Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Greyson Bryan. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Greyson Bryan. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Conversation with Thriller Writer Greyson Bryan

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Greyson Bryan

We are delighted to welcome author Greyson Bryan to Omnimystery News today.

Greyson's new first in series international thriller is BIG: Beginnings (Greyson Bryan; June 2016 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we had the opportunity to spend some time talking about it with him.

— ♦ —

Omnimystery News: Tell us a little more about some of the business strategies that are featured in BIG: Beginnings and in the next two books in the series. And were you really involved in a deal involving harvesting logs from an underwater forest?

Greyson Bryan
Photo provided courtesy of
Greyson Bryan

Greyson Bryan: Beginning in 2001, I began to advise U.S. financial institutions which were just starting to look to emerging markets as places of great opportunity. In fact, the acronym "BRIC," for Brazil, Russia, India and China, was coined in 2001 by a Goldman Sachs investment banker. Needless to say, emerging markets may offer great opportunity but they also present legal and reputational risks quiet different than North America or Western Europe. For the next twelve years, I advised Goldman, Sachs and other clients on literally hundreds of matters arising from their growing activity in emerging markets, including an investment in a company planning to harvest underwater timber from a lake in Ghana.

OMN: If you had been working on deals in emerging markets for more than a decade, what prompted you to start writing about them fictionally in 2011?

GB: I'm sure some desire to explore writing fiction had lurked in my subconscious for years. And for a number of years several friends with whom I shared some of the details of my practice in emerging markets found them fascinating and dared me to write a novel based on my work as an international business lawyer. But I just laughed. Who had the time? Then one day in 2011 I found myself on a flight to Washington, DC. Without really thinking, I took out my laptop and began to tap out a list of some of the more intriguing transactions I'd worked on. The list included the investment in the harvesting of underwater timber I just mentioned as well as the financing of a small Channel Islands company engaged in West African oil exploration and a Nigerien uranium concession. These real-life deals were eventually adapted into the backdrop for the three BIG novels.

OMN: Where did the title BIG come from?

GB: I know it sounds counterintuitive, but, for some reason I needed a title before I started to write. Something to make the project concrete, I guess. So, before I wrote a word, I took the name for the tentative title from the acronym for the organization many of whose talented members had become my friends and colleagues: the Business Intelligence Group at Goldman, Sachs or BIG, as it's called. Of course, in the book, BIG originally stands for the Bingham International Group, an investment firm specializing in high-risk emerging markets, and then at the end of the first book and throughout the series, the Bingham Intelligence Group.

OMN: As a lawyer yourself, why didn't you make a law firm the institutional center of the action?

GB: I wanted to make the story primarily about the business risks from investing in emerging markets not about the legal issues. Besides, having worked for more than thirty years in a law firm, I had a hard time seeing how I could make it interesting enough. Also, because I worked primarily with bankers and in-house lawyers doing deals in places like the BRICs and South Africa, Nigeria, Indonesia and Argentina, it seemed natural to make a small private equity firm specializing in emerging markets the backdrop for the story.

OMN: Why did you choose Los Angeles as the city where BIG is based instead of New York or Washington, where I would guess most of these types of investment firms are based?

GB: I know all three cities, of course, but I grew up in LA and had been living there for two decades when I climbed on the plane to DC in 2011. I know the business, cultural and social scenes in Los Angeles well and I felt placing Bingham in Los Angeles would make it standout more than if it were in New York.

OMN: And I would guess that having raised your children in Los Angeles played a role in basing the story there?

GB: Absolutely, I'm sure it did. One of the two main characters, Duncan Luke, and his autistic son, Sam, emerged from my own experience as a single father raising a daughter on the autistic spectrum in Los Angeles. Duncan is a high-priced, burned-out lawyer who decides to leave practice to teach so he can devote more time to his family, a decision that precipitates a family crisis and forces him to take one last lawyer job at the risk of losing his son's love. As a Los Angeles lawyer with a fascinating but demanding practice and from many conversations with other frustrated, exhausted individuals trying — and often failing — to meet the competing demands of their careers and families, it was easy to imagine and write about the emotional turmoil swirling inside Duncan.

OMN: We'd like to hear more about Duncan and the other main character, Ghislaine Bingham, and your decision to have two protagonists and make one of them a woman. Perhaps in a subsequent Q&A?

GB: I look forward to it.

— ♦ —

Greyson Bryan is an international lawyer who earned his B.A. from Stanford and a J.D. from Harvard, and taught at the Harvard Law School and UCLA. A longtime LA resident, BIG: Beginnings is his first novel and the first book in the BIG series.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at GreysonBryan.com and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

— ♦ —

BIG: Beginnings by Greyson Bryan

BIG: Beginnings by Greyson Bryan

A Duncan Luke Novel

Publisher: Greyson Bryan

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)

Duncan Luke is no stranger to impossible situations. A high-priced lawyer and expert in business intelligence, he knows how to extricate his clients from sticky situations while saving — or making — them millions. To be the best, he's sacrificed everything, including his family, but now he wants out. He's quitting his lucrative practice for academia and time with his autistic son, Sam. But his wife isn't on board and files for divorce, forcing him to fight for custody. With mounting legal bills, the only way to keep his son is to take on one last client. He plans to do the job, get out and get home to Sam, but his client, Ghislaine Bingham, has other ideas.

Ghislaine has a crisis of her own. Her cheating husband died and left her in a turf war with her stepson over the family business, Bingham Investment Group. She stands to lose more than money. Her reputation and life's work are tied up in the company. Her self-worth is on the line and only Duncan has the expertise to see her to victory.

