Monday, June 01, 2015

The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse, A Cats in Trouble Mystery by Leann Sweeney, Now Available at a Special Price

Omnimystery News is always searching for newly discounted mystery, suspense, thriller and crime novels for our readers to enjoy.

Today, we're pleased to present the following title, now available at a special price courtesy of the publisher, NAL …

The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse by Leann Sweeney

The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse by Leann Sweeney

A Cats in Trouble Mystery (1st in series)

Publisher: NAL

Price: $1.99 (as of 06/01/2015 at 4:00 PM ET).

The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse by Leann Sweeney, Amazon Kindle format

Jill's quiet life is shattered when her house is broken into and her Abyssinian, Syrah, goes missing. Jill's convinced her kitty's been catnapped. But when her cat-crime-solving leads her to a murdered body, suddenly all paws are pointing to Jill.

Soon, Jill discovers that Syrah isn't the only purebred who's been stolen. Now she has to find these furry felines before they all become the prey of a cold-blooded killer-and she ends up nabbed for a crime …

The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse by Leann Sweeney

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Ruthless by John Rector, New on the Mystery Bookshelf during June 2015

New on the Mystery Bookshelf during June 2015 …

Ruthless by John Rector

Ruthless by John Rector, A Novel of Suspense

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Ruthless by John Rector, Amazon Kindle format

Nick White is the only person who can save Abigail Pierce. After uncovering a plot to have her killed, he attempts to warn her but instead puts himself squarely in the crosshairs. They know who he is, they know where he lives, they know how to get at his family.

Drawn into the conspiracy surrounding Abigail, Nick soon discovers the danger is bigger than he ever believed. Now he must uncover the truth to save her and himself.

Ruthless by John Rector

To see more new paperback titles scheduled to be published this month, visit The Mystery Bookshelf for June 2015. For new hardcover mysteries, visit New Mysteries where for a list of June 2015 mysteries, novels of suspense, and thrillers is provided.

Some Like It Hawk, A Meg Langslow Mystery by Donna Andrews, Now Available at a Special Price

Omnimystery News is always searching for newly discounted mystery, suspense, thriller and crime novels for our readers to enjoy.

Today, we're pleased to present the following title, now available at a special price courtesy of the publisher, Minotaur Books …

Some Like It Hawk by Donna Andrews

Some Like It Hawk by Donna Andrews

A Meg Langslow Mystery (14th in series)

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Price: $2.99 (as of 06/01/2015 at 3:00 PM ET).

Some Like It Hawk by Donna Andrews, Amazon Kindle format

Meg helps run Caerphilly's summer arts and crafts festival while trying to smoke out a murderer …

Meg Langslow is plying her blacksmith's trade at "Caerphilly Days," a festival inspired by her town's sudden notoriety as "The Town That Mortgaged Its Jail." The lender has foreclosed on all Caerphilly's public buildings, and all employees have evacuated — except one. Phineas Throckmorton, the town clerk, has been barricaded in the courthouse basement for over a year.

Mr. Throckmorton's long siege has only been possible because of a pre-Civil War tunnel leading from the courthouse basement to a crawl space beneath the bandstand. The real reason for Caerphilly Days is to conceal the existence of the tunnel: the tourist crowds camouflage supply deliveries, and the ghastly screeching of the tunnel's rusty trap door is drowned out by as many noisy activities as the locals can arrange. But the lender seems increasingly determined to evict Mr. Throckmorton — and may succeed after one of its executives is found shot, apparently from inside the basement.

Meg and her fellow townspeople suspect that someone hopes to end the siege by framing Mr. Throckmorton. Unless the real killer can be found quickly, the town will have to reveal the secret of the tunnel — and the fact that they've been aiding and abetting the basement's inhabitant. Meg soon deduces that the killer isn't just trying to end the siege but to conceal information that would help the town reclaim its buildings — if the townspeople can find it before the lender destroys it.

Some Like It Hawk by Donna Andrews

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A Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett, New in Bookstores during June 2015

Today's featured new hardcover mystery, suspense, or thriller title scheduled to be published during June 2015 is …

A Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett

A Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett, a Tricia Miles, Booktown Mystery (9th in series)

Publisher: Berkley

A Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett, Amazon Kindle formatA Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett, Nook formatA Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett, iTune iBook formatA Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett, Kobo format

While out walking Sarge, her sister's bichon frise, Tricia is led by the agitated dog to a man lying in a gazebo. She's startled when she recognizes Pete Renquist, the president of the Stoneham Historical Society, who appears to be suffering from cardiac arrest. When Pete later dies in the hospital, the discovery of a suspicious bruise and a puncture mark on his arm suggests he may have been murdered.

Haunted by Pete's enigmatic last words to her, Tricia begins to consider who had a motive to kill her friend. Did Pete take his flirting too far, only to have a jealous husband teach him a lesson? Or did he discover something in the town's historical records that his killer wanted kept secret? Tricia is determined to get to the bottom of things before someone else becomes history …

A Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett

For a list of more new hardcover titles to be published this month, visit our New Mysteries page for June 2015. For new paperback mysteries, visit The Mystery Bookshelf where a selection of June 2015 mysteries, novels of suspense, and thrillers are shelved.

