apart. For one, he was a sober alcoholic, but didn't think she would accept even that... While Laurie wanted to above all trust somebody who she could then love, since she couldn't trust her father and brother...and already didn't trust Mr. Burke!

So she was willing to meet the new revenuer who'd come to town, even though she was afraid for Johnny...
They had already started gathering information and had made a raid on a local establishment where Johnny had just been delivering and was almost caught!

He ran to Daniel's place above the pharmacy and had spent time there, sharing more than they both wanted to...

Laurie was caught...

The revenuer wanted her to provide information on the town people... And they would often meet at the
pharmacy where guess who served them, fuming..

While Johnny's boss wanted her to tell them what plans the revenuer was making!

What a fun book on mistaken communications! Laurie is a strong character who bravely treads anywhere to save her brother... The revenuer is interested in her for more than...information...and she might just have to agree to his demands...

Historical romantic fiction during one of the strangest times that the federal government got involved with controlling people's lives--and the people weren't willing...LOL I think you'll enjoy visiting those early times before most of us were born... Although, like I said, my little town had voted to be "dry" and stayed that way...  Highly recommended if this sounds like a place you want to visit--at least in this wonderful first novel for Karen Barnett...


God is the same yesterday, today, and forever--and yet our human story changes daily. As a writer of historical romance, I love to explore my characters' faith and how their experiences impact the way they view God.

There's nothing I enjoy more than a beautiful love story and God's devotion to His people is the best one of all. It even ends with the hero riding in on a white horse! (Revelation 19:11). 

My first novel,MISTAKEN, releases in July 2013 with Abingdon Press. I am published in several nation magazines, including "Birthday Wish" which appeared inGuideposts Magazine in February 2010. I am represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency

I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband, two children, three furry felines and the newest addition--a dachshund puppy. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie - You Decide-- Suspense Keeps You On Edge Until That "Bad Taste In Your Mouth" Ending...

"Are you Geniver Loxley?" Her voice is soft, with a hint of a Midlands accent...
"I...I..." she stammers.
"I wait, my heart suddenly beating fast. Has Art been in an accident? Or someone else I know? The door is still on its
chain. I open it properly. The woman presses her lips together. Her eyes are wide with fear and embarrassment...
"It's..." The woman takes a deep breath. "It's your baby."
"I star at her. "What do you mean?"
"She hesitates. "She's alive." The woman's dark eyes pierce through me. "Your baby, Beth, is alive."

"My head feels like a million tiny bombs are exploding inside it. Could Dr. Rodriguez really have pretended
Beth had died, then paid his staff to keep quiet about it? My mind shrieks that these are lies and yet, as I
look into Lucy O'Donnell's eyes, my instinct tells me she is sincere..."

Close My Eyes
Sophie McKenzie

A librarian's quote on the front of the ARC for this book finishes with "This is definitely one of my favorite books of 2013..." It could have been for me too... In fact, about half way through the book I "almost" for the first time ever, thought about turning to the ending to see what happened!

If I had, I'm not sure I would have kept reading...

Shortly thereafter I picked up on exactly what was happening for one character and I identified the character who started everything. When that happened, I zoned in on those characters, watching...

I was not happy... But I realized that the author could go a number of different ways with the plot, so I read on.

The psychological suspense of this book is phenomenal...From a professional standpoint, I could not in any way fault the book. There are some things, however, that an individual just cannot totally override--personal beliefs.
Newtown, Conn., School Shootings 

"But none of it proves Beth is alive. And Art surely
doesn't have anything to do with any of it. Even
if he was capable of sustaining such a lie, why would
he do so? After all, what possible reason could my
husband, who so badly wants a child, have for
pretending that our daughter died?
If I closed my eyes to what is happening, seemingly routinely, in America where students from anywhere and everywhere suddenly take a gun to school and kill... Or others who kill their parents...

If I closed my eyes to the knowledge of child trafficking, teenage kidnapping for sex trade, etc., and think this is just a story...

I, too, would rave about the "gut-wrenching" feelings this novel generates, initially....

Included is an interview with the author. I was hoping that she would say that this was going to be followed by another novel. Even then, though, each book must stand alone and the followup might never be read.

I do not recommend this book if you care about children. Or, if you do, be prepared to perhaps end the book with what I can only describe as a "bad taste in your mouth."* Sure, it's a perfect way to leave the reader hanging, possibly for another book... Except, I would not read it; the author and publisher have already lost this reviewer.

