Tag Archives: Crime Fiction

Killers! Virtual Book Tour

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#6 of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries

 

Crime Fiction

 

Release Date: Aug 9, 2021

Her dead father once asked, “What did you do to make God sad, Nattie?”

Natalie McMasters is a twentysomething college student who just wants to get on with her life, and she’s got to wonder. Her dear friend lies dead and the crazed killer responsible now has Nattie on his short list. Her only choice? Cancel him before he cancels her!

Nattie assembles an unlikely squad to find the killer: her wife Lupe, her husband Danny, an aging FBI agent and an even more ancient Tai Chi master. Jointly and separately, they embark on a totally lit road trip across the Old South, meeting danger and death at every turn. Unexpected help is provided by a voice from the grave. But her adversary has a badass squad too, and friends and loved ones fall along the way.

Naked and afraid in a primeval swamp, Nattie must confront her greatest enemy one last time. How will she ever get the W?

 

Killers! tablet

EXCERPT

My eyes track the reverend as he wends his way among the scattered gravestones, making for the gravel road where the cars are parked. I notice a figure standing between two of the vehicles, observing our gathering from afar. It’s a man, I think, wearing dark hoodie against the rain. He’s relatively short and broad; his form is eerily familiar.

I suddenly know who it must be… “It’s him!” I holler. “The Marquis! He’s here!”

I take off like a bat out of hell, and Danny follows in a sec. It doesn’t take long before he’s abreast, then ahead of me. Our stan dashes across the road and vaults the low stone wall on the other side, artfully dodging among the tomb stones.

Try as I will, there’s no way I can keep up with a Marine. Danny reaches the road five yards ahead of me, vaulting the wall without stopping, pursuing the Marquis (it has to be him!) into the graveyard on the other side. As I clamber over the wall, Danny is now a good 50 feet away. Damn it! It’s begun raining harder, and I’ve totally lost sight of the Marquis! I have to struggle now, just to keep Danny in view. He’s making for a group of trees about fifty yards ahead in the center of the cemetery—the Marquis must have gone in there. Shit! I’ll lose both of them for sure in those woods! Of course, Danny goes in. I have no choice—I just keep running towards the spot where I last saw him, hoping to pick up his trail again.

Reaching the trees, I hear crashing ahead, followed by shouts. Small limbs whip across my face, lighting my skin on fire as I push my way through the brush; I have to slow my pace to avoid going down because I’m sliding on the damp leaves, vines snatching at my feet. Up ahead, it’s a little brighter. I run into a small clearing where Danny is on the ground, his hand on his throat, struggling to rise. WTF happened?

There’s crashing in the woods ahead of me, but the deadening effect of the thick brush makes it impossible to know exactly where. Conflicting choices tear at me—I want to continue chasing the Marquis, but Danny is still down, fighting for breath. Has that motherfucker seriously hurt him? Danny’s face is red and bruised, his mouth agape, his breath a rattling wheeze. I reach down and offer him a hand up, but he waves me off.

“Let…me…get…my…wind,” he croaks.

It’s a couple of minutes before he can speak coherently. By that time, the crashing in the brush has subsided—the Marquis is long gone.

 

About The Author

Thomas A. Burns Jr.

Thomas A. Burns Jr. writes the Natalie McMasters Mysteries from the small town of Wendell, North Carolina, where he lives with his wife and son, four cats and a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University. As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, then graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school. He built a career as technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that he’s a full time novelist, he’s excited to publish his own mystery series, as well as to write stories about his second most favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes. His Holmes story, The Camberwell Poisoner, recently appeared in the March – June issue of The Strand Magazine. Tom has also written a Lovecraftian horror novel, The Legacy of the Unborn, under the pen name of Silas K. Henderson‒a sequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s masterpiece At the Mountains of Madness.

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Killers! Blitz

 

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#6 of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries

 

Crime Fiction

 

Release Date: Aug 9, 2021

Her dead father once asked, “What did you do to make God sad, Nattie?”

Natalie McMasters is a twentysomething college student who just wants to get on with her life, and she’s got to wonder. Her dear friend lies dead and the crazed killer responsible now has Nattie on his short list. Her only choice? Cancel him before he cancels her!