When Duncan and Ghislaine meet, sparks fly, but neither can walk away. Ghislaine sends Duncan to Tokyo to convince his old friend, Taro Takayama, that Ghislaine is the best person to run Bingham. But Taka first needs Duncan to fix his Panama problems. Duncan races to Panama where he is kidnapped and beaten, stumbles into a sex-trafficking ring and rescues a beautiful woman. Unaware of the danger in Panama City and frustrated by Duncan's unorthodox ideas, Ghislaine threatens to pull him off the job.

As Duncan flies across time zones doing battle for Ghislaine, risking his life and reputation, Sam slips further away. Duncan must finish the job to get Sam back, but time is running out.

BIG: Beginnings by Greyson Bryan

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Our Continued Conversation with Thriller Writer Greyson Bryan

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Greyson Bryan

We are delighted to welcome back author Greyson Bryan to Omnimystery News today.

Late last month we spent some time with Greyson talking about his new thriller BIG: Beginnings (Greyson Bryan; June 2016 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we asked if we could follow up with a few more questions.

— ♦ —

Omnimystery News: We ended the last interview with my question about how you decided to have two protagonists, Duncan Luke and Ghislaine Bingham, and to make one of them a woman.

Greyson Bryan
Photo provided courtesy of
Greyson Bryan

Greyson Bryan: I'm a big fan of the Patrick O'Brien series of historical novels which features two very different, but equally strong characters, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, serving in the British navy during the Napoleonic wars. You may have seen the movie starring Russell Crowe, The Far Side of the World, which is based upon those books. I enjoyed the way the two personalities of Aubrey and Maturin frequently clashed and yet over time came to appreciate the other's strengths and weaknesses. I wanted to create a similar dynamic in the BIG series only I wanted my Stephen Maturin to be a woman which adds, I like to believe, a whole new dimension to the relationship. So I created another strong character with a different background, values and personality to complement Duncan Luke. The strong-willed yet deeply conflicted Ghislaine Bingham, as elegant, cosmopolitan and passionate as Duncan is rough-hewn, taciturn and analytical, is a composite of some of the spirited women I've had the pleasure to work with.

OMN: They don't like each other very much, do they, at least at the beginning?

GB: No, they don't. Duncan doesn't appreciate Ghislaine's impulsiveness or her taste for the finer things in life and Ghislaine doesn't at all like Duncan's tendency to do what he thinks is best for his client — and then tell her later.

OMN: So there is tension between them from the beginning but each needs what the other has so neither walks away?

GB: Yes, that's right. To idea was to challenge Duncan and Ghislaine individually and yet ultimately draw them together. To do that, I wanted to create two conflicts over what they each held most dear. I had years before experienced the unending nightmare of a prolonged custody battle and so had no difficulty imagining Duncan in such a fight with his ex-wife over his son. Having watched many female colleagues struggle to overcome gender bias, I wanted a Ghislaine as devoted to her firm as Duncan is to Sam and in a fight with her stepson, the embodiment of many of those biases, for her legacy at work and the chance to prove herself as the leader of her firm.

OMN: So the man is fighting for his child, something that one would normally associate with a female character, and the woman is fighting for her legacy and a chance to prove herself at work, something that one would usually say is a male objective?

GB: Yes, exactly. And as the story unfolds, the reader will discover — spoiler alert — that Ghislaine understands Duncan's commitment to Sam much better than Duncan understands Ghislaine's devotion to her company.

OMN: Tell us a little more about the two characters threatening Duncan and Ghislaine, the soon-to-be ex-wife, Gracie, and the stepson, Ward.

GB: I admit the characters of Gracie and Ward took me a lot of thinking and many drafts to give them nuance. It just took me time to feel comfortable in their shoes. Ultimately, I came to understand that Gracie's fierce devotion to Sam and what she views as her critical role in caring for her son could lead her to choose to end her marriage, if she felt that staying in the marriage would jeopardize those values. As for Ward, he lost his mother at a young age and was left to deal with a severely narcissistic father whom he believes stole the company from his mother's family. He sees Ghislaine through that lens and will stop at nothing to undermine her and preserve what he believes is his birthright.

OMN: You mentioned that you have three books in the series planned, with BIG: Beginnings being the first, Have you started the other two?

GB: The second book is with the copyeditor now and I have a very good draft of the third book. The truth is that when BIG: Beginnings was with the editor, I couldn't stop writing. In the process of writing the second book, I created plot and character elements that required incorporation in the first book. And the same thing happened when the second book was being edited — I wrote the third book and then had to go back and revise the first and second books. I know it wasn't the most efficient way to proceed, but I didn't feel I had any choice — my characters demanded that I keep writing until I brought them to a place where they had evolved sufficiently to recognize their own strengths and limitations and were now free to look forward to the future.

OMN: Will the third book be the last in the series?

GB: I'm not sure. The third book ends more with a semi-colon than a period. I guess I'll just have to wait to see whether Duncan, Ghislaine and the others are content to retire or demand to be given voice again.