Black Tide Rising by R. J. McMillen, New on the Mystery Bookshelf during June 2015

New on the Mystery Bookshelf during June 2015 …

Black Tide Rising by R. J. McMillen

Black Tide Rising by R. J. McMillen, A Dan Connor Mystery (2nd in series)

Publisher: TouchWood Editions

Black Tide Rising by R. J. McMillen, Amazon Kindle format

It's been a year since retired cop Dan Connor formed an unlikely partnership with ex-criminal Walker, to find Claire, a missing marine biologist. And it's been a year since he fell for her. Now he finally has the chance to enjoy both his retirement and the relationship as he travels up the Pacific Northwest coast of British Columbia to meet her in the remote village of Kyuquot. But when Dan stops for a visit with the lighthouse keepers of Nootka Island, he finds himself pulled into yet another case involving a missing woman. But this time he discovers the mutilated remains of a sacred totem and an unsettlingly large pool of blood.

With the unexpected yet welcome arrival of Walker, the sighting of three known criminals in the area, and the discovery of a young boy's lifeless body, Dan is thrust back into active duty. Once again he must rely on his own logic and Walker's wisdom and detailed knowledge of the area to solve the case while lives hang in the balance.

Black Tide Rising by R. J. McMillen

To see more new paperback titles scheduled to be published this month, visit The Mystery Bookshelf for June 2015. For new hardcover mysteries, visit New Mysteries where for a list of June 2015 mysteries, novels of suspense, and thrillers is provided.

Angel Killer, A Jessica Blackwood Mystery by Andrew Mayne, Now Available at a Special Price

Omnimystery News is always searching for newly discounted mystery, suspense, thriller and crime novels for our readers to enjoy.

Today, we're pleased to present the following title, now available at a special price courtesy of the publisher, Bourbon Street Books …

Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

A Jessica Blackwood Mystery (1st in series)

Publisher: Bourbon Street Books

Price: 99¢ (as of 06/01/2015 at 1:00 PM ET).

Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne, Amazon Kindle format

Read our review of Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne on Mysterious Reviews.

FBI agent Jessica Blackwood believes she has successfully left her complicated life as a gifted magician behind her … until a killer with seemingly supernatural powers puts her talents to the ultimate test …

A mysterious hacker, who identifies himself only as "Warlock," brings down the FBI's website and posts a code in its place. It hides the GPS coordinates of a Michigan cemetery, where a dead girl is discovered rising from the ground … as if she tried to crawl out of her own grave.

Born into a dynasty of illusionists, Jessica Blackwood is destined to become its next star — until she turns her back on her troubled family, and her legacy, to begin a new life in law enforcement. But FBI consultant Dr. Jeffrey Ailes's discovery of an old copy of Magician Magazine will turn Jessica's carefully constructed world upside down. Faced with a crime that appears beyond explanation, Ailes has nothing to lose — and everything to gain — by taking a chance on an agent raised in a world devoted to seemingly achieving the impossible.

The body in the cemetery is only the first in the Warlock's series of dark miracles. Thrust into the media spotlight, with time ticking away until the next crime, can Jessica confront her past to embrace her gifts and stop a depraved killer?

If she can't, she may become his next victim.

Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

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No Woman Left Behind, A Lexi Carmichael Mystery by Julie Moffett, New This Week from Carina Press

Carina Press is a digital-first imprint from Harlequin, publishing books in an interesting and diverse selection of genres including contemporary romance, steampunk, gay/lesbian fiction, science-fiction, fantasy, and — but of course — mystery and suspense.

We've selected one of their recently published titles to feature here today …

No Woman Left Behind by Julie Moffett

No Woman Left Behind by Julie Moffett

A Lexi Carmichael Mystery (6th in series)

Publisher: Carina Press

Price: $3.99 (as of 06/01/2015 at 12:30 PM ET).

No Woman Left Behind by Julie Moffett, Amazon Kindle format

My mother's life goal has been to see me, geek extraordinaire Lexi Carmichael, happily married. So bringing my first boyfriend, Slash, home for dinner has me hyperventilating. Things get a lot worse when bullets start flying over our corn chowder.

Now the entire alphabet soup of government agencies want my help finding the man behind the attack — Johannes Broodryk, a cyber mercenary I foiled on my last case. He wants revenge and he's taken something of mine to ensure I'll play, so it's game on. But the government has its own agenda, and Slash is not on board with the plan. Things are a bit bumpy in paradise.

Although I'm more comfortable with computer code than commandos, I've been assigned a team of Navy SEALs to help bring Broodryk down. The question is, will they survive me long enough to solve his cryptic puzzles and save the day?

No Woman Left Behind by Julie Moffett

See all of the titles in the Lexi Carmichael Series for $3.99 or less each on Kindle.

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An Excerpt from Black & White & Dead All Over by Anna Castle

Omnimystery News: An Excerpt courtesy of Anna Castle

We are delighted to welcome author Anna Castle to Omnimystery News today.

Anna's new first in a series mystery set in a small Texas town is Black & White & and Dead All Over (June 2015 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we're pleased to introduce you to it with an excerpt, the first three chapters.

— ♦ —

Black & White & and Dead All Over by Anna Castle

ACTORS WANT TO SEE THEIR NAMES IN LIGHTS. Athletes want to see their pictures on cereal boxes. Pundits want their blogs to go viral. Me? I want to see my name on a little white card in a museum, next to one of my photographs:
  Penelope Sophia Trigg
  1985 —
  Lost Hat, Texas, USA
  I did not want to see my name in a police report as a person of interest in a major felony or on a flyer explaining that I did not murder anyone and that the Trigg Photography Studio was safe and ethical and not the scene of any crimes.
  Well — none committed by me, anyway.
  All I wanted was to do photography, which is what caused all the trouble in the first place.
  