A shame really...

This is the author's first Adult novel. Perhaps she forgot between the beginning and the last two pages that often it is adults who create the children they become...And those adults, whoever they are, would read this and glory in what they'd done to their child...

I would not normally have reviewed this book, rather I'd have done a commentary on it; however, I agreed to review it, having an ARC book provided. Like I said, this is an excellent thriller, but I've got to at least take a point off for personal opinion, don't you think? Do check out other reviews; perhaps I'm only one of the few readers who believe that books, like violent movies, can affect our children greatly through the adults who surround them... and read...


Dog Taste Buds - Mine Too, I Guess! LOL

*See whole article on Research...They researched it; I felt it...
*Chris Smith: So give us the bottom line, taking a financial analogy then, what does this mean in terms of how this behaviour maps onto what we actually do in real life?
Kat Arney: Well, the researchers think that this means that moral disgust and outrage actually has similar evolutionary roots to physical disgust, and they think that this physical response to something nasty has probably been co-opted during our social evolution to express our disgust at social and moral situations that we don’t like.
Chris Smith: Indeed.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Louisiana Fever by Dr. D. J. Donaldson Scary Potential Reality Thriller! Would Love to See TV Show With Top Characters!

While Broussard waited for his eggs, across the river, in his dresser, Walter Baldwin’s killer emerged from Broussard’s torn pants and began to explore. It moved across the right lapel of his pale blue pajamas and paused on the label, its body covering the R in Ralph Lauren. Hungry and thirsty, it could do nothing about the former, but the latter was no problem. From a gland in a protrusible mouth part, it secreted a tiny salt crystal that quickly absorbed water from the air. Drawing the salt droplet into its mouth, its thirst was satisfied. Turning, it moved toward the rear of the dresser and up the back panel into the dresser carcass, looking for a way out...

Louisiana Fever!
An Andy Broussard and Kit Franklin Mystery
By D. J. Donaldson

Serial Killers, Drug Lords, Pedophiles...are all very scary...But, you know, since I've moved into my cabin in the woods, Louisiana Fever turned out to be a horror thriller of the worst drove me Buggy! And with the strange weather we've been having this year, I've seen more different kinds of bugs than I've ever seen! Creepy, crawly, sneaky...they're everywhere! Including in this Novel!

And sometimes, they'll kill you just as easily as a bullet!

"She nudged the select button on the stereo, using the knuckle of her gloved hand, then pushed play, warming the cool room with the opening strains of The Magic Flute. 
“Delivery crew said he keeled over at Grandma O’s,” Minoux said. “That’s not gonna be good for business.” “He hadn’t had anything to eat, so I don’t think we can blame her,” Broussard replied, slipping a pair of booties over his mesh shoes. While Broussard donned his plastic apron, on which someone had long ago written THE BOSS with a permanent black marker, the two assistants each put on a mask and a plastic visor. Broussard added two pairs of rubber gloves to his meager outfit, walked over to the body, and reached for a Polaroid camera on a nearby bench. 
"Though he had seen thousands of cadavers, the tenuous nature of life had never ceased to fascinate him. A single puncture wound in the right place and it was gone. . . . Constrict the airway for a few minutes, it was gone—an irrevocable loss far too easy to achieve. And even when it happened without external intervention, as apparently this one had—a death by so-called natural causes—it seemed no less deplorable. 

D. J. Donaldson sure did make sure his readers realize it, because he personified the killer! Just wait until
you meet the killer! And one is after the local M.E. who must deal with the bodies that are arriving...

