What begins as a simple lost love case for private investigator Adam Fraley quickly escalates into something of far greater magnitude during the course of his investigation. Not only is it a potential felony he stumbles across but one of the rarest in the catalog of crimes, all due to a critical piece of information having been withheld by his client, a terminally ill World War II vet. The job eventually takes Fraley to remote stretches of Florida’s Withlacoochee River and events that occurred over a half century ago. At the center of the case are teenage twin sisters, Staci and Kati Carew, whose conflicting friendships, loves, and ambitions rise far above normal sibling rivalry, ultimately leading to a grievous injustice and major cover-up.
As he watched the scene unfold before them, with his daughter riding the shoulders of her teammates, Adam could not help but be reminded of another time and place long ago when a young girl stood with her arms raised in triumph, a time when first loves were forever, summers endless, and young lives full of promise; of a bridge over the Withlacoochee River and Kati Carew, the backflip girl, whose summer of life was never to be.
Oh, Staci…if only it had been a thumbs-up you had giver you sister…
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 is a past recipient of the Florida Publishers Association’s Gold Medal Award for Florida Fiction.
In the dead of winter, handwriting expert Claudia Rose journeys to Maine to retrieve a manuscript about convicted female serial killer, Roxanne Becker. The manuscript, written by Professor Madeleine Maynard, who was, herself, brutally murdered, exposes a shocking secret: explosive research about a group of mentally unstable grad students selected for a special project and dubbed “Maynard’s Maniacs.” Was Madeleine conducting research that was at best, unprofessional—and at worst, downright harmful, and potentially dangerous? Could that unorthodox research have turned deadly?
Claudia finds herself swept up in the mystery of Madeleine’s life—and death. But she soon realizes that Madeleine left behind more questions than answers, and no shortage of suspects. The professor’s personal life yields a number of persons who might have wanted her dead—and her academic success and personal fortune clearly made her the envy of fellow faculty members. The University anticipates being the beneficiary of Madeline’s estate—but that seems in question when a charming stranger, claiming to be Madeleine’s nephew, turns up brandishing a new will.
The local police chief prevails upon Claudia to travel into town to examine the newly produced, handwritten will. Rushing back to Madeleine’s isolated house to escape an impending storm, Claudia becomes trapped in a blizzard. With a killer.
The cabin was the size of a master bedroom; a ramshackle shed whose cedar logs had expanded and contracted, until the spaces between them were large enough to admit small vermin. Inside, the musty smell and scat on virtually every surface confirmed that many such creatures had availed themselves of the accommodations over the years while it fell into disrepair.
It had been unused for so long that few in the village of Summerhays remembered that the cabin stood—or more accurately, leaned—in the overgrown clearing in the woods, let alone who had built it, though most folks readily agreed that given the one room, a hunter was more likely than a family to have occupied the place.
No evidence of any dweller endured; no furnishings other than a rough-hewn kitchen chair. No guesses how long the chair had stood in front of the old wood-burning stove, waiting for someone to sit down and warm their hands.
Each summer, the vegetation crept closer to the cabin. What little light that managed to penetrate the sagging windows was murky at best. In winter, even when the trees were stripped of their leaves as they were now, the metallic snow-laden skies darkened the cheerless room to a permanent dusk.
It was through those grimy, sagging windows that searchers spotted the remains of Professor Madeleine Maynard.
About the Author
Like her fictional character Claudia Rose in the award-winning Forensic Handwriting Mysteries series, Sheila Lowe is a real-life forensic handwriting expert. She holds a Master of Science degree in psychology and has taught forensic handwriting examination at the University of California Riverside Campus in the CSI Certificate program and at the University of California Santa Barbara Campus in the Discovery program. She’s also the author of the internationally acclaimed “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis” and “Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous,” as well as the Handwriting Analyzer software. Sheila’s analyses of celebrity handwriting are often seen in the media. She lives in Valencia, CA.
What do you do with a diamond no one wants? You can’t keep it. Or can you?
While cleaning her ex-husband’s effects out of the attic, Terri finds an exquisite diamond pendant necklace. She’s determined to return the necklace to its proper owner, but the owner was brutally killed, a murder which remains unsolved, and her heirs want nothing to do with the diamond. Terri embarks upon a journey researching charities to which she can donate the diamond. When her research becomes dangerous, Terri contemplates solving the murder herself. Her best friend, Melanie, jumps feet first into investigating the murder, but her neighbor, Ryder, doesn’t want Terri exposed to any danger. Ryder, to Terri’s surprise, also wants to be more than neighbors with Terri. Luckily, he’s prepared to take any measure necessary to keep her safe because someone is determined to stop her inquiries.
Join Terri on her quest to find a home for the diamond, which may result in the unveiling of a murderer – if she survives long enough.
“How are we going to solve the murder if we don’t even know where it happened?”
“We are not solving the murder! How many times do I have to explain myself? I’m only trying to honor Jessica’s last wishes by finding somewhere to donate the necklace in her memory.”
“We are totally solving this murder.”
“Did you not read the part where she was shot to death! And the police have no fricking idea what happened?”
Melanie shrugged as if she knew people who were shot to death all the time. “We’ll be fine.”
“We? We are not doing anything. I’m the one who is doing this. We are not doing anything.”