  
  Late one January morning, I was shooting my lover's well-formed body as though it were a landscape, the tripod at eye level with the iron bed where he lay. I tried to accentuate the hills of his shoulders and buttocks against the long valley of his spine and play the broad planes of his back against the oval curves of his muscled legs. His skin tones were warm and earthy against the cool white of the sheets. We were lounging around in the unfinished, semi-furnished space above my studio. The clear light of the winter sun angling through the tall triple windows was perfect for black and white photography. A north wind was blowing rows of puffy clouds across the pale sky, so every shot had a different quality: some all gray shadows, murky and mysterious; others with bands of bright sun striping across Ty's back and casting hard shadows through the bars of the footboard.
  Soft light, slow film, and a willing model: my idea of a perfect Sunday. I was in the Zone, keyed in to light and shadow and form. This is what I lived for. This is why I'd moved to Lost Hat, where the living was cheaper and I could spend more time doing art.
  Ty was languid and compliant after a leisurely morning of lovemaking. I wanted to take advantage of him while the mood lasted. As soon as he woke all the way up, he'd start thinking about work and the long drive back to Austin.
  At least I'd have the pictures to play with when he was gone.
  I fired off two frames in quick succession. Scooting the tripod an inch to the right, I stopped down, adjusted my shutter speed, refocused, and took two more shots. They were not bad, not bad at all. They might even be good. It didn't hurt to have a dishy model.
  "You are so gorgeous," I murmured.
  The corner of Ty's lip crooked in a tolerant smile. "Can I get up yet?" His voice was muffled by the pillow.
  "No."
  "Can I fall asleep, then?"
  "Yes." I wished he would. I could sneak down to the kitchen and grab some olive oil. I would love to get a little shine on that northeast slope.
  I had created this hideaway as a place to crash after late nights in the darkroom. Rummaging around in the hoard of antiques left to me by my late great-aunt Sophie along with the building, I'd found an iron bedstead with a tolerable mattress, tugged it into a clearing under the windows, and covered it with a pile of old quilts. Courthouse windows overlooked my room, but nobody was over there on a Sunday morning.
  Ty pretended to doze while I had my way with his lanky body. I rolled him on his side to form a hillscape, then onto his back to shoot the plains of his chest and belly. I adjusted his legs and shifted the sheet to cover or reveal. I used up two rolls of pricey Agfa film and couldn't remember when I'd had so much fun. I perched on his belly to get a wide-open close-up of his naked toes. They were long and shapely and looked like miniature tree trunks. How had I not noticed that before? Six weeks of seeing each other nearly every weekend and there was still so much to discover.
  "I can't believe you're letting me do this."
  He chuckled; a warm rumbly sound.
  Tyler Hawkins was a wheeling, dealing, Austin high-tech venture capitalist, not the sort of amiable wastrel you usually get for life modeling. When he was vertical and fully dressed, he was dynamic, authoritative, a guy that made things happen. That's the guy most people knew. This postcoital rag doll? This guy was mine alone.
  He'd grown up on a ranch near Lost Hat, where his sister still lived. She had introduced us at the courthouse Christmas party. At first it had just been the easy hook-up of two healthy, unattached people with holiday time on their hands. On the surface, we had nothing in common: he was a suit; I was an artist. He was a workaholic; I was an artist. He was a techno-wizard who kept his eyes on the really big prizes; I was — well, you get the picture.
  But by the second weekend, we'd started talking. Really talking, beyond the where-are-you-from-and-what-do-you-do trivia. We discovered a mutual love of the natural world and its amazing, fragile beauty. We talked about dreams he'd never shared and desires I didn't know I had. That moved our relationship to Level Two: something worth pursuing.
  "I can't believe I'm still in bed at this time of day." Ty yawned a sonorant yawn. "You must have drugged my coffee this morning."
  "That's right. Zee drug of looove. You are under my spell and now you must do my bidding."
  He stretched his legs and wiggled his toes.
  "Stop that! No wiggling!"
  I felt him lever himself up onto his elbows. "This is quite the view," he said. I could hear the smile in his voice and knew he was admiring my trim runner's backside. And since I wasn't wearing anything but a long-sleeved T-shirt and socks, his view was indeed comprehensive.
  "Time to get up." Ty raised his knees and jostled me just as I snapped the shutter.
  "Ty!"
  "Sorry, darlin'. But I gotta head back to the money mines. We've got a major deadline coming up and I've got to be there to crack the whip."
  I turned around and planted my butt beside his shins. "No, stay, stay. A little bit longer. Go back to sleep until I finish this roll."
  "You only want me for my body."
  "Just the toes. And maybe the arches. You have photogenic feet, has anyone ever told you that?"
  "Oddly, they have not. That would be the unique Penelope Trigg viewpoint." He propped himself up on his elbows. "I hope you're not planning to tweet those toes."
  "Do what?"
  "Tweet, you know: publish widely to people with very short attention spans."
  "Hmm, no," I said. "I'm not into the virtual scene these days. I'm trying to meet actual people, being the new gal in a new town and all that. Do you want me to tweet your toesies? Because if that's what floats your boat, baby, I'm game."
  Ty laughed. "No, thanks, but I appreciate the thought." He laughed again, shaking his head. "Our CEO is running for Congress and he's gone crazy paranoid about Internet scandals, especially anything having anything to do with sex. Pictures of unclothed body parts would qualify, even toes, probably. He actually asked us to refrain from engaging in any kind of sexual activity whatsoever until after the November elections."
  "Hey!"
  "That was pretty much the unanimous response. When the noise died down, he begged us to at least avoid doing anything that could be construed as unseemly or unsavory in any way, shape, or form. Keep your noses clean, he said."
  That expression always made me giggle. "You do have a nice nose. I could shoot you some portraits, kind of a super close-up … " I lifted my camera to focus in on his face. He turned to give me a profile, but spoiled it by breaking into another mighty yawn. This one sounded definitive, like the last yawn of the morning. Playtime was over.
  He smiled at me. "Who has time for hanky-panky? We've got the investment people from Japan coming in two weeks and we are not ready. I'm going to have to keep my nose to the grindstone to make the deadline."
  "That should help keep it clean."
  He smiled that eye-crinkling, easygoing smile that sends little shivers up my spine. And I got the shot. One in a million.
  He pulled himself up to a seated position. "When do I get to see these pictures?"
  "When are you coming back? Maybe I need motivation and encouragement."
  "As soon as I can, darlin'. Let me motivate you a little in advance." He reached out and grasped my left arm, pulling me slowly, but firmly, toward him. His intentions were plainly not in line with his CEO's request.
  "Camera! Camera!" I wrestled my arm free and clambered off the bed, setting the camera carefully atop a sturdy chest of drawers. A delicious memory prompted me to move the tripod out of the reach of flying blankets. I turned back to Ty, got a running start, and leapt with all the force of my athletic hundred and thirty-five pounds back onto the bed.
  Big mistake.
  The old bed groaned and twanged as the rusty springs beneath the mattress pulled away from the antique frame. Ty and I rolled helplessly into the sinking middle, limbs tangling, a heap of quilts tumbling on top us. The iron footboard bent in toward us, some piece of metal underneath it going click-click-click-click-click.
  Ty grabbed me tight and gave a mighty heave, shifting us out of our upholstered pit along with a trail of quilts. We huddled together on the floor and watched as the footboard wobbled backward and forward and the headboard began a steady, slow, decline. Then, with a creak and a sproing and a long, weary screech, they both collapsed, clanging against each other as they jostled onto the mattress, iron feet scraping across the wooden floor.
  We clung to each other and laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks.
  