Nattie assembles an unlikely squad to find the killer: her wife Lupe, her husband Danny, an aging FBI agent and an even more ancient Tai Chi master. Jointly and separately, they embark on a totally lit road trip across the Old South, meeting danger and death at every turn. Unexpected help is provided by a voice from the grave. But her adversary has a badass squad too, and friends and loved ones fall along the way.

Naked and afraid in a primeval swamp, Nattie must confront her greatest enemy one last time. How will she ever get the W?

About The Author

Thomas A. Burns Jr.

Thomas A. Burns Jr. writes the Natalie McMasters Mysteries from the small town of Wendell, North Carolina, where he lives with his wife and son, four cats and a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University. As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, then graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school. He built a career as technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that he’s a full time novelist, he’s excited to publish his own mystery series, as well as to write stories about his second most favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes. His Holmes story, The Camberwell Poisoner, recently appeared in the March – June issue of The Strand Magazine. Tom has also written a Lovecraftian horror novel, The Legacy of the Unborn, under the pen name of Silas K. Henderson‒a sequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s masterpiece At the Mountains of Madness.

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Killers! Reveal

Killers! cover

 

#6 of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries

 

Crime Fiction

Release Date: Aug 9, 2021

 

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Her dead father once asked, “What did you do to make God sad, Nattie?”

Natalie McMasters is a twentysomething college student who just wants to get on with her life, and she’s got to wonder. Her dear friend lies dead and the crazed killer responsible now has Nattie on his short list. Her only choice? Cancel him before he cancels her!

Nattie assembles an unlikely squad to find the killer: her wife Lupe, her husband Danny, an aging FBI agent and an even more ancient Tai Chi master. Jointly and separately, they embark on a totally lit road trip across the Old South, meeting danger and death at every turn. Unexpected help is provided by a voice from the grave. But her adversary has a badass squad too, and friends and loved ones fall along the way.

Naked and afraid in a primeval swamp, Nattie must confront her greatest enemy one last time. How will she ever get the W?

About the Author

Thomas A. Burns Jr.

Thomas A. Burns Jr. writes the Natalie McMasters Mysteries from the small town of Wendell, North Carolina, where he lives with his wife and son, four cats and a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University. As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, then graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school. He built a career as technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that he’s a full time novelist, he’s excited to publish his own mystery series, as well as to write stories about his second most favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes. His Holmes story, The Camberwell Poisoner, recently appeared in the March – June issue of The Strand Magazine. Tom has also written a Lovecraftian horror novel, The Legacy of the Unborn, under the pen name of Silas K. Henderson‒a sequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s masterpiece At the Mountains of Madness.

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Death Opens a Window Tour

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Mourning Dove Mysteries, Book 2

Mystery, Crime Fiction, LGBTQ

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Date Published: Oct 19, 2019

 

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BEST eBOOK SUSPENSE/THRILLER – New Apple Book Awards

BEST COVER OVERALL – New Apple Book Awards

 

The Mourning Dove Mysteries series includes:

1. MURDER ON THE LAKE OF FIRE

2. DEATH OPENS A WINDOW

3. A LIGHT TO KILL BY (coming August 3)

 

Emory Rome is back in DEATH OPENS A WINDOW, Book 2 of the Mourning Dove
Mysteries and the follow-up to the international bestseller MURDER ON THE
LAKE OF FIRE.

 

As he struggles with the consequences of his last case, Emory must unravel
the inexplicable death of a federal employee in a Knoxville high-rise. But
while the reticent investigator is mired in a deep pool of suspects –
from an old mountain witch to the powerful Tennessee Valley Authority
– he misses a greater danger creeping from the shadows. The man in the
ski mask returns to reveal himself, and the shocking crime of someone close
is unearthed.

 

Death Opens a Window tablet

EXCERPT

Emory tapped the bell on the counter in the lobby of Willow Springs – senior living spaces converted from a nineteenth century Italianate house. Sounds of a mountain forest from overhead speakers pacified the air, and silk flowers sprung from every available surface. This place doesn’t seem so bad. It’s peaceful.