"D’Souza began dissecting the skin flaps off the chest, the flashing strokes of her scalpel quickly separating them from the underlying white connective tissue. She did the side flaps first, then moved to the upper one, her swift movements rapidly carrying her dissection to the arch of the mandible, where she draped the loosened skin over the face and cut through the muscles attached to the mandible, thereby entering the mouth. She freed the tongue and pulled it forward, her scalpel slashing at the restraining tissue, liberating the trachea and esophagus. 
"Broussard had finished sharpening the long knife he would use to section the organs and had begun arranging the perforated plastic sample containers on his cutting board at the shallow sink under the data blackboard when he heard D’Souza say, “Oh, shit.” Turning, he saw her tearing at the tape holding her gloves to her wrists. Obviously, she’d cut herself. She pulled off her gloves and Broussard saw that her left index finger was bleeding heavily. To a degree, that was good, as it would wash any potentially infectious organisms out of the wound. 
“How bad is it?” “Not deep enough to hit any tendons or need sewing up,” she replied behind her mask. 
“Good. Now get out of here and let it bleed under water for five minutes, then put some Betadine and peroxide on it. When you feel up to it, fill out an incident report.” Behind her visor, her eyes were filled with worry. “I’d like to hear that speech again about how unlikely it is to acquire a disease from something like this.” 
“First of all, sudden deaths like this one aren’t caused by infectious disease,” Broussard said. “It’s likely he had a coronary. And even if he did have somethin’ infectious, your chances of acquirin’ it are about like your chances of bein’ struck by lightnin’ today.” 
“Even if he’s HIV-positive?” 
“Even then.” 
“I feel better.” 
“But just to be on the safe side, we’re gonna have the lab check him out. And you’re gonna need to give some blood for a baseline. So, when I’m through here, you can take his samples up to the lab and let ’em draw yours. Now, go on . . . take care of your finger. . . .

One has already killed one of his assistants! She was helping with the autopsy when she accidentally cut herself...That's all it took, a little nick in her hand...Days later she was dead...

There was another female in Broussard's unit, one he was especially fond of--but he had a hard time sharing his feelings, even to the extent of praising her excellent work.

The John Doe who had just been brought in was in the company of Kit Franklin when he died. But she didn't know him! He had been sending her a flower each day and then asked to meet. She had agreed because the place where that would be was their favorite restaurant and everybody knew her there... He spoke her name and...died...

But time had lapsed since that incident when she was kidnapped! At least they assumed she had been kidnapped because her car was still at home and there was no sign of struggle. They were fairly certain that her disappearance had nothing to do with the man who had died...

And at that time, she didn't know he was actually murdered...Hey, if a bug can kill, then he's a murderer, right?

"After removing the tube, he cut through both sternoclavicular joints, then severed each rib through its cartilage attachment to the sternum, pleased that he didn’t encounter enough ossification to call for the saw. With that done, he was able to remove the breast plate, revealing the lungs, which cupped the heart in pinkish gray angelwings. 
"His scalpel stopped moving. He pressed on one lung with a forward motion to see more of it. Puzzled at what he saw, he did the same with the other lung. Both were studded with small hemorrhages. Very peculiar . . . 
"He cut the major vessels entering and leaving the heart, noting there was copious blood flow from them, something commonly seen in heart-attack victims. He removed the tongue, trachea, esophagus, lungs, and heart as a block and dropped them into a stainless pan as Guy Minoux stepped up to the table. 
“Take over, will you, while I work at the sink?” Minoux nodded and picked up the scalpel Broussard left for him. Broussard took his pan to the sink under the blackboard, poured the contents onto his cutting board, and began separating the organs, prior to close inspection of each one. He first examined the tongue, noting there was no indication the deceased had bitten it. With the long knife in one hand and the other pressing on the upper surface of the tongue, he halved it horizontally in the same way he’d slice a bagel. When he separated the two halves, he saw more tiny hemorrhages. This was becoming a major mystery, as the emerging pattern of affected organs fit nothing he’d ever seen...

The investigation to find Kit was ongoing but her fiancee got tired of just sitting around so he tried to find her, picking up a few clues...Enough to get him grabbed also!

Broussard had two of his staff to worry about now! And by then, other bodies were brought in and identified to have the same issue as the first...An expert was soon there, but he and Broussard soon were at odds!

“Are you going to bring in the CDC?” Seymour asked. 
"Blackledge shot him a cold look. “Hell no. What do I need them for? I trained the people they’d send.” Then to Broussard: “You’ve got slides on the two cases?”
 “Only on the John Doe. There hasn’t been time to process Baldwin’s tissues, but his organs were so deteriorated, they’re not likely to be of any use.” “What sort of pathology did you see in the John Doe?” “The most significant was early stages of disseminated intravascular coagulation.”...

But when Broussard lost to that killer, they were all glad that Dr. Blackledge was there...

