Tag Archives: supernatural

Book Review & Giveaway: ‘Mind Games,’ by Christine Amsden


MindGames_med
Mind Games
 is the much awaited third installment in the new adult mystery series, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. Talented author Christine Amsden keeps delivering a great story filled with interesting characters, romance, mystery, and the paranormal, lots of it.

In this episode, Cassie still doesn’t know why Evan broke her heart two months ago, and the mystery gnaws at her big time. She decides to keep busy and make herself useful at the sheriff’s department. She also meets charismatic mind mage Matthew Blair…much to Evan’s distaste. At the same time, Eagle Rock is teeming with hate from the religious community, a reaction to the recent murder of a much-esteemed pastor’s wife by what the people believe was a sorcerer. The town is about to snap, with tensions between the magical and non-magical communities.

And in the center of all this, is Matthew, whom Cassie finds irresistible. But can she trust him? According to Evan, no way. But then, Evan isn’t the most objective person when it comes to Cassie. Evan and Cassie have a history, as well as a secret connection, that keeps them bound in spite of themselves.

Will Cassie discover the real culprit or culprits behind the pastor’s wife’s murder, as well as the real face behind the anti-magical propaganda and demonstrations? Most importantly, will she wake up and see Matthew for who he really is…and find the courage to face Evan for what he did to her—when she finds out?

I love this series and thoroughly enjoyed this instalment! There’s something about Cassie’s voice that makes her really likable. She has a good heart and is witty, too. But best of all, she is just an ordinary girl next door trying to do her best in spite of everything that happens around her—which is usually pretty remarkable, as is often the case in paranormal stories.

Her relationship with Evan keeps evolving organically and there’s a major revelation in this book about their connection and the secret behind their rival families. Matthew is a great addition to this episode, adding tension with his charismatic personality and inciting sparks of jealousy from Evan. The conflict between the religious and the magical communities is also well done.

Mind Games kept me reading late into the night, wondering what would happen next. If you haven’t read any books in this series before, I urge you to pick up book one first, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. The books are best read in order. You won’t be disappointed.

Purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Connect with the author on the web: 

Website / Newsletter / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Google+

My review was originally published on Blogcritics

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Book Review: ‘Known Devil’ by Justin Gustainis

 

knowndevil-cover

Known Devil is the third instalment in Gustainis’ Occult Crime Uniturban fantasy series. Though I had not read the first two books, this one was completely stand-alone and didn’t make me feel I was missing anything. I have, however, read other books from Gustainis in the past (Evil WaysBlack Magic Woman andSympathy for the Devil), and thoroughly enjoyed them. He is a fabulous writer.

In this exciting new series, Detective Sergeant Stanley Markowski of the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit,  and his partner, vampire detective Karl Renfer, try to keep law and order in a world where supernaturals — or supes — have come out of the closet and walk the streets with humans. Markowski’s daughter, a vampire witch, is eager to help and offer her expertise, especially because she’s attracted to Karl.

A new drug has hit the streets, Haemoglobin Plus — better known as Slide — the first drug that addicts supes, and as a result, a new wave of crimes has risen in Scranton. Stan and Karl are right on the case, interrogating both humans and supes alike, trying to find out who is behind the new drug: Pietro Calabrese, the Godfather of the local vampire family? Wizard Victor Castle, the unofficial head of the city’s whole supernatural community?  The Delatasso family? Or the new Patriot Party, who has  declared supes “abominations before the Lord?”

If you love urban fantasy a la crime noir, you’ll love this book. Gustainis is smart, gritty, snarky. I just love his sharp, witty descriptions. Take a look at a few:

“He had salt-and-pepper hair, wide-set brown eyes, and a thin moustache in the middle of a face that was no harder than your average concrete wall.”

“He stared at me with eyes that had probably looked dead even before he became a vampire.”

“The terrace outside the front door is open in warmer weather, for those who like sharing their food with the local bugs. I prefer to eat inside, where the only insects I’m likely to encounter have two legs.”

“I saw a puzzled look on his face — maybe because Karl’s grip, like every vampire’s, is colder than a banker’s heart.”

Gustainis is also a master at providing comic relief. I laughed out loud at times. Stan is a likable, sympathetic character, tough yet kind when needed. The world building, the setting, and all the supernatural details come through in a genuine, realistic way. I also enjoyed all the police procedural, showing once more, as in his other books, that Gustainis has done his research well.

