A grieving father goes missing following the gruesome death of his three-year-old daughter in an accident directly attributed to his own negligence. For reasons both personal and professional, private investigator Adam Fraley takes on the task of tracking down the father at the request of the dead child’s older sibling. In a case fraught with intrigue, danger, and the overhanging threat of family disintegration. Fraley’s search ultimately takes him to remote regions of Haiti where he discovers he is not the only one in search of the father. Soon, he finds himself entangled in the tentacles of a lucrative international insurance scam involving the falsification of death records. Fraley’s probing is viewed by the crime syndicate’s masterminds as a serious threat to their continued existence, leading its operatives to mark the private investigator for elimination before he exposes them.
About the Author
Henry Hoffman is a former newspaper editor and public library director whose works have appeared in a variety of literary and trade publications. He is the author of the Adam Fraley Mystery Series and a past recipient of the Florida Publishers Association’s Gold Medal Award for Florida Fiction.
With Laci and Mitch anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new baby, they are surrounded by the turmoil of discovering Mama’s illness while their two sons fight over the love of a woman.
A white Christmas brings a moment of joy, but Laci’s faith is tested again when their baby clings to life.
Together the Young family must lean on each other and the only One who can truly give them strength.
Will they find the faith they need…even through the snow?
At first, she thought she was just seeing things. Another appeared, and then another. Laci looked up and smiled, then closed her eyes and tilted her head back so she could catch them in her mouth as they fell. She felt like a little kid and wanted to spin around but knew her body wasn’t really up for that. The flakes grew larger, falling faster and faster and her face was now wet from the melted snow. When she opened her eyes however, the few soft snowflakes had turned into flurries, a veritable snowstorm in a few short minutes. She gasped with delight. “Let it snow!” She yelled with joy, holding out her hands and walking around in circles. It reminded her of a day, not long ago, when she had danced in the rain and asked God to heal her cancer.
“It’s snowing!” Travis yelled, running to the window. “Can I go outside with mom?” He asked.
Mitch raised his eyebrow. “What are you talking abou—?”
Mitch turned to the window and saw Laci standing in the snow.
“What in the world is that woman doing?”
Immediately, he tore out the back door.
“Laci Jean!” He shouted as he ran down the deck stairs toward her.
“It’s snowing, Mitch! It’s really snowing!” She shouted with excitement and turned toward him, but as she did her foot slipped on the snow-covered grass. Her legs gave way.
About the Author
Sandy lives in her hometown of Mt. Vernon, IL enjoying life with her two youngest kids, and works full time for a local hospital as a health consultant. Most mornings she can be found at her local bookstore-coffee shop among friends, looking for inspiration and writing her next novel.
Mystery (with elements of the paranormal and whispers of romance)
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, distributed by Penguin Random House
Date Published: November 12, 2019
A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a suspicious death, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.
A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.
While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of a killer.
“Modern and historic mysteries collide in Marion’s bittersweet storytelling.”
“[A] gripping sequel…Marion seamlessly weaves the multiple story threads together. Fans of tales of regional intrigue will be satisfied.”
On the short walk to my car, a sparkle caught my eye on the ground near a temporary dumpster behind La Table, the new location of my old flame Billy Hughes’s catering business.
Later, I reflected on how different things would have been had I not been so curious.
What if I hadn’t had the dress fitting today? What if I hadn’t parked in Archie’s space? What if I hadn’t gone out the back door of his shop? What if I hadn’t gone over to examine what was glittering next to the dumpster?
“The what ifs and should haves will eat your brain.” It was a quote of John O’Callaghan’s, from his book of poetry entitled, Sincerely, John the Ghost—ironically, a gift from Zoe, who’d always eschewed the notion of Percy’s and Celeste’s spirits.
The point is, if I hadn’t done all those things, then I wouldn’t have seen that glint on the ground and gone over to check out what it was. Most crucially, I would never have noticed a hand through the rusted-out hole in the dumpster.
A very dead hand.
About the Author
A true bibliophile, Loretta Marion’s affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award-winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, is a twisty mystery set in Maine. Her Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series is set on Cape Cod and was introduced by Crooked Lane Books in 2018 beginning with HOUSE OF ASHES. Her newest release, STORM OF SECRETS, is the second book of the series.
When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey.
Our planet has hope.
Still decaying and barely inhabitable, but ours.
With the arrival of the females, we’re no longer lonely.
Well, some of us aren’t.