“Fine. Fine. So, Ms. Patterson, what are you going to do next, hmm?” She raised an eyebrow, crossed her arms over her chest, and leaned back in her chair.
“I’m not sure.” Terri tapped her fingers on the table. There was a long pause before she suddenly sat up straight. “Where did the obit say donations were to be sent?”
Melissa pulled the obit up on her tablet. “Westside Soup Kitchen.”
“That’s it!” She snapped her fingers. “I’ve volunteered at that soup kitchen several times. I’ll just go check it out. See if they are a good candidate for receiving the necklace.”
“You volunteered at the same soup kitchen as Jessica? Maybe you met her and don’t remember?”
“No.” Terri shook her head. “I saw a picture of her at the Collins’ house. There’s no way I would have forgotten meeting her.”
“Maybe some of the other volunteers or even the homeless people will remember Jessica. You could ask them about her.”
“Stop trying to solve the murder!”
Melanie readily agreed she wouldn’t get involved in investigating the murder, but Terri knew better than to believe her.
About the Author
I grew up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.
Phoenix investigative reporter Joya Bonner is like most Americans—she knows nothing about the world of sex trafficking; thinks it’s a problem reserved for somewhere far off. Thailand. Russia.
But the reality that this is an American problem slaps her in the face when her 15 year-old honorary niece disappears in Phoenix. And a 13 year-old from her hometown in North Dakota goes missing. And there’s that pitiful dead girl in the vacant lot. As the evidence piles up that these are all part of the sex-slave underworld, Joy’s awakening chills her to the bone.
She’s sickened even more when she realizes the website that pimps use to sell these girls was created in Phoenix at the weekly newspaper New Times—by guys she knew; by journalists she admired; by men she’d defended in the pages of her own newspaper when they were attacked by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Joya’s frantic search to find the missing girls—and identify the dead child—brings readers into the real world of sex trafficking. It includes the true history of Backpage.com, that’s been called an “online brothel,” and its founders, Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin, currently awaiting trial on charges of facilitating sex trafficking.
This book combines a riveting fictional story with the reality that is ripped from today’s headlines. The book ends with an extensive “end notes” section that details the facts and personalities of this world—both from those exploiting youngsters for prostitution, and those who have long fought to stop it.
About the Author
Jana Bommersbach is one of Arizona’s most acclaimed journalists and authors. She’s already been honored with two lifetime achievement awards as “an inspiration to the state’s media community.” She’s been inducted into the Arizona Arts and Entertainment Hall of Fame, and honored by the ACLU as a “journalist and activist who speaks truth to power.” She’s won a regional Emmy for her television work and was named the nation’s best columnist in a city magazine for her work at Phoenix magazine. She twice won the Don Bolles Award in Investigative Reporting for her work at Phoenix New Times.
Jana is known as a tenacious researcher and lyrical writer. Her debut non-fiction book, “The Trunk Murderess: Winnie Ruth Judd” was nominated for the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award as one of the nation’s best mysteries in 1992. Her children’s book, “A Squirrel’s Story, a True Tale” won numerous awards here and abroad. Her first historical novel, “Cattle Kate,” was named one of the best books of 2014 by Publisher’s Weekly. With “thedeadgirlinthevacantlot,” Jana continues exploring the world of fiction with her character, Phoenix investigative reporter Joya Bonner.
To satisfy her journalistic soul, Jana combines a fictional story with real-life incidents she’s covered in the past. In her first Joya Bonner book, “Funeral Hotdish,” it was the problem of Sammy “the Bull” Gravano and his Arizona ecstasy ring and how it affected Joya’s safe, secure hometown in North Dakota that buried one of its children from a drug overdose. In this new book, Joya takes on the world of sex-trafficking. As the book was going to press, federal officials shut down the “online brothel” known as Backpage.com and its founders—Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin—were arrested and are awaiting trial on multiple counts of facilitating sex-trafficking.
This is a particularly poignant story for Jana to write, for a dozen years before Backpage was created, she was partners with Mike and Jim in owning Phoenix New Times. She left and sold her interest to pursue other journalistic options. As she says in the Epilogue, “I write this book with a broken heart.”
Still at the beginning of her career, investigative journalist Emilee Weathers is desperate for the perfect story and doesn’t care how she has to get it. When she’s asked to assist in a convicted serial killer’s appeal, it almost seems the perfect story has come banging at her door.
But not long after arriving to the mountain town of Pigeon Forge, Emilee discovers the body of another, more recent victim. With the body showing signatures of the already-convicted murderer, Emilee sets out to discover if she’s happened upon the work of a copycat, or if the real killer was ever even caught. The more she looks though, the murkier everything becomes. Police begin withholding information and the killer seems capable of going any length to protect his identity. On top of it all, when her investigations uncover the buried secrets of those closest to her, Emilee questions who it is she can and can’t trust in those mountains, if anyone at all.
About the Author
Jordan Antonacci is an HVAC Technician by day and blogger by night, working out of the hot, hot lands of Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t trying to avoid heat stroke, he can be found at his desk with an espresso, brewing up a new story or a post for his blog. Outside of writing, Jordan has a mild case of wanderlust. He enjoys road trips, cruises, and flights out to California to visit his family. His dream is to make a living with writing and visit every country the world has to offer.