The story moves at a fairly quick pace, propelled by entertaining dialogue and lots of action scenes. Particularly interesting is the dynamics between humans and supernaturals now that they have to co-exist side by side. But best of all, is the author’s gifted prose, a pleasure to read. Highly recommended for fans of detective urban fantasy!

Visit the author’s website.

Find out more on Amazon.

My review as originally published in Blogcritics.

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First Chapter Reveal: Oddities & Entities by Roland Allnach

Oddities & EntitiesTitle of Book: ODDITIES & ENTITIES
Genre: Horror/Paranormal/Supernatural
Author: Roland Allnach
Website: www.RolandAllnach.com
Publisher: All Things That Matter Press

PURCHASE ODDITIES & ENTITIES HERE

SUMMARY:

The untold

FIRST CHAPTER

BO N E VI EW

Before Allison knew the meaning of words or the context of visions, she knew the Curmudgeon. It was there, lodged in her earliest memories, the memories that imbed themselves deep in the psyche to shadow all future memories. When she lay in her crib as a pale and lumpy baby, she didn’t know to cry when it came in her room, when it passed through her walls as if their existence were some unsubstantiated rumor rather than studs, slats, and plaster. And though at any greater age she might have cowered and screamed, in her unclouded infantile mind there was no reference for fear or judgment, only the absorbance of what was. Perhaps the Curmudgeon knew this but, then again, perhaps not. As the years passed, it was a matter of little importance.

She remembered her first years of school. She was different; this realization was as stark as the full moon visits of the Curmudgeon were fantastic. When other children clamored to play in the sun and warmth, she found herself possessed by an ever-present chill. She felt most comfortable wearing black, without perceiving any conscious decision to that end. She preferr ed to stay inside, or in places of deep shade or shadow, and gaze out at the light. It wasn’t that she shunned the warm light of the Florida sun, but the glare seemed to scald her eyes with its white intensity. Her eyes were her source of distinction, after all. Vast for her narrow face, their luminous, sea green irises formed tidal pools about the tight black dots of her pupils. Her stare was one that few could bear for long. Children and teachers alike found her unblinking silence a most uncomfortable experience, and her mute distraction in school led to the inevitable conclusion that she wasn’t very bright.

She had no friends. Her world, though, wasn’t as lonesome as it may have seemed.

She lived with her grandmother, a reclusive widow of Creole descent, who wandered about their old manor house singing under her breath in her broken French dialect. Allison loved the old house, despite its state of disrepair and the ratty look of its worn exterior, with the few remaining patches of white paint peeling off the grayed wood clapboard. The oak floors creaked, but there was something timeless about the place, with its high ceilings, spacious rooms and front colonnade. The house was surrounded by ancient southern oaks; they were broad, stately trees, the likes of which one could only find in Florida. Their sinewy, gargantuan branches split off low from the trunk, with gray-green leaves poking out between dangling veils of Spanish moss. The trees shielded Allison from the sun, and provided a home for squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. The Curmudgeon would leave their cleaned skulls on her windowsill as gifts when the moon waxed in silvery twilight.

Her parents loved her—or so they claimed, when she would see them. They seemed more like friends than her elders. She often watched them with curious eyes, peering from her window at night as they frolicked about the front lawn. Her mother, very much a younger vision of her grandmother, had long dark hair, hair that would sway about her as she danced naked under the trees at night. Her father would be there with her, dancing naked as well, the strange designs tattooed down his back often blending with the swaying lengths of Spanish moss. They claimed to be moon cultists, though Allison had no idea what that meant. It was of no matter. Soon enough they became part of the night, passing to her dreams forever.

The memory of that change was the first emotional turmoil of her secluded little life. She was seven, and her parents had come out for the weekend. It was one of those times when her parents sat under the sprawling branches of the oaks, drinking and smoking throughout the day until they lay back on a blanket, their glazed eyes hidden behind their sunglasses. The hours drifted by, and the day faded to the lazy serenity of a Florida evening. Beneath long, golden rays of sunshine they began to stir, rising from their stupor to a restless sense of wanderlust. They came in the house after dinner, settling themselves at the table and exchanging small talk as Allison ate a bowl of vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. They smiled over Allison’s drawings, complimenting her budding artistic skills, and talked to her grandmother about some plans for the next weekend. Even at her young age Allison could tell her grandmother humored them. Her parents didn’t have a false bone in their body, but they were not reliable people. Free spirits, her grandmother would say.

