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Metafiction/Humor/Mystery

 

Date Published: April 20th, 2021

Publisher: Zither Studios

A nutty religious cult abducts a herd of prime gazebos (huh?) and it’s up to bumbling P.I. Mars Candiotti to rescue them. Mars, aspiring author, chronicles his quest in Jeffrey Hanlon’s comic mystery Zither

 Guided by his magically prescient IHOP waitress, Mars strives to mitigate the shocking global consequences of the gazebo heist, even though he has no idea what the word mitigate means. Mars has five Important clues with which to solve his confounding mystery: Butterscotch, John Travolta, Trombones Venetian Blinds, and Wind Chimes. 

 As Zither swallows its own tale, Mars finds it increasingly tricky to distinguish between real people and his rambunctious fictional characters. Zither becomes the romper room where his reality meets fantasy – and get frisky with each other. 

 Using his (odd) clues, Mars’ international odyssey leads to an explosive conclusion in Panama. TVs around the world tune in to watch live coverage of “Carnage in the Canal”. 

 Amid the lunatic havoc that is Zither there is (of course!) an epic love story as Mars meets Marian, the brainy librarian he had dreamed of. Marian says his books are “slapstick existentialism with subjective reality couched in parable”. (This is news to Mars). But is Marian real? 

 Is any of it real?

 

 

EXCERPT

As nightfall approached, we prepared.

Pete disguised himself as management, putting on a nice Men’s Wearhouse suit with a bleeding turnip lapel pin.

I disguised myself as Britney Spears.

At the stroke of midnight, Pete and I left his house, which is and headed for the St. Francis Yacht Club.

As contrived luck would have it, Benny Tisdale had left the cabin on his dumb boat unlocked.

In stealthy fashion, Pete and I went below.

“I’ll shine the flashlight and listen for footprints. You find the varnish,” Pete said.

It took no time at all to find Benny’s Man O’ War. Actually, it took a bit of time, but you know what I mean.

As Pete held the light, I donned my surgical gloves and placed Benny’s Man O’ War in my black op bag.

“Easy as taking candy from a drowning man,” Pete whispered.

I nodded.

Pete said, “It’s dark in here, Mars. If you’re going to nod, warn me so I can shine the flashlight on your head.”

“Okay, Pete. We’ll make that a new rule.”

As we prepared to exit in stealthy fashion, Pete shined his flashlight around the cabin, then said, “Mars, look at this big wooden crate.”

I looked at the wooden crate. It was big enough to hold a Barcalounger.

“I’ll bet it’s filled with ill-gotten booties,” Pete said. “Or a Barcalounger.”

He handed me the flashlight and pried open the crate’s lid with a crowbar. 

It was not until some time after dark that we took courage to get up and throw the body overboard. It was then loathsome beyond expression, and so far decayed that, as Peters attempted to lift it, an entire leg came off in his grasp . . .

“Peters?” Pete said. “Do you mean Pete? Me? What body? What leg?”

“Sorry. That’s Edgar Allen Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

“What’s Poe doing in this chapter?”

I shined the flashlight on my shoulder and shrugged. 

He snatched the light back, looked in the crate, and said, aghast, “We’ve gotta get outta here quick, Mars! This boat could blow any minute!”

I looked inside the big wooden crate.

Here is what was in there: hundreds, probably thousands, of Steven Seagal movies.

We’d be lucky to get out of there alive.

Seagal movies have a tendency to bomb.

“Hanlon’s humor shines bright and will leave fans of such madness wanting more.” Publishers Weekly 

 “This zany, rollicking mystery adventure is as compelling as it is hilarious.” Independent Book Review 

 Nominated for the prestigious Audie Award, Best Fiction 2021

 

About the Author

Jeffrey Hanlon,

I was born in a Southern California beach town. 

 
My family moved to Northwest Oregon when I was 7. Or maybe when I was 8. 
 
Had we stayed in the Beach Boys town, and knowing myself as I do now, I suspect I would have grown long hair, started a rock band, and been heavily into drugs. The rock band would probably have been pretty good. The rest of it, not so much. I’d likely have joined the ranks of those like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. 
 
We moved to a mountaintop. The last five miles to get there were gravel. The final two miles were steep and to the end of the road. 
 
That’s where we lived: the end of the road, 22 miles to the nearest town. 
 
Our closest neighbor, about a mile down the road, was a hermit who lived in a shack. He had a goat. About once a month the goat would visit us. Then the hermit would show up to retrieve his goat. I think the goat liked us better than the hermit, which is why the goat kept showing up. Goats are funny animals. I think they aspire to be house pets. 
 