Chapter 2
  
  Ty left, promising to do his utmost to get back out to Lost Hat next weekend. I was sad to see him go, but glad to have the rest of the day to myself. Motivation was not an issue: I was eager to develop those photographs. I'd never had time for darkroom work after college. First, no darkroom, and second, I had to earn a living and people want color. Digital, for choice.
  Digital's great, but it ain't quite film.
  I agitated the last print gently with my plastic tongs in the final rinsing bath. I lifted it out, squeegeed off the water, and clipped it to the line to dry. Then I sat on my stool to contemplate the row of wet prints. This was my favorite way to view my work.
  They were better than I'd hoped. The light had been extraordinary. My favorites were the pair where I'd posed Ty on his side with his head resting on one outstretched arm. The curves of his body looked like a mountain range by Georgia O'Keeffe, with the rumpled quilt making foothills in the foreground and the modesty sheet across his hips standing out like a trail of snow.
  I sat on my tall stool, listening to soft jazz leaking under the door from the Internet radio station playing on my Mac out in the studio, tasting the acrid tang of chemicals in the air. I gazed at my work and thought, the Fourth Annual Berlin Photography Institute Black-and-White Competition. I'd just seen a full-page ad for it in Professional Photographer. This year's theme was "Body Language." First prize, 5,000 euros. Since I was primarily a nature photographer and mostly worked in color, my work was not usually a good fit for this contest. But here I had a couple of decent black and white photographs that were right on target.
  I hopped off my stool and zipped into the studio to find the magazine. I heard rain pounding on the sidewalk outside and caught my wavy reflection in the windows on the front doors. Night had fallen and the storm had landed. People had closed up their shops and gone home, leaving me all on my lonesome on the courthouse square.
   I ruffled through the pages of the magazine to find the ad. Sure enough, the deadline was in two days. Was this synchronicity or what? The universe wanted me to enter that contest.
  I felt the rising thrill of getting ready to show my work to fellow professionals. It had been a long time. And this would be my very first photographic foray out of Lost Hat. Even an honorable mention would be a milestone.
  I made a pot of chai and gobbled up the last of my oatmeal cookies while I waited for the prints to dry. Then I scanned the three favorites into Photoshop and made copies in the size and format specified for the contest. I opened up Firefox and typed in the contest website address.
  A little voice in the back of my mind sang, "Ty won't like this."
  "Shut up," I said to the voice. "You can barely see his face. He doesn't have to know about it unless I win."
  The odds were steep. But if I won, Ty's torso — or his toes — would be immortal. What man doesn't want that?
  The voice persisted. "He trusts you to use discretion."
  "Trusted me not to tweet sex pix," I told the voice. "This is totally different. This is art."
  "That's not how the CEO would see it," said the voice, which now sounded like my cousin Marion. "I think Ty would think, 'Why can't you just wait until things settle down?'"
  I reminded the voice that contests have deadlines and told it to put a sock in it.
  I found the entry form on the contest site. I wrote "Nude male #1," "Nude male #2," and "Bare toes" in the title fields. I uploaded the images, crossed the fingers of my left hand for luck, and clicked 'Submit.'