— ♦ —

Greyson Bryan is an international lawyer who earned his B.A. from Stanford and a J.D. from Harvard, and taught at the Harvard Law School and UCLA. A longtime LA resident, BIG: Beginnings is his first novel and the first book in the BIG series.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at GreysonBryan.com and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

— ♦ —

BIG: Beginnings by Greyson Bryan

BIG: Beginnings by Greyson Bryan

A Duncan Luke Novel

Publisher: Greyson Bryan

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)

Duncan Luke is no stranger to impossible situations. A high-priced lawyer and expert in business intelligence, he knows how to extricate his clients from sticky situations while saving — or making — them millions. To be the best, he's sacrificed everything, including his family, but now he wants out. He's quitting his lucrative practice for academia and time with his autistic son, Sam. But his wife isn't on board and files for divorce, forcing him to fight for custody. With mounting legal bills, the only way to keep his son is to take on one last client. He plans to do the job, get out and get home to Sam, but his client, Ghislaine Bingham, has other ideas.

Ghislaine has a crisis of her own. Her cheating husband died and left her in a turf war with her stepson over the family business, Bingham Investment Group. She stands to lose more than money. Her reputation and life's work are tied up in the company. Her self-worth is on the line and only Duncan has the expertise to see her to victory.

When Duncan and Ghislaine meet, sparks fly, but neither can walk away. Ghislaine sends Duncan to Tokyo to convince his old friend, Taro Takayama, that Ghislaine is the best person to run Bingham. But Taka first needs Duncan to fix his Panama problems. Duncan races to Panama where he is kidnapped and beaten, stumbles into a sex-trafficking ring and rescues a beautiful woman. Unaware of the danger in Panama City and frustrated by Duncan's unorthodox ideas, Ghislaine threatens to pull him off the job.

As Duncan flies across time zones doing battle for Ghislaine, risking his life and reputation, Sam slips further away. Duncan must finish the job to get Sam back, but time is running out.

BIG: Beginnings by Greyson Bryan

Thursday, September 22, 2016

An Excerpt from BIG: Beginnings by Greyson Bryan

Omnimystery News: An Excerpt courtesy of Greyson Bryan

We are delighted to welcome back author Greyson Bryan to Omnimystery News.

Late last month and earlier this month we had an extended conversation with Greyson about his new thriller BIG: Beginnings (Greyson Bryan; June 2016 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we are so pleased that he has agreed to share an excerpt from it with our readers, the first two chapters.