Actually, although I showed a pic of a tick and identified the killer, there are many types of ticks and the fear and suspense comes from first identifying it was a tick, but then narrowing down what "kind" of tick it was, and then, determining whether there is some vaccine already available for that particular tick known...

There wasn't...

And Kit and Teddy have not yet been found...

This novel had me riveted from the first page on...Broussard is a fascinating main character that I fell in love with quickly. Kit being kidnapped put her in a different role, I would imagine, than normally, but she proved to be a gutsy lady and I look forward to getting to know both of these characters in more depth.

Danger lurks right outside my door... Is he there in the woods surrounding you like he is me? Is he one of the psycho killers of the species!???

Chillingly Good Read! But keep some bug spray handy while you're reading! Don't miss this one if you are a Forensics Thriller Fan! I "think" I'm going to have to add him to my "favorite author" list so I've added at least another of his books to my wish list...Will keep you posted...


About the Author
D.J. Donaldson is a retired professor of anatomy and neurobiology. His entire academic career was spent at the University of Tennessee, Health Science Center, where he published dozens of papers on wound-healing and taught microscopic anatomy to thousands of medical and dental students. He is also the author of seven published forensic mysteries and five medical thrillers. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee, with his wife and two West Highland terriers. In the spring of most years, he simply cannot stop buying new flowers and other plants for the couple's prized backyard garden.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Melanie Jackson's Debut Novel in Miss Henry Series Provides Artistic Lessons With Murder...

"She had thought of making that offer though she had never owned a cat. Marley was fond enough of Juliet, or at least her tuna fish sandwiches which she packed on days when she was painting, to not be put off by the smell of turpentine or her favorite Siena red paint. 
"Though Juliet was likewise warmhearted toward Marley and enjoyed his company when she worked, she had no fondness for his human landlord and therefore withheld offers of adoption which would cause rancor and perhaps retaliatory snooping. Her low opinions of Harvey Allen’s morals and personality were not unique, though he had not aroused her to speechless fury as he had so many of her neighbors. Perhaps because she hadn’t been there long enough for him to discover anything about her. 
"There were things to discover though, and she knew that he might manage the feat someday no matter how discreet she was. Harvey was a professional gossip. 
Yes, I had to put the cat picture first! I found it on the author's web site!
Portrait of a Gossip:
A Miss Henry Mystery

By Melanie Jackson

First, let me draw your attention to the book cover...

“Juliet, can you explain the difference between an artist and an artisan and a craftsman?” This exasperated question brought her back to the present and she wondered what Asher Temple had said to him. The sheriff was not an unintelligent man, but he was likely a bit out of his depth. For a here-and-now man who probably played softball, liked fishing, and watched American Idol, a crowd that lived in some mental construct, emoted freely, and had no similar connection to reality or pop culture— not even TV— would be an enigma shrouded in mystery.
 “Who do you think will win American Idol?” she asked.
“Er … maybe the boy from Georgia. He’s got a lot of personality and a good voice.”
Juliet nodded. “To answer your question, the difference is ego, mainly. Fortunately my neighbors’ eccentricities haven’t blossomed into full-fledged egomania. In most cases.” He blinked at her answer and then smiled a little, making Juliet realize that he had been looking unusually grim since he arrived. That was hardly surprising, of course, but she preferred the friendlier version of the law. Juliet went on attempting to explain. “Artists are often lost in creativity though. Not just focused on a job, but obsessive to the point of being blind to the needs of anyone or anything else. Things that you would think were standard knowledge, writ large in letters of fire, are sometimes missed. You know that poem about no man being an island? That isn’t true of artists— at least not the young ones who know they are destined for greatness and possibly immortality. Think of the mad scientists from the movies.” The sheriff snorted. “The rest of us— the craftsmen— are happy to create, but we are more competent and workmanlike. We remember to feed ourselves and are aware of others’ feelings and reactions. We don’t feel that art exempts us from good manners or entitles us to special behavior.” At least, not criminal behavior.
“Can they help it, the artists, or are they just…?” He sounded frustrated as he searched for a word, and she supposed that for a non-artistic person, dealing with the creative and sometimes egotistical personalities of a
Harvey (Photo credit: Paul D'Ambra - Australia)
n artists’ colony could be frustrating, especially when they shared no common cultural denominator.
“Born weirdos ” Juliet suggested and then shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. I’m one of the craftsmen who like to eat.” “And remembers to feed the neighbor’s cat even if she has to leave her own work half-done.”