Chapter 3
  
  When the antivirus scanner popped up on my Mac, I knew the wee hours had arrived. My service provider had given me a suite of security programs with his high-speed Internet package and advised me to run the whole suite every night to keep the digital oogly-booglies at bay. They were set to run at two A.M.. I took it as a signal to close up the shop. I cleaned up the darkroom, put my new prints in a folder, and slipped upstairs to wrap myself in Ty-scented quilts.
  The wet rumble of traffic around the square woke me to the gray light of a rainy morning. My tummy rumbled, too. I needed fuel. And caffeine.
  First stop was the Texaco on 88 to fill up my GMC Sierra pickup, another hand-me-down from Aunt Sophie. Filling its tank takes a while, giving me plenty of time to clean the bugs off the windows. The rain had stopped, but the temperature was falling fast, so I was happy to keep moving.
  I didn't mean to eavesdrop on the couple on the other side of the pump aisle, but as their voices rose in volume, I couldn't help it. They were arguing about money. He was outside the car, standing by the pump, leaning toward the window with his arms crossed over his chest. She was in the driver's seat, leaning out. Their faces were contorted with their efforts to keep their anger under control.
  She hissed, "That was our children's college fund! And you gambled it away!"
  He snarled back. "It's not gambling. And it's not lost. Stocks go down and they come back up. The brokerage site explains it all. You should trust me."
  "How can I? You've been so secretive about it."
  "That's what this is really about, isn't it? You're too suspicious. You had to go snooping around in my files."
  "I wasn't snooping!"
  "Then how'd you find out?"
  "Aha! So you were keeping it a secret!"
  My pump clunked off and both of their heads swiveled toward me. I pretended to be absorbed in my own thoughts as I holstered the nozzle and walked past them to go inside for some coffee and an apple fritter. As I waited for my change, I heard another heated argument going on at the back of the chips aisle.
  "It wasn't me, Emmie! I don't use that chat room for flirting. I don't even go in that chat room. And even if I did, I sure as heck wouldn't flirt with some clown named RandyMan!"
  The moon must be in the marital conflict phase. Lucky for me I was married to my art.
  I had to do a little two-step to push the truck door shut against the wind blowing across the parking lot at DeGroot's Groceries. Good thing I'd thought to bring my big coat to the studio yesterday, with my warm gloves and stocking cap in its pockets.
  DeGroot's checkout girl, Lexie, usually greeted me with a cheery smile, but this morning she was engaged in a furious whispered fight with a girlfriend. They were both about seventeen with long hair ironed straight, wearing skinny jeans and drapey boyfriend sweaters. The air vibrated with the tension of a white-hot argument on Pause as I walked past the counter. I ventured a small wave and a "Howdy." They smiled at me in that stiff way that said, We're just waiting for you to leave so would you please hurry?
  I got a cart and started cruising the aisles, picking out chips, Diet Cokes, cookies, frozen dinners, canned soup. Ty says I live on snacks. I say, why not? I eat fruit and drink V8. That's like a salad in a can. Every time I neared the checkout end of an aisle, I caught another installment of the girls' argument. Fury supercharged their whispers and their voices carried well into the condiments section.
  "I can't believe you forwarded him that email," Lexie spat. "I trusted you, you bitch!"
  "I am not either a bitch!" The other girl sounded close to tears. "I didn't send it, Lexie, I swear!"
  "Now he won't even talk to me."
  "It wasn't me. Jesus, what do I have to say? I bet it was Carey; I told you not to trust her."
  "I never sent it to Carey. I only sent it to you! I'm unfriending you, as of right now."
  The intensity of their anger raised my adrenaline levels a notch, but I wasn't even curious about what was in that dire email. Seventeen-year-olds? Probably some goopy confession of lust for a guy's eyelashes. Or worse: poetry.
  I rounded an aisle and aimed for the produce section for a bag of Ruby Red grapefruits. The door swung open, letting in a blast of cold air and Greg Alexander, Long County's Internet service provider. He'd connected the two computers in my studio to his new high-speed satellite service a few months ago and I was delighted with the results. It was as fast as anything I'd had in Austin.
  "Good morning, young ladies," Greg said. He spoke in that singsong voice that teachers use to elicit a group response.
  The other girl mumbled something, but Lexie glared at him with such radioactive hostility it set me back a step. And I was tucked in between the onions and potatoes and thus well out of the line of fire.
  Maybe he'd hit on her last time he was here. He was a pasty fellow with an apple belly. A cubicle guy; quite the contrast to the ranchers the town served. He had short hair, dark-rimmed glasses, a soul patch, and that know-it-all smirk that makes geeks so endearing. I kind of liked him, but he was nobody's Teenage Dream.
  I got the grapefruit and some apples and rolled my cart full of photographer fuel to the checkout counter. The unfriended girlfriend had gone. Lexie scanned my items with stony concentration, a deep line creasing her forehead. I wanted to say something comforting, but I couldn't think what. For all I knew, this really was the worst day of her life.
  Greg came up behind me as Lexie was weighing my fruit. He had a stack of boxes decorated with pictures of hot pink snack cakes zooming across a turquoise sky.
  I glanced at my bags of chips and cookies and said, "Another health food nut, I see."
  He grinned at me. "I love these little beauties."
  To each their own. I was working my hands through the handles of my plastic shopping bags when Greg said, "Thank you, Mr. Alexander," to Lexie in that same singsong voice. She turned away and fiddled with the register tape. Her back was so rigid it was practically vibrating and I was sure I saw steam rising from her ears.
  Greg held the door for me on the way out. As it swung shut behind us, I said, "Aren't we glad we're not seventeen anymore?"
  He lifted his upper lip, showing a row of small, even teeth. "Some people have to learn things the hard way."
  