— ♦ —

Friday, December 10 — Los Angeles

DUNCAN LUKE DRIVE SOUTH ON LINCOLN Boulevard until he reached the entrance to Loyola Marymount University. He had agreed at the end of the summer to become a visiting professor at the LMU business school, beginning December 15, and teach one seminar during the spring semester. But winding down his white-collar practice and the acrimony at home since he had accepted the LMU position had kept him from visiting campus again until today. As he climbed the hill where the campus was perched, he could see the brilliant midday sun poised high above the Pacific Ocean. Despite his somber mood, he felt an almost physical release, a lightening of the body as if he were a traveler on a spaceship escaping Earth's gravity.
  Inserting the key to his office in the Hilton Center for Business, he unlocked the door and pushed it open, nearly dropping the file box he carried along with his briefcase. The musty scent of stale air filled his nose. He flipped on the light switch with his elbow and bright fluorescent light illuminated the room. A slightly chipped laminated wood desk sat to his left. Matching faux cherry built-in cabinets and shelves stood behind his black vinyl desk chair and a narrow window ran from floor to ceiling on half of the wall opposite the door. Two gray stainless-steel stackable chairs faced his desk and filled the remainder of the tiny room. Duncan felt sure someone had selected the chairs for maximum discomfort to discourage student visitors. He laid his box and briefcase on the desk and took a step back. His old office, in his stately law firm, had four times the space, with heavy mahogany furniture and shiny leather chairs. He knew the contrast would give Gracie, his wife, yet another reason to criticize his decision to leave his flourishing practice. Duncan chased the thought away and dug into the box to set up his desk. He pulled out the obligatory calendar, an array of pens and pencils, and a gift from a grateful client, a clock with an image of the scales of justice and the inscription, "I'm trusting in the Lord and a good lawyer." Only a fool would trust either to achieve justice in this world, Duncan thought to himself. He arranged these on his desk and then pulled out his copies of Black's and Mellinkoff's legal dictionaries, which he placed on one bookshelf, and a binder full of possible reading material for his course, "Strategic Intelligence for International Business," which he deposited on the other.
  Finally, Duncan retrieved two carefully wrapped bundles from the box. He removed the newspaper around each and held up his two favorite pictures of his son, Sam. In one, taken three years ago when his son was about seven, Sam wore a Dalmatian costume and a cap with black ears. Someone had painted dark whiskers on his chubby cheeks. He looked sideways at the camera with a worried smile as if to ask, I'm not really a dog, am I? In the other, taken two summers ago, Sam peered out of a tube in a playground at Venice Beach, eyes sparkling with delight that he had found the courage to enter the dark hole at the top and slide into the light at the bottom.
  Duncan polished each frame with the tail of his polo shirt and placed them directly in front of him on his desk. He slumped down in his chair, put his feet up on the desk, and gazed out the window at the inner courtyard of the Hilton Center. By giving up his lucrative law partnership to devote time to his family and finally follow his dream of teaching, Duncan had jumped down his own rabbit hole. He had never dreamed the ride would be as bumpy or bewildering as it had been.
  Three hours later, Duncan left his office at LMU filled with frustration. Months before, when he had proposed to teach the course, the objective for the class had been crystal clear: instruct future business leaders on how international businesses should organize the gathering and analysis of information to reduce risk and create competitive advantage in their long-term planning. Much of his experience in private practice involved working with investigative firms, data analysts, and forensic accountants to develop intelligence for clients to use in resolving immediate crises. He had handled every type of international corporate "complication," from getting rid of a corrupt partner or an employee-turned-terrorist recruiter to investigating foreign affiliates for exploiting child labor, discharging toxic pollution, or financing narcotics traffickers. He saw the course as a simple extension of lessons he had learned, but with a positive spin: transform his experience of crisis management from tactical to strategic, giving his students the tools to design better futures for their businesses. After reading a dozen articles and trying to hammer out a syllabus, however, the concept — once so clear — had become opaque. Memories of last night's battle with Gracie over his decision to leave private practice, an argument that had ruined their weekly dinner out once again, didn't help his clarity.
  Steering his five-year-old white Acura toward their home in Santa Monica, he decided to drive along the coast rather than take the 405 and Santa Monica Freeways. If the dinner last night had gone differently, Duncan would have chosen the faster ride home to spend the late afternoon shooting baskets with Sam, but he dreaded another heated confrontation with Gracie and chose the longer route to clear his head. Traveling up Lincoln Boulevard, he stopped on the side of a narrow bridge to look over the brown bulrushes and vernal ponds of the Ballona Wetlands. A pair of Mallard ducks, a gray male with a bright green head and a mottled brown female, circled over the marsh and settled down on one of the few grassy spots. He knew that ducks generally mated only for a single season but found himself hoping these two would be the rare exception and remain partners for life.