Yet as those thoughts rolled about Allison’s head her eyes seemed to blur, and she stared at her parents with that unnerving, unblinking gaze of hers. Her heart began to race, her skin tingled, and then it came to her: not a shadow, but a different kind of light than the sun, a light that seemed to seep from within her parents, until the tactile periphery of their bodies became a pale shadow over the ivory glow of their skeletons. She trembled in her seat as the sight gained clarity until she could see all their bones in all their minute detail, but then it changed, changed in a way that froze her blood in her veins. Black fracture lines spread across the smooth ivory like running rivers of ink, until every bone in their bodies was broken to jagged ruin.

Her grandmother called her name, snapping her out of her stupor. She blinked, then screamed and ran from the table to the living room. Her parents and grandmother came after her, but she buried her head under the couch pillows. Despite the pillows, the moment she opened her eyes she could see them, right through the pillows and couch, standing there in their shattered translucence. She ran for her room, scratching at her eyes, and that was when things changed. Her grandmother charged after her, following her to her room, and tore through every drawer until she found the small collection of skulls Allison kept—the tokens the Curmudgeon had left her. Her grandmother stuffed her in her closet, closed the door to her room, and sat outside the door. She could hear her grandmother’s voice, even in the dark of the closet. She clamped her eyes shut; it was a desperate final measure to blot out the sight of her parents. She could see them, through the walls, through the floor, through the trees, as they hopped on her father’s motorcycle and raced off. She screamed for them to stop, but she was a child with a trifling voice, stuffed in a closet.

She cried herself to sleep.

— Excerpted from Chapter 1, Oddities & Entities by Roland Allnach

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Interview with Scott Lerner, author of ‘Cocaine Zombies’

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of Criminal law and Family Law. Mr. Lerner lives with his wife, their two children, and their cat Fern. Lerner collects unusual antiques and enjoys gardening, traveling, reading fiction and going to the movies. Cocaine Zombies is his first published novel. Coming soon, the sequel: Ruler of Demons.

You can find Scott online at scottlerner.camelpress.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, . Can you tell us what your latest book, Cocaine Zombies, is all about?

 

A small town lawyer gets involved in a criminal case only to discover there is a whole lot more going on—such as a conspiracy to enslave the world. It combines voodoo, black magic and an evil multi-national corporation. It also involves a new derivative of cocaine that is more addictive and potentially dangerous than any drug that has existed to date.

 

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

 

Samuel Roberts—Sam—is a small town lawyer who is practical but flawed in many respects. At the same time he has a strong sense of right and wrong. Although far from virtuous he does fight for what he believes, even if it means putting his life on the line.

 

Sam teams up with his friend Robert Sizemore. Bob is a loyal friend and sticks by Sam in situations where most people would hide under their beds. Bob is part hippie, part technology geek. He also does not trust the government or big business. Bob believes in the right to bear arms. He thinks our forefathers insisted on the second amendment to protect ordinary citizens against the government overstepping their authority.

 

Sam meets the beautiful femme fatale Chloe because she is the one who is paying him to represent a client—a client whose head ends up in Sam’s fridge early in the story. When she starts visiting his dreams—or rather, nightmares—he suspects that she has supernatural powers. Chloe believes mankind has become evil and indifferent to the suffering of others.

 

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

 

Mainly on my imagination. Like me, Sam is a lawyer and lives in Champaign County. He also has my sense of humor. Other than those obvious similarities, we are quite different—at least I like to think so. Some of the characters were inspired by real people but everyone is really a hodgepodge of characteristics I have observed in friends and strangers. Aside from not wishing to get sued, I would feel bad if I had to kill off someone who too closely resembled someone I knew in real life.

 

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

 

I have a pretty good idea of where I want to go when I start writing. Yet as I write I do end up going in unexpected directions. In Cocaine Zombies, as I got to know my characters, they led me along some twists and turns I hadn’t anticipated. From what I’ve read, most novelists seem to experience this phenomenon. The story did end differently than I originally planned. I would say it evolved rather than changed.

 

Q: Your book is set in ChampaignUrbana (Twin Cities).  Can you tell us why you chose these cities in particular?

 

I grew up in Champaign, Illinois, so frankly it was easier to have the book take place there. However, I had other reasons for choosing that location. The antagonists needed an educated work force of chemists and researchers, and the University of Illinois could fulfill those needs. They needed to transport their product all around the world, and Champaign has good access to highways, trains and airports. Also, Central Illinois is a good place to avoid drawing attention to an evil plot. People tend to mind their own business in small town Illinois. In this day and age drugs are no longer a big city phenomenon so why not Champaign? Lastly, I thought it was about time someone portrayed Champaign as a place where exciting things can happen.