For the rest, we ache for what they have.
Peace. Happiness. Love.
But where the other unmatched Morts want a mate to call their own, I’m different.
Life cruelly made me fall for the one person I’m not allowed to have.
Bitterness and jealousy are my mates now.
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will always be alone.
Until my commander sends me on a mission to rescue someone very important to his mate—her sister.
A woman so different. So imperfect. So maddeningly defiant. Someone I have no interest in whatsoever.
This feral female will never own my heart.
Or so I thought.
Love always has a plan of its own.
Also in the Series
About K. Webster
K Webster is a USA Today Bestselling author. Her titles have claimed many bestseller tags in numerous categories, are translated in multiple languages, and have been adapted into audiobooks. She lives in “Tornado Alley” with her husband, two children, and her baby dog named Blue. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and researching aliens.
Nicole Blanchard is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of gritty romantic suspense and heartwarming new adult romance. She and her family reside in the south along with their menagerie of animals.
Conor Nash has lived his life with a single purpose—to pitch in the Major Leagues. He’s been released from professional baseball contracts ten times over a sixteen-year career, but he’s overcome every obstacle to finally reach The Show when he’s a decade too old.
As he faces the specter of injury-forced retirement, he becomes a man neither he nor his wife recognizes. During his career, Conor avoided the trap of alcohol and drugs because his drug was baseball. And what can an addict do when he realizes he will never get that high again?
Conor climbs treacherous Camelback Mountain, drinks a bottle of Champagne, recalls people and events, and seeks an answer. Who is Conor Nash if he can’t pitch?
The Conman is based on the Life of Keith Comstock. Keith pitched professionally for sixteen years, including Major League time with The Seattle Mariners, the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins. Following his retirement in 1992, Keith has held minor league coaching and managing positions with several organizations. For the past decade he has served as the rehabilitation instructor for the Texas Rangers.
Failure can be an acute condition, perhaps even chronic, but quitting—quitting is fatal.
Conor Nash believed this to his marrow.
No stranger to failure, Conor had been released from professional baseball contracts ten times. He’d been released by major league teams. He’d been released by minor league affiliates. He’d been released in five countries encompassing three continents. He wasn’t sure how to count Puerto Rico. And, technically, that release occurred in an aircraft somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. He’d had a contract when the plane took off. When it landed, they told him, “Go home.”
And Venezuela, well, they weren’t satisfied with just releasing him. A pissed-off dictator banned him from the entire country.
Hope remained, though, and ultimately, he’d kept his vow. Conor Nash pitched in the major leagues. So why did this champagne bottle clutched in his left hand cast a pall that felt like death?
Fat Brad Grady could have helped him sort through these confusing emotions. Brad loved debating the nuance of words, and he and Conor argued the semantics often enough. Where Conor saw a razor-sharp line distinguishing fail and quit, Brad found a middle ground he defined as surrender to reality or honorable retreat. Brad’s intellect would help make sense of Conor’s present struggle. Brad wasn’t available, though, was he? Conor closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to slough off the guilty anger he still confronted when he thought of Brad.
Conor set the champagne atop a flat red rock beside one of those damned jumping cactus plants. He bent forward, hands on knees. Everything around him conveyed hostile intent. Towering sajuaro their spines like nails, prickly pears, sharp-edged Spanish Daggers. The cholla cacti were worst, with needles that seemed to leap from the plant if you got too close.
Maybe he hadn’t thought this through.
This was an occasion, and he would not visit a host of family, friends and adversaries dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt. Cowboy boots, jeans and a knit polo were proving inappropriate, though, for scaling Camelback Mountain.
He squinted into the glare of afternoon sun and saw a pair of young women making their way down. They wore cargo shorts. Sweat-soaked tank tops seemed plastered to their skin. Their hiking boots bit into the steep slant of red rock and sand surface.
Conor shaded his eyes, stood straight and did his best to look ten years younger.
“Hi,” he said.
They smiled politely and passed without comment.
Conor was not a womanizer. He’d put that behind him when he married Kate fifteen years ago. Still, if those women knew they’d been greeted by a genuine major league baseball player, they wouldn’t just hurry on their way, would they?
Then, he amended his thought. Ex-major league ballplayer.
Other hikers—all the traffic seemed to be headed down—offered curious glances at his clothing and champagne bottle. A few wished him success on his climb. He thought it a happy coincidence they were leaving. After all, he sought solitude at the camel’s hump.