  Duncan pulled back onto the bridge and turned off Lincoln to wind his way through Marina del Rey. When Sam was younger, they had spent many Sunday mornings brunching on the patio of the Jamaica Bay Inn and building sand castles on nearby Mother's Beach. On a whim, he swerved left on Mindanao Way and parked at Burton Chace Park, a thick finger of lawn and trees sticking out into the waters of the marina. As he watched the sailboats and yachts glide by, he wondered whether there was anything he could do to ease the tension with Gracie, at least for this one evening. Then it came to him: a half Portobello mushroom and half chicken-sausage pizza from Abbot's. Sam and Gracie both loved the thick, crunchy poppy seed bagel crust and, after months of negotiation, had finally arrived at a compromise over toppings: as long as Gracie, who disliked the spicy sausage, could have mushrooms on one side of the pizza, Sam, who detested vegetables of all kinds, especially mushrooms, could have his sausage on the other. Duncan had no doubt that the treat would delight Sam; but would it distract Gracie enough to spend the evening in peace? Could a quiet evening turn into a peaceful week, a week into a month?
  After placing his order at Abbot's, Duncan wandered down to Hal's for a beer. As he examined the enormous canvases of modern art on the walls, he wondered whether, after all, he was just as responsible as Gracie for the rending of their emotional bond. He knew he could be quiet, even withdrawn. Gracie had said at the end of the previous week's date night she felt as if she were living with a corpse; he had stifled an angry retort about her lack of empathy, which had only made him more sullen and soured their ride home. Christ, why couldn't she understand that his periodic bouts with melancholy were one of the by-products of the unrelenting pressure of his practice? Who wouldn't be hard to reach from time to time with all the travel and deadlines? Duncan started to fume again but stopped. A couple of beers at Hal's would cheer him up and release some of the grinding anxiety he felt about returning home. Maybe if his mood were buoyed, Gracie's would lighten too and they would make love tonight for the first time in months. Yes, he told himself as he finished the first glass in a gulp, he was sure they would.
  The sweet and spicy scents of oregano, mozzarella, and Italian sausage filled the Acura as Duncan pulled to a stop outside their extensively renovated 1930s Spanish-style home on Seventeenth Street. Juggling his briefcase in one hand and a steaming two-foot-square box in the other, he tiptoed up the flagstone pathway. Gracie was sitting in the filtered light of late afternoon on the Spanish Colonial wooden bench that squatted on the flagstone of their front porch. An enormous book hid her face but not the swan's neck below or the curly auburn hair above. The rapid plucking of strings from the "Winter" movement of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons poured out the window like icy rain. Gracie put her book down, revealing her fair, pretty oval face and emerald eyes. When they first met, he had imagined Modigliani had made her just for him. He caught his breath at the sheer perfection of the scene: a smart, beautiful wife, a treasured son, a lovely home. He was certain they would find a way to be happy after all.
  "I've brought a mushroom and sausage pizza from Abbot's," Duncan announced, as he held up the oil-stained box like an offering to placate the gods.
  "Thanks. I'll put it in the oven to keep warm. Could you wait for me here?" she asked in a clipped voice. "I'd like to speak with you."
  "Sure," Duncan replied, trying to sound upbeat, even though Gracie's tone made it clear another confrontation was coming. His heart sank. With the effects of three beers clouding his mind, he was in no shape to fend off Gracie's verbal onslaught. "Where's Sammy?"
  "He's studying the Lakers Yearbook again; remember, the one I begged you not to give him? I'll be right back." A few moments later, Gracie returned, carrying the two large brown suitcases they used for long trips. "Do you want to sit?" she asked, releasing the suitcases so that they landed with a thud in front of Duncan.
  "No, I don't want to sit! What's going on?" he gasped, suddenly short of breath.
  "Please don't shout. You'll alarm Sam," Gracie commanded. She sat down on the bench, back straight, legs crossed, hands in her lap, and stared passed Duncan out at the street.
  "Remember five years ago when I received an average review at Goldman? How upset I was because I had never before in my whole life been average at anything?" she asked in a calm, almost disembodied, voice.
  "Yes, of course. We spent hours discussing it, how it wasn't fair, how you had done a superb job for them."
  Gracie closed her eyes for a second.
  "What I remember is you coolly deliberating over my despair like a fucking Supreme Court Justice — like I was just another one of your cases. You never had a clue, did you? You never realized how small you made me feel. All those years, we both worked long hours, but you were an Assistant U.S. Attorney trying cases that filled the newspapers and then a partner at a prestigious law firm making more than a million dollars a year and traveling the world on assignments so sensitive you couldn't even tell me about them. And me? I … I had become just average? I couldn't bear coming home every night to someone who loved his work and was highly regarded for it while I loathed what I was doing and was judged as just … average. So I quit. And you didn't even care!"
  "Of course I cared!"
  "Let me finish," Gracie commanded chopping the air with her left hand. "So I left Goldman and spent months reading everything written about Asperger's and autism, going to conferences and meeting with researchers. The board at Sam's school asked me to join. Parents began to call me. Conferences invited me to speak," she exclaimed jabbing her right index finger into her chest. "I finally loved what I did and was recognized for it. Then you started pestering me about going back to work. As if what I did for Sam wasn't work."
  Duncan put his briefcase down and sat on one of the suitcases. He rubbed his hands through his hair. The bitter, bready aftertaste of beer filled his mouth. "But we had agreed when you stopped working, I mean, when you left Goldman, it would only be for a few years. You would find something to bring in money so I could leave private practice and teach."