  
  I went home to shower and change and drop off the groceries. Home was a three-bedroom bungalow a few blocks from the square. I didn't need a whole separate house, but it was paid for and everyone said I should wait until the economy improved before trying to sell it. My plan was to use the money to build an apartment over my studio and become Lost Hat's first downtown resident.
  I went back to the studio fresh and clean and ready for a new day. While I was putting groceries away, my Mac bugled that I had mail. There were two messages in my inbox. The first one was from the contest manager confirming receipt of my entry and giving me an entry number. I crossed both fingers and did a little dance in my rolling chair. Now all I had to do was wait three months for the results to be announced.
  The next message was from Mariposa Internet Services. Probably an ad for upgrades. I opened it and caught one glimpse and rocked back in my chair like I'd taken a punch to the gut. Under some lines of text was a copy of one of my figure studies, the front shot of Ty lying on his side. But my modesty drape had been edited out and replaced with an enormous erect penis.
  It was hideous. It was frightening. Who would do such a thing?
  I closed my eyes and commanded myself to breathe: in, out, in, out. Then I steeled myself for another look. The paste job was amateurish. The skin tones didn't even match. But only a pro would notice details like that. My beautiful figure study had been turned into pornography.
  Was the contest bogus? How could it be? I'd known about it for years. I'd gotten the website from an article in a reputable magazine and typed it in by hand.
  I took another deep breath and tried to focus — calmly, calmly — on the text. The first two lines read:
  You're not the only one in this town that knows how to use Photoshop. How do you like my work?
  Then came the hideous picture. I scrolled past it quickly, getting it all the way out of view. The message went on:
  Didn't you think it was a just a tad risky to put naked pictures of your boyfriend out there to be phished up by everybody and their bot? Or did you put your AMBITION before your INTEGRITY? Did you even ask Mr. Big Shot for permission first?
  I don't think so!!!
  Now I've caught you in my net (that's a pun: get it? Cuz I'm ROFLMAO) Unless you and your lover want to see my artwork all over the web tomorrow morning, you better come to my office today at 5:00 sharp to receive your penalty.
  Your ever-vigilant Internet service provider,
  Greg
  
  The blood drained from my face. I felt icy cold. I sat back in my chair, staring at the screen, patting my cheeks and pressing my hands over my temples to squeeze out the dark panic that filled my brain.
  What had I done? Heaven help me, what had I done?
  I'd been so pleased with myself when I'd submitted those photographs. Penelope Trigg, Photographer Extraordinaire, setting out on the electronic highway to greatness. Oh, what a clever artista I was! What lovely photographs I had made! Why, these were sure to win! And what else could matter, beyond my art and my creative impulses?
  Not Ty's privacy, that's for sure.
  I'd barely listened to the voice of my conscience. I'd betrayed his trust as surely as if I had hung framed prints of his naked body at the front of my studio, where everyone in town could see them through the windows. I couldn't fix this by taking it back. Even if I withdrew my entries from the contest, Greg had copies. He could do whatever he wanted with them. He could put them on YouTube, Facebook, Flickr. Nobody would care that they'd been doctored, if they even noticed.
  Ty had built his reputation and his fortune in Internet security. That picture could ruin him. It could get him fired. At the very least, it would make him a laughingstock among his peers. He would be furious and rightly so. He'd never speak to me again.
  What would this do to my portrait business? If this got out, nobody would trust me. That was my bread-and-butter, my life support. Without it, I'd have to leave. Move back to Austin and go back to work at the Monster Wedding Studio for thirty bucks an hour. Struggling to make my rent and spending half my time stuck in traffic.
  I couldn't let that happen. I had to get those pictures back. Somehow, anyhow: I had to get them back.
  What did Greg mean by 'my penalty?' He must know I didn't have much in the way of cash money. Maybe he'd settle for antiques. Something up there in those stacks of stuff that my aunt had left me must be worth a few bucks. 5:00 sharp. It was now 11:48. It would take five minutes to drive to Greg's office. That gave me five hours and seven minutes to kill.
  What to do in the meantime? Scream? Shred things?
  Thank God Ty was gone again until Friday. Maybe I could get things resolved by then.
  I deleted the evil message, but it didn't help. I needed to do something physical. I needed to wring that weasel's neck. I had liked him. How could I have been such a lousy judge of character?
  I laid my head down on the worktable and let my tears drip onto the scarred old oak.

— ♦ —

Anna Castle
Photo provided courtesy of
Anna Castle

Anna Castle has earned a series of degrees — BA Classics, MS Computer Science, and Ph.D Linguistics — and has had a corresponding series of careers — waitressing, software engineering, assistant professor, and archivist. Writing fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning.

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

— ♦ —

Black & White & and Dead All Over by Anna Castle

Black & White & and Dead All Over by Anna Castle

A Lost Hat, Texas Mystery

Publisher: Anna Castle

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)iTunes iBook FormatKobo eBook Format

What happens when the Internet service provider in a small town spies on his clients' cyber-lives and blackmails them for gifts and services?

Murder; that's what happens …

Penelope Trigg moves to Lost Hat, Texas to open a photography studio and find herself as an artist. Things are going great. She's got a few clients, some friends, even a hot new high-tech boyfriend. But when Penny submits some nude figure studies of him to a contest, she gets hit with a blackmail letter in her inbox. "Do what I want or your lover's nudie pix get splattered across the Internet."

The timing couldn't be worse, so Penny is forced to submit to the blackmailer's demands. Then people start dying and all the clues point to her. She has to rattle every skeleton in every closet in Lost Hat to keep herself out of jail and find the real killer.

Black & White & and Dead All Over by Anna Castle

A Conversation with Crime Novelist Eryk Pruitt

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Eryk Pruitt

We are delighted to welcome author Eryk Pruitt to Omnimystery News today.

Eryk's new crime novel is Hashtag (280 Steps; May 2015 ebook formats) and we recently had the opportunity to spend some time with him talking about it.

— ♦ —

Omnimystery News: Tell us a little more about Hashtag.