Retrieving the bottle, he craned his neck toward the summit. Damn. He didn’t remember the fucking mountain being this steep. A half dozen more steps and the slick soles of his cowboy boots betrayed him again. He caught himself with his free hand, protecting his Champagne. Breaking the bottle after all these years would be catastrophic.
French. Moët-Chandon. Purchased for twenty-five dollars at an Idaho Falls liquor store during the summer of 1976. Conor hadn’t a clue whether brand and vintage qualified as good, bad or indifferent. They’d been four minor league baseball players. Kids really. The last man standing pact was Conor’s idea. The player remaining when the other three had officially retired from their playing careers got to drink the champagne. Sports Illustrated published a story about this pact when Kenny Shrom passed the bottle to Conor at when the1989 season ended.
The Idaho Falls Russets, a team named for a potato, represented minor league ladder’s lowest rung. And against all odds, three of the four pact members climbed from that first step to the majors. Mark Brouhard arrived first. He played a half-dozen seasons in Milwaukee, punctuated by a year with the Yakult Swallows, before Kenny took charge of the bottle. Kenny pitched for Minnesota and Cleveland until injury robbed him of 1988. His comeback the next season failed in El Paso.
Initially, the bottle sat on Conor’s garage shelf, subjected to a quiet indignity of shared space with wrenches and bicycle tires and motor oil. Then Kate pointed out it should probably be refrigerated. So, he made room at the back of his garage ice box. It loomed like a grim reaper each time he opened the fridge to grab a beer, and fed a sullen, brooding hostility that took seed following Conor’s final shoulder surgery.
Since second grade, Conor Nash had lived with a single purpose: to be a big-league pitcher. Even through high school, adults and friends indulged him with smiles and chuckles and, “Yes, but what if you don’t make the majors? What’s your back-up plan?”
The only adult who might have swayed him from his path had been his father. Hugh Nash cast an enormous presence. A brawler, he literally fought his way into a leadership role with the Teamsters at the Port of Oakland.
“Conor, I know what I’m supposed to tell you,” Hugh told his second-born son one grey fall Bay Area afternoon. Hugh had conceded he would not beat the lung cancer, and that his five sons would make their way into the adult world without him. He called each boy individually into the living room of the two-story house on Melendy Drive in San Carlos, California, to address their futures.
“Even though you had a good year in Idaho, there’s a long, tough road ahead,” he told Conor. A deep, rasping cough forced a pause. Conor made it a point not to wince or show concern, though he imagined what a painful fire the coughing built in his father’s lungs. Hugh’s failing body still held an iron will, and Conor would not acknowledge the cancer. As his cough subsided, Hugh drank from a glass of water, gathering himself.
“No matter what the scouts said, only something like four or five percent of kids drafted ever make the majors,” Hugh continued. “So, I’m supposed to say find something to fall back on, maybe school during the off-season, or see if I can hook you up driving a truck or working the docks.”
Hugh shook his head.
“I’m supposed say don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Conor, I’ve watched you try to change a tire. Son, you’ve only got one basket. That’s it. If you have a fall-back plan, that’s just what you’ll do—fall back. Since you were seven years old, you’ve aimed yourself like an arrow at one goal, and I’ve never seen anyone so focused, so single-minded. For the other boys, that would be a weakness. Not you. That’s your strength.”
And now, on an October afternoon sixteen years later, Conor climbed Camelback Mountain. Along with the bottle of champagne, he carried his father, his best friends—A.J., Basil, Brad—his brothers, his wife and children, a whole community of people who had celebrated his successes and commiserated over his shortcomings, teammates and coaches, both friend and foe. All who had shaped him for better or for worse.
He intended to sit atop a mountain overlooking Phoenix, drink his champagne, and reflect on people, places and events—try and understand what would become of Conor Nash now.
He honestly didn’t know, though, whether he was attending a party or a funeral.
About the Author
Mike Murphey is a native of eastern New Mexico and spent almost thirty years as an award-winning newspaper journalist in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. Following his retirement from the newspaper business, he and his wife Nancy entered in a seventeen-year partnership with the late Dave Henderson, all-star centerfielder for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Their company produced the A’s and Mariners adult baseball Fantasy Camps. They also have a partnership with the Roy Hobbs adult baseball organization in Fort Myers, Florida. Mike loves fiction, cats, baseball and sailing. He splits his time between Spokane, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona, where he enjoys life as a writer and old-man baseball player.