  "Why should I find a job where I would have to start over and be treated like crap," Gracie interjected, "when I have a doctorate in caring for Sam? I'm good at this. It makes me happy and it's critical for our son. You certainly aren't going to do what I've done for Sam. You want to teach, not take care of him."
  "I want to do both," Duncan objected.
  "Right." Gracie snorted. "But how do you think we're going to pay for Sam's therapies and special education if you give up practicing law? Don't you care about your son's well-being? I've dedicated my life to him. What have you done? You've dedicated your life to yourself."
  Duncan felt nauseated. Some of the oil from the pizza box had congealed on his hand. He wiped it on his jeans. The old olive tree on the side of the house captured his eyes. All the branches needed trimming and one decrepit limb needed a brace. He'd have to get Juan to come out for the job.
  "Duncan? Are you listening to me? Focus, goddammit! Focus! You've been drinking again, haven't you? You asshole! Tune me in!"
  Duncan blinked twice and faced Gracie. "If we both worked, we could make ends meet. We might have to move to a smaller house, but we'd have more time together as a family."
  "You just don't get it, do you? Sam doesn't need more family time, not if it means there's no money to pay for the professional help he needs, not if it means that I won't be available whenever he needs me." Gracie stood up and put her hands on her hips. "I warned you I would never forgive you if you insisted on being so selfish. But you didn't listen and you left your practice anyway. So here we are." Gracie looked directly into Duncan's eyes. "I've been advised that I have to file for a divorce while you're still a partner if I want to protect our right to the support that Sam and I will need. The divorce papers went in today. I've also been counseled I should allow you to see Sam here for an hour on Wednesday and Saturday evenings until we work out a custody agreement. Please come by at seven o'clock. I'll get Sam now so you can talk with him." Gracie headed to the door.
  "Wait. What are you doing?" Duncan shouted. "This is my home, too. I'm not going to meet Sam at the front door like some … some magazine salesman!" Duncan tripped on his way toward the entrance nearly stumbling into Gracie. She stepped aside with a laugh. He twisted the handle in vain. He took out his keys. None of them would turn in the lock. He slammed his fist against the wooden door.
  "Yes, a locksmith came while you were gone. And, a male paralegal from my lawyer's office, a former college football player as big as you, two decades younger and sober, is inside. If your temper gets out of control, he has the number of the Santa Monica police department programmed into his cell. I wish I could say I'm sorry, Duncan, but I'm not. In fact, it's been years since I've felt this good. You have ten minutes with Sam. Please try not to upset him," Gracie ordered as she unlocked the wooden door, walked in, and closed it behind her.
  Duncan kicked both suitcases over and threw his briefcase across the lawn toward his car. For an instant, he imagined starting the engine and ramming the car through the front door. Sweating heavily, he slumped down on the bench and tried to control his breathing so Sam wouldn't feel how upset he was. The front door swung open. Sam, a slight boy with creamy skin peered out at him. He wore a Dodgers T-shirt, flip-flops, and khaki shorts. Curly black hair spilled out the sides of a Dodgers cap like an overturned bowl of squid-ink spaghetti. Sam stepped out and sat next to Duncan. He stared intently at the dog-eared copy of the Los Angeles Lakers Yearbook that Duncan had given him only a few months ago. A warm tide of tenderness swept away his anger.
  "Hello, Sammy," Duncan said as he placed his hand on his son's leg and struggled to keep his voice from cracking. Sam did not reply.
  "How are you?"
  "Did you know that the Lakers lost on Friday to the Bulls? Kobe had twenty-three points and seven assists. Gasol had twenty-one points and eight rebounds. I like Gasol. He has hair like mine. Odom had eighteen points and eight rebounds. Ron Artest only had two points. He stinks."
  "Sam?" Duncan asked gently, knowing his son often took refuge from feelings in facts. "Are you worried about something?" Sam looked up from the Yearbook.
  "Are those yours?" Sam asked, pointing at the suitcases lying on the lawn.
  Duncan rubbed his forehead and swallowed a sob. He whispered, "What did your mom tell you?"
  Sam turned his eyes to the Yearbook. "She said you guys decided it was best if you would live somewhere else. Are you going to live in Washington or Tokyo? Who will bring us pizza when you're gone? Who will watch games with me?"
  "No, Sammy," Duncan said, blinking his eyes to keep the tears away. "I'm not going to live in Washington or Japan. I don't know exactly where I'll be but it will be close, I promise you. Someplace you'll like." Duncan put his arm around Sam's bony shoulders. "We'll have pizza together. We'll watch games together. You'll have a bedroom there, just like here. I promise."
  Sam put the Yearbook down. He wrapped his arms around his knees and began to rock back and forth. "I don't want a new home," he insisted quietly. "I like this one. All my things are here. You can visit me here, but you can't make me move."
  "You don't have to move, sweetheart," Duncan said as he rubbed Sam's back. "You'll have two homes: this one and our new home. That's all. Not many boys get to have two homes. Want to sit in my lap for a bit?" Duncan asked, longing to hold his son.
  "No!" shouted Sam as he jumped up from the bench. He paced back and forth in front of Duncan, gesturing wildly and screeching. "I don't want a new home. I don't want a new home. I don't want a new home."
  "Sam, just listen to me," Duncan pleaded.
  "Noooooo! You can't make me! I hate you!" Sam screamed and sprinted to the bench, grabbed the Yearbook, and dashed to the front door. He banged his fist against the wood. The door opened and a muscular young man stepped out. Sam ducked around him and into the house.
  The young man broadened his stance in front of the entrance. "I'm sorry, man. But I think you'd better go now."
  Duncan watched, transfixed, as the door closed. His world had spun out of control.
  