Eryk Pruitt
Photo provided courtesy of
Eryk Pruitt

Eryk Pruitt: Hashtag is told in three sections, each with its own "protagonist." The first story deals with Odie Shanks, a small-town boy with big-time dreams. He gets mixed up with Jake Armstrong, a career criminal, who helps him rob stations en route to Hollywood. The second part deals with Deputy Roy Rains, the hick cop assigned to cover up Odie's criminal debut, and the third stars "Sweet" Melinda Kendall, a tweaker coming down from a killer high and making all the wrong decisions. I love writing about people who do bad things. They may or may not be bad people... that is for you to decide. But these people definitely zig when maybe the rest of folks would zag.

OMN: Do you prefer writing stand-alone novels?

EP: Both my novels Hashtag and Dirtbags have been stand-alones, although they take place in the same town. I haven't written a recurring character yet because I believe I've gotten all I can get out of these people. Also, I like to chase after a theme if I can and it's a lot of fun to introduce folks to a new cast of characters. I can see the allure of a recurring detective or criminal, but I'm not there yet. However, if you look real close in both novels, you might see some of the same people turn up …

OMN: How hard is it to find the right voice for your female leads?

EP: It doesn't matter as long as I can relate to her. I can relate to "Sweet" Melinda in Hashtag. I can relate to her hard. I've known girls like that. I've been the guy who has pushed a lady or two to limits such as the ones she's had to faced, and I've been pushed. I'm not the guy you would call if you wanted to adapt or update Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice, but I like a lady with more on her mind than shopping or sipping hot tea. There are plenty of them in the South and I'll do what I can to do them justice.

OMN: How do you categorize your novels?

EP: I've had trouble checking boxes when it comes to categories. "Crime" seems the most general, although I like what has been called "Grit Lit." I love the tradition of the Southern Gothic, and I use techniques used in thrillers and hard-boiled novels, although I wouldn't go all the way in there. I like blending genres a little. My first film Foodie did well in horror film festivals, although most people will tell you it's more a black comedy. I just like to write what I want to read.

OMN: Summarize Hashtag for us in a tweet.

EP: Hashtag takes you on a rip-roaring ride through the American South with guns, hookers, and firetrucks! #GritLit

OMN: How much of your own personal experience have you included in your books?

EP: I'd like to think I'm all over these books. There's enough of my own experiences in there, but I'm not writing a diary, man. I'm gussying up my own stories and telling them for a bigger audience. I tell folks that if you're my friend, you will recognize something in there we've shared a laugh about in the past, but if you are my enemy I will fucking name names.

OMN: Where do you most often find yourself writing?

EP: I sit at a 19th century desk with a PC. My walls are covered with notes and pictures to keep me in the moment. When I finish a particular work, I will clean it all off and start over. But I like to be immersed.

OMN: How do you go about researching the plot points of your stories?

EP: I try to get as close to the subject matter as possible. While researching Hashtag, I actually scoped out gas stations and an office supply store. It's funny because one night, I was casing a joint and writing notes when a security guard came along and asked what I was writing. I would have shown him, but I caught a quick glimpse at my notes which said: "doors at front, two cameras, safe in mgrs office, 3 registers … etc." Shortly after, I added "gung-ho security guard."

OMN: Is there any particular place that influences your settings?

EP: I grew up in East Texas, so a certain degree of can-do lawlessness will forever infect my work. However, since transplanting to the East Coast, I've been tainted by a heavy dose of corruption. I've watched as business, politics, and religion have uprooted all that is good and right with the region and wanted to put it into a setting. Lake Castor is similar to a lot of towns in the area, in that when jobs went overseas, a lot of people were left with limited options. I wanted to capture that spirit.

OMN: If we could send you anywhere in the world to research the setting for a book, where would it be?

EP: Ireland. I traveled there back in my wilder and woolier days and regretted leaving. The Irish situation is so similar to what I've been writing about and what fascinates me, I'd give anything to be surrounded by it. I could think of nothing that would make me happier than to write a gritty Irish slice of fiction.

OMN: How did you come up with the title Hashtag for your book?

EP: My working title was originally The Freeway Potboiler, because it took place on the highways and I wanted to write a classic potboiler. Then I renamed it Highwaymen because I've always loved that name for old school bandits, especially mean dudes on the Natchez Trace, but I didn't want people to confuse it for that old Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings supergroup. Finally, I decided on Hashtag because … well, you'll see when you read it.

OMN: How involved were you with the cover design?

EP: Looking at the 280 Steps cover designs was a bigger factor in choosing them than I'd like to admit. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but their covers are so kick ass …

OMN: What kinds of feedback have you received from readers?

EP: I like hearing which characters they like best. Since I'm not in love with the idea of having one main character tell a story, I like to hear which one resonated with them the most. Or which one they hated … whoever they liked reading about the most.

OMN: Suppose Hashtag were to be adapted for television or film and you're the casting director. Whose agent are you calling?

EP: Odie Shanks would be great for some younger actor trying to get his street cred. I love that kid Lucas Black from Sling Blade and Friday Night Lights. I think he'd make a great 1996 Jake Armstrong, or maybe even Danny Yeager. Timothy Olyphant could run circles around present day Jake Armstrong. North Carolina actress Hanna Brown was great as Sweet Melinda in the trailer, so I'd love to see her sink her teeth further into the part. Another local actress, Tracey Coppedge, would make the perfect Ruby Fuller.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?

EP: I read a lot of Choose Your Own Adventure Books. Hardy Boys. Mark Twain. I loved adventure books and learned early on how important it was to hook a reader. Most of the stuff I wrote early on was horror because it is so easy to let the imagination fly and keep a reader interested.

OMN: What's next for you?

EP: I am also a filmmaker, so I am fortunate enough to have three short films produced in 2015. The first one is Liyana, On Command, which is currently in film festivals. The second is a drama directed by Meredith Sause called Keepsake, and the third is The Hoodoo of Sweet Mama Rosa, adapted from my Pushcart-nominated short story in Zymbol magazine, starring J.W. Smith and Logan Harrison. I also am hard at work on a new novel.