A scream rippled through the tranquility. Emory leapt over the counter and pounded through the door behind it. His eyes darted about in search of danger, but all he found was a fiftyish woman clutching her chest with a horrified look. Before her was an open drawer. Inside was a chicken-bone doll with a bird’s foot attached as if grabbing at the heart. The woman saw Emory and pointed frantically at the drawer. “Get it out of there! Get it out!”

That’s odd. It looks kind of like the one from Corey’s office. Emory threw the doll into a nearby wastebasket. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” The woman’s breathing ticked down from asthmatic. “Okay, I’m fine now. Thank you.” Her chest-clutching hand dropped to her side, revealing a company badge hanging from the collar of her purple polyester blouse. “Can I help you?”

Emory found himself staring at her swept-back, brittle hair – a patchwork of brown shades given a yellow luster from the fluorescent ceiling light. She must color it herself. He pulled his eyes away, glancing at the name on her badge before offering her a smile. “Hi Lucy. I’m here to see Mary Belle Hinter.”

“Ms… Ms. Mary Belle?” Her hand returned to her chest. “Are you a relation?”

“I’m Emory Rome. I’m investigating the death of someone she knew.”

“Oh, good heavens. How awful.” Lucy fanned herself with her hand. “She’s on the veranda. The door down the hall to your right. You can’t miss it.”

“Thank you.” Emory pointed toward the wastebasket. “By the way, how did that thing get in your drawer?”

The woman placed a hand over her heart. “I can’t rightfully say. I imagine someone confiscated it from… one of our residents. We’re a Christian establishment.” Emory started toward the door when the woman stopped him. “Em’ry, you don’t believe she had something to do with that death, do you?”

“No, I just need to talk to her.”

Lucy pursed her lips. “Are you sure?”

That’s an odd question. 

Lucy continued, “I don’t mean to speak ill of the misfortunate, but that woman is a hellion straight from the loins of the devil!”

“Thanks for the warning.” Emory left Lucy to her shudders. That’s twice I’ve been warned about Mary Belle Hinter. Who is she?

When Emory stepped onto the veranda, he was greeted by a stifling warmth, in spite of the weak winter sunlight slavering through the glass roof. I wonder which one is her. Among the tight scattering of more patio heaters than were necessary, he saw about two dozen elderly denizens – some sitting alone and others playing cards or board games. One small woman with wild silver hair, however, was kneeling in front of a tree and digging in the dirt with her hands, just beyond the veranda’s wood-slat flooring. Emory smirked. Lord, don’t let it be the crazy one.

A thin fortyish man in scrubs approached him. “Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for Mary Belle Hinter.”

The man scanned the area before the tips of his mustache reached for his chin. “There she is digging at that tree again.”

Emory’s shoulders slumped. Of course, it’s her. 

The attendant hurried toward her. “Ms. Mary Belle, what have we said about messing with the foliage?”

Either she didn’t hear him or she ignored him altogether because she broke off a small offshoot of the horse chestnut tree’s root and pulled it from the ground.

“Don’t put that in your mouth!”

Before the attendant could grab it, she sure enough stuffed the piece of root into her mouth and sucked on it as if it were hard candy.

The attendant threw his hands up in the air and turned to Emory. “She’s all yours.”

Emory nodded and extended a hand to the old woman. “Ms. Mary Belle, could I help you to your feet?”

She looked up at him and rasped through cracked lips, “If I’d a wanted on m’ feet, I’d be on ’em.”

“Fair enough.” Emory crouched on the ground next to her. “Ms. Mary Belle, I need to talk to you about Corey Melton. Do you know who that is?”

“I know who he was.” She looked at him with jaundiced eyes and pointed an arthritic finger at his face. “Who’re you?”

“I’m Emory Rome.” He handed her a business card. “I’m an investigator. You said you knew who Mr. Melton was. Why did you say that?”

The old woman buried Emory’s card into one of the oversized pockets of her brown tattered cloak. “I ain’t ne’er forgit a name or face.”

“No, why did you use the past tense?”

Ms. Mary Belle’s lips curled toward her withered cheeks. “I know why you’re here.”

“And why’s that?”

“You’re askin’ ’bout a feller I knew but for one reason. The curse musta met its intention.”