Two
  
Saturday, December 11 — Los Angeles

The celebration of the life of Robert Bingham was concluding as a wan December sun settled below the horizon. After two hours of greeting her guests, Ghislaine Bingham could not stomach another compliment for her late, almost ex-husband or condolence for his demise. When the last guest had wandered inside from the growing chill of the backyard, she remained behind to stroll among the pear trees scattered around the rolling lawn. The once verdant leaves had turned to pale gold and red, complementing the stucco walls and roof tiles of her Mediterranean home. Planting those trees was the first of many changes she had made to the house on Beverly Glen twenty-five years ago during the first month of their marriage. For the young Ghislaine, the trees had symbolized not just how much she hoped her love for Robert would flourish but also her decision to root herself in Los Angeles far from her Brussels home. A cool fall breeze rustled the leaves. Ghislaine gazed back on the three arched French doors leading into the living room. Installing those doors had sparked the first fight of their marriage. Robert's business had been struggling and he had accused her of being extravagant, but her Flemish stubbornness had insisted. When Robert saw how the glass panes of the new doors lightened the living room, he had taken her in his arms and kissed her.
  As she recalled that tender moment, regret at the loss of so many years welled up inside her. She had been so sure of her love for Robert and of her future with him that she had defied her maman for the first time in her life to marry the older American. But after a few years, their passion ebbed, leaving a married life with only two shared emotions: joy in raising their son, Robbie, and pride in building their company, Bingham International Group Inc. or BIG as it was — much to Ghislaine's annoyance — often called.
  After twenty-five years of marriage and twenty years as a successful business team, Robert had deserted her for a Russian Roller blade instructor and threatened to remove Ghislaine from Bingham International. She had for a long time felt vulnerable to his capricious character but never allowed herself to believe he would cast her aside from the company. She knew her marriage was a charade, but her success in business was not. She had been Mrs. Robert Bingham, Executive Vice President of Bingham International, for almost her entire adult life. She had sacrificed so much of herself to preserve that identity and battled countless times with Robert to ensure their company maintained a reputation worthy of their family's name. Aside from Robbie, the company and the people who gave it life were the sun and moon to her, and then that bastard of a husband tried to eclipse them.
  Four months of despair and agony later, a freak accident crushed Robert's skull. No longer could he ruin her moments of happiness with an angry outburst, a sudden command, or a withering complaint. Now this beautiful house and a controlling interest in the company belonged to her alone. Fate had given her a chance to sculpt a new Ghislaine Bingham, one who would never again entrust her sense of self to a man. The news of Robert's death had numbed her at first; soon, however, she felt reborn, wanting to run barefoot in the grass, as she had done when she was a girl in Belgium.
  Stepping through the French doors into the living room, Ghislaine saw with relief that only a few guests were lingering. The muscles in her shoulders relaxed for the first time since the event had begun. Thank God Taro Takayama had departed with apologies shortly after the reception had begun, saying he was obligated to return to Tokyo that evening. President of Aoki, a Japanese trading company that owned 20 percent of Bingham International, Takayama had always dealt directly with Robert and seemed ill at ease around Ghislaine, mispronouncing her name as "Jeeren" rather than the French "Geelen," an irritating habit Ghislaine forced herself to endure without comment. He seemed acutely sensitive to titles — as an executive vice president, she was beneath his status — and uncomfortable with the idea of a woman filling an important position in a partner enterprise. She had ignored his chauvinism before, but now she had to care. For the company to thrive under her direction, she had to learn to work with Aoki and gain Taro Takayama's respect. Anxiety began to bore a hole in her stomach. Stop it. Worry about Takayama-san on Monday.
  She walked to the end of the living room where her son stood chatting with his father's lawyer. Was this tall, muscular twenty-three-year-old the same boy who, at ten, was short and skinny and lost at school? The tan from his recent trip to Panama accentuated Rob's blond good looks. Even Ghislaine couldn't help admiring the resemblance to his father. He glanced at her with his soft eyes, eyes that came from her maman, as if to ask, "How are you doing?"
  "I'm fine," she mouthed as she passed the two men, touching her son on the arm. Robbie patted it briefly and smiled down at her. He may resemble his father, Ghislaine thought, but his soul is Maman's. More than anything in the world, she wanted to find the strength to lead the company to even greater success and then pass the company to him as her legacy.
  "Hello, Ghislaine," a deep voice with a slight Russian accent sounded at her side. Ghislaine turned, startled, and then smiled.
  "Andrei. Dear Andrei." She murmured, her husky voice catching on his name. She took his hands and squeezed them. "It is so good to see you. I didn't think you could come."
  "My flight was canceled. Snow in New York." He pulled her to him and kissed her on both cheeks. Lingering by her right ear, he whispered, "You look so much better than the last time I saw you. I hope you're happier now."
  Ghislaine flushed briefly and looked down to her right, not quite sure how to respond. Andrei Kronsky was several years older than her, a charming companion, and, after Robert had left her, sometimes more. He was not quite as tall as Ghislaine, but had the broad shoulders, narrow waist, and light step of a former world-class gymnast. A Russian military doctor who immigrated to the United States, Andrei had founded a biomedical company that had made him into a billionaire. He was unaccustomed to waiting for anything or anyone.
  Ghislaine sensed that she had become his current goal. But his persistence, while flattering, was sometimes uncomfortable.
  "I've missed you so much," Andrei continued. She inhaled the familiar spicy scent of Andrei's aftershave. Then she leaned away.
  "Robert's death shocked me, but, yes, I am happier now," she breathed. "Thank you. As for the rest …" She paused and shook her head slightly. "I … I told you I need time to think it over. Please don't rush me."
  "I won't. Just know you can ask anything of me, anytime," Andrei pledged with a slight bow.
  "I know. Thank you." She touched Andrei's shoulder and turned to wander into the music room. In the corner rested a glossy black 1928 Chickering baby grand piano, which Robert had given her to celebrate her first Bingham deal, their investment in a Dutch winter sportswear company whose clothes she had worn as a figure skater. Ghislaine had anticipated that athletic wear would become a sportswear trend years before the idea became mainstream. She had loved the piano, of course, but longed for Robert's embrace and praise for her contribution to their company. She realized now Robert's elaborate gift was the first time she had begun to question whether he loved her for herself or viewed her as an object he could exploit. She had pushed the uncertainty from her mind at the time, but now after two decades she was struck by how long she had lived with a lurking sense of insecurity. Salaud.
  At the far end of the music room just off the front hall she saw her stepson, Ward, Robert's son by his first wife, Leila. Ghislaine had never met Leila, who had died in a tragic car accident a year before she was introduced to Robert. The stories she'd heard described a petite woman with flawless skin, sea-green eyes, a sharp mind, and a famous temper. Ward, who was only five years younger than his stepmother, had inherited his mother's dark good looks and wiry, athletic frame, as well as her volatile temperament. He could be curt, even contemptuous, which Ghislaine knew well from working with him at Bingham, where Ward now served as president. She anticipated he would make her assuming control of the company as difficult as possible.
  Dressed in one of his half-dozen black Armani suits, he stood facing away from Ghislaine, his right arm encircling the waist of a young woman who had draped her left arm over his shoulder. Ghislaine squinted. Ward seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of Armani suits and blond girlfriends. She did not recognize this one. Cursing the vanity that kept her from wearing her glasses, she moved toward them. She would welcome Ward and his guest and escape up the long stairway leading from the entryway to her bedroom on the second floor. As Ghislaine approached, the woman rocked with laughter at something Ward had whispered in her ear, gave him a playful shove in the chest, and turned abruptly toward Ghislaine.
  Stunned, Ghislaine stared at the beautiful young woman with the same face and form as her own, but twenty-five years younger. It was as if Ghislaine had stepped out of the sterling frame of her wedding picture. A chill ran down her back.
  "Hello, Ghislaine." Ward smiled and ran his hand through his black, slicked-back hair. "I don't believe you've met my guest. This is Katrina Petrolova. Katrina, this is my stepmother."
  Ghislaine glared wide-eyed at Ward. "Excuse us for a moment, Ms. Petrolova," she said without looking at the Russian. "Could I have a word with you in private?" Ward patted Katrina on the arm and followed his stepmother into the near corner of the music room.
  "Now, don't insult my guest," Ward chided Ghislaine. "Katrina and Robert were engaged. You could at least be cordial to the fiancée of the man whose memory we're here to celebrate. You can't begrudge Katrina for trying to emulate you, can you?"
  "You know that your father was a widower when I met him. Your poor mother had been dead …"
  The smile vanished from Ward's face. "You have no right to say a word — not a word — about my mother," he interrupted. "Do you understand me?! You were no different than Katrina is today. All you wanted then and all Katrina wants now is a green card and a passport to riches."
  Ghislaine straightened her shoulders and held her head erect so she could peer down at Ward. "I know that you don't care what this woman did to my marriage, but you're a fool to defend someone whose escapade with your father destroyed the business partnership that was the lifeblood of the company you work for."
  "Don't call me a fool," Ward snapped. "And I don't work for the company. I own it."
  "Robert and I were still married when he died, Ward. Both the company and this house belong to me." Ghislaine took a deep breath to contain herself. She would not lose control in front of her guests. "Now leave and take your friend."
  "Yes, ma'am." Ward smirked and started to step toward Katrina and then turned back. "By the way, I've asked that a copy of Robert's updated estate documents be sent to your lawyer on Monday morning. They're complicated, but I'm sure Monica will explain them so even a second-rate actress like yourself can understand."
  Ghislaine started to bark a French curse but stopped. Ward took Katrina by the arm and led her to the front door. Ghislaine stood, arms folded against her chest, willing him out of her home. Ward turned and with mock formality bowed at his stepmother. Opening the door, he laughed loudly and walked out.
  Updated estate documents? Her stomach muscles tightened. What had Robert done to her now?