— ♦ —

Eryk Pruitt is a screenwriter, filmmaker and the author. His short films Foodie and Liyana, On Command have won several awards at film festivals across the US. He lives in Durham, NC.

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

— ♦ —

Hashtag by Eryk Pruitt

Hashtag by Eryk Pruitt

A Crime Nove

Publisher: 280 Steps

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)iTunes iBook Format

The repercussions are felt across the American South when a pizza joint in sleepy Lake Castor, Virginia is robbed and the manager, Odie Shanks, is kidnapped. The kidnapping is the talk of the town, but it's what people don't know that threatens to rip asunder societal norms. Odie chases dreams of Hollywood stardom and an explosive social media presence while his partner in crime, Jake Armstrong, pursues his own vengeful agenda.

In the meantime, corrupt and lazy Deputy Roy Rains has a hard-luck time of covering up the crime in order to preserve his way of life.

And college student Melinda Kendall has hit the highway in a stolen ride with nothing but a .22 and limited options, on the run from her drug dealer boyfriend, the Mississippi State Police and the media, trying to escape some bad choices by making even more bad choices.

Hashtag by Eryk Pruitt

Today's Selection of Daily Deals for Monday, June 01, 2015

Omnimystery News is pleased to feature a selection of today's Daily Deals found on Monday, June 01, 2015 at 7:30 AM ET …

Murder in E Minor by Robert Goldsborough

Ten 1st in Series Mysteries is a Kindle Daily Deal. We're highlighting one of the titles in this post.

Murder in E Minor by Robert Goldsborough

A Nero Wolfe Mystery (1st in series)

Publisher: Open Road

Kindle Daily Deal Price: $1.99

Murder in E Minor by Robert Goldsborough, Amazon Kindle format

Winner of the 1986 Nero Award.

Two years after Wolfe's retirement, his past returns with deadly intent …

It wasn't Nero Wolfe's idea for Orrie Cather to kill himself, but the great detective gave his blessing to his longtime associate's plan. Cather had killed three people, and it was only fair to pay the price. Though Wolfe reacted to Cather's death with his characteristic calmness, prize assistant Archie Goodwin could see the rotund genius of West Thirty-Fifth Street was shaken to his well-fed core. Wolfe decided his sleuthing days were finished.

The detective's retirement lasts until the day Maria Radovich walks through his townhouse door. She is the daughter of Milos Stefanovic, New York Symphony conductor and long-ago compatriot of Wolfe's. Like Wolfe, Stefanovic spent his youth as a freedom fighter in the mountains of Montenegro. The conductor has been receiving death threats, and Wolfe agrees to come out of retirement to help his old friend. But before he can attack the case, Stefanovic is murdered, and for the first time in years, Wolfe and Goodwin must go to war.

Murder in E Minor by Robert Goldsborough

Sweet Dreams by Various Authors

Sweet Dreams by Various Authors

A Boxed Set of 13 Thrillers

Publisher: Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes Research

Kobo Daily Deal Price: $2.99 (price-matched by Amazon)

Sweet Dreams by Various Authors, Amazon Kindle formatSweet Dreams by Various Authors, Kobo format

In 2014, a boxed set curated by Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes Research raised almost $100 000. This year we're back for a second helping, and you can indulge, too! This fascinating limited edition collection features thirteen thrillers by bestselling authors …

Make a difference while you read! All proceeds from the sale of Sweet Dreams will be donated to the Diabetes Research Institute via Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes Research.

Sweet Dreams by Various Authors

For more deals that may have been found after this post was created, see our Daily Deals page on Omnimystery News for an updated list.

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.

Today's Selection of Free MystereBooks for Monday, June 01, 2015

Omnimystery News is pleased to feature a selection of Free MystereBooks found on Monday, June 01, 2015 at 6:30 AM ET …

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering

A Drew Farthering Mystery

Publisher: Bethany House

Price: FREE!

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering, Amazon Kindle format

Death Mask by J. F. Straker

Death Mask by J. F. Straker

A Novel of Suspense

Publisher: Endeavour Press

Price: FREE!

Death Mask by J. F. Straker, Amazon Kindle format

Burial Plot by R. Lanier Clemons

Burial Plot by R. Lanier Clemons

A Jonelle Sweet Mystery

Publisher: Journey Well Books

Price: FREE!

Burial Plot by R. Lanier Clemons, Amazon Kindle format

Keep the Ghost by Scott Kelly

Keep the Ghost by Scott Kelly

A Novel of Suspense

Publisher: Scott Kelly

Price: FREE!

Keep the Ghost by Scott Kelly, Amazon Kindle format

Bleating Cries of Sheep by J. C. Skye

Bleating Cries of Sheep by J. C. Skye

The Awakening Rage

Publisher: Ghost, Spirit, Supernatural, Spooky, Scary Publishing

Price: FREE!

Bleating Cries of Sheep by J. C. Skye, Amazon Kindle format

Toe the Line by Dick Hannah

Toe the Line by Dick Hannah

A Novel of Suspense

Publisher: Dick Hannah

Price: FREE!

Toe the Line by Dick Hannah, Amazon Kindle format

Ultraviolet by Joseph  Robert Lewis

Ultraviolet by Joseph Robert Lewis

A Cyperpunk Thriller

Publisher: Copper Crow Books

Price: FREE!

Ultraviolet by Joseph  Robert Lewis, Amazon Kindle format

The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Orczy

The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Orczy

A Mystery Novel

Publisher: Open Road

Price: FREE!

The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Orczy, 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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