Harvey (Photo credit: Paul D'Ambra - Australia)

Marley mewed, doing his best to look starved and pitiful. “It won’t work,” Juliet said. But it did actually work. And since Harvey’s house was only about fifty feet above her and he kept Marley’s kibble in a plastic trash can outside the front door, Juliet decided to take a break and get her feline friend some breakfast. She stuck her brush in a jar of turpentine. “Coming?” she asked the cat, who at first seemed uninterested but then decided that, yes, perhaps he was interested enough to bestir himself.


The cover reflects the setting of the book, which is an artist colony. Other covers for upcoming books are beautifully illustrative as well. This is my first time reading Melanie Jackson, but looking through her web site is a fun experience which only made me want to have more time to read!

Miss Henry is a very unique character. She's retired, so is using her artistic skills to add to her financial stability. You'll find that she probably doesn't need it, but still makes the effort to be working. Painting is quite different from her job with the NSA... But, of course, you know that means that she's going to be involved when criminal activities occur; namely, murder...

And who better to murder than a gossip?! LOL After all, an individual who gossips can kill people just as effectively as a knife or gun, don't you think?

Fortunately the local police knew Miss Henry's background and were quite willing to allow her to participate, by talking more informally with the other artists in the colony. By doing so, we find out a little about painting... And Miss Henry soon discovered that there were quite a number of her neighbors about whom the gossiper had been talking!

Of course, with the security of the compound, it was very likely that somebody within the colony had killed the gossiper! But then Miss Henry discovered that the man had been accepted by the owner of the colony himself... And then, another man was moving in right above the house in which the murder had occurred. And he also had been accepted by the owner himself... 

Juliet was a calm person not prone to hysteria of any sort, but having two men, who were strangers, living above her, one of which was already murdered, did give her pause...he made marionettes out of real bone... Now you know I had to check that I found an example that would break up the tension Juliet was feeling...

Actually, after she got to know the man, as well as several of the other male artists in the colony, she seemed to be having some very friendly times with them! You know, it just takes a good murder case to solve to get to know the people surrounding you!

This short whodunit is fun but not easy...a small challenge for you real mystery solvers, but for those who got involved with the cat, Marley and the male relationships developing like me...just plan on enjoying the time spent with Miss Henry and her sudden turn to whimsy in her designs--solving crime or new friends...? I know... it's Marley who caused her new happiness!

“Yes.” Garret stared at her and then shook his head in admiration and annoyance. “Is there anything you want to tell me about him in return since your sources seem to be as good and maybe better than mine?” 
“Nothing like the horse’s mouth for details,” Juliet agreed. “As long as it isn’t lying, of course. Esteban says that he and Raphael and Mr. Biggers all served together. I am assuming he meant in the armed services and not some sentence in a penitentiary.” 
"Juliet began to add the bumble bee to her drawing. Maybe it looked a little cartoonish— perhaps too large to be true to scale— but it would make for a great children’s shirt. She should have thought of kid’s clothes before. 
“He is a veteran,” Garret admitted. “But he also worked border patrol. Retired after he was shot a second time. I guess he was smart enough to take a hint and get out before it came to a feet-first exit, which is more than some guys manage.” Juliet looked at Garret and then nodded. 
“That feels right. He seems….” She thought about it. “He doesn’t seem like regular law enforcement, not a rules and regulations person, but he is someone working on the side of order.” She didn’t mention the gun.
 “He doesn’t give you the creeps?” Garret asked. “He’s seems snake mean to me.”
 “He probably is,” Juliet agreed, remembering the feel of his hand on her mouth and how easily he’d manhandled her. “At least in the wrong situation. He doesn’t give me the creeps exactly, but I want to know what kind of dreams he has to make those damn puppets. Now those give me the creeps. And I think anyone who buys them has lizards in the brain.” 

"Lizards on the Brain..."??? Yep, that's a quote directly from Miss kind of woman...LOL Enjoy cause it's highly recommended...


Melanie Jackson, an award-winning author of more than fifty novels, stories and poems lives with her writer husband in the California Gold Country with their cat (also a writer who has a page on myspace) and their dog (who is hoping to get a page on facebook as soon as she masters typing). Melanie likes gardening but hates the deer who also like her garden, and she volunteers at a local animal shelter.