— ♦ —

Greyson Bryan
Photo provided courtesy of
Greyson Bryan

Greyson Bryan is an international lawyer who earned his B.A. from Stanford and a J.D. from Harvard, and taught at the Harvard Law School and UCLA. A longtime LA resident, BIG: Beginnings is his first novel and the first book in the BIG series.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at GreysonBryan.com and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

— ♦ —

BIG: Beginnings by Greyson Bryan

BIG: Beginnings by Greyson Bryan

A Duncan Luke Novel

Publisher: Greyson Bryan

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)

Duncan Luke is no stranger to impossible situations. A high-priced lawyer and expert in business intelligence, he knows how to extricate his clients from sticky situations while saving — or making — them millions. To be the best, he's sacrificed everything, including his family, but now he wants out. He's quitting his lucrative practice for academia and time with his autistic son, Sam. But his wife isn't on board and files for divorce, forcing him to fight for custody. With mounting legal bills, the only way to keep his son is to take on one last client. He plans to do the job, get out and get home to Sam, but his client, Ghislaine Bingham, has other ideas.

Ghislaine has a crisis of her own. Her cheating husband died and left her in a turf war with her stepson over the family business, Bingham Investment Group. She stands to lose more than money. Her reputation and life's work are tied up in the company. Her self-worth is on the line and only Duncan has the expertise to see her to victory.

When Duncan and Ghislaine meet, sparks fly, but neither can walk away. Ghislaine sends Duncan to Tokyo to convince his old friend, Taro Takayama, that Ghislaine is the best person to run Bingham. But Taka first needs Duncan to fix his Panama problems. Duncan races to Panama where he is kidnapped and beaten, stumbles into a sex-trafficking ring and rescues a beautiful woman. Unaware of the danger in Panama City and frustrated by Duncan's unorthodox ideas, Ghislaine threatens to pull him off the job.

As Duncan flies across time zones doing battle for Ghislaine, risking his life and reputation, Sam slips further away. Duncan must finish the job to get Sam back, but time is running out.

BIG: Beginnings by Greyson Bryan

Friday, March 17, 2017

Today's Selection of Free MystereBooks for Friday, March 17, 2017

Omnimystery News is pleased to feature a selection of Free MystereBooks found on Friday, March 17, 2017 at 7:00 AM ET …

Special Agent Kandice by Mimi Barbour

Special Agent Kandice by Mimi Barbour

The Undercover FBI Series

Publisher: Sarna Publishing

Price: FREE!

Special Agent Kandice by Mimi Barbour, Amazon Kindle format

Big: Crisis by Greyson Bryan

Big: Crisis by Greyson Bryan

A Duncan Luke Thriller

Publisher: Magneto Books

Price: FREE!

Big: Crisis by Greyson Bryan, Amazon Kindle format

Wicked After Midnight by Olivia Jaymes

Wicked After Midnight by Olivia Jaymes

A Midnight Blue Beach Mystery

Publisher: Blonde Ambition Press

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Shadow Hand Blues by Michael Kayser

Shadow Hand Blues by Michael Kayser

A Deke Jones Romp

Publisher: Virtual Pulp Press

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What the Cat Dragged In by Cyn Mackley

What the Cat Dragged In by Cyn Mackley

A Martha Garrett Mystery

Publisher: Cyn Mackley

Price: FREE!

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Killer Clowns from Out of State by Cyn Mackley

Killer Clowns from Out of State by Cyn Mackley

The Ballardville Mysteries

Publisher: Cyn Mackley

Price: FREE!

Killer Clowns from Out of State by Cyn Mackley, Amazon Kindle format

Banshee by Michael McDonnell

Banshee by Michael McDonnell

A Dermot O'Hara Mystery

Publisher: Michael McDonnell

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Congo Mission by Scott McPherson

Congo Mission by Scott McPherson

A Jack Sharp Mystery

Publisher: Esengo Publishing

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On Paid Leave by Beth Mikell

On Paid Leave by Beth Mikell

A Shawn Angel Mystery

Publisher: Beth Mikell

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The Colour of Poison by Toni Mount

The Colour of Poison by Toni Mount

A Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery

Publisher: MadeGlobal Publishing

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Beeline to Trouble by Deb Baker and Hannah Reed

Beeline to Trouble by Deb Baker and Hannah Reed

The Queen Bee Mysteries

Publisher: DB Publishing

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Paper, Scissors, Death by Joanna Campbell Slan

Paper, Scissors, Death by Joanna Campbell Slan

A Kiki Lowenstein Mystery

Publisher: Luminary

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Paper, Scissors, Death by Joanna Campbell Slan, Amazon Kindle format

Trailer Trash by Stephen Stanley

Trailer Trash by Stephen Stanley

A Jesse Ashworth Mystery

Publisher: Stonefield Publishing

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Trailer Trash by Stephen Stanley, Amazon Kindle format

For a summary of all of today's titles, plus any that may have been added since this post was created, visit our Free MystereBooks page. This page is updated daily, typically by 8 AM ET.

Important Note: Price(s) verified as of the date and time shown. Price(s) are subject to change at any time. The price displayed on the vendor website at the time of the purchase will be the price paid for the book. Please confirm the price of the book before purchasing it.

 

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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