And speaking of animals, we had cats. Lots and lots of cats. Because we were remote and at the end of the road, unkind people – and ‘unkind’ is the kindest description I can use here – would dump their unwanted cats on or near our property. The cats would find our house. We gave them Fancy Feast and our love, and in turn they loved us. 
 
My childhood friends didn’t visit too often. That was at least partly because when they did show up my father would say something like this: “Great! We have a job that could use an extra hand. Won’t take more than five minutes.” Well, that five minutes usually turned into an hour or two – volunteer labor! – and that friend would seldom visit again. 
 
So my favorite childhood playmate was a 2000 pound Hereford bull, a big boy with horns spanning three feet. I’d go out in the pasture and the bull would strike a pose not unlike what you’ve seen in the movies where the bull was ready to charge, head down, eyeing me. But he wasn’t going to charge me. He just wanted his forehead scratched. And so I would scratch his forehead. He liked that, shaking his head every so often to show his approval. Then we’d elevate to a game that the bull might have called ‘Let’s see how far we can toss this little kid!’ and I’d place my right hip against his massive head and he’d toss me into the air like a sack of flour. Over and over, farther and farther, higher and higher. I could have done that for hours – I can fly! – but after a few tosses the bull would grow bored with the game and wander off. Probably to chase some cute heifers. 
 
The nearest library was 30 miles away, and we ventured there often. It was a majestic old building, and the Grand Room had books on all four walls with reading chairs in the center. But that was not where I wanted to be. I figured all those books were popular books or books I was supposed to read. I wanted something different, so I would enter the room with a small sign that said ‘Stacks’. It was row after narrow row after row of books, floor to ceiling, dimly lit, dusty. It was like entering a cave. Filled with treasures! 
 
It was in those Stacks that I discovered the likes of Kerouac and Heller and Huxley and Fowles and Steinbeck and Ellison and Bradbury and Hemingway and many many others. 
 
As Stephen King said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
 
And those, each in their own way, was the inspiration for the first book I wrote at the age of eight or nine: ‘Pond Scum’. 
 
It was illustrated.

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Death in Smoke Blitz

 

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The Cape Mysteries, Book 2

 

Mystery, Thriller

Only $.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited

 

A bloodied body buried on Cape Cod. A cold case in Kansas.

Can Leila track down a savage killer?

After a blinding snowstorm, artist and amateur sleuth Leila Goodfriend wakes early in the morning for a walk in the woods to think, to escape. When she stumbles on the bloodied body of a woman buried in a snow bank, Leila digs desperately, her fingers bleed, shaking with fear, she knows who it is.

It’s Susie, the ex-girlfriend of Steve, a failed photographer she dumped months before.

Leila was at a creative retreat with her eccentric group of Red Barn artist friends, on a remote island off Cape Cod. On the rebound from her relationship, Leila finds herself attracted to Detective John Grace, a partner in both romance and crime investigation.

However, when the police arrive on the crime scene, Detective Grace warns her not to investigate a murder case, again. But Leila trusts her instincts and resolves to prove Steve’s innocence, at least of murder.

As an artist, Leila is convinced that bodies have a story to tell. Unauthorized, Leila observes Susie’s autopsy—and the body reveals an enigmatic clue:

Susie died on a bed of long-stemmed roses.

Steve begs Leila to help him—swearing he has evidence that Susie’s killer is a suspect in a cold case in Kansas. Leila confronts the suspect, stealing a possible clue—an arrowhead.

Tracking the trail of blood and revenge from Cape Cod to a Native American casino in Kansas, a ritualistic murder reveals a cold case killer—and a deadly secret from Leila’s past.

If you’re a fan of Lisa Gardner and Karin Slaughter, you’ll love Death In Smoke.

Other Books in The Cape Mysteries series:

Death In Vermnilio cover

 

Death In Vermnilio

 

The Cape Mysteries, Book 1

A psychological mystery about art and obsession…

Leila Goodfriend is laying down the bones of a painting. When interrupted by Iris, the noisy, unlikeable artist in the studio upstairs, Leila is distracted and annoyed.

When she discovers the racket was actually Iris’ dead body hitting the floor, Leila becomes obsessed: Who murdered Iris?

The other Red Barn Cooperative artists—competitive, jealous and hypocritical—are prime suspects. They all hated Iris. “An artist owes his life to his art,”Iris said.

Iris was good for a laugh. But no one is laughing now.

In this gripping mystery, new author Barbara Elle paints a clever and twisted picture of women and sisters, whose lives are entwined by a brutal murder in a charming Cape Cod town.

Alibis fall apart. Plot twists multiply. And Leila comes to a dangerous conclusion.