Emory clenched his jaw. Here we go. “Curse?”

“The thief stole m’ prop’ty! So I hexed ’im. Hexed ’im good.”

Yep, she’s crazy. 

Ms. Mary Belle laughed so hard, the root fell from her mouth. “When God closes a door, Death opens a window.” 

“When did you last see him?”

“Ne’er did. Coward wrote me a letter! Sheriff done his dirty work. Cursed ’im too.” Her last statement added a proud glimmer to her eyes. “He still wit’ us?”

“As far as I know.”

“Well, give it time. Give it time. Oh me…” Without warning, a flash flood of tears washed away Ms. Mary Belle’s self-satisfaction. 

Emory placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you okay?”

“That prop’ty’s been my family’s for gen’rations. From when I came ta ’wareness as a girl, I knowed I was gonna die there.” She looked over his shoulder as if she could see her erstwhile land from where she sat. “Summer’s always m’ fav’rite. Dancin’ ina black willer seeds that’re floatin’ ina wind. Cooling off ina crick. Course, ’tweren’t deep enough ta swim in, but it’s fun all a same. Ne’er did learn ta swim. And the taste o’ the sassafras trees.” Her tongue poked through her gummy smile to lick her crackled lips. “You e’er had a place like that?”

Emory shrugged. “I can’t say I have.”

Ms. Mary Belle wiped her eyes and focused them on Emory. “So you fixin’ ta ’rest me?”

“What? No, I’m not going to arrest you.”

“Takin’ pity ona ol’ woman.” She patted the back of his hand. “You’re a good young’un.”

“Thanks.”

“Can you he’p me get m’ prop’ty back?”

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about that.”

“Sweet sassafras, you an inves’gator! Inves’gate how ta git back what’s mine.”

“I’m sorry.” Emory shook his head. “It’s not that simple.”

“I got money. I can pay.”

“It’s not that. It’s just too late to do anything about it now. It’s out of our hands.”

“Our?” The old woman’s pitiable fragility evaporated, leaving behind a desiccated grimace of anger. “You workin’ wit’ ’em! You all in cahoots!”

“No, I meant there’s nothing you or I could do.”

“Stealin’ what’s mine!” Ms. Mary Belle clawed at the back of his hand, drawing blood. As Emory recoiled from her, she sucked the tiny bits of his skin from her fingertips and then spit in his face. “I curse you! No moment’s peace ’til your reckonin’, whena cold handa death’ll come a beckonin’!”

Emory jumped to his feet and backed away, almost tripping. He wiped the spit from his face and glared at her in disbelief.

Ms. Mary Belle screamed, “Git out!” followed by incomprehensible words.

Emory could feel his arm hair shrieking to attention as he retreated to his car.

 

About the Author

Mikel J. Wilson

Award-winning mystery author Mikel J. Wilson draws on his Southern roots
for the international bestselling Mourning Dove Mysteries, a series of
novels featuring bizarre murders in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee.
Wilson adheres to a “no guns or knives” policy for the
instigating murders in the series.

 

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Sniper! Tour

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 A Natalie McMasters Mystery, Book 5

 

Crime Fiction

Date Published: November 16, 2020

Publisher: Tekrighter, LLC

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A crazed sniper. A loved one wounded, in danger of death. The unforgiving
Fake News media. And a hidden villain more loathsome than any that Natalie
McMasters has encountered before.

Nattie’s in the crosshairs as a series of seemingly random
shootings terrorizes the city. She must fight to keep her polyamorous
family from disintegrating, her emotions from running wild and her
personal integrity uncompromised. This would be a formidable task for
anyone, much less a twentysomething college student who just wants to
graduate and get on with her life. Nattie must rely on old friends and
new, but how can she even, when friends can become enemies in the blink of
an eye? As Nattie nears an emotional meltdown, society collapses along
with her, as the sniper’s depredations take their toll on the
city.

Sniper! is a twisted, sexy, absolutely gripping descent into darkness jam
packed with nail-biting suspense. Don’t miss it!

Sniper! tablet

EXCERPT

It’s 0300oh dark thirty if I’ve ever been there. I’m driving down a two-lane road on a ridge. One side is a forest, the other overlooks a valley which is packed with homes. Suburbia, U.S.A. 