 

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

 

It does. Champaign-Urbana is a University town, so in some ways it feels like a bigger city than it is. We have big city problems as well as advantages. However, if you go out into the country at night, you could be in the middle of nowhere. The Midwest is so flat and isolated in parts that a person can feel almost invisible. There are scenes in the book where it plays on this sense of isolation to make the characters—and hopefully the reader—feel alone and hopeless. At the same time the book relies on more crowded locations. Sam spend some time in Chicago. It is just too hard to find a voodoo priest in Champaign.

 

Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

 

I am looking at an Advanced Reading Copy so this may change in the final version.

 

Sam realizes he is in deep trouble and is wondering when the authorities are going to arrest him. One of his clients has been found decapitated in the middle of nowhere and Sam is a suspect. On top of it all Sam has just learned that an inmate he recently visited at the county jail has been found dead in his cell. Sam arrives home to find Bob sitting at his kitchen table. Sam had planned to go with Bob to look at an empty apartment complex for sale. This building has something to do with a much bigger plan.

 

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

 

I looked over at Frank. He was pointing at the ceiling of the bedroom. In large bloody letters were written; “Join me Sam.”  No wonder they wanted me here. I was a suspect.

“Can you come down to the station and talk with me?” Frank asked.

“Do I need a lawyer?”

“You tell me.”

“Look you just scared the shit out of me. If I’m not under arrest I’m going home. I need a drink and a good night’s sleep.”

“I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye but I’m just doing my job.” Frank said, trying to seem sympathetic.

“Can I go home?”

“Go ahead; if it means anything, I can’t picture you as the ritual murderer type.”

“Gee, thanks.” I responded.

“By the way, did you find his head?” I asked.

“No, still looking. It’s like trying to find a bowling ball in a compost heap with all that long, dry grass out there.”

When I got home the first thing I did was pull a bottle of Makers Mark out of the liquor cabinet. This can’t be good for business, I thought. A dead client writing my name in blood at the murder scene is not going to attract clients.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

 

So far that has not been much of a problem. I am lucky and have not been under time pressure to complete a manuscript. If I can’t think of anything to write I just stop and come back to it later.

 

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

 

I would like to say I would be resting in a hot tub while eating KFC and sushi. If I were single, rich and better looking I might invite a movie star over. In truth I would probably end up wasting my hour by watching television or doing something on the computer.

 

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

 

That is tough because my taste in books depends so much on my mood and what I was going through when I read them. The Damnation Game by Clive Barker or anything by Kurt Vonnegut. I have not read those books in years, yet I remember the intense impact they had on me.

 

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

 

Cocaine Zombies is my first published novel. So my spouting wisdom is like a nun providing guidance on sexual positions. I guess the best advice I can come up with is, be persistent and believe in your work no matter how much rejection you receive.

 

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Scott.  We wish you much success!

 

Thanks, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

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Read-A-Chapter: Paranormal Suspense Thriller ‘Cocaine Zombies’ by Scott A. Lerner

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the paranormal suspense thriller, Cocaine Zombies, by Scott A. Lerner. Enjoy!

______________________________________

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Camel Press (November 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603819037
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603819039

Samuel Roberts, a small-town lawyer in Urbana, Illinois, is contacted by a prospective client accused of selling cocaine. Nothing Sam hasn’t handled before. Or is it? Thomas is accompanied by a mysterious and exotic beauty named Chloe. Who is she, why is she paying for Thomas’s defense, and why is the accused so antsy around her?

Soon after Sam takes on the case he is plagued by terrible nightmares. Only, in these nightmares, when he dreams of death, people die. Realizing that he is out of his depth, Sam enlists the help of his friend, Bob Sizemore. Bob is oddly insightful about the supernatural and deeply suspicious of big business and the government. Sam and Bob soon discover that a major German pharmaceutical company has been using human guinea pigs to test a highly addictive and dangerous derivative of cocaine first developed in Nazi Germany. Combined with ancient herbs provided by a Voodoo priest, the substance has become increasingly addictive and dangerous.

After Thomas’s head shows up in Sam’s refrigerator, suspicion naturally falls on him. Now he has no choice but to face the forces of evil head on. But how do a small-town lawyer and a computer geek defeat an enemy with the power to enslave mankind?