Amazon

Death In Cerulean – The Cape Mysteries, Book 3

Coming 2022

Death in Smoke paperback


About the Author

Barbara Elle

In her stunning debut thriller, Death In Vermilion (The Cape Mysteries Book 1), acclaimed author Barbara Elle paints a clever and twisted picture of women and sisters, whose lives are entwined by a brutal murder in a Cape Cod town. Who can you trust?

Now, Death In Smoke (The Cape Mysteries Book 2) asks what’s the connection between a bloodied body buried in a snow bank on a remote island off the Cape and a cold case in Kansas? Can artist and amateur sleuth Leila Goodfriend solve this new mystery?

Barbara Elle fell in love with books and writing at a young age, honing her writing chops as a copywriter at major publishers and as a freelance journalist.

She grew up in Boston, moving to New York, but her writing draws on people and places from her childhood.

Barbara Elle continues collecting characters and plots, often traveling the world with her touring musician husband, the musical director for rock and roll icon Cyndi Lauper. In her travels, Barbara has explored Buddhist temples in Beijing, crypts in Vienna and Kabuki Theater in Tokyo.

Death in Cerulean, Book 3 in The Cape Mysteries, is scheduled for publication in 2022.

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New York Blitz

 

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Mystery

 

 

Published: July 2021

Set in the summer of 1952, Deadline:New York centers on the emerging paperback book industry in New York City. The protagonist is a former Naval intelligence officer and best-selling writer of paperback adventure novels who is asked by a secretary at his publishing house to investigate the suicide of her boyfriend. At the heart of the investigation is a state senate hearing on obscenity in the paperback industry and a widespread conspiracy inside the United States government, law enforcement and America’s major corporations. Combining real historical figures with fictional ones, the story reveals some of the early growing pains of the paperback industry and offers an exciting confrontation between ordinary citizens and a murderous shadow government.

New York phone


About The Author

Jim Lester

Jim Lester holds a Ph.D in history and is the author of four successful young adult novels–Fallout, The Great Pretender, Till the Rivers All Run Dry and Shadow Games. He is also the author of a historical novel entitled The Blind Boxer and a history of college basketball. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

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Fatal Pose Blitz

 

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Mystery

 

 

Release Date: September 14, 2021

Publisher: World Castle Publishing

MUSCLES, MAYHEM, MURDER

Venice, California: Where you’ll find the hottest beaches, hottest gyms, and hottest bodies. This is where ex-bodybuilder turned private investigator, Gunnar Marino, runs his business.

The World BodyBuilding Federation: The most successful health and fitness empire in the world. But WBBF President of Operations, Laura Preston, suddenly finds herself in the middle of a blackmail scheme, with bodybuilder Brad Holt threatening to expose a shattering secret from her past.

Where two adversaries meet: After Holt dies at a contest from what appears to be a dangerously unhealthy dieting regimen, Marino is hired to look into whether or not his demise might have been the perfect act of murder. But the deeper Marino digs into the case—pressed by a personal obligation to Holt’s sister—the more unsettled he is by Holt’s background, questioning the morality of seeking justice for a corrupt murder victim and pursuing a prime suspect who might have been a victim herself.

A showdown no one might walk away from: Finding himself in an escalating battle of wills and wits with Laura Preston, Marino is aided by a group of athletes he employs as an investigative staff, and Dr. Erika Lindstad, his former lover and ex-bodybuilder in her own right. But the more troubled Marino gets by the case, he realizes that he has no choice but to see the investigation to its conclusion…because suddenly he and everyone he cares for are targeted for death.

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Excerpt
CHAPTER 1

 

With a face like a homecoming queen, she had a body that must have been some one hundred and seventy pounds of lean-muscle. At about five feet and six inches tall, her physique was flawlessly proportioned. She had a disarming smile, wore her hair in a well-styled pageboy, and sported a low-cut flowery summer dress. The wide neckline of her dress was snug atop the dense pectorals, and reaching toward a pair of wide, hulking deltoids. The tight fit at the top, though, allowed for the dress to slacken at the waistline. There, her torso tapered from her hard-pumped lat muscles, creating the precision V look of her upper body.

“Perfect,” Laura Preston whispered as the flash bulbs strobed around their model.

They were snapping the final pictures for Muscle Quest magazine’s “Bodybuilding R&R” segment for next month’s issue. Laura was about to worry the shoot would run too late again. She had made a point of staying all the way until the end, but now she absolutely had to get going. Her mind was on the drive up to Big Bear Lake more than anything else. Well, the drive, the Smith and Wesson automatic handgun in her desk upstairs, and the meeting with Brad Holt.

“All right, and that’s a wrap,” Dave Sachs, the photographer, called, and glanced at Laura.

She nodded her approval.

“We’ll have the proofs for you by tomorrow,” Dave told Laura. “My word on that.”

“I know,” Laura said.