Rounding a curve, I come to a place where the shoulder widens and tire tracks indicate that many have pulled off to enjoy a smoke or neck a little while looking down on the pastoral scene below. I follow suit, then shut off the engine and get out of the truck. This is my final firing position today. Going to the rear, I open the tailgate, flip up the bed cover, and climb in. I reach up and close the bed cover again, leaving the tailgate down.

I open the backpack I find inside and take out the pieces of my weapon system. It only requires a minute to assemble the rifle—insert the bolt into the receiver, screw the barrel on in front, followed by the suppressor, the bipod, then slap a mag of 7.62s into the bottom. I remove the lens caps from the scope, put the rifle to my shoulder, and rest the bipod on the tailgate. Only about an inch peeps out from under the bed cover, so it’s highly unlikely anyone driving by will even notice.

There’s only a quarter moon tonight, so it’s still too dark to survey the killing ground, but that’s OK. The most essential quality that a sniper must possess is patience. Lying as still as a corpse, I mentally review the mission parameters—insertion is complete, camo in place. All that remains is recon, carrying out the mission itself, and exfiltration from the FPP.

As the sun rises, the homes transform from a uniform grey to a colorful palette on a green background. This is an older neighborhood, so no two adjacent houses are alike. I begin my surveyideally, I’d like to take out a target after they get into their car. That will be less obvious than dropping them in the driveway, allowing plenty of time to elapse before the body is discovered so I can be long gone. The streets of the subdivision begin to fill with traffic, but I don’t want to take out anyone who’s made it out to the road. The longer it takes people to realize what’s happened, the greater my chances of a clean exfil.

I catch a glimpse of movement in a driveway. A side door opens, and a boy about ten comes out. I capture him in the reticle, framing his head and shoulders. It’s short rangeonly about 100 meters. I take one more check of the surroundings and it’s a good thing. The door opens again and mom and little bro exit the houseI guess she’s driving everyone to school. I abort the target and look for another.

A few blocks away, a garage door opens and the rear of a car appears. Placing the reticle on the passenger window, I can see the silhouette of the driver inside, but the body of the auto provides enough concealment to make a precise shot impossible. I’m not looking to wound. I abort again.

Finally, patience pays off, as it always does. A guy comes out his front door and goes to his car in the driveway, parked with the front facing the street. It’s a red Mustang, and he caresses the hood as he passes in front of ithe really must love that car. He unlocks the driver’s door and slips inside as I put the reticle on him and make the range about 400 meters. I let him pull the door shut before I squeeze off a round, and I see him slump toward the passenger seat. Perfect left temple kill shot.

I open the bolt and eject the round, push forward to load another, and survey the scene once more. Shit. Here comes wifey, out the front door, holding his briefcase. She must be calling out, but he doesn’t hear her of course, so she walks over to the car to give it to him. It takes her a second when she bends down by the passenger door to realize something’s wrong. When she straightens up to scream, I squeeze off a round and drop her. Now I survey the area again, looking for witnesses. Back on the front door, a teenage girl is framed in the opening. She looks toward the driveway, and her mouth pops open in horror. She disappears back inside the house before I can get a round off. Shit! It was time to get outta Dodge two minutes ago.

I lay the rifle down on the towel I’ve placed there for it, climb out of the load bed, close the tailgate and hop in the truck. A car coming towards me passes as I fire the engine up. Good thing this state doesn’t require a license plate on the front. I put her in gear, check my mirror, then pull out in the road. I head for the highway where there’ll be lots of traffic to lose myself in.

Mission complete.

 

  About The Author

 

Thomas A. Burns, Jr. is the author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. He
was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in
Manhattan, earned B.S degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan
State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State
University. He currently resides in Wendell, North Carolina. As a kid, Tom
started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant,
and graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle,
Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to
name just a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life,
starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in
grade school. He built a career as technical, science and medical writer
and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that
he’s a full-time novelist, he’s excited to publish his own mystery series,
as well as to contribute stories about his second most favorite detective,
Sherlock Holmes, to the MX anthology of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.

 

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

Instagram

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Purchase Link

Amazon

 

 

 

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