______________________________________

Chapter One

I’ve been a lawyer for about ten years. In that time I have always worked for someone else; first for a small law firm and then for the public defender. For the first time in my career, I had opened my own office. The office itself is nothing special, a ten-by-ten foot room on the top floor of a six-story white mason block building. It has about the same dimensions as the jail cells I try to keep my clients out of. The building was originally designed to house apartments, but the architect did not put in enough closets. So the owner was trying to attract anyone who would bite. The result is that some floors contained offices, and others, apartments.

After I moved in I gave the walls a fresh coat of white paint. Actually, eggshellwas written on the can, but it looked white to me. I bought two file cabinets, three chairs, and a wooden bench at a used office supply store. I arranged the office so that the one comfortable chair sat behind the large desk and the two armchairs faced it. The desk is the only nice piece of office furniture I own. It is mission style and made of smoked oak, built around the turn of the century. My father, who gave it to me, claimed it was made by Stickley, but I doubt it. I have a laptop computer and a printer on my desk and pay enough money to get all the research tools I need online.

I also have a secretary named Susan who comes in a couple hours on the weekends to help with typing and filing.

Looking around, I realized I had everything I needed to practice law—other than clients, of course.

As if in answer to my thoughts, the phone rang. “Law Office,” I responded in a too cheerful voice.

“Is Samuel Roberts there?”

“This is he,” I said, grateful it wasn’t a call for Domino’s Pizza. They had a phone number similar to mine and despite just opening the office I had already received a number of calls for pepperoni and extra cheese.

“I was told you do criminal work.”

“Sure, what can I do for you?” I asked.

“It’s not for me but for my friend. Can we make an appointment?”

“Sure,” I said, pretending to be looking at something other than a completely empty calendar. “How about Friday at nine a.m.?”

“Could we get in today, by any chance?”

“All right, how about four?”

“Thanks.”

The caller sounded like she had money but it might have been wishful thinking. In the world of criminal law, most potential clients don’t have money. It is always a mistake to allow clients to pay over time in a criminal case. If you lose, your clients will have to pay fines and costs, and your bill isn’t a priority. If your clients go to jail, they’re out of work and have no way of paying. Also, clients who go to jail tend not to care about their lawyers being paid. If you win, clients don’t need you anymore and so won’t feel the need to pay you.

I played Halo on the computer until four p.m., when there was a knock on the door. “Come in,” I said.

In came an African-American man with a shaved head. He was six foot two and couldn’t have weighed less than  three hundred pounds. He had a four-inch scar above his right eye. With him was the woman I must have spoken with over the phone. She was probably five foot six and had long, straight black hair and bright green eyes. She looked tiny compared with her friend, but there was no doubt who was in charge. She was wearing a green dress in a snake-skin pattern. It was so tight I was concerned that it would rip when she sat down. Her perfume filled the room, replacing the smell of my fresh paint with a scent both sweet and hot, like a mix of honey with Tabasco sauce.

The woman wore a gold necklace with a strange pendant strategically placed so as to draw the maximum attention to her large breasts. The pendant was a gold chicken’s foot squeezing a very large, pink, heart-shaped diamond. If the diamond was real, money was not an issue. Her gold men’s tank-style Patek Philippe watch probably dated back to the 1940’s. This woman could more than afford my rates. Her friend, however, was wearing torn blue jeans and a white muscle shirt. She might be able to pay, but my guess was he couldn’t. I sure hoped she liked this guy.

The woman spoke first. I couldn’t place her accent. “My name is Chloe,” she said, extending a hand, which I shook. “My friend is Thomas. Thomas is charged with selling cocaine. He didn’t do it. He needs a lawyer to get him off. Can you do that?”

“I can give him good representation. If you want a fortune-teller, I’m afraid I can’t help you.” I immediately regretted the sarcasm, but she ignored it.

“He is being charged with a Class X felony. With his record he could be in the Department of Corrections for the rest of his life.”

A class X felony subjects a defendant to a term in the penitentiary from six to thirty years. In addition, if convicted, the defendant would serve eighty-five percent of the imprisonment rather than fifty percent for most crimes. There is a possibility of an even lengthier sentence, depending on other factors such as the defendant’s record.

“Why don’t you sit down and tell me what is going on,” I said, looking directly at Thomas. Chloe began to speak. “Chloe,” I interrupted, “what Thomas and I speak about is privileged. The attorney client privilege assures our conversations can’t be used in court against him. If you are present, it would be considered a waiver of that privilege and you could be subpoenaed to testify about our conversation. Would you mind waiting outside?”

What I said was legally correct but I doubted that the State would know to subpoena her. I was really just trying to get rid of her and I think she knew it. She left without another word.

Thomas seemed more at ease the minute she left. I entered his address and phone number in my computer. From his slight accent, I guessed he must have spent time in the Caribbean. He had a tattoo depicting two snakes intertwining around a cross on his left upper arm that reminded me of the symbol doctors use—the caduceus. Although the symbol used in the medical profession has only one snake, not two.

“I have sold crack in the past,” he said, “but just to get money or drugs for my own use. I spent some time in the Illinois Department of Corrections and don’t want to go back.” I nodded. “While in the joint, I found Jesus and accepted him as my Savior.”

Of course, I thought, everyone finds Jesus when they have all day to look. From my experience more people find religion at the Stateville Correctional Facility in Joliet then Jerusalem, Mecca, and Mississippi combined.

He continued, “I have a ten-year-old daughter, and I don’t want to miss being a part of her life. That’s why I wouldn’t risk selling drugs and going to prison. Since I got out I have been completely clean.”

“Are you still on parole?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he responded.

That was odd. I wondered why they would let him out on bond and not issue a parole hold.

“What does the government claim you did?”

“Sold coke, but I swear I didn’t. Why would I?” he whined.

For money or drugs, I thought, why does anyone sell drugs?

“What is your last name and date of birth?”

“Traver, October 30, 1964.”

I did a quick computer search of the circuit clerk’s website to find Mr. Traver had five prior drug convictions, including two class one felonies. He had three prior convictions in the last ten years. Each of those convictions was after the birth of his daughter. The fact that he was out of jail was shocking. It looked as if he had posted a $50,000 bond. That was a lot of money for the man in front of me to come up with—a lot of money for anyone to come up with.

I was good at judging who was trying to deceive me. You learn quickly in the Public Defender’s Office. Despite all this crap about finding religion and his daughter, I believed Mr. Traver. Something about his demeanor made me trust him.

“Why would the police lie about you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said, “a lot of the cops in this area hate me. They can’t get over my past. Who knows? Maybe I just look like someone else.”

“If you want me to get involved, I will need a retainer of five thousand dollars,” I said.

He looked shocked. I knew it was more than he could pay, but I had an office to run. And if he could pay to bond out, he could certainly pay me.

“Can I talk to Chloe?”

“Sure.”

He left the room and Chloe came back in with a wad of cash in her hand. I guessed it was $5,000. She handed me the money and I took it.

As I walked them to the door, I told them that I would file an entry of appearance and a demand for discovery. “When I get the police reports, I’ll let you know,” I said. I waited until they left to count the fifty hundred-dollar bills.

My mind wandered as I speculated where Chloe kept the roll of money in that tight dress. I didn’t remember her carrying a purse. The money reeked of her scent.

Reprinted from Cocaine Zombies by Scott A. Lerner. © 2012 by Camel Press.

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Get to Know My Book: Lucas Trent: Guardian in Magic by Richard Blunt – Part II

Today we are honored to be hosting Richard Blunt on his virtual book tour this month with the 2nd installment of his 3- day Get to Know My Book series of book excerpts. Get to Know My Book is an ongoing feature between blogs where we post excerpts of an author’s book so that you can get to know the book better, one blog at a time.

About Richard Blunt

Richard Blunt is the author of the fantasy novel, Lucas Trent: Guardian in Magic. He is currently working on his second book in the Lucas Trent series. You can visit his website at www.lucastrent.com.

Visit him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lucas_trent and Facebook at www.facebook.com/people/richard-blunt.

About Lucas Trent: Guardian in Magic

Lucas Trent“Guardian in Magic” is a fantasy novel located in a world very similar to the one we live in. It tells the story of 16 year old Lucas Trent, an IT student living in Luton, England. His fascination for the supernatural leads him to take a glimpse at the world from an angle only few others look at. An angle that teaches him the true meaning of friendship, loyalty and trust in ways he had never experienced before.

Journeying through a secret community that is hidden in plain sight, he suddenly finds himself forced into living two lives at once, keeping his true identity even from his close family. In a struggle to handle this situation, he gets pulled deeper and deeper into a swamp of conspiracies and coincidences surrounding a young girl and the very truth about magic in the real world…

Book Excerpt:

The entrance to the hallway opened just as they stepped up to it. Someone obviously had been waiting for them.

“No cameras, no cell phones. If you brought them, leave them in your car,” a young man, approximately 18 or 19 years old, commanded in a bored voice. He was quite tall and slim and looked a little bit like Darien on first impression. “And bring your robes.”

Lucas was very unhappy about this command. Not having his cell phone could prove to be a problem when it came to alerting the others. But there was no other option than to comply. So they tossed the phones into the glove compartment. Lucas tried to show it clearly long enough so that the others in the pub would see this as well. On the other hand Lucas was quite happy that he had never seen this guy before, so at least for now there was no danger of being recognized.

“Very well,” the boy said as they returned to the entrance. “Follow me.”

Then he led them down the stairs into the basement. The compartments to both sides of the corridor were divided by wooden dividers that looked a little bit like fences. The doors were also made out of wood, secured with padlocks. Like the rest of the building everything down here looked old and shabby.

“How far is it?” Lucas asked.

“Don’t talk, just walk,” the cold answer came.

As they approached the end of the corridor, Lucas could see a brick wall that was partially blocked by sheets of plywood. Their guide walked straight toward that wall and stopped right before it. Lucas looked around, but there was nothing but locked compartments here. Much to his surprise, the boy grabbed the plywood and pushed it aside, uncovering a whole in the wall. A dark shaft became visible. Lucas tried to make out something, but it was way too dark.

“Close up behind you,” the boy commanded. Then he pulled a flashlight from his pocket and went into the shaft.

Lucas looked ahead and could now see tubes running through this passageway. The walls were made only of dirt, with occasional wooden beams to support them. He indicated Jasmin to go ahead while he closed the plywood again.

The walk continued for a minute or two. It was clear now to Lucas that the shaft was connecting two of the apartment buildings, running water and electricity between them. On the far end, the tunnel entrance was also blocked with plywood, just like the other one. They stepped out of it, Lucas closing the entrance again while the other boy was stowing away his flashlight. Then he led them on through another basement corridor up to the ground floor again and much to their surprise, out of the building.

Lucas took a quick look around. They had obviously exited a building on the back side of the compound; the street name was different, but other than that everything looked quite similar.

The boy headed toward a small van parked a few meters away.

“Get in,” he commanded after opening the back door.

“Where are we going?” Lucas tried to sound calm, like the question came out of pure interest.

“Don’t talk, just walk,” the cold answer came again.

Lucas disliked this more with every step he took. They were already far away from their friends, with no way of contacting them or letting them know where they were going, and stepping into a car now would definitely only take them farther away. A look into Jasmin’s face showed him quite clearly that she had similar thoughts; she looked even more nervous than before.

“Hurry, we don’t have all day.” The boy was getting impatient.

Lucas took a breath and finally jumped into the car, closely followed by Jasmin.

It was a short drive, leading them to a suburb of Luton, where the scenery was shaped mostly by detached houses with small gardens surrounding them. They stopped just in front of an old house that looked deserted.

“We are here. Put on your robes,” the boy said while jumping out.

He seemed to have put his robe somewhere under the driver’s seat, as he was already in the process of slipping into it while Jasmin and Lucas where still making their way out of the car. They quickly followed his example and put on the black robes they had brought with them, pulling the hoods deep over their faces. Then they followed him toward the entrance.

The closer they came to the house, the more it became clear that no one had lived in there for a long time. The garden was overgrown with weeds, ivy was hanging from the wall, many windows were either shattered or barred and those that weren’t were so full of dirt that they were opaque by now. The canopy was missing tiles and even the two steps leading up to the main entrance were not intact anymore: The wooden plank that was supposed to be the second one was broken in half.

They approached the door and their guide took the door knocker.

Knock… Knock, knock… Knock, knock…Knock…Knock

Lucas watched him carefully. The door was as old as the house itself, but it seemed intact. The lock seemed to have been changed recently; it was a state of the art magnetic codec lock. The door knocker, on the other hand, still looked old, some kind of a lion that supposedly was shining gold a long time ago. Right now it was shimmering green.

The door swung open and someone in a black robe and a hood was standing before them.

“I bring the new ones,” the boy who brought them here said.

Lucas tried hard to identify the one that had opened the door for them, but he had the hood pulled that deeply over his face that it was impossible to even tell if it was a boy or girl.

The hooded person stepped aside to let them pass. Right after they had entered the room, Lucas heard the door close behind them. Then the two guys wandered off into the house, indicating that they should follow them.

Lucas took a quick look around. The room was nearly empty, no furniture except for a chair, and even that chair did not look promising. A staircase led to the first floor and three hallways without doors led left, right, and straight ahead. The room was only lit by the little light that was coming through the opaque windows, just enough to see the spider webs all around the room.

The two others had walked off to the corridor straight ahead. As Lucas and Jasmin followed them, a glimmer of light became visible from one of the back rooms. The door to that room was only slightly open, so they couldn’t see much of it so far, but it was kind of spooky. Lucas noticed that Jasmin was shivering a little, so he walked close to her and took her hand for a few seconds to reassure her.

As the door to the room swung open a strange picture emerged for the two. In the middle of the room was a table, topped with a piece of black cloth. From the looks of it, the table seemed to be just a cheap camping table, but the cloth was hanging down so long that one couldn’t tell for sure. On the table were some black candles set on silver chandeliers. Standing behind the table, they could see someone wearing a black robe with a dark red hood. Lucas was quite certain that this would be Wolfman. On the other side of the table, six other persons were standing, all with black robes and hoods. A pentagram was drawn on the floor with chalk, and wooden torches were placed all over the room.

The two guys walking in front of Lucas and Jasmin joined the others. Jasmin and Lucas entered the room as well, Jasmin closing the door behind her.

“Right on time,” the man behind the table said. It was clearly Wolfman who was talking. “This is your first time, so just take a place among the others and follow their lead.”

Lucas and Jasmin joined the crowd, staying close together at all times. It was right now that Lucas recognized the smell in the air: the same sweet smell that they had found in the clearing.

Tomorrow stop off at Beyond the Books with Get to Know My Book: Lucas Trent: Guardians in Magic by Richard Blunt – Part III!

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Interview with Richard Blunt: ‘I like to make the whole story 100% consistent’

Richard Blunt is the author of the fantasy novel, Lucas Trent: Guardian in Magic. He is currently working on his second book in the Lucas Trent series. You can visit his website at www.lucastrent.com. Visit him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lucas_trent and Facebook at www.facebook.com/people/richard-blunt.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Rick. Can you tell us what your latest book, “Guardian in Magic”, is all about?

It is actually the first part of a series. It tells the story about a teenager that stumbles from a quite normal life into a wonderful world of mystery, conspiracy and magic, that had always been right before his eyes, hidden in plain sight. It tells a story about friendship and trust, and about the fact that things are not always as simple as they appear to be.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

The story revolves around six teenagers who all share the interest in “esoterics”, amongst other things as they find out throughout the story. Lucas Trent, the title figure, is a 16 year old IT student, pretty much a loner, but with his heart in the right place. Darien is a year older, sort of the Wikipedia on legs of the group. Also an IT student and a real genius in theory. Marcus is the sporty guy, always a step ahead physically. The last boy, Cedric, is a little hard to grasp. He is the silent one. Always there when you need him most, but never really clear in what his intentions are. The two girls are the youngest and the oldest in the group. Stephanie is the youngster with her 15 years, a real beauty but a little shy. Jasmin is 20, like the good soul of the group. Not as good looking as Stephanie, but twice as charming with her words.

Looking at the sidelines the characters get mysterious. There for one is “Angel”, the mentor of the group. She seems always to be ahead of the game at least one step, but without ever showing her cards. And then there is the mysterious man in grey… Well, no one can tell what he’s all about. (Yet.)

Oh and of course there is the villain. “Wolfman” is the name. He could be the devils minion from his looks. He is  satanic priest who causes the heroes more than one headache throughout the story.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

They all have parts of real people, but most of them have many parts of many different people. I like to form them a little in like archetypes, so they do not primarily resemble someone, but resemble an idea.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I like to make the whole story 100% consistent. So the big picture is completely drawn before I write the first word of the text. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that perfect in the end.

Q: Your book is set in Luton, England.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

Honestly? I chose England because I wanted an English speaking country as the base and tried not to take the obvious route and choose the US. Luton came up simple: Took a map of England and blindly painted a dot somewhere… Voila… Luton… I have never been there by the way, so chances are high that my description doesn’t resemble the reality even a bit… I hope they will forgive me.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Some parts of it do, but mostly the setting gets created for the story, not the other way round.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

The heroes are just learning the first vital lesson of their journey. Angel is about to explain them some things. (Without explaining them at all of course, but that’s a bit complicated.)

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

That’s a hard one, as taking out one scene will not make sense without knowing the surrounding. I will give you a quote instead:

“Be Yourself. You can only achieve something if you are truly behind it, and you can’t be while wearing a mask.” Angel says this to the heroes not very far into the book. Why do I think it’s worth mentioning? Because it is true in reality as much as it is in the book. And although this is a fantasy story there still are many things in there that are quite true in reality as well.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Rick.  We wish you much success!

Thanks for the invitation. It was a pleasure being here.

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