“I’m sorry we had to reshoot.”

“At least we’ll make the deadline. That’s what matters.”

“Hey, Laura,” called Christy Gilmore, the model with the spectacular physique. “I think it’s a good thing we had to do a second shoot, you know.”

“How’s that?” Laura asked.

“I got a full circuit in since last time. Chest, legs, back, everything. This morning it was biceps and triceps.”

She quickly raised her right arm and contracted her bicep. The fresh pump in the gym had the athlete’s muscles gorged with blood, looking as if the hypertrophied hunks of muscle were straining to explode right through her skin.

Back when she used to compete, Laura was merely a shadow of the enormous musculature on Christy Gilmore.

Christy flashed one of the winning smiles that helped propel her to victory three times in a row over the past year and a half. Winning the Ms. California Invitational, the National Physique Association’s All-National pro-qualifiers and the Muscle Extravaganza women’s championship had earned her the photo spread in the next issue of Muscle Quest.

The “Bodybuilding R&R” column was the human-interest section of each issue. It profiled what normal lives the physique competitors really lived outside the gym. Fighting the ongoing battle to mainstream the sport, Laura had conceived of the column three years ago. The R&R feature alternated between male and female athletes from month to month, and Laura knew most of the attention had to go into the women’s version. In the twenty-first century, she still had to fight wars to get the female athletes the respect they deserved. Someone like Christy Gilmore making it to the pro ranks was a godsend, Laura realized. Not only did Christy have an otherworldly physique, but her dimpled, girl next door smile might just generate a renewed interest in the floundering women’s division of the World Body Building Federation. Or maybe one day Christy could start making movies and get herself elected governor of California.

That’s when Laura felt something like a spear of pure, solid ice ramming into the middle of her chest again. The blast of adrenaline flooding her body felt as if someone was deliberately tearing into her soul.

Because they were, Laura knew, and fought to keep a convincing smile on her face as she said goodbye to Christy. Laura knew how precisely, how deliberately, her life and her career were targeted for complete destruction.

Brad Holt.

No, it was more than her career, Laura knew. Brad Holt would not be satisfied with that. He wanted to step on, to defile everything she believed in, everything she stood for in the WBBF organization, everything she wanted this sport to represent.

Except she would not give him that chance.

About the Author

Barna William Donovan

Barna William Donovan, a professor of communication and media studies, is a graduate of the film school of the University of Miami and he earned his Ph.D. from Rutgers University. His books on film and fandom include “The Asian Influence on Hollywood Action Films,” “Blood, Guns and Testosterone: Action Films, Audiences, and a Thirst for Violence,” and “Conspiracy Films: A Tour of Dark Places in the American Conscious.” He is also the author of the novels “Confirmation: Investigations of the Unexplained,” “The Cedar Valley Covenant,” and “Fatal Pose.” His commentaries on film, television, and popular culture have been quoted in media like the BBC, Variety, LiveScience, Forbes, Yahoo News, HLNTV, and various publications from Europe to Latin America.

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Zither! Blitz

 

Zither! cover

Metafiction/Humor/Mystery

 

Date Published: April 20th, 2021

Publisher: Zither Studios

A nutty religious cult abducts a herd of prime gazebos (huh?) and it’s up to bumbling P.I. Mars Candiotti to rescue them. Mars, aspiring author, chronicles his quest in Jeffrey Hanlon’s comic mystery Zither

 Guided by his magically prescient IHOP waitress, Mars strives to mitigate the shocking global consequences of the gazebo heist, even though he has no idea what the word mitigate means. Mars has five Important clues with which to solve his confounding mystery: Butterscotch, John Travolta, Trombones Venetian Blinds, and Wind Chimes. 

 As Zither swallows its own tale, Mars finds it increasingly tricky to distinguish between real people and his rambunctious fictional characters. Zither becomes the romper room where his reality meets fantasy – and get frisky with each other. 

 Using his (odd) clues, Mars’ international odyssey leads to an explosive conclusion in Panama. TVs around the world tune in to watch live coverage of “Carnage in the Canal”. 

 Amid the lunatic havoc that is Zither there is (of course!) an epic love story as Mars meets Marian, the brainy librarian he had dreamed of. Marian says his books are “slapstick existentialism with subjective reality couched in parable”. (This is news to Mars). But is Marian real? 

 Is any of it real?

 

“Hanlon’s humor shines bright and will leave fans of such madness wanting more.” Publishers Weekly 

 “This zany, rollicking mystery adventure is as compelling as it is hilarious.” Independent Book Review 

 Nominated for the prestigious Audie Award, Best Fiction 2021

 

About the Author

Jeffrey Hanlon

Jeffrey Hanlon spends his time in shorts and sandals making up silly stories